A lot of Democratic Party primary voters are desperately looking for a “moderate” who can beat Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the contest for the nomination, and then go on to beat Donald Trump in the general election. The current “moderate” in favor seems to be former VP Joe Biden.
Mr. Biden is so moderate that he wants to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in short order (a pipe dream if ever there was one). He complains that the U.S. has been deforested, but neglects to mention that (1) the majority of U.S. deforestation occurred prior to 1910 and (2) that forest resources in the U.S. have remained essentially unchanged in the 20th century. (See Wikipedia on this).
Most fascinating of all, the moderate Mr. Biden wants to toss energy executives who disagree with him in jail. How do we know? He said so. (See the You Tube Video below). He wants to make energy executives “liable” for what they have done. Naturally enough the “what they have done” bit is left undefined.
To be fair, even though he plagiarized his way through law school, it isn’t likely that Biden is so dense that he actually believes that he can just have people summarily carted off to jail without having violated some statute. On the other hand, mouthing this type of nonsense does demonstrate a certain contempt for the audience. In this respect it is worth noting that the audience enthusiastically applauded the riff about putting people in jail. Kind of like Trump’s ‘Lock her up” routine.
With apologies to The Washington Post, Democracy does not die in darkness. It does so with the lights turned on while demagogues speak and audiences cheer.
She is at it again. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House who famously said we have to pass this bill to see what’s in it, has issued a conditional “never mind” in the matter of the Trump impeachment. Consider her remarks in March of this year and the subsequent path of events.
“I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this, impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
So said Nancy Pelosi in the Washington Post Magazine, March 6, 2011, as reported in the March 11, 2019 Washington Post.
By September 24, 2019 Speaker Pelosi had changed her tune and authorized the beginning of “an impeachment inquiry” after consulting with her caucus, but without seeking a vote in the House. She assigned 6 different House Committees jurisdiction over various aspects of the inquiry. Stating that she had “no choice” but to act, Mrs. Pelosi voiced “regret”.
In the beginning, the inquiry was conducted not by the Judiciary Committee which had jurisdiction in prior impeachments, but by the House Intelligence committee. That arrangement allowed the inquiry to be conducted behind closed doors allowing Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to selectively leak documents and broadly hint that there was much more that he was not at liberty to reveal.
After considerable pressure, Speaker Pelosi eventually relented and sought a floor vote authorizing an impeachment investigation. On October 31, 2019 the House voted 232-196 in favor along partisan lines. So much for the need of bipartisanship.
Impeachment Was Always Inevitable
When Speaker Pelosi expressed regret at having “no choice” but to go forward with impeachment she did so with crocodile tears. Once they had the power, the Democrats were always going to impeach Trump. The effort began in December of 2016 before Trump had even taken the oath of office. That December, Democratic senators introduced a bill that would require the president of the United States to divest any assets that could raise a conflict of interest. The bill noted that failure to divest such assets would constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution. The senators who introduced the bill were: Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Chris Coons, Ben Cardin and Jeff Merkly. All Democrats, they were obviously laying the groundwork for down the road if and when the opportunity presented itself.
Sure enough, by December 6 of 2017, a motion to impeach Trump was introduced that accused him, among other things, of obstruction, and associating the White House with Neo Nazism and Hatred. Democrat Al Green who introduced the motion also noted that Trump had criticized NFL players who knelt in protest during the national anthem. In the event the resolution failed as only 58 Democrats voted for it.
Green’s second attempt came about a month later, instigated this time by Trump’s demeaning and typically idiotic remarks about African countries. That one failed as well, but it picked up some more votes, this time garnering 66 Democratic Congressman in favor.
The third try was even better. Ninety-five (95) Democratic Congressmen voted voted for it. This time the motion accused Trump of bringing “ridicule, disgrace and disrepute” to the office. This time though was different. The Democrats had just recently captured the House. The 95 who voted “aye” were 40% of the Democratic caucus, including the Squad, and most infamously Rashida Tlaib, who had announced “We’re going to impeach the M***F***” within hours of her swearing-in.
Democrats, now in the majority, began their next attempt to impeach Trump, this time with the backing of the Speaker. With a huge assist from Trump (naturally enough), the 4th time was luck. The vote was 232 voting “Aye” versus 196 voting “Nay”. Only 2 Democrats voted against; No current Republicans voted Yes. A former Republican, Justin Amash, who is now an independent, voted Yes.
