A Democrat considers his party

Giancarlo Sopo writes in USA Today:

Cuba’s socialist revolution was supposed to work for workers — like my grandparents who lived in Miami during Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. In January 1959, just two weeks after Fidel Castro seized power, they returned to the island to care for my grandmother’s ailing mother. For the next 20 years, they remained prisoners in their own country.

As Cuba’s political and economic situation worsened, my grandfather told a friend he wanted to return to the United States. Someone overheard the conversation and reported him to the authorities. For this, the Castro regime threw him in jail. He was later stripped of his job and salary as an accountant and assigned to feed zoo animals. In addition to the emotional distress it caused, this made my family’s financial circumstances even more precarious.

To understand my grandparents’ desperation to flee socialism, imagine leaving everything behind and starting anew at almost 60 years old.

I was born in Miami a little after my family was able to return to America — when President Jimmy Carter allowed travel restrictions to lapse. Growing up, a framed photo of my parents with President Ronald Reagan was a mainstay in the living room of our modest duplex. Yet, during the first election I was able to vote, I served as a precinct captain for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Four years later, I knocked on doors in New Hampshire for then-Sen. Barack Obama. In 2016, my wife and I drove 14 hours to volunteer for Hillary Clinton and this June, we marched in support of immigrant families.

The popularity of ‘democratic socialism’

Despite my working-class immigrant roots, I am concerned by the popularity of socialism within my party. On the night of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York, I thought her use of the term was a misnomer. Then I began studying the views of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the rapidly growing national organization she belongs to, and was disturbed by what I learned.

Like those of yesteryear, today’s socialists believe the government should nationalize major industries, propose eliminating private ownership of companies, and reject profits. In other words, democratic socialism is a lot like the system my family fled, except its proponents promise to be nicer when seizing your business.

When I confronted some progressive friends about this, they initially dismissed my concerns. After sharing some articles with them, the conversation shifted to “they just want us to be more like the Nordic countries” and “they’re not like real socialists!” Both are reductionist, self-delusions to avoid confronting difficult truths.

The latter is a particularly absurd fallacy because it requires one to believe that adults who willfully join socialist organizations, sound like socialists and call themselves socialists are not what they claim to be.

Claims of “Nordic socialism” are also largely exaggerated. As Jostein Skaar, of Oslo Economics, told me, “I would stress that the Norwegian economic system is capitalistic, heavily influenced by the U.S. and U.K.”

This is probably why DSA argues that the Nordic model is not good enough.

The ideological counterparts of America’s democratic socialists are likelier to be found to our south than in northern Europe. For instance, Cuba — where the state controls three-fourths of the economy, limits private-sector activity, and employs the majority of workers — is clearly more representative of DSA’s economic vision than Denmark, where 89 percent of the wealth is privately owned and seven out of 10 Danes work in the private sector.

Moreover, as an investigation by Transparency International revealed, the Venezuelan government owns at least 511 companies — resulting in a state-owned enterprises per-capita ratio that is more than three times greater than all of Scandinavia’s combined.

As someone who spent years defending Democrats from “socialista” charges, I understand why people roll their eyes when Cuba and Venezuela are mentioned alongside democratic socialism, but to reject the comparison simply because we don’t like those countries’ outcomes misses the point of why they turned out the way they did. I’m under no illusion that increased access to health care and education will turn us into the Venezuelan capital Caracas, but it’s foolish to believe that democratic socialists — who promise to end capitalism — would be satisfied with Medicare for all, if given the reins of power.

This must never happen. The descendants of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels should have no place in the party of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. Given its horrific record of human suffering, it would be a moral disgrace for Democrats to embrace socialism just to win elections, as some suggest. Those who use the blitheful ignorance of many for the political gain of a few deserve to lose. Indeed, if socialism represents the future of the Democratic Party, that’s a dystopia no American should want to be a part of.

Jon Gabriel adds:

A Gallup poll has discovered that, for the first time, Democrats have a more positive image of socialism than they do of capitalism. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners support the state-run economic system, while just 47 percent support free enterprise.

Did these people fall asleep in history class during the lectures about the Soviet Union and the Khmer Rouge? Miss the past few years of Venezuelans unable to find medicine, milk or toilet paper? Forget that just last month, Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega shot up a bunch of university students in a church?

 

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A Democrat considers Trump

Devin Stewart:

Like most Democrats, I reacted to the stunning 2016 election of Donald Trump with a combination of confusion and dread. After all, Hillary Clinton was the favorite and, to Democrats like me, a Trump victory seemed to portend certain economic disasternuclear war, and pretty much the end of America as we knew it.

But now nearly two years into his administration, Trump has presided over a “winning streak” that includes a booming economy and stock market, an unemployment level at a nearly 50-year low, two Supreme Court appointments, no new foreign wars or domestic terrorist attacks emanating from abroad, a significant degree of progress on trade relations with Canada and Mexico, a “needed reset” on the China relationship, and the prospect of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Perhaps it is time that even his opponents reconsider Trump. Does Trump have a strategy that we can describe? Is Trump a return of Richard Nixon, of Ronald Reagan, or of something else entirely? After several months of watching the news without gaining any answers, I finally canceled my cable subscription and sought out other sources. I found some insights in unexpected places.

