Category: US politics

The latest from the media wimps

The Daily Wire reports about this:

The White House issued a statement Monday condemning a graphic parody video showing President Donald Trump shooting members of the media, Democrats, and activist groups, which played at the American Priority Conference over the weekend as part of am “art installation” by professional meme-maker, Carpe Donktum.

The video, which has been on YouTube for sixteen months without much notice, attracted the attention of the New York Times, which posted a blockbuster breaking news report on the film Sunday night. Members of the media were quick to condemn the video, suggesting that it was an open call for violence against journalists and activists, and accusing the White House of promoting and encouraging violence.

The video doesn’t seem particularly well thought-out (Firth’s character is shot in the head at point blank range at the end of the scene), or constructed, and appears meant to “troll” the same news organizations the fictional President Trump takes aim at in the clip.

Outlets like CNN were quick to release statements condemning the video and demanding an apology from Trump.

“Sadly, this is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining — but it is by far and away the worst. The images depicted are vile and horrific,” CNN said in a statement released late Sunday. “The President and his family, the White House, and the Trump campaign need to denounce it immediately in the strongest possible terms. Anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence and should not be tolerated by anyone.”

AMP Fest organizers also condemned the video, noting that it’s showing was an “unauthorized” “meme exhibit” and that viewings took place in a “side room.”

“Content was submitted by third parties and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference in any official capacity,” event organizer Alex Phillips said, according to CNN. “American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review.”

The Trump campaign issued a confused statement back to CNN, noting that they had nothing to do with the video or its presentation but denounced the depiction of violence, regardless.

One reporter for Reason Magazine inadvertently revealed that room on Twitter while reporting from the conference. The room was empty.

Although demands to condemn the video lest it encourage violence against the media spread like wildfire across Twitter and Facebook, it appears the film clip has been up on YouTube since July of 2018 and, until Monday, had less than 100,000 views — a rather paltry total for a typical Trump parody piece. Once the New York Times called attention to the video, it, too, quickly went viral, in an odd example of the “Streisand Effect.”

Matt Walsh:

The Daily Wire notes that the controversial meme has been on the internet for a year without much notice. Only now, because of the media, do we all get a chance to see the thing that the media says might inspire violence against the media. If they were really concerned about the mystical powers of memes to inspire mass shootings, you’d think they would have just ignored this one and let it remain in obscurity.

But this controversy is interesting for a different reason. The meme makes use of a scene from the film “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” released back in 2015. In the original scene, Colin Firth’s character murders an entire church full of people in the Deep South. He shoots a woman in the face at point blank range, guns down dozens of other churchgoers, cuts someone’s head off, lights another guy on fire, and impales someone with a stake. But this is supposed to be alright, I guess, because everyone has been driven insane by a toxic gas. Plus, the church is a Westboro Baptist-stlye collection of crazy racists and homophobes.

Still, if a jokey meme showing Trump shooting news logos is “problematic” and even “dangerous,” then isn’t the original jokey scene showing a guy murdering churchgoers also problematic and dangerous? Yet, unsurprisingly, the media had little to say about the fictional bloodbath when it was first filmed. In fact, what little they did say was outright celebratory. The Washington Post, which labeled the Trump meme “vile and horrific,” used very different words to describe the scene on which it’s based. In a 2015 review of the film, Washington Post writer Michael O’Sullivan was positively rapturous, calling the cartoonish carnage “balletic” and a “masterclass.” A more recent article in The Ringer says the church massacre is the most “well regarded” moment in the film. The site concurs that the scene is indeed a “masterclass.” We should also note that the movie received generally positive reviews at the time of its release, earning a very respectable 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Personally, I don’t care much about the original scene or the meme. Both are probably in poor taste, but they’re too over the top and absurdly gratuitous to have any sort of profound impact on the viewer. I doubt that anyone will be inspired to shoot up a church because of “Kingsman,” just as I doubt that anyone will be inspired to kill media members because of this meme or any meme. But if you take the position that the meme is awful, vile, evil, and dangerous, then you must say the same about the scene that made the meme possible. If you claim that the meme encourages violence against the media, then you must claim that the original scene encourages violence against Christians. There is just no way to separate the two.

The situation for the original scene is not improved much by the fact that the victims are all Westboro racists. First of all, that’s how Hollywood sees all Christians. For Hollywood, there really is no difference between a Westboro church and any other church. Especially in the south. Second, making them bigots was obviously a cheap narrative trick designed to give the viewer permission to take delight in their mass execution. In reality, we would hopefully all agree that it is not okay to randomly mow down racists at church. Or maybe we can’t agree about that. Either way, there is no reason to panic over the meme if you didn’t panic when the movie came out four years ago.

I’m also still waiting to see the media’s condemnation of this …

… but I’m not holding my breath. Fictional depictions of deaths of Republican politicians are apparently OK.

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Impeaching Trump (and his voters)

William McGurn:

For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that Donald Trump is everything Democrats say he is: a president who abuses his national-security powers by siccing a foreign government on his political rival, a racist/bigot/nativist constantly using “dog whistles” to stoke division, a man uniquely unfit to sit in the Oval Office.

Assume Mr. Trump is all these things. With an election scarcely a year away, the question then becomes: Why impeach him now? Surely a president as abominable as this ought to be easy to defeat at the polls. Mr. Trump would appear to be especially vulnerable, given that last time he lost the national popular vote and won several battleground states by razor-thin margins.

The answer speaks as much to what Democrats think of Trump voters—they don’t trust them—as it does to what they think of Mr. Trump. In this sense, the push for impeachment now may reflect a lack of Democratic confidence that they can persuade enough of the voters who went for Mr. Trump last time to give them the margins they need for victory come November 2020.

The lack of confidence extends to doubts about each of their leading candidates. It’s no secret that many Democrats worry Joe Biden isn’t up to the job of taking on Mr. Trump. So long as Ukraine is in the news, stories about Hunter Biden’s sweetheart deal with a Ukrainian gas company will be in the news as well. Other Democrats, meanwhile, worry that Elizabeth Warren is too far left to win. And Bernie Sanders’s heart attack probably spells the end of any chance he might have had at the nomination.

A year ago, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told Roll Call that before using impeachment to overturn the results of the last election, Democrats would have to answer this question: “Do you think that the case is so stark, that the offenses are so terrible and the proof so clear, that once you’ve laid it all out you will have convinced an appreciable fraction of the people who voted for Trump, who like him, that you had no choice? That you had to do it?”