Once they gained the majority, leaning on the slimmest of reeds, the Democrats quickly voted two articles of impeachment. After insisting that an impeachment was such a momentous event that the case had to be bipartisan, overwhelming and compelling, Speaker Pelosi abandoned her prior position and scrambled get to the head of the parade.
The obvious question is: Why? Employing Occam’s Razor produces a straightforward answer. Pelosi was about to lose control of her caucus, which now largely reflects the world view of “The Squad”. Rather than let her power slip away she decided to go the impeachment route.
During the impeachment inquiry / hearings Speaker Pelosi insisted that impeachment inquiry proceed post haste. Which it did, in deference to the “moderate” members of the caucus who did not want to defend their seats after a long drawn out affair. So less than 3 months after the inquiry began, the full House voted 2 articles of impeachment.
But after the vote, Speaker Pelosi seems to have had another one of those frequent changes of heart to which she is so prone. She announced that she would not yet name impeachment managers for a Senate trial. Nor would she send the just passed articles of impeachment to the Senate so that a trial could begin. It seems that she now agrees with Senator Schumer that, before that can happen, it has suddenly become imperative for the Senate to subpoena specific witnesses that she herself refused to subpoena when she had the power to do so during the House inquiry.
So at this point, here is where we stand.
The Speaker of the House says that impeachment has to be bipartisan. It isn’t. The articles of impeachment passed on a party line vote.
The Speaker said that the impeachment case must be compelling and overwhelming. It isn’t compelling and if anything it is underwhelming.
The Speaker says that in the impeachment matter she acted reluctantly. Really? There were already 3 prior attempts, the first one coming before the end of the first year of Trump’s term of office. She acted as soon as she had the votes.
The Speaker now insists that she wants to see a “fair trial”; that Senate Majority Leader McConnell has gone “rogue” and that he is not impartial. (Of course he isn’t; neither is she). But she seems not the least bit concerned that 5 Democratic Senators seeking the Party’s nomination have already indicated that they are going to vote to remove Trump.
The Speaker had insisted that time was of the essence in seeking an impeachment vote. Now she is deliberately delaying the process so that the Senate can subpoena witnesses whom she refused to subpoena when she had the power. All to speed up the process that now has to be slowed down.
What is Going on Here?
The con here is on the moderate Democratic Congressman who are about to be sacrificed in the 2020 elections. We have seen this movie before. The moderates were sacrificed for the sake of the Obamacare vote in November of 2009; prior to that the moderates served as sacrificial lambs for the gun control vote in 1994 when Clinton was President. In each case they were wiped out in the following Congressional elections, and the progressive wing kept its grip on the party machinery.
So the prudential question currently facing Democrats is really not primarily about impeachment and removal. That effort is doomed to failure. The real question has to do with the nature of power within the Democratic Party. Will the Party, egged on by its activists, the #Resistance, its Twitter Mob and most of all its long time office holders, virtually all of whom come from safe districts, maintain their grip on power in the Party by once again leading moderates to electoral slaughter?
The current imbroglio over the impeachment of Donald J Trump, and the various investigations associated with it combine to present a text book example of why progressivism, better described as managerial socialism, is doomed to failure. Like all forms of socialism. It is doomed to failure because, seen through the progressive lens, the world is simply a series of challenges to be met on the road to perfection. Human nature, in the progressive mind, is infinitely elastic and challenges along the road can be met by scientifically discovering and implementing the right policies designed to achieve the correct outcome, which is ultimately the perfection of man and society.
Progressivism has no understanding of, or framework for coping with the tragedy of the human condition. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (properly deconstructed of course) is simply a story of a problematic lack of communication between the Capulets and the Montagues. Nothing that a Blue Ribbon Panel and a little diversity training couldn’t solve. And so in the end, progressivism becomes a soulless and soul crushing bureaucracy. Managed by experts, of course.
This is where the problem lies. The belief that we can “solve” problems emanating from the imperfections of human nature if only we adopt the right policies and procedures necessarily leads to coercive bureaucratic behavior. It won’t “solve” the problem because it can’t, but it will inevitably lead to more and more bureaucratic coercion as managers adopt tighter and tighter restrictions on individual freedom in order to achieve their desired ends.
