Day: December 20, 2017

University of California Professors Should Reconsider Napolitano's Free Speech Center


The politician that runs the University of California wants to give the rest of the nation advice on how to handle free speech.  University of California President Janet Napolitano recently created a national think tank open to discussion of the premise that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees free speech should be modified according to changing student views.  Because “funding for the center will come from the UC presidential endowment, as well as private philanthropic efforts,” Napolitano apparently is subject to no financial accountability to the university she serves as chief executive.

Napolitano named herself Chairwoman of the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, located at the University of California’s Washington DC Center.  Two UC administrators will act as her co-chairs and eight nationally-known trustees, including Barbara Boxer, act as the board.  All but one trustee – a UCLA law student seeking “a process to navigate the [free speech] gray area that we are in right now” – are from outside UC.

The Center will select 20 fellows every year to help shape the national debate about free speech and civic engagement. 

The Center appears to have sprung full-blown from Napolitano’s immediate staff with no review by the faculty-run UC Academic Senate or agenda action by the UC Board of Regents.  A UCLA dean declared “I’m as surprised as you are!” 

A nonacademic, Napolitano is a master of amassing bureaucratic power.  Last year she engineered a change in the University of California Board governance and bylaws so that most questionable decisions raised there are to be decided by the University President (Napolitano).  And she is politically deft, having likely ensured UC’s continuous involvement in managing Los Alamos National Laboratory by partnering with Texas A&M University, the alma mater of the U.S. Secretary of Energy, who will make the final decision.

Her arguments for the free speech Center ring hollow.

Napolitano applies straw men rationales.  She characterizes current constitutional free speech as “free speech Darwinism,” too harsh for today’s snowflakes.  But no thinking professor would introduce To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, without preparing students by discussing the novel’s time and Jim Crow setting.  Napolitano advocates her version of “safe spaces,” specially created places where students “can gather with others of similar backgrounds to share experiences and support one another.”  But students from similar backgrounds currently are not prohibited from gathering together on campus if they so choose.

Napolitano’s main basis for advocating a change in free speech norms is the changed demographics of the University of California student body since UC Berkeley’s 1960’s Free Speech Movement, when 55 percent of students were male and mainly white.  Today’s UC students are 53 percent women; 42 percent are first in their families to attend college; 40 percent of this year’s entering class self-identify as either black, Latino/Latina, or from another underrepresented ethnic or racial group; others raise the issue of their sexual identity. 

Napolitano then links today’s college demographics to the 2016 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey’s free speech findings — 72 percent of college students would restrict political speech that may upset or offend members of certain groups and two-thirds of college students would restrict slurs and other offending language intended to offend specific groups of people.    Napolitano combines these findings that “some of today’s students seem less wedded to First Amendment values than previous generations” with changes in college students’ demographics, and implies the combination could curtail the “social Darwinism” of constitutional free speech. 

That is why her administration introduced faculty training to recognize “microaggressions,” everyday expressions about which some students may become frustrated or angry.   Professors should avoid saying America is a “land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” and calling a student “articulate.”

However, alternative explanations of the Gallup/Knight findings readily come to mind.  Many students enter college with inadequate high school instruction in civics and their free speech rights.  And many colleges waive college-level classes in civics and the U.S. Constitution for students with credits in such high school classes, seriously reducing college students’ knowledge about these topics.  For example, What Will They Learn?, the 2017-18 Report of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, finds only 17.6 percent of 1,100 U.S. higher education institutions require a course in U.S. Government or History. 

More importantly, the 2017 Survey of America’s College Students by Hart Research Associates for The Panetta Institute of Public Policy contradicts Gallup/Knight’s free speech findings.  Hart reports a majority (68%) of students feel that protecting free speech is more important than making sure that people do not feel hurt, while 32% believe the opposite.  And a majority of students (64%) feel that their schools are striking the right balance between protecting free speech and preventing hate speech.  These measures remained steady since the previous year.  Furthermore, more than two-thirds (69%) say inviting controversial speakers to campus is a good thing because it stimulates debate and thought while 31% say controversial speakers should be avoided to make sure all students feel safe. 

Before rushing headlong to support one viewpoint, a serious scholar would acknowledge and resolve these contradictory survey results.

The UC Academic Senate should call time out regarding Napolitano’s Free Speech Center.  The U.C. Academic Senate should determine the costs of the proposed Center and then consider alternative uses for these funds. Would fees from administering the National Labs be utilized?  Would the funds be better spent on grad student post-docs and/or on joint research projects between UC profs and lab researchers?  What alternative methods to shape the national debate about free speech could be introduced to better utilize the talents of U.C. scholars?  For example, The Volokh Conspiracy, one of the most widely-read blogs in the Country administered by UCLA Law Professor and First Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh, could provide a possible discussion and publication venue.

My recommendation is to follow the UCLA Daily Bruin comment of UCLA student “garyfouse,” that the time and effort devoted to the Napolitano’s Center “could be better spent protecting free speech on UC campuses, something that is a definite problem.”   

Velma Montoya, Ph.D. (Economics, UCLA) is a former Regent of the University of California.

The politician that runs the University of California wants to give the rest of the nation advice on how to handle free speech.  University of California President Janet Napolitano recently created a national think tank open to discussion of the premise that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees free speech should be modified according to changing student views.  Because “funding for the center will come from the UC presidential endowment, as well as private philanthropic efforts,” Napolitano apparently is subject to no financial accountability to the university she serves as chief executive.

Napolitano named herself Chairwoman of the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, located at the University of California’s Washington DC Center.  Two UC administrators will act as her co-chairs and eight nationally-known trustees, including Barbara Boxer, act as the board.  All but one trustee – a UCLA law student seeking “a process to navigate the [free speech] gray area that we are in right now” – are from outside UC.

The Center will select 20 fellows every year to help shape the national debate about free speech and civic engagement. 

The Center appears to have sprung full-blown from Napolitano’s immediate staff with no review by the faculty-run UC Academic Senate or agenda action by the UC Board of Regents.  A UCLA dean declared “I’m as surprised as you are!” 

A nonacademic, Napolitano is a master of amassing bureaucratic power.  Last year she engineered a change in the University of California Board governance and bylaws so that most questionable decisions raised there are to be decided by the University President (Napolitano).  And she is politically deft, having likely ensured UC’s continuous involvement in managing Los Alamos National Laboratory by partnering with Texas A&M University, the alma mater of the U.S. Secretary of Energy, who will make the final decision.

Her arguments for the free speech Center ring hollow.

Napolitano applies straw men rationales.  She characterizes current constitutional free speech as “free speech Darwinism,” too harsh for today’s snowflakes.  But no thinking professor would introduce To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, without preparing students by discussing the novel’s time and Jim Crow setting.  Napolitano advocates her version of “safe spaces,” specially created places where students “can gather with others of similar backgrounds to share experiences and support one another.”  But students from similar backgrounds currently are not prohibited from gathering together on campus if they so choose.

Napolitano’s main basis for advocating a change in free speech norms is the changed demographics of the University of California student body since UC Berkeley’s 1960’s Free Speech Movement, when 55 percent of students were male and mainly white.  Today’s UC students are 53 percent women; 42 percent are first in their families to attend college; 40 percent of this year’s entering class self-identify as either black, Latino/Latina, or from another underrepresented ethnic or racial group; others raise the issue of their sexual identity. 

