Look in the mirror, lefty

Investors Business Daily:

When not worrying that its increasingly hostile anti-Trump antics might backfire on Democrats, the left is busy blaming President Trump’s own incivility for the ferocity of their attacks. But this is exactly how the left treats all conservatives, rough-hewn or not.

After a week in which a celebrity called for the abduction of the president’s young son, a restaurant kicked out Trump’s spokesman, and a mob harassed the Homeland Security secretary, Democrats are starting to wonder if their “resistance” is getting out of hand — while refusing to take any blame for it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi managed to perfectly encapsulate this when she said “Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable.”

The blame-Trump-first meme has been catching on fast.

Writing in the Washington Post, Paul Waldman complains about having “to hear, in the era of Trump, that liberals are the ones being ‘uncivil’…. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

CNN’s Byron Wolf says today’s lack of civility “should surprise exactly no one in a time when the president uses the imagery of invaders and infestation to describe immigrants.”

Writing in USA Today, Jason Sattler argues that we should “stop defending decorum and do something about Donald Trump,” who, Sattler says, is “running a propaganda campaign against immigrants that incites comparisons to Hitler’s early attacks on Jews.”

But the suggestion that things would be better and tempers cooler if Trump weren’t so abrasive is utterly and completely false.

Consider the “civility” shown by Democrats toward the eminently civil “compassionate conservative” President Bush.

Protesters regularly carried signs saying things like “Save Mother Earth, Kill Bush,” “Hang Bush for War Crimes,” “Bush=Satan,” “Bush is the only Dope worth Shooting.” They burned Bush and other administration officials in effigy countless times.

Jonathan Chait wrote a 3,600-word word piece for the New Republic in 2003 on “the case for Bush hatred.” In it, he admitted that “I have friends who … describe his existence as a constant oppressive force in their daily psyche.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams gave a speech at a women’s peace conference in Dallas in 2007 declaring that “right now, I could kill George Bush.” The audience laughed, and she won praise for her “bravery.”

Pollster Geoff Garin told The New York Times that Bush hatred was “as strong as anything I’ve experienced in 25 years now of polling.”

The winning film at a 2006 Toronto film festival was a movie — Death of a President — that realistically depicted Bush’s assassination.

The left regularly compared Bush to Hitler, just as they are now with Trump.

Playwright Harold Pinter said that “the Bush administration is the most dangerous force that has ever existed. It is more dangerous than Nazi Germany.”

Harry Belafonte called Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world.”

Writing in Time magazine in 2003 — just two years after Bush took office — Charles Krauthammer (a trained psychiatrist) noted that “Democrats are seized with a loathing for President Bush — a contempt and disdain giving way to a hatred that is near pathological.” He coined a phrase to describe it: “Bush derangement syndrome.”

What was the left’s excuse back then for its gleeful indulgence in hatred and incivility toward friendly George Bush? Simple: They didn’t like his policies.

That’s always been the left’s response to politicians they don’t agree with: Harass, attack, belittle, demean, threaten, scream … and repeat. Unlike Republicans, however, the left never gets called on its hate-mongering.

Sure, Trump’s barbed rhetoric and insults fan the flames of today’s incivility. And like most people, we’d prefer that he adopt a more presidential tone.

But even if Trump had the temperament of Mister Rogers, Trump derangement syndrome would be just as virulent and widespread as it is today.

Not because of anything Trump has said or tweeted. But because he’s successfully enacting a conservative agenda that the left doesn’t like, and will do anything to stop. Anything, that is, except engage in a calm, reasonable debate.

You can tell the writer wasn’t around in the 1970s or 1980s and isn’t from Wisconsin. Otherwise the writer could have added similar deranged feelings about Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan (called “Ronnie Raygun” on the UW campus) and Gov. Tommy Thompson. Derangement on the left is a feature, not a bug.

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Freedom for conservative academics

James Wigderson:

Marquette University Political Science Professor John McAdams prevailed at the Wisconsin Supreme Court in his lawsuit against the university to get his job back. McAdams, represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), has been fighting the university since 2014 after being suspended over a blog post criticizing an instructor in the philosophy department.

In a statement released shortly after the decision was announced, WILL President Rick Esenberg said the ruling was “a major blow for free speech.”

“Since the beginning, the only thing Professor McAdams wanted to do was to teach students without having to compromise his principles,” Esenberg said. “Yet Marquette refused to honor its promises of academic freedom and now, thanks to the Supreme Court, he will be able to teach again.”

Esenberg said “this is a major day for freedom.”

“It is our sincere hope that Marquette University appreciates and learns from this episode and takes care to guard free speech on campus,” Esenberg said.

However, while Marquette University has said it will comply with the order, the university does not sound like they have had a sudden conversion to supporting free speech following the Court’s decision.

“Academic freedom must include responsibility. Unfortunately, Marquette can’t undo the significant harm that he caused to the former student teacher’s academic career,” Marquette University said in a statement Friday. “We must, however, ensure that this doesn’t happen to another student. Marquette will continue to uphold its values and protect its students.”

In a 4-2 decision written by Justice Daniel Kelly, the Court said Marquette violated McAdams’ contractual guarantee of academic freedom:

The undisputed facts show that the University breached its contract with Dr. McAdams when it suspended him for engaging in activity protected by the contract’s guarantee of academic freedom. Therefore, we reverse the circuit court and remand this cause with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Dr. McAdams, conduct further proceedings to determine damages (which shall include back pay), and order the University to immediately reinstate Dr. McAdams with unimpaired rank, tenure, compensation, and benefits, as required by § 307.09 of the University’s Statutes on Faculty Appointment, Promotion and Tenure (the “Faculty Statutes”).

Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, Justice Rebecca Bradley, and Justice Michael Gableman joined Kelly in the majority. Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley dissented.

The Court’s decision is a reversal of a decision by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge David Hansher who ruled that precedent required him to defer to the university on disciplinary matters.

Addressing that question, Justice Kelly wrote:

We may question, and we do not defer. The University’s internal dispute resolution process is not a substitute for Dr. McAdams’ right to sue in our courts. The University’s internal process may serve it well as an informal means of resolving disputes, but as a replacement for litigation in our courts, it is structurally flawed.

McAdams was suspended indefinitely by the university in 2014 after a post on his blog, The Marquette Warrior, criticized philosophy instructor and graduate student Cheryl Abbate. In a recorded conversation, Abbate told a student at the Catholic university she would not allow discussion of viewpoints critical of same-sex marriage in her class.

When McAdams’ blog post about the incident went viral, Abbate said she received a number of harassing emails, and McAdams was suspended. Following an investigation, a faculty committee issued a report in January 2016 recommending unpaid suspension for McAdams through the fall 2016 semester.

However, Marquette University President Michael Lovell added extra requirements before McAdams could be reinstated. McAdams refused to comply, effectively ending his employment at Marquette, and he sued the university to get his job back.

While it was a conservative majority on the Court who decided in favor of McAdams, the academic freedom case sometimes cut across the normal political divisions. A number of liberal academics supported McAdams in the free speech case, while a Milwaukee business group, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), filed a brief in support of Marquette University. MMAC and Marquette University have a number of board members in common, and Marquette University is a member of The Business Council, a 501c3 affiliate of MMAC.

Justice Rebecca Bradley, in a concurring but separate opinion, answered the concerns of the business organization over an employer’s right to set work rules.

“The court received a variety of amicus briefs from private businesses concerned about the reverberations of this case on the private sector. Their fears are unfounded,” Bradley wrote. “University campuses inhabit a unique environment. The doctrine of academic freedom has no application within private enterprise, unless of course a private entity incorporates the doctrine into employee contracts. Marquette University, although a private institution, chose to guarantee academic freedom to McAdams in his contract.”