Which brings us to the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.
It is often said that people argue process when they are losing the substance of a debate. That is probably true. And there should be little doubt that Trump & his sycophants are arguing a lot of about process these days. But consider this: we do not seek either justice or freedom in the abstract; we seek to achieve both in a real world that is imperfect. That requires a delicate balancing act. As part of that balancing, we require the state to meet several procedural tests before it may properly resort to coercion. And the severity of those tests ascends with the consequences of state action.
Because the legal system takes into account the foibles of human nature, checks and balances are built into it. For instance, a person charged with a crime has the right to an attorney and the right to confront his accusers. The state may not apply new law ex post. Persons may not be made subject to double jeopardy. A person may not be compelled to testify against himself, and a refusal to testify may not be considered as evidence of guilt. The state must prove guilt, the defendant is not required to prove innocence. The state must get a search warrant from a court before conducting a search.
Norms, policies and procedures developed over time to protect the rights of the accused were obliterated in the Trump investigations, particularly by the FBI in its pursuit of evidence against Trump in the Russia collusion case. It was from this soil that his impeachment came for charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Which brings us to the FISA Court.
The FISA Court is unlike any other in the United States. By law it operates in secret and when the FBI seeks a warrant from the Court, there is no defense attorney to contest it. That, and the misstatements contained in the Carter Page FISA warrants, is why Judge Rosemary M. Collyer observed that the FBI has a higher requirement of candor when submitting a request to the FISA court. In the case of Carter Page, that is a requirement the FBI spectacularly failed to meet. As a result, on December 17, 2019 Judge Collyer issued a blistering order telling the FBI to report to her by January 10, 2020 on what it has already done and what it will continue to do in the future to reform itself. The order can be found at this link.
Which brings us to why progressivism, best described as managerial socialism, is bound to fail. For its implementation it necessarily relies on independent agencies managed by Platonic philosopher Kings divorced from the hurly burly of politics and political accountability. The predictable result is policy failure and more centralization of power in an increasingly coercive central bureaucracy whose raison d’être eventually degenerates into the accumulation of political power for its own sake. All in the name of managerial efficiency in the pursuit of an unattainable end; namely the perfection of man and society.
None of which is to imply that Trump is innocent of abusing the power of his office. Of course he did. So did Barrack Obama and George W Bush, unless of course you think it’s just fine for the President of the U.S. to have on his desk a kill list of U.S. citizens to be summarily executed by drone strike. Or perhaps turn the IRS loose on political opponents as in the Lois Lerner affair.
But let’s go to President Clinton for an example of behavior that is more directly comparable to the behavior for which President Trump has been impeached, but Clinton was not. (He was impeached and acquitted for a whole other set of alleged misdeeds). This instance concerns a memo leaked to the Washington Times, as reported by the Washington Post. The relevant paragraph is quoted below.
“The memo, as quoted in the [Washington] Times, said Clinton pledged to work with Yeltsin to maintain “positive” relations with the United States as both men seek reelection this year. One way to do this, the memo quoted Clinton as saying, is for Yeltsin to stop restricting poultry imports. Clinton said “this is a big issue, especially since 40 percent of U.S. poultry is produced in Arkansas,” the memo said.” See the Washington Post link here.
So with respect to Nancy Pelosi and Company “having no choice” but to impeach Trump, spare me the sanctimony. Sure, his judgment and behavior have been, and probably will continue to be appalling. So what else is new? But let’s not pretend that this is anything other than a progressive power play designed to court the base and short circuit voter preferences before the elections on November 3, 2020.
Democracy doesn’t die in darkness. It dies on the front page in plain sight of all those willing to look.
The latest hysterical outbursts about climate change make two assertions: (1) that we have only 12 years before climate catastrophe is irreversible and that (2) as a result we are facing mass extinction. John Stossel recently attempted to moderate a debate on the subject–but it turned into a panel discussion because the climate alarmists declined to participate. Here (below) is a brief video on the discussion.