Napolitano then links today’s college demographics to the 2016 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey’s free speech findings — 72 percent of college students would restrict political speech that may upset or offend members of certain groups and two-thirds of college students would restrict slurs and other offending language intended to offend specific groups of people.    Napolitano combines these findings that “some of today’s students seem less wedded to First Amendment values than previous generations” with changes in college students’ demographics, and implies the combination could curtail the “social Darwinism” of constitutional free speech. 

That is why her administration introduced faculty training to recognize “microaggressions,” everyday expressions about which some students may become frustrated or angry.   Professors should avoid saying America is a “land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” and calling a student “articulate.”

However, alternative explanations of the Gallup/Knight findings readily come to mind.  Many students enter college with inadequate high school instruction in civics and their free speech rights.  And many colleges waive college-level classes in civics and the U.S. Constitution for students with credits in such high school classes, seriously reducing college students’ knowledge about these topics.  For example, What Will They Learn?, the 2017-18 Report of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, finds only 17.6 percent of 1,100 U.S. higher education institutions require a course in U.S. Government or History. 

More importantly, the 2017 Survey of America’s College Students by Hart Research Associates for The Panetta Institute of Public Policy contradicts Gallup/Knight’s free speech findings.  Hart reports a majority (68%) of students feel that protecting free speech is more important than making sure that people do not feel hurt, while 32% believe the opposite.  And a majority of students (64%) feel that their schools are striking the right balance between protecting free speech and preventing hate speech.  These measures remained steady since the previous year.  Furthermore, more than two-thirds (69%) say inviting controversial speakers to campus is a good thing because it stimulates debate and thought while 31% say controversial speakers should be avoided to make sure all students feel safe. 

Before rushing headlong to support one viewpoint, a serious scholar would acknowledge and resolve these contradictory survey results.

The UC Academic Senate should call time out regarding Napolitano’s Free Speech Center.  The U.C. Academic Senate should determine the costs of the proposed Center and then consider alternative uses for these funds. Would fees from administering the National Labs be utilized?  Would the funds be better spent on grad student post-docs and/or on joint research projects between UC profs and lab researchers?  What alternative methods to shape the national debate about free speech could be introduced to better utilize the talents of U.C. scholars?  For example, The Volokh Conspiracy, one of the most widely-read blogs in the Country administered by UCLA Law Professor and First Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh, could provide a possible discussion and publication venue.

My recommendation is to follow the UCLA Daily Bruin comment of UCLA student “garyfouse,” that the time and effort devoted to the Napolitano’s Center “could be better spent protecting free speech on UC campuses, something that is a definite problem.”   

Velma Montoya, Ph.D. (Economics, UCLA) is a former Regent of the University of California.



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Liberalism: It's All in the Name


There is so much confusion about the meaning of the term.  In fact, “liberalism” seems to be a word at war with itself.  For example, “illiberal” means “restricting freedom of thought or behavior.”  Yet people in government who call themselves “liberal” used the force of law to impose politically correct thought and behavior on a Christian baker who declined to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his faith.  So we have an illiberal policy, imposed by “liberals.”  What is going on here?

The key to untangling the confusion is this one remarkable fact: in politics, the term “liberal” today means the precise opposite of what it meant to America’s founders.  The important point to understand is that the name of liberalism was confiscated by the political enemies of (true) liberalism.    

The term “liberal” comes from the Latin “liber,” meaning “free.”  Liberalism originally referred to the philosophy of liberty, the great tradition in political thinking the American founders did so much to define and advance.  Washington’s celebrated “Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport” of 1790 makes perfectly clear how the founders used the term: “The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience[.]”  According to the founders, “liberal” is all about liberty.  In their time, the word was not at war with itself.

The liberalism of the American founders focused on reining in the powers of government.  The purpose of the founders’ design of the government was protecting our unalienable rights from encroachment by people in the government.  But today’s so-called liberals are dedicated to expanding government into every area of life and to attacking the safeguards of liberty in the founders’ design.  Whether they are using Obamacare to force Americans to buy government-approved insurance or attacking the Electoral College and the 1st and 2nd Amendments, they are the sworn enemies of the founders’ gift to us.

Ludwig von Mises puts it like this in his book Liberalism:

In the United States “liberal” means today a set of ideas and political postulates that in every regard are the opposite of all that liberalism meant to the preceding generations.  The American self-styled liberal aims at government omnipotence, is a resolute foe of free enterprise, and advocates all-round planning by the authorities[.] … Every measure aiming at confiscating some of the assets of those who own more than the average or at restricting the rights of the owners of property is considered as liberal and progressive.

Today, “liberal” and “progressive” often travel together as virtual synonyms, but originally the Progressives made it clear they were the enemies of liberalism.  The Progressives intended to replace America’s founding principles with new, improved Progressive principles.  Instead of overthrowing the American system by means of a bloody revolution, their plan was to do it progressively, one step at a time. 

To understand Progressivism, let’s start with Woodrow Wilson.  He proudly called himself a Progressive, and here he is making clear what he thought of the founders’ ideas: “No doubt a great deal of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle[.]”  “Nonsense,” he said of the principles of the American founders.   

Wilson was a disciple of the 19th-century German philosopher GWF Hegel.  According to Hegel, the process of history itself renders the ideas of each earlier period obsolete.  Therefore, according to Hegel and to Wilson, the founders’ principles were relevant only to the time of the founders.  The founders believed that the proposition that all men are created equal is, as Lincoln said, “an abstract truth applicable to all men and all times.”  According to Hegel and Wilson, it was merely an idea for another time.

By championing Hegel, Wilson played a leading role in introducing an alien strain of thought into the American body politic, a strain of thought that rejected the self-evident truths and the unalienable rights of the founders.  Hegel rejected the idea of individual liberty, exalting the state instead.  “One must worship the state as a terrestrial divinity.”  Consequently, a more accurate name for Wilson’s political philosophy would be “statism,” though Progressivism was obviously a more appealing-sounding label to present to America’s voters.  However, that label soon lost its appeal.

The Progressive policies of the Woodrow Wilson era quickly gave Progressivism a bad reputation.  FDR was a proud Progressive who had served in the Wilson administration, but running as a Progressive had become politically unwise by 1932.  Prohibition, enacted at the crest of the Progressive wave in 1919 during Wilson’s administration, had not exactly turned out to be a crowd-pleaser.  The country was mired in the Depression, making it painfully clear that the Federal Reserve, one of Progressivism’s crown jewels, had not in fact smoothed out the business cycle as promised.  And the Progressive income tax, another of Progressivism’s most prized accomplishments, was a sore point for many voters.

Time for a name change!

And what a change it was.  Nowhere is FDR’s genius for politics more evident than in his decision to call himself a liberal.  FDR stole the label of the philosophy of liberty and bestowed it on the Progressives.  Thanks to FDR, the illiberal party of the state – the party of government, the self-proclaimed political enemies of the classical liberalism of the founders and of limited government – got away with calling itself liberal.

