Attorney General William Barr noted America’s slide toward despotism during remarks at the National Religious Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Wednesday. He highlighted changes in three institutional “bulwarks” that have long preserved liberty: “religion, the decentralization of government power, and the free press.”
Most notable was Barr’s calling out of the “remarkably monolithic” press as a vehicle for pushing Americans toward a secular progressive program and a “soft despotism,” wherein everyone is converted “into 25-year-olds living in the government’s basement, focusing our energies on obtaining a larger allowance rather than getting a job and moving out.” Barr described this progressive dream as a use of the “public purse to … build a permanent constituency of supporters who are also dependents.”
Barr noted the press, having become less like objective journalists and more like political activists, maintains massive influence in directing public opinion to “mobilize a majority” toward progressive goals.
When the media becomes a viewpoint monolith, “Not only does it become easier for the press to mobilize a majority, but the mobilized majority becomes more powerful and overweening with the press as its ally,” Barr said. “This is not a positive cycle, and I think it is fair to say that it puts the press’ role as a breakwater for the tyranny of the majority in jeopardy.”
The relationship among journalists, politicians, and the American people has shifted since 2016 and the run-up to Donald Trump’s presidential election. The president has repeatedly referred to the press as the “enemy of the people” producing “fake news,” for which he has received much criticism. A September 2019 Gallup poll revealed only 41 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “fair amount” of faith in the mass media. Public mistrust in the press cannot be attributed wholly to Trump, however. The media’s track record speaks for itself: blatant lies over the Russia collusion hoax, Trump’s impeachment, the Jussie Smollett hoax, the Covington Catholic high school students story, and grossly mischaracterized pro-life legislation, among countless other errors. The media has even mocked Trump supporters as “credulous boomer rube[s].”
The press wielding its power in such a way is consistent with the attorney general’s assessment of progressives, however. According to Barr, progressives prop up politics as religion, taking a no-holds-barred approach — including weaponization of the press — to achieve their desired goals, which are “earthly and urgent.”
Totalitarian democracy, says Barr, “requires an all-knowing elite to guide the masses toward their determined end, and that elite relies on whipping up mass enthusiasm to preserve its power and achieve its goals. … [It] is almost always secular and materialistic, and its adherents tend to treat politics as a substitute for religion. Their sacred mission is to use the coercive power of the state to remake man and society according to an abstract ideal of perfection. The virtue of any individual is defined by whether they are aligned with the program. Whatever means used are justified because, by definition, they will quicken the pace of mankind’s progress toward perfection.”
Barr’s Wednesday remarks are reminiscent of his November 2019 speechto the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention, where he said, “[S]o-called progressives treat politics as their religion. … [T]here is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy war, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media.”
The progressive left demands cultural changes, putting conservatives on the defense. It's never conservatives throwing the first punch.
A recent Voxsplainer aimed at breaking down the “War Against Thanksgiving” to bespectacled urbanites referred, mostly in passing, to the “culture war-stoking conservative media.” This is adorable, and for two particular reasons.
First, because its matter-of-fact presentation demonstrates how deeply this notion is embedded as conventional wisdom on the center-left. Second, because it’s so obviously stupid.
Of course, it’s the Fox-guzzling conservative rubes stoking the culture war, those reactionary pitchfork wielders who burn Howard Zinn books and listen to Blake Shelton sing about trucks. Or perhaps it’s the fault of cynical Beltway operators who exploit the anxieties of Flyover simpletons for profit and power.
The “culture-war stoking conservative media” is a liberal trope because it neatly comports to basic elite stereotypes about conservatism as a misguided ideology of blind rage and ignorance. The culture war itself is seen as a lowbrow battleground for reactionaries and the Brooks-Brothers elites who mine their concerns for clicks.
This brings me to the second reason Vox’s descriptor is amusing. The progressive movement is waging this war on culture by its own admission. By the essence of their mission and the definition of their moniker, progressives are on offense. There would be no cultural battles were it not for changes demanded by the left. Those of us so-called “culture war-stoking” conservatives in media are on defense. Almost always.
