A reach for democracy and secular law 9

A nationwide curfew was imposed as a section of the armed forces claimed to have taken the country over. The coup leaders seized national television and the phone network. Gunfire was heard in Ankara and military jets flew low over Ankara and Istanbul where the bridges over the Bosphorus were blocked. In Istanbul, Turkish Gendarmerie and soldiers blocked entrances to bridges over the Bosphorus while tanks blocked Ataturk airport. A TV announcer read out a statement saying that a “peace committee” had taken over the country against autocratic rule and will write a new constitution restoring democracy, whose institutions have been eroded by autocratic rule, and restore secular law.

It was a great aim, a brave attempt – but it failed.

Now Turkey is less likely to be secular and democratic. 

DebkaFile, which we quoted above, assesses the event and analyses why the attempted coup failed:

The Turkish armed forces’ attempt to overthrow the authoritarian rule of President Tayyip Erdogan was largely extinguished Saturday morning July 16 after less than 24 hours – due to three major miscalculations:

1. They first seized the country’s power centers and state television when their first priority should have been to immobilize Erdogan who was out of the capital on vacation.

2. Although out of control in Ankara and Istanbul, he used his mobile phone to reassert his authority through a private television station and called on the people to take to the streets in protest against the plotters. Civilians responded by surrounding the tanks and tying them down until loyal troops moved in.

3. They relied too heavily on the air force to cow the regime, the jets zooming low over the two main cities while the two main airports were closed.

It was soon evident that control of Turkey’s skies was no guarantee of control of the ground. Indeed, the coup leaders did not prevent him from landing at Ataturk airport and declaring immediately that he was in charge, demonstrating that he was on top of events.

In the clashes that followed, Gen. Umit Dundar, the newly appointed acting chief of the general staff, said more than 190 people died in clashes: 41 police officers, two soldiers, 47 civilians and 104 people described as ‘‘coup plotters”. Dundar said officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units were mainly involved in the attempt.

At the same, the attempt by part of the Turkish armed forces to topple Erdogan in the name of democracy and the return of “secular law” was impressive and evidence of social and political malaise under his rule. It was led by at least half a dozen generals, as may be judged the arrest of Gen. Memduh Hakbilen, the chief of staff of Turkey’s command for the important Aegean region, among the more than 1,500 alleged plotters and the suspension of another five generals.

That elements of the air force joined the attempted uprising is unprecedented in Turkey, whose army is NATO’s second largest.

Erdogan will no doubt want to know why his MIT intelligence failed to scent the conspiracy afoot.

He will certainly lose no time in executing a massive purge of Turkey’s armed forces, and especially the air force and intelligence arms, after accusing the coup leaders of treason.

Erdogan has been steadily taking steps to re-create an Islamic state. He wants to reverse the modernizing reforms that Kemal Ataturk effected after Turkey, as an ally of Germany, was defeated in the First World War. He dreams of reviving the Ottoman Empire, perhaps seeing himself as Sultan (who was also titled Caliph). He has built himself a new palace in Ankara, and announced that it will be the center of government.

Predictably, President Obama is on the side of the would-be dictator against the side that reached for democracy. 

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Erdogan’s new presidential palace in Ankara

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President Erdogan in his new palace

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President Erdogan among guards dressed in the uniforms of Ottoman soldiers

The glorious burden of freedom 0

We very much like Daniel Greenfield’s Independence Day column at Front Page. From which we quote:

Independence Day is a commemoration, but it is not a mere commemoration. The struggle is not over. …

It is not our capacity for obedience that makes us true Americans, but our capacity for disobedience. …

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were acts of rebellion against the entire order across what was then seen as the civilized world.

American greatness came about because we were willing to break the rules. It was only when we began following the rules, when as a nation we made the maintenance of the international order into our notion of the greatest good and when as individuals we accepted the endless expansion of government as a national ideal that we ceased to be great.

When we think of great Americans, from Thomas Jefferson to the Wright Brothers, from Andrew Jackson to Daniel Boone, from Theodore Roosevelt to today’s true patriots, we think of “damned rebels” who broke the rules, who did what should have been impossible and thumbed their noses at the establishments of the day. American greatness is embodied in individual initiative. That is why the Declaration of Independence places at the center of its striving, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It was for these individualistic ends of freedom that government had to be derived from the consent of the governed, that a war was fought that changed the world and it is these ends that we must celebrate.

Rebellion does not always mean muskets and cannon. Long before the War of Independence, we had become a nation of rebels who explored the wild realms of forests and streams, who forged cities out of savage lands, who argued philosophy and sought a higher purpose for their strivings, who refused to bow to their betters out of an accident of birth. And at our best, we are still rebels today.

