Prepare the next memorial hashtags

After Monday night …

… David French wrote:

That sound you hear is the slowly dawning realization that something horrifying is happening, a swelling of screams of panic. And it’s the panic of hundreds and hundreds of young girls (boys too, but the sound of girls’ screams is unmistakable.) Let that sink in. This attack was the virtual equivalent of walking into a middle school auditorium for the express purpose of maiming and mutilating children.

There is no reasoning with this hate. There is no “legitimate grievance” with the West that triggers such violence. It is the product of fanatical devotion to the most evil of all causes, a cause that perversely promises paradise for the slaughter of innocents. There is no way for the West to be “good” enough to appease terrorists. There is no policy short of religious conversion that will cause them to relent. The best deterrent to jihad is the obliteration of jihadists. They thrive on victory, not defeat.

Tonight, sadly, they won a victory, and here’s all you need to know to understand the character of our enemies – they relish the sound of young girls’ screams.

French then wrote:

Make no mistake, there is an emerging bipartisan consensus that a certain amount of terrorism is just the price we have to pay to live the way we want to live. Now, to be clear, very few people will come out and say this explicitly, and national-security establishments do their best — within certain, limited parameters — to stop every single terror attack, but more than 15 years after 9/11 it’s clear that there are prices our societies aren’t willing to pay. And neither our nation nor any of our European allies is willing to pay the price to reduce the terror threat to its pre-9/11 scale.

Consequently, an undetermined number of civilians will die, horribly, at concerts, restaurants, nightclubs, or simply while walking on the sidewalk. It almost certainly won’t be you, of course, but it will be somebody. And they’ll often be kids.

While it’s impossible to predict any given terror attack, there are two laws of terrorism that work together to guarantee that attacks will occur, and they’ll occur with increasing frequency. First, when terrorists are granted safe havens to plan, train, equip, and inspire terror attacks, then they will strike, and they’ll keep striking not just until the safe havens are destroyed but also until the cells and affiliates they’ve established outside their havens are rooted out. Second, when you import immigrants at any real scale from jihadist regions, then you will import the cultural, religious, and political views that incubate jihad. Jihadist ideas flow not from soil but from people, and when you import people you import their ideas.

Let’s look at how these two ideas have worked together in both Europe and America. The map below (from AFP) charts significant terror attacks in Europe (including Turkey). You’ll note a significant increase in activity since 2014, since ISIS stampeded across Syria and into Turkey and established a terrorist caliphate in the heart of the Middle East. There existed a safe haven and a population to inspire back in Europe. The result was entirely predictable:

What about the United States? A similar phenomenon was in play. This Heritage Foundation timeline of terror attacks and plots documents a total of 95 incidents since 9/11. The numbers are revealing. After the implementation of the (now) much-derided Bush strategy, there were a grand total of 27 terror attacks and plots — almost all of them foiled.

After the end of the Bush administration, the numbers skyrocketed, with 68 plots or attacks recorded since. A number of them, including the Fort Hood shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, the San Bernardino mass murder, and the Orlando nightclub massacre, have been terrifying successful. Indeed, there have been more domestic terror plots and attacks since the rise of ISIS in the summer of 2014 than there were in the entirety of the Bush administration after 9/11. And make no mistake, jihadist terrorists are disproportionately immigrants and children of immigrants.

What did Bush do that was so successful? He not only pressed military offensives in the heart of the Middle East, he fundamentally changed the American approach to immigration and implemented a number of temporary measures that, for example, dramatically decreased refugee admissions and implemented country-specific protective measures that have since been discontinued. And don’t forget, aside from their reckless immigration policies, our European allies weren’t just beneficiaries of the Bush doctrine but also participants in Bush’s military offensives. Our NATO allies have been on the ground in Afghanistan since the war launched in earnest. Britain was a principal partner in Iraq.

Here is the bottom line — since the end of the Bush and Blair administrations, it seems clear that all of the great Western democracies would rather face an increased terror risk than make the sacrifices that have been proven to mitigate the danger. There is little appetite across the entire American political spectrum for an increased ground-combat presence in the Middle East. So the slow-motion war against ISIS continues, and terrorist safe havens remain. In the United States, even Trump’s short-term and modest so-called travel ban has been blocked in court and lacks public support.

If you listen closely, you’ll note that some politicians are actually starting to level with their people. They’re not willing to do what it takes to reduce the terror threat to substantially lower levels, so they’re trying to adjust their populations to the new reality. After the Nice truck attack, the French prime minister said, “The times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism.” German chancellor Angela Merkel also told her people that they have to “live with the danger of terrorism.”

All too many Americans, sadly, still seem to labor under the fiction that they can have it all — tolerant immigration policies, no land wars in Asia, and Muslim allies who finally pick up the slack with the right level of prodding and with appropriately minimal air support. When necessary, we can send in our SEAL Team superheroes to take care of the truly tough tasks.

Well, that’s a strategy, but it’s one that means that every few months we’ll put memorial ribbons up on Facebook and Twitter, express pride in our valiant first responders, and wrap our arms around grieving parents who have to close the casket on their eight-year-old girl. It’s a strategy that expresses pride that we foil most attacks, and it’s one that leads us to hope and pray that the losses remain acceptable.

The Western world knows the price it has to pay to decisively reduce the terror threat. It’s no longer willing to pay that price. It’s no longer willing even to let their militaries truly do the jobs they volunteered to do. So there will be more Manchesters, more Parises, more Nices, and more Orlandos. But that’s what happens when we’re not willing to do what it takes. I hope at least our hashtags can make us feel better about our choice.

Speaking of hashtags, James Woods chronicles a collection and asks:

What is the common denominator here?

Douglas Murray adds:

Even after all these years, all these attacks and all these dead, the West still keeps asking the same question after events like those of Monday night: ‘Who would do such a thing?’ The answer is always the same. Sometimes the culprits are home-grown. Sometimes they are recent arrivals. Sometimes they have been in the West for generations, eat fish and chips and play cricket. Sometimes — like last month’s attacker in Stockholm, or last year’s suicide bomber in Ansbach, Germany — they arrived in Europe just a few months earlier. Sometimes people claim the perpetrator is a lone wolf, unknown to the authorities. More often it turns out (in a term coined by Mark Steyn) to be a known wolf, on the peripheral vision of the security services.

Yet still our society wonders: what would make someone do such a thing? The tone of bafflement is strange — like a society that keeps asking a question, but keeps its fingers lodged firmly in its ears whenever it is given the answer.

Only last month this now traditional national rite was led by no less a figure than the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall. At the beginning of April, Westminster Abbey was the venue for a national act of mourning for the victims of the previous month’s terrorist attack. The Dean used his sermon — at what was billed as ‘a service of hope’ — to announce that Britain was ‘bewildered’ by the actions of Khalid Masood.

