The Coming November Slaughter

We are only 5 months away from the 2022 midterm elections and all indications are that the Democrats are about to be wiped out. Not just beaten; wiped out. The Party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in the first midterm, so with a razor thin majority the Democrats would normally be expected to lose their House majority anyway. But Democrats are working hard to turn a normal seasonal event into a Republican landslide.

Progressives, the drivers of the Democratic Party, are convinced that they will be punished at the polls if they don’t “get something done” by which they mean enact the Progressive wish list of policy proposals designed to make citizens ever more dependent on government incompetence. What is just fascinating about all this is that it is perfectly obvious to the community of the sane that the body politic just wants the Democrats to stop doing what they are doing. 

Consequently, all the Republicans have to do is stand around and pick up the pieces. It is probable—a near certainty—that control of the House will then revert back to the Republican Party. It is also likely that Kevin McCarthy will ascend to become Speaker of the House. (It is nice to daydream about Liz Cheney winning her seat, challenging McCarthy for the Speakership and winning, But that is not going to happen.) 

After the dust settles it is more likely than not that Mitch McConnell, one of a dwindling number of grown-ups in Washington, will once again become Majority Leader of the Senate.  But Republicans should wait before they start popping the champagne corks. Republicans are not going to get elected because they have an agenda they are running on. They didn’t even bother to have a party platform in 2020.   They are going to get elected because voters are going to throw the current crop of bums out. Republicans simply have to say “I am not a Democrat” and leave it at that. At least for now.

And why would that be? Well, the inflation rate has soared as has the crime rate. But President Biden is considering forgiving some student debt thereby stuffing more demand into a supply-constrained economy. Progressive prosecutors in deep blue cities are hesitant to actually prosecute crimes. So they have created an incentive for more of the same. 

In the meantime, supply chain problems continue and they are not going to go away any time soon. That is because, among other reasons, progressives are inclined to use government power to “solve” the problem they created in the first place rather than allowing flexible prices to work their magic. Even as we speak various “price gouging” bills are being introduced into the Congress by progressives. 

And then there is foreign policy. President Biden is being credited for his “deft” handing of the Russo-Ukraine war, by George Will among others. Actually though, a better word for describing Mr. Biden’s handling of the situation is inchoate. Three months into the war and the U.S. commitment continues to grow by leaps and bounds, without a hint of what the end game is or what our goals are. 

What happens, as seems probable, if Russia manages to capture most or all of the Donbas region of Ukraine? Does the Biden administration, which has put U.S. prestige on the line, have a plan to dislodge the Russian forces while still avoiding a nuclear exchange? What is the Biden Administration’s vision for the region (and the world order) when the war ends?  Russia is now blockading ports so that Ukrainian wheat can’t make it to market. Ultimately, the likely consequence is food riots in less developed nations. Then what?

And for all its bluster, the Biden defense budget barely keeps up with inflation, while the number of Navy warships  actually shrinks. Perhaps the Biden Administration thinks that China won’t notice. Or will forget about Afghanistan.

Thankfully, the voters are about to repudiate the Progressive agenda in a big way, but they are not about to embrace a Republican alternative. That’s because there is no Republican alternative. If Republicans want to make a difference and operate as a governing party they had better grow up, stop the nonsense about the “stolen election” and come up with a governing agenda. 

And while they are at it, tell Mr. Trump “Thanks, but no thanks”. 


Some Amazing Coincidences

The U.S. Inflation rate is currently around 8%, a 40 year high. 

Homicides rose 29% in 2020, followed by an additional 7% rise in 2021. 

The U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million migrants along the U.S. Mexico border in fiscal 2021, the highest number on record and quadruple the prior fiscal year. 

Real (inflation-adjusted) wages have fallen 1.2% since December 2019. 

Real (inflation-adjusted) GDP fell 1.4% in Q1 2022. 

The average price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline at the pump  is $4.328, up 46% from 1 year ago. 