When we dissent from the system, we rebel. When we refuse to conform, when we think differently, when we choose to live our own lives instead of living according to the dictates of our political rulers and pop culture arbiters, then we are celebrating the spirit of freedom that animates the Fourth.

When we defy the government, when we speak out against Obama and the rest of our privileged ruling class, when we demand the right to govern ourselves, when we fight to hold government accountable, when we question what we are told and the need to be told anything at all, then we are keeping that old spirit of rebellion alive.

We are still fighting for our independence from government every day and every year that we choose to live as free people.

That is the glorious burden of freedom.

Freedom is not handed to us. It is not secured for us by politicians. Like the Founding Fathers, we are made free by our fight for freedom. Preserving their legacy cannot be meaningfully recreated through any means other than the committed struggle for the same ideals.

This Fourth of July, celebrate by continuing to be a rebel, question and challenge the left’s worship of government. And don’t stop on the Fifth or in July. Or in any year or any decade or any century.

Posted under Commentary, liberty, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, July 4, 2016

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Trump on the triumph of Brexit 1

Donald Trump’s statement on Britain’s EU referendum:

The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples.

They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy.

A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense.

The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.

Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence.

Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first.

They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people.

I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.

Posted under America, Britain, Commentary, Europe, immigration, liberty, United Kingdom, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, June 24, 2016

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In defense of hate speech 18

Islam does its utmost to make us infidels afraid of it – and then complains of our “Islamophobia”, our (irrational!) fear of Islam. If we do not fear it, we haven’t been paying attention. We are wise to fear it. We are wise to hate it. It is an evil creed.

Still, it ought not to be silenced by law.

We quote from our post, It’s better to be free to hate than to be free of hatred (April 30, 2014):

When Britain was a free country (ah, yes, I remember it well!), you could insult anyone as much as you pleased short of slander (such as accusing him of a crime). It was called “common abuse”, and there was no law against it. Nor should there have been. Now, in Britain, it’s okay for you to insult white males as much as you like. And Jews. If you insult them loudly and often enough you may get a grant to do it professionally. But if you insult Muslims you will be arrested and charged with a “hate crime”.

It should not be the business of the law to monitor and censure personal opinion.

It is precisely when someone says something you don’t agree with – something you consider stupid, abominable, ugly, offensive, wrong – that you must uphold his right to say it. Argue with him, call him a cretin and a villain; despise him, hate him But do not call for him to be gagged.

Allowing people to say what you don’t like and don’t agree with is the whole point of constitutionally guaranteeing free speech.

The idea of “hate crime” is at the root of this nonsense. Nobody can know what another person feels. If a person  commits a crime, punish him for the crime, not  for the supposed emotion behind it. Such an arrogantly puritanical concept as “hate crime” was  bound to distort the law and threaten liberty. As it does. …

People must be free to be petty, to be prejudiced, to be malicious, to be insulting. They cannot be stopped by the law. To make a law against bad behavior won’t change it, and can only make a mockery of the rule of law itself.

Now that vast bureaucratic tyranny, the European Union, decrees that what it judges to be expression of hate on the social media is to be illegal, and punishable.

Although it insists that “freedom of expression is a core European value which must be preserved”, it also insists that if you say something it doesn’t like, you must be gagged and punished. And it is co-opting “social media platforms” to assist in its policy of repression:

The Framework Decision on Combatting Racism and Xenophobia criminalises the public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. This is the legal basis for defining illegal online content. …

In order to prevent the spread of illegal hate speech, it is essential to ensure that relevant national laws transposing the Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia are fully enforced by Member States in the online as well as in the offline environment. While the effective application of provisions criminalising hate speech is dependent on a robust system of enforcement of criminal law sanctions against the individual perpetrators of hate speech, this work must be complemented with actions geared at ensuring that illegal hate speech online is expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms … [Our emphasis]

The real, unspoken, pathetic purpose of the ruling is to protect Islam from criticism. It is not likely that a Muslim will be censored, let alone prosecuted, for publishing such typical statements as these:

“The Jihad for Allah is the way of the truth and the way for salvation and the way which will lead us to crush the Jews.”  (Yasser Ghalban, Hamas leader, in 2006.)

“The Jews deserved their annihilation by Hitler.” (Dr Wafa Musa, psychologist, in 2009.)

“Jews are bacteria, not human beings.” – (Al Aqsa TV, Deputy Minister of Religious Endowments, Abdallah Jarbu, in 2010), and “The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the earth.” (‘Atallah Abu al-Subh, in 2011.)

And (we repeat), nor should they be censored or prosecuted! Indeed, it would be an excellent thing if the media of every kind displayed such statements prominently as often as they were made (which is every day). Muslims might be pleased at first. But after a while the effect on public opinion could be to provoke contempt and hatred of Islam. And then they’d raise their habitual noisy and violent objections, calling the display of their own words a manifestation of “Islamophobia”, of course.