‘What could possibly motivate a man,’ asked the Dean, ‘to hire a car and take it from Birmingham to Brighton to London, and then to drive it, fast, at people he had never met, couldn’t possibly know, against whom he had no personal grudge, no reason to hate them and then run at the gates of the Palace of Westminster to cause another death? It seems likely we shall never know.’

Actually, most people could likely make a guess. And had the Dean waited just a few days, he could have joined them. Masood’s final WhatsApp messages, sent to a friend just before he ploughed his car along Westminster Bridge, revealed this Muslim convert was ‘waging jihad’ for Allah. The Dean was hardly going to get back up into his pulpit and say: ‘Apologies. Turns out we do know. It was jihad for Allah.’ The impossibility of that scenario speaks to the deeper disaster — beneath the bodies and the blood — of the state we’ve got into.

For their part, the Islamists are amazingly clear about what they want and the reasons why they act accordingly. You never have to read between the lines. Listen to Jawad Akbar, recorded in the UK in 2004 as he discussed the soft targets he and his al Qaeda-linked cell were planning to hit. The targets included the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London. What was the appeal? As Akbar said to his colleague, Omar Khyam, no one could ‘turn round and say “oh they are innocent, those slags dancing around”.’

It is the same reason why ten years ago next month Bilal Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed (an NHS doctor and an engineering PhD student respectively) planted a car bomb outside the glass front of the Tiger Tiger club on London’s Haymarket on lady’s night. They then planted another just down the road in the hope that those ‘slags’ fleeing from the first blast would run straight into the second. It is why when Irfan Naseer and his 11-member cell from Birmingham were convicted of plotting mass casualty terror attacks in 2013, one of their targets was — once again — a nightclub area of the city. In familiar tones, Naseer speculated on these places where ‘the kuffar [a derogatory term for non-Muslims], slags and whores go drinking and clubbing’ and ‘have sex like donkeys’.

Where does it come from, this hatred the Islamists hold — as well as everyone else they loathe — for half the human species? Even moderate Muslims hate it when you ask this, but the question is begged before us all. What do people think the burka is? Or the niqab? Or even the headscarf? Why do Muslim societies — however much freedom they give men — always and everywhere restrict the freedom of women? Why are the sharia courts, which legally operate in the UK, set up to prejudice the rights of women? Why do Islamists especially hate women from their faith who raise their voices against the literalists and extremists?

Do people think this stuff comes from thin air? It was always there. Because it’s at the religion’s origins and unlike the women-suspecting stuff in the other monotheisms (mild though they are by comparison), too few people are willing to admit it or reform this hatred, disdain and of course fear of women that is inherent in Islam. It is a constant of Islamic history, along with the Jews, the gays and the ‘wrong type of Muslim’: always and everywhere, the question of women. It’s our own fault because we have been told it so many times. As the Australian cleric Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali famously said to 500 worshippers in Sydney in 2006: ‘If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside without cover, and the cats come to eat it, whose fault is it — the cat’s or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.’ …

Theresa May and other politicians stress we will never give in. And they are right to do so. But beneath the defiance lie deep, and deeply unanswered, questions. Questions which publics across Europe are increasingly dwelling on, but which their political representatives dare not acknowledge.

Exactly a year ago, Greater Manchester Police staged a carefully prepared mock terrorist attack in the city’s shopping centre to test response capabilities. At one stage an actor playing a suicide bomber burst through a doorway and detonated a fake device while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘Allah is Greatest’). The intention, obviously, was to make the scenario realistic. But the use of the jihadists’ signature sign-off sent social media into a spin. Soon community spokesmen were complaining on the media. One went on Sky to talk about the need ‘to have a bit of religious and cultural context when they’re doing training like this in a wider setting about the possible implications’.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan was hauled before the press. ‘On reflection,’ he admitted, ‘we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.’ Greater Manchester’s police and crime commissioner, Tony Lloyd, followed up: ‘It is frustrating the operation has been marred by the ill-judged, unnecessary and unacceptable decision by organisers to have those playing the parts of terrorists to shout “Allahu Akbar” before setting off their fake bombs. It didn’t add anything to the event, but has the potential to undermine the great community relations we have in Greater Manchester.’ Perhaps when the blood has been cleared from the pavements of Manchester, someone could ask how many lives such excruciating societal stupidity – from pulpit to police force – has saved, or ever will save?

In Piccadilly Gardens, at lunchtime on the day after the attacks, crowds of people listened to a busker play the usual post-massacre playlist: ‘All You Need is Love’ and ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.’ But just like the renditions of ‘Imagine’, the buskers are wrong. We need to do more than imagine. We need more than love. Everything is not all right. We need to address this problem, and start at the roots. Otherwise, our societies will continue to be caught between people who mean what they say and a society which won’t even listen. And so they’ll keep meeting, these two worlds.

On Monday night, Ariana Grande was in her traditional suspenders, singing: ‘Don’t need permission / Made my decision to test my limits / ’Cause it’s my business, God as my witness… / I’m locked and loaded / Completely focused.’ Outside, waiting, was someone who was really focused. It is time we made some effort to focus, too.

Let them eat cake and walk

James Taylor of the Spark of Freedom Foundation (and thus not the singer):

Anti-fracking activists are resorting to a curious line of argument in their zeal to ban natural resource recovery through hydraulic fracturing: that rural communities are better off with economic stagnation than the ‘harms’ of abundant jobs and a vibrant economy.

In an Associated Press story published Friday, Sierra Club spokesperson Wayde Schafer called the North Dakota oil boom a “nightmare.” With the advent of new fracking and directional drilling technologies a decade ago, North Dakota’s shale oil deposits fueled unprecedented economic growth in the state. Even during the Great Recession, unemployment never topped 4.3 percent in the state. Unemployment currently stands at 3.0 percent.

“There are hundreds more jobs than takers in the heart of North Dakota’s oil patch,” the Associated Press reports.

Young workers without a college degree can earn over $100,000 per year in the oil fields. Job Service North Dakota spokesperson Phil Davis told the Associated Press oil production is creating jobs throughout the economy. In Williston, the heart of North Dakota oil country, “Every business on Main Street needs staff,” says Davis.

North Dakotans are quite pleased with the benefits of energy production, fracking, and the pro-fracking Republican Party. Republicans outnumber Democrats by a greater than four-to-one margin in the State Senate (38-9) and by a greater than six-to-one margin in the House of Representatives (81-13). Even the few Democrats elected to higher office, like U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, are decidedly pro-fracking.

Despite North Dakotans showing through their votes that they are ecstatic with the benefits of fracking, the San Francisco-based Sierra Club and the anti-fracking left engage in twisted pretzel logic attempting to spin the fracking economy as a nightmare. According to CNBC, all the high-paying jobs and dramatic rise in living standards means North Dakotans are being “crushed by truck traffic, plagued by lagging infrastructure, and shocked by a surge in violent crimes.”

Of course, a vibrant, expanding economy will always generate more truck traffic. A growing population will create more acts of charity as well as more acts of crime. And infrastructure always needs to be expanded and updated when people are using them more. These are small prices to be paid for rising living standards, and Norther Dakotans are proving with their votes that they are happy to meet these modest challenges that accompany economic opportunity.

