“When you strike at a king…”

“…you better not miss.”

Victor Davis Hanson summarizes what we now know about the failed Deep State efforts since 2016 to delegitimize, undermine and remove the duly elected president of the United States.  As Hanson notes, “there are many elements to what in time likely will become recognized as the greatest scandal in American political history…”

In candidate and President Trump’s case that prepping of the battlefield translated into a coordinated effort among the media, political progressives and celebrities to so demonize Trump that his imminent removal likely would appear a relief to the people. Anything was justified that led to that end.

All through the 2016 campaign and during the first two years of the Trump presidency the media’s treatment, according to liberal adjudicators of press coverage, ran about 90 percent negative toward Trump—a landmark bias that continues today.

It’s worth noting this demonization efforts extends to Trump’s supporters.  In its haste to smear Trump and the MAGA movement, the media recently got both the story of the Covington students and a hoax ‘hate crime’ against a TV star badly wrong.  But they wonder why so many Americans are receptive to the charge the corporate news media is “fake news.”  Hanson continues:

At the same time, liberal attorneys, foundations, Democratic politicians, and progressive activists variously sued to overturn the election on false charges of rigged voting machines. They sought to subvert the Electoral College. They introduced articles of impeachment. They sued to remove Trump under the Emoluments Clause. They attempted to invoke the 25th Amendment. And they even resurrected the ossified Logan Act—before focusing on the appointment of a special counsel to discredit the Trump presidency. Waiting for the 2020 election was seen as too quaint.

During the 2016 election, the Obama Department of Justice warped the Clinton email scandal investigation, from Bill Clinton’s secret meeting on an airport tarmac with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to unethical immunity given to the unveracious Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, to James Comey’s convoluted predetermined treatment of “likely winner” Clinton, and to DOJ’s Bruce Ohr’s flagrant conflict of interests in relation to Fusion GPS.

About a dozen FBI and DOJ grandees have now resigned, retired, been fired, or reassigned for unethical and likely illegal behavior—and yet have not faced criminal indictments.

Here’s hoping the key word in that last paragraph is “yet.”

The Crown Jewel in the coup was the appointment of special counsel Robert Muller to discover supposed 2016 Trump-Russian election collusion. Never has any special investigation been so ill-starred from its conception.  Mueller… packed his investigative team with lots of Clinton donors and partisans, some of whom had legally represented Clinton subordinates and even the Clinton Foundation or voiced support for anti-Trump movements…

Mueller’s preemptive attacks offered an effective offensive defense for the likely felonious behavior of John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Bruce Ohr, Peter Strzok, and a host of others. While the Mueller lawyers threatened to destroy the lives of bit players like Jerome Corsi, George Papadopoulos, and Roger Stone, they de facto provided exemption to a host of the Washington hierarchy who had lied under oath, obstructed justice, illegally leaked to the press, unmasked and leaked names of surveilled Americans, and misled federal courts under the guise of a “higher loyalty” to the cause of destroying Donald J. Trump.

…sanctimonious arrogant bureaucrats in suits and ties used their government agencies to seek to overturn the 2016 election, abort a presidency, and subvert the U.S. Constitution. And they did all that and more on the premise that they were our moral superiors and had uniquely divine rights to destroy a presidency that they loathed.

And if there’s any justice left in this nation, their overreach will result in the destruction of an unelected Deep State apparatus that patriots have come to loathe.  I’ve sensed in recent days the administration may be preparing to finally counterattack this network and pursue these traitors.  I pray that is in fact the case.  If our Republic is to survive, a very painful and public example must be made.  Make the rubble bounce, Mr. President!

Too many coincidences

Victor Davis Hanson does a good job today summarizing what to date has been a slow but steady drip of information indicating Special Counsel Robert Mueller grossly stacked the deck in terms of staffing his investigation of the Trump team’s activity during last year’s election.  Excerpt:

By now there are simply too many coincidental conflicts of interest and too much improper investigatory behavior to continue to give the Mueller investigation the benefit of doubt. Each is a light straw; together, they now have broken the back of the probe’s reputation.

In inexplicable fashion, Mueller seems to have made almost no effort to select attorneys from outside Washington, from diverse private law firms across the country, who were without personal involvement with the Clinton machine, and who were politically astute or disinterested enough to keep their politics to themselves.