The Wall Street Journal adds:

The case stems from a blog post by Mr. McAdams about a graduate instructor who had told a Marquette student that opinions against same-sex marriage would not be tolerated in her ethics class. The university says Mr. McAdams proved himself unfit by naming the graduate instructor, Cheryl Abbate, and linking to her publicly available website in his post on the encounter, so it suspended him. Even after losing the case Friday, the university continues to accuse Mr. McAdams of having used his blog to intentionally expose “her name and contact information to a hostile audience that sent her vile and threatening messages.”

The court is categorical in rejecting this argument. “Our review of the blog post,” reads the majority opinion, “reveals that it makes no ad hominem attack on Instructor Abbate, nor does it invite readers to be uncivil to her, either explicitly or implicitly.” a private institution Marquette has the right to set its own standards for fitness, as well as to limit the speech of its employees. The difference here, as the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty noted in its defense of Mr. McAdams, is that the professor’s contract promised he could not be punished for exercising academic freedom or exercising his rights under the Constitution.

As the court put it, the “undisputed facts show that the University breached its contract” with the professor. So the ruling orders Marquette “to immediately reinstate Dr. McAdams with unimpaired rank, tenure, compensation and benefits.” It also calls for “further proceedings to determine damages (which shall include back pay).” In short, it is a complete vindication for the professor.

From the start we urged Marquette to acknowledge its mistake and reach some accommodation with Mr. McAdams. In its statement responding to the decision, the school says it will comply with the court order but insists it was in the right. Apparently more than the students need instruction at Marquette.

The shrinking church

Ed Stetzer:

Christians recently celebrated Easter, a Sunday where many churches are robust and full. But, if current trends continue, mainline Protestantism has about 23 Easters left.

The news of mainline Protestantism’s decline is hardly new. Yet the trend lines are showing a trajectory toward zero in both those who attend a mainline church regularly and those who identify with a mainline denomination 23 years from now.

While the sky isn’t falling, the floor is dropping out.

The trajectory, which has been a discussion among researchers for years, is partly related to demographics. Mainline Protestants, which has been the tradition of several U.S. presidents, aren’t “multiplying” with children as rapidly as evangelicals or others of differing faiths. And geography matters. Places where Protestants live are now in socio-economic decline, and parts of the country like the Sun Belt are become more evangelical with every passing winter.

And as Episcopal researcher Kirk Hadaway explained in 1998, “nontraditional groups, including once-marginal Protestant churches, smaller sects and non-Western religions, have increased. At the same time, a growing number of people have shed their particular religious affiliations, saying they are just ‘religious, spiritual’ or have no religion at all.”

But I think something deeper is going on. …

It’s not the whole story, but here’s an argument for at least part of what has happened. Over the past few decades, some mainline Protestants have abandoned central doctrines that were deemed “offensive” to the surrounding culture: Jesus literally died for our sins and rose from the dead, the view of the authority of the Bible, the need for personal conversion and more.

Some of mainline Protestants leaders rejected or minimized these beliefs — beliefs that made the “protest” in Protestantism 500 years ago — as an invitation for more people to join a more culturally relevant and socially acceptable church. But if the mainline Protestant expression isn’t different enough from mainstream culture, people turn to other answers.

I’m an evangelical (which, I assure you, has its own set of problems). However, I became a Christian in the (very mainline) Episcopal Church. I take no delight in mainline Protestantism’s decline and am hoping and praying for a reversal. And I know many in the mainline Protestant tradition seek to follow Jesus and are working to change the trend line of decline.

And, ultimately, mainline Protestants likely do have many more than 23 Easters left. Churches will be restarted and revitalized and there will be advancement initiatives. Mainline Protestants won’t cease to exist completely in 23 years because they trend will probably slow, but the data does not give us good hope for their future.

My personal hope is that mainline Protestantism will experience a resurrection of sorts, something Christians tend to have faith in. However, such a move won’t come from following the trajectory it has been following.

The future of mainline Protestantism is connected to Christianity’s essential past, where the resurrection can be proclaimed again unabashedly. Jesus is not just a good person who suffered unjustly. Jesus’s death and resurrection makes our dead souls alive again.

In the 1970s, Dean Kelly wrote an often-cited book on why conservative churches are growing, stating that even amid hostility toward organized religion, conservative churches seemed to grow.

Is part of the answer for mainline Protestantism to grow more conservative?

It depends on how you define “conservative.” For some, they hear a call to become Trump supporters, deny climate change science or support huge tax cuts. That’s not what I’m talking about.

But a recent study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, based upon a Canadian sample, goes into the theology of the mainline. As David Haskell explained in The Washington Post, “[W]e found 93 percent of clergy members and 83 percent of worshipers from growing churches agreed with the statement ‘Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb.’ This compared with 67 percent of worshipers and 56 percent of clergy members from declining churches.”

Of course, you can’t say, “Mainliners all believe this or that,” but the numbers above suggest a theological gap, even on something as basic as what Easter means, and that gap has both theological and statistical implications.

If mainline Protestantism has a future, it will need to engage more deeply with the past — not the past of an idealized 1950s, but one that is 2,000 years old. The early Christians saw a savior risen from the dead, heard a message that said he was the only way and read scriptures that teach truths out of step with culture, both then and now.

I imagine that many mainline Protestants would agree, and perhaps the supernatural message of Easter, believed and shared widely, could bring the resurrection that mainline Protestantism needs.

And 2039 is just not that far away.

The New York Times abandons the First Amendment

Adam Liptak‘s opinion masquerades as “analysis” in the New York Times:

On the final day of the Supreme Court term last week, Justice Elena Kagan sounded an alarm.

The court’s five conservative members, citing the First Amendment, had just dealt public unions a devastating blow. The day before, the same majority had used the First Amendment to reject a California law requiring religiously oriented “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide women with information about abortion.

Conservatives, said Justice Kagan, who is part of the court’s four-member liberal wing, were “weaponizing the First Amendment.”

The two decisions were the latest in a stunning run of victories for a conservative agenda that has increasingly been built on the foundation of free speech. Conservative groups, borrowing and building on arguments developed by liberals, have used the First Amendment to justify unlimited campaign spending, discrimination against gay couples and attacks on the regulation of tobacco, pharmaceuticals and guns.

“The right, which had for years been hostile to and very nervous about a strong First Amendment, has rediscovered it,” said Burt Neuborne, a law professor at New York University.

The Citizens United campaign finance case, for instance, was decided on free-speech grounds, with the five-justice conservative majority ruling that the First Amendment protects unlimited campaign spending by corporations. The government, the majority said, has no business regulating political speech.

The dissenters responded that the First Amendment did not require allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace and corrupt democracy.

“The libertarian position has become dominant on the right on First Amendment issues,” said Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the Cato Institute. “It simply means that we should be skeptical of government attempts to regulate speech. That used to be an uncontroversial and nonideological point. What’s now being called the libertarian position on speech was in the 1960s the liberal position on speech.”

And an increasingly conservative judiciary has been more than a little receptive to this argument. A new analysis prepared for The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech. That is a sharp break from earlier eras.

As a result, liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them.

“The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. “Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”

Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.

Take pornography and street protests. Liberals were once largely united in fighting to protect sexually explicit materials from government censorship. Now many on the left see pornography as an assault on women’s rights.

In 1977, many liberals supported the right of the American Nazi Party to march among Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Ill. Far fewer supported the free-speech rights of the white nationalists who marched last year in Charlottesville, Va.

There was a certain naïveté in how liberals used to approach free speech, said Frederick Schauer, a law professor at the University of Virginia.

“Because so many free-speech claims of the 1950s and 1960s involved anti-obscenity claims, or civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests, it was easy for the left to sympathize with the speakers or believe that speech in general was harmless,” he said. “But the claim that speech was harmless or causally inert was never true, even if it has taken recent events to convince the left of that. The question, then, is why the left ever believed otherwise.”