We are nowhere close to meeting the Nadler standard. True, public support for impeachment is up since news of Mr. Trump’s phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart broke. A FiveThirtyEight.com average of all the impeachment polls finds 46.5% for and 44.8% against. More telling is the divide the numbers show when they are broken down by party. While 79.1% of Democrats want impeachment, the number drops to 41.3% for independents and only 12.5% for Republicans.

So why the rush? Maybe because in addition to concerns about 2020, there’s an itch to punish Trump voters for what they did in 2016. In other words, it isn’t enough that Mr. Trump be defeated. His whole presidency must be delegitimized—along with the people who voted him in.

In 2016 Hillary Clinton famously expressed this contempt for Trump voters when she told wealthy donors at a Manhattan fundraiser “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

She went on. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

In “Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling,” reporter Amy Chozick confirms this was no one-off gaffe. Mrs. Clinton, she reports, used the line repeatedly to Democratic audiences she knew would appreciate the sentiment.

“The Deplorables always got a laugh, over living-room chats in the Hamptons, at dinner parties under the stars on Martha’s Vineyard, over passed hors d’oeuvres in Beverly Hills, and during sunset cocktails in Silicon Valley,” wrote Ms. Chozick. The unspoken corollary is that only a morally debased citizenry could have freely chosen Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton.

Today few publicly call Trump voters “deplorable.” But the assumption remains. Remember that high-school kid from Covington, Ky., who was accosted by a Native American activist? Simply because he was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, the 16-year-old was instantly transformed into the face of white supremacy by a good part of the American media.

When the facts finally emerged, of course, they told a much different story. But what happened to that Covington student could not have happened without many in positions of influence unthinkingly sharing the view that people who wear MAGA hats are what Mrs. Clinton says they are. Trump voters get this, while it doesn’t seem to occur to Democrats that the president’s supporters stick with him in part because they appreciate that the Trump hatred is directed at them as well.

In a poem written after East German workers rose up against their communist overlords in 1953, the playwright Bertolt Brecht suggested that if the government was dissatisfied with the lack of appreciation from its countrymen, perhaps it ought to “dissolve the people and elect another.” He meant it as irony. Some of those pushing hardest for impeachment appear to be taking it more literally.

Since the U.S. Constitution doesn’t specify what is an impeachable offense other than “high crimes and misdemeanors,” theoretically the House can impeach any president for whatever reason a majority of the House conjures up. There is no question, however, whether or not you approve of Trump, that this is this is the same kind of coup attempt Wisconsin Democrats attempted against Gov. Scott Walker in 2012.

 

Celebrating United Nations Month with red ink

Fox News:

The United Nations is facing its worst cash crisis in nearly a decade and is warning that it may be unable to pay its bills by the end of the month, while urging member states to pay their contributions to the world body immediately.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote to member states this week, saying that as of the end of September, they have only paid 70 percent of budget contributions, compared with 78 percent at this time last year.

“The Organization runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors,” a statement by Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Stressing the Charter obligation of Member States, the Secretary-General thanked the Member States who have paid their regular budget assessments, which is now 129, and urged those who have not paid to do so urgently and in full,” the statement said. “This is the only way to avoid a default that could risk disrupting operations globally. The Secretary-General further asked governments to address the underlying reasons for the crisis and agree on measures to put the United Nations on a sound financial footing.”

While the U.S. is one of the countries that have not paid its contribution in full, an official from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told Fox News that is in part because of differences in U.S. and U.N. fiscal years.

“To date this year, we have contributed over $600 million to UN peacekeeping operations, and will be providing the vast majority of the $674 million we owe to the 2019 regular budget this fall, as we have in past years,” the official said. “Overall the United States, as the largest contributor to the UN, contributes roughly $10 billion annually in assessed and voluntary contributions across the United Nations system.”

The official also said the U.S. has been clear that no single member should pay for more than a quarter of the U.N. budget. (The U.S. currently pays approximately 22 percent of the U.N.’s operating budget.) …

Guterres, meanwhile, says he has requested other measures, including reductions in travel, postponement of spending, and postponing conferences and other meetings.

The U.S. is unlikely to step in to help solve the problem anytime soon. The Trump administration has pushed for a re-evaluation of the U.N. budget and has been skeptical of the U.N.’s alignment with U.S. interests.

A recent State Department report found that the U.N. General Assembly is out of sync with U.S. interests in more than two-thirds of votes taken in 2018.

It is unclear why the U.S. should support an institution that doesn’t support the U.S., particularly the blatantly anti-American UNESCO. It is also unclear why the U.S. should support an institution that elevates human rights-abusing countries to not only be members of, but chair, the UN Human Rights Council.

It has been suggested elsewhere that it may be time for the U.S. and other Western countries to form their own organization of countries that believe in democratic and economic rights, unlike the vast majority of UN-member countries. This would be a good Trump project.

 

From #NeverTrump to never mind

Jeremy W. Peters:

In 2016, Erick Erickson could not have been clearer. Donald Trump was “a racist” and “a fascist.” It was no wonder, Mr. Erickson wrote, that “so many people with swastikas in their Twitter profile pics” supported him. “I will not vote for Donald Trump. Ever,” he insisted, adding his voice to the chorus of Never Trump Republicans.

Last week, Mr. Erickson, a well-known conservative blogger, titled one of his pieces “I Support the President.” In three years, he had come completely around, a transformation that is a testament to President Trump’s remarkable consolidation of support inside the Republican Party. The effort to impeach the president, Mr. Erickson wrote, was a desperate move by people “who have never come to terms with him.”

“Never Trump” no more, conservatives have largely resigned themselves to a more accommodating state of mind: “Never mind Trump.” And their change in attitude helps to mute the much smaller group of conservative voices who remain highly critical of the president and have questioned his conduct.

Glenn Beck, the radio host who once called Mr. Trump “an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity,” now says that his defeat in 2020 would mark “the end of the country as we know it.” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who so bitterly feuded with the president during the 2016 primaries that Mr. Trump gave out Mr. Graham’s cellphone number on national television, declared last week that impeachment was nothing but “a political set up.”

It can be difficult to remember that indignation and contempt for Mr. Trump once simmered in every corner of the conservative world. In August 2016, dozens of the most senior Republican national security officials signed a letter warning he would “put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Women leaders of the anti-abortion movement joined together before the Iowa caucuses in 2016 and issued a joint statement declaring themselves “disgusted” at his behavior, saying he had “impugned the dignity of women.” National Review published an “Against Trump” issue that featured essays from 22 prominent conservatives who all made a case for why he should be not be the Republican nominee.