It seems readily apparent from what has been revealed that the investigation is the logical culmination of the Obama administration’s partisan weaponization of government.  Much as the IRS illegally discriminated against Tea Party-affiliated organizations, there is evidence the FBI and other agencies improperly surveilled U.S. citizens during an election, selectively leaking information upon which to base an investigation.  The many media misfires in recent days is further indication this investigation is a conclusion looking for evidence, rather than the other way around.  Ironically (and most likely deliberately), much clearer evidence of mishandling classified information, and improper quid pro quos between Russia and the Clinton Foundation are completely free from any official scrutiny.

Such politicizing of governmental institutions to overturn or thwart the result of a presidential election is a grave and present danger to the health of what’s left of our representative government.  It has further polarized a heavily divided electorate.  Those who support the administration see a partisan witch hunt.  Those who oppose him readily grab onto whatever “bombshells” are illegally leaked to the press from within the investigation in an attempt to further delegitimize Trump and his team–even though many of those “bombshells” quickly turn out to be less than meets the eye.

As Hanson notes, the existence of special counsels is already a poor reflection on the ability of representative government to reach just and fair conclusions in some circumstances.  If that safety valve is itself compromised (which seems highly likely in this case), what options for resolution of the issues are left — short of social unrest and violence?

Our political class continues to lead us down a very dangerous road.

Doing the small stuff right first

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?”  Luke 16:10-12

Victor Davis Hanson notes the all-too-familiar scene of elected leaders pontificating about speculative global matters while failing utterly to address the needs of those closer to home, who put them in office in the first place:

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg used to offer all sorts of cosmic advice on the evils of smoking and the dangers of fatty foods and sugary soft drinks.  Bloomberg also frequently pontificated on abortion and global warming, earning him a progressive audience that transcended the boroughs of New York.

But in the near-record December 2010 blizzard, Bloomberg proved utterly incompetent in the elemental tasks for which he was elected: ensuring that New Yorkers were not trapped in their homes by snowdrifts in their streets that went unplowed for days.

The Bloomberg syndrome is a characteristic of contemporary government officials.  When they are unwilling or unable to address pre-modern problems in their jurisdictions – crime, crumbling infrastructure, inadequate transportation – they compensate by posing as philosopher kings who cheaply lecture on existential challenges over which they have no control.  …

We have become an arrogant generation that virtue-signals that we can change the universe when in reality we cannot even run an awards ceremony, plow snow, fix potholes, build a road or dam, or stop inner-city youths from murdering one another.

Governors who cannot build a reservoir have little business fantasizing about 200-mph super trains.

It’s said that “all politics is local.”  The failure of our self-righteous ruling class to address some very basic responsibilities is one of the main factors propelling the rise of the likes of Trump.  There are encouraging signs, however, that some in our capitols are listening to the rising anger; for instance, the call by 10 U.S. Senators and a number of Representatives to curtail or forego the standard Congressional recess in August in order to get some actual work done.

What a concept…

Note to the GOP leadership: it’s not gone unnoticed that you’ve spent more time fighting the president than trying to enable the agenda that got him elected.  You may think you’re blocking a fluke presidency.  In reality, if you stymie Trump you’re going to like what comes next even worse.  In martial arts I was taught to use three escalating approaches to stop a threat: “nice” (evasion and warning), “not-so nice” (evasion and inflicting a “stinger”), and “nasty,” involving serious physical injury to the assailant when all other options had failed and the threat had become critical enough to justify serious violence.  The Tea Party was “nice” and civil; they were unfairly demonized and marginalized.  Trump is the “not-so-nice” second attempt to get the government’s attention.  God help us all if we arrive at “nasty.”

If a Congress cannot pass a balanced budget on time, or a Mayor cannot deal with large-scale violence in their city, or a State legislature cannot pass a budget at all, then these people have no business occupying their current positions, much less running for higher office.  (And I repeat: running for an office should require the candidate not currently hold an elective office, since modern campaigning inevitably results in shortchanging current duties.) We, the people, need to stop looking at the seniority and patronage of our individual representatives, and hold them collectively responsible for our nation’s current woes.  In fact, we need to borrow a phrase from The Donald himself:

You’re fired!”

A dearth of adults

Quote of the day, from Victor Davis Hanson:

An adult president is going to have to tell the American people that a mandated equality-of-result economy is fossilized, entitlements are insolvent, the debt is unsustainable, interest rates are going up, the medical system is pure chaos, and people have to get over expecting to live off government, not because it is unethical, but because it is untenable.