FDR’s theft left the proponents of the philosophy of liberty without a name.  What should they call themselves?  As Charles Kesler writes in his book I Am the Change: “FDR suggested, helpfully, that they ought to call themselves conservatives, a designation they were loath to accept because it sounded … vaguely un-American[.]  … Robert Taft, ‘Mr. Conservative,’ was still insisting he was a liberal in 1946.”  The people who wanted America to continue to live according to the Constitution at first resisted taking FDR’s helpful suggestion.  They finally gave in when they decided that the Progressive theft of their name had succeeded.

The philosophy of America’s founding documents is the classical liberalism of the founders.  It has been under attack in politics and academia by the Progressives for over one hundred years.  Consequently, it is now only dimly remembered, if at all, even by those Americans who are alarmed by what the Progressives are doing to America. 

Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute and on the Board of Distinguished Advisers of the Ronald Reagan Center for Freedom and Understanding.  He is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea from Encounter Books.  You can preview the book here.

There is so much confusion about the meaning of the term.  In fact, “liberalism” seems to be a word at war with itself.  For example, “illiberal” means “restricting freedom of thought or behavior.”  Yet people in government who call themselves “liberal” used the force of law to impose politically correct thought and behavior on a Christian baker who declined to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his faith.  So we have an illiberal policy, imposed by “liberals.”  What is going on here?

The key to untangling the confusion is this one remarkable fact: in politics, the term “liberal” today means the precise opposite of what it meant to America’s founders.  The important point to understand is that the name of liberalism was confiscated by the political enemies of (true) liberalism.    

The term “liberal” comes from the Latin “liber,” meaning “free.”  Liberalism originally referred to the philosophy of liberty, the great tradition in political thinking the American founders did so much to define and advance.  Washington’s celebrated “Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport” of 1790 makes perfectly clear how the founders used the term: “The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience[.]”  According to the founders, “liberal” is all about liberty.  In their time, the word was not at war with itself.

The liberalism of the American founders focused on reining in the powers of government.  The purpose of the founders’ design of the government was protecting our unalienable rights from encroachment by people in the government.  But today’s so-called liberals are dedicated to expanding government into every area of life and to attacking the safeguards of liberty in the founders’ design.  Whether they are using Obamacare to force Americans to buy government-approved insurance or attacking the Electoral College and the 1st and 2nd Amendments, they are the sworn enemies of the founders’ gift to us.

Ludwig von Mises puts it like this in his book Liberalism:

In the United States “liberal” means today a set of ideas and political postulates that in every regard are the opposite of all that liberalism meant to the preceding generations.  The American self-styled liberal aims at government omnipotence, is a resolute foe of free enterprise, and advocates all-round planning by the authorities[.] … Every measure aiming at confiscating some of the assets of those who own more than the average or at restricting the rights of the owners of property is considered as liberal and progressive.

Today, “liberal” and “progressive” often travel together as virtual synonyms, but originally the Progressives made it clear they were the enemies of liberalism.  The Progressives intended to replace America’s founding principles with new, improved Progressive principles.  Instead of overthrowing the American system by means of a bloody revolution, their plan was to do it progressively, one step at a time. 

To understand Progressivism, let’s start with Woodrow Wilson.  He proudly called himself a Progressive, and here he is making clear what he thought of the founders’ ideas: “No doubt a great deal of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle[.]”  “Nonsense,” he said of the principles of the American founders.   

Wilson was a disciple of the 19th-century German philosopher GWF Hegel.  According to Hegel, the process of history itself renders the ideas of each earlier period obsolete.  Therefore, according to Hegel and to Wilson, the founders’ principles were relevant only to the time of the founders.  The founders believed that the proposition that all men are created equal is, as Lincoln said, “an abstract truth applicable to all men and all times.”  According to Hegel and Wilson, it was merely an idea for another time.

By championing Hegel, Wilson played a leading role in introducing an alien strain of thought into the American body politic, a strain of thought that rejected the self-evident truths and the unalienable rights of the founders.  Hegel rejected the idea of individual liberty, exalting the state instead.  “One must worship the state as a terrestrial divinity.”  Consequently, a more accurate name for Wilson’s political philosophy would be “statism,” though Progressivism was obviously a more appealing-sounding label to present to America’s voters.  However, that label soon lost its appeal.

The Progressive policies of the Woodrow Wilson era quickly gave Progressivism a bad reputation.  FDR was a proud Progressive who had served in the Wilson administration, but running as a Progressive had become politically unwise by 1932.  Prohibition, enacted at the crest of the Progressive wave in 1919 during Wilson’s administration, had not exactly turned out to be a crowd-pleaser.  The country was mired in the Depression, making it painfully clear that the Federal Reserve, one of Progressivism’s crown jewels, had not in fact smoothed out the business cycle as promised.  And the Progressive income tax, another of Progressivism’s most prized accomplishments, was a sore point for many voters.

Time for a name change!

And what a change it was.  Nowhere is FDR’s genius for politics more evident than in his decision to call himself a liberal.  FDR stole the label of the philosophy of liberty and bestowed it on the Progressives.  Thanks to FDR, the illiberal party of the state – the party of government, the self-proclaimed political enemies of the classical liberalism of the founders and of limited government – got away with calling itself liberal.

FDR’s theft left the proponents of the philosophy of liberty without a name.  What should they call themselves?  As Charles Kesler writes in his book I Am the Change: “FDR suggested, helpfully, that they ought to call themselves conservatives, a designation they were loath to accept because it sounded … vaguely un-American[.]  … Robert Taft, ‘Mr. Conservative,’ was still insisting he was a liberal in 1946.”  The people who wanted America to continue to live according to the Constitution at first resisted taking FDR’s helpful suggestion.  They finally gave in when they decided that the Progressive theft of their name had succeeded.

The philosophy of America’s founding documents is the classical liberalism of the founders.  It has been under attack in politics and academia by the Progressives for over one hundred years.  Consequently, it is now only dimly remembered, if at all, even by those Americans who are alarmed by what the Progressives are doing to America. 

Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute and on the Board of Distinguished Advisers of the Ronald Reagan Center for Freedom and Understanding.  He is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea from Encounter Books.  You can preview the book here.



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The Punk Rock President


Middle-fingered the establishment.  Railed against “the Queen.”  Thumbed his nose at manners.  Spit on convention.  Name-called.  Talked dirty.  Fought dirty.  Fought back.  Cursed.  Infuriated the press.  Didn’t need to be liked.  Pissed on the old rules.  Made mayhem.  Made sense.

Donald Trump is the punk rock president.

Trump’s raw, paradigm-nuking candidacy was a flip of the bird to the entrenched, systemic corruption of the establishment.  He threatened the status quo and the elites in the same way punk rock threatened corporate rock and disco in the late ’70s – seeking nothing less, in both instances, than their total destruction.  Very Johnny Rotten.

The fire in the belly of punk rock is the same incendiary source that ignited Trump’s rise.  It is rooted in the rejection of a gamed system and is wedded to confrontation.  The disaffected youth of the late 1970s were surrounded by things that infuriated them: dwindling job prospects; staid, safe, bourgeois music on the radio; and a system designed to keep them down.  They were angry and insulted – and they weaponized that discontent into a powerful cultural force.