At least half of those writers are now on the record making supportive comments about the president. Some, including Mr. Erickson and Mr. Beck, now fiercely defend Mr. Trump, joining many former foes who are speaking out loudly against the impeachment inquiry. Others who contributed to the issue like Ed Meese, the attorney general under Ronald Reagan, has helped Mr. Trump plan his transition and build his administration.

The “Never Trump” taint still lingers three and a half years later. National Review’s editor, Rich Lowry, said that, regrettably, that week’s magazine was remembered as the “Never Trump” issue. “I wish they’d never come up with that phrase,” he said. Mr. Lowry, who spent three weeks recruiting and assigning writers for the issue, still does not shy away from publishing or writing pieces that are harsh toward the president. But he acknowledges that Mr. Trump has helped conservatives like him “stress test your assumptions,” and has forced him to rethink issues like the need to take a tougher approach with China.

“Had I known this was going to be perceived as the bible of the anti-Trump movement, I never would have written it,” said L. Brent Bozell III, who in his National Review essay wrote, “Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all.” He now counts himself as a Trump convert.

There is significant exposure in airing even the most mild criticism of the president, as Mr. Bozell was reminded the other day when he pointed out on Twitter that China, whom Mr. Trump had just congratulated on its 70th anniversary as a communist republic, was a repressive regime.

“The fury is absolutely there for anyone who criticizes this president,” he said. Still, he offered nothing but scorn for the few remaining Never Trump Republicans, whom he accused of being self-righteous and politically shortsighted. “For a lot of the purists, they would rather go down in flames than look at any political equation,” he said. These are the people who supported George W. Bush when he did nothing for conservatives, and they don’t have any leg to stand on when it comes to passing judgment on Trump.”

Mr. Bozell has also discovered that there is a significant market for defending Mr. Trump against impeachment. Through the organization he founded, the Media Research Center, he has helped provide the Trump-friendly news media with a steady stream of videos and articles alleging bias in the mainstream news media’s coverage of impeachment. He has also co-authored a book this year on a similar theme: “Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump.”

In the Republican national security community, many still openly criticize Mr. Trump. But some of the most prominent signatories of the 2016 letter have taken a more charitable view of the president today, like Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary, and John Negroponte, the former director of national intelligence, who said earlier this year: “I certainly don’t think his presidency has been catastrophic.”

And at least one of those officials who signed the letter, James Jeffrey, now works for the Trump administration. He has a high-profile posting in the State Department as the special representative dealing with Syria.

The motivations for getting on board are considerable: a job, a bigger audience, a white knight-like belief that you can change things from the inside. “Some of this is pure opportunism and careerism,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a State Department official in the second Bush administration who signed the letter and also helped recruit like-minded Republicans to join an earlier anti-Trump letter that called the then-candidate “fundamentally dishonest.”
“Some people have an inflated notion of the good they can do from the inside,” Mr. Cohen added. “One of my pet hobbies is the study of the technocrats of Vichy, and there were a lot of people like that — some of them indeed making things less bad. And sometimes they were getting seduced by power.”Few changes of heart have been as head-spinning as the social conservatives and evangelical Christians who now consider Mr. Trump a hero. Many of the conservative women who once saw him as a boor have come to believe that for too long they were focused on the wrong qualities in presidential candidates. They wanted someone pious when they should have been looking for someone who could throw punches.

“I endorsed Rick Santorum in 2012. And Mike Huckabee,” said Penny Young Nance, who signed the statement in 2016 of anti-abortion activists opposing Mr. Trump. “But at the end of the day, I’m not sure those guys I love and admire would have had the guts to do what Trump has done,” she added.

Among the other considerations of “late adopters,” as Ms. Nance called herself, is how Mr. Trump relentlessly and savagely attacks the left and its leaders. “American women want a street fighter,” she said, “and this is the guy who puts the knife in his teeth and swims the moat.” She called Mr. Trump, “a gutsy New Yorker,” resisting the urge to use a less polite term that Mr. Trump might have used himself. “I could use a different word, but I won’t.”

For the few remaining holdouts, the willingness of so many conservatives to support Mr. Trump’s behavior is troubling. “I’ve heard from countless people who argue and believe that this is an existential moral moment and if a Democrat wins, darkness will descend on the land,” Peter Wehner, a speechwriter in the second Bush White House, said. “If that’s your mind-set, then of course you’ll engage in a lot of unholy alliances to defeat Satan.”

“I’m trying to determine what’s the limiting principle for a person when it comes to casting a vote for Donald Trump,” Mr. Wehner added. “And I’m not sure there is one.”

One way to prevent yourself from becoming a self-hypocrite is to have decided, as I did after Trump’s election, to support Trump when he does the right things (tax cuts) and oppose Trump when he does the wrong things (trade war, Second Amendment squishiness). How hard is that?

What our cultural civil war is about

Joel Kotkin:

The intellectual class across the West—encompassing its universities, media, and arts—is striving to dismantle the values that paced its ascendancy. Europe, the source of Western civilization, now faces a campaign, in academia and elite media, to replace its cultural and religious traditions with what one author describes as a “multicultural and post-racial republic” supportive of separate identities. “The European ‘we’ does not exist,” writes French philosopher Pierre Manent, assessing the damage. “European culture is in hiding, disappearing, without a soul.”

The increasingly “woke” values of the educated upper classes reflect, as Alvin Toffler predicted almost half a century ago, the inevitable consequence of mass affluence, corporate concentration, and the shift to a service economy. The new elite, Toffler foresaw, would abandon traditional bourgeois values of hard work and family for “more aesthetic goals, self-fulfillment as well as unbridled hedonism.” Affluence, he observed, “serves as a base from which men begin to strive for post economic goals.”

The driving force for these changes has been the ascendant clerisy, which, reprising the role that the Church played in medieval times, sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of the “oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven,” in the words of the great French historian of the Middle Ages, Marc Bloch. Traditional clerics remained part of this class but were joined by others—university professors, scientists, public intellectuals, and heads of charitable foundations. This secular portion of society has now essentially replaced the clergy, serving as what German sociologist Max Weber once called society’s “new legitimizers.” The clerisy spans an ever-growing section of the workforce that largely works outside the market economy—teachers, consultants, lawyers, government workers, and medical professionals. Meantime, positions common among the traditional middle class—small-business owners, workers in basic industries and construction—have dwindled as a share of the job market.