The problem is, our infantilized society — in which “you hurt my feewings” seems now to  be the measure of everything — is increasingly unlikely to elect such an adult.  Indeed, rather than re-embracing the values and norms that once made our society thrive, the current generations seem determined to run farther than ever from them.  Given that, it’s far more likely the untenable status quo will continue until it simply can’t, at which point we’ll be lucky if there are adults around to clean up the mess and try to rebuild.  We’ll be even luckier if those rare adults take on the burden of leadership more out of altruism and a sense of civic responsibility instead of personal ambition.

Now why is that, you suppose?

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the large audiences for Downtown Abbey and the movie American Sniper, and wonders the if popular appeal indicates Americans have concluded something’s missing today:

True, both Downton Abbey and American Sniper are well crafted, nicely produced, and have fine actors. But dozens of other movies and television shows meet those criteria too. So why would postmodern Westerners stay glued to their televisions on Sunday nights to enjoy the daily lives of the prewar English manorial class and their hordes of obedient and often well-adjusted and patriotic servants? …

For this generation of contemporary Westerners, is there is a fascination in watching people, even rich lords and ladies, sit and speak as they dine together rather than eat on couches in sweat pants in front of the television each evening? Amid Facebook and Twitter, do cocooned Westerners miss things like attending clubs, socials, and community councils? In an age when most Americans cannot name their great-grandparents, is the public curious about a lost age when one measured his worth in terms of not dishonoring his ancestors and ensuring that whatever he inherited he added to rather than consumed?…

Westerners may not like the politics of Downtown Abbey or the social structure and assumptions it represents, but they seem to appreciate the order, civility, manners, and beauty that it celebrates and which seek to mitigate the coarseness of our everyday existence. They miss something in their supposedly rich material and egalitarian lives that is weekly rediscovered vicariously inside Downton Abbey. In place of a vulgar buffoon like Miley Cyrus gyrating on stage half-naked as she dumbs down culture to its lowest common denominator, or a crude and talentless Kanye West crashing another award ceremony to whine about his latest ism, Westerners still like to escape on Sunday nights to the fair-play and civilized behavior of a plodding Lord or Lady Grantham and their politically-incorrect hierarchy.

Full disclosure: I’ve not watched either Downtown Abbey or American Sniper.  But I think Mr. Hanson may be on to something.  Social norms and stability can be buttressed in one of two ways: by a large-scale acceptance and internalization of them on an individual level (producing self-discipline and restraint), or by external forcing of compliance.  For generations there has been an increasing flood of criticism and a tearing down of “traditional, bourgeoisie morality,” in favor of an anarchistic, non-judgmental, “all-paths-are-valid” approach.  Is is any wonder our streets and institutions are becoming battlegrounds and many of our young believe that anything goes?  Is it any wonder that an escape from that result, however artificial and fleeting, is welcomed?

“And all the time — such is the tragi-comedy of our situation — we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

— C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, 1943

The so-called “Culture Wars” are no less epic a struggle simply because they are waged off the battlefield. Sadly, Western Civilization lost the opening rounds, and there will literally be hell to pay for our lack of watchfulness.  All is not lost, however.  There is still an insurgency of those who believe in the Christian worldview and in the foundations that once were.  Instead of simply watching TV, what we need to be doing is reversing Lewis’ observations.  We need to be making men with chests — men of virtue and enterprise.  We need to be extolling honor, and conversely, shunning and shaming those who display a lack of it.  Peer pressure, in the form of political correctness, has silenced many.  But that sword cuts multiple ways.  Instead of wagging our tongues at Miley Cyrus, we need simply to ignore her and those like her.  At most, they deserve a pitied glance and a shake of the head as we walk by the train wrecks they represent.  But as the saying goes online: “don’t feed the trolls.”  Starve them of attention; cast them out of the polite, self-disciplined circles of civility we can rebuild.