The following comes from an article at Spiked, by its editor, Brendan O’Neill:

Hatred is an emotion, and the state has no business policing emotion.

“The internet is a place for free speech, not hate speech.” This spectacularly Orwellian comment was made last week by EU commissioner Vĕra Jourová, as she unveiled a new EU code to tackle hatred on the internet. Following three or four years of agitation by officials, politicians, hacks and feminists, all of whom insist that hateful “trolling” online is turning the internet into a cesspool of foul ideas and rotten comments, the EU has decided to take action. It has got web giants YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft to sign a promise that they will hunt down and extinguish illegal hateful commentary, especially racist and xenophobic comments.

Which is to say, they will “hunt down and extinguish” criticism of Islam, warnings of its jihad, objection to the spread of its cruel sharia law – as some have already started doing with zeal.

Some have responded to the new code by asking if it represents overreach. There’s a danger, they say, that angry speech, or just zany speech, will be swept up in the clampdown on hate speech. This will no doubt happen. But we should take our critique of this new code, and of 21st-century censorship more broadly, a step further. We shouldn’t only say “relatively normal speech might be destroyed alongside hate speech” — we should call into question the whole idea of “hate speech”. The category of hate speech is as ridiculous, and abominable, as the idea of thoughtcrime. It represents the criminalisation, not only of racism and xenophobia — which would be bad enough — but of certain ideas, moralities and beliefs. We should bristle and balk as much at the idea of “hate speech” as we do at the idea of thoughtcrime.

Hate-speech codes are an ideological tool disguised as a force for moral good. Consider the recent history of the idea of hate speech … After the Second World War, the keenest proponents of controls on “hate speech” were the Soviets. There were various international gatherings in the 1940s and 50s to hammer out postwar international treaties, and at these the Soviets pushed for a global commitment to repressing “hate speech”, in particular far-right speech. They wanted stipulations against “hatred” and “incitement to hatred”. Amazingly, the West resisted. Eleanor Roosevelt represented the Western powers at some of these debates. She argued that it would be “extremely dangerous” to outlaw hate speech, since “any criticism of public or religious authorities might all too easily be described as incitement to hatred”. Indeed.

Eventually, the Soviets won out. In 1965, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted, and it included a proposal to criminalise “ideas based on racial superiority”. The keyword here was ideas. From the outset, treaties and laws against hate speech were about controlling ideas: obnoxious ideas, yes, but ideas nonetheless. It was clear very early on that the category of hate speech was an ideological tool for the repression of bad ideas, of certain convictions. Post-1965, Western countries introduced into their national laws this new commitment to repressing ideas based on racial thinking.

What’s more, the category of hate speech is an extremely elastic tool for the repression of ideas. It has spread from curtailing ideas of racial superiority to suppressing expressions of religious hatred. Some Scandinavian countries want to outlaw misogynistic speech. On campuses there are clampdowns on transphobic speech. Anyone who says that a person with a penis is a man can now be branded a “hate speaker” and find himself No Platformed. So even saying ‘men are men and women are women’ has been encapsulated in the ideological category of hate speech.

Normal, widely held beliefs are casually rebranded “hatred”. Criticise religion too harshly and you’ll be accused of religious hatred; oppose gay marriage and you’re homophobic; doubt gender dysphoria and you’re a “transphobe”. Shouting “that’s hatred!” has become the preferred means for suppressing beliefs we find difficult or uncomfortable. That’s thanks to hate-speech laws. They have sanctioned this rush to rebrand beliefs as hate and to try to crush them. Once you accept that some ideas are beyond the pale … then ultimately no idea is safe

Under the banner of tackling “hate speech”, people are being punished for their moral convictions. … We should feel as angry about state restrictions on hate speech today as we would have done about the Soviet Union’s arrest of political dissidents 40 years ago, because in both cases the same thing is happening: people are punished, not for anything they’ve done, but for what they think.

Hatred is an emotion. … And when we allow figures of authority to control emotion, to fine people for their emotions, to imprison people for their emotions, then we enter the realm of tyranny. It completes the state’s control of the individual. It expands state power from the public sphere of discussion into the psychic sphere of thought and feeling. It invites policing not only of political sentiment but of deep feeling. It is a profound assault on the freedom of the individual.

It’s time to get serious about freedom of speech. It is unacceptable to repress the expression of ideas. It is unacceptable to repress the expression of hatred. “Hate speech is not free speech!”, people say. But it is.

By its very definition, free speech must include hate speech.

