Trump and His Followers Explained By Hanson

Editor’s note – Victor Davis Hanson deftly compares the hypocrisy on the left and does a remarkable job comparing the actions and words of current candidates against Donald Trump and provides and his insights to give us a clear look at the interesting campaign Mr. Trump is running.

This in no way denotes an endorsement of any candidate but rather shows the bones of the body politic now in full view. Now that Iowa is over and New Hampshire becomes the showcase, expect many more examples of double standards, mean words, dirty tricks, and outright mis-characterizations to abound at Mr. Trump and emanating from him.

Forget Trump but Not the Trumpsters

By Victor Davis Hanson — National Review

Memo to RNC: Stop ridiculing Trump and look at what voters see in him.

A disclaimer: Trump is not my preferred candidate. I hope he does not win the Republican nomination. But I understand why millions seem to be mesmerized by his rhetoric.

I certainly wish that Trump would not insult rivals and newspeople in callous and uncouth fashion. I would prefer that he come prepared to interviews, with detailed positions rather than his banal “Make America great again” refrain, so akin to the “Hope and Change” nothingness.

BIRCH RUN, MI - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a press conference before delivering the keynote address at the Genesee and Saginaw Republican Party Lincoln Day Event August 11, 2015 in Birch Run, Michigan. This is Trump's first campaign event since his Republican debate last week. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

I notice that he often pauses in midsentence, that he interjects “awesome” and “tremendous” ad nauseam, that he completely abandons his original thought and detours to an extraneous topic.

He is a tough brawler, but oddly hypersensitive when his own brand of invective is turned against him. Trump may be an audacious captain of industry, but he certainly pouts a lot.

Trump’s use of I, me, my, and mine rivals Obama’s. By now it is thematic that Trump is likely to erupt into anger if he perceives observers as hostile — the anger often in contrast to his earlier praise of these same targets.

An ignoramus who adores Trump will be dubbed “brilliant”; accomplished people who criticize Trump are caricatured as ignoramuses.

Yet the question is not whether Trump comes across as a scatter-shot speaker, a bully, an adolescent, and a narcissist — he does — but whether, by the standards of our postmodern, 21st-century culture, he is, as is usually alleged, an aberrant political figure, so beyond the pale that he cannot be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.

In relativist terms, I’m afraid that is just not true.

So far, Trump’s slash-and-burn style is working because, despite a few notable exceptions, he for the most part has slandered and smeared political and media elites of both parties, whom millions apparently neither respect nor worry much about.

For a Trump supporter, fretting whether a zillionaire media celebrity was justifiably offended by Trump is analogous to losing sleep because multimillionaire celebrity Will Smith is unhappy that he did not win an Oscar and alleges that he was robbed of his laurels by the ultra-liberal but apparently racist Hollywood community.

Sure, there is principle involved, but it rates below worry over the nation’s $20 trillion in debt, the Iran deal, and sanctuary cities.

Yes, Trump despicably caricatured a handicapped person. One would hope that he regrets those frequent off-the-cuff smears and will never stoop so low again.

But his supporters believe that his crudity is hardly worse than the calm and composed president of the United States caricaturing the Special Olympics in a softball interview, or Joe Biden unthinkingly asking a man in a wheelchair to “stand up.” Did the media ostracize either?

Trump used insensitive and inexact language in outlining his opposition to illegal aliens — though in a manner far less illiberal than what is written about immigration in the Mexican constitution. But did he ever appeal directly to his largely white audiences and tell them he was going to “punish our enemies,” in the way Obama did with a Latino group? Was Obama thereby declared a demagogue?

Is Trump’s crude use of “bimbo” — as in the Clintons’ use of “bimbo eruption” —  a bookend to Obama’s habitual “sweetie”? Has Trump, in Eric Holder fashion, referred to whites as “my people,” or has he ridiculed a “typical black person,” or weighed in on a hot-button criminal case, siding, racially, with the deceased by stating, “If I had had a second daughter, she would have looked like this girl”?

Trump has not said that Obama is “clean” and does not speak in “a Negro dialect,” as Harry Reid and Joe Biden once did. He has not talked of women as trailer-park trash, as Clinton advisers have in their efforts to destroy victims of Bill Clinton’s wantonness. He did not chortle about successfully defending a rapist or gloat about Qaddafi being torn apart by a mob.

These comparisons to major Democratic figures could be easily expanded, but the issue is not tu quoque. The point is only that Trump is well within today’s political norms — at least the debased norms established by our corrupt media and by public perceptions of what is said and done by supposedly caring and empathetic progressives such as Obama, Clinton, Biden, and Reid. The battle to create a polite and courteous society in 21st-century America was lost some years ago — often by hypocrites who now both engage in and deplore political smear and slander.

Trump is certainly vague on the issues, both deliberately so and because of his lack of preparation. But does anyone think he is any more unpredictable on, say, illegal immigration than what a President Jeb Bush might actually do in office?

Does Trump, like Obama, really believe that FDR as president addressed the nation on television in 1929? If Trump were to say that, wouldn’t he be written off as a buffoon? If Trump, who apparently slips up when referring to the Bible, tomorrow praised some soldiers as “Corpse-Men,” wouldn’t the Washington Post dismiss him as half-educated? Would he lie to the families of the men killed in Benghazi about the cause of their loved ones’ deaths?

“Who knows what a President Trump might do or say?” is a legitimate concern, given the daily Trump flip-flops and his liberal past and core. But did Obama in 2008 voice his support for gay marriage or confess that he would double the national debt, would serially lie about his health-care bill in order to pass it, and would dismantle the post-war role of the United States abroad?