Trump’s presidency marks a return to realpolitik and great power politics. No one knows what goes on in Trump’s mind or if even he believes he has a strategy. What matters is what Trump does, so this essay looks at his actions, considers the bias of his critics, and seeks a new way to understand his policies. It considers the possibility that Trump has a method to his madness.

The first clue toward understanding this new era was the way in which American media covered Trump’s approach toward North Korea, a country I have watched closely for 20 years as an Asia specialist.  North Korea is an urgent nuclear threat to the United States, as President Barack Obama warned Trump during their famous meeting after the election. Kim Jong Un subsequently accelerated his missile development and demonstrated weapons that could reach the U.S. mainland. During the fall of 2017, my colleagues and I laughed nervously about the prospect of nuclear war — given Trump’s threats earlier that summer to meet North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” and at the U.N. General Assembly to “totally destroy” Kim’s regime.

A year after those hyperbolic threats, Trump has just finished bragging at the U.N. General Assembly about how he had made significant progress in diplomacy with North Korea — even some “skeptics” agree. Overall, however, the press remains skeptical about Trump’s efforts with North Korea. It blames Trump for recklessly escalating the rhetoric and then blames him for meeting Kim in Singapore for diplomatic talks and getting “played.” After that meeting, the press predictably slammed Trump for not getting North Korea to immediately denuclearize, an unrealistic goal.

Of course, every president experiences fierce and sometimes unfair press criticism. They all feel quite persecuted by the press and frequently complain about their treatment. But Trump’s adversarial relationship with the press seems of a different type. He has challenged the press directly, even labeled them the enemy of the people. In response, much of the mainstream press seems to have adopted a certain smugness in the way that they consistently denigrate not just the president’s policies, but also his competence and fitness to be president. In contrast to the tone of press criticism of Obama, the mainstream media seems absolutely certain that they are smarter than Trump. In other words, they are smug. So, despite a radical change in U.S.-North Korea relations, the tone of the press coverage remains highly negative.

But the president’s approach has a clear logic. Trump shattered “decades of orthodoxy” by starting the North Korea negotiations with a summit directly between himself and Kim and offering the concession of pausing U.S.-South Korea military drills on the Peninsula. In contrast, previous administrations had dispatched diplomats to lay the groundwork for nuclear disarmament first, with the prospect of meeting the president as a reward. The recent isolation of North Korea with sanctions and limited diplomatic engagement had only persuaded it to build up its nuclear weapons capability and strengthened mutual suspicions. Trump’s instincts on North Korea may even be better than that of his advisors, accordingto former officials like Morton Halperin, a longtime arms control expert who served in the Johnson, Nixon, Clinton, and Obama administrations. Trump’s approach of engaging North Korea personally and directly makes much more sense than simply demanding immediate denuclearization.

Of course, the verdict on Trump’s effort with North Korea is not yet in.  But much of the press has not paid sufficient attention to the progress Trump has already made. His approach has secured the remains of some American troops lost during the Korean War, contributed to successful inter-Korean talks, and promised a follow up U.S.-North Korea summit. He is trying an unorthodox approach, but it is too soon to render conclusions about them because we are right in the middle of it. Experiencing the discrepancy between mainstream coverage of North Korea and my own analysis was eye-opening.

The second came from a project I was running at the Carnegie Council. The first was on Trump’s approach toward Asia. In 2017, I hosted a podcast with George Friedman, who described the post-World War II system as a “freak” and predicted that the world is returning to “a more normal structure in which the nation-state is dominant, international trade is intense but managed by states for their own benefit, and where this idea that the nation-state is obsolete goes away.” A similar theme came up during my podcast with scholar Raymond Kuo, who hopefully described Trump’s transactional approach as possibly like that of “master statesman” Otto Von Bismarck during his rule over Germany in the late 19thcentury. Maybe Trump is just a return to the norm of what Ian Bremmer calls our “G-Zero World.”

A third insight was from the unlikeliest place: the critically acclaimed animated show, “Rick and Morty.” During Trump’s campaign, his supporters frequently talked about how funny the candidate was. This humor was lost on most of my left-leaning peers. But “Rick and Morty” showed me what I have may been missing. Here is a popular TV show about a mad scientist Rick, an amoral, sociopathic man who considers himself the smartest man in the universe and tells dirty jokes in front of his grandson Morty. The slapstick, low-brow, and nihilistic insults and dirty humor of “Rick and Morty” — much like Trump — resemble some of the comedic greats from the decades  prior to the 1990s: “The Honeymooners,” “Benny Hill,” “Abbott and Costello,” “The Three Stooges,” and “I Love Lucy.” These comedic devices can be traced back hundreds of years to Asian and European theater, which used slapstick, puns, insults, and innuendo.