Speech must always be free, for two reasons: everyone must be free to express what they feel, and everyone else must have the right to decide for themselves whether those expressions are good or bad. When the EU, social-media corporations and others seek to make that decision for us, and squash ideas they think we will find shocking, they reduce us to the level of children. That is censorship’s greatest crime: it infantilises us. Let us now reassert our adulthood, our autonomy, and tell them: “Do not presume to censor anything on our behalf. We can think for ourselves.”

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Posted under Commentary, liberty by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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Touché! 1

Here is a gladsome story of citizens striking back at dictatorial government.

From the Conservative Tribune:

If you own something — a business, a home, a car, land, really anything — liberals don’t believe that’s really yours. You’re just allowed to have that because the government lets you!

We saw this recently when the state of Oregon asked residents for access to their land to conduct a survey. One of the homeowners’ responses was so epic that it stopped them in their tracks, though — and will hopefully inspire others to do the same.

“(Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) staff will be conducting surveys for foothill yellow-legged frogs and other amphibians over the next few months,” a letter from the Department of Fish and Wildlife to homeowners Larry and Amanda Anderson that was posted on Facebook read. “As part of this research we would like to survey the creek on your property,” the letter explained. “I am writing this letter to request your permission to access your property.”

And the reason? They might want to declare something on it endangered.

“Recent research indicates that the foothill-yellow legged frogs have declined significantly in recent years … Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated and will help contribute to the conservation of this important species.”

The homeowner in question decided to allow access to his land — on the same terms that government uses when it deals with its citizens.

I have divided our 2.26 acres into 75 equal survey units with a draw tag for each unit. Application fees are only $8.00 per unit after you purchase the ‘Frog Survey License’ ($120.00 resident/$180 non-resident) … You will also need an ‘Invasive Species‘ stamp for the vehicle ($15.00 for the first vehicle and $5.00 each add’l vehicle).

Survey gear can only include a net with 2″ diameter made of 100% organic cotton netting with no longer than an 18″ handle, non weighted and no deeper than 6′ from net frame to bottom of net. Handles can only be made of BPA-free plastics or wooden handles. After 1 p.m. you can use a net with a 3” diameter if you purchase the frog net endorsement ($75.00 resident/$250 non-resident).

Any frogs captured that are released will need to be released with an approved release device back into the environment unharmed.

One can only imagine the crestfallen expressions on the face of eager government functionaries once they opened the letter and realized that not only were Larry and Amanda Anderson not going to allow them to go on their land, but they didn’t even recognize how the government knew what was best for them, goshdarnit!

For the rest of us, however, this letter is a riot from beginning to end. Bravo, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson!

Posted under liberty, Miscellaneous, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, June 13, 2016

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End of free speech on the social media? 17

On September 3, 2011, and again on September 28, 2015, we posted an article that makes the case for free speech.

Today we repeat this vital part of it:

The greatness of the West began with doubting. The idea that every belief, every assumption, should be critically examined started the might of Europe. When those old Greek thinkers who founded our civilization learnt and taught that no one has a monopoly of truth or ever will have, they launched the intellectual adventure that has carried the human race – not without a long interval in the doldrums – literally to the skies.

Socrates taught the utility of suspicion. He is reputed to have said, “The highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.” He was not, however, the first to use doubt for discovery. Thales of Miletos, who was born 155 years before Socrates, dared to doubt that religion’s explanatory tales about how the world came to be as it is were to be trusted, and he began exploring natural phenomena in a way that we recognize as scientific. He is often called the Father of Science. With him and his contemporary, Anaximander, who argued with him by advancing alternative ideas, came the notion – for the first time as far as we know – that reason could fathom and describe how the universe worked.

Science is one of the main achievements of the West, but it is not the only product of constructive doubt that made for its greatness. Doubt as a habit of mind or tradition of thinking meant that new, foreign, even counter-intuitive ideas were not dismissed. Europe, before and after it stagnated in the doldrums of the long Catholic Christian night (and even to some extent during those dark centuries), was hospitable to ideas wherever they came from. …

Our civilization cannot survive without this openness. Critical examination is the breath that keeps it alive. But it is in danger of suffocation. It is more threatened now than it has been for the last four hundred years by dogmatisms: Marxism, environmentalism, religion – above all Islam which absolutely forbids criticism.

Now to those sources of destructive dogmatism we must add another: the European Union.

The ideas of Marxism, environmentalism, Islam most need to be criticized. Because they are inherently intolerant, terroristic, and totalitarian. Over and over again, unendingly, they need to be torn to pieces by critics who hate them.

And they are the very ideologies that the European Union wants most to shield from critical examination. 

Breitbart London reports:

The European Commission has today [May 31, 2016] announced a partnership with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft in order to crack down on what it classes as “illegal hate speech” while “criminaliz[ing]” perpetrators and “promoting independent counter-narratives” that the European Union favours.