The U.S. money supply at the end of March 2022 was $21.8 trillion, up 10% from 1 year ago. From mid February 2020 when the pandemic first hit until the beginning of April 2022, non-seasonally adjusted M2 (the US money supply) rose a staggering 44%. 

U.S. covid deaths hit 400,000 on January 20, 2021. As of May 9, 2022, U.S.  covid deaths total 1,024,546 according to the worldometer. 

The U.S. exit from Afghanistan was an “extraordinary success” according to President Joe Biden. 

We are in the 3rd month of the war that Russia launched on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. 

Except for the “extraordinary success” of the Afghanistan withdrawal, none of these events are the result of Biden Administration policies. Jen Psaki and President Biden have assured us of that. 

Cui Bono?

In the wake of the leak of Supreme Court Justice Alito’s draft opinion that would, if finalized, overturn Roe and Casey, the commentariat has gone into overdrive. Conservative writers tend to describe the draft opinion with adjectives like “brilliant” “insightful” and “courageous”. On the other hand, liberal commentators have tended to use adjectives like, “shocking”, “radical” and “frightening”. 

All of which goes to show that the commentators crowded into the peanut gallery are, for the most part, simply cheerleaders who have little new or interesting to say about the substance of the matter. They are simply propagandists. And like propagandists everywhere their work product lacks nuance and context. 

The fact is that if the Alito draft were to become the Court’s holding with either a 6 – 3 or 5 – 4 majority, the matter of abortion regulation would be sent back to the several states. Inevitably the people of New York, California, Illinois and New Jersey would, through their legislatures, enact different policy regimes than would the people of Texas, Utah, Missouri, Florida and Alabama. Despite the wailing of the progressive left, this is hardly an assault on democracy. 

But there is an assault on democratic institutions going on here. It is an assault led by the progressive left which has been in train since the 1960s. In considering this, the first thing to realize is that the progressive left defines democracy as events or processes that further progressive goals. Democracy, so defined, has nothing to do with fairness, due process, the rule of law, equal opportunity or individual choice. It is simply about the acquisition of power by “the right people”. 

Consider the history. The 1960s saw the birth of Students for a Democratic Society (the SDS) which eventually morphed into the “Weather Underground”. Later the Black Panthers and Youth International Party (Yippies) were formed. These organizations (sometimes singly, sometimes in concert) led a wave of violence in the 1960s and 1970s that included bombings across the United States, especially on University campuses that did Defense Department research. 

One of their most successful ventures–with an assist from the Chicago Police– was to provoke rioting that led to the complete breakdown of  law and order during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. At the subsequent “Chicago 7” trial, some of the defendants, in particular Rennie Davis (SDS), Tom Hayden (SDS), Abbie Hoffman (Yippies), Jerry Rubin (Yippies) and Bobby Seale (Black Panthers) managed to turn the proceedings into street theatre designed to attack the legitimacy of the proceedings. They largely succeeded. 

Subsequently (mostly) organized left-wing violence continued to plague America. To be sure there was a good deal of violence directed mostly at African-Americans by organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, especially in the South. Much later Islamic militants began to direct violence against the U.S. generally, paying particular attention to Jewish targets. 

Among the leaders of the violence was Bill Ayers. He was a co-founder of the Weather Underground modeled on the Red Guards of Chinese Cultural Revolution fame. The Weather underground launched a bombing campaign during the 1960s and 1970s against public buildings to, they said, protest the Vietnam War. After years of being hunted as a fugitive, charges against Ayers were dropped as a result of illegal actions taken by the FBI.

Ayers, who married Bernadine Dohrn, subsequently retired from his job as a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.  His wife, Dohrn, was also active in the Weather Underground and spent several years as a fugitive on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. She came out of hiding in the 1980s and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of aggravated battery and bail-jumping. Dohrn, a University of Chicago Law School Graduate, served for over 20 years as a Clinical Associate Professor at Northwestern University School of Law (1991 – 2013). 