Some liberals now say that free speech disproportionately protects the powerful and the status quo.

“When I was younger, I had more of the standard liberal view of civil liberties,” said Louis Michael Seidman, a law professor at Georgetown. “And I’ve gradually changed my mind about it. What I have come to see is that it’s a mistake to think of free speech as an effective means to accomplish a more just society.”

To the contrary, free speech reinforces and amplifies injustice, Catharine A. MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote in “The Free Speech Century,” a collection of essays to be published this year.

“Once a defense of the powerless, the First Amendment over the last hundred years has mainly become a weapon of the powerful,” she wrote. “Legally, what was, toward the beginning of the 20th century, a shield for radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed, has become a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations buying elections.”

In the great First Amendment cases in the middle of the 20th century, few conservatives spoke up for the protection of political dissenters, including communists and civil rights leaders, comedians using vulgar language on the airwaves or artists exploring sexuality in novels and on film.

In 1971, Robert H. Bork, then a prominent conservative law professor and later a federal judge and Supreme Court nominee, wrote that the First Amendment should be interpreted narrowly in a law-review article that remains one of the most-cited of all time.

“Constitutional protection should be accorded only to speech that is explicitly political,” he wrote. “There is no basis for judicial intervention to protect any other form of expression, be it scientific, literary or that variety of expression we call obscene or pornographic.”

But a transformative ruling by the Supreme Court five years later began to change that thinking. The case, a challenge to a state law that banned advertising the prices of prescription drugs, was filed by Public Citizen, a consumer rights group founded by Ralph Nader. The group argued that the law hurt consumers, and helped persuade the court, in Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, to protect advertising and other commercial speech.

The only dissent in the decision came from Justice William H. Rehnquist, the court’s most conservative member.

Kathleen M. Sullivan, a former dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that it did not take long for corporations to see the opportunities presented by the decision.

“While the case was litigated by consumer protection advocates,” she wrote in the Harvard Law Review, “corporate speakers soon became the principal beneficiaries of subsequent rulings that, for example, struck down restrictions on including alcohol content on beer can labels, limitations on outdoor tobacco advertising near schools and rules governing how compounded drugs may be advertised.”

That trend has continued, with businesses mounting First Amendment challenges to gun control laws, securities regulations, country-of-origin labels, graphic cigarette warnings and limits on off-label drug marketing.

“I was a bit queasy about it because I had the sense that we were unleashing something, but nowhere near what happened,” Mr. Nader said. “It was one of the biggest boomerangs in judicial cases ever.”

“I couldn’t be Merlin,” he added. “We never thought the judiciary would be as conservative or corporate. This was an expansion that was not preordained by doctrine. It was preordained by the political philosophies of judges.”

Not all of the liberal scholars and lawyers who helped create modern First Amendment law are disappointed. Martin Redish, a law professor at Northwestern University, who wrote a seminal 1971 article proposing First Amendment protection for commercial speech, said he was pleased with the Roberts court’s decisions.

“Its most important contributions are in the commercial speech and corporate speech areas,” he said. “It’s a workmanlike, common sense approach.”

Liberals also played a key role in creating modern campaign finance law in Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 decision that struck down limits on political spending by individuals and was the basis for Citizens United, the 2010 decision that did away with similar limits for corporations and unions.

One plaintiff was Senator Eugene J. McCarthy, Democrat of Minnesota, who had challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1968 presidential primaries — from the left. Another was the American Civil Liberties Union’s New York affiliate.

Professor Neuborne, a former A.C.L.U. lawyer, said he now regrets the role he played in winning the case. “I signed the brief in Buckley,” he said. “I’m going to spend long amounts of time in purgatory.”

To Professor Seidman, cases like these were part of what he describes as a right-wing takeover of the First Amendment since the liberal victories in the years Chief Justice Earl Warren led the Supreme Court.

“With the receding of Warren court liberalism, free-speech law took a sharp right turn,” Professor Seidman wrote in a new article to be published in the Columbia Law Review. “Instead of providing a shield for the powerless, the First Amendment became a sword used by people at the apex of the American hierarchy of power. Among its victims: proponents of campaign finance reform, opponents of cigarette addiction, the L.B.G.T.Q. community, labor unions, animal rights advocates, environmentalists, targets of hate speech and abortion providers.”

The title of the article asked, “Can Free Speech Be Progressive?”

“The answer,” the article said, “is no.”

Liberals were correct in their advocacy of free speech in the 1960s. Liberals and progressives who condemn free speech are 100 percent wrong today. I recently checked, and the First Amendment contains no phrases like “unless someone is offended” or “unless someone’s feelings are hurt by your free expression.”

 

Coming to a multiplex near you

News on the movie front — and if you grew up in Madison you should recognize this …

…. starts with John Fund:

The movie that many Americans have been waiting for — a full-length feature on the life of Ronald Reagan — is becoming a reality. Last week, it was announced that 64-year-old Dennis Quaid (The Right StuffSoul Surfer) has been signed to play Reagan in a biographical movie scheduled for release next year. Quaid will play Reagan as an adult, and teenager David Henrie will play the Gipper as a young man. The film is produced by Mark Joseph, who has been an executive on 45 films ranging from The Passion of the Christ to Max Rose, the last film starring comedian Jerry Lewis. The executive producer is Ralph Winter, of the X-Men superhero franchise.

What makes the movie exciting to Reagan fans is that it will be the first movie that will not seek to take down or tarnish the former president. Reagan was intimately involved with Hollywood for some 30 years, first as a leading man, then as the host of the top-rated General Electric Theater and as six-term president of the Screen Actors Guild. But most of Hollywood never forgave Reagan for becoming a conservative. Take Ida Lupino, the noted actress and director. She used to babysit Reagan’s children in the 1950s. But after he became a Republican in 1962, she cut off all ties and never spoke with him again.

The films in which the character of Reagan has made an appearance have reflected that bitterness. In 2003, CBS hired left-wing activist James Brolin, Barbra Streisand’s husband, to play Reagan in a three-hour miniseries. The New York Times got hold of an advance script and found several scenes, involving the Hollywood blacklist and AIDS, that it called “historically questionable.” One showed Nancy Reagan begging her husband to help AIDS patients only to hear him reply, “They that live in sin shall die in sin.” Lou Cannon, Reagan’s most prolific biographer, dismissed the film by saying the assertion that Reagan had been an FBI informant was “really wrong” and that “Reagan was not intolerant” toward gays. CBS executives eventually caved and shunted the film to their Showtime cable channel, where it bombed.

That disaster kept Hollywood silent on the topic of Reagan for about a decade. Then, in 2016, only weeks after the death of Nancy Reagan, it was announced that Will Ferrell was going to star in a “comedy” about Ronald Reagan’s slipping into Alzheimer’s while he was still president. The script had made Hollywood’s informal roster of the best unproduced scripts making the studio rounds. It was given a live read, with Lena Dunham and James Brolin (again!) playing various parts. Here is the summary:

When Ronald Reagan falls into dementia at the start of his second term, an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander in chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.

Luckily, the outrage from Alzheimer’s-advocacy groups and the Reagan family forced Ferrell to abandon the project only two days after it was announced.

Mark Joseph, the producer of the new Reagan film starring Quaid, says he felt compelled to make his movie before Hollywood attempted once again to rewrite history. His research has been meticulous. He personally reviewed KGB and FBI files kept on Reagan. He interviewed more than 50 of Reagan’s friends, aides, and cabinet members. Among them were people who rarely grant interviews, such as Donn Moomaw, Reagan’s pastor, and Ben Aaron, one of the surgeons who operated on Reagan after the attempted assassination against him in 1981. The script is based on two biographies by Reagan historian Paul Kengor and is personally endorsed by Ed Meese, Reagan’s close confidant and attorney general while he was president.