A press release from the Commission this morning claims the new initiative has been set up “to respond to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally”.

The move has been branded “Orwellian” by Members of the European Parliament, and digital freedom groups have already pulled out of any further discussions with the Commission, calling the new policy “lamentable”.

The unelected, executive branch of the European Union (EU) released a Code of Conduct today that “includes a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe” developed “together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft (‘the IT companies’)” who have “signed up”.

That the bureaucratic dictatorship of the EU should try such a deplorable move is not surprising.

But why are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft conceding to its authoritarian anti-freedom demands?

The commitments include “educat[ing] and rais[ing] awareness with their users” and building a “network” of “trusted reporters” to flag unwanted content. Facebook and Twitter are to provide “regular training to their staff on current societal developments” and work more closely with national governments and “their law enforcement agencies” to remove content the EU does not favor.

Most alarmingly, however, the platforms have also promised to engage in the active promotion of views and organisations the EU does favour, and the re-education of supposedly hateful users.

Facebook and others must, “recogniz[e] the value of independent counter speech against hateful rhetoric and prejudice, aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.”

Note that in  current leftist-dominated jargon, “critical thinking” means “uncritical thinking” – ie. meek acceptance of leftist dogma.

Janice Atkinson MEP told Breitbart London: “It’s Orwellian. Anyone who has read 1984 sees it’s very re-enactment live.

The Commission has been itching to shut down free speech in the Parliament and now they’re attacking social media. We have already seen Facebook ‘policing’ so-called right-wing postings.

“If an MEP, such as the centre-right Hungarians, the Danish People’s Party, the Finns, the Swedish Democrats, the Austrian FPO, say no to migration quotas because they cannot cope with the cultural and religious requirements of Muslims across the Middle East who are seeking refugee status, is that a hate crime? And what is their punishment? It’s a frightening path to totalitarianism.” …

The Code of Conduct has also been slammed by groups who have been working closely with the Commission. In a sign of an impending backlash, one organisation which promotes privacy, data protection, and net neutrality has already vowed to break ties.

The European Digital Rights (EDRi) announced its decision to pull out of future discussions with the Commission today, stating it does not have confidence in the “ill-considered code of conduct”.

“Faced with this lamentable outcome, and with no possibility to provide meaningful input to this process, the Commission has left us with no other choice but to withdraw from the discussion,” said Estelle Massé, EU Policy Analyst at Access Now. …

What does Facebook have to say about it?

Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook, said: “We welcome today’s announcement and the chance to continue our work with the Commission and wider tech industry to fight hate speech.”

Last September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was overheard confronting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about “hate speech”, with Mr. Zuckerberg replying: “We need to do some work”

Now, the EU has described how: “The IT Companies support the European Commission and EU Member States… They share, together with other platforms and social media companies, a collective responsibility and pride in promoting and facilitating freedom of expression throughout the online world.”

Promote freedom of expression by censoring it? How does the Commission (ie. the bureaucratic oligarchy that governs the EU) reconcile these two contradictory activities?

The Commission argues that expanding censorship will somehow protect and expand free speech, because “[hate speech] negatively impacts those who speak out for freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination in our open societies and has a chilling effect on the democratic discourse on online platforms”.

Orwellian indeed!

Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said the new measures would counter Islamist terrorism:

“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalise young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred”.

Some excuse! The Islamic terrorists use code. And it is primarily to protect Islam from justified and desperately needed censure, that this whole scheme is being hatched, anyway.

What do Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have to say about it? We are given only a Twitter statement:

Twitter’s Head of Public Policy for Europe, Karen White, said: “Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter … We look forward to further constructive dialogue between the European Commission, member states, our partners in civil society and our peers in the technology sector on this issue.”

“Hateful conduct”?  People express their opinions on Facebook. They argue for what they like and against what they don’t like. If they can no longer do that, there won’t be much use for it. What will Twitter be used for if not opinion? And how interesting will YouTube be, purged of argument?

Who will use the social media merely to repeat authorized opinions like mantras? By agreeing to carry only permitted orthodoxies, they are destroying themselves.

The great can sometimes be goofy 5

Mark Davis at Townhall replies to the most frequent criticisms of Donald Trump that are made in objection to his being the Republican candidate for the presidency:

As we ride the white-knuckle Trump train to the Cleveland GOP convention and beyond, the air will fill with criticisms of him. Some will come from Democrats, some from rebellious Republicans. From both sides, some of those criticisms will have merit and others will be simply ridiculous.

So here’s a convenient guide for assessing the anti-Trump pronouncements which we will swim in all summer:

“He is not a consistent conservative.” Completely correct. His populism certainly borrows from some strains of conservative thought, but his trade policies are of a more populist bent, and his willingness to entertain a higher minimum wage is straight-up liberalism.