Compare that oeuvre to the 1990s-2000s, during which comedy was more satirical, knowing, self-referential, meta, and smug. This idea is far from perfect, but examples of satire that use slapstick as well include “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” “South Park,” “Team America: World Police”, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s parodies. American society today seems to be witnessing a return of what columnist Noah Smith calls “goofy” humor and a decline of “knowingly sarcastic” humor. Even The New Yorker complained that the 2018 Emmys were too smug and later described Trump’s rallies unfavorably as a “vaudeville routine.” Perhaps our shift toward a reversion in history also means we are seeing a cultural reversion as well.  Smugness has become politically tone deaf.

It’s possible that his opponents simply do not get Trump’s humor. The famous comment Trump made in 2016 about hoping that Russia would find Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails was delivered amid the Republican candidate’s riff about the Jon Lovitz character Tommy Flanagan, the pathological liar, from Saturday Night Live. Another source of media consternation was Trump’s remark that he preferred soldiers who were not captured, in contrast to John McCain, who was captured in the Vietnam War. Al Franken made the same joke about 20 years ago and Chris Rock delivered it in his 2008 HBO special to huge laughs. Rock’s hilarious punchline: “I don’t wanna vote for the guy that got captured. I wanna vote for the mother f—er that got away!” But when Trump made the same comment, much of the media portrayed these jokes as evidence that Trump was a treasonous, insensitive monster. Of course, there are different standards of propriety for politicians and for comedians, but one can’t help but sense that there is an entirely different standard for Trump.

The same dynamic played out after Trump called the gang MS-13 “animals” (which he later clarified) and also when he said that people disputing the confederate statues in Charlottesville had “very fine people on both sides” of the debate. In these two episodes, the U.S. media twisted the president’s statements to make him sound like he was calling all immigrants animals and that he was calling neo-Nazis fine people. But that’s not what he said. Slanted media coverage of politicians is nothing new, but fellow Democrats must be aware of it even when it confirms their views.

Of course, Trump, like all presidents, is trying to have it both ways. He is trying to encourage his base, while seeking to avoid alienating the mushy middle. It is a bit unseemly and at times hypocritical, but it is politics, not bean bag. Trump’s opponents like to call out his hypocrisy in hyperbolic terms, but in so doing they simply stoke outrage while failing to provide any sort of objective analysis about what he is really accomplishing.

Such an analysis would require a difficult reckoning with some missteps that long predate Trump. Backing for Trump stems in part from mistakes made by his predecessors. Bill Clinton’s famous 1996 “bridge to the 21st century” speech depicted a world in which the United States could “maintain our world leadership for peace and freedom” while also protecting the environment and training its citizens to compete in a globalized world. Americans could have it all.

During the 1990s, that phrase “bridge to the 21st century” became — sometimes sarcastic — shorthand for a set of policies that the United States would promote to foster globalization, technology, and open trade. It was a trusting aspiration that if only the United States would follow its liberal principles, other countries would follow along. That mentality led to welcoming China into the World Trade Organization, the flawed efforts to invade and nation-build Iraq and Afghanistan Wars by the Bush administration, and then the 2008 financial crisis.

Like many Gen-Xers who studied politics or international relations in the 1990s and 2000s, I absorbed this gospel of liberal internationalism almost completely. But Trump’s early successes have already caused me to question those tenets of my education.

The Trump Doctrine takes previous policy assumptions and turns them on their head. Trump’s “America First” approach is a reversion to the idea of realpolitik and great power competition. It is better suited to a moment in which American power is much less dominant. The president takes each state-to-state relationship on its own terms. That’s why he’s often antagonistic with allies and friendly with threatening dictators. The consequences of insultingfriendly countries, such as Canada, might be hurt feelings in exchange for better trade terms, while souring relations with an antagonistic one, such as North Korea, could result in serious security threats. He pursues the optimal outcome in a utilitarian sense rather than follow previous rules about diplomatic etiquette. Trump keeps his enemies even closer than his friends, while previous presidents did the opposite. Niccolo Machiavelli might have been familiar with these tactics.

Trump’s diplomatic method can be reduced to the four “B’s”:  bullying, bargaining, burden-sharing, and bragging. He starts an interaction by bullying the subject — usually on Twitter, seeks a chance to sit down with the target to bargain as hard as possible toward what Trump may see as a more reciprocal relationship of burden-sharing, and then finally brags about whatever the results are. Trump treats all relationships as transactional, deploying tit-for-tat tactics toward achieving his goal of “reciprocity.” His message is that he wants to make America great again but does not spend much time lecturing or moralizing to foreigners. Finally, his use of insults, jokes, and slapstick, physical humor creates an image of honesty and authenticity with his supporters. Overall, these techniques and worldviews are becoming increasingly common around the world, including with the leaders of countries as diverse as Turkey, the Philippines, Russia, Israel, Mexico — and potentially Brazil.

Trump described his realpolitik-with-no-sacred-cows approach during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September: “America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again. This is true not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity.”