On the debt, illegal immigration, the Iran deal, and tax reform, is a vague Trump worrisome while an explicit Hillary Clinton is reassuring?

Trump is a wheeler-dealer and seems to relish the idea that he predicates his behavior on the law of the jungle in “business.” Would he then preside over a corrupt IRS in Lois Lerner fashion, turn the EPA into an arm of his green donors, reduce the Secret Service, DHS, ICE, and GSA to caricatures of themselves, define NASA’s “foremost” mission as outreach to Muslims, run guns to Mexico, politicize the Justice Department, or turn a blind eye to abject corruption and criminal (and lethal) incompetence at the VA?

Would he set up a private e-mail server in Trump Tower, and cut and paste classified documents so he could send them without scrutiny to his political hatchet men? At some point, cannot Republicans run against what has happened rather than what they fear might happen? We are worrying about aftershocks in the midst of an earthquake hitting 8.9 on the Richter scale.

Yes, we should aspire to absolutes and not define morality down, but before we lose our collective heads over Trump, it is valuable to take a deep breath and look hard at the alternative reality that we now assume is normal in the age of the Obama administration and its enablers in the media.

If Trump were to call his opponents fascists likely to replicate Nazi Germany if they came to power, then he would be in good company with FDR in 1944.

If he were caught on an open mike joking about bombing nuclear Russia, then would he be Reaganesque? If he really flipped out and claimed that he had to battle an amphibious rabbit with his paddle, then he would be resonating Jimmy Carter. Does he, in adolescent fashion, boast to his adoring crowds that he is taking his gun to a knife fight, tell his people to get in the faces of his enemies, or belittle the inner city as a bunch of scared people who cling to their superstitions and phobias? If so, then he would be in full Obama mode.

Trump monotonously talks of “deals,” suggesting that the presidency could be reduced to a Manhattan land swap. I suppose, then, he would dismiss his congressional opponents shortly after he entered office with a curt “I won.” Would his advisers then compare Democratic legislators to terrorists “with bombs in their vests” or caricature them as bookends to hard-core Iranian theocrats?

The presidency is not a priesthood. And Trump is about as sinful or saintly as many who have run for it — and held it — in the present and past.

Rather than demonize Trump as an aberrant figure in the long history of American politics — which includes the populist demagogue Huey Long, the ego-driven outsider Ross Perot, and the street brawler Jesse Jackson — we should wonder why he is so popular and listen to those who support him.

The answer is fairly simple and hinges on two considerations. One, in stylistic terms, Trump is blunt, energetic, a member of the elite openly contemptuous of the elite and the politically correct — at a rare moment when half the country despises not just all that but also those who know better but are too timid to voice their own similar contempt.

He plays by no campaign or media rules in an age when one out of two voters thinks such rules are constructs set up by careerists. Trump took the idea of a hypocritical limousine liberal and turned it on its head: He claims to be everyman’s elite champion, who has the tools and who knows best how to smash elites.

In this age, half the country wants someone — apparently anyone, even a Manhattanized former Democrat, real-estate barker, and former reality-TV host — to express their contempt for a corrupt and hypocritical government culture.

Too many people are tired not just of illegal immigration, but of the enablers of illegal immigration, who smear as racists and xenophobes those who just want existing laws enforced, while the enablers predicate their own agendas on racist assumptions and ethnic chauvinism.

Does anyone believe that news anchor Jorge Ramos would be an advocate for a mass influx of Russians flooding illegally into East Los Angeles? Do his children go to schools where half the students do not speak English?

Forget Trump and consider instead Trump’s constituencies. They are weary of being lectured that they deserve presidential rebuke for their supposed Islamophobia because they are angry about the terrorist killings of Americans.

The middle classes are exhausted from being sermonized that they do not “pay their fair share,” when their state and federal tax bite is nearly 50 percent — especially when half the population pays no income tax, and massive federal entitlements have done little to address the pathologies of the underclasses.

The contractor and the insurance salesman are furious at being scolded that “they didn’t build” their businesses, when those doing the scolding are pampered elites like Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama, who never built anything other than grievance careers.

Every demagogue, real or fictional, from Cleon to Catiline to Lonesome Rhodes to Ross Perot, owes his career to a fossilized, arrogant ruling class and its impotent opposition that fails to address the anxieties of the middle classes.

Second, is there an antidote offered by any other candidate to Trump’s vague and shifting agenda? Could any Republican promise to end racial quotas and base affirmative action on class rather than skin color, and thus suggest that Eric Holder’s kids should not have a leg up on the offspring of an unemployed Appalachian miner?

Could Republicans reform the tax code without conflating the upper middle class with the multimillionaire class, as if a couple earning $2 million a year needs the same sort of tax relief as those earning $200,000?

Instead of serially ridiculing Trump’s admittedly strange suggestion that Mexico must pay for the completion of the fence (ca. $3 to $5 billion), could they instead agree to a 10 percent federal surtax levied on all remittances sent abroad by undocumented U.S. residents — which would raise just about $3 to $5 billion?

Trump has done the Republican party lots of damage, but he has also done it some good by reminding its leaders that victory lies in swinging a ball and chain through the flimsy glass mirror of political correctness and the current liberal spectacle of very wealthy people projecting race and class injustice onto others as a way of excusing their own privilege.

Far better than ridiculing Trump as a showboat would be to show more constructive passion than does Trump and to discover what makes sane citizens see him as their last resort. Rather than dismissing his empty populism, it would be wiser to fill it in.

Respect and listen to and learn from Trump voters — and they will not vote for Trump.


NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.