The systematic mishandling of the FBI’s investigation into the charge that candidate Trump colluded with Russia in order to win the 2016 presidential election suggests more than administrative sloppiness combined with routine government incompetence. One need not be a Trump admirer—and there are few people who have a lower opinion of the man than I do—to recognize that the behavior of the FBI was egregiously out of bounds and that the mainstream press shielded the FBI from critics.
Consider the findings of Inspector General Michael Horowitz. In an exhaustive review of the FBI’s handling of the Trump collusion investigation Horowitz detailed appalling errors of judgment and violations of FBI rules—by the FBI. These were not small scale or trivial errors. And that assumes they were merely errors. In this respect it should be noted that Horowitz found evidence a relatively low-level FBI lawyer actually tampered with documents related to the probe.
The report on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation includes examples of what Horowitz describes as threats to constitutionally protected activity, including First Amendment activity. To be sure, Horowitz did not find the proverbial smoking gun proving the existence of a deep state conspiracy that Trump and Company are busy whipping up. But neither did it “debunk” anything of substance.
The party line among Democrats and their cheerleaders in the press has been that the IG found no political bias so that we might as well get on with the business of impeachment.
Not so fast.
What the IG actually said was “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed.” He went on to say that “While we did not find these decisions were the result of bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice”. The IG said that while he could find no documentary evidence that the mistakes were the result of political bias rather than gross incompetence, he was not satisfied with the explanations he was given. Finally, referring to his report he said “ It doesn’t vindicate anybody at the FBI who touched this, including the leadership”.
So how plausible is it that there was no political bias, when according to the evidence:
The FBI systematically committed egregious violations of its norms and policies;
An FBI lawyer altered relevant documents;
Two FBI agents (Peter Strzok and Lisa Page) involved in the inquiry were texting each other about “stopping” Trump and creating an anti-Trump “insurance policy” ;
That Andrew McCabe was fired for lying about his role;
That McCable’s sworn testimony directly contradicts James Comey’s sworn testimony;
That Bruce Ohr’s wife was being paid by Fusion GPS, a fact that Ohr conveniently neglected to include on his financial disclosure forms
The obvious questions are: Was this FBI behavior unusual? Does the FBI routinely botch investigations this way? Or was this a special case, and if so, what is the explanation for it?
If you parse the IG’s statement what he effectively said was (1) there is a low threshold for starting an investigation, which the FBI met and (2) nobody wrote a memo to the file outlining bias, so (3) let’s go with gross incompetence even though the explanations received are unsatisfactory.
The idea that the top echelons of the FBI were not politically motivated is a tough sell, especially when you consider the Lois Lerner episode. That fiasco is starting to look like a dress rehearsal for the Russia collusion story. In the Tea Party episode the IRS targeted conservative Tea Party organizations to stop them from fundraising for the upcoming 2012 Presidential elections. Needless to say, the bureaucracy dug in its heels and claimed that no such thing happened before finally admitting it. Attorney General Eric Holder put the FBI—yes that FBI—in charge of investigating the incident. Not surprisingly, nothing serious came of it. But lots of relevant IRS email files mysteriously went missing. And Lois Lerner, who was formerly a Democratic Party operative before going to the IRS, took the 5th before Congress, collected a bonus and retired.
The FBI Collusion investigation would not be the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last when an Administration turns to Executive Agencies to punish political enemies. Richard Nixon did it, so did Lyndon Johnson, and J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t exactly a Boy Scout either. It increasingly looks like the Obama Administration was not a lot different, just better at it.
Political bias is not the main or only issue. It is possible, however unlikely, that gross incompetence is the sole explanation, in which case we have a huge structural and institutional problem. A more likely explanation is that this whole sorry tale is really about the corruption of power and the threat an ever growing federal bureaucracy poses to the civil liberties of American citizens regardless of political viewpoint. The power of corruption is an equal opportunity employer.
Boris Johnson, who will inevitably be tagged as BoJo by the tabloids, won a huge victory in Thursday’s snap elections. When the dust settled the Tories wound up with a 78 seat majority in Parliament. Also, the Scottish Nationalist Party bested Labour there, and the Tories grabbed many constituencies that have voted Labour for decades, in the process relegating Labour to its weakest position since right after World War II. What happened?