Overall, Trump’s approach represents a reversion to a style of statecraft that flips previous approaches. Technocracy, meritocracy, and bureaucratic approaches are giving way to establishing top-level personal rapport, trust, and loyalty. Free trade ideology is giving way to trade as a means to enrichment. Building institutions gives way to questioning the utility of each institution. Moral diplomacy gives way to talking to anyone who will bargain. Careful speeches give way to saying anything that gets results. Saving sacred cows gives way to killing them or threatening to do so. Open markets give way to using U.S. markets, military, and migration as bargaining chips. Every relationship is subject to maximum leverage of what is possible.

To be sure, the Trump Doctrine has critics. A common attack on Trump is that his policies risk “a slippery slope” toward something much more extreme. But the slippery slope is a logical fallacy. Just because Trump advocates trade wars to address unfair trade practices does not mean Trump will put tariffs on everything or simply cut off trade with the world. Another attack is “the ends don’t justify the means.” So if Trump decides to flatter Kim Jong Un in order to establish personal rapport, it is not justified even if it means peace on the Korean Peninsula? The belief that the United States should protect its moral high ground is anachronistic. It’s doubtful anyone will be talking about Trump’s flattery a decade from now, and it can be seen as pretty harmless if it results in reducing the threat of nuclear Armageddon.

Of course, this new world has risks. World politics is returning to a realist doctrine of “self-help” in an anarchical world. The system has returned to a web of relations and is therefore potentially more unstable. But as any realist will tell you, we have to deal with the world as it is, not as we want it. For Trump’s opponents to reach a broader perspective and truly understand the Trump phenomenon, they need to pop their cognitive bubbles and challenge their assumptions by, for example, testing out alternative views and sources of information.

This essay was an attempt to put concepts to Trump’s actions, to describe Trump in a new way. Critics may argue that in fact Trump is a narcissistic megalomaniac who likes strongmen, but no one can actually know what he is thinking. They should give up on the efforts at amateur psychoanalysis. If the political opposition wants to gain any ground, it needs to look for patterns in Trump’s actions and understand what it’s up against. Most of all, Trump’s opponents should stop their condescending attitude. Put up against Trump’s growing string of successes, such an attitude will ring increasingly hollow. For now at least, the era of smugness is over.

 

The Democratic definition of “democracy”

James Wigderson:

Who are you going to believe, your eyes or the mainstream media? The latest discussion is whether Democratic “mobs” are behaving badly.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is almost chased out of a restaurant. Protesters pound the Supreme Court doors and attempt to pry them open while chanting “shut it down!” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) can’t even get on an elevator without an angry mob chasing him and preventing the elevator from moving. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted and had to leave a DC restaurant. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was harassed by a mob of leftists at a movie theater that was showing a film about Mr. Rogers. And so on…

Democratic hecklers and, yes, a few Republican hecklers, have always been a problem at political events. And before I get the “whatabout” emails from a few liberal readers, no, it didn’t help political discourse when President Donald Trump said during the 2016 campaign he wouldn’t mind seeing a few hecklers roughed up.

Nor did it help matters when an angry mob prevented a Trump rally in Chicago. It was a sign of things to come.

But the situation has gotten worse. When Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for Republicans to be harassed wherever they are, only a handful of Democrats condemn her statement. Her call for harassment was echoed elsewhere on the left, and now even Hillary Clinton is calling for mob confrontations of Republicans.

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Clinton said on CNN. “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”

In other words, politics has become a protection racket. She could have just said, “That’s a nice republic and constitution you have. Would be a shame if anything ‘happened’ to it. Perhaps if you see things from our point of view, we can reach a civil arrangement.” It would have had the same meaning.

Of course, as state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) pointed out recently, we have been through this before in Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012. There were no limits to the left, and they cheered when one protester threw a beer at Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). Governor Scott Walker couldn’t even speak at the Special Olympics without protesters disrupting the event. The Capitol was occupied, aided by someone who opened up the office window of then-state Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) for the protesters who attempted to shut down debate in the state legislature. Members of the legislature and the governor’s family received death threats. Protesters even marched at the governor’s family home in Wauwatosa.

Democrats, enabled by the media, have objected to the word “riot,” but that’s what the rest of the state saw. Now Democrats are objecting to the word, “mob,” even claiming that it can only be used to describe the alt-Right protesters in Charlottesville. (No word yet on how we should describe the Antifa mob described by the Charlottesville Daily Progress as preparing for battle before the protests.)

Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and perhaps Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is right. Someone will be successfully assassinated. Paul knows. He was assaulted by his neighbor over politics, and he was also there when Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was seriously wounded when a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) opened fire on a Republican Congressional softball team practice field.

Early in the Trump Administration, a theater company in New York couldn’t help itself and put on a version of Julius Caesar with an actor portraying Trump as Caesar, complete with the assassination scene. Let’s pray that Democrats recover their senses before they lead us into the ensuing civil war.

When will it “get better”? After someone gets killed. Maybe.

 

As we sink into the abyss of our new dark age

Jonah Goldberg brings to mind the Winston Churchill line:

Confirming Brett Kavanaugh was the best outcome at the end of a hellish decision tree that left the country with no ideal option.