Trump did the same.  He was furious about the lies of the Clintons, about political correctness, and about Obama’s assaults on the Constitution.  He also never forgot or forgave Obama’s mean girl mockery of him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  All of these sharpened Trump’s resolve to upend the apple cart.  And so he did – flipping it upside-down proper on November 8, 2016.

Turns out the corrective for “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees was “God Save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols.  And the corrective for Barack Obama was Donald Trump.

Trump’s ascendancy mirrors punk’s hostile takeover of the culture in that both were examples of unskilled outsiders, with little to no experience in their respective fields, rising up with a ton of attitude to lay waste to the powers that be.  Punk rockers were often musicians in only the most generous sense of that word.  Many had barely played their instruments at all before they threw themselves on stage in front of an audience.  They made it up as they went along.  

So did Trump.  He likewise had zero political experience and was rough around the edges in his debates and during unscripted moments.  Trump flew by the seat of his pants and seemed to improvise as he went along, relying on his persona and his attitude.  Punk made no apologies for its rawness and its realness – and neither did Trump.  Punk bands were often loud and obnoxious, and their lack of calculation was euphoric for the genre’s acolytes.  This was also true for Trump’s supporters who saw their unconventional candidate willing to throw caution, decorum, and political correctness to the dogs.

Like the wave of punk bands who bonfired respect for cultural icons such as the queen of England and American royalty (think the Sex Pistols, the Dead Kennedys) Trump also had no problem insulting war heroes (John McCain), imaginary American Indians (Elizabeth Warren), and the reigning dynasties of American political life for the last 40 years (the Bushes and the Clintons).  When Trump emptied his clip, the strafing disrespect was every bit as much a shock to civilized society, the left, and the media as it was when punk bands first roamed the earth with their safety-pinned cheeks and hosanna of  “F yous.”

But while it spit its discontent with the wild-eyed fervor of youth, punk rock, like so many contra-movements, never had an idea what might replace the corrupted system it railed against.  This is true in politics as well: when you change regimes without a cogent plan, anarchy may ensue.  We saw this happen in the aftermath of the Iraq War; in the Arab Spring; and in Libya, after Hillary Clinton’s, Barack Obama’s, and Susan Rice’s feckless decision to oust Gaddafi resulted in a country in flames – with a newly established and burgeoning slave trade.  (Thanks, elites.)

So did Trump have any plan beyond MAGA when he defeated Hillary Clinton in a clear referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency?  His critics are a chorus of “no!” on this question, and certainly he’s had many embarrassing missteps, including the roll-out of his immigration ban, his turnover of Cabinet members, and his inability to deliver on the promised repeal of Obamacare.  But is Trump’s presidency the dumpster fire of ineptitude his haters claim? 

Even his most ardent detractors would concede that Trump’s Cabinet picks have been impressive, by and large, and his nomination of constitutional originalist Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was a triumph.  Precipitous job growth, a booming stock market, and a farewell to the TPP count as unqualified successes.  The Supreme Court has now upheld the immigration ban sometime attorney general Sally Yates and the lower courts virtue-signaled and grandstanded against.  And Trump has now achieved his first major legislative win with tax reform.  So, not unlike the many punk bands who almost inadvertently found themselves becoming decent musicians the more they failed and forged ahead, Trump fought through his mistakes, warmed to the job, and began to notch wins, almost in spite of himself. 

Much of this is due to a willingness to roll up his shirtsleeves.  Trump is a workhorse.  He proved it during his tireless 2016 campaign, when he ran circles around the self-satisfied, moribund Clinton campaign and stayed up late into the night – to the consternation of many of his supporters.  But his trigger-worthy tweets and day-to-day incitements of the left belie a wily calculation.  Trump often throws a tweet that-a-way to draw attention from what he wants you to miss over here – like a street hustler playing a shell game.

The president is also far more considered than the hysterical media would have us believe.  When things were chaotic, he brought in General Kelly to establish order.  Trump’s clear-eyed agenda enabled him to help win the war against ISIS in Raqqa, roll back Obama-era regulations, sign more bills into law than any president in over a half century, and reduce the power of the Executive Branch to return it to its pre-Obama checks and balances with the other two branches of government.

In his work ethic and his unexpected discipline, Trump recalls the proto-punk gods The Ramones, who toured virtually nonstop for nearly 22 years, barely stopping to even take a breath between songs.  As any fan of their live shows can attest, Ramones concerts were essentially one long, awesome song, broken up every two to three minutes by a loud count of  “1, 2, 3, 4!”  The Ramones turned a Queens-based, outer-borough attitude into a well oiled machine of contempt for convention and the establishment.  And they did it with a sense of humor.  Sound like someone we know?

And just in case you think comparing the counter-culture anarchy of punk rock to a loudmouth billionaire who wears a (too long) tie is a laughable stretch, consider this: John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) recently stated that Trump “terrifies politicians,” which is a “joy to behold for me.”  He further wondered aloud if Trump might be “a possible friend” and referred to him as a “political Sex Pistol.”

My fellow citizens, I give you your president: Donny Rotten.

God save America – I mean it, man!

Middle-fingered the establishment.  Railed against “the Queen.”  Thumbed his nose at manners.  Spit on convention.  Name-called.  Talked dirty.  Fought dirty.  Fought back.  Cursed.  Infuriated the press.  Didn’t need to be liked.  Pissed on the old rules.  Made mayhem.  Made sense.

Donald Trump is the punk rock president.

Trump’s raw, paradigm-nuking candidacy was a flip of the bird to the entrenched, systemic corruption of the establishment.  He threatened the status quo and the elites in the same way punk rock threatened corporate rock and disco in the late ’70s – seeking nothing less, in both instances, than their total destruction.  Very Johnny Rotten.

The fire in the belly of punk rock is the same incendiary source that ignited Trump’s rise.  It is rooted in the rejection of a gamed system and is wedded to confrontation.  The disaffected youth of the late 1970s were surrounded by things that infuriated them: dwindling job prospects; staid, safe, bourgeois music on the radio; and a system designed to keep them down.  They were angry and insulted – and they weaponized that discontent into a powerful cultural force.

Trump did the same.  He was furious about the lies of the Clintons, about political correctness, and about Obama’s assaults on the Constitution.  He also never forgot or forgave Obama’s mean girl mockery of him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  All of these sharpened Trump’s resolve to upend the apple cart.  And so he did – flipping it upside-down proper on November 8, 2016.

Turns out the corrective for “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees was “God Save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols.  And the corrective for Barack Obama was Donald Trump.

Trump’s ascendancy mirrors punk’s hostile takeover of the culture in that both were examples of unskilled outsiders, with little to no experience in their respective fields, rising up with a ton of attitude to lay waste to the powers that be.  Punk rockers were often musicians in only the most generous sense of that word.  Many had barely played their instruments at all before they threw themselves on stage in front of an audience.  They made it up as they went along.  

So did Trump.  He likewise had zero political experience and was rough around the edges in his debates and during unscripted moments.  Trump flew by the seat of his pants and seemed to improvise as he went along, relying on his persona and his attitude.  Punk made no apologies for its rawness and its realness – and neither did Trump.  Punk bands were often loud and obnoxious, and their lack of calculation was euphoric for the genre’s acolytes.  This was also true for Trump’s supporters who saw their unconventional candidate willing to throw caution, decorum, and political correctness to the dogs.