It would probably be more accurate to refer to a huge Labour loss than a big Tory win, for reasons I will get into shortly. First though, let’s consider the most likely causes for Labour’s defeat. Three are especially salient. They are: Brexit, Socialism and the rise of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
In the summer of 2016 Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU). Then the political establishment spent the better part of 3 years trying to sabotage the vote—all allegedly in the interests of “saving democracy”. The strategy was to delay withdrawal from the EU until a second referendum could be held to nullify the first. In response, Johnson kicked “Remain” Tories out of the Party, called snap elections and promised to “Get Brexit Done”. For its part, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour stayed neutral on Brexit, promising a second referendum. This obvious ploy backfired. Voters who backed Brexit meant it, and they responded to Labour’s sabotage effort by abandoning the Party in droves in the December 12 vote.
The second reason for Labour’s dismal showing was its return to a hard edge Socialism not seen in Britain since the 1970s when Arthur Scargill went to to war with, and was crushed by, Margaret Thatcher. The Labour Party in its election manifesto promised a whole slew of economic policies that would crush the British economy, currently 6th largest in the world, and return it to the dark days if the 1970s—or worse.
For instance, Labour proposed its version of a Green New Deal, branded as Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution. They promised to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. They would adopt command and control policies to direct investment toward that end. They would “…rewrite the Treasury’s investment rules to guaranty that every penny spent is compatible with our climate and environmental targets”. The would regulate the country’s financial sector by giving financial authorities “…powers to manage the risk to financial stability posed by short-sighted investment in polluting assets.” They would change the listing criteria for the London Stock Exchange so that “any company that fails to contribute to tackling the climate and environmental emergency is delisted”. They proposed to “…put people and planet before profit by bringing our energy and water systems into democratic public ownership”. This is to say that they intend to nationalize utilities and energy firms and control financial firms by regulation.
But it would be a mistake to over interpret the results. The British people simply voted against economic lunacy; they most emphatically did not endorse a retrenchment of the welfare state or radical de-regulation. On the contrary, Boris Johns promised a spending blowout on the National Health Service, public schools and other state agencies. Conservative leaning libertarians dodged a bullet, but it was not a philosophical victory—not by a long shot.
The final element in the result was the rise of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The pollsters were virtually unanimous in describing how the voters expressed dismay, if not loathing, of Jeremy Corbyn. But his policy proposals, while delusional, were nothing new. We have seen it all before. But the response to them was decidedly not expressed as a desire for freeing up markets or a reduction in the welfare state; if anything the opposite applies. Opposition to Labour tended to be expressed with respect to Jeremy Corbyn, the individual. Couple that with the rise of anti-Semitism on the political left generally, and it suggests that the British people, who have a reputation for fair play, were disgusted with Corbyn’s well-publicized flirtation with Hamas and various other anti-Semites.
It would be wise for liberals in the United States to look at the results in the UK and ponder what it may mean for politics in the U.S.
CNN is reporting that “current and former FBI officials tell CNN they’re concerned that the harsh rhetoric coming from Trump and Barr has only worsened the bureau’s already tenuous standing with the President, leaving them wondering whether federal agents could be less aggressive the next time they have to pursue an investigation.”
CNN goes on the report that Barr “…seized on findings in a blockbuster inspector general report to scold the FBI for using “intrusive” tools with only “flimsy” evidence, and he questioned whether they’d been motivated by bias. Those attacks were particularly noteworthy given that the report found no evidence of bias or improper motivation in the FBI’s decisions to use counterintelligence techniques. The report did however point out serious mistakes and mishandling of evidence by the FBI.”
So let’s unpack this, starting with the obvious. The rhetoric President Trump routinely employs reflects the subtlety and nuance of its author, which is to say: none. It is plain to see that Trump has a great deal of difficulty forming complete sentences. It would be nice, for instance, if the President could occasionally utter a sentence—or send out a Tweet—that actually has a subject, verb and object along with a modifier or two. But I’m not counting on it. And juvenile name calling is hardly the standard we should expect from anyone claiming to be an adult.
But let’s face a few facts here. First, CNN’s sources are interested parties, some of whom may be targets of John Durham’s ongoing investigation into how the whole investigation was handled. Second, contrary to the claims of James Comey, the report of Inspector General Michael Horowitz didn’t vindicate anybody. How do we know? Because that’s his testimony. According to the Washington Post, in his Congressional testimony on December 11, Horowitz said “I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this FISA,” referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications to monitor Page.