The script premise is a fascinating one. It begins with a Putin-like figure, the new leader of Russia, visiting a nursing home to interview an old KGB agent named Viktor Petrovich (played by Jon Voight) to learn how Reagan and the U.S. defeated Communism. The movie tells Reagan’s story through Petrovich’s eyes as he follows Reagan for four decades; Petrovich can’t get his superiors to heed his warnings about Reagan until it is too late. The Petrovich character is a composite of several KGB agents who did indeed track Reagan throughout his career. The film also covers other aspects of Reagan’s life, including his domestic policies and religious faith.

“The story of Reagan is a fascinating one, whatever one’s politics,” Joseph told me.

We came at it from the angle of wondering what his enemies thought of him and how they followed him and ultimately lost to him. Nobody knew him like his enemies did — and it’s through that lens that we tell the story. It’s impossible to understand the last century without understanding who Ronald Reagan was.

I agree, and here’s my prediction: It will be impossible for millions of Americans to resist seeing a film that finally puts Ronald Reagan in proper historical perspective, and that will be highly entertaining to boot.

Given Joseph’s involvement, I’m guessing Reagan fans need not worry about a Brolin- or Ferrell-like savaging of Reagan in this movie. Of course, sometimes things change. Consider actor Timothy Bottoms, who played George W. Bush for laughs in Comedy Central’s “That’s My Bush” and a Bush-like doofus in “Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course,” but then played dead-serious Bush in Showtime’s “DC 9/11.”

Quaid is an interesting casting choice. I’ve been a fan of his ever since one of the most underrated movies of all time, “The Big Easy.” For some reason I saw that before Quaid’s portrayal of astronaut Gordon Cooper in “The Right Stuff.”

Meanwhile, Jordan J. Ballor writes about a movie now in theaters:

I saw Incredibles 2 over the Father’s Day weekend, and just like its predecessor, there’s a lot to ponder beneath the surface of this animated film. In the real world we’ve had to wait 14 years, but the sequel picks up basically where the original left off.

As the Rev. Jerry Zandstra wrote of the original, “litigiousness and mediocrity are some of the biggest obstacles in our culture. The propensity to settle every dispute by legal action undermines values, such as trust and forgiveness, that are essential to the maintenance of genuine community. Fear of rewarding or achieving excellence discourages human persons from fulfilling God-given potential.” In the sequel, superheroes are still illegal, for reasons of both litigiousness and social anxiety over “supers,” that is, those who have super abilities.

Incredibles 2 has a lot to do with the virtues of a system that allows individuals to find out what they can do well and how those abilities can serve others for their good. In this, it is true to the stewardship mandate at the heart of all superhero tales: with great power comes great responsibility. Or as Jesus puts it, to those whom much is given, much is expected.

But the issues of trust are at play as well in the sequel, and in a way that shifts the focus beyond the legal system to the marketplace. It is always notable when the businessperson or the entrepreneur in a film is something other than the villain, and without spoiling it, Incredibles 2 stands out in this regard. The villain is someone who wants to sow discord and distrust, and who mocks the trust that, among other things, characterizes the marketplace. Why would we trust someone we don’t know well (or at all) to care about our interests? Adam Smith gave a compelling answer to that question long ago, but the film does a good job making the case for re-examining the dynamics of trust and distrust in a digital age.

And while it may not offer a fully-fledged theory or philosophy of society, Incredibles 2 does a fantastic job of opening up lines of conversation and discovery around a host of issues, including family structure and gender roles, vocation and stewardship, digital worlds and virtual reality, as well as law, justice, and the market. Among the offerings of brooding anti-heroes and gritty realism of many superhero films lately, Incredibles 2 is a film that is helping to make superheroes great again.

Remember: No capes.

And then The Spy Command reviews:

For the eighth James Bond film, star Sean Connery wasn’t coming back. Three key members of the 007 creative team, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, production designer Ken Adam and composer John Barry, weren’t going to participate. And producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were mostly working separately, with this movie to be overseen primarily by Saltzman.

The result? Live And Let Die, which debuted 45 years ago this month, would prove to be, financially, the highest-grossing movie in the series to date.

Things probably didn’t seem that way for Eon Productions and United Artists as work began. They had no Bond. Broccoli and Saltzman didn’t want Connery back for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. The studio didn’t want to take a chance and made the original screen 007 an offer he couldn’t refuse. But that was a one-film deal. Now, Eon and UA were starting from scratch.

Eon and UA had one non-Connery film under their belts, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. They had tried the inexperienced George Lazenby, who bolted after one movie. For the second 007 film in the series not to star Connery, Eon and UA opted for a more-experienced choice: Roger Moore, former star of The Saint television series. Older than Connery, Moore would eventually employ a lighter touch.

Behind the camera, Saltzman largely depended on director Guy Hamilton, back for his third turn in the 007 director chair, and writer Tom Mankiewicz. Mankiewicz would be the sole writer from beginning to end, rewriting scenes as necessary during filming. In a commentary on the film’s DVD, Mankiewicz acknowledged it was highly unusual.

Perhaps the biggest creative change was with the film’s music. Barry had composed the scores for six Bond films in a row. George Martin, former producer for the Beatles, would take over. Martin had helped sell Saltzman on using a title song written by Paul and Linda McCartney. The ex-Beatle knew his song would be compared to the 007 classic title songs Barry had helped write. McCartney was determined to make his mark.

Saltzman liked the song, but inquired whether a woman singer would be more appropriate. Martin, in an interview for a 2006 special on U.K. television, said he informed Saltzman if Eon didn’t accept McCartney as performer, the producer wouldn’t get the song. Saltzman accepted both. The song eventually received an Oscar nomination.

Live And Let Die wasn’t the greatest James Bond film, despite an impressive boat chase sequence that was a highlight. The demise of its villain (Yaphet Kotto) still induces groans among long-time 007 fans as he pops like a balloon via an unimpressive special effect. Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James), up to that time, was probably the most over-the-top comedic supporting character in the series. (“What are you?! Some kind of doomsday machine, boy?!”)

For Clifton James, the role was just one of many over a long career. But he made a huge impression. When the actor died in April 2017 at the age of 96, the part of J.W. Pepper was mentioned prominently in obituaries, such as those appearing in The New York TimesThe Guardian, The Associated Press and Variety.

Live And Let Die is one of the most important films in the series. As late as 1972, the question was whether James Bond could possibly continue without Sean Connery. With $161.8 million in worldwide ticket sales, it was the first Bond film to exceed the gross for 1965’s Thunderball. In the U.S., its $35.4 million box office take trailed the $43.8 million for Diamonds Are Forever.

Bumpy days still lay ahead for Eon. The Man With the Golden Gun’s box office would tail off and relations between Broccoli and Saltzman would get worse. Still, for the first time, the idea took hold that the cinema 007 could move on from Connery.

Many editors at the former Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website criticized the movie and its star in a survey many years ago. But the film has its fans.

“I vividly remember the first time I saw one of the Bond movies, which was Live And Let Die, and the effect it had on me,” Skyfall director Sam Mendes said at a November 2011 news conference. Whatever one’s opinions about the movie, Live And Let Die ensured there’d be 007 employment for the likes of Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

“Live and Let Die” is my favorite Bond movie.

Yes, the ending is ludicrous, but the entire premise has gotten increasingly ludicrous. That doesn’t mean Bond movies aren’t entertaining.

 

The cultural cold civil war, heading toward a shooting war

Francis Wilkinson starts with a liberal view of recent political history:

It seems, maybe, that President Donald Trump has abandoned his policy of separating children from their immigrant parents and warehousing them in detention facilities. But the conflict over the policy has been, among other things, starkly clarifying.

“I think we’re at the beginning of a soft civil war,” political scientist Thomas Schaller said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know if the country gets out of it whole.”