We focus heavily on culture because it’s what our audience finds useful. It’s what our audience finds useful because they, too, are on defense—and that’s because the left is focused even more heavily on culture. This kind of coverage is entirely a response to the left’s broad and deliberate cultural offensive, which honest progressives should fully own. The left raises proposals (or demands, more often) for cultural change. In response, we stand athwart history yelling “Stop!” (Or we’re supposed to, at least.)
Of course, media conservatives are blamed for stoking the flames of a culture war because center-left elites wouldn’t dare admit their own hands have been dirtied by something so asinine and lowbrow. Yet, curiously, they own all of these politicized initiatives to alter the culture. But you can’t have it both ways.
For instance, are the conservatives who cover transgender bathrooms stoking the culture war by virtue of their coverage, or is it the folks who introduced the idea and are seeking aggressively to normalize it? Again, to an honest progressive, the answer should be easy: the culture is oppressive and they are waging a righteous war against it.
Consider awards season, which regularly produces a stream of contrived liberal broadsides. I love Meryl Streep, but it was her choice to pit popular sports against “the arts,” echoing the snobbishness that drove voters to Donald Trump. She did the stoking, conservative media simply responded. When Sean Spicer was cast on “Dancing with the Stars,” conservative media’s coverage was provoked entirely by the left’s complaints.
As for the “War on Christmas,” an admittedly dramatic designation, it isn’t exactly conservative Christians pushing to secularize the holiday, and the push to secularize the holiday absolutely exists. Is conservative media sometimes guilty of framing cultural conflict in hyperbolic terms? Of course. But, often, what looks like hyperbole to elites—who cheer many sweeping progressive initiatives—sounds pitch perfect to conservative bystanders watching their world get turned upside down. You can go down the line on these issues, from the national anthem to comedy to statues of Thomas Jefferson to Taylor Swift, it’s never conservatives throwing the first punch.
Even the aforementioned Vox article, headlined “Trump’s made-up war on Thanksgiving, explained,” gently undermines its own contention about the culture war. In a subheading titled “It’s not a bad idea to give Thanksgiving a think,” the author suggests using Thanksgiving as a time to “[consider]” the plight of the Native American community, which is perfectly reasonable idea, but certainly calls for change. It’s also perfectly reasonable for conservatives to counter that suggestion by arguing the holiday would be better spent focusing on our “social and domestic ties,” as Sarah Hale proposed so many years ago. Either way, the would-be change agents aren’t coming from the right.
Whatever is happening with Thanksgiving is nothing compared to wars being waged on other cultural fronts. And it’s not a war being “stoked” by conservative media, but by the left. To believe otherwise is to undermine the entire progressive project.
A lot of people are dunking on Michael Moore for declaring that he now represents the center of the Democratic party, and they’re enjoying it, and they ought to. But he might not be completely wrong in that self-assessment, and it’s both a statement about him and a statement about the Democratic party.
Put aside everything you can’t stand about Michael Moore for a moment. (I know, it’s a lot.) But Moore’s political vision has always had a strong populist streak that aligns a lot with elements of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign. His 1989 documentary, Roger and Me was all about Moore’s anger that General Motors was ending production of automotive parts in factories in Flint, Mich., while increasing production of parts in Mexico. Moore sees America’s corporate class as a bunch of selfish, greedy snobs who show little or no appreciation for the workers that enable their profits or the country that gave them their opportunities. That leftist view of 1989 feels pretty mainstream three decades later — and not just in the Democratic party.
In July 2016, Michael Moore shocked many of his allies by predicting that Donald Trump would win the presidential election. Moore’s assessment is eerily prescient, warning his political allies that working-class voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin felt “abandoned by Democrats who still try to talk a good line but are really just looking forward to [vulgar euphemism] with a lobbyist from Goldman Sachs who’ll write them nice big check before leaving the room. What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here.”
He also warned about Hillary, whom he said he personally believed had gotten a bad rap, but “nearly 70 percent of all voters think she is untrustworthy and dishonest. She represents the old way of politics, not really believing in anything other than what can get you elected. That’s why she fights against gays getting married one moment, and the next she’s officiating a gay marriage.” Finally, he reminded people about the unexpected victory of independent Jesse Ventura in 1998: “Minnesota is one of the smartest states in the country. It is also filled with people who have a dark sense of humor — and voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system. This is going to happen again with Trump.”