So the relevant question is what did the IG conclude? The answer is that essentially he found (1) no testimonial evidence of improper political FBI bias in the conduct of the investigation, but (2) he found a whole raft of official misstatements and errors, procedural and otherwise. From which we can conclude that the FBI, from top to bottom, displayed a spectacular level of incompetence, stunning even by government standards. Anyone who doubts this simply has to take a quick glance through the IG Executive Summary, particularly pages vii through xv. The report can be found here.
But it doesn’t stop there. This is the type of egregious behavior that would normally have the ACLU and various other progressive civil liberties groups shouting from the rooftops. Not this time. It looks like concern for civil liberties is getting pretty selective over in those quarters.
And as for chilling effects—when law enforcement agencies run rampant over citizens’ rights—that’s exactly what we need.
Rivals for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg (D. South Bend IN), have taken to firing at each other over the issue of transparency. Each is busy pretending that other has failed to produce sufficient detail with respect to past earnings, although neither has explained why it matters other than to drop dark hints about corruption.
The real reason has nothing to do with corruption, for which there is no evidence whatsoever. It is actually part of the ongoing progressive rhetorical war on success and embrace of the politics of class war and resentment. They are each afraid that their past employment and the amounts they earned will make them appear “elitist”. Which, of course, they are. And to quote Jerry Seinfeld: not that there is anything wrong with that.
To put the absurdity of all this in context let’s take a look at the numbers. Elizabeth Warren disclosed that she earned about $1.9 million over the last 3 decades from legal work she earned while moonlighting. That is about $63,000 a year, not adjusted for inflation; hardly an amount to get excited about. After all she earned those rather modest fees by providing legal services. But apparently the word “earn” is verboten in progressive circles for anything over the minimum wage.
In response to pressure, Peter Buttigieg prevailed upon previous employer McKinsey & Co to allow him to disclose details of his work at the consulting firm during his tenure there from 2007 – 2010. In 2019 compensation at McKinsey for new employees with an undergraduate degree included a base salary of $85,000 and a maximum bonus of $20,000 with a cap of on total cash compensation of $105,000. For MBAs and PhDs the respective numbers are: salary $165,000, bonus cap $65,000 and total compensation capped at $230,000.
Those numbers are fairly modest by Wall Street standards, given the level and quality of educational attainment. But they are sufficiently high to stir up resentment among Democratic Party primary voters. So consider this absurdity: while the Democratic Party has increasingly attracted highly educated, highly compensated voters (largely because the Republican Party is pushing them out the door) the party’s progressive base has taken to launching vituperative attacks on highly educated, highly compensated citizens.
This little intramural war does raise a substantive question though. As they battle for the Party’s nomination, is it possible that Elizabeth Warren and Peter Buttigeig actually believe the economic nonsense they are trying to peddle? Are they really ashamed of the relative success they have achieved in their respective careers? Does Elizabeth Warren actually really truly believe that a vibrant society can co-exist with the central planning she proposes for roughly everything? Does Peter Buttigeig seriously believe that a society of 330 million people with a $20 trillion GDP needs Mayor Pete’s Power Point managerial socialism and an ever expanding bureaucracy to attack the fundamental issues that America needs to address? It would be closer to the mark to say that the “solutions” offered by Warren and Buttigieg et.al. are more likely a source of the problem, not the answer.
It ought to be painfully obvious that all society’s have elites. Some are market based and are therefore more likely than not to be meritocracies; others are based on some variation of the Divine Right of Kings and depend on courtiers to run the show, which seems to be the direction in which the Democrats are headed.