Like the wave of punk bands who bonfired respect for cultural icons such as the queen of England and American royalty (think the Sex Pistols, the Dead Kennedys) Trump also had no problem insulting war heroes (John McCain), imaginary American Indians (Elizabeth Warren), and the reigning dynasties of American political life for the last 40 years (the Bushes and the Clintons).  When Trump emptied his clip, the strafing disrespect was every bit as much a shock to civilized society, the left, and the media as it was when punk bands first roamed the earth with their safety-pinned cheeks and hosanna of  “F yous.”

But while it spit its discontent with the wild-eyed fervor of youth, punk rock, like so many contra-movements, never had an idea what might replace the corrupted system it railed against.  This is true in politics as well: when you change regimes without a cogent plan, anarchy may ensue.  We saw this happen in the aftermath of the Iraq War; in the Arab Spring; and in Libya, after Hillary Clinton’s, Barack Obama’s, and Susan Rice’s feckless decision to oust Gaddafi resulted in a country in flames – with a newly established and burgeoning slave trade.  (Thanks, elites.)

So did Trump have any plan beyond MAGA when he defeated Hillary Clinton in a clear referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency?  His critics are a chorus of “no!” on this question, and certainly he’s had many embarrassing missteps, including the roll-out of his immigration ban, his turnover of Cabinet members, and his inability to deliver on the promised repeal of Obamacare.  But is Trump’s presidency the dumpster fire of ineptitude his haters claim? 

Even his most ardent detractors would concede that Trump’s Cabinet picks have been impressive, by and large, and his nomination of constitutional originalist Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was a triumph.  Precipitous job growth, a booming stock market, and a farewell to the TPP count as unqualified successes.  The Supreme Court has now upheld the immigration ban sometime attorney general Sally Yates and the lower courts virtue-signaled and grandstanded against.  And Trump has now achieved his first major legislative win with tax reform.  So, not unlike the many punk bands who almost inadvertently found themselves becoming decent musicians the more they failed and forged ahead, Trump fought through his mistakes, warmed to the job, and began to notch wins, almost in spite of himself. 

Much of this is due to a willingness to roll up his shirtsleeves.  Trump is a workhorse.  He proved it during his tireless 2016 campaign, when he ran circles around the self-satisfied, moribund Clinton campaign and stayed up late into the night – to the consternation of many of his supporters.  But his trigger-worthy tweets and day-to-day incitements of the left belie a wily calculation.  Trump often throws a tweet that-a-way to draw attention from what he wants you to miss over here – like a street hustler playing a shell game.

The president is also far more considered than the hysterical media would have us believe.  When things were chaotic, he brought in General Kelly to establish order.  Trump’s clear-eyed agenda enabled him to help win the war against ISIS in Raqqa, roll back Obama-era regulations, sign more bills into law than any president in over a half century, and reduce the power of the Executive Branch to return it to its pre-Obama checks and balances with the other two branches of government.

In his work ethic and his unexpected discipline, Trump recalls the proto-punk gods The Ramones, who toured virtually nonstop for nearly 22 years, barely stopping to even take a breath between songs.  As any fan of their live shows can attest, Ramones concerts were essentially one long, awesome song, broken up every two to three minutes by a loud count of  “1, 2, 3, 4!”  The Ramones turned a Queens-based, outer-borough attitude into a well oiled machine of contempt for convention and the establishment.  And they did it with a sense of humor.  Sound like someone we know?

And just in case you think comparing the counter-culture anarchy of punk rock to a loudmouth billionaire who wears a (too long) tie is a laughable stretch, consider this: John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) recently stated that Trump “terrifies politicians,” which is a “joy to behold for me.”  He further wondered aloud if Trump might be “a possible friend” and referred to him as a “political Sex Pistol.”

My fellow citizens, I give you your president: Donny Rotten.

God save America – I mean it, man!



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Blue-State Scrooges



High-tax states shouldn't complain about the SALT cap.  They get their wealth from the rest of the us.



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The Sorcerer's Apprentices: FBI, DOJ, GPS, DNC


Disney’s gloriously animated Fantasia of 1940, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice tells the story of a magician’s helper who is tasked with bringing water in buckets, two at a time on a broom handle, from a well into his master’s cauldron.  To ease his workload, he put on the sorcerer’s hat and commanded the broom to continue his job. Then he fell asleep.  When he awoke, the broom had brought so much water into the castle it was flooded.  The apprentice tried to stop the broom by using an axe to splinter it into pieces.   But the broom pieces, lots of them, came alive, got up and continued to bring the water into the castle.

In the original German poem by Goethe on which the segment is based, the apprentice implores the sorcerer to help him with the mess he has engendered.  The German line that translates as “The spirits that I called,” is often used to describe situations that spin out of control because allies have been summoned that cannot be controlled. 

The spirits the Democratic Party put into service to defeat and unseat Donald Trump have indeed spun out of control and  exposed the Left’s  nefarious schemes for all to see.  It’s an ugly scenario.  Many people may, and should, go to prison if we still have a functioning legal system.

So shocked by Trump’s win in the 2016 election, the Progressive left and their partners in partisanship, the media, went into paroxysms of despair and disbelief. How could this have happened?  Hillary’s win was in the bag! Now we know that she had the DOJ and the FBI, Fusion GPS, the DNC, all of her broom splinters marching in lockstep to guarantee her victory.   That combination of forces early on were hard at work on their “insurance policy” months before the election.  They were determined that Trump would never get close to the Oval Office.  Working in concert, this bunch of pro-Hillary activists would see to that.

But then Trump won! What to do now? How would they prevent him from taking office?  They developed a plan.   Take the fake “dossier” HRC had commissioned the previous spring, spice it up with ridiculous allegations and anonymously distribute it to the media, to members of Congress.  Senator McCain was so excited to get his hands on it he sent an envoy to pick it up in Europe.  They would not give it to actual intelligence experts,  who would recognize it immediately as fraudulent.  No, they had to get it to the public by other means, Mother Jones and Buzzfeed, and then the MSM.  The American people surely would believe it because they are so gullible, so inherently stupid.   The new goal was to take Trump down before inauguration.

In the meantime, within twenty-four hours of Hillary’s defeat, they also concocted and activated the “collusion with Russia”meme.  They would, without a shred of evidence, go all in on the fable that the Russians had infiltrated every aspect of our election in order to guarantee a Trump win.  It was ludicrous on its face but they went with it.  The anti-Trump left bought it hook, line and sinker as did the all-in-for-Hillary media.  Most of these players probably knew it was a wholesale lie.  It didn’t matter that it was a fabrication if it worked.  As Harry Reid infamously said after claiming Romney had not paid taxes in ten years, a lie, “It worked, didn’t it?”  Hillary’s brooms were marching and multiplying into silly marches and protests that had nothing to do with Trump or his proposed policies; they hated him without one good reason.  They accused him of all the usual thought crimes:  racism, homophobia, sexism, nationalism, white supremacism – for none of which existed single bit of evidence Trump was guilty.  The brooms became mindless robots spouting hateful nonsense.