Despite proof positive in North Dakota and other states that communities appreciate the benefits of fracking wealth and economic opportunity, the Sierra Club is not alone claiming a vibrant economy and rising living standards are bad for rural America. In a paper attempting to justify the ban on fracking in New York State, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker – a Bronx native – argues “community impacts” are a factor justifying the ban. Zucker defines these impacts as “increased vehicle traffic, road damage, noise, odor complaints, increased demand for housing and medical care, and stress.”

It is easy for Bronx natives who were educated and who spent most of their careers in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Washington DC, to tell the rural communities they occasionally drive through that they are better off being poor and without economic opportunity. The people who actually live there feel differently.

One of the less-noticed causes of the Great Recession that began in 2008 (and ended when Barack Obama left office) was the 2008 spike in energy prices, when gas prices jumped over $4 per gallon and diesel prices jumped over $5 per gallon. Since fuel costs figure heavily in the transportation of any product, including food, remember what happened to food prices?

If energy independence is a goal, but so is transportation freedom, it makes sense to generate as much energy in this country as possible. Energy independence helps further the goal of destroying OPEC and the oil sheiks.

After the latest outrage

Jim Geraghty wrote Tuesday morning:

As a longtime reader wrote in [Tuesday] morning, “Jesus walks beside us, but the devil’s not far behind.” The latest from the deadly terror attack in Manchester:

Police and the security services believe they know the identity of the suicide bomber who killed 22 people — including children — in an explosion that tore through fans leaving an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester.

As the first arrest was made in connection with the attack, Prime Minister Theresa May disclosed that the authorities think they know who carried out the atrocity and confirmed they are working to establish if he was acting as part of a terror group.

Mrs. May said “many” children were among the dead and 59 injured in the bombing at the Manchester Arena on Monday night as thousands of young people streamed from the venue.

Her statement came moments before police disclosed that a 23-year-old man was arrested in South Manchester on Tuesday morning in connection with the bombing.

Moments before this e-mail newsletter was sent to the editors, an ISIS posted a message online claiming responsibility for the attack. Then again, these guys take credit for anything bad that happens.

… There’s no crime in applying past experience to current conditions. This explosion didn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes after the Madrid train bombing in 2004, the Beslan school attack that same year, London’s 7/7 bombings in 2005, the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the attack on Bataclan and other targets in 2015, the bombing of the airport in Brussels in March 2016, the truck attack in Nice in July 2016, the Christmas-market attack in Berlin in December, the Westminster Bridge attack in March, the subway bombing in St. Petersburg in April…

Bruce Bawer adds:

Damn these jihadist murderers of children. And damn the politicians who have, in many cases, helped make these murders possible but who are quick, this time and every time, to serve up empty declarations of “solidarity”even as the bodies of innocents are still being counted.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (who recently dismissed terrorist attacks as “part and parcel of living in a big city”): “London stands with Manchester.” Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer (who, in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre, proclaimed a CAIR-backed “Muslim Women’s Day”—you know, the kind of event that proclaims hijabs “empowering”): Orlando “stands in solidarity with the people of the UK.” L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti (who went berserk when Trump tried to impose that temporary travel ban from a half-dozen Muslim countries): “Los Angeles stands with the people of Manchester.”

Meaningless words, all of them. But Angela Merkel takes the cake: “People in the UK can rest assured that Germany stands shoulder to shoulder with them.” Well, isn’t that . . . reassuring. In what way do such words help anybody to “rest assured” of anything? In any case, how dare she? This, after all, is the woman who opened the floodgates—the woman who, out of some twisted sense of German historical guilt, put European children in danger by inviting into the continent masses of unvetted people from the very part of the world where this monstrous evil has its roots.

Then there was this from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: “Once again, terrorism has sought to instill fear where there should be joy, to sow division where young people and families should be coming together in celebration.” Beneath the innocuous-seeming surface of this statement is a slick rhetorical ruse: Juncker to the contrary, these savages aren’t out to “sow division”—they’re out to kill infidels. By introducing the concept of “division,” Juncker, like so many others, is implying that the important message here is: Hey, whatever you do, don’t let this little episode put any bad thoughts about Islam into your head!

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese also spoke of “fear” and “division”: “Manchester is a proud, strong city and we will not allow terrorists who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims.” Guess what, pal? They did achieve their aims: they killed 22 people, including children, and injured several dozen. Dead infidels: that’s their objective, period. (Or, as you would say, full stop.)

Naturally, Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, put out a statement. Burnham, as it happens, is a radical socialist who has wrung his hands for years about Islamophobia and has fought tooth and nail against a nationwide “anti-extremism” program called Prevent on the grounds that it “singles out one community for different treatment.” After yesterday’s atrocity, Burnham said: “We are grieving today, but we are strong.”

Strong? No, Mr. Burnham, you are anything but strong. You are cowards, all of you. You are more scared of being called bigots than of the prospect of children under your official protection being slaughtered by jihadists.

Three-quarters of a century ago, Britain stood shoulder to shoulder in true solidarity while under violent assault by the diabolical ideology of Nazism. Today, its leaders speak of the same kind of solidarity—but it’s nothing but talk. In Rotherham, gangs of Muslim men sexually abused 1,400 girls—and police and other officials who knew about it did nothing for years lest they be accused of racism or Islamophobia. Almost certainly, similar mass-scale rapes are still occurring right now in other British cities, with similar silence and inaction on the part of pusillanimous authorities. Today, British leaders refuse to deport imams who preach murder but ban from their shores respected writers and knowledgeable critics of Islam who dare to take on those imams and their theology.

Strength? Don’t you dare speak of strength. You have the blood of innocent children on your hands.

The Middle East reset

James Freeman:

President Donald Trump’s Sunday address in Saudi Arabia was bound to inspire comparisons to the speech Barack Obama delivered in Cairo, Egypt at a similar point in his young presidency. And just like his predecessor, Mr. Trump expressed gratitude and respect for his hosts. But the 45th U.S. President quickly made clear that he did not fly to the Middle East on his first overseas trip in order to explain what’s wrong with America.

It would be a crude overstatement to say that the message has gone from America worst to America first in one presidency. Mr. Obama did speak favorably of his country several times during his Cairo address. But the difference between Barack Obama’s speech in 2009 and the Trump remarks on Sunday in Riyadh is striking.

In 2009, Mr. Obama started out by making the case why Muslims should view his country with distrust:

We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world — tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Later, Mr. Obama faulted the United States for overreacting to 9/11 and noted that he had ordered the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay by early 2010—a promise he would not fulfill. Mr. Obama also sought to make sure that the U.S. received an ample share of the blame for its poor relations with one of the world’s primary sponsors of terrorism:

For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward.