The heightened conflict of recent weeks led to more ominous rhetoric— anyone else notice the abundance of Nazi references from sane people? — and more definitive, unequivocal acts. Former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt renounced his party of 29 years this week and pledged to vote for Democrats until decency returns to the GOP.

Law professor and blogger Orin Kerr, perhaps sensing the ugly turn in the air, tweeted: “Few things are more corrosive in politics than the conviction that you have been wronged so much that you’re justified in breaking all the rules to get even.” …

And what if Democrats fall short in November? Especially if Democratic candidates get more votes than Republicans but fail to gain control of at least one side of Congress?

Here’s an easy prediction. Democrats will then experience rage — at Tea-Party levels or worse. …

Democrats won’t give up on democracy. It’s too central to their identity, and their commitment to democratic norms and processes is also their point of greatest contrast with Trumpism.

Instead, Democrats will give up on conservatives. They will give up on Alabama and Mississippi, on Kansas and Nebraska. They will explore ways to divorce their culture, politics and economy from Trumpism and from their fellow Americans who support it.

I don’t know exactly what that would look like. But liberals have a great deal of cultural, academic and economic heft, stretching from Hollywood to Harvard. Just this week, some Hollywood powerhouses flirted with leveraging their clout against the Trumpist Fox News. There are endless variations on such a power play. If Democrats opt to use their power more aggressively — breaking rules —Schaller’s soft civil war hardly seems unlikely.

“Democrats won’t give up on democracy”? That’s hilarious. Ask Wisconsin Republicans how often Democrats consulted the GOP when the former were in the minority in 2009 and 2010. Ask Congressional Republicans how often Barack Obama and his sycophants considered the GOP’s opinion when Democrats had total control of the federal government in 2009 and 2010. Former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D–Iowa) used the word “bullshit” frequently during his brief presidential campaign, and that’s a perfect word for the view through Wilkinson’s left eye.

Wilkinson prompted Glenn Harlan Reynolds to write:

The column by Francis Wilkinson presents a catalog of things Democrats are mad about — from the existence of the electoral college to Trump’s “propaganda apparatus” — and predicts that if Democrats lose the midterm elections, there will be hell to pay. (And Republicans, you know, could make a similar list of their own complaints.)

“I don’t know exactly what that would look like,” Wilkinson writes. “But liberals have a great deal of cultural, academic and economic heft, stretching from Hollywood to Harvard. Just this week, someHollywood powerhouses flirted with leveraging their cloutagainst the Trumpist Fox News. There are endless variations on such a power play. If Democrats opt to use their power more aggressively — breaking rules — Schaller’s soft civil war hardly seems unlikely.”

Well, actually this sort of thing seems to be well underway. Hollywood has basically turned its products, and its award shows, into showcases for “the resistance.” Americans are already sorting themselves into communities that are predominantly red or blue. And in heavily blue Washington, D.C., Trump staffers find that a lot of people don’t want to date them because of their politics.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was even kicked out of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, because the owner and employees disliked her politics. This seems like a small thing, but it would have been largely unthinkable a generation ago.

And, in a somewhat less “soft” manifestation, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was bullied out of a restaurant by an angry anti-Trump mob, and a similar mob also showed up outside of her home.

We interrupt with James Wigderson:

This probably sounds familiar to Wisconsinites who have seen leftist boycotts of everything from pizza to bratwurst because of politics. Penzey’s Spices, a company in Wauwatosa, has now made it a business model to call its Republican customers racist because President Donald Trump won, and before him Governor Scott Walker. Protesters even attempted to disrupt a Special Olympics event and the opening of State Fair one year because of their hatred of Walker.

Apparently the “coexist” bumper stickers are meant to be ironic.

But the disintegration of politics at the national level is particularly worrisome. We’re just a year removed since a Bernie Sanders supporter attempted a mass assassination of Republican Congressmen who were warming up for a intramural softball game against the Democrats. We’re not that far removed in time from violent riots at Berkeley and other college campuses.

Historian Michael Beschloss, not exactly an alarmist, is warning that he has seen this kind of behavior before. “It is almost beginning to sound like some of the things that happened before the Civil War,” Beschloss told Politico.

I’m not saying that denying someone a table at a restaurant should be compared to “Bleeding Kansas.” Nor am I even suggesting that the restaurants should be forced to serve Trump Administration officials.

But we’re to a point where civil discourse is becoming impossible. We’re no longer arguing at Thanksgiving Dinner like President Barack Obama encouraged us to do. The Left is just sputtering rage and attempting to bully everyone into thinking like they do.

Back to Reynolds:

Will it get worse? Probably. To have a civil war, soft or otherwise, takes two sides. But as pseudonymous tweeter Thomas H. Crown notes, it’s childishly easy in these days to identify people in mobs, and then to dispatch similar mobs to their homes and workplaces. Eventually, he notes, it becomes “protesters all the way down, and if we haven’t yet figured out that can lead to political violence, we’re dumb.”

Apparently, some of us are dumb or else want violence. As Crown warns, “We carefully erected civil peace to avoid this sort of devolution-to-a-mob. It is a great civilizational achievement and it is intensely fragile.” Yes, it is indeed fragile, and many people will miss it when it’s entirely gone.

Marriage counselors say that when a couple view one another with contempt, it’s a top indicator that the relationship is likely to fail. Americans, who used to know how to disagree with one another without being mutually contemptuous, seem to be forgetting this. And the news media, which promote shrieking outrage in pursuit of ratings and page views, are making the problem worse.

What would make things better? It would be nice if people felt social ties that transcend politics. Americans’ lives used to involve a lot more intermediating institutions — churches, fraternal organizations, neighborhoods — that crossed political lines. Those have shrunk and decayed, and in fact, for many people politics seems to have become a substitute for religion or fraternal organizations. If you find your identity in your politics, you’re not going to identify with people who don’t share them.

The rules of bourgeois civility also helped keep things in check, but of course those rules have been shredded for years. We may come to miss them.

America had one disastrous civil war, and those who fought it did a surprisingly good job of coming together afterward, realizing how awful it was to have a political divide that set brother against brother. Let us hope that we will not have to learn that lesson again in a similar fashion.

 

Sterling Hall 2.0?

Art Moore:

A writer for the popular progressive news website Splinter is warning supporters of President Trump that if they have a problem with the heckling of administration officials in public places, they haven’t seen anything yet.

“Do you think that being asked to leave a restaurant, or having your meal interrupted, or being called by the public is bad? My fascism-enabling friends, this is only the beginning,” writes Splinter senior writer Hamilton Nolan.

Pointing to history, he writes that the U.S. “had thousands of domestic bombings per year in the early 1970s.”

“This is what happens when citizens decide en masse that their political system is corrupt, racist, and unresponsive,” says Nolan.

“The people out of power have only just begun to flex their dissatisfaction. The day will come, sooner that you all think, when Trump administration officials will look back fondly on the time when all they had to worry about was getting hollered at at a Mexican restaurant.”

He reasons that when “you aggressively f— with people’s lives, you should not be surprised when they decide to f— with yours.”

Splinter is a news and opinion website owned by the progressive Gizmodo Media Group, a division of Univision Communications, the Hispanic media giant. Splinter’s direct owner, Fusion Media Group, was purchased from Disney in April 2016. Fusion describes itself as Univision’s multi-platform, English language division “dedicated to serving young, diverse America.”

The Gateway Pundit blog notes Splinter has 586,000 followers on Twitter.

Nolan, who counts an op-ed for the New York Times among his writing credits, contends Trump administration officials should not be allowed “to live their lives in peace and affluence while they inflict serious harms on large portions of the American population.”

“Not being able to go to restaurants and attend parties and be celebrated is just the minimum baseline here. These people, who are pushing America merrily down the road to fascism and white nationalism, are delusional if they do not think that the backlash is going to get much worse,” he says.