It can happen here – tyranny

Editor’s Note – Once again Victor Davis Hanson eloquently sums up an issue. The issue this time is the wild dance we are in over the way Obama has effectively changed so much of how things operate, and how the administration is dancing around so many scandals – a must read. Tyranny Mr. Obama?

It can happen here

By Victor Davis Hanson – PJ Media

Shortly before the second-term inauguration of Barack Obama this January, I wrote the following of my worries over the Obama way of doing business:

But the untruths and hypocrisy hover in the partisan atmosphere and incrementally and insidiously undermine each new assertion that we hear from the president — some of them perhaps necessary and logical. Indeed, the more emphatically he adds “make no mistake about it,” “let me be perfectly clear,” “I’m not kidding,” or the ubiquitous “me,” “my,” and “I” to each new assertion, the more a growing number of people will come to know from the past that what follows simply is not true. Does this matter? Yes, because when the reckoning comes, it will be seen as logical rather than aberrant — and long overdue.

I ended my prognostications with the warning, “And so a reckoning is on the near horizon. Let us pray it does not take us all down with his administration.”

Four months later, it almost has.

In January, of course, we all knew that Obama had misled the country on the nature of the disaster that is called Obamacare—a bill forced through on an entirely partisan basis through extraordinary legislative pay-offs and exemptions. The author of the bill, Sen. Max Baucus, dubbed it a “train wreck”; the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (who helped ram through the bill), claimed that we needed to pass the bill to find out what is in it.

Obama’s first-term methodology was in line with his history of dissimulation—promising to accept public campaign financing before becoming the first presidential candidate in the general election to refuse it; demagoguing the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols as a senator as useless or unlawful (e.g., Guantanamo as “al-Qaeda’s chief recruiting tool”), only to embrace or expand them all once he became president; and stoking racial animosity by weighing in during the Professor Henry Louis Gates psychodrama and the Trayvon Martin murder case, and asking La Raza activists “to punish our enemies.”

The president had a strange habit, like a moth to a flame, of demagoguing the wealthy as toxic (spread the wealth, pay your fair share, fat cat, you didn’t build that, etc.), while being attracted to the very lifestyle that he damns, a sort of Martha’s Vineyard community organizer. Sometime in 2009, $250,000 in annual income became the dividing line between “us” and “them.” When we hear the president remind us that he is not a tyrant or monarch, then we assume he laments that fact; “make no mistake about it” ensures that you should believe that the president is not being “perfectly clear.”

Of course, in January I did not know yet that the IRS had targeted conservatives, in partisan fashion, to deflate their activism by denying their organizations pre-election tax-exempt status. (Do we now suspect why Harry Reid claimed that he knew the tax records of Mitt Romney, or why Austan Goolsbee popped off about the tax records of the Koch brothers, or how ProPublica had access to confidential tax information about Crossroads GPS [compare the ProPublica boast on their website: “Now, for the first time, ProPublica has obtained the group’s application for recognition of tax-exempt status, filed in September 2010. The IRS has not yet recognized Crossroads GPS as exempt, causing some tax experts to speculate that the agency is giving the application extra scrutiny”]?)

(File Image) – Monica Crowley interviewing Austan Goolsbee, former White House Economic Advisor – We wonder if we will ever see Mr. Goolsbee on any talking head shows after new revelations that revealed he was privy to IRS records as reports indicate. We also wonder what Ms Crowley thinks about the media investigation scandal as well as that Benghazi debacle in the second Presidential debate of late… Paging Ms Crowley?

I did not think that the administration would be so haughty to go after the Associated Press and monitor their official and private communications, especially given that the source of most national security leaks par excellence was the Obama White House itself. Recall the sordid details of the AP scandal: the AP sat on a story until they were given a quiet administration go-ahead to publish the account—even as the administration desperately wanted to scoop them and high-five over the story of the Yemeni double agent 24 hours earlier than the AP.

The AP was not first advised of the administration investigations, nor were the phone checks focused and narrow. Instead, the administration went whole hog after two months of phone records to send a message to its pets in the press—secure that Eric Holder, in Fast and Furious fashion, could always go to Congress with “I don’t now,” followed by executive privilege and stonewalling.

Meanwhile, in Machiavellian fashion the Obama administration had divulged classified information about the Stuxnet virus, the bin Laden raid, and the drone targeting—in order that sympathetic Washington Post and New York Timesreporters might have pre-election fuel for the hagiographic accounts of Obama, the underappreciated commander-in-chief.

While we all knew that a filmmaker did not prompt a riot that just happened to kill four Americans, we did not, until the testimony of State Department officials and the published communications of White House, CIA, and State Department staffers, appreciate just how far the administration would go to further a false narrative. And quite a myth it was: lead-from-behind Libya was still a success; al-Qaeda was still scattered; Obama was still on the global front lines condemning anti-Islamic bigots like Mr. Nakoula, whose religious hatred supposedly had spawned violence that even the Nobel laureate Barack Obama could not deter.

Yet in some sense, Obama won. The IRS, AP, and Benghazi scandals were all adroitly kept under wraps for months before the 2012 election, as Goolsbee and Reid thundered about right-wing wealthy people not paying their fair taxes, and the press echoed a “how dare you” when anyone questioned the frightening state of events.

Living in Oceania

And now?

Suddenly in 2013, what was once sure has become suspect. All the old referents are not as they once were. The world is turned upside down, and whether the government taps, politicizes, or lies is not so important if it subsidizes the 47%. Does anyone care that five departments of government are either breaking the law or lying or both (State [Benghazi], Defense [the harassment issues], Justice [monitoring of phone lines], Treasury [corruption at the IRS], Health and Human Services [shaking down companies to pay for PR for Obamacare])?