Even on issues of women’s rights, Mr. Obama didn’t want to give the U.S. much credit in comparison to the Muslim world. The latter is a world where women sometimes struggle just for the freedom to read books or drive automobiles. But Mr. Obama said that “the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.”

In Riyadh on Sunday, President Trump spent no time blaming America or making excuses for our adversaries. But he did note the possibilities available to a Middle East that rejects terror:

The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.

But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence.

There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.

Mr. Trump added that “no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete” without mentioning the government that gives terrorists “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.” And he left no ambiguity about who was responsible:

The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror. Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.

By the way, this column should note that perhaps the most striking comment when one looks back at Mr. Obama’s 2009 remarks has little to do with U.S. foreign policy, but underlines how far and how quickly the Democratic Party has moved on issues of sexual identity. Toward the end of his speech, Mr. Obama said, “The Holy Koran tells us: ‘O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.’” Referencing that line today in the era of transgender politics would have progressives back in the U.S. shrieking for a safe space.

As for the safety of the entire civilized world in its fight against Islamic terror, this column expects that many overseas listeners will find reassurance in a message from America without apologies.

Two views of Trump

It’s hardly surprising in our divided that there are differing views of Donald Trump.

One comes from Timothy Daughtry:

As we watch the daily barrage of accusations and innuendo directed against President Trump by the far left, the liberal media, and even some in his own party, those of us who voted to put him in the Oval Office need to remember one crucial point: President Trump is not the real target.  You are.

Even considering his outsized persona and the stunning phenomenon of an outsider who has never held political office winning the presidency against one of the most powerful political machines in American history, the new movement that elected Donald Trump has never been about Trump. In the 2016 election, the “forgotten men and women of America” were hell-bent to send a message to the powerful elites of both parties.

The message was that the Washington elites are serving themselves and their own agenda and ignoring the rest of the nation.  The message was that Washington has become a swamp of corruption and self-serving collusion among powerful interests and that Main Street America is ready to see that swamp drained.

Donald Trump was our messenger.

Because his candidacy was not about Trump the man but Trump the messenger, he was able to withstand the smears and assaults of the Clinton Machine that would have sunk any other candidate.  They siphoned all the way to the bottom of their slime barrel, and still the message prevailed.

That message was simple and grounded in common sense.  No country can survive unless it has control over its borders.  People coming into American should be vetted to make sure that they pose no danger to us.  After eight years of stifling taxes and regulations, we should once again make America a healthy place in which to do business, make products, and create jobs.  Political correctness may seem silly and laughable, but in reality it poses a serious threat to free expression and open exchange of ideas. If it’s terrorism, call it that.  Say what is obvious to our common sense even if it offends the delicate sensibilities of the elite.

Now the denizens of the Washington swamp are sending a message back to the forgotten men and women who voted for Trump and his reforms: “Forget you.”

The leftists who worked to radically transform the nation under Barack Obama are telling us that they hold the reins of power and that we the people don’t run anything.  They are telling us that their agenda will prevail regardless of how we vote or what we want.  They are telling us that they can subvert, attack, and destroy any messenger that we send into their territory.  And feckless leaders in the GOP seem, at best, more afraid of displeasing the Democrats than betraying their own voters, and, at worst, in cozy collusion with the opposition.

What is at stake in the barrage of innuendo, twisted news, and “investigations” is not just the future of the Trump presidency, but the future of the very idea that governmental power rests ultimately on the consent of the governed.

Of course there is much at stake in the actual policy questions facing the country.  But underneath the debates about border security, court appointees, tax and regulatory policy, and so on lies a deeper question that is at the very heart of our system of government: Can the American people still change the direction of the country if we believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction?  Or will the powerful and self-serving elites impose their agenda even when we don’t consent to it?

When the voters put leftists in power, as they did with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, the country moves left.  But when voters try to change course, as we did in the elections of 2010 and 2014, the country still careened towards open borders, government control of healthcare, rule by rogue judges, and lawless license for those in the power elite.

And so we went outside the traditional path and elected Donald Trump in 2016.  The liberal news anchors had barely dried their tears after Election Day when the left began to cloud the real meaning of Trump’s election by pushing the bizarre claim that the Russians had somehow hacked the election.

In their gaslighting version of reality, you didn’t really vote to drain the swamp.  You didn’t really vote to secure our borders.  You didn’t vote to repeal and replace Obamacare and put doctors and patients back in charge instead of Washington bureaucrats.  You didn’t vote to restore rule of law and common sense to Washington.  The Russians somehow threw the election to Trump.  You can go back home now and let the experts run things.

It’s swamp gas.  Don’t breathe it.

There is plenty in Washington that merits investigation, from foreign influence through the Clinton Foundation to Obama’s use of intelligence data for political purposes.  Congress has the power to do just that, but we need to give them the will.

Let’s remind our representatives that they might forget us, but we won’t forget them.

A different view comes from Charlie Sykes:

If there was one principle that used to unite conservatives, it was respect for the rule of law. Not long ago, conservatives would have been horrified at wholesale violations of the norms and traditions of our political system, and would have been appalled by a president who showed overt contempt for the separation of powers.

But this week, as if on cue, most of the conservative media fell into line, celebrating President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and dismissing the fact that Mr. Comey was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. “Dems in Meltdown Over Comey Firing,” declared a headline on Fox News, as Tucker Carlson gleefully replayed clips of Democrats denouncing the move. “It’s just insane actually,” he said, referring to their reactions. On Fox and talk radio, the message was the same, with only a few conservatives willing to sound a discordant or even cautious note.

The talk-show host Rush Limbaugh was positively giddy, opening his monologue on Wednesday by praising Mr. Trump for what he called his “epic trolling” of liberals. “This is great,” Mr. Limbaugh declared. “Can we agree that Donald Trump is probably enjoying this more than anybody wants to admit or that anybody knows? So he fires Comey yesterday. Who’s he meet with today? He’s meeting with the Soviet, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov! I mean, what an epic troll this is.”

Given the enthusiasm of the president’s apologists, it is likely that much of Mr. Trump’s base will similarly rally to him as it has in the past.

But perhaps most important, we saw once again how conservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism.

In a lamentably overlooked monologue this month, Mr. Limbaugh embraced the new reality in which conservative ideas and principles had been displaced by anti-liberalism. For years, Mr. Limbaugh ran what he called the “Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies.” But in the Trump era, he told his audience, he has changed that to the “Institute for Advanced Anti-Leftist Studies.”

With Mr. Trump in the White House, conservative principles were no longer the point. “How many times during the campaign did I warn everybody Trump is not a conservative? Multiple times a day,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “How many times have I told you: ‘Do not expect Trump to be a conservative? He isn’t one.’ ”

He went on to emphasize that the campaign was not about conservatism, because that’s not what Mr. Trump is about.

That was a remarkable admission, but it is also a key to understanding what is happening on the right. While there are those like Sean Hannity who are reliable cheerleaders for all things President Trump, much of the conservative news media is now less pro-Trump than it is anti-anti-Trump. The distinction is important, because anti-anti-Trumpism has become the new safe space for the right.