Dohrn’s goal was the creation of a classless Communist society. She, along with 10 other SDS members issued a manifesto named after a line in Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues: “You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows”.  According To the Manifesto  “the goal [of revolution] is the destruction of US imperialism and the achievement of a classless world: world communism.”[8]

Perhaps the best way to get a sense of the fanaticism of Dohrn is to reflect on her comments regarding the Sharon Tate murders by the Manson clan. In a speech at a Weather Underground “War Council” she said “First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the pig Tate’s stomach! Wild!”

Let’s leave this happy couple for a moment to consider the story of Kathy Boudin, recently deceased at age 78. She too was a member of the Weather Underground, and lo and behold, she was friends with—wait for it—Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, who raised her son Chesa while she sat in jail after pleading guilty to a felony murder charge. After her release from prison in 2003, Boudin taught at both Columbia and New York Universities as an adjunct professor. 

If the name Chesa Boudin (Kathy’s son) rings a bell, it should. He is the San Francisco prosecutor, backed by George Soros, who basically refuses to prosecute criminals, leading to the chaos in San Francisco’s criminal justice system. A recall election is scheduled to take place this June 7. 

Variations on the theme of political violence and intimidation have been on display since time began—and not just by one umbrella group. As already noted the KKK has been practicing its intimidation tactics for quite some time, although thankfully its influence seems to have faded. But there are other splinter groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and various neo-Nazi groups ready to do damage as well as other radical left wing and jihadist groups. 

But something has changed. Unlike before, instead of putting out the fire, major political figures are now willing to pour gas on it. There is the obvious case of the January 6 riots in the Capitol. No sane observer doubts that Donald J Trump, while President of the United States, instigated that disaster and fanned the flames.

And we have the example of the rioting that took place across the country in 2020 under the auspices of Black Lives Matter (a Marxist group). These riots were routinely described as “mostly peaceful” by the establishment press when people were being murdered and entire neighborhoods were burned to the ground. And left wing politicians encouraged some (maskless) marches which were inevitably and predictably hijacked by Antifa and the like.  

Let’s not forget then-minority, now-majority leader Chuck Schumer speaking to a crowd at the Supreme Court in which he declared: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price.” The message could not be more clear: Intimidation and the threat of violence by proxy is an acceptable political tool. 

So it should be no surprise that Justice Alito’s draft opinion was leaked. Or that six of the conservative justices were doxed. Or that marches have taken place outside their private homes, and that more are planned. And it should not be a surprise that masses at Catholic Churches are being disrupted. 

It should not be a surprise for the simple reason that the point of the exercise is the same as it was back in 1969 during the Chicago 7 trial: it is to delegitimize America’s governing and civic institutions so as to make way for the new utopia.  Politicians who wink at this are playing with fire. They ought to think twice. 


Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. — Now What?

It’s right there on the front page of the New York Times: “After Ukraine Visit, Pelosi Pledges U.S. Support ‘Until Victory is Won’”.  Speaker Pelosi, of we-have-to-pass-this-bill -to-find-out-what’s-in-it fame, has yet to define what victory would look like other than to say, according to the Times, that “the United States would stand with its ally until Russia [is] defeated.”

It is difficult for any serious student of geopolitics to believe that this stunt is anything other than a desperate maneuver by Democrats to avoid a richly deserved shellacking come this November.  Consider for instance that the delegation Ms. Pelosi led to Ukraine consisted entirely of Democrats. Not a single Republican.  Why would that be? 

So here we are.  Ms. Pelosi has effectively declared  war on Russia which, by the way, she lacks the authority to do. Congress, not the Speaker, has the power to declare war under Article 1, Section 8. The President, however, is the Commander in Chief as specified under Article II, Section 2. It is the President acting in his capacity as Commander in Chief who has the authority to wage war. 