Reasonable people may differ on that. But what seems more obvious: It’s all going to get worse. Because everyone is taking the wrong lessons from the Kavanaugh debacle.

Let’s start with the president. In an interview Saturday night on Fox News Channel’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” President Trump said he was the one who “evened the playing field” for Kavanaugh when he mocked Christine Blasey Ford at a Mississippi rally the previous week.

“Well, there were a lot of things happening that weren’t correct, they weren’t true, and there were a lot of things that were left unsaid,” Trump told host Jeanine Pirro. “It was very unfair to the judge. … So I evened the playing field. Once I did that, it started to sail through.”

This is mostly nonsense. Once Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona had forced the FBI’s reinvestigation of Ford’s sexual assault allegation, Kavanaugh’s confirmation hinged on the FBI findings and the votes of three Republican senators: Flake, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The president’s comments mocking Ford, meanwhile, were singularly unhelpful. Collins called them “Just plain wrong.” Flake: “It was appalling.” Murkowski: “Wholly inappropriate.” Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said he thought the president should “knock it off.”

Nor did Kavanaugh’s nomination “sail through” after that. Instead, the headwinds got stronger, the water choppier and the sharks hungrier.

As Trump chummed the water, his nominee was rescued by a team of RINOs. It was Flake’s FBI gambit, Collins’ sense of decency and decorum, and the steely determination of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that got Kavanaugh confirmed.

Trump cheerleaders could use a reminder of why Kavanaugh was the nominee in the first place. Trump’s Supreme Court list — brimming with GOP legal establishment types, of whom Kavanaugh is the crown prince — was imposed on him by skeptics who feared he might nominate someone like — Judge Jeanine Pirro.

But so much is forgotten, left behind in the locker room as Trump and team celebrate on the field. The president, who deserves conservative praise for picking Kavanaugh off the Federalist Society’s menu and for sticking by him, is claiming and getting undue credit for the win. The president — himself repeatedly and credibly accused of sexual misconduct — was largely a hindrance in the fight. And he’s now doing further disservice to the new justice and to the Supreme Court by holding up Kavanaugh like a partisan trophy, as he did Monday at a White House swearing-in ceremony that verged on becoming a pep rally.

Such gloating and total war is the new statesmanship. Ryan Williams, of the Claremont Institute, argues that the Kavanaugh battle retroactively vindicates Michael Anton’s famous “Flight 93” argument of 2016: that the presidential election was a “charge the cockpit or you die” moment for American conservatives. Now, Williams says, the middle has collapsed, the parties are pulling further apart, and it’s Flight 93 for as far as the eye can see.

The left largely sees the situation this way, too. In the wake of their failure to destroy Kavanaugh, Democrats and liberal activists insist they must “fight dirty.” Liberals have convinced themselves Democrats lose because they are too nice. This, not ironically, was exactly the view conservatives such as Anton held about the GOP in 2016; many voters rallied to Trump on the grounds that “at least he fights.”

Stormy Daniels’ grandstanding lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is auditioning to be the left’s counterpuncher. In response to the GOP’s Kavanaugh win, he tweeted, “When they go low, we hit harder. There is far too much at stake for any other approach.” Never mind that it was Avenatti’s harder-hitting allegations that steeled the GOP’s resolve to keep Democrats from railroading Kavanaugh.

This is how we got here. It will get worse because there are no incentives to be better. It won’t end well either, but at least it will feel familiar.

From Kavanaugh to Nov. 6

Erick Erickson:

Sarah Riggs Amico is the Democrat nominee for Lieutenant Governor in Georgia. Over the weekend, she began the closing argument for the Democrats in the State of Georgia. They need to vote Democrat because the Republican men are all potential sexual predators like Kavanaugh. It got caught on tape.

If you thought it was anomalous, it is not. The Democratic Party this morning held a press conference they said was designed “to highlight Brian Kemp’s record of failing to protect and support victims of rape and sexual assault.”

So to try to keep women fired up, they’re going to accuse all the Republican men of being sexual predators and all the Republican women of covering for the sexual predators and consenting to “rape culture” like they are with the attacks on Susan Collins.

We’ve got four more weeks of this. Republicans need to push back aggressively with mothers whose own children could be falsely accused of crimes.

 

The Great (decline in world power because of the) Recession

Steve Forbes:

Perhaps the most toxic fallout from 2008–09 was not economic but rather geopolitical. It severely damaged faith in free markets in much of the world–most ominously in Beijing–even though government folly brought on the crisis. Policy errors that subsequently stunted U.S. growth for nearly a decade reinforced the perception in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea that the U.S. was a declining power, and they acted accordingly. It will take a few years of good, solid growth in America to put an end to this kind of deluded–and dangerous–thinking.

Whatever differences it had with the U.S., China believed Americans understood money and finance. The disillusionment triggered by the crisis quickly set in motion a resurgence of Chinese government intervention in the economy that goes on to this day. Violations of international trading rules that Beijing had agreed to honor proliferated. Forced transfers of know-how and trade secrets from foreign companies to Chinese ones mushroomed, as did involuntary mergers with domestic entities.