Here is how it works: Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.

But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.

Trump and Islam

Last week was such a bad week for Donald Trump that the I word started to be mentioned by some Republicans​.

Trump use a differently​ I word yesterday in Saudi Arabia, NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump offered a message of unity Sunday as he called on the Arab world to confront extremism during a highly anticipated speech in the birthplace of Islam.

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists,” Trump told the dozens of Muslim leaders who attended his remarks.

“Drive. Them. Out. Drive them out of your places of worship,” the president continued. “Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of his Earth!”

The speech during the initial stop of the president’s first foreign trip was a stark contrast to his previous comments on Islam. As a candidate, Trump frequently criticized the religion, saying, “I think Islam hates us” and “there’s a tremendous hatred there.”

In Riyadh, Trump said, “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”

Calling terrorists “the foot soldiers of evil,” the president added, “If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing, then we not only will be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.”

The U.S.’s Middle Eastern allies have often complained about America’s focus on human rights, a stance Trump also seemed keen to make a break from.

“America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens,” the president said. “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values — to pursue a better future for us all.”

Introducing Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke of the need ntroducing Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke of the need “to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism.”

“There is no honor in committing murder,” Salman said, adding that Islam is “the religion of peace and tolerance.”

n his address, Trump defined the struggle against extremism as “a battle between good and evil.”
“Barbarism will deliver you no glory — piety to evil will bring you no dignity,” the president said. “If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned.”

Trump also offered a firm rebuke of Iran — a notable departure from the Obama administration’s overtures to the country which had caused a chill in relations with the Saudi government.

Calling out Iranian leaders for training terrorists and “spreading destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump, who has called for ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran, implored all nations to “work together to isolate” Tehran until the regime is “willing to be a partner for peace.”

“Pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve,” he said.

Trump also included a brief reference to his hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians — a deal he has repeatedly said he hopes to broker during his time in office. Trump noted “peace in this world is possible — including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.” …

Trump called on countries in the region to do the hard work themselves and not to expect the U.S. to fight terror for them.

“We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.”

“The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children,” Trump said. “Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization.”

Trump said he hoped the gathering of the region’s leaders in Riyadh would mark the beginning of the end of terrorism and the start of peace in the Middle East.

“This region should not be a place that refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock,” the president said.

Trump, like seemingly every other president, is dreaming​ if he thinks there can ever be peace between Israel and its implacable Arab emenies. The rest of the speech, however, was long overdue for its condemnation of radical Islam and Iran and calling on the rest of Islam to reject their terrorists.

 No Democrat who ran for president last year could have done, or would have done, better.


The (dis)United States of (more than one) America

Erick Erickson:

The media has run and retracted a host of stories about Donald Trump and his administration since Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath of office. The MLK bust was gone before it was not. The State Department senior staff all resigned before they didn’t. James Comey asked for more funding for the Russia investigation before he didn’t.

The story about Donald Trump giving away key intelligence details to the Russians has been met with a full throated denial by the White House on key details that are actually not in the Washington Post story. Given the media’s track record of stories about Donald Trump, where they report first and ask questions later, one can be excused for being skeptical of this story.

I would be but for knowing one of the sources, who is a credible, reliable source who supports the President, but is appalled and using the leaks as a way to message back to a President who has otherwise gone tone deaf to criticism of his behavior.

While the media cries wolf, so too does President Trump. He has seemingly never met a truth he has not cheated on. He confuses the ring of truth with a marriage ring.

Of course, he is also the scorpion riding the back of the frog, always wondering why he is on the verge of drowning above a dead frog.

On top of all that, let’s not ignore the politics of convenience here. If Barack Obama had done what Donald Trump did, many of the same people calling for impeachment would be doubling down on defense of Obama. For those who say Barack Obama would never do this, many of us don’t believe you. Doubly so, President Obama is still defending the repeated crossing of his red line in Syria and many of acolytes are as well, despite that action being directly related to emboldening the Syrian regime.

Everything in Washington is now relative and tribal. Each side now competes for elections to impose their own morality and choices on the people as a whole. With the left, they demand unending culture war. We must all accept and pay for abortion and we must all accept and provide goods and services to gay weddings. We cannot decide this by state, as the founders intended.

The left and right both want to use Washington as they see fit with no real restraints on their agendas. The founders intended Washington to be useful for little and the states to be useful for much. Not any more. Both sides have incorporated the Bill of Rights against the states, which the founders expressly did not and which was only done through Supreme Court divination in the twentieth century.

The stakes have grown so high as five black robed masters demand their morality be imposed on 320 million people and the federal government insists a heterogeneous people be homogenized. There is no room on either side for diversity of thought. The tribe, not the nation, is all that matters.

Washington is dysfunctional and our President is a dolt well out of his league. The only honest thing he has said of late is that the job is harder than he expected.

The left will give him no benefit of any doubt and the GOP will excuse his every action. Our nation is broken. It does not work. Neither side has an ounce of grace for the other. Traditional values are now bigotry to the left. College campuses silence dissent in ways that would make Hitler proud. Washington is supposed to do everything. And Washington does nothing well. Outrage is defined by party, not objective truth.

Perhaps it is time we end this experience. Few people really want a country as the founders envisioned and those of us who do are assailed from both sides. The stakes have been escalated beyond any amount of reason and should the Democrats eventually take back the White House, which they will, everything they have attacked Trump for will suddenly be embraced and every Republican who has defended Trump will attack the future Democrat President.

Let’s not pretend otherwise. We have Democrats running Republican congressmen off the road and reporters writing stories justifying it. We have environmental wackos blaming global warming on too many people, but they refuse to go first and kill themselves. We have Republican congressmen targeting businesses whose employees oppose the congressmen. It is only a matter of time before real shots are fired. Democrats are convinced the President is committing treason and Republicans are war criminals. Meanwhile, conservatives are convinced the left has created an existential threat against their cultural existence.

I asked once how many Americans would die because of Barack Obama’s failed policies. The same must now be asked of Donald Trump. And we must all legitimately ask how many Americans will be killed by their fellow American because of once trivial political differences that are now treated as crimes against humanity.

Our national union is fraying at the seams and I think we have reached the point where it is best to go on and tear it into fifty pieces and move on, each state its own.

The only real alternative should be an immediate repeal of the fourteenth and seventeenth amendments so that national elections become more diffuse through state legislative elections and the demands of moral and cultural homogeneity through conjured divinations in equal protection die by the wayside. Force each state, its laws, and its morality to be relevant again. That is the only way to preserve the nation.

It is safe to say that repeal of the 14th Amendment is a nonstarter, immediate or not. The 17th Amendment, which gives voters of states to elect U.S. senators instead of state legislatures, is unlikely to be repealed either. Apparently Erickson believes that the 32 states with Republican-controlled legislatures (25 of which, including Wisconsin, also have Republican governors) would produce a different Senate, though it’s not as if, for instance, a state legislature would be able to expel that state’s Democratic senator, elected two years earlier by a different legislature, from office.