If their plan didn’t work before inauguration, they would, after inauguration collectively dog the man with a Special Counsel investigation.  They would hound the honorable AG Sessions to recuse himself, get their pal Rod Rosenstein to appoint his mentor and Comey’s BFF  Robert Mueller to head up what would become  a major hit job.  Mueller would gather up a bevy of like-minded leftist Clinton supporters to help, legal hitmen, all determined to take Trump down and out of the Presidency.  

They would leave no stone unturned to demolish this man they considered so beneath them.  Why? Because what if he succeeded? What if he did jumpstart the economy?  What if he did close down the border and more jobless Americans found work?  What if he did manage to bring manufacturing back to the US?  Boost the stock market? What if he did abrogate all the Obama regulations that had for eight years strangled the American economy?  That would all be very bad for the Left.  African Americans might finally realize that the Democratic Party has been the albatross around their necks for at least two generations.  No.  Trump could not be allowed to remain in office and succeed.  Meanwhile, the left’s brooms continue to purposefully corrupt the constitutional process of the transition from one President to the next.. 

In spite of Rep. Adam Schiff’s messianic conviction that Trump is guilty of conspiring with Russia to deny Hillary the presidency, the “collusion” investigation” has led to nothing but the clear evidence that it was the FBI and the DOJ in collusion with Fusion GPS and the Clinton campaign that had been working feverishly to repudiate the Constitution and cheat their way to the Presidency.  It is the Clintons that long have been in close contact with Russia for the big bucks.  Nevertheless, Schiff has spent the last year pretending he knows things he does not, taunting the oh-so-willing-to-believe-the-worst media with tiny kernels of coming “proof.”  The man has spent a year embarrassing himself.  And now we know he is an inveterate leaker of anything that will excite said media even if his leaks have no basis in fact.  He is a pathetic example of an elected Representative. 

The “Trump colluded with Russia” lie has slipped away so Trump’s opponents have altered their plan.  They shifted slightly to focusing on the singular  charge of obstruction of justice for firing Comey.   But as the crimes of Obama officials Brennan, Clapper, Comey and their coterie of willing accomplices at the FBI and the DOJ become more evident by the day, they have been forced to move to the criminal offense of the day, sexual harassment.  As we learned this week, Lisa Bloom, unethical to her core, was offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to women if they would publically accuse Trump of groping them or something.  It seems the entire population of the Democratic Party was and remains eager to break the law to keep Trump from taking office and now to evict him from the White House by any means.  

But their plans have gone awry.  It turns out that it is mostly Democrats who are the sexual abusers.  They are being exposed and fired almost on a daily basis.  Like the apprentice’s broom, the guilty-of-groping group is multiplying, and growing, and growing.  Most of them, (not all), are highfalutin progressive elites like Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, John Conyers, Al Franken, Ryan Lizza, and Harvey Weinstein,  among a long list of others who are being scrapped by the folks who  have revered them for decades for their correct political positions, even if they knew of their proclivities, just as they all knew of Bill Clinton’s philandering inclinations.   

Now, gross hypocrisy is the order of the day.  The new plan to oust Trump is to make groping the crime of the century and find him guilty enough to impeach, no matter how many of their own sacrificial lambs it takes.  It won’t work.  The people who voted for Trump did not take seriously the allegations of the women who accused Trump before the election.   The machinations of Lisa Bloom have proven the voters wiser than their so-called betters.   The brooms are out of control and flailing.  They are up to their handle tops in mendacity.

The Democrats called on the spirits they assumed they could count on to do their bidding and their bidding only.  It never occurred to them that their plan could backfire.  They were happy to take Trump’s money when he contributed to their campaigns, happy to stay in his hotels, golf on his courses, and attend his parties, but once he became the candidate as a Republican, they all turned on him.  This businessman who knew how to get things done was suddenly anathema to the self-appointed elites of NY and DC.  That their conspiracy to destroy Trump is falling apart is just retribution.  Trump has worked a lot of magic in his first year; a miracle given the round-the-clock abuse he takes from the Left/media.  It is a miracle he won given the powerful forces aligned against him.   He is some sort of sorcerer, here to hopefully save the country from the folly and deceit of the Progressive Left.   

Disney’s gloriously animated Fantasia of 1940, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice tells the story of a magician’s helper who is tasked with bringing water in buckets, two at a time on a broom handle, from a well into his master’s cauldron.  To ease his workload, he put on the sorcerer’s hat and commanded the broom to continue his job. Then he fell asleep.  When he awoke, the broom had brought so much water into the castle it was flooded.  The apprentice tried to stop the broom by using an axe to splinter it into pieces.   But the broom pieces, lots of them, came alive, got up and continued to bring the water into the castle.

In the original German poem by Goethe on which the segment is based, the apprentice implores the sorcerer to help him with the mess he has engendered.  The German line that translates as “The spirits that I called,” is often used to describe situations that spin out of control because allies have been summoned that cannot be controlled. 

The spirits the Democratic Party put into service to defeat and unseat Donald Trump have indeed spun out of control and  exposed the Left’s  nefarious schemes for all to see.  It’s an ugly scenario.  Many people may, and should, go to prison if we still have a functioning legal system.

So shocked by Trump’s win in the 2016 election, the Progressive left and their partners in partisanship, the media, went into paroxysms of despair and disbelief. How could this have happened?  Hillary’s win was in the bag! Now we know that she had the DOJ and the FBI, Fusion GPS, the DNC, all of her broom splinters marching in lockstep to guarantee her victory.   That combination of forces early on were hard at work on their “insurance policy” months before the election.  They were determined that Trump would never get close to the Oval Office.  Working in concert, this bunch of pro-Hillary activists would see to that.

But then Trump won! What to do now? How would they prevent him from taking office?  They developed a plan.   Take the fake “dossier” HRC had commissioned the previous spring, spice it up with ridiculous allegations and anonymously distribute it to the media, to members of Congress.  Senator McCain was so excited to get his hands on it he sent an envoy to pick it up in Europe.  They would not give it to actual intelligence experts,  who would recognize it immediately as fraudulent.  No, they had to get it to the public by other means, Mother Jones and Buzzfeed, and then the MSM.  The American people surely would believe it because they are so gullible, so inherently stupid.   The new goal was to take Trump down before inauguration.

In the meantime, within twenty-four hours of Hillary’s defeat, they also concocted and activated the “collusion with Russia”meme.  They would, without a shred of evidence, go all in on the fable that the Russians had infiltrated every aspect of our election in order to guarantee a Trump win.  It was ludicrous on its face but they went with it.  The anti-Trump left bought it hook, line and sinker as did the all-in-for-Hillary media.  Most of these players probably knew it was a wholesale lie.  It didn’t matter that it was a fabrication if it worked.  As Harry Reid infamously said after claiming Romney had not paid taxes in ten years, a lie, “It worked, didn’t it?”  Hillary’s brooms were marching and multiplying into silly marches and protests that had nothing to do with Trump or his proposed policies; they hated him without one good reason.  They accused him of all the usual thought crimes:  racism, homophobia, sexism, nationalism, white supremacism – for none of which existed single bit of evidence Trump was guilty.  The brooms became mindless robots spouting hateful nonsense.