Disturbingly, China has chucked out the cautious foreign policy that had been in place since 1978. It is aggressively working to expand its influence regionally and globally. Spending on military forces and R&D is rapidly growing. Beijing is determined to be the master of cyberwarfare.

The liberal post-WWII order of American-led military security and growing trade is under stress.

Of course, a sustained Reaganesque economic and military revival at home and wise peace-through-strength policies overseas could right matters again, as they did once before.

The law of unintended consequences, Supreme Court confirmation edition

Mary Kay Linge:

In Huntsville, Ala., mom Vickie Freeman had wept for joy as she watched Brett Kavanaugh testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And now that he’s been confirmed as the country’s 114th Supreme Court justice, she has a name for herself and other Republican moms galvanized by the tense and partisan confirmation process.

“We are the ‘Mama Bears,’ absolutely,” Freeman told The Post. “And it has really fired us up to vote.”

The bruising Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings fueled feminist fury and Democrat disgust across the country — but the hearings also gave the GOP, and Republican mothers in particular, a sense of righteous anger that could turn midterm congressional races red.

Especially in heartland red states, Republicans who are mad about the way Kavanaugh was treated could make the difference for the GOP as it tries to keep control of the House and Senate.

“Nothing turns Republicans of all stripes — whether they’re Bush Republicans or Trump Republicans — on like a court fight,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News on Saturday.

The Democrats “played right into our hands, in retrospect,” he crowed. “Maybe I ought to say thank you.”

“D” stands for “disgusting” and “depraved”

Facebook Friend Jake Jacobs:

Oh, the difference a day makes. On Friday, Sept. 28, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee faced off against one another with some uncivil words and tense moments. That Saturday two of the members, from opposite political parties were on stage talking about bipartisan leadership.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) attended the Global Citizen Festival in New York City with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) with the stated goal of bringing bipartisan support on foreign aid. Sen. Flake attempted to win over the predominately leftwing audience, saying people should “ feel free to join me in an elevator any time.” Expecting a rapturous response of love and affection, the senator was instead met with thousands of boos and declarations of “f— you.”

Sen. Flake made the fatal error of not understanding his audience. Under the guise of eradicating poverty by 2030, the Global Citizen Festival is “designed to make the U.N. into a world government to manage a transition to a new worldwide economic system.” This is a system of global socialism that calls for the redistribution of wealth in the United States to the rest of the world. Any true conservative would not associate with such an organization.

This is not the first time Sen. Flake has been manipulated by radical lefties, and not even in the most recent history. About 24 hours prior, Sen. Flake was cornered in a congressional elevator by two feminist activists, who verbally harassed him, yelling “Look at me when I’m talking to you! You are telling me that my assault doesn’t matter… Don’t look away from me. Look at me!” Shortly thereafter Sen. Flake said that unless there is a FBI investigation he would not vote for the moving out of committee to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice.

The two radical activists who attacked Flake were Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher. Archila, who had been in Washington the previous week to participate in protests against Kavanaugh, is the co-executive director of the radical leftwing Center for Popular Democracy. Gallagher is an activist with the group. As with other groups involved in attacks on President Trump and Judge Kavanaugh, the Center for Popular Democracy is funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, a society hell bent on destroying President Trump and the conservative political agenda. It is clear the necessity for Americans to take seriously the aggressive, militant, and violent nature of leftwing politics in the country today. They have no respect for the Constitution, especially the First Amendment, which calls for the protection of peaceful speech and assembly. The Left hates Kavanaugh’s conservative constitutional originalism which puts into jeopardy their progressive agenda.

Through rude, crude, and violent means they attempt to stop speeches, interrupt congressional committees, and disrupt peaceful assemblies. They attack private lives in homes, restaurants, grocery stores, sporting events, and airports.

Due to vociferous protests by graduates of Harvard Law School, Judge Kavanaugh has decided that in the interest of keeping the peace at his alma mater he would no longer teach a winter course he planned. Georgetown Prof. Christine Fair went on “an unhinged tirade” on Twitter, where she called for supporters of Kavanaugh, especially the white men, to be murdered and castrated.

Following USA Today’s insinuation that Kavanaugh was a pedophile who should stay away from children, Illinois Times cartoonist Chris Britt published a wicked cartoon that mocked Kavanaugh’s 10-year-old daughter for praying for Christine Blasey Ford. In the cartoon, titled “Kavanaugh’s Daughter Says Another Prayer,” his daughter is seen asking God to forgive her “angry, lying, alcoholic father for sexually assaulting Dr. Ford.”

Castrated corpses fed to swine. Charges of pedophilia. Gang raping. Alcoholic father. This leftwing Democrat diatribe is not only a sad commentary on the evil nature of their political worldview today, but it is a harbinger of worse yet to come, and should serve as a wakeup call for those who love America, decency, and liberty.