Erickson’s understandable wish to make “national elections more diffuse,” of course, would serve to lock in the order of things, with liberal California and New York and the more-conservative rest of the nation. That last sentence, however, doesn’t quite accurately portray individual states, including Wisconsin, where liberal Milwaukee and Madison opposes the much more conservative rest of the state. (For that matter, liberal Milwaukee is surrounded by conservative suburbs.) Inner California isn’t nearly as liberal as its coast. There is a move to split the state of Washington into two states, the easternmost of which would be called ‘Liberty.” (Maybe Madison can be split off into its own, and call it Communist Scumbags.)


The irreligious Trump and his religious fans

Michael Gerson on thrice-married Donald Trump and some of his biggest supporters, who you’d think wouldn’t approve of three marriages, two of which ended in divorce:

In the compulsively transgressive, foul-mouthed, loser-disdaining, mammon-worshiping billionaire, conservative Christians “have found their dream president,” according to Jerry Falwell Jr.

It is a miracle, of sorts.

In a recent analysis, the Pew Research Center found that more than three-fourths of white evangelical Christians approve of Trump’s job performance, most of them “strongly.” With these evangelicals comprising about a quarter of the electorate, their support is the life jacket preventing Trump from slipping into unrecoverable political depths.

The essence of Trump’s appeal to conservative Christians can be found in his otherwise anodyne commencement speech at Liberty University. “Being an outsider is fine,” Trump said. “Embrace the label.” And then he promised: “As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith.” Trump presented evangelicals as a group of besieged outsiders, in need of a defender.

This sense of grievance and cultural dispossession — the common ground between The Donald and the faithful — runs deep in evangelical Christian history. Evangelicalism emerged from the periodic mass revivals that have burned across America for 300 years. While defining this version of Christianity is notoriously difficult, it involves (at least) a personal decision to accept God’s grace through faith in Christ and a commitment to live — haltingly, imperfectly — according to his example.

In the 19th century, evangelicals (particularly of the Northern variety) took leadership in abolitionism and other movements of social reform. But as a modernism based on secular scientific and cultural assumptions took control of institution after institution, evangelicals often found themselves dismissed as anti-intellectual rubes.

The trend culminated at the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which evolution and H.L. Mencken were pitted against creation and William Jennings Bryan (whom Mencken called “a tin pot pope in the Coca-Cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor half-wits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards”). Never mind that Mencken was racist, anti-Semitic and an advocate of eugenics and that Bryan was the compassionate progenitor of the New Deal. Fundamentalists (a designation adopted by many evangelicals) lost the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, even in their own minds.

After a period of political dormancy — which included discrediting slumber during the civil rights movement — evangelicals returned to defend Christian schools against regulation during the Carter administration. To defend against Supreme Court decisions that put tight limits on school prayer and removed state limits on abortion. To defend against regulatory assaults on religious institutions. Nathan Glazer once termed this a “defensive offensive” — a kind of aggrieved reaction to the perceived aggressions of modernity.

Those who might be understandably confused by the current state of evangelicalism should understand a few things:

First, evangelicals don’t have a body of social teaching equivalent, say, to Catholic social doctrine. Catholics are taught, in essence, that if you want to call yourself pro-life on abortion, you also have to support greater access to health care and oppose the dehumanization of migrants. And vice versa. There is a doctrinal whole that requires a broad and consistent view of social justice. Evangelicals have nothing of the sort. Their agenda often seems indistinguishable from the political movement that currently defends and deploys them, be it Reaganism or Trumpism.

Second, evangelicalism is racially and ethnically homogeneous, which leaves certain views and assumptions unchallenged. The American Catholic Church, in contrast, is one-third Hispanic, which changes the church’s perception of immigrants and their struggles. (Successful evangelical churches in urban areas are now experiencing the same diversity and broadening their social concern.)

Third, without really knowing it, Trump has presented a secular version of evangelical eschatology. When the candidate talked of an America on the brink of destruction, which could be saved only by returning to the certainties of the past, it perfectly fit the evangelical narrative of moral and national decline. Trump speaks the language of decadence and renewal (while exemplifying just one of them).

In the Trump era, evangelicals have gotten a conservative Supreme Court justice for their pains — which is significant. And they have gotten a leader who shows contempt for those who hold them in contempt — which is emotionally satisfying.

The cost? Evangelicals have become loyal to a leader of shockingly low character. They have associated their faith with exclusion and bias. They have become another Washington interest group, striving for advantage rather than seeking the common good. And a movement that should be known for grace is now known for its seething resentments.

Whether you approve or not, the cause of this is obvious — Trump’s predecessor in the White House. Barack Obama was as big a fan of abortion as Bill Clinton, and opposed religious liberty for conservative Christians. (See “wedding cakes.”) In these divisive days, you’re either for something or against something, and apparently doing what you say is preferable to doing what you do in your private life.


The Deplorables’ middle-finger vote

For those who still fail to grasp why Donald Trump won the presidential election, read Kyle Smith:

”We’re voting with our middle finger,” a Trump supporter in South Carolina told a reporter last fall. No doubt.
Many a liberal observer saw the Trump vote as a rageful taunt aimed at racial and sexual minorities. But there is much more to Trump’s support than that, argues law professor Joan C. Williams in her new book White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.
Making an admirable and research-driven effort to see things from the point of view of her subject, author Williams unpacks exactly how the white working class (WWC) viewed the election, and how their history-making choice made a lot of sense given their concerns.
The WWC is plagued by crisis within and without — household income in this group has been all but stagnant for 40 years. The mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high-school education has increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014. Opioids arrived and factories left. Democrats at best didn’t seem to notice; at worst they seemed to be causing misery by supporting NAFTA and mass immigration that drives down wages while imposing environmental policies meant to crush carbon-intensive industries. Then they mocked their victims as rednecks on the wrong side of history.
Williams isn’t interested in mocking her subjects. She is a liberal who is genuinely worried about the plight of the WWC. An admitted silver-spoon baby, she married someone she calls a “class migrant” — a guy from the working class (he’s an Italian-American from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn) who earned a spot at Harvard Law School, where the couple met. Right away, she was unable to hide her fascination with his people. At a family dinner, his father took a dislike to her because Williams seemed to be studying everyone like an anthropologist. …
If your answer to the question “Who am I?” is “I’m a professor,” then your identity doesn’t change whether you’re in London, Miami or San Francisco. Elites have a tendency to leave home for college, then flit from one global capital to another. Not so the WWC, which Williams defines as white middle-class people (those in the $41,000 to $132,000 income range) who don’t have a college education. They’re strongly attached to their hometowns, to the people they feel comfortable with, to what they perceive to be the shared values of their communities.
Tradition and stability matter. “The dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money,” Williams notes.
Donald Trump epitomizes this idea, having made his fortune “in garish casinos that sold a working-class brand of luxury.” Gold-covered everything is exactly how you’d decorate if you were from Appalachia and struck it rich with no intervening period of finishing school at Stanford or Yale.
To the rootless global elites, though, tradition is subordinated to transgression. What society considers edgy, elites deem worthy of their praise. It isn’t acceptable merely to accept gay life, for example — it must be celebrated. Recalling moving to San Francisco and observing a fully naked man walking down the street, Williams recalls feeling proud of herself for being tolerant of such norm-shattering. Among the elites, she says, “It’s a point of pride not to be one of those petty bourgeois who’s shocked by sexual transgression.”
This attitude not only stuns the WWC but strikes them as a kind of attack on everything they hold dear. To them, bicoastal urban America is a joke to which they don’t get the punchline. They feel excluded, marginalized, left out. Worse than any of this, they feel condescended to, and it infuriates them, Williams writes.
Hillary Clinton did a marvelous job of confirming their suspicions when she said — in New York City, at an LGBT event — that “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
Being called names such as these is exactly what gets the white working class fired up. She might as well have told everyone from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, “Don’t vote for me.” Outside of Chicagoland, they didn’t. …