Many conservatives who have long supported him know he does not bat a thousand, or even .800, but they feel his energy on immigration, job creation and hammering political correctness may result in more genuine conservative victories than, say, a Jeb Bush presidency might have yielded.

“He doesn’t like Hispanics/ women/ fill in the blank.” The attempt to portray Trump as a racist or misogynist fails on its face. It is a slander leveled by people who know he is likely to fare better with Latinos in November than Mitt Romney did in 2012 (27 percent). I’d love to send this year’s entire seventeen-strong GOP field through the streets of South Brooklyn. Precisely one would get waves of appreciative welcome, and it’s not either of our candidates who were actual Hispanics.

As for women, any Republican faces a challenge in the current era of government as master nurturer. But strong, self-reliant women are pervasive among Trump supporters, and there is not a whiff of mistreatment of women in his business history. Quite the opposite, Trump World appears to be a complete meritocracy, where women and people of color are rewarded for performance without regard to race or gender. This is admittedly jarring in a country that has been led too long by Democrats obsessed with weaponizing both.

“He seeks evangelical support, but has hardly led a Biblical life.” Direct hit. And to many, it appears not to matter one shred. …

To us, of course, the comparative unreligiousness of Donald Trump is a big plus.

“He is not a real pro-lifer.” … Has he bought into the absurdity that Planned Parenthood does some good things? He has, meaning he cannot grasp that the organization would not exist but for abortion services. These are not good.

We agree.

But there is no reason to believe that he is somehow lying in his testimony of becoming more pro-life as the years have passed. We conservatives are a funny lot; we persuade and coax and convince and lure people to our side, and when they pivot to agreement with us, we kick them in the crotch for not being with us their whole lives.

“We can’t count on his Supreme Court nominees.” What do people want him to do? He gave us a fat list of wonderful constitutionalist judges who would honorably fill the shoes of Antonin Scalia. Do we need a joint news conference with one of those names so that skeptics can know he means it? That is wildly inappropriate before he even accepts the nomination, and best left to the first days of his presidency, when he can make that announcement surrounded by the compelling imagery of the White House.

Trump’s tormentors responded to his worthy list with the same taunt they roll out with every conservative promise he makes: You can’t believe him, he’s a total liar. This is the mantra of those who don’t just doubt him; they hate him.

“He does stunningly unpresidential things.” Yes, he does, and most of them have helped him win the nomination. To the chagrin of more mannerly tastes, his admittedly brash and aggressive style has been punctuated with moments of truly embarrassing excess.

Those moments have dwindled as he has sent his rivals home. His discipline should sharpen even further now that he has but one opponent to target, and those attacks on Hillary Clinton will delight rather than annoy millions of Republicans who have watched him flay their favored hopeful.

“He contributed to Democrats.” No kidding, as does every businessman who wants to curry favor across party lines. I daresay Trump would not open a checkbook for her these days, now that their relationship is political. This trope is trundled out by critics seeking to sow seeds of doubt as to Trump’s reliability on core values.

“He doesn’t have any core values.” Have you listened to the man? Here are ten off the bat: stronger borders, blasting political correctness, leveling the trade playing field, rebuilding the military, taking better care of veterans, protecting gun rights, creating jobs, speaking truth to global jihad, and the broadly stated but resonant “make America great again”. 

Anyone is free to agree or disagree with those, but they have been recurring themes every day of his campaign. Doubters may claim that he might not follow through on all ten, but I’ll bet his batting average with those stated goals is better than the sorry job the Republican establishment has done following through on all of those things they said they would do if only we won the House, if only we won the Senate, if only, if only.

“He changes his views on the fly.” In general, this is not good. On important conservative economic points, if he has adopted one, he needs to stick to it.

There we disagree. Trump is a pragmatist. He is open to advice.

We hope he will change his mind about protectionism. His favoring it, in relation particularly to China, is the one position he has declared that we firmly object to.

That he can change his opinions is not a bad thing – until he finally adopts a strong free market policy. Only then need he “stick to it”.

His reversal on a job-killing minimum wage increase was a total unforced error.

That said, he has stated often that he may adjust views as he becomes more familiar with various issues. While this annoys ideologues (like me), it may prove somewhat endearing to voters who sense he may listen as he learns the ropes of governance.

And on things like reticence to commit U.S. troops to the Middle East, I am hoping he adjusts that view right after his first security briefing the afternoon of January 20, 2017.

“He compliments Putin.” He sure does, in a certain oblique way, noting the Russian leader’s strength and devotion to his goals. For his part, Putin is eating it up, to the degree that he has thrown a compliment or two back Trump’s way.