Flake, by the way, voted for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. So did …

After Justice Kavanaugh

Gettysburg College Prof. Joseph Guelzo:

The nine long faces that stare back in photographs of the U.S. Supreme Court radiate a sobriety intended to convince us that it is a bastion of deliberation, reason and uprightness, walled off from the messy business of politics. Nothing has done more to turn that perception upside-down than the past two weeks of sound and fury over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

Perhaps the perception itself has been part of the problem. From the beginning, the Supreme Court was much more of a political cockpit than the legend of jurisprudential neutrality suggests. John Marshall, the most significant chief justice in the court’s history, was appointed by President John Adams in the dying weeks of Adams’s administration specifically to discomfit the incoming president, Thomas Jefferson. Marshall did so by asserting the court’s power to review federal legislation and giving Jefferson’s nemesis, Aaron Burr, a free pass at his treason trial in 1807.

The courts were notoriously politicized in the fight over slavery. The Judiciary Acts of 1789 and 1837 both required that as new states were admitted to the Union, new federal judicial districts be created for them. If those new states were slave states, pro-slavery jurists from them became candidates for the Supreme Court. By the 1850s, the Supreme Court was composed of “five slaveholders and two or three doughfaces,” in the words of Horace Greeley.

Not much has changed in the last half-century of culture wars. The 1969 nominations of Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell both foundered on civil-rights politics. Robert Bork went aground on both civil rights and Roe v. Wade—which was itself the product of considerable political jockeying among the justices on the court at that time. Anyone who imagines that the Supreme Court floats serenely above the political fray knows little of its history. The Kavanaugh fight was just another turn of the screw.

When President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh in July to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat, the consensus among the wise heads was that the president had played it safe. Judge Kavanaugh was a carefully vetted Kennedy protégé with a sterling reputation and a long history of inside-the-Beltway service. The liberal Yale Law School professor Akhil Amar wrote that the nomination was Mr. Trump’s “classiest move” yet.

What turned Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process into the biggest judicial firestorm in decades had little to do with Judge Kavanaugh and a lot to do with Democrats’s overconfidence that his nomination could be turned into a Republican Waterloo. Driven by the conviction that they were riding a big blue wave to the November shore, Democrats laid into Judge Kavanaugh in the hope that something about the nominee could be confected into a seismic rumble and turn the wave into a tsunami.

They did not find much. Although Judge Kavanaugh generated baskets upon baskets of documents during his years in the Bush White House, they contained little that set political pulses fluttering. Ditto for his decisions on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which were routinely very conservative but largely concerned out-of-the-spotlight issues such as environmental regulation and due process. Of the 14 Kavanaugh opinions later reviewed by the Supreme Court, 13 were upheld.

It was not until a sensational sexual-assault allegation lodged by Christine Blasey Ford was made public in mid-September that the Kavanaugh confirmation appeared to be in any danger, and even then, the charge had the uncomfortable appearance of a Democratic Hail Mary play. The case did not grow stronger over the 10 days that followed Ms. Ford’s first public statement. Purported participants or witnesses denied recollection of any assault or of even being present at the party Ms. Ford described.

In their testimonies last week, both Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Ford had some pinholes pricked through their testimonies: he about his wild student life at Georgetown Prep and Yale, she about factual inconsistencies and potential political motivations. But by the end Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the Judiciary Committee Democrats were left without a meaningful case. Judge Kavanaugh might have gone on to a swift confirmation vote had it not been for the last-minute insistence of Sen. Jeff Flake on an additional FBI investigation into the Ford allegations.

I have undergone an FBI investigation. In my case, it was for a relatively harmless executive appointment. While it might sound like a forbidding exercise in mystery noir, the reality was nearly as humdrum as a mail delivery. Calls for an investigation arose less from a genuine effort to uncover the truth about a 1982 teen drinking party than from a desire simply to delay the vote. But with the submission of the FBI report, nods of approval from Sens. Flake and Joe Manchin, and Sen. Susan Collins’s powerful speech Friday announcing her support for Judge Kavanaugh, the last obstacles to confirmation evaporated. The Democrats spent a lot of credibility over seven days, but they didn’t get anything in return except the opportunity to grandstand.

If Sen. Feinstein was convinced that Ms. Ford’s allegations were serious, she should have shared them with the Judiciary Committee or law enforcement when they first came to her attention weeks earlier. That hesitation—and then the demand for a delay to conduct an FBI investigation—have combined to make Mrs. Feinstein look uncertain and perhaps unscrupulous. Judge Kavanaugh’s critics did not make themselves look better by turning on the FBI itself when it did not find what they wanted, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal making the McCarthyesque claim that it “smacks of a coverup.” Ms. Feinstein herself said “the most notable part of this report is what’s not in it,” suggesting (again) that she has access to some secret knowledge about the case that she won’t share.

Democrats have also cited Judge Kavanaugh’s angry testimony denying sexual assault as itself disqualifying—as if he had no business crying out while being stretched on the rack. He might not have been as deferential to the senators as norms of judicial gravitas would dictate, but he was certainly more poised than his inquisitors. In the end, even that line of attack accomplished nothing.