Moore’s a progressive through and through, but he periodically reveals a seething disdain for the hypocrisies and phoniness of the Democratic party’s elite leadership class. And you get the feeling that while Moore isn’t opposed to woke culture and the various crusades that rile up the Twitter Left, he would prefer a Democratic party much more focused on improving the quality of life for America’s working class. He’ll never make a film about how “Latinx” should replace the term “Latinos.”
Meanwhile, certain kinds of Democrats are nearly extinct — pro-life Democrats (other than Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards) pro-gun Democrats, the kinds of reformers who used to make up the old Democratic Leadership Council. Democrats to the right of Michael Moore are fewer, and Democrats to the Left of him are more numerous. He stood still; the party moved around him.
Column: The political contradictions of progressivism
“The fact is there is no more money. Period,” says Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.
She’s talking about the teachers’ strike that has paralyzed her city’s public schools—enrollment 360,000—for the past week. The public employee union is demanding more: more money for salaries (only eight states pay teachers more than Illinois), more support staff (Illinois ranks first in spending on administrators), more teachers per student. Their cause has attracted national attention. Elizabeth Warren joined the picket line.
Which is ironic. Lightfoot is not some stingy Republican. Nor is she a centrist Democrat like her predecessor Rahm Emanuel. She’s as progressive as you can get. But she now finds herself in the same position as many of her political brethren: facing criticism for failing to reconcile the contradictions in the left’s agenda.
Lightfoot has discovered that there is no limit to the appetite of the constituencies generated by government spending. She has learned that the special interests bargaining for higher benefits also desire policies that make such benefits unattainable. I hope she’s taking notes.
Chicago Public Schools has run a deficit for the past seven years. Why? Pensions granted to earlier generations of teachers are expensive. And the cost is growing. A quarter of the school budget is devoted to benefits—money that can’t be spent on classrooms, facilities, and instruction. Expect that number to rise as America goes gray and the bill comes due for the promises we made to ourselves.
The federal government can put Social Security and Medicare on the credit card for as long as demand for U.S. Treasuries is high. States and municipalities don’t have that luxury. There is an upper bound to what even the most progressive mayors and governors can grant the lobbies that mobilize voters for their campaigns. But it’s a glass ceiling. Public sector unions are eager to break it.
Nor does being woke protect you. It’s impossible to appease fully the groups fighting to claim resources and honor. They often won’t take yes for an answer. GM might tout to investors the fact that it is “leading in gender equality.” That didn’t stop the UAW from striking.
Public policy inspired by the ethic of social justice inflames the tension between progressive leaders and the voting public. Andrew Cuomo might sympathize with Mayor Lightfoot. His fealty to environmental groups has backed him into a corner. Banning fracking and canceling pipelines hasn’t just denied New York revenues, jobs, and lower energy bills. It also led energy supplier National Grid to cancel gas hookups in Long Island. Cuomo had to retaliate before the company restored service. Want to be a progressive? Claim credit for resolving a crisis of your own making after threatening to unleash state power on private actors responding to price signals. Cuomo makes it look easy.
Gavin Newsom also has been struggling to reduce the conflict between the imperatives of the new progressivism and the quality of life of everyday people. He has his hands full. Rising numbers of homeless have led to a breakdown of public order in areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Land-use regulations have restricted the supply of housing, leading to high prices and shortages, and Newsom’s answer is statewide rent control that will make things worse. California’s budget depends so heavily on revenues from the wealthy that it might not recover from another out-migration like the one the state experienced after a 2012 tax hike.
Pacific Gas & Electric is a case study in the progressive self-own. The state-regulated utility spent years deferring maintenance while it invested in renewable energy and promoted the ideology of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Among the consequences of its neglect were terrible wildfires that devastated communities. The ensuing legal bills drove PG&E into bankruptcy. It says it’s been forced to engage in “de-energization”: purposeful mass blackouts to prevent further damage and legal action. In early October more than two million people were left in the dark. No house, no power, no prospects—welcome to the California Republic.