The educated, affluent class detests President Trump, whom many in the Third Estate support, and has rallied to its preferred candidate, Elizabeth Warren, who emerges from the legal and university communities and voices the progressive rhetoric common to this class. (Warren’s less brainy left-wing rival, Bernie Sanders, fares better among struggling, often younger workers.) Warren’s clerisy supporters represent what French Marxist author Christophe Guilluy calls the “privileged stratum,” which operates from an assumption of moral superiority that justifies its right to rule. They are the apotheosis of H. G. Wells’s notion of an “emergent class of capable men” that could “take upon itself the task of “controlling and restricting . . . the non-functional masses.” This new elite, Wells predicted, would replace democracy with a “higher organism” of what he called “the New Republic.”

For generations, the media embraced an ideal of impartiality and the validity of diverse viewpoints. Now, as Andrew Sullivan recently noted, it’s almost impossible to consider the mainstream news as anything other than a partisan tool. Perhaps nothing illustrates this more than the media role in the resistance to Trump; however awful he may seem, no president, even Richard Nixon, has suffered such total opposition from powerful media, with an estimated 92 percent negative coverage from the networks, even before he assumed office.

The media’s anti-Trump lockstep reflects broader changes in the industry. Reporters rarely come, as in the past, from the working class but instead from elite universities. They tilt overwhelmingly to the progressive side. By 2018, barely 7 percent of U.S. reporters identified themselves as Republicans; some 97 percent of journalist political donations go to Democrats. The ongoing media takeover by tech leaders is certain to accelerate this trend. Nearly two-thirds of readers now get their news through Facebook and Google, platforms that often “curate,” or eliminate, conservative views, according to former employees. It’s not just conservatives who think so: over 70 percent of Americans, notes a recent Pew study, believe social media platforms “censor political views.”

Similar patterns can be seen in Hollywood, once divided between conservatives and liberals but now heavily slanted to the left. Liberal columnist Jonathan Chait, reviewing the offerings of major studios and networks, described what he called “a pervasive, if not total, liberalism.” Virtually all mass-media cultural production follows a progressive script, from the music industry to theater—and now including sports, too.

Perhaps nothing has so enhanced the power of the clerisy as the expansion of universities. Overall, the percentage of college graduates in the labor force soared from under 11 percent in 1970 to over 30 percent four decades later. The number of people enrolled in college in the United States has grown from 5 million in 1964 to some 20 million today. Universities, particularly elite institutions, have emerged as the primary gatekeepers and ideological shapers for the upper classes. A National Journal survey of 250 top American public-sector decision-makers found that 40 percent were Ivy League graduates. Only a quarter had earned graduate degrees from a public university.

Orthodoxy of viewpoints in contemporary higher education is increasingly rigid. In 1990, according to survey data by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, 42 percent of professors identified as “liberal” or “far-left.” By 2014, that number had jumped to 60 percent. Another study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of liberals to conservatives ranging from at least 8 to 1 to as much as 70 to 1. At elite liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Williams, the proportion reaches 120 to 1.

These trends are particularly acute in fields that affect public policy and opinion. Well short of 10 percent of faculty at leading law schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and Berkeley—schools that graduate many of the nation’s leaders—describe themselves as conservative. Leading journalism schools, including Columbia, have moved away from teaching the fundamentals of reporting and adopted an openly left social-justice agenda.

Once largely a college phenomenon, progressive ideology is now being pressed upon elementary school students, a development that could transform our politics permanently. As authoritarians from Stalin and Hitler to Mao all recognized, youth are the most susceptible to propaganda and most easily shaped by the worldview of their instructors. This process has been most apparent in the environmental movement, which has elevated as its ideological battering ram the unlikely figure of Greta Thunberg, a seemingly troubled Swedish teenager. With her harsh millenarian rhetoric about the end of the world, she reprises the role played by youthful religious fanatics during the “children’s crusade” of the thirteenth century or, more recently, the Red Guards, whom Mao mobilized to silence his critics.

The politicization of basic education, particularly concerning American history, is notable throughout the country but most entrenched in liberal regions such as New York City and Minneapolis. In California, schools are scrapping measures such as exit exams for more ideologically correct policies. Once a leader in educational innovation and performance, California now toils near the bottom of the pack, ranked 40th on Education Week’s composite score of school performance. These poor results mean little to progressives in places like the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has banned “willful defiance” removals and suspensions in the name of racial equity. A bill that would do the same statewide is moving through the legislature, along with a massive campaign to weaken the state’s charter schools. Nothing has been more illustrative of our educational establishment’s far-left, racialist agenda—tinged with a strong dose of anti-capitalist indoctrination—than the draft proposal for an “ethnic studies” curriculum for the state’s schools. The program has provoked fierce opposition and is unlikely to be adopted in its present form, but activists will surely keep trying.

Ethnic-studies programs are aimed at high schoolers who often lack even the most basic understanding of American history. Incapable of meeting national standards for basic grade-level English language arts and mathematics, many of these students would instead learn academic jargon like misogynoircisheteropatriarchy, and hxrstory—which ethnic-studies advocates, such as R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a member of the advisory committee that worked on the draft, defend in the name of legitimating the discipline. “AP Chemistry, for example, has some very complex academic terms, difficult to pronounce, but it’s expected because it’s AP Chemistry,” Cuauhtin explains.

The clerisy is working to undermine basic liberal democracy. In the years ahead, technology will help shape attitudes on everything from the environment to the existence of “unconscious bias” against racial and sexual minorities. China’s efforts to control and monitor thought, sometimes assisted by U.S. tech firms, are likely a hint of things to come in Europe, Australia, and North America. Already we see the rise of a new political generation with little use for the Western political tradition or the cultural values that shaped it. American millennials—despite, or perhaps because of, their high educational attainment—are increasingly inculcated with the idea that America is hopelessly racist and oppressive. Their worldview includes embracing limits on free speech. Some 40 percent of millennials, notes Pew, favor limiting speech deemed offensive to minorities—well above the already-depressing 27 percent among Gen-Xers and 24 percent among baby boomers. Among the oldest cohorts, though—those who likely remember fascist and Communist regimes—only 12 percent support such restrictions. European millennials also display far less faith in democracy and fewer objections to autocratic control than Americans or previous generations. Young Europeans are almost three times as likely to see democracy as failing than their elders, and many in countries as diverse in Sweden, Hungary, Spain, Poland, and Slovakia embrace the far Right, while others, notably in Great Britain and France, favor the far Left.