Of course a lack of legal authority has never been a serious impediment to Ms. Pelosi’s behavior.  As if to make the point, Ms. Pelosi refers to Ukraine as an “ally” of the United States, notwithstanding the fact that Ukraine is nothing of the kind. Yes, the U.S. and Ukraine have overlapping interests in resisting Russian aggression. But that does not make Ukraine an ally. The U.S. does have formal alliances with NATO members like the UK, Poland and Germany, a point that the Biden administration has been at pains to point out. But apparently the distinction between overlapping interests and an alliance is lost on Ms. Pelosi. 

Let’s turn to the substance of Ms. Pelosi’s remarks, about which the White House has thus far remained silent. (Perhaps there is a glitch in the White House teleprompter.) Some questions: what exactly is victory supposed to mean, and what are the implications for U.S. foreign policy? 

A retreat of Russian forces from Ukraine (and Crimea for that matter) would count as a victory of sorts. Then what? Is the plan to go back to status quo ante? Does anybody seriously think that is a possibility? Does Vladimir Putin—a war criminal according to President Biden—remain in power in Russia? Does Russia  (headed by said war criminal) remain a go-between for the United States and Iran as the Biden administration attempts to re-negotiate the Iran nuclear deal?  

What happens with U.S. energy policy? Does the U.S.  continue on with its Green New Deal fantasy while Russia rebuilds its fossil fuel capacity? Does Germany permanently break its ties with Russia, and its dependence on Russian energy? How about India, a consumer of Russian energy, which has yet to come out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? And then there is the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia refuses Biden’s phone calls, but talks with Russia. 

Let’s think about defense policy for a moment. What should the U.S. defense posture be? Any serious change would require a far more muscular defense policy. And yet shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine the Biden Administration proposed a defense budget that, in real inflation-adjusted terms, would have reduced U.S. defense expenditures while significantly expanding domestic spending. Does anybody seriously believe that Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are going to increase defense spending (including weapons acquisition) while reducing progressive domestic priorities? 

And that ignores China’s increasing aggressiveness in the South China Sea. And North Korea’s rediscovered penchant for test firing ballistic missiles. Ditto for Iran’s recent test launches of missiles capable of carrying warheads. With Pakistan increasingly hostile to U.S. interests and India playing footsie with Russia, absent a serious change in U.S. policy we could easily be facing a situation in which Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and India are adverse to U.S. interests.

The ultimate question—the obvious one that the political class is studiously avoiding—is whether the United States is ready to resume its post WW2 role as the guarantor of the security and stability of the West. Such a role would necessarily extend protection beyond the borders of Europe. It would require an expansion of the current network of alliances in Asia going beyond the existing ones with South Korea and Japan. It would also require the U.S. to adjust its relationship with China in order to wean China away from its increasingly adversarial foreign policy and  its domestic authoritarianism. Easier said than done. 

And what of Russia? The Biden Administration claims it wants to see Russia “weakened”.  That implies that Russia will always be an adversary. And to the extent that the U.S. actually has a policy vis-a-vis Russia, it is clear that the Biden Administration is simply hoping that someone, somewhere, somehow overthrows Putin and shuts down the war leaving a weakened Russia in its wake. 

Hope is not a strategy. Besides which there is no reason to think that a palace coup would create a Russia that is any friendlier to the West. The goal of the United States should not be to weaken Russia, it should be to wean Russia away from authoritarianism so that it can become a partner with the West. It is the only realistic long term strategy for preserving freedom.

Preserving freedom and peace is going to require a restoration of neoliberalism with its commitment to the rule of law and free trade, albeit with new rules. The United States is the only power  capable of globally enforcing a liberal rules-based order. It is a question of political will.

The United States faces a choice. It can resume its leadership of a neoliberal rules based order that will lead to greater freedom and prosperity. Alternatively it can continue its headlong rush over the progressive cliff to certain ruin. We should be under no illusions about this. The future, as always, will be determined by the choices we make; it is not pre-determined.