The contradictions of progressivism generate crises of affordability and governance. But the political class suffers few consequences. Chicago, New York, and California remain Democratic strongholds. What scattered opposition exists is internal to the political machine. On rare occasions parts of the coalition splinter from the whole and are able to defeat radical measures. Think of Bill de Blasio’s stalled plans to cancel entrance exams for New York City’s magnet schools. For the most part, though, the Democrats’ hold on power continues. It’s one monopoly progressives don’t seem to mind.
Are the voters in these communities merely complacent? Are they so content with the patchwork of benefits and status the jerry-rigged welfare state provides that they tolerate dysfunction? Or is the partisan alternative so appalling they won’t even consider it?
Questions worth pondering as progressives prepare to scale up their model nationwide. Who knows? One day, President Warren might be on the other side of that picket line.
A recently released transcript shows just how biased the New York Times really is and how little they want to do to fix it.
This week, Slate released a transcript of a meeting held by New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and his staff. The meeting was apparently called because of reaction to a headline about Donald Trump’s speech in the wake of the El Paso shooting. But much of the meeting was concerned with something else: when and how the paper of record should use the term “racist.”
Before getting to that subject specifically, though, a few general thoughts about the meeting. As a conservative, what leaps off the page is the fact that the staffers actually seem to think the paper skews right, and they want it to skew more progressive. One staffer seemed to call on Baquet to hire radically and aggressively progressive scribe Roxanne Gay as the public editor.
This reminds me of Yankees fans who call into sports radio to say Yanks general manager Brian Cashman is bad at his job because he failed to acquire a middle reliever at the trade deadline. Forget the fact that he’s won championships and has put together a juggernaut this season, he stinks. The overwhelming majority of everything the Times prints skews left. It’s amazing that the staff doesn’t understand this. Even rare examples of conservative ideas are too much for them.
The conversation about the use of the term “racist” was telling in this respect. The underlying subtext was, “Is Donald Trump a racist?” “Are his supporters racist?” On this, all parties seemed to agree that the answer is yes — at least, nobody said no. Baquet’s objection to using the term, for which he was grilled, had less to do with whether the application is accurate than what outcome using the word would have. He worried it could make the term less powerful or turn off certain readers.
When asked specifically what standard the New York Times uses in deciding to use the term racist, Baquet said this:
You know, we actually should have a written standard. I wasn’t expecting two weeks ago — and [associate managing editor for standards] Phil [Corbett] is working with me and the masthead to come up with it. I can think of examples, like, you know, the governor — was it the governor of Virginia with the costume? I mean, it’s hard for me to answer, but yes, I do think there are instances when we would use it. It’s hard for me to articulate an example of it.
To call this vague would be generous, and it’s Ralph Northam, by the way. I recently wrote about how racism is now defined by the old Potter Stewart axiom: I know it when I see it. Well, this is what that looks like. But worse, given his remarks about how the word affects readers, it is clear Baquet is less interested in establishing a clear standard for what racism is than in bringing the paper’s readership in line with his left-leaning worldview.
As it turns out, I have a little personal experience with the New York Times and the issue of racism. Several months ago, after twice having run columns there, I pitched a piece to them about how Americans have two very different and often contradictory views of what constitutes racism. The pitch was accepted, I wrote to it, and I tried, at least, to be fair to both the conservative and progressive definitions. Generally speaking, the former being based in belief and intent, the latter on systems of oppression.
A few days later, the Times rejected the piece — which, pieces get rejected. I just ran it here at The Federalist, instead. But reading this transcript, it is absolutely clear to me that even analysis of the conservative definition would have been seen as unacceptable to at least some on the staff. Take this comment from a staffer:
I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know? Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country.
What this staffer is suggesting is that in a country where a recent poll showed 51% of Americans think Trump is a racist and 45% don’t, the paper of record should simply ignore the conservative viewpoint and actually do reporting based on the opinion of the 51%.
I’ve had two conversations with high-level people at the Times about conservatism and how they cover it. On both occasions, I heard a sincere desire to do so. But I also heard a woeful lack of understanding about why conservatives are so wary of their coverage. When I brought up the hiring of Sarah Jeong, who had a history of anti-white tweets, and said that obviously such tweets about any other group would bar someone from being hired, I was told “the double standard is hard to defend.”