The National Rifle Association is now supposed to be a suspect paramilitary group, in the way the Boy Scouts are homophobes. One day we woke up and learned that by fiat women were suddenly eligible to serve in front-line combat units—no discussion, no hearings, no public debate. We had a “war on women” over whether upscale Sandra Fluke could get free birth control from the government, but snoozed through the Dr. Gosnell trial. The latter may have been the most lethal serial killer in U.S. history, if his last few years of snipping spinal cords were indicative of the his first three unmonitored decades of late-term aborting.

The Obama administration had decided to shut down as many coal plants as it can, stop most new gas and oil drilling on federal lands, and go after private companies ranging from huge aircraft manufacturers to the small guitar concerns—based not on law, but on certain theories of climate change and labor equity. As in the case with the IRS, the EPA is now synonymous with politically motivated activism designed to circumvent the law. The president in his State of the Union address assured us that cap-and-trade will be back, given, he says, the atypical violent weather that hit the U.S. in his term—even as global temperatures have not risen in 15 years, and hurricanes are now occurring more rarely than during the last administration.

The government, we were also told, would not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, and would grant de facto amnesty for large numbers of illegal aliens as the election approached. Enforcement of existing law now is a fluid idea, always up for discussion For the first time in my life, I can not even find rifle shells on the store shelves—amid rumors that the Department of Homeland Security, at a time of national acrimony over the Second Amendments, believes it is an opportune moment to stockpile gargantuan amounts of ammunition—again, a sort of force multiplier in ensuring panic buying.

Are You a Correct Citizen?

So we are in unchartered territory. The IRS has lost our trust, both for its rank partisanship and its inability to come forward and explain its crimes. Eric Holder wants us to believe that he has no idea why his office was monitoring the communications of journalists, and yet now warrants the renewed trust of the president. Susan Rice serially misled on national television about Benghazi and so will probably be promoted to national security advisor. Even the Washington Post has decided that the president was lying in his defense about Benghazi (albeit with the funny sort of childhood rating of “four Pinocchios”) after the president’s team serially blamed the violence on an internet video, while the president simultaneously claimed that he also identified the crime immediately as a terrorist hit.

On campuses, the Departments of Justice and Education have issued new race/class/gender guidelines that would effectively deny constitutionally protected free speech in universities, a sort of politically correct idea that proper thinking is preferable to free thinking.

If you oppose “comprehensive immigration reform” you become a nativist or worse—and apparently are one of the “enemies” the president wants to “punish.” The president just condemned American guns that wind up in Mexico–implying right-wingers opposed his own remedies of new gun control and neglecting to mention that his own Fast and Furious operation sold thousands of lethal weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

The end of the revolving doors, lobbyists, and non-transparency resulted in Jack Lew—recipient of a $1 million bonus from Citibank as it both lost money and gulped down federal bailout money—taking over from the tax-dodger Timothy Geithner as our new Treasury secretary to oversee the new IRS. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is now pumping corporations for money to help spread the gospel about how eager we are for the implementation of Obamacare, as the government now sort of freelances on its own—the federal equivalent of California Highway Patrol officers suddenly ubiquitous along our roadsides ticketing in a frenzy, in fear of their bankrupt state pension funds.

Now What?

What happens to a corporation that says “nope” to Sebelius? An IRS audit? Phone monitoring? Presidential denunciation as a “fat cat”? Talking points? Harry Reid taking to the floor to claim it had not paid its fair share in taxes?

Government has become a sort of malignant metasisizing tumor, growing on its own, parasitical on healthy cells, always searching for new sources of nourishment, its purpose nothing other than growing bigger and faster and more powerful—until the exhausted host collapses. We have a sunshine king and our government has become a sort of virtual Versailles palace.

I suppose that when a presidential candidate urges his supporters to get in someone’s face, and to take a gun to a knife fight, from now on you better believe him. And, finally, the strangest thing about nearing the threshold of 1984? It comes with a whimper, not a bang, with a charismatic smile and mellifluous nonsense—with politically correct, egalitarian-minded bureaucrats with glasses and iPhones instead of fist-shaking jack-booted thugs.

"The Age of Tokenism" – Victor Davis Hanson

Editor’s Note – We added headings to sections of the following works by Victor Davis Hanson for reading ease. These added headings are emboldened.

by Victor Davis Hanson – National Review Online/Private Papers

Guns and Crime

It is a depressing characteristic of government today to loudly enact legislation and impose regulations of little utility, while neglecting to address the root causes of truly serious problems. We do not know to what degree a Sandy Hook or a Columbine is caused by improperly treated mental illness, violent video games, Hollywood’s saturation of the popular culture with graphic mayhem — or access, by hook or by crook, to semi-automatic “assault” rifles. But we do know that the latter play almost no role in Chicago’s horrific annual tally of 500 murders — and account for less than 1 percent of the gun-related deaths in the United States each year. Yet we also confess that taking on Hollywood, the video-game industry, or the mental-health establishment would be far more acrimonious and politically risky than demonizing the National Rifle Association.

In the case of big-city murdering, serious talk about the culture of gangs and the causes of the pathology of thousands of minority males, who are vastly overrepresented as both victims and perpetrators of gun violence, is a no-win proposition, given the politically correct climate and the existential issues involved. Can one imagine any politician decrying the violent lyrics of rap music, the culture of dependency on government, or the absence of stiff incarceration for the use of a gun during a crime with the same zeal that he has shown in going after the NRA?