With lower levels of cultural literacy and reduced interest in history, the new generation could reprise the intellectual deterioration of the Middle Ages, when, according to Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, “the very mind of man was going through degeneration.” Just as the feudal prelates disdained classical culture, today’s clerisy seeks to unmoor liberal culture and the Western political tradition; nearly 40 percent of young Americans, for example, think that the country lacks “a history to be proud of.” Far smaller numbers than previous generations prize family, religion, or patriotism.

If one does not even know about the complex legacy underpinning democracy, including the drive for individual freedom and open discussion, one is not likely to understand when it is in peril. If we are to save our uniquely open civilization, we must counter the clerisy’s efforts to discredit our past and demolish our future.

The I word

George S. Will:

If President Trump were to tweet that nine is a prime number, that Minneapolis is in Idaho, and that the sun revolves around the Earth — “Make Earth Great Again!” — would even five Republican senators publicly disagree with even one of the tweets? This matters in assessing the wisdom of beginning an impeachment process against the president. If every senator in the Democratic caucus were to vote to convict Trump in an impeachment trial concerning articles voted by the House, 20 Republicans would have to join them to remove him from office. So, the likelihood that he will not finish his term is vanishingly small.

What, then, can be accomplished by the impeachment inquiry that was announced just 406 daysbefore the next presidential election? Three things.

First, and not least important, it would augment the public stock of useful information and harmless pleasure to make Senate Republicans stop silently squirming and start taking audible responsibility for the president whom they evidently think they exist to enable. Second, it would affirm Congress’s primacy.

We have heard too many defensive assertions that Congress is “co-equal” with the executive and judicial branches. It is more than that. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Jay Cost notes, Congress is involved in the other branches’ actions by determining the size and scope of the other branches. (All federal courts other than the Supreme Court, and every executive department and officer except the president and vice president, are Congress’s creations.) And by confirming or rejecting nominees to executive and judicial positions. And by stipulating those nominees’ salaries. And by overriding presidential vetoes. And by exercising the power — unused since June 4, 1942 — to declare war. And by ratifying or rejecting treaties, and shaping the military’s size and mission. And by initiating constitutional amendments. As Cost says, the other branches are largely incapable of interfering with Congress, which sets its own pay and rules. Yet today’s Republican-controlled Senate, Trump’s sock puppet, will not consider legislation that he disapproves — as though the Senate expressing its own judgment about the public good would be lèse-majesté.

Third, articles of impeachment might concern his general stonewalling of congressional inquiries. This obduracy vitiates Congress’s role in the system of checks and balances, one purpose of which is to restrain rampant presidents. An impeachment proceeding could strengthen institutional muscles that Congress has allowed to atrophy.

These three benefits from impeachment would not be trivial. But even cumulatively, they probably are not worth the costs of impeachment — costs in time, energy and political distraction. This is so because, regardless of the evidence presented, there is approximately zero chance of an anti-Trump insurrection by 20 of his vigorously obedient Senate Republicans. So, a Senate trial might seem, to the attentive portion of the public, yet another episode of mere gesture politics, of which there currently is too much. And it would further inflame the president’s combustible supporters.

As this column has hitherto argued (May 31), impeachment can be retrospective, as punishment for offenses committed, and prospective, to prevent probable future injuries to society. The latter is problematic regarding Trump: What is known about his Ukraine involvement reveals nothing — nothing — about his character or modus vivendi that was not already known. This is unfortunate but undeniable: Many millions voted for him because he promised that the loutishness of his campaigning foreshadowed his governing style. Promise keeping is a problematic ground for impeachment.

Assumption College’s Greg Weiner understands what he calls “the politics of prudence,” and this truth: “That an offense is impeachable does not mean it warrants impeachment.” Impeachment is unwarranted, for example, if the reasonable judgment of seasoned political people is that impeachment might enhance the political strength and longevity of the official whose behavior merits impeachment.

This might be a moment in this nation’s life when worse is better: The squalor of the president’s behavior regarding Ukraine, following so much other repulsive behavior, is giving many Americans second thoughts about presidential power, which has waxed as Congress has allowed, often eagerly, its power to wane. Impeachment, however dubious, might at least be a leading indicator of an overdue recalibration of our institutional equilibrium.

Nevertheless, the best antidote for a bad election is a better election. The election the nation needs in 400 days would remove the nation’s most recent mistake and inflict instructive carnage — the incumbent mistake likes this noun — on his abjectly obedient party.

Will argued that George H.W. Bush should not be elected in 1992 because Bush’s second term would most likely be worse than his first. That brought us eight years of Bill Clinton and permanent damage to American politics. In fact, much of what we have now — permanent campaigns and scorched-earth win-at-all-costs politics — is directly attributable to Clinton. Was that a better choice?

Essentially, to buy Will’s argument, you have to believe that reversing every political improvement that has taken place, whether attributable or not to Trump, is preferable to four more years of Trump and all that he is.

 

The Trump divide

David Brooks imagines a conversation to explain support for Donald Trump:

Urban Guy: I hope you read the rough transcript of that Trump phone call with the Ukrainian president. Trump clearly used public power to ask a foreign leader to dig up dirt on his political opponent. This is impeachable. I don’t see how you can deny the facts in front of your face.

Flyover Man: I haven’t really had time to look into it. There’s always some fight between Trump and the East Coast media. I guess I just try to stay focused on the big picture.

The big picture is this: We knew this guy was a snake when we signed up. But he was the only one who saw us. He was the only one who saw that the America we love is being transformed in front of our eyes. Good jobs for hard-working people were gone. Our communities in tatters. Our kids in trouble. I had one shot at change, so I made a deal with the devil, and you’d have made it, too.

Nothing in this impeachment mess makes me rethink this bargain. If people like you are unable to acknowledge my dignity and see my problems, I’ll stay with Trump.

Cause and effect, media division

Craig Bannister:

More U.S. voters (including 69% of independents) are angry at the media than are angry at either President Donald Trump or his political opponents, survey results released by Rasmussen Reports on Wednesday show.

“How angry are you at the media?”:

  • Angry: 61% (of which, 40% are Very Angry)
  • Not Angry: 38% (of which, 19% are Not at All Angry)

The 61% expressing anger at the media is up from 53% in June of last year, but off from its high of 66% in June of 2010.

Voters’ anger at the media is also greater than their anger at either President Donald Trump (53%) or his political opponents (49%) and far more Republicans (83%) than Democrats (33%) say they’re angry at the media.

More than two-thirds (69%) of unaffiliated voters say they’re angry at the media.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 29-30, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Why might that be? Maybe Lara Logan has an answer:

There is nothing more human than opinions and bias. To say we have none is dishonest. But what we do have as professional journalists is a simple standard to get us past that: two first-hand sources — question everything and independently verify. I didn’t invent this — I inherited it from people like Edward R. Murrow and I will keep passing it on.