That’s just not good enough, and though, as I say, I think they were sincere in their desire to present conservative viewpoints, not only do they not seem to grasp them, but their staff seems to be in control of the paper’s politics.
I don’t know that there is any solution to this problem, or that even if there were, most people at the Times would want to fix it. More likely, it is simply time to accept that the New York Times is a progressive newspaper, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, the entire concept of objective news is a rather suspect one.
I read the New York Times, I enjoy it, sometimes I do the crossword, but to the extent I ever did, I can no longer see it as a straight paper with limited bias. This transcript makes that blatantly obvious. So, by all means, read the Times. But make sure you go in with your eyes wide open.
Leftists love to spend other people’s money to advance their visions for a transformed society. One of the many places where they manage to do that is on college campuses where there are lots of friendly administrators and not much accountability.
In today’s Martin Center article, UNC graduate Magdalene Horzempa writes about Chapel Hill’s “Campus Y.” It has a long history (founded in 1860) and over the last few decades it has become, she writes, “a hub for social justice.”
Although a substantial portion of its revenues come from gifts and the University Foundation, the Campus Y benefits from its status as an official part of the university as well as generous university funding. Its primary purpose is to push progressive politics to all students on campus, from freshman orientation through graduation.
UNC’s Campus Y is basically a training ground for “progressive” activists. It starts right off the bat, importuning new students with “Carolina Kickoff” which introduces them to social-justice activism.
The existence of the Campus Y, as a publicly funded and official university institution, is a clear violation of UNC-Chapel Hill’s legal responsibility to uphold institutional neutrality. It’s a misuse of public funds and an insult to students who pay tuition to pursue truth, not politics.
Donald Trump is many things. But one thing he is not is a defender of the 2009-2016 status quo and accepted progressive convention. Since 2017, everything has been in flux. Lots of past conventional assumptions of the Obama-Clinton-Romney-Bush generation were as unquestioned as they were suspect. No longer.
Everyone knew the Iran deal was a way for the mullahs to buy time and hoard their oil profits, to purchase or steal nuclear technology, to feign moderation, and to trade some hostages for millions in terrorist-seeding cash, and then in a few years spring an announcement that it had the bomb.
No one wished to say that. Trump did. He canceled the flawed deal without a second thought.
Iran is furious, but in a far weaker—and eroding—strategic position with no serious means of escaping devastating sanctions, general impoverishment, and social unrest. So a desperate Tehran knows that it must make some show of defiance. Yet it accepts that if it were to launch a missile at a U.S. ship, hijack an American boat, or shoot down an American plane, the ensuing tit-for-tat retaliation might target the point of Iranian origin (the port that launched the ship, the airbase from which the plane took off, the silo from which the missile was launched) rather than the mere point of contact—and signal a serial stand-off 10-1 disproportionate response to every Iranian attack without ever causing a Persian Gulf war.
Everyone realized the Paris Climate Accord was a way for elites to virtue signal their green bona fides while making no adjustments in their global managerial lifestyles—at best. At worst, it was a shake-down both to transfer assets from the industrialized West to the “developing world” and to dull Western competitiveness with ascending rivals like India and China. Not now. Trump withdrew from the agreement, met or exceeded the carbon emissions reductions of the deal anyway, and has never looked back at the flawed convention. The remaining signatories have little response to the U.S. departure, and none at all to de facto American compliance to their own targeted goals.
Rich NATO allies either could not or would not pay their promised defense commitments to the alliance. To embarrass them into doing so was seen as heretical. No more.
Trump jawboned and ranted about the asymmetries. And more nations are increasing rather than decreasing their defense budgets. The private consensus is that the NATO allies knew all along that they were exactly what Barack Obama once called “free riders” and justified that subsidization by ankle-biting the foreign policies of the United States—as if an uncouth America was lucky to underwrite such principled members. Again, no more fantasies.
China was fated to rule the world. Period. Whining about its systematic commercial cheating was supposedly merely delaying the inevitable or would have bad repercussions later on. Progressives knew the Communists put tens of thousands of people in camps, rounded up Muslims, and destroyed civil liberties, and yet in “woke” fashion tip-toed around criticizing the Other. Trump then destroyed the mirage of China as a Westernizing aspirant to the family of nations. In a protracted tariff struggle, there are lots of countries in Asia that could produce cheap goods as readily as China, but far fewer countries like the United States that have money to be siphoned off in mercantilist trade deals, or the technology to steal, or the preferred homes and universities in which to invest.