The result of such selective and easy morality is that we are now engaging in banning certain types of guns with little understanding of how they work. Take your grandfather’s semi-automatic .22 varmint gun, beef up the round a bit, add some scary-looking black plastic M-16-like adornments, and you now have a demonic “assault rifle.” The gun debate will cause needless divisions and acrimony, but in no measurable way will it either prevent another Sandy Hook or reduce the yearly slaughter of young males in our cities. When the next Columbine occurs — with the perpetrators using pump shotguns, or multiple ten-shot magazines, or sticks of dynamite — we will pat ourselves on the back and say it would have been worse had an “assault rifle” been used. And if the latter is employed, it will probably not have been legally acquired and more likely than not will be used by someone long recognized as unhinged.

Fiscal Issues

After all the fighting over the fiscal cliff, and all the demagoguery over the rich paying their fair share, we have achieved almost nothing tangible in terms of reducing the debt. The president offered no budget freeze, no curtailment of entitlement costs, no adjustments in age or other conditions of eligibility — nothing at all that would have addressed the astronomical rate at which the government has been spending since 2009. Obama is therapist-in-chief, and he avoids any tragic admission that there are sometimes just a bad choice and a worse one — in this case, between cutting back and going broke.

We used to talk of going back to the “Clinton tax rates” — a campaign sound bite that of course meant that we most certainly would not increase the once-hated but now-popular Bush rates on the 99 percent, much less return to Clinton-era spending levels. In other words, we taxed the 1 percent more, felt great about it, declared success, and now still face financial Armageddon — terrified to tell the 99 percent that either their taxes must go way up, or their entitlements must go way down, or more likely both. What we have failed to do would solve the problem and cause a national outcry; what we have actually done is as widely popular as it will do nothing.

Note that the war is not between the easily caricatured 1 percent, who pay almost 40 percent of aggregate federal income taxes, and the put-upon 99 percent; rather, it is a far more messy fight between the struggling 53 percent who pay income tax and mostly do not receive food stamps, unemployment insurance, or disability coverage, and the 47 percent who do not pay income tax and are more likely to receive state and federal assistance.

Foreign Wars and Policy

Keeping small residual forces in Iraq and Afghanistan might well have allowed the provisional consensual governments in those two countries to remain viable and not be transmogrified into tyrannies. To do so might have ensured that the terrible cost in American blood and treasure over the last decade at least had offered Afghans and Iraqis — and the world — something better than the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Yet to keep small bases there would also have angered American voters, sick of both wars and of the seeming ingratitude of those we did so much to help.

In contrast, packing up and going home, as we have from Iraq and will from Afghanistan, offers instant sound bites — something like “ending perpetual wars.” When the videos pop up of Taliban lynchings or a civil war in Iraq — remember the Kurds in 1991 and the Vietnamese in 1975 — we can shrug that this was the inevitable wages of President Bush’s sins, not something that President Obama could have prevented.

No one knows how to break the cycle of Middle East violence, much less how to address the tribalism, statism, lack of transparency and freedom, gender apartheid, religious fundamentalism, and intolerance so ubiquitous in the Arab world and so much at the heart of its wide-scale poverty and violence. To attempt any such discussion would be caricatured as neo-colonialist, imperialist, racist, naïve, or culturally ignorant.

Iraq and Afghanistan have been too costly to serve as models; Libya is now a hushed-up embarrassment; our positions have changed so much on Syria that there now are no positions; and Mohamed Morsi’s achievement in Egypt will have been to create nostalgia for the authoritarian Hosni Mubarak. No need to touch on the events in Algeria. The French, alone, are leading from the front in trying to save Mali from Islamists. Who would wish to wade into these morasses, or even talk about them with any degree of honesty?

It is far easier to focus on the Israelis: They are few. They have not until recently had oil or gas; the world hates them; and their government is lawful and Western. The result is that demonizing Mr. Netanyahu as the nexus of Middle East violence carries no risks, and offers no solutions, and therefore is preferable to the dangers of candidly crafting a policy to attempt to deal with the pathologies of the modern Arab world. If it is a question of attempting to deal fairly with Netanyahu or declaring jihad a personal spiritual journey, the latter wins every time.

Immigration and the Illegals

Nowhere is tokenism more manifest than in the debate over illegal immigration. No one knows whether there are 11 or 18 million illegal immigrants in the United States. It is taboo to suggest that the nearly $50 billion sent annually to Latin America from the US is largely from illegal immigrants, or that the remittances increase the likelihood that these foreign nationals must seek public assistance here, which drains local and state economies. Nor would any sane person publicly associate illegal immigration with the alarming DUI statistics in California or point out that it contributes to the record number of hit-and-run accidents in Los Angeles County.

Instead we talk grandly of “comprehensive immigration reform” and the “Dream Act,” but both opponents and supporters avoid the subsequent details like the plague. Everyone knows that there are millions of hard-working Latin American immigrants, who steer clear of public assistance and crime, have worked for years in the US, and deserve some sort of pathway to citizenship — contingent upon English proficiency, a trial period of legal residence, and a small fine for having broken the law in coming here illegally.

But we also dare not speak the truth about the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, perhaps a million or more, who are unemployed and on public assistance, who have been convicted of a crime, or who have just recently arrived. We know that unenforced laws erode respect for jurisprudence, and that simply granting open access to Latin Americans shorts those from elsewhere who wait lawfully for their turn and who may in fact have capital, education, and expertise that would allow them to contribute to the US far more quickly.

Given that mess, we prefer the banality of “a grand bargain,” without acknowledgment that the Latino elite community would hardly be willing, as the price of a pathway for millions, to agree to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of illegals who are unemployed, have criminal records, or have just arrived — much less to sign off on closing the border, securing it, and making legal immigration ethnically blind, contingent on skills and education, and roughly equal in its treatment of all applicants. So we blather on.