If their plan didn’t work before inauguration, they would, after inauguration collectively dog the man with a Special Counsel investigation.  They would hound the honorable AG Sessions to recuse himself, get their pal Rod Rosenstein to appoint his mentor and Comey’s BFF  Robert Mueller to head up what would become  a major hit job.  Mueller would gather up a bevy of like-minded leftist Clinton supporters to help, legal hitmen, all determined to take Trump down and out of the Presidency.  

They would leave no stone unturned to demolish this man they considered so beneath them.  Why? Because what if he succeeded? What if he did jumpstart the economy?  What if he did close down the border and more jobless Americans found work?  What if he did manage to bring manufacturing back to the US?  Boost the stock market? What if he did abrogate all the Obama regulations that had for eight years strangled the American economy?  That would all be very bad for the Left.  African Americans might finally realize that the Democratic Party has been the albatross around their necks for at least two generations.  No.  Trump could not be allowed to remain in office and succeed.  Meanwhile, the left’s brooms continue to purposefully corrupt the constitutional process of the transition from one President to the next.. 

In spite of Rep. Adam Schiff’s messianic conviction that Trump is guilty of conspiring with Russia to deny Hillary the presidency, the “collusion” investigation” has led to nothing but the clear evidence that it was the FBI and the DOJ in collusion with Fusion GPS and the Clinton campaign that had been working feverishly to repudiate the Constitution and cheat their way to the Presidency.  It is the Clintons that long have been in close contact with Russia for the big bucks.  Nevertheless, Schiff has spent the last year pretending he knows things he does not, taunting the oh-so-willing-to-believe-the-worst media with tiny kernels of coming “proof.”  The man has spent a year embarrassing himself.  And now we know he is an inveterate leaker of anything that will excite said media even if his leaks have no basis in fact.  He is a pathetic example of an elected Representative. 

The “Trump colluded with Russia” lie has slipped away so Trump’s opponents have altered their plan.  They shifted slightly to focusing on the singular  charge of obstruction of justice for firing Comey.   But as the crimes of Obama officials Brennan, Clapper, Comey and their coterie of willing accomplices at the FBI and the DOJ become more evident by the day, they have been forced to move to the criminal offense of the day, sexual harassment.  As we learned this week, Lisa Bloom, unethical to her core, was offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to women if they would publically accuse Trump of groping them or something.  It seems the entire population of the Democratic Party was and remains eager to break the law to keep Trump from taking office and now to evict him from the White House by any means.  

But their plans have gone awry.  It turns out that it is mostly Democrats who are the sexual abusers.  They are being exposed and fired almost on a daily basis.  Like the apprentice’s broom, the guilty-of-groping group is multiplying, and growing, and growing.  Most of them, (not all), are highfalutin progressive elites like Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, John Conyers, Al Franken, Ryan Lizza, and Harvey Weinstein,  among a long list of others who are being scrapped by the folks who  have revered them for decades for their correct political positions, even if they knew of their proclivities, just as they all knew of Bill Clinton’s philandering inclinations.   

Now, gross hypocrisy is the order of the day.  The new plan to oust Trump is to make groping the crime of the century and find him guilty enough to impeach, no matter how many of their own sacrificial lambs it takes.  It won’t work.  The people who voted for Trump did not take seriously the allegations of the women who accused Trump before the election.   The machinations of Lisa Bloom have proven the voters wiser than their so-called betters.   The brooms are out of control and flailing.  They are up to their handle tops in mendacity.

The Democrats called on the spirits they assumed they could count on to do their bidding and their bidding only.  It never occurred to them that their plan could backfire.  They were happy to take Trump’s money when he contributed to their campaigns, happy to stay in his hotels, golf on his courses, and attend his parties, but once he became the candidate as a Republican, they all turned on him.  This businessman who knew how to get things done was suddenly anathema to the self-appointed elites of NY and DC.  That their conspiracy to destroy Trump is falling apart is just retribution.  Trump has worked a lot of magic in his first year; a miracle given the round-the-clock abuse he takes from the Left/media.  It is a miracle he won given the powerful forces aligned against him.   He is some sort of sorcerer, here to hopefully save the country from the folly and deceit of the Progressive Left.   



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What Might Civil War Be Like?


The thought of Civil War has been in the minds of many people lately, on both sides of the political and cultural divide. This is not a thing to be wished for, though no one should kid themselves into believing it’s impossible either. Let us take a sober look at what such a conflict might entail.

To begin with, it would not look like the first American Civil War, which was essentially a war between two regions of the country with different economic interests. The divide created two separate countries, both initially contiguous, intact, and relatively homogeneous. The lines of demarcation now are only somewhat regional, and tend to correspond to differences between urban and rural populations, as well as differences of race and class. A second American Civil War would be much more similar to the Spanish Civil War, with the leftists dominating the cities and conservatives controlling the countryside. Conflicts of this nature, with enemies mixed geographically, are a formula for spontaneous mass bloodletting. India-Pakistan during the 1947 partition comes to mind as another modern example. Given an absence of legitimate government and the friction of proximity, ordinary people can be moved to settle grievances by killing one another without the need for governments to egg them on.

Some dimensions of a future civil war would be, I think, largely unprecedented. When lesser countries have imploded in violence in recent times, they have done so with most of the world around them still intact. There were other nations to offer aid, assistance and intervention, welcome or unwelcome. There were places for refugees to go. The collapse of the world’s remaining superpower would take much of the world down with it. A global economic crisis would be inevitable. The withdrawal of American forces from bases across the world to fight at home would also create a power vacuum that others, even under economic strain, would be tempted to exploit. Whichever side gained control of our nuclear arsenal, our status as a nuclear power would probably persuade other nations not to interfere in our conflict militarily, but the collapse of trade alone would produce crippling effects that would be hard to overestimate. Many components for products our manufacturing sector makes are globally sourced. Add to this the breakdown of our transportation system, dependent on oil and transecting one new front line after another. The internet would fail. It is a frail enough now. Financial systems would fail. What happens if the banks find half their assets suddenly in hostile territory? All Federal government functions, including Social Security, would fail, many of them losing their very legitimacy to one side or the other. Food production, heavily dependent on diesel fuel, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, not to mention a steady supply of genetically engineered seeds, would slump alarmingly. In short, most things we depend on are now held together by a network of delicate and complex connections. Without those connections, would you have a job? If so, in what medium of exchange could your employers manage to pay you? What would there be for you to buy? Does your town, your county, or even your state have the ability to marshal its resources into a viable economy? How many people in those entities could deal with anything worse than a weather disaster, in which they count on the fact that help is coming soon?

rom an economic perspective, I think it is fair to say that the left would have a bigger problem than the right. Cities cannot feed themselves under any conditions, and what food could be grown on America’s resource-starved farms would be gobbled up by people nearer and dearer to the farmers. Leftists would have to both secure vast territories around their urban strongholds and relearn from scratch the generations-lost art of food production. Liberal enclaves stranded in the hinterland would simply be untenable. We, on the other hand, would be critically short of new Hollywood movies. Without a steady supply of the works of Meryl Streep and Matt Damon, millions of conservatives would instantly drop dead from boredom – that is, according to Meryl Streep.