The Palestinians were canonized as permanent refugees. The U.S. embassy could never safely move to the Israeli capital in Jerusalem. The Golan Heights were Syrian. Only a two-state solution requiring Israel to give back all the strategic border land it inherited when its defeated enemies sought to destroy it in five prior losing wars would bring peace. Not now.
The Palestinians for the last 50 years were always about as much refugees as the East Prussian Germans or the Egyptian Jews and Greeks that were cleansed from their ancestral homelands in the Middle East in the same period of turbulence as the birth of Israel. “Occupied” land more likely conjures up Tibet and Cyprus not the West Bank, and persecuted Muslims are not found in Israel, but in China.
An aging population, the veritable end to U.S. manufacturing and heavy industry, and an opioid epidemic meant that America needed to get used to stagnant 1 percent growth, a declining standard of living, a permanent large pool of the unemployed, an annual increasing labor non-participation rate, and a lasting rust belt of deplorables, irredeemables, clingers and “crazies” who needed to be analyzed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. At best, a middle-aged deplorable was supposed to learn to code or relocate to the Texas fracking fields. Perhaps not now.
In the last 30 months, the question of the Rust Belt has been reframed to why, with a great workforce, cheap energy, good administrative talent, and a business-friendly administration, cannot the United States make more of what it needs? Why, if trade deficits are irrelevant, do Germany, China, Japan, and Mexico find them so unpleasant? If unfettered trade is so essential, why do so many of our enemies and friends insist that we almost alone trade “fairly,” while they trade freely and unfairly? Why do not Germany and China argue that their vast global account surpluses are largely irrelevant?
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) assured us that the world would be suffocating under greenhouse gases within 12 years. Doom-and-gloom prophecies of “peak” oil warned us that our oil reserves would dry up by the early 21st century. Former Vice President Al Gore warned us that our port cities would soon be underwater. Economists claimed Saudi Arabia or Russia would one day control the world by opening and closing their oil spigots. Not now.
Three million more barrels of American oil are being produced per day just since Trump took office. New pipelines will ensure that the United States is not just the world’s greatest producer of natural gas but perhaps its largest exporter as well.
Trump blew up those prognostications and replaced them with an optimistic agenda that the working- and middle classes deserve affordable energy, that the United States could produce fossil fuels more cleanly, wisely, and efficiently than the Middle East, and that ensuring increased energy could revive places in the United States that were supposedly fossilized and irrelevant. Normal is utilizing to the fullest extent a resource that can discourage military adventurism in the Middle East, provide jobs to the unemployed, and reduce the cost of living for the middle class; abnormal is listening to the progressive elite for whom spiking gasoline and power bills were a very minor nuisance.
Open borders were our unspoken future. The best of the Chamber of Commerce Republicans felt that millions of illegal aliens might eventually break faith with the progressive party of entitlements; the worst of the open borders lot argued that cheap labor was more important than sovereignty and certainly more in their interests than any worry over the poor working classes of their own country. And so Republicans for the last 40 years joined progressives in ensuring that illegal immigration was mostly not measured, meritocratic, diverse, or lawful, but instead a means to serve a number of political agendas.
Most Americans demurred, but kept silent given the barrage of “racist,” “xenophobe,” and “nativist” cries that met any measured objection. Not so much now. Few any longer claim that the southern border is not being overrun, much less that allowing a non-diverse million illegal aliens in six months to flood into the United States without audit is proof that “diversity is our strength.”
The Republican Party’s prior role was to slow down the inevitable trajectory to European socialism, the end of American exceptionalism, and homogenized globalized culture. Losing nobly in national elections was one way of keeping one’s dignity, weepy wounded-fawn style, while the progressive historical arc kept bending to our collective future. Rolling one’s eyes on Sunday talk shows as a progressive outlined the next unhinged agenda was proof of tough resistance.
Like it or not, now lines are drawn. Trump so unhinged the Left that it finally tore off its occasional veneer of moderation, and showed us what progressives had in store for America.