Nolan says some of the “Trump outrages,” such as “ripping families apart at the border, show their costs immediately; others, like eschewing the fight against climate change and neutering the EPA and mainstreaming white nationalist ideas, will be manifesting their costs for many decades to come.”

In the years 1971 and 1972 alone, according to the FBI, more than 2,000 bombs were planted throughout the United States by domestic terrorist groups. Among the chief culprits was the Weather Underground, led by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who hosted a fundraiser at their home to launch Barack Obama’s political career. Among the Weather Underground’s targets were the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol.

The warning of violence from the left comes amid a call by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., for more harassment of Trump administration officials.

WND reported Waters, declaring “God is on our side,” urged supporters at a rally in Los Angeles Saturday to step up resistance to Trump, claiming the president is “sacrificing our children.”

Vowing to “win this battle,” she said: “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere!”

Her call for harassment came a day after a Virginia restaurant owner kicked out White House press secretary Sanders and her family while they were dining. The owner, however, didn’t stop her political activism after Sanders and her family left. She followed family members across the street to another restaurant and organized a protest there.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, White House adviser Stephen Miller and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi were among other Republican government officials confronted by hostile protesters last week.

WND reported Tuesday that amid the recent controversy over separation of families at the border, interview guests and analysts on CNN and MSNBC have frequently branded supporters of President Trump as racists and Nazis.

On MSNBC, Donny Deutsch, the former host of a CNBC talk show, said anyone who votes for Trump is a “bad guy,” and he likened Trump voters to Nazi concentration camp guards.

“If we are working towards November, we can no longer say Trump’s the bad guy. If you vote for Trump, you’re the bad guy. If you vote for Trump, you are ripping children from parents’ arms,” Deutsch said on the “Morning Joe” show.

“If you vote for Trump, then you, the voter, you, not Donald Trump, are standing at the border, like Nazis going, ‘You here, you here.’ I think we now have to flip it and it’s a given, the evilness of Donald Trump,” he said. “But if you vote, you can no longer separate yourself. You can’t say, ‘Well, he’s okay, but. …’ And I think that gymnastics and that jiu-jitsu has to happen.”

Grabien News reported filmmaker and frequent MSNBC guest Michael Moore likened Trump voters to accomplices to rape.

“If you hold down the woman while the rapist is raping her, and you didn’t rape her — are you a rapist?”

Moore added: “Anybody who enables, anybody who votes for and supports a racist is a racist. You are culpable, white America, I’m sorry.”

Those of us who grew up in Madison know where this logically ends:

The logical next bloody step

The Washington Times asks:

The refusal of a Virginia restaurant owner to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the latest incident in the escalating public hostility directed at President Trump and his aides, raising concerns among some conservatives about the potential for partisan-inspired violence.

Leading Democrats largely failed to condemn the actions of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, where owner Stephanie Wilkinson asked Mrs. Sanders to leave Friday night because her liberal staff detests the administration and didn’t want to serve her party.

Mrs. Sanders agreed to leave, saying of the restaurant owner later on Twitter, “Her actions say far more about her than about me.”

The incident has sparked outrage among Trump supporters as another example of intolerance on the left and increasingly aggressive partisan confrontation, especially in the wake of the president’s rescinded policy on separating illegal immigrant children from their parents.

Possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders Joseph R. Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have done little to discourage the hostile rhetoric. Ms. Warren has accused the president of “taking America to a dark and ugly place,” and at least one of her colleagues went further, calling for total social ostracism and perpetual public confrontations.

In recent days, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been heckled and booed at a Mexican restaurant by activists and faced demonstrators outside her home. White House senior adviser Stephen Miller was called a “real-life fascist” by another patron at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.

A congressional intern screamed at Mr. Trump, “Mr. President, f– you!” as the president arrived at the Capitol last week for a meeting with House Republicans on immigration policy.

An openly gay Democratic Pennsylvania legislator greeted Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Philadelphia on Thursday by posting an Instagram photo of himself giving the middle finger to Mr. Pence. “Get bent, then get out!” wrote state Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia.

Hollywood is encouraging the public nastiness. Actor Robert De Niro got a standing ovation at the Tony Awards this month for saying onstage at Radio City Music Hall: “F– Trump.” Actor Peter Fonda called for the president’s 12-year-old son, Barron, to be “thrown into a cage with pedophiles.” He later apologized.

Comedian Seth Rogen bragged on TV about refusing to pose for a photo with Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in front of the lawmaker’s sons. Actor Tom Arnold vowed to protest at the school attended by the children of presidential daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Trump allies say liberals are increasingly targeting administration officials with open hostility because minority-party Democrats can’t stop the administration’s policies in Congress.

“The increasing personal nastiness toward people who work for President Trump reflects the left’s understanding that they are losing,” tweeted former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “Nastiness reflects desperation, not strength. They can’t win the argument, so they use nastiness. Sad and dangerous.”

Rush Limbaugh worried aloud on his syndicated show that the increasingly hostile rhetoric and confrontations are heading toward violence. He blamed the media for what he called incendiary coverage of the family separation issue at the border.

“If the media keeps this up — if they keep up generating this hysteria — somebody’s going to get killed,” Mr. Limbaugh said on his show. “I think we’re pretty close to somebody getting killed already, and I’m not being hyperbolic, and I’m not trying to call attention to myself. I’m genuinely worried about the out-of-control aspect of this. The news media’s fanning the flames.”

The episode that may have crystalized the extent of the partisan animosity came not at the gates of the White House but in bucolic Lexington, Virginia, a historic town of about 7,000 that is a three-hour drive outside the Beltway in the Shenandoah Valley.

Mrs. Sanders sat down to dinner there around 8 p.m. Friday with her husband, Brian, and several others at the Red Hen, a cozy, 26-seat restaurant known for its farm-to-table menu.

Shortly after Mrs. Sanders and her group arrived, a restaurant employee called the owner at her home nearby to complain about the White House staffer’s presence. Ms. Wilkinson drove to the restaurant, huddled with her staff, pulled Mrs. Sanders aside and asked her to leave.

“I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion,” Ms. Wilkinson told The Washington Post. “I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty and compassion and cooperation. I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave,’” and Ms. Sanders didn’t hesitate, replying, ‘That’s fine. I’ll go.’”

The restaurant owner said she would do the same thing all over again.

“We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one,” she said.

She said several of her employees are gay, and she cited the press secretary’s work for the “inhumane and unethical” Trump administration.

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Ms. Wilkinson said. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

After a flurry of news reports based on a waiter’s account on Facebook, Mrs. Sanders confirmed Saturday that she agreed to leave after being confronted by the owner.

“I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left,” she tweeted. “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

The Red Hen, which is not affiliated with the Red Hen restaurant in the District of Columbia, was promptly “Yelp-bombed” as thousands of commentators went online to post politically motivated one- and five-star reviews based on the Sanders incident.

The Red Hen’s Facebook page and Twitter account were also deluged with comments including “Thank you for standing up to the fascists” to “Nobody wants to eat at a place that bases service on politics.”

Lexington voted for Hillary Clinton by a 2-1 margin in the 2016 presidential election, while surrounding Rockbridge County voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump. It is home to the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.

Mrs. Sanders‘ father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, tweeted of the incident, “Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate.’ And appetizers are ‘small plates for small minds.’”

Mr. Huckabee received heavy criticism on the left over the weekend for tweeting a photo of MS-13 gang members with the comment, “Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House.”

Some said the confrontation at the Red Hen was evidence that political discourse in the U.S. has crossed an extreme line.

Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, tweeted Saturday: “I guess we’re heading into an America with Democrat-only restaurants, which will lead to Republican-only restaurants. Do the fools who threw Sarah out, and the people who cheer them on, really want us to be that kind of country?”

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, a frequent critic of the Trump administration, was one of the few Democrats to speak out against the restaurant owner’s actions.