Will we be accused of elitism?  Of judgmentalism?  Naturally.  But as Hanson’s observation shows, perhaps some people are finally waking up to the fact that tearing down those who honor God and seek to be the best they can in whatever their circumstances, so that those who wallow in the slop don’t have to feel bad about their choices, wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Evil still exists

About the time the Western world produced headlines claiming “God is dead” three or four decades ago, a funny thing happened: it lost its ability to call something evil.  No matter what the outrage, the focus now is on psychoanalyzing and justifying what might have caused someone or some nation to act in that way, and less so on condemning behavior that should unanimously be deemed beyond the pale or severely punishing those who engage in it.  In such an environment, with a lack of strong response, evil–ever present–simply grows:

Evil is ancient, unchanging, and with us always. The more postmodern the West becomes — affluent, leisured, nursed on moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multicultural relativism — the more premodern the evil among us seems to arise in nihilistic response, whether it is from the primordial Tsarnaev brothers or Jihadi John.  We have invented dozens of new ways to explain away our indifference, our enemies hundreds of new ways of reminding us of our impotence. I suppose we who enjoy the good life don’t want to lose any of it for anything — and will understandably do any amount of appeasing, explaining, and contextualizing to avoid an existential war against the beheaders and mutilators, a fact well-known to our enemies.

The Europeans are shrugging that Ukraine is lost and will soon sigh that the Baltic states are a far-off place not worth risking the coffee shops of Amsterdam to defend. Westerners lament beheadings but then privately mutter that journalists know just what they are getting into when they visit the Middle East. Murdering and abusing a U.S. ambassador on video is not such a big deal anymore and is worth only a second or so mention on Google News.

So we wait behind our suburban Maginot Lines, arguing over our quarter- and half-measure responses, refighting Iraq and Afghanistan as if they were the Somme and Verdun, assured that we can distract ourselves from the horrors abroad with psychodramas about Ferguson, the president’s golfing, his lectures on fairness, and which naked celebrity photo was hacked on the Internet.

Meanwhile the orcs are busy and growing and nearing the ramparts…

I happen to like Victor Davis Hanson’s use of Tolkien to illustrate the point.  To take it a step further, the response of the West to the newly refreshed challenge of violent Islam seems akin to that of the King of Rohan, while still under the influence of Wormtongue (and oh, how many of those poisonous snakes we have loose in our culture today!).  With ISIS beheading Americans at will and generally throwing down the gauntlet, where is the voice to awaken us, to remind us that “open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not?”  We weren’t always so squeamish about confronting such barbarism.

Regular readers of this site know that I’m highly suspicious of overseas adventurism.  As the saying goes, war has ever been the health of the State, and I believe the modern State to be too large and powerful as it is.  And yet, said powerful State refuses to control its borders, meaning a free flow of people here from parts of the world where evil has open sway.  So at the same time we show no serious, deliberate, credible response to the murder of our people abroad, we also show no willingness to keep our enemies from coming here as well.

What message do we think this sends? 

If we are to avoid catastrophic war both at home and abroad in this generation, there has to be a willingness to confront evil, and defend right against wrong.  Another reason I’m wary of foreign adventurism is that we aren’t serious about it when we engage in it — we do enough to stir trouble, but not to address the underlying causes that allegedly generated our response to begin with.  (I say allegedly because there are always multiple hidden agendas behind the public rallying cry.)   Given the latitude evil has been given for some time, I’m not sure the tides in the world today can be turned short of massive violence at this point.  But to even attempt to do so means recognizing there *are* such things as evil, right and wrong.

I’m not sure the West is up to that anymore.  Thus to use the analogy Hanson does, we have the spectacle of trying to figure out which orcs to support, which to publicly tsk-tsk, and a border wide open to any that choose to simply walk in.  This generation of leaders bears responsibility for what I fear will be a frightful legacy.

At least Helm’s Deep had a stout wall (border) and men who knew what they were defending, even when it came to open war.

We lack even that.

 

Today’s summary

Victor Davis Hanson sometimes tends to favor a more activist/interventionist foreign policy (particularly use of the military) than I do, but he is an astute observer of the decline of Western Civilization and its signature institutionsHis summary today of “The summer America fell apart” is a worthwhile review.  As he puts it, “The scandals now come so fast and furiously that we no sooner hear of one than yet another new mess makes us forget it.”

Some parties are counting on that to feed into America’s Attention Deficit Disorder.  Which is why, regardless who is responsible for shooting down a civilian airliner that had no business flying the route it was flying (why isn’t THAT question being asked more?), the public needs to make sure it doesn’t thoughtlessly engage in another anti-Russian Two Minutes’ Hate that causes us to forget what our officials are doing (or not doing, in the case of border enforcement) at home.

Foreign crises are often the last refuge of domestic scoundrels.  As we get ever closer to the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, we’d do well to keep that in mind.