On one side in 2020 is socialism, “Medicare for All,” wealth taxes, top income tax rates of 70 or 80 or 90 percent, a desire for a Supreme Court of full of “wise Latinas” like Sonia Sotomayor, insidious curtailment of the First and Second Amendments, open borders, blanket amnesties, reparations, judges as progressive legislators, permissible infanticide, abolition of student debt, elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau and the Electoral College, voting rights for 16-year-olds and felons, and free college tuition.
On the other side is free-market capitalism but within a framework of fair rather than unfettered international trade, a smaller administrative state, less taxation and regulation, constitutionalist judges, more gas and oil, record low unemployment, 3-4 percent economic growth, and pressure on colleges to honor the Bill of Rights.
The New, New Normal
The choices are at least starker now. The strategy is not, as in 2008 and 2012, to offer a moderate slow-down of progressivism, but rather a complete repudiation of it.
One way is to see this as a collision between Trump, the proverbial bull, and the administrative state as a targeted precious china shop—with all the inevitable nihilistic mix-up of horns, hooves, and flying porcelain shards. But quite another is to conclude that what we recently used to think was abjectly abnormal twenty years ago had become not just “normal,” but so orthodoxly normal that even suggesting it was not was judged to be heretical and deserving of censure and worse.
The current normal correctives were denounced as abnormal—as if living in a sovereign state with secure borders, assuming that the law was enforced equally among all Americans, demanding that citizenship was something more than mere residence, and remembering that successful Americans, not their government, built their own businesses and lives is now somehow aberrant or perverse.
Trump’s political problem, then, may be that the accelerating aberration of 2009-2016 was of such magnitude that normalcy is now seen as sacrilege.
Weaponizing the IRS, unleashing the FBI to spy on political enemies and to plot the removal of an elected president, politicizing the CIA to help to warp U.S. politics, allying the Justice Department with the Democratic National Committee, and reducing FISA courts to rubber stamps for pursuing administration enemies became the new normal. Calling all that a near coup was abnormal.
Let us hope that most Americans still prefer the abnormal remedy to the normal pathology.
By Michael James Barton • Investor’s Business Daily
Progressive lawmakers in Congress just rolled out their “Green New Deal,” a sweeping bill designed to end America’s reliance on fossil fuels. They hope to ultimately eliminate gas-powered cars, airplanes, and even outdoor BBQ grills.
Environmental activists aren’t the only ones delighted with the proposal. Petro-state dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are grinning too. They know the bill would make Americans dependent on foreign oil and gas production, weaken American influence abroad, and drastically shrink the U.S. economy.
The United States is now the world’s leading producer of both oil and natural gas, thanks to the recent revolution in drilling technologies and no thanks to progressives. These innovations such as fracking and horizontal drilling have enabled U.S. firms to recover previously inaccessible oil and natural gas from shale rock formations. Oil production has more than doubled in the last decade. Natural gas production has surged about 50%.
This energy renaissance has reduced electricity and fuel costs for American consumers.
Just as importantly, it has bolstered our national security and expanded our geopolitical influence. The United States recently became a net energy exporter for the first time in decades — a development that has reduced the free world’s reliance on fuel from unstable, dictatorial countries like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela.
Death Of The Energy Revolution?
The Green New Deal would undo this energy revolution which America has worked so hard to achieve. In addition to massively subsidizing solar and wind power, it would place enormous restrictions on drilling and fracking. The 14-page document is light on details, but its ultimate goal is clear — effectively eliminate fossil fuels and generate “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”
No word from a fan of this plan, presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, on how exactly this renewable energy production will avoid rolling blackouts in every city and town in America. Perhaps his imaginary drug dealer friend “T-Bone” relayed an invention to Sen. Booker that makes the plan possible.
The Green New Deal would also put many oil and gas firms out of business.
If America gives up its role as the global leader in oil and gas production, hostile foreign governments will gladly take our place and weaponize their energy resources. The bill would transport us back to the 1970s, when the Arab oil embargo brought the U.S. economy to a standstill and caused gas lines and fuel rationing. America produces more than 11 million barrels of oil a day. Removing that supply from global markets would give Putin and his ilk a stranglehold on the entire world economy.