The most important near term test vote for U.S. Presidential politics is not the pending pre-ordained impeachment of Mr. Trump by the Democratic House, soon to be followed by acquittal by the Republican Senate. Nor is it the fast approaching Iowa caucus, scheduled for February 3, 2020, or the New Hampshire primary, scheduled for February 11, 2020. The most important vote takes place in Britain this Thursday December 12 in the contest between the current Tory PM Boris Johnson, and the Labour candidate Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr. Johnson has a comfortable lead in the polls. Nigel Farage leader of the Brexit Party is cooperating with Johnson by not running candidates against Brexit friendly Tories, so that pro-Brexit candidates avoid splitting the vote. While Johnson has a lead in the polls it is worth noting that (a) British polling results have been less than stellar, and that (b) Theresa May managed to blow a 17 point polling lead the last go around. `
Boris Johnson’s campaign has two major planks. First, he insists he will “get Brexit done.” Second he says that Britain will continue to depend on a market economy to produce prosperity. On the other hand, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is essentially an old line communist / socialist who has yet to find a bad word to say about dictators in Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela etc. Plus he is an anti-Semite who maintains friendly relations with Hamas. When it comes to Brexit he is playing coy, saying that he will remain neutral until there is another referendum, so that “the people can decide”.
Of course, the people already decided in the last referendum. But they didn’t vote the right way. So the game plan is to have vote after vote until the people vote the right way, in which case the results will be declared to be definitive.
The British election provides a clear unvarnished choice between a market friendly pro-Brexit Tory PM and an old line anti-Semitic socialist who promises to nationalize key British industries and impose punitive taxes on “the rich”. If Jeremy Corbyn wins this contest, it does not bode well for the United States. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the Squad will have the wind at their backs.
This Just In…
In a recent Monmouth University Poll 900 respondents were asked whom they would rank as the better President: George Washington or Barrack Obama. Among registered voters 58% named Washington as the better President while 33% picked Obama. Among self-identified Democrats 63% chose Obama as the better President against 29% who picked Washington.
In a different poll when Republicans were asked to choose between Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump, 53% chose Trump as the better President.
And while we are at it…
In 2015 then New York Attorney General Eric Schniederman (a Democrat) sued Exxon Mobile under the Martin Act claiming that shareholders were defrauded by Exxon. The government argued that Exxon had defrauded investors by not revealing its internal estimates of projected future compliance costs of climate regulations. Schniederman’s successor, Letitia James (a Democrat), prosecuted the civil lawsuit, which does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It only requires a preponderance of the evidence. Nevertheless, the judge presiding over the case found Exxon not guilty on all counts.
In response, according to the Wall Street Journal, Ms. James later made this statement. “Despite this decision, we will continue to fight to ensure companies are held responsible for actions that undermine and jeopardize the financial health and safety of Americans across our country, and we will continue to fight to end climate change”.
No one this side of sanity can have any doubt whatsoever that this obviously losing case was brought for political purposes. The respective Attorneys General were simply looking to burnish their street cred with climate activists to prepare for the next campaign. And they were perfectly happy to abuse their power for that purpose. Which come to think of it, is exactly what Donald Trump is credibly accused of.
But somehow or other I don’t expect to see an outpouring of progressive voices demanding Ms. James’s removal from office.
Politics is downstream from culture in that politics is shaped by culture. Famous writers like George Orwell (1984), Arthur Koestler (Darkness at Noon) and Mario Vargas Llosa (The War of the End of the World) have ruminated on this and warned of the dangers of fanaticism, ideology and detachment from reality.
Unfortunately, lots of artists, and certainly many important ones, have had long term love love affairs with various forms of collectivism. Unbeknownst to the public at large, these artists and writers have had a powerful influence on shaping the culture in which we now live. They include everyone from pop stars to serious philosophers. These would include a wide variety of players ranging from the unserious (e.g., James Cameron, Madonna, Sean Penn, Woody Guthrie) to serious writers and thinkers (e.g, Jean-Paul Sartre, Isaac Brodsky, John Steinbeck).
As a result, art has too often simply become a propaganda tool that totalitarians are only too happy to use. Large works of sculpture celebrating “Socialist Realism” are still featured in Tiananmen Square, for instance. Interestingly enough, one art form that has not been seriously compromised (yet anyway) is the art of the stand-up comic.
Dictators (and for that matter social justice warriors, AKA totalitarians in waiting) are fearful of comedy for the obvious reason that their power is diminished when they are the subject of jokes and are easily made to look like fools. Not to put too fine point in it, there are not a lot of easy laughs emanating from North Korea or Cuba. That said it is worth considering that people like Jerry Seinfeld have indicated they are not interested in doing shows on “woke” campuses.
With that in mind, it is worth watching th short video clip by John Stossel below.