“I think the restaurant owner should have served her. I really do,” Mr. Cummings said on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation.”

At the same time, he blamed the increasingly vicious political climate in large part on Mr. Trump.

“This tone is horrible,” Mr. Cummings said. “I think President Trump has created this. Since he’s become president and even before, he’s basically given people license to state things that are ugly, and those things then turn into actions, as we can now see.”

However, Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, took a different tack and called for more public confrontations. She told a cheering crowd that Trump administration officials should not be allowed anywhere in public.

“Let’s stay the course, let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up,” she said at a speech, the video of which was posted Sunday on social media. “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat, said Mrs. Sanders should be reported to the Office of Government Ethics for tweeting about a private business on her government Twitter account.

“If you use a government account to attack a private business on personal time, I mean, that’s not right,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Democrats routinely blame Mr. Trump for lowering the public discourse through his name-calling of political adversaries, including Ms. Warren (“Pocahontas”) and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (“a crude dope”).

Former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden even compared the family separation issue to death camps in Nazi Germany. That brought a rebuke from others, including University of Pennsylvania history professor Jonathan Zimmerman, writing at SFChronicle.com.

“If I engage in the same violent and irresponsible rhetoric as Donald Trump, I’m not ‘resisting’ him,” Mr. Zimmerman wrote. “To the contrary, I’m going into the muck with him. That’s not resistance; it’s capitulation.”

Public anger directed at Mr. Trump and top administration officials is increasing as the White House proposes to assign protection duties for Cabinet-level officials to the already stretched-thin U.S. Marshals Service. The Office of Management and Budget announced the plan Thursday as part of a proposed major overhaul of the federal government, including the merger of some Cabinet agencies.

Marshals around the country were alerted in a memo on Wednesday that the service was preparing for the move.

“Consolidate protective details at certain civilian Executive Branch agencies under the US Marshals Service in order to more effectively and efficiently monitor and respond to potential threats,” stated the White House’s recommendation. “Threat assessments would be conducted with support from the U.S. Secret Service.”

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, invited Mrs. Sanders back to Lexington, saying the rude reception she received at the Red Hen restaurant didn’t reflect the “kind and caring people” of his 6th Congressional District.

“What @PressSec experienced in Lexington [Friday] night is very unfortunate and doesn’t reflect accurately upon the kind and caring people of Lexington that I know,” tweeted Mr. Goodlatte. “There are many great innovative businesses in #VA06 that I hope you’ll come to back to visit.”

The next step is logical. Someone is going to get killed because of politics, either because of that person’s own views, or in reaction to someone else’s views. That might even happen in this state.

 

Conservatism’s new intellectual rock star

The Wall Street Journal:

Jordan Peterson doesn’t seem to think of himself as a conservative. Yet there he is, standing in the space once inhabited by conservative thinkers such as G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr. and Irving Kristol. Addressing a public that seems incapable of discussing anything but freedom, Mr. Peterson presents himself unmistakably as a philosophical advocate of order. His bestselling book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,” makes sense of ideas like the “hierarchy of place, position and authority,” as well as people’s most basic attachments to “tribe, religion, hearth, home and country” and “the flag of the nation.” The startling success of his elevated arguments for the importance of order has made him the most significant conservative thinker to appear in the English-speaking world in a generation.

Mr. Peterson, 56, is a University of Toronto professor and a clinical psychologist. Over the past two years he has rocketed to fame, especially online and in contentious TV interviews. To his detractors, he might as well be Donald Trump. He has been criticized for the supposed banality of his theories, for his rambling and provocative rhetoric, and for his association with online self-help products. He has suffered, too, the familiar accusations of sexism and racism.

From what I have seen, these charges are baseless. But even if Mr. Peterson is imperfect, that shouldn’t distract from the important argument he has advanced—or from its implications for a possible revival in conservative thought. The place to begin, as his publishing house will no doubt be pleased to hear, is with “12 Rules for Life,” which is a worthy and worthwhile introduction to his philosophy.

Departing from the prevailing Marxist and liberal doctrines, Mr. Peterson relentlessly maintains that the hierarchical structure of society is hard-wired into human nature and therefore inevitable: “The dominance hierarchy, however social or cultural it might appear, has been around for some half a billion years. It’s permanent.” Moreover, young men and women (but especially men) tend to be healthy and productive only when they have found their place working their way up a hierarchy they respect. When they fail to do so, they become rudderless and sick, worthless to those around them, sometimes aimlessly violent.

In viewing political and social hierarchies as inevitable, Mr. Peterson may seem to be defending whoever happens to be powerful. But he’s doing nothing of the kind. He rejects the Marxist claim that traditional hierarchies are only about the self-interested pursuit of power. Human beings like having power, Mr. Peterson acknowledges. Yet the desire for it also drives them to develop the kinds of abilities their societies value. In a well-ordered society, high status often is a reward conferred for doing things that actually need to be done and done well: defending the state, producing things people need, enlarging the sphere of knowledge.

Mr. Peterson does not deny the Marxist charge that society oppresses individuals. “Culture is an oppressive structure,” he writes. “It’s always been that way. It’s a fundamental, universal existential reality.” But he breaks with prevailing political thought when he argues that the suffering involved in conforming to tradition may be worth it. When a father disciplines his son, he interferes with the boy’s freedom, painfully forcing him into accepted patterns of behavior and thought. “But if the father does not take such action,” Mr. Peterson says, “he merely lets his son remain Peter Pan, the eternal Boy, King of the Lost Boys, Ruler of the non-existent Neverland.”

Similarly, Mr. Peterson insists it is “necessary and desirable for religions to have a dogmatic element.” This provides a stable worldview that allows a young person to become “a properly disciplined person” and “a well-forged tool.”

Yet this is not, for Mr. Peterson, the highest human aspiration. It is merely the first necessary step along a path toward maturity, toward an ever more refined uniqueness and individuality. The individuality he describes emerges over decades from an original personality forged through painful discipline. The alternative, he writes, is to remain “an adult two-year old” who goes to pieces in the face of any adversity and for whom “softness and harmlessness become the only consciously acceptable virtues.”

Like other conservative thinkers before him, Mr. Peterson’s interest in tradition flows from an appreciation of the weakness of the individual’s capacity for reason. We all think we understand a great deal, he tells his readers, but this is an illusion. What we perceive instead is a “radical, functional, unconscious simplification of the world—and it’s almost impossible for us not to mistake it for the world itself.”

Given the unreliability of our own thinking, Mr. Peterson recommends beginning with tried and tested ideas: “It is reasonable to do what other people have always done, unless we have a very good reason not to.” Maturity demands that we set out to “rediscover the values of our culture—veiled from us by our ignorance, hidden in the dusty treasure-trove of the past—rescue them, and integrate them into our own lives.”

In Western countries, that effort at rediscovery leads to one place. “The Bible,” Mr. Peterson writes, “is, for better or worse, the foundational document of Western civilization.” It is the ultimate source of our understanding of good and evil. Its appearance uprooted the ancient view that the powerful had the right simply to take ownership of the weak, a change that was “nothing short of a miracle.” The Bible challenged, and eventually defeated, a world in which the murder of human beings for entertainment, infanticide, slavery and prostitution were simply the way things had to be.

As many readers have pointed out, Nietzsche’s critique of Enlightenment philosophy—he once called Kant “that catastrophic spider”—is everywhere in Mr. Peterson’s thought, even in his writing style. It is felt in his calls to “step forward to take your place in the dominance hierarchy,” and to “dare to be dangerous.” It is felt in risqué pronouncements such as this: “Men have to toughen up. Men demand it, and women want it.”

A famous passage from Nietzsche describes the destruction of the belief in God as the greatest cataclysm mankind has ever faced: “What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing?”