This is not exactly “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

But what it may be is a master deal-maker softening an adversary in preparation for a global chess match that might go better with an opening chapter of sweet-talk than it has of late with Obama’s empty rhetoric followed by inaction or worse.

It is true that Trump has zero experience dealing with foreign leaders. But he has a half-century of experience sizing up rivals and adversaries, using words and actions to lure them toward his agenda.

“He traffics in conspiracy theories.” This wholly accurate Trump criticism holds water, but dings him far less than those wielding it might wish.

His flirtations with such matters has ranged from the goofy (Rafael Cruz and Lee Harvey Oswald) to the inexcusable (Bush lied about WMDs to get us into war). But these moments seem to flit by without consequence, and the most recent one, the flight of Vince Foster nostalgia, was actually defused by the hyperventilations of overreaction.

Vince Foster was a close associate of Hillary Clinton. How he died is disputed. Did he commit suicide, or was he murdered? The case for doubting suicide is plausible.

As the voices of punditry gasped at his doubts on the official Foster story, millions old enough to remember 1993 thought: “Hmmm. The Clintons. The scandals. The various pressures of covering for them. Foster’s repeated frustrations with the Washington whirlwind. The decades of envelope-pushing by Bill and Hillary ever since. Know what? Maybe I’m not so sure what happened either.” …

“He rooted for people to lose their homes in the recession’s housing collapse.” This is straight from the den of lies that is the Democrat party advertising brain trust.

They found audio of Trump in 2006, musing about how a drop in home prices could provide buying opportunities that could be of benefit to investors. The history of such logic dates to neanderthals hoping tiger pelts would dip in value to grease the wheels of commerce 30,000 years ago.

Yet Elizabeth Warren, who we learn has pocketed some cash from a house flip or two, lashed out against Trump’s cruelty for actively wishing for homeowners to lose everything. There are only two explanations for an attack this baseless: genuine stupidity and malicious intent. Let’s just say she is not stupid.

And finally, “He is only doing this for his own ego.” No doubt, the man has a stratospheric self-image, and doesn’t mind telling us so. But this has been a trait of his for the decades we have known him. Does he engage in business deals for his own image or because he wants them to succeed? Has he plunged into various ventures from the USFL to the Miss America pageant for his own image or because he wanted them to succeed?

He clearly wishes to succeed at everything he does, so why would this not extend to running the country? This does not mean I will necessarily agree with his every instinct, but if he genuinely pursues the things he talks about with determination and seriousness, there will be far more positive results than negative.

In the end, I’d rather have a president interested in actually doing things that will make him look good, than the last seven and a half years of a president who does whatever he wants because he thinks he is already omniscient and omnipotent.

And if, at the end of his presidency, the country will have been truly benefited, Trump will enjoy the enormous benefit of an even loftier list of achievements, and we might enjoy the benefit of an America made, at least in some ways, great again.

John Galt versus Pajama Boy 24

There are different Americas. The great America – the America viewed through European eyes with a mixture of snobbish patronizing indulgence and sheer envy is …

It is what Trump is. He could be said to personify it. His characteristics are those of great America: big, extroverted, ambitious, successful, rich, energetic, restless, generous, proud, adaptable, happy – all admirable qualities. Also … candid to the point of seeming naive, and – okay – boastful, not highly articulate in that he spins no fine phrases, and (many snort) “vulgar”. His candor is not naive; it would lay him open to being taken advantage of had he not been well schooled in the hard-bargaining world of American and international business. His boasting is fully justified: he is a winner. He says what needs to be said, as his tens of thousands of fans appreciate. As for vulgarity – it does no harm. Great America and its personification, Donald Trump, combine energy, high achievement, vision, and generosity that enormously benefit thousands, even millions of others. If the opulence Trump lives in proudly, his delight in showing off his achievements, his loud trumpeting of triumph with every success, is vulgar, then vulgarity is a “yuge” virtue. The fictitious characters whom he most resembles are Ayn Rand’s heroes in Atlas Shrugged. The John Galts and Dagny Taggarts who invent and build and drive and ever improve the engines of civilization.

Another America – more an anti-America – is personified by … Oh any of those sour pious busybodies who think they know best how everyone else should live their lives and want to force them to do as they say. Think current Democratic administration. Or Bernie Sanders. Intellectuals whose opinions were early in their lives pickled in Leftist theory. They are morally vain, needing to feel they are good rather than actually make good. Beings whom Trump would describe as “low energy people”. They make much of “compassion”, not noticing how much condescension there is in their compassion, and how much contempt in their condescension. Their college-age children need safe spaces, “trigger-warnings”, protection from challenging opinions. What words and phrases describe them best? Physically enervated, psychologically etiolated, smug, puritanical, introverted, dogmatic, envious, snobbish, acrimonious, precious, dishonest, hypocritical …Their model fictitious characters are Pajama Boy and Julia, for whom government needs to be an all-sustaining provider and a protecting nanny to the people.