Dismissing the WWC as racist doesn’t make a lot more sense than calling them misogynist, Williams argues, citing evidence that upper-class white people are simply better than the working class at camouflaging race-based judgments. You’ll rarely catch managerial types uttering racial slurs, but consider the “Greg/Jamal” study in which corporate recruiters were sent identical resumes, one from “Greg” and one from “Jamal.” The Jamals of the world proved to have a much more difficult time landing interviews.
As for why a $60,000 a year mechanic could feel affinity for a New York billionaire, it’s because WWC consider moguls to be fantasy figures. Trump represents something aspirational; they picture themselves in that boardroom firing people.
Managers, on the other hand, remind them of the bosses they resent. “Most working-class people have little contact with the truly rich outside of ‘The Apprentice’ or ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ ” Williams writes, “but they suffer class affronts from professionals every day: the doctor who unthinkingly patronizes the medical technician, the harried office worker who treats the security guard as invisible, the overbooked business traveler who snaps at the TSA agent.”
Hillary Clinton reminds them of the prissy know-it-alls who have been bossing them around their whole lives — she’s the lady who tells you there’s no eating in the library, as columnist Jonah Goldberg once put it. They don’t resent Trump, though: They imagine being him and firing her.
Clinton’s rhetoric about helping the poor also turned off the WWC: The have-a-littles disdain the have-nots. Working people in the middle are proud of their discipline and resent the spongers they perceive as being rewarded for having none. They don’t romanticize welfare recipients as being hapless victims of circumstance because they see them at the grocery store every week. …

Bill Clinton understood this kind of thinking, which is why he signed welfare reform in 1996, when he carried such states as West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Louisiana. No Democratic presidential candidate since has won any of those states, and they’re no longer even trying.
Bill famously advised his wife’s campaign to do more to reach out to the WWC, but in what will surely be recalled as one of the defining moments of hubris on Team Hillary, campaign manager Robby Mook replied, “the data run counter to your anecdotes.”

There is certainly no sense that Democrats grasp this.

Comey’s firing, and reactions thereto

Facebook Friend Christopher Lawrence sums up the events that led up to Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey Tuesday:

Before July press conference- Comey is universally liked and respected.

July Press Conference- Republicans hate Comey due to failure to charge Hillary for her crimes. Democrats praise Comey as a civil servant who conducted a fair investigation that came to right conclusion and that his integrity cannot be questioned.

October re-opening: Democrats rail against the “unquestioned civil servant” as interfering into the investigation weeks before election. Republicans praise him looking for 2nd chance to take down Hillary for her crimes.

October final closing on Hillary investigation: Republicans rail against him for conducting a quick investigation and Democrats say the investigation is now over.

Nov 8th: Democrats lose the most winnable election and blames Russia, Comey, Fake News, Jesus, Racism, Pantsuits for there historical and embarrassing loss.

After Nov8th: Democrats want Comey gone and no longer trust the “unquestionable civil servant with great integrity”

Yesterday: Trump fires Comey. Republicans reactions are mixed. Democrats now question why was the guy “who caused there election loss” was fired after calling for him to be axed.

Or, put in Facebook meme form:

If you want video evidence:

Town Hall has 10 more Democratic calls for Comey’s firing before the horror that is Comey’s firing, as do Chicks on the Right.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Kentucky), no fan of Trump, his predecessor or his would-be successor, has an actual worthwhile perspective, as reported by Real Clear Politics:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told FOX & Friends Wednesday morning that he lost confidence in fired FBI Director James Comey a long time ago. He said any accusation of Russian collusion in the election is a “huge myth” and a product of sour grapes.

“It’s sour grapes over the election,” Paul said. “The whole Russian thing has been propagated by people who are upset that they lost the election. They’ve sunk their teeth into something, they think they’ll eventually find something. But everything is sort built upon a huge myth as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think there has been any facts presented that anybody broke the low and yet this goes on and on.”

Paul said Comey’s firing couldn’t have happened soon enough:

SEN. PAUL: I think it couldn’t have happened soon enough. I lost confidence in Comey a long time ago. In fact, I never even voted for his confirmation because I doubted his ability to run the FBI. But I would say that most of America thought that he botched the Clinton email scandal. All the Democrats thought he said too much and all the Republicans thought he didn’t do enough. So he had all the confidence of almost no one. Chuck Schumer said six months ago that he lost confidence in him.

But I thought it was especially telling in the letter that the [Deputy] Attorney General sent, he said Eric Holder said that Comey had violated long-standing Department of Justice procedures. And I think without question that’s true. And I think he politicized something by making way too many statements to the press. So I think it is time for new leadership at the FBI.

Rand Paul said no one has produced “one iota” of evidence of Russian collusion in the election or that anybody broke the law. Paul said Schumer and Democrats are crying “crocodile tears.”

“Not only is there no evidence that the trump administration or campaign was connected to Russia or committed any crime, no evidence at all of committing a crime, there is not even an accusation that I know of what crime would have potentially be committed,” Paul said.

“So all this breathless talk about people, there is a lot of hypocrisy going on,” the Kentucky Senator said. “Many of these Democrats, including Chuck Schumer said they lost confidence in Comey a long time ago. Hillary Clinton has been blaming Comey. They should be thanking President Trump for getting rid of Comey because he politicized something that may well have had something to do with Hillary Clinton’s loss.”

“So, I think a lot of crocodile tears and a lot of people saying you know, they were for getting rid of Comey too and now they say it’s all about this Russian investigation which hasn’t produced one iota of evidence that anybody did anything wrong or broke the law,” Paul said.