Journalists are not activists. We may share the passion for a particular cause, but our job is to follow the facts wherever they may lead. We can’t ignore something that reflects badly on a noble cause, as an activist might. We have to care about the means as much as the end because our duty is to search for the whole truth.

Nor are we lawyers in a court of law, cherry-picking facts to prove our case. Fortunately, there is only one truth. How we feel about it, how we perceive it, those things are subjective but the truth itself is not.

Above all, we are not propagandists or political operatives. That is not our job.

I have profound respect for my colleagues and for what we as journalists are at our best. Today, as a whole, we are not at our best. Just ask people in towns and cities across this country, as I do. Everywhere I go, people tell me they have lost faith in journalism. It comes from all people, all walks of life and all political stripes.

Frankly, I don’t blame them. Responsibility for this begins with us.

It is a fact that the vast majority of journalists in this country are registered Democrats. The colleges we come from are similarly dominated by one political ideology. This matters today because the reporting has become so one-sided. As we try to figure out why people have lost faith in our profession, let’s start by being honest about who we are.

I would feel the same way if the media were tilted in the opposite direction. It is the one-sided nature of this fight that disturbs me. Is that what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the first amendment?

We dismiss conservative media outlets for their political bias, but we don’t hold liberal media outlets to the same standard. Many journalists who claim to be objective have publicly taken a political stand, saying the urgency of the time justifies a departure from journalistic standards. Yet they ask us to believe their reporting is still unbiased?

It is not hard to find examples of how far we have strayed from reporting standards in the Trump era. A simple example is Time Magazine falsely reporting on President Donald J. Trump’s first day in office, stating that he’d removed a statue of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office. The news went viral. But the writer did not follow the most basic rule of journalism — pick up the phone and ask the White House if it was really gone, and why? The writer late wrote a correction on his Twitter account, stating “The MLK bust is still in the Oval Office. It was obscured by an agent and door.”

Did this feed a racist narrative Time and the reporter wanted to advance and believe, so no fact check was needed? I don’t know — did it? We all make honest mistakes and I am no exception. I’ve made a few of my own in three decades of reporting. But consider this mistake alongside 70 other examples on a running list compiled by independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who is one of the bravest journalists I know. Is it a mistake when media outlets keep beating the same drum over and over? With our credibility as low as it is today, it’s a question worth asking.

I will be attacked for writing these words. But I welcome these attacks because it tells me my words matter. And I speak on behalf of all journalists who believe in standing up for the truth and honest, independent reporting. Most do not feel free to speak publicly. We live in a free country yet as journalists we are not free.

They can’t attack the substance of our work, so propaganda machines like David Brock and his staff at Media Matters for America, smear, manipulate and invent false narratives driven by their well-funded political agenda. With armies of bots and a stable of journalists that parrot their talking points, they silence and intimidate. They use our criticism of unfairness and bias to falsely accuse us of being conservative. But all of us know, the louder the attack, the closer we are to the truth.

No one owns me. No party, no organization, no corporation. We are free because freedom lives in us. No one gives it to you or takes it away.

How white liberals kill poor people

Ryan McMaken:

[Last] Monday, celebrity climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a speech to the UN Climate Action summit in New York. Thunberg demanded drastic cuts in carbon emissions of more than 50 percent over the next ten years.

It is unclear to whom exactly she was directing her comments, although she also filed a legal complaint with the UN on Monday, demanding five countries (namely Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey) more swiftly adopt larger cuts in carbon emissions. The complaint is legally based on a 1989 agreement, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, under which Thunberg claims the human rights of children are being violated by too-high carbon emissions in the named countries.

Thunberg seems unaware, however, that in poor and developing countries, carbon emissions are more a lifeline to children than they are a threat.

It’s one thing to criticize France and Germany for their carbon emissions. Those are relatively wealthy countries where few families are reduced to third-world-style grinding poverty when their governments make energy production — and thus most consumer goods and services — more expensive through carbon-reduction mandates and regulations. But even in the rich world, a drastic cut like that demanded by Thunberg would relegate many households now living on the margins to a life of greatly increased hardship.

That’s a price Thunberg is willing to have first-world poor people pay.

But her inclusion of countries like Brazil and Turkey on this list is bizarre and borders on the sadistic — assuming she actually knows about the situation in those places.

While some areas of Brazil and Turkey contain neighborhoods that approach first-world conditions, both countries are still characterized by large populations living in the sorts of poverty that European children could scarcely comprehend.

But thanks to industrialization and economic globalization —  countries can, and do, climb  out of poverty.

In recent decades, countries like Turkey, Malaysia, Brazil, Thailand, and Mexico — once poverty-stricken third-world countries — are now middle-income countries. Moreover, in these countries most of the population will in coming decades likely achieve what we considered to be first-world standards of living in the twentieth century.

At least, that’s what will happen if people with Thunberg’s position don’t get their way.

The challenge here arises from the fact that for a middle-income or poor country, cheap energy consumption — made possible overwhelmingly by fossil fuels — is often a proxy for economic growth.

After all, if a country wants to get richer, it has to create things of value. At the lower- and middle- income level, that usually means making things such as vehicles, computers, or other types of machinery. This has certainly been the case in Mexico, Malaysia, and Turkey.

But for countries like these, the only economical way to produce these things is by using fossil fuels.

Thus it is not a coincidence that carbon-emissions growth and economic growth track together. …

We no longer see this close a relationship between the two factors in wealthy countries. This is due to the fact many first-world (and post-Soviet) countries make broader use of nuclear power, and because high income countries have more heavily abandoned coal in favor of less-carbon intensive fuels like natural gas.2

It is thanks to this fossil-fuel powered industrialization over the past thirty years that extreme poverty and other symptoms of economic under-development have been so reduced.

For example, according to the World Bank, worldwide extreme poverty was reduced from 35 percent to 11 percent, from 1990 to 2013. We also find that access to clean water has increased, literacy has increased, and life expectancy has increased — especially in lower-income areas that have been most rapidly industrializing in recent decades. In spite of constant claims of impending doom, global health continues to improve.

Just as carbon emissions track with economic growth in middle income countries, child mortality tends to fall as carbon emissions increase. …

Industrialization isn’t the only factor behind reducing child mortality, of course. But it is certainly a major factor. Industrialization sustains modern health care amenities such as climate controlled hospitals, and it increases access to clean water and sanitation systems.