There are two general types of leaders: the vast majority who talk in banalities while they offer tokens in lieu of solutions, and the rare tragic statesmen like Lincoln and Churchill who tell the truth, endure odium in their lifetime, find solutions, and do not live to see the full appreciation of their courage.

Unfortunately, we live in a low era of tokenism and banality.

Utter hypocrisy – 'fair and balanced' abets misleading America

Editor’s Note – This election season is being called the most hate filled, divisive, and negative campaign – EVER! We still have almost 90 more days to go and the trend seems primed for even worse tactics and discourse – if you can call it that. Two things emerge above all the foam on the surface of this septic tank of rancor – “they all do it”, and “hypocrisy”.

The left accuse the right, and the right accuses the left – but on close inspection, “they all do it” fails under close scrutiny of scope, depth, and quantity, or as puts it, “Fair and Balanced” reporting. If you watch any segment on the so-called fair and balanced network, where someone from each camp emerges with their talking points – its unfair, and totally disingehuous to say they do things “equally.”

Segment after segment, the commentator treats both equally – as to say they’re arguments are equally valid – utterly straining credulity. Just once, it would be nice for someone like John Scott to say: “sir or madam, that is totally untrue, and you know it.” Then to allow the constant changing of the subject and/or bringing in some ancillary issue must stop, or they are guilty of aiding and abetting the propaganda and intentionally mis-leading the public. We dare anyone to prove that wrong – and guess which side we refer to?

Victor Davis Hanson once again nails part of the other cesspool denizen – hypocrisy:

Who gets a pass?

By Victor Davis Hanson – Town Hall

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently said of the Chick-fil-A fast-food franchise that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values.” Why? Because Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy is on record as being opposed to gay marriage — as is close to half the U.S. population, according to polls. The mayors of Boston and San Francisco also suggested that the company isn’t welcome in their cities.

Oddly, none of these public officials have lectured President Obama to keep clear of their cities. Yet until recently, Obama was likewise on record as opposing gay marriage. Why the exemption?

Nor have the mayors in question disinvited any black churches from their cities. Yet some pastors in churches with black congregations have been quite loud in their denunciations of gay marriage. Fundamentalist Islamic mosques routinely disparage homosexuals, often publicly so in their literature. Is there something about white Christian males that makes their opposition to gay marriage different from that of their black or Muslim counterparts?

Louis Farrakhan speaks in Chicago - he is welcome with his vile rhetoric yet Rahm Emmanuel does not thing Dan Cathy represents Chicago values.

Even as Emanuel warned Cathy that his company did not reflect “Chicago values,” his own city remains among the most murderous in the world. This year, Chicago youth have killed more Americans than have the Taliban in Afghanistan. Unable to stop the carnage, a desperate Emanuel welcomed in Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan to help quell the mostly black-on-black violence, even though the latter has a long record of racist and anti-Semitic tirades. Is the Chick-fil-A CEO a greater danger to Chicago than gun-toting gangs, or more illiberal than the racist Farrakhan?

Politics — not just race or religion — is also a key to the paradoxical double standard. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) just slandered Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Bill Magwood, an African-American, as “one of the most unethical, prevaricating, incompetent people I’ve dealt with.” Reid, furious with Magwood because of his support for the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Reid’s state, also called Magwood a “treacherous, miserable liar,” “a first-class rat” and a “sh-t stirrer.”

In 2008, Reid condescendingly attributed presidential candidate Barack Obama’s success to the fact that he was “light-skinned” and spoke “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

More recently, the crude Reid, in McCarthyesque fashion, claimed that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had not paid income taxes for 10 years — based on a rumor that an anonymous source supposedly had passed on to him. “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son,” Reid said of the late George Romney, Mitt’s father.

Reid has demonstrated that he is both vulgar and illiberal, but there are no calls for him to vacate his post. That exemption was not extended to an earlier counterpart, Sen. Trent Lott (D-Miss.). Lott, in similarly illiberal and crass fashion, said at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party in 2002 that America would have avoided “all these problems over all these years” if Thurmond had been elected president in 1948. Lott was pressured by both the Republican Party and the media to step down, and he did so in shame.

There is a common theme here. Our self-appointed priests of fairness from time to time freely commit sins of intolerance. But don’t dare hold them to the same sort of accountability to which they hold other, less progressive Americans, whose similarly dumb remarks are not gaffes but rather windows into their prejudicial souls.

We must make allowances for the supposed Biblical conservatism of some black pastors in a way we cannot for the white, Christian CEO of Chick-fil-A. Farrakhan’s hatred cannot possibly earn him ostracism. We cannot extend the anger at evangelical Christians for their incorrect attitudes toward feminism and homosexuality to the Muslims who often share similar views.

Such selectivity is untenable. Classical Western liberalism was predicated on judging people as individuals — and on their merit and performance — rather than collectively as identity groups identified by gender, race and religion. Using illiberal means to advance supposedly liberal ends results not just in hypocrisy and cynicism, but in the current disaster of “Chicago values.”

Politically correct exemption is doomed, because who can sort out the conflicting agendas of various identity groups? Who certifies who’s really black, brown or white in a multiracial, intermarried America — Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren? Who deserves how much compensation for which particular past oppression?

Can black pastors who oppose gay marriage be judged prejudicial? Is the Asian-American who opposes illegal immigration subject to the same charge of nativism leveled at so-called whites? Can Harry Reid be judged a bigot and McCarthyite if he claims he’s liberal?

A simple antidote to multiculturalism and political correctness is to evaluate all Americans on their actual behavior, regardless of their politics, race, gender or religion — in other words, a return to the ancient liberal idea that one common culture treats all sorts of different people absolutely the same.