Perhaps plan supporter Sen. Bernie Sanders likes the idea of American workers wasting their time in a socialist line for basic products like fuel and bread. Not steaks though, as the plan’s proponents also call for the end of cattle in the United States.
Green New Deal: Just Hot Air
Progressive activists dismiss such concerns, arguing that America will generate almost all its energy from renewable sources and thus be immune to oil market fluctuations. But that’s fantasy. Leading researchers doubt it’s possible to transition to renewable sources within three decades — much less the 10 years called for in the Green New Deal.
In addition to hurting U.S. consumers, the Green New Deal would undermine the security of America’s closest allies. Consider that the European Union gets more of its oil and gas from Russia than from any other country — an arrangement that stymies Europe’s ability to check Russian power.
Should Russia seek to expand its influence and control in the region, as it did when it annexed Crimea in 2014, Europe will be forced to choose between standing up for its values and protecting its energy imports. That’s a precarious position. Supporters of this plan have been screaming from the rooftops about Russian influence in the 2016 election, but seem eager to hand over power to Russia in exchange for some vague promises of new things that haven’t yet been invented.
A Gift To Putin
The United States is Europe’s best hope of breaking its dependence on Russian energy. American firms have been ramping up their sales of liquefied natural gas to the continent. In October 2018, the United States traded more LNG with the EU than any month on record.
The Green New Deal would make such trade impossible. Our rapid exit from the oil and gas sector would be a gift to the Putin regime.
The Green New Deal would be a geopolitical disaster for America. Lawmakers shouldn’t give it the time of day.
The supreme irony of the 20th as well as the beginning of the 21st centuries has been that both Democrat, and to a lesser extent, Republican Administrations have assumed the role of divine arbiters of good and evil, thus delivering the entire society to the capricious tyranny of ideologically motivated politicians and bureaucrats. The result has been catastrophic for the constitutional foundation of the nation as well as the individual sovereignty of the people. Instead of restricting themselves to serving the public welfare, successive governments, mostly illegally, have taken possession of rights and responsibilities that, in the aggregate, have reduced men and women to mere subjects of political engineering and idiotic tinkering. Continue reading
Progressive policies do.
by Francis Menton • City Journal
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has left no doubt that he wants to be the nation’s preeminent spokesman for progressivism. Since unveiling his 13-point Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality in May, de Blasio has campaigned on the message that income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.” His key policy prescriptions are well known: more “affordable” housing, generous welfare programs, higher minimum wages, and income-tax hikes on high earners. However, if such policies actually reduced the gap between rich and poor, jurisdictions that have already adopted them would experience less income inequality. They don’t.
Last year, Bloomberg Rankings published a national study on income inequality, using U.S. Census Bureau income data to rank each of the 435 congressional districts by economists’ standard measure of inequality, the Gini coefficient. The study found high levels of income inequality in areas of the country known for their political progressivism. Topping the inequality list was New York’s tenth congressional district, which covers the West Side of Manhattan and Wall Street—including City Hall. Of the top 25 spots, 23 went to Democratic districts—and not just any Democratic districts. The five congressional districts covering some part of Manhattan earned the first, sixth, ninth, 13th, and 20th positions. Congressional districts in solidly liberal Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Berkeley placed in the Top 25. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district ranked 14th on the list, while Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Miami Beach district placed 23rd. All of those congressional districts have long been associated with progressive politics; most have long since adopted at least some of de Blasio’s policy prescriptions, including extensive public and affordable-housing programs, generous welfare programs, relatively high and progressive state and local income taxes, and higher minimum wages. Continue reading
by Kathrine Kersten
On Nov. 6, Americans will vote in an election whose importance rivals that of the election of 1912 — 100 years ago. That election, which put Woodrow Wilson in the White House, ushered in the progressive movement, of which President Obama is the heir and today’s leader.
Progressivism views the roles of citizen and state very differently than our founding fathers did. The founders anchored the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in three principles. They believed that human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inherent in nature and human dignity, and preexist the state. They believed that government should be limited, and that its primary purpose is to protect these rights. Finally, they crafted our Constitution to disperse power and curb its abuse through mechanisms such as checks and balances, and federalism. Continue reading