Julian Sanchez adds:

First: The position of FBI director has — since 1976, and following J. Edgar Hoover’s umbral half century tenure — been set for 10 years, in substantial part to keep it both symbolically and practically removed from the vicissitudes of electoral cycles. Formally, any president can, of course remove a director short of that term, but it’s happened exactly once, 24 years ago, when Bill Clinton sacked early-90s arcade screen mainstay William S. Sessions, forethics violations. It is not, traditionally, one of those posts that just routinely swaps occupants when a new administration pitches its tent: Firing a director is an extraordinary event, for which one expects strong, clear reasons.

Second: The stated reasons for Comey’s dismissal are pretextual. They are so transparently, ludicrously pretextual that we should all feel at least a little bit insulted. The putative basis for Comey’s firing is a three page memo, dated May 9, faulting his public handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail server investigation, and a recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also dated May 9, that Comey be dismissed on that basis. That memo levels a number of fundamentally valid criticisms. It is also, as perhaps three page memos must necessarily be, pretty conclusory: It renders a verdict without much more than a gesture in the direction of an argument, and preempts a pending Inspector General investigation that would have produced a lengthy and serious account and analysis of Comey’s actions. While I’m inclined to agree with the memo’s critiques, underdeveloped as they are, they would be an extraordinarily thin basis on which to remove an FBI director, even if you thought they were the real basis. And they’re clearly not the real basis.

We are asked to believe that the decision to fire the FBI director — so abruptly he learned about it from a cable news chyron while out of D.C. — was based on a dashed off memo, and a response from the Attorney General, both issued the same day. We are asked to believe that it was motivated by Comey’s breaches of FBI protocol: First, in publicly criticizing Hillary Clinton, rather than letting Attorney General Loretta Lynch announce the decision that the former Secretary would not be indicted, and then in informing Congress that he had (fruitlessly, as it turned out) reopened the investigation into her e-mails. These are breaches both Trump and Sessions praised effusively at the time, with Sessions even declaring that Comey had an “absolute duty” to act as he did. All of them, of course, were well known long before Trump took office and chose to retain Comey.

The most charitable thing one can say about this narrative is that it is not even intended as a serious attempt to advance a genuine rationale. It is an attempt to be cute. Having been directed to concoct a reason to eliminate Comey, the Attorney General ran with a slapdash pastiche of Democrats’ complaints. Anyone who’s been on a long car trip with a sibling knows this gag: “Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!” The only people even pretending to take this explanation seriously are those paid for the indignity.

Third: In another sense, that hastily cobbled together memo probably does reflect, indirectly, the authentic rationale for Comey’s cashiering. What Comey has demonstrated, after all, is that he is — sometimes to a fault — dedicated to preserving the appearance of the Bureau’s independence from improper political influence. He is, to that end, willing to go over the heads of the political appointees to whom he reports when he believes it’s necessary, publicly announcing the findings of an FBI investigation without vetting by the administration. To a substantial extent, Comey owes his current post to the fact that he was, famously, willing to say “no” to the White House when he believed a president’s demands to be at odds with the law. This seems like a quality that Trump — who rages against the intransigence of “so-called judges” in staying his executive orders — would find intolerable in a subordinate under any circumstances. Against the backdrop of a protracted and embarrassing investigation into Russian electoral interference it must be downright terrifying. Unsurprisingly, press reports citing anonymous administration sources are already claiming that Trump’s rage at Comey’s unwillingness to take dictation — both on the Russia question and Trump’s claims about being wiretapped by his predecessor — are what ultimately doomed him.

My own suspicion — for reasons not worth delving into here — is that we’re unlikely to get any unambiguous, smoking gun proof of knowing collusion between senior Trump campaign officials and the Russian government, at least as far as electoral interference is concerned. But it also seems quite likely that an investigation into the campaign’s Russian ties — which on the public record alone raise more eyebrows than a Spock cosplay convention — would turn up any number of other unseemly or embarrassing facts the White House would prefer not to have aired. Comey has demonstrated that he would likely be prepared to disclose any findings he believed the American public had a right to know, whether or not they amounted to clearly indictable offenses — perhaps even over the objections of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Fourth: It is no longer possible for the FBI to conduct its investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement in Russian electoral interference in any meaningfully independent way. Agents who might once have hoped that the FBI director would shield them from retaliation if their inquiry turned up truths inconvenient to the White House have now seen that director summarily and humiliatingly dismissed, for inconveniencing the White House. Nobody lower down the totem pole can possibly believe themselves safe from reprisal under these circumstances, and even people of great integrity have mortgages. Even if the next FBI director avoids any hint of improperly seeking to influence the investigation, the damage has been done; the sight of Comey’s head on a pike is influence enough. And that’s the optimistic scenario. That Trump chose to send Comey his pink slip in Los Angeles, with no warning, ought to at least prompt some inquiries into whether both his own files and those of the investigation remain secure. The manner of his termination may be merely one more humiliation, but it also had the side-effect of limiting his ability to take any last-minute steps to forestall tampering. Such direct tampering is, I hope, a remote possibility, but it no longer seems inconceivable that this administration might believe it can quash the investigation, purge the case files, “move on,” and ride out a week or two of negative coverage. Either way, whatever remains of a congressional investigation once the FBI has been bent to the yoke would almost certainly be rendered a cosmetic exercise, dependent as it necessarily would be on raw materials provided by the intelligence community, even if we assume the political will to continue a serious inquiry. Even a special counsel would not, ultimately, be fully independent of the administration, but at this point it seems like the only path forward with even a hope of being credible.

Fifth: The fields of punditry are littered with failed predictions that this scandal, at last, will be the one Trump cannot survive, but it is nevertheless stunning how badly the White House seems to have misread the politics of this. Even many senior Republicans are balking at making excuses for the timing of Comey’s sacking. Trump, rather notoriously, seems to regard any form of criticism as personal betrayal — a declaration that one has joined the enemy camp. He therefore seems not to have grasped that, notwithstanding the array of harsh criticisms leveled at Comey by lawmakers of both parties, the director enjoyed broad bipartisan respect, built up over a long career. His actions over the past six months may have drawn down that reservoir of goodwill, but they have not exhausted it. Much has been made of Trump’s willingness to flout longstanding political norms, but what’s less often observed is that this appears to be as much a function of ignorance as brazenness. That is, it’s not just that he’s decided he can get away with breaking the rules — which thus far he has — but that he routinely seems to do so unwittingly, unaware of what the rules are. Many have expressed incredulity that the White House truly believed it could take this step without provoking a political firestorm; I find it all too plausible. As a result, they’ve been caught unprepared, without any believable story that would give members of his own party cover to defend the move with a straight face.

Sixth, and finally: The question of Comey’s replacement is hugely significant, and the confirmation hearings for the next FBI director are bound to be explosive. One consistent theme of Trump’s business career is that he has always viewed the law as a cudgel with which to bludgeon adversaries — whether it’s contractors coerced to accept half-paymentsby the prospect of ruinously expensive litigation or journalists mired in frivolous libel suitsfor printing unflattering sentences. The prospect of a Federal Bureau Investigation run in the same way ought to be genuinely frightening, and with Comey out of the way, it seems all too possible.

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