This process has inflicted real damage to Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Ford—enough to make any intelligent citizen wonder if it would ever be worth entering public service. But the most immediate casualty is likely to be the much-hyped November blue wave. If a vote for a Democratic majority in the Senate is a vote for the tactics of Sen. Feinstein, or for the boorish behavior of Sens. Blumenthal, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, then that vote may not materialize at all.

In the Missouri Senate race, Republican Josh Hawley has overtaken incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, largely in reaction to the Kavanaugh hearings. In North Dakota, Republican Kevin Cramer has opened up a yawning lead over Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. The newest Quinnipiac and NPR/PBS NewsHour polls show that the Democratic generic-ballot advantage has halved and the party’s enthusiasm advantage has vanished.

Napoleon counted on offensive bluster at Waterloo to give him victory, and it failed. By amplifying the politicization of the judiciary, Democrats may have achieved a Waterloo—but not the one they imagined.

What Democrats think about you

The Wall Street Journal:

Donald Trump didn’t help Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation with his crude mockery of Christine Blasey Ford on Tuesday night in Mississippi, but then this Supreme Court moshpit isn’t about this President. The left’s all-out assault on the judge is clarifying because it shows that the “resistance” is really about anything and everything conservative in America. Mr. Trump is its foil to regain power.

Brett Kavanaugh isn’t part of Mr. Trump’s New York menagerie, or some Steve Bannon insurgent. The judge is the epitome of the GOP legal establishment, a Supreme Court nominee from central casting. He went to the best schools and served his apprenticeship among legal elites including a clerkship with former Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He has spent 26 years in public service instead of cashing in as a Beltway lawyer. He served at the highest levels of George W. Bush’s White House staff in positions of great trust. On the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for 12 years, he has written more than 300 opinions and had at least 10 adopted by the Supreme Court. He has taught at Harvard Law School at the invitation of then dean, and now Justice, Elena Kagan.

With these credentials Judge Kavanaugh would have been on any Republican’s short list for the Supreme Court. He could have been Jeb Bush’s nominee, or John Kasich’s, though Mr. Kasich in the ambitious ebb of his career now tilts with the anti-conservative left against Mr. Kavanaugh. In 2012 the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin wrote that Mr. Kavanaugh would have been Mitt Romney’s “most likely first nominee” for the High Court. Mr. Toobin, who loathes conservatives, meant it as a warning.

***
Mr. Trump’s nomination of Mr. Kavanaugh is a credit to the process he established to win the election and govern with conservative support. He sought the help of legal elites on the right, led by the Federalist Society, who compiled an impressive list of potential nominees. This isn’t a rogue judicial operation to choose presidential cronies. It is the gold standard for legal talent that believes in the original meaning of the Constitution. It’s hard to see how any GOP President would have done better, and others have done much worse.

Yet this is precisely why Democrats and the left have set out to destroy Judge Kavanaugh—not in legal philosophy or competence, which they knew was a political loser, but as a human being, a spouse and father. They need to destroy him personally with accusations but no corroboration, as they tried with Clarence Thomas, so they can deny the open Supreme Court seat to a judicial conservative.

So much the better if playing the #MeToo card also helps Democrats retake Congress. In this sense too, Mr. Trump is the left’s foil, though the Kavanaugh fight has usefully exposed the dishonesty of the loud worries about Mr. Trump’s threat to “democratic norms.”

Democrats were so worried about Senate norms that they hid Ms. Ford’s name from Republicans for six weeks, found her a lawyer, midwifed a lie detector test whose results they still haven’t fully disclosed, and then orchestrated the rollout of her accusations. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is too often divisive and dissembling, but no action in his Presidency comes close to matching the partisan viciousness of the Senate ambush of Brett Kavanaugh. These are today’s Democratic norms.

The other Democratic targets here are Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the conservative GOP majorities in Congress that have cut taxes, eased crushing regulations and confirmed a record number of appellate judges. Democrats claim to want to be a “check” on Mr. Trump, but good luck with that.

Their real goal is to retake Capitol Hill, roll back tax reform, expand the entitlement state, taunt Mr. Trump like a dancing bear, and set up 2020 for a return of the Obama agenda under the identity-politics leadership of Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren.

***
The media sometimes profess to be puzzled that more than 80% of Republicans across the country tell pollsters they support Mr. Trump despite his personal flaws. The Never Conservatives are the reason, and the assault on Judge Kavanaugh is the latest showcase of their methods. Republicans have figured out that if the left can willfully, even gleefully, destroy a man as distinguished as Brett Kavanaugh, they can and will do it to any conservative who threatens their grip on power.

Republicans are well aware of Mr. Trump’s excesses and falsehoods. But they have also come to understand that the resistance to him isn’t rooted in principle or some august call to superior character. They know Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite her history of deceit. Voters know this is about the left’s will to power by any means necessary.

Republicans across America can see, and certainly their Senators voting on Judge Kavanaugh should realize, that the left hates them as much or more than they loathe Mr. Trump. Conservatives understand that, for the American left, they are all deplorables now.