Victor Davis Hanson – Tuning Out a President

Editor’s Note – Once again, Victor Davis Hanson sums up the macro picture of the political insanity that is before us now in America.

The sheer hypocrisy of it all, and the amazing things people say to defend their positions. It all depends on perspective of course, but its always loaded in one direction; and fingers point at others, while they do worse on their own watch – especially with the support of the main stream media.

Tuning Out a President

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tuned-out Presidents

Somewhere around early 2006, the nation tuned out George W. Bush for a variety of reasons, some warranted, but many not. Most thought the Katrina aftermath catastrophe was due to state and local officials (do your recall the utterly incompetent loudmouth Mayor [“chocolate city”] Nagan, or the clueless FEMA director Michael [“Brownie”] Brown?), while the president’s culpability was largely political: he flew high over, rather than waded into, the muck on the first day of the recovery.

No matter: either the media or his opponents succeeded in confirming the narrative of an out-of-touch president at best, and at worst one indifferent to the plight of African-American poor in particular. The more the president talked of help and rescue, the more we heard absurdities from a malicious Nagan and inanities from an incompetent Brownie.

The same was true of Iraq by 2007. I felt the surge had a good chance of restoring calm and salvaging Iraq, especially given the skill and determination of David Petraeus and the admirable decision of George W. Bush not to give up. And establishing a consensual government in the heart of the ancient caliphate after removing the genocidal Saddam Hussein was an historic achievement. No matter again — almost every column I wrote in 2007 suggesting that Iraq was not only not lost, but also in the process of a brilliant recovery, earned lots of venom, many of it from some of the original staunchest supporters of the invasion. The people, I guess, had by then tuned the president out.

Perhaps it was the media barrage. Perhaps it was the relief of the incredible three-week Iraq victory followed by the furor over the carnage of a botched occupation. Perhaps it was the visceral hatred on the Left of a Texan evangelical Christian. Perhaps it was the estrangement of the right-wing base, angered over the deficits, big-ticket entitlements like the prescription drug benefit, or No Child Left Behind. Perhaps it was the strategic blunder of hyping weapons of mass destruction rather than sticking to the 23 congressionally passed writs authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam. Perhaps it was weariness from the 24/7 assault on the Bush-Cheney security protocols, a paradox in which the more such measures succeeded in reducing the chance of another 9/11 attack, the more an increasingly complacent public bought the Barack Obama/Michael Moore line that renditions, Guantanamo, wiretaps, intercepts, Predators, and preventative detention were superfluous anti-constitutional excesses all along and the ensuing post-9/11 calm was more a natural development than the result of the new Bush vigilance.

One could not convince the American people, say in 2007, that deficits were heading downward and a balanced budget was scheduled on the horizon, much less that 5.5% unemployment or 3% GDP growth was not that bad. And when the September 2008 meltdown came, no one wished to examine the policies of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that allowed the utterly unqualified to receive government-guaranteed subprime mortgages. Few cared about the machinations of a Maxine Waters or Barney Frank, or wished to concede that government corruption, hand-in-glove with Wall Street buccaneering, had led to the housing explosion. It all happened on Bush’s watch, the public had concluded, and it was the fiscal bookend to Iraq and Katrina. All the good economic news of the first seven and a half years mattered nothing. Massive help to stop AIDS in Africa was of no consequence. Quiet in Iraq in 2008 was too little, too late. Again, no matter what one wrote to offer context, it mattered nothing. Fairly or not, the public had just tuned the president out — in the manner it had tuned out Jerry (cf. WIN buttons) Ford in 1976, Jimmy (cf. the waterborne rabbit assault) Carter in late 1980, and George (cf. “read my lips”) H.W. Bush in 1992. Some presidents recover from a tuned out public — Reagan did after Iran Contra, Clinton did in a way after Monica — but most don’t, especially if they are conservatives and not adept rhetoricians.

Imagine…

Imagine if Barack Obama said the following: “I promise by the end of my second term that I will close Guantanamo Bay, end renditions and preventative detentions, cut the deficit in half, that my second stimulus program will put the unemployment rate below 6% within three years, that I will create 5 million new green jobs, that my health care plan will lower premiums, that I will ostracize lobbyists, end the revolving door, and earmarks, that I will participate in public financing of the 2012 campaign, and that I won’t raise any tax whatsoever on those earning less than $250,000.”

Would any believe him?

So Barack Obama is likewise being tuned out. “Let me be perfectly clear,” “Make no mistake about it,” “In truth,” “In point of fact,” “I’m not kidding,” and “I’m not making this up” all tip off a weary public that just the opposite is true. We are so confused over Guantanamo, Predators, and renditions — being told everything from them being unconstitutional to vital — that we likewise just shrug at the absurdity of an Obama and Harold Koh embracing all the protocols that they once has so vehemently demonized. Were they then, now, or always just simpletons, naïfs, hypocrites, or abject careerists?

The Dog Ate My Economic Plan?

After nearly four years, no one, either supporter or skeptic, assumes the president to be either consistent or sincere. He expects us to believe that his economic problems date back to the Reagan and Clinton administrations, when employment and growth were far more impressive than they are now. He thinks neo-socialism is the cure for the “failures” of the past — a past that also apparently explains why he inherited the reins of the most powerful and richest country in the world. His fables about Bush did it, the tsunami did it, the EU did it, ATMs did it, etc., have as much factual basis as his own memoir. When Obama swears he was outspent in his earlier campaigns, I no more believe that than the details of his literary biography. Examine almost any current topic, and the president simply does not tell the truth about it, or contradicts what he earlier had asserted — or we are left with some contorted postmodern narrative. The concocted story about Rev. Wright (Obama was married in Trinity, baptized his children there, bragged about perfect attendance for 20 years, stole Wright’s sloganeering for the title of his second book while serially claiming he scarcely knew what Wright was saying all those years — in the manner he hardly knew either Bill Ayers or Tony Rezko) is sort of the model for all of Obama’s explanations: a current narrative becomes “true” if it is in service to a progressive cause.  The result is that Obama has left us with a postmodern mess on about every current issue, about which what he has said and done never add up.