Mr. Peterson chronicles the misery of individuals now drifting through this “infinite nothing.” But he rejects Nietzsche’s atheism, along with the conclusion that we can make our own values. In telling readers to return to the Bible, Mr. Peterson seeks to rechain the earth to its sun. That seems impossible. Yet a vast audience has demonstrated a willingness, at least, to try.

For Mr. Peterson, the death of God was followed inevitably by a quick descent into hell. During the “terrible twentieth century,” as he calls it, “we discovered something worse, much worse, than the aristocracy and corrupt religious beliefs that communism and fascism sought so rationally to supplant.” The Holocaust and the gulag, he argues, are sufficient to define evil for us, and “the good is whatever stops such things from happening.”

That is perfectly good Old Testament-style reasoning. Mr. Peterson adds Christian tropes such as the need for an “act of faith,” an “irrational commitment to the essential goodness” of things, a recognition that although “life is suffering,” sacrificing ourselves, as if on the cross, is pleasing to God.

Mr. Peterson’s intellectual framework has its weaknesses. He invokes recent social science (and its jargon) with a confidence that is at times naive. His often brilliant “12 Rules for Life” is littered with Heideggerian rubbish about “the betterment of Being,” in places where a thinker of Mr. Peterson’s abilities should have seen the need for a more disciplined effort to understand God. He lacks Nietzsche’s alertness to the ways in which the great religious traditions contradict one another, leading their adherents toward very different lives. Thus while Mr. Peterson is quite a good reader of the Bible, it is at times maddening to watch him import alien ideas into scripture—for instance, that the chaos preceding the creation was “female”—so as to fill out a supposed archetypal symmetry.

Nonetheless, what Mr. Peterson has achieved is impressive. In his writings and public appearances, he has made a formidable case that order—and not just freedom—is a fundamental human need, one now foolishly neglected. He is compelling in arguing that the order today’s deconstructed society so desperately lacks can be reintroduced, even now, through a renewed engagement with the Bible and inherited religious tradition.

Before Mr. Peterson, there was no solid evidence that a broad public would ever again be interested in an argument for political order. For more than a generation, Western political discourse has been roughly divided into two camps. Marxists are sharply aware of the status hierarchies that make up society, but they are ideologically committed to overthrowing them. Liberals (both the progressive and classical varieties) tend to be altogether oblivious to the hierarchical and tribal character of political life. They know they’re supposed to praise “civil society,” but the Enlightenment concepts they use to think about the individual and the state prevent them from recognizing the basic structures of the political order, what purposes they serve, and how they must be maintained.

In short, modern political discourse is noteworthy for the gaping hollow where there ought to be conservatives—institutions and public figures with something important to teach about political order and how to build it up for everyone’s benefit. Into this opening Mr. Peterson has ventured.

Perhaps without fully intending to do so, he has given the dynamic duo of Marxism and liberalism a hard shove, while shining a light on the devastation these utopian theories are wreaking in Western countries. He has demarcated a large area in which only conservative political and social thought can help. His efforts have provided reason to believe that a significant demand for conservative ideas still lives under the frozen wastes of our intellectual landscape.

If so, then Mr. Peterson’s appearance may be the harbinger of a broader rebirth. His book is a natural complement to important recent works such as Ryszard Legutko’s “The Demon in Democracy,” Patrick Deneen’s “Why Liberalism Failed” and Amy Chua’s “Political Tribes.” Representing divergent political perspectives, these works nevertheless share Mr. Peterson’s project of getting past the Marxist and liberal frameworks and confronting our trained incapacity to see human beings and human societies for what they really are. As the long-awaited revival of conservative political thought finally gets under way, there may be much more of this to come.

Sermon of the days we live in

Erick Erickson:

If it isn’t a gun, it would be a knife. If not a knife, it’d be car. If not a car, it’d be homemade pipe bombs. People are desperate to grasp onto something to stop the monstrous kids who storm into schools to gun down their peers. Getting rid of guns is a tangible thing that people think they can do in an age of “just do something” self-help that would make the situation better.

This situation is not getting any better. Ban the guns and the next kid will find a new way to make headlines killing the other kids he hates. Point to other countries all you want with exasperated angst that “it doesn’t happen there” and you’ll just be noting that we are not them and our problems are not their problems.

Our problem is that you have been at war with God and what we are seeing is a world where God has handed us over to ourselves. He has removed the protection he once offered and now we get to see what happens when God turns his back. You may call it crazy if you are not a believer, but for those of you familiar with Romans 1, well, you’re looking at it.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

God is not mocked and our society has been mocking him for some time. From the collapse of the family; to a culture of death that champions abortion on demand; to a growing hostility towards people of faith; to championing deviancy while normalcy is defined a deviant; to attacks on the two parent, heterosexual nuclear household; to porn culture, our society is rotten and these things happen in rotting societies.

This has always been under the surface. Now it is boiling out because God has handed us over to ourselves. Sure, you can say other nations without God are better. You can say that. But in Britain they have knifings on the street. In Iran they’re stoning people to death. Throughout western culture, societies are dying off as people have given up on procreation, distracted by the world. Our particular culture is more and more cruel. Your comparative culture studies only hide the problems in other countries as your own country’s problems are magnified. Additionally, you ignore that guns are embedded into the founding of culture unlike other countries. We have gun ownership as a constitutional right. Looking to other countries without that for solutions or to claim they’re better than us because their problems are not guns just distracts from the issue. Ours is an armed society that is morally collapsing and you can’t round up the guns even if you wanted to.

We have determined that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or don’t even matter. We have determined that sexual expression is the height of society. We have determined that humanity and personhood are severable. Frankly, even lax European cultures have less of a culture of death than we do. …

You people want government to ban guns because government is your god. You want government to just do something, anything, because you think government can solve the problems of brokenness. We are a broken culture and our government just reflects that. You on the left have gotten increasingly angry because you assumed if you controlled government you could steer culture in your direction. You thought you could stamp out injustice, inequality, and all your self-styled “phobias.” But government cannot fix these problems because government is a reflection of the people and we are all sinners. So all you’ve done is put sinners in charge of government and given them the idea that they can solve problems they can’t actually solve.

But spare me please those of you nodding along at this thinking its the “libtards” or secularists or whatever pejorative you want to you.

You’ve gone from thinking character counts to porn star sex is awesome. You put a man in charge of the country who doesn’t give a damn about the marital and family institutions you’ve been nodding along with thinking the left has destroyed. You’ve decided political expedience trumps morality and your President isn’t a priest so his behavior doesn’t matter. He’s David or Cyrus or some other divinely appointed figure.

God puts all leaders in their positions of authority. He put Barack Obama there and He put Donald Trump there. You want to give divine authority to the latter, but not the former. God also put Nero in charge, who then turned Christians into the street lamps of Rome. Spare me your outrage as you look on a society in collapse and think that a political leader can turn things around. You are doing what the left wanted done.

And now you want revival and repentance, but you probably don’t care to know your liberal neighbor any more than he cares to know you because you disagree over politics. You don’t want to find the common ground. Your moral hypocrisy is doing far more to help turn things upside down than the gay couple down the road from you.

If you want to start turning this country back and build a sense of repentance in the land, start with your own repentance and go from there. Stop cheerleading immoral bullies because they’re on your own team. Stop trying to find political leaders to fight for you instead of trusting the Almighty.

And you on the other side, recognize that all Christians are hypocrites and sinners and so are you. But the only way to turn back from the road ahead is for all of us to reclaim some level of common morality. Get to church. Get your kids to church. And love your neighbor — the actual person next door. Seek the welfare of your local community in which you are in exile before eternity and stop making Washington your idol. Washington will not change your life in the way your local community will. And if you want to stop kids from gunning each other down, build local relationship and build community and help restore local families and build communities open to outsiders. Stop thinking Washington will solve your problems for you. The guns aren’t going anywhere, but the sense of isolation and rage can go away without a government program.

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