Thunberg, unfortunately, ignores all of this, mocking the idea of economic growth as a “fairytale.” But for people in the developing world, money and economic growth — two things Thunberg apparently` thinks are contemptible — translates into a longer and better life. In other words, economic development means happiness for regular people, since, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out, “Most mothers feel happier if their children survive, and most people feel happier without tuberculosis than with it.”

Thunberg’s blithe disregard for the benefits of economic growth is not uncommon for people from wealthy countries who are already living in an industrialized world built by the fossil fuels of yesteryear. For them, they associate additional economic growth with access to high fashion and luxury cars. But for the billions of human beings living outside these places, fossil-fuel-driven industrialization can be the difference between life and death.

And yet, Greta Thunberg has seen fit to attack countries like Brazil and Turkey for not more enthusiastically cutting off their primary means to quickly deliver a more sanitary, more well-fed, and less deadly way of life for ordinary people.

The Chinese know the benefits of economic growth especially well. A country that was literally starving to death during the 1970s, China rapidly industrialized after abandoning Mao’s communism for a system of limited and regulated market capitalism. But even this small market-based lifeline — sustained by fossil fuels — quickly and substantially pulled a billion people out of a tenuous existence previously threatened regularly by famine and economic deprivation.

Today, China is the world’s largest carbon emitter — by far — with total carbon emissions double that of the United States. And while the US and the EU have been cutting emissions, China won’t even pledge to cap its emissions any time before 2030. (And a pledge doesn’t mean it will actually happen.) India meanwhile, more than doubled its carbon emissions between 2000 and 2014, and its prime minister refuses to pledge to cut its coal-fired power generation.

And who can blame these countries? First-world school children may think it’s fine to lecture Chinese factory workers about the need to cut back their standard of living, but such comments are likely to fall on deaf ears if climate policy means destroying the so-called “fairytale” of economic growth.5

As one Chinese resident said in response to Thunberg on China’s social media platform Weibo: “If the economy doesn’t grow, what do us people living in developing countries eat?”

Advocates for drastic cuts in emissions might retort: “even if our policies do make people poorer, they’d be a lot worse off with global warming!”

Would they though?

At the UN, Thunberg thundered, “People are suffering. People are dying [because of climate change.]” But that isolated assertion doesn’t tell us what we need to know when it comes to climate-change policy.

The question that does matter is his: if the world implements drastic Thunbergian climate change policies will the policies themselves do more harm than good?

The answer may very well not be in the climate activists’ favor. After all, the costs of climate change must be measured compared to the costs of climate change policy. If economic growth is stifled by climate policy — and a hundred million people lose out on clean water and safe housing as a result — that’s a pretty big cost.

After all, the benefits of cheap energy — most of provided by fossil fuels — are already apparent. Life expectancy continues to go up — and is expected to keep making the biggest gains in the developing world. Child mortality continues to go down. For the first time in history, the average Chinese peasant isn’t forced to scratch out a subsistence-level existence on a rice paddy. Thanks to cheap electricity, women in middle income countries don’t have to spend their days cleaning clothes by hand without washing machines. Children don’t have to drink cholera-tainted water.

It’s easy to sit before a group of wealthy politicians and say “how dare you” for not implementing one’s desired climate policy. It might be slightly harder to tell a Bangladeshi tee-shirt factory worker that she’s had it too good, and we need to put the brakes on economic growth. For her own good, of course.

And this has been the problem with climate-change policy all along. Although the burden of proof is on them for wanting to coerce billions into their global economic-management scheme, the climate-change activists have never convincingly made the case that the downside of climate change is worse than the downside of crippling industrializing economies.

This is why the activists so commonly rely on over-the-top claims of total global destruction. One need not waste any time on weighing the options if the only choices presented are “do what we want” or “face total global extinction.”

But even climate change activists can’t agree the Armageddon approach is accurate.  Last year, for example, Scientific American published “Should We Chill Out About Global Warming?” by John Horgan which explores the idea “that continued progress in science and other realms will help us overcome environmental problems.”

Specifically, Horgan looks at two recent writers on the topic, Steven Pinker and Will Boisvert. Neither Pinker nor Boisvert could be said to have libertarian credentials, and neither take the position that there is no climate change. Both assume that climate change will lead to difficulties.

Both, however, also conclude that the challenges posed by climate change do not require the presence of a global climate dictatorship. Moreover, human societies are already motivated to do the sorts of things that will be essential in overcoming climate-change challenges that may arise.

That is, pursuing higher standards of living through technological innovation is the key to dealing with climate change.

But that innovation isn’t fostered by shaking a finger at Brazilian laborers and telling them to forget about a family car or household appliances or travel at vacation time.

That isn’t likely to be a winning strategy outside the world of self-hating first-world suburbanites. It appears many Indians and Brazilians and Chinese are willing to risk the global warming for a chance at experiencing even a small piece of what wealthy first-world climate activists have been enjoying all their lives.

 

When money talks

Thomas Franck:

Investors shouldn’t worry about what a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump could mean for his current term or even his reelection chances, Wall Street investment banks advised clients.

But what they really should be worried about, Washington policy analysts said, is what the impeachment inquiry means for a potential trade deal with China and an already agreed-upon deal with Canada and Mexico. Investors also can forget about any new legislation like a drug prescription policy, they said.

Several brokerages rushed to assure clients on Tuesday and Wednesday that while it’s unlikely the Republican Senate will ever convict the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to move forward with the impeachment inquiry could mire several of Trump’s key trade initiatives, including the passage of the USMCA and talks with Beijing.

Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday as a growing number of Democrats concerned over the president’s alleged abuses of power overwhelmed her initial reluctance. The most recent Democratic outcry comes amid accusations that the president tried to coerce Ukraine’s president to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump released on Wednesday notes of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and stocks showed little reaction.

The investigation endangers the ratification of the landmark United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — the rehashed trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“Legislating is dead. As we previously said, impeachment will lead to Congress doing nothing except that which it must do by established deadlines (like funding the government),” wrote Raymond James policy analysts Ed Mills and Chris Meekins.

“The idea of bipartisan action on drug pricing, infrastructure, and potentially the passage of the USMCA (the new NAFTA) are dead until after the 2020 election,” Mills and Meekins continued.

The U.S. sent about $300 billion in goods to Canada last year, more than to any other country, and about $265 billion in products to Mexico, its second-largest market. But the impeachment inquiry, at the very least, complicates that timeline, according to Dan Clifton of Strategas Research Partners.