Illegal, Legal, Neither, or Both?

I think the current status of immigration law goes something like this. It is fine for a municipality or state to contravene immigration law by declaring a region a “sanctuary,” where federal law cannot be enforced. But it is illegal for a state to enforce immigration statutes when the federal government will not. Arizona was sued for trying to deport illegal aliens; so California is considering ways to grant them amnesty. If an illegal alien graduates from high school, serves in the military, or breaks no law, he can be exempt from deportation; but if he does not graduate, does not serve, or breaks a law, there is no expectation that he will now suddenly be deported at the time those eligible for amnesty will not be. The president told Latino activists he wanted to, but could not, issue exemptions by fiat, but then did exactly that a bit later as the campaign heated up.  Eric Holder both claimed the Arizona law encouraged profiling and admitted he had never read it. Obama called for an end to vilification, and then begged Latinos to “punish our enemies,” in the manner he once asked supporters to “get in their face.”

Mandate/Tax/Penalty?

The new federal takeover of health care requires a mandate, a tax, or a penalty, but the architects of the plan cannot agree on which — not a surprising postmodern turn when Justice Roberts reportedly wrote much of both the majority-confirming and the minority-dissenting opinions. It is unpopular now, but supposedly won’t be when it is enacted (or read for the first time) — and that is why over 2,000 insiders obtained exemption from such popular legislation. The 2,400 pages of ObamaCare were to lower our premiums by $2,500 a family, but they have already risen by almost 10% on average. Barack Obama ran against Hillary Clinton for her advocacy of a mandate, a position he ridiculed as both unfair and unworkable — before asserting just the opposite when he adopted her position as his own. One cannot be rejected for insurance for a preexisting illness, and therefore need not purchase insurance (preferring instead to pay the mandate / tax /penalty) until he is actually in extremis and in need of costly care — sort of like buying car insurance the day after you were blindsided, or life insurance on the day you were diagnosed with leukemia.

Bush Did It All

We have created four million new jobs since January 2009 which is cited as an impressive statistic, although we have also lost far more than four million old jobs, which is why a half million fewer Americans are at work today than in January 2009 — which is nevertheless supposedly good news given that more jobs were “saved” than would have been lost. In olden times, “It’s the economy, stupid” was the reply to 3% plus GDP growth under Bush I, and a “jobless recovery” was the charge against Bush II’s 5.4% unemployment rate. What name does 1.9% GDP growth and 41 months of 8% plus unemployment merit? Or in other words, since a younger Barack Obama damned the Bush record of job creation as dismal in creating only 310,000 jobs per month, what he would say of his own record of 80,000 jobs this month — a number 5,000 smaller than those added to the monthly disability roles? And does anyone remember Obama’s promise of “5 million new green jobs,” or cutting the deficit “in half” by the end of Obama’s first term? You should, since the candidate who swore there should be no more red or blue states declared George W. Bush “unpatriotic” for running up a $4 trillion debt in eight years, which he then trumped in three.

Don’t/Do Drill

This is all so confusing. We have vastly curtailed granting new federal leases for gas and oil exploration in order to discourage fossil fuels, while subsidizing wind and solar. But as the former failed and cost us billions of dollars, gas and oil production on private land skyrocketed despite, not because of, the Obama administration — which now takes no credit for the green energy it squandered, but for America’s increased oil and gas development it ignored. Gas went over $4 a gallon at about the same time that it was announced that newly found U.S. shale oil reserves and natural gas finds now mean the U.S. (with the largest coal reserves) is sitting atop the largest fossil fuel resources in the world. To understand a Solyndra, remember that the president promised that coal-generated electricity plants would bankrupt their owners, that electricity rates would skyrocket, that proper tire pressure would preclude new drilling, and that he might enact the cap and trade protocols the Senate rejected — even as his energy secretary wished gas to reach European price levels.

No One Left to Teleprompter to?

Again, examine any current topic — green jobs, the Chevy Volt, cash for clunkers, the stimulus, tax hikes, ObamaCare, unemployment, amnesty, the debt, the deficits, race relations — and more or less incoherence follows. Either things have gotten worse or what Obama says is either untrue or not consistent with what he earlier had asserted. The result is that when he starts one of those long teleprompted orations, with the dropped g’s and the faux-African-American preaching patois, we still are impressed how the cadences can package the rather empty content and serial half-truths.

None of the above means that Barack Obama is necessarily going to lose the election, and here is why, given the following paradoxes. There are roughly now two groups of tune-outs: the first are the 50% who are either partisan opponents or who have had it with a president who does not speak the truth and blames his own failures on others. The second are the 50% who likewise don’t pay much attention to Obama’s rhetoric anymore, but they assume that mortgage bailouts; loan forgiveness; massive public hiring; more food stamps, unemployment insurance, and disability payments; freedom from income tax; racial and class resentments; and more still all offer, for the poorer, welcome material, and, for the richer, psychic and philosophical, recompense.

In other words, supporters, both the poor and rich, don’t worry all that much what Obama says, but focus instead only on the fact that he either wishes them to have more government stuff or abhors the same people they’ve always abhorred.

But either way, both the president’s critics and his supporters now are tuning him out.