Up through the middle of the 20th century, cities were major hubs of industry, but liberal preoccupations with environmentalism have driven much of our surviving industry into rural areas. The domination of the South by the sheer scale of Northern industry that happened in the 1860s would not repeat itself in a future war. Both sides would probably have the means to manufacture basic military essentials, but producing sophisticated items like fighter planes would be simply too complex for the remaining economic base. It would be a war of soldiers, not of million-dollar robots. Were the war to stretch into years, the left would likely destroy their own economy with unfettered socialistic policies. This actually happened to the Spanish Republic in the 1930s. I can image their modern counterparts struggling to make eco-friendly weapons and organize culturally-sensitive, politically-correct collective farms.

Militarily, the left has other problems. They have saddled themselves with a longstanding disdain for military history and thought. A mob of whiney, untrained Antifa or BLM protestors doth not an army make. In recent decades, the left has sought not so much to co-opt the military as to rot it from within. When your idea of a military hero is Bowe Bergdahl or Bradley “call-me-Chelsea” Manning, it is evident that you’ve planned to fight your battles exclusively in the movies. The officer corps, or the part of it that’s worth the name, is ours. Although the left probably has a certain pool of minority ex-soldiers to draw on, I doubt they have a single general officer that still has his original issue genitalia. I’ll take a Texan and a Tar Heel against a metrosexual and a social justice warrior any day — while admitting that the latter might conduct a far more colorful parade. Much would depend on how the military happened to fragment, but even if one side or the other got the lion’s share of it there simply aren’t enough soldiers in the armed forces to garrison the entire country. More troops would have to be raised, equipped, and trained.

The right would probably win a real war, for all the reasons I have sketched above. I suspect it wouldn’t take the three years to decide the issue that it took in Spain, but predicting a short war has usually proven to be a fool’s occupation. Long or short, tens of millions of people would likely starve to death before war and reconstruction were over — far more than would die in actual fighting. Having seen a person starve to death, it is not a fate I’d wish on friends and family members — or even on my enemies. It might be, after all the legal shenanigans are done, the necessary cost of keeping western society alive — but it would no heroic action movie. Utopian ideologies die hard. War is hell.

The thought of Civil War has been in the minds of many people lately, on both sides of the political and cultural divide. This is not a thing to be wished for, though no one should kid themselves into believing it’s impossible either. Let us take a sober look at what such a conflict might entail.

To begin with, it would not look like the first American Civil War, which was essentially a war between two regions of the country with different economic interests. The divide created two separate countries, both initially contiguous, intact, and relatively homogeneous. The lines of demarcation now are only somewhat regional, and tend to correspond to differences between urban and rural populations, as well as differences of race and class. A second American Civil War would be much more similar to the Spanish Civil War, with the leftists dominating the cities and conservatives controlling the countryside. Conflicts of this nature, with enemies mixed geographically, are a formula for spontaneous mass bloodletting. India-Pakistan during the 1947 partition comes to mind as another modern example. Given an absence of legitimate government and the friction of proximity, ordinary people can be moved to settle grievances by killing one another without the need for governments to egg them on.

Some dimensions of a future civil war would be, I think, largely unprecedented. When lesser countries have imploded in violence in recent times, they have done so with most of the world around them still intact. There were other nations to offer aid, assistance and intervention, welcome or unwelcome. There were places for refugees to go. The collapse of the world’s remaining superpower would take much of the world down with it. A global economic crisis would be inevitable. The withdrawal of American forces from bases across the world to fight at home would also create a power vacuum that others, even under economic strain, would be tempted to exploit. Whichever side gained control of our nuclear arsenal, our status as a nuclear power would probably persuade other nations not to interfere in our conflict militarily, but the collapse of trade alone would produce crippling effects that would be hard to overestimate. Many components for products our manufacturing sector makes are globally sourced. Add to this the breakdown of our transportation system, dependent on oil and transecting one new front line after another. The internet would fail. It is a frail enough now. Financial systems would fail. What happens if the banks find half their assets suddenly in hostile territory? All Federal government functions, including Social Security, would fail, many of them losing their very legitimacy to one side or the other. Food production, heavily dependent on diesel fuel, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, not to mention a steady supply of genetically engineered seeds, would slump alarmingly. In short, most things we depend on are now held together by a network of delicate and complex connections. Without those connections, would you have a job? If so, in what medium of exchange could your employers manage to pay you? What would there be for you to buy? Does your town, your county, or even your state have the ability to marshal its resources into a viable economy? How many people in those entities could deal with anything worse than a weather disaster, in which they count on the fact that help is coming soon?

rom an economic perspective, I think it is fair to say that the left would have a bigger problem than the right. Cities cannot feed themselves under any conditions, and what food could be grown on America’s resource-starved farms would be gobbled up by people nearer and dearer to the farmers. Leftists would have to both secure vast territories around their urban strongholds and relearn from scratch the generations-lost art of food production. Liberal enclaves stranded in the hinterland would simply be untenable. We, on the other hand, would be critically short of new Hollywood movies. Without a steady supply of the works of Meryl Streep and Matt Damon, millions of conservatives would instantly drop dead from boredom – that is, according to Meryl Streep.

Up through the middle of the 20th century, cities were major hubs of industry, but liberal preoccupations with environmentalism have driven much of our surviving industry into rural areas. The domination of the South by the sheer scale of Northern industry that happened in the 1860s would not repeat itself in a future war. Both sides would probably have the means to manufacture basic military essentials, but producing sophisticated items like fighter planes would be simply too complex for the remaining economic base. It would be a war of soldiers, not of million-dollar robots. Were the war to stretch into years, the left would likely destroy their own economy with unfettered socialistic policies. This actually happened to the Spanish Republic in the 1930s. I can image their modern counterparts struggling to make eco-friendly weapons and organize culturally-sensitive, politically-correct collective farms.

Militarily, the left has other problems. They have saddled themselves with a longstanding disdain for military history and thought. A mob of whiney, untrained Antifa or BLM protestors doth not an army make. In recent decades, the left has sought not so much to co-opt the military as to rot it from within. When your idea of a military hero is Bowe Bergdahl or Bradley “call-me-Chelsea” Manning, it is evident that you’ve planned to fight your battles exclusively in the movies. The officer corps, or the part of it that’s worth the name, is ours. Although the left probably has a certain pool of minority ex-soldiers to draw on, I doubt they have a single general officer that still has his original issue genitalia. I’ll take a Texan and a Tar Heel against a metrosexual and a social justice warrior any day — while admitting that the latter might conduct a far more colorful parade. Much would depend on how the military happened to fragment, but even if one side or the other got the lion’s share of it there simply aren’t enough soldiers in the armed forces to garrison the entire country. More troops would have to be raised, equipped, and trained.

The right would probably win a real war, for all the reasons I have sketched above. I suspect it wouldn’t take the three years to decide the issue that it took in Spain, but predicting a short war has usually proven to be a fool’s occupation. Long or short, tens of millions of people would likely starve to death before war and reconstruction were over — far more than would die in actual fighting. Having seen a person starve to death, it is not a fate I’d wish on friends and family members — or even on my enemies. It might be, after all the legal shenanigans are done, the necessary cost of keeping western society alive — but it would no heroic action movie. Utopian ideologies die hard. War is hell.



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