“In the short run, it means it’s unlikely that NAFTA’s going to get through,” Clifton said Wednesday on CNBC, referring to the USMCA. “If you remember last week, Nancy Pelosi went on Jim Cramer’s show, saying that she wanted to get the ‘yes’ on NAFTA. That’s probably going to move away.”

The legislation, shortened to USMCA and pitched as a replacement to NAFTA, is one of the administration’s major economic achievements. The accord makes changes to the trade relationships between the U.S. and its two largest trading partners, including stricter rules on the country of origin for auto parts and better enforcement of wage rules.

One of Trump’s top trade advisors, Peter Navarro, told CNBC earlier this month that the deal is so important that he was 100% sure Congress would ratify it this year. That seemed even more likely as recently as last week, when Pelosi told CNBC’s Cramer that Democrats “hope that we’re on a path to yes” on approving the USMCA.

Wall Street also turned its attention to the odds of a U.S.-China trade deal in light of the new impeachment debate.

The entrenched trade war between the Washington and Beijing remains one of the market’s major headwinds both due to the imposition of tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods as well as the uncertainty felt by CEOs trying to protect supply chains and other infrastructure.

Despite persistent calls from Wall Street to settle for partial concessions, the White House has toed the line on demands for a comprehensive agreement, complete with remedies for alleged intellectual property theft.

“From a China trade perspective, the debate will be about a Trump pivot towards a win via a ‘mini deal’ or doubling down to cater to his base,” Raymond James’ Meekins and Mills wrote.

“Trump doubled down in his criticism of China in his speech before the UN … and did not sound like someone on the verge of a ‘mini deal,’” they added. “However, the path forward remains very uncertain. We have repeatedly seen President Trump turn towards positive developments in trade disputes at times of political and stock market uncertainty.”

Though the two nations appeared to be close to a deal in the spring, negotiations broke down after China reneged on certain promises, according to U.S. trade officials. As the dispute intensified, the U.S. placed Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei on a blacklist that barred the company from purchasing parts from American suppliers.

Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. and Japan had reached a limited trade deal as they push for a broader agreement. The first stage of the deal will open markets up to $7 billion in U.S. products, the president said while meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the U.N. in New York.

Retaliatory responses by China against U.S. farmers sent American soybean exports to China tumbling, with total shipments to the Asian economic giant expected to end this marketing year some two-thirds lower, according to industry experts.

“On the one hand, the inquiry could fortify President Trump’s trade stance as he tends to retrench and redirect when attacked. On the other hand, the inquiry could cause the president to look for victories beyond the water’s edge to bolster his case for reelection,” wrote Compass Point analyst Isaac Boltansky.

“We continue to believe that a de facto detente will materialize by the end of the year as we view the December tranche of tariffs on Chinese consumer goods as a motivator.”

But in terms of how the impeachment inquiry will affect Trump’s tenure in the White House, or even of reelection, remains a matter of debate.

Some, including Strategas’ Clifton and Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Washington researcher Brian Gardner, argue that opening an impeachment query poses a significant risk not to Trump, but to Democrats up for election in 2020.

When “the Republicans chose to impeach Bill Clinton, they were headed for a 40-seat win in that midterm election and the Democrats ended up winning five seats,” Clifton recalled. “So impeachment actually hurt the Republicans 20 years ago and that’s the risk the Democrats are taking by entering this fight.”

Gardner noted Trump’s uncanny ability to leverage political drama and said the recent news likely hurts Biden’s odds of securing the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Mr. Trump has a unique ability to manipulate these kinds of situations to his advantage and if the House moves to impeach him we think it could backfire on Democrats and help Mr. Trump’s reelection prospects. Democrats could easily overplay their hand and create a backlash that will unite Republicans,” Gardner wrote.

What about 2020? Brian Schwartz:

Democratic donors on Wall Street and in big business are preparing to sit out the presidential campaign fundraising cycle — or even back President Donald Trump — if Sen. Elizabeth Warren wins the party’s nomination.

In recent weeks, CNBC spoke to several high-dollar Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community and found that this opinion was becoming widely shared as Warren, an outspoken critic of big banks and corporations, gains momentum against Joe Biden in the 2020 race.

“You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump,’” said a senior private equity executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retribution by party leaders. The executive said this Wednesday, a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.

During the campaign, Warren has put out multiple plans intended to curb the influence of Wall Street, including a wealth tax. In July, she released a proposal that would make private equity firms responsible for debts and pension obligations of companies they buy. Trump, meanwhile, has given wealthy business leaders a helping hand with a major corporate tax cut and by eliminating regulations.

Warren has sworn off taking part in big money fundraisers for the 2020 presidential primary. She has also promised to not take donations from special interest groups. She finished raising at least $19 million in the second quarter mainly through small-dollar donors. The third quarter ends Monday.

Trump, has been raising hundreds of millions of dollars, putting any eventual 2020 rival in a bind as about 20 Democrats vie for their party’s nomination.

Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have raised over $100 million in the second quarter. A large portion of that haul came from wealthy donors who gave to their joint fundraising committee, Trump Victory. In August, the RNC raised just over $23 million and has $53 million on hand.

The Democratic National Committee have struggled to keep up. The DNC finished August bringing in $7.9 million and has $7.2 million in debt.

Biden, who has courted and garnered the support of various wealthy donors, has started to lag in some polls. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Warren virtually tied with the former vice president. Biden was one of three contenders that saw an influx of contributions from those on Wall Street in the second quarter.

A spokeswoman for the senator from Massachusetts declined to comment.

The business community’s unease about Warren’s candidacy has surged in tandem with her campaign’s momentum. CNBC’s Jim Cramer said earlier this month that he’s heard from Wall Street executives that they believe Warren has “got to be stopped.” Warren later tweeted her response to Cramer’s report: “I’m Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message.”

Some big bank executives and hedge fund managers have been stunned by Warren’s ascent, and they are primed to resist her.

“They will not support her. It would be like shutting down their industry,” an executive at one of the nation’s largest banks told CNBC, also speaking on condition of anonymity. This person said Warren’s policies could be worse for Wall Street than those of President Barack Obama, who signed the Dodd-Frank bank regulation bill in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Yet before Obama was elected, his campaign took over $1 million from employees at Goldman Sachs, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

A hedge fund executive pointed to Trump’s tax cut as a reason why his colleagues would not contribute or vote for Warren if she wins the nomination.

“I think if she can show that the tax code of 2017 was basically nonsense and only helped corporations, Wall Street would not like the public thinking about that,” this executive said, also insisting on anonymity

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