If great America could come to power next year to guide the destiny of the country and shine a beacon light to the world, after 7+ years of stagnation under the debilitating and impoverishing ideologues of the Left, our civilization – now in decline – might be saved.

Or is that America lost and gone? Is Trump a relic of an unrecoverable past?

Margaret Thatcher interrupted the decline of Britain, the decades long rule of the Left. She tried to turn her country into a share-holding, property-owning nation. A free enterprise nation, where capitalism opened the way for everyone to become prosperous. She did what she could, but could not complete the transformation. The Left returned, though it might also call itself “Conservative”.

So even if Trump does become president, and those engines start up again, how far can he take America into a prosperous future? Generations of Americans have now been indoctrinated in schools and colleges to be socialists. Will the country have one last burst of glory, and then sink into welfare mediocracy? Is that the best that can be hoped for?

 

Jillian Becker   April 15, 2016

The Western tragedy 1

In an article on the suicide of Europe, containing much we agree with, the excellent and erudite Victor Davis Hanson writes at the National Review:

Like atheism, childlessness reflects the assumption that ego-driven rationalism and satisfaction of the appetites are all there is and all that there ever will be.

And it is that point in particular that we want to discuss.

But first – the important points he makes:

Because of what Europe has become, it now has few viable choices in dealing with radical Islamic terrorism. Its dilemma is a warning to Americans that we should turn away from a similar path of national suicide. 

After suffering serial terrorist attacks from foreign nationals and immigrants, a normal nation-state would be expected to make extraordinary efforts to close its borders and redefine its foreign policy in order to protect its national interests.

But a France or a Belgium is not quite a sovereign nation any more, and thus does not have complete control over its national destiny or foreign relations. As part of the European Union, France and Belgium have, for all practical purposes, placed their own security in the hands of an obdurate Angela Merkel’s Germany, which is hellbent on allowing without audit millions of disenchanted young Middle Eastern males into its territory, with subsequent rights of passage into any other member of the European Union that they wish. The 21st-century “German problem” is apparently not that of an economic powerhouse and military brute warring on its neighbors, but that of an economic powerhouse that uses its wealth and arrogant sense of social superiority to bully its neighbors into accepting its bankrupt immigration policies and green ideology.

The immigration policies of France and Belgium are unfortunately also de facto those of Greece. And a petulant and poor Greece, licking its wounds over its European Union brawl with northern-European banks, either cannot or will not control entrance into its territory — Europe’s window on the Middle East. No European country can take the security measures necessary for its own national needs, without either violating or ignoring EU mandates. That the latest terrorist murders struck near the very heart of the EU in Brussels is emblematic of the Union’s dilemma.

As far as America is concerned, a fossilized EU should remind us of our original and vanishing system of federalism, in which states were once given some constitutional room to craft laws and protocols to reflect regional needs — and to ensure regional and democratic input with checks and balances on statism through their representatives in Congress. Yet the ever-growing federal government — with its increasingly anti-democratic, politically correct, and mostly unaccountable bureaucracies — threatens to do to Americans exactly what the EU has done to Europeans. We already see how the capricious erosion of federal immigration law has brought chaos to the borderlands of the American Southwest. It is a scary thing for a federal power arbitrarily to render its own inviolable laws null and void — and then watch the concrete consequences of such lawlessness fall on others, who have been deprived of recourse to constitutional protections of their own existential interests.

Europe’s immigration policy is a disaster … Europeans — for a variety of 20th-century historical and cultural reasons — often are either ignorant of who they are or terrified about expressing their identities in any concrete and positive fashion. The result is that Europe cannot impose on a would-be newcomer any notion that consensual government is superior to the anarchy and theocracy of the Middle East, that having individual rights trumps being subjects of a dictator, that personal freedom is a better choice than statist tyranny, that protection of private property is a key to economic growth whereas law by fiat is not, and that independent judiciaries do not run like Sharia courts. It most certainly cannot ask of immigrants upon arrival that they either follow the laws of a society that originally made Europe attractive to them, or return home to live under a system that they apparently rejected.

All good so far. Then:

I omit for obvious reasons that few present-day Europeans believe that Christianity is much different from Islam, and apparently thus assume that terrorists might just as well be Christians.

But he hasn’t omitted it, has he? A bitter regret has stepped quietly into the article and lingers by the door – a regret that Europe has (broadly speaking) abandoned its religion.

He goes on, cogently again:

… In Europe, immigrants are political tools of the Left. The rapid influx of vast numbers of unassimilated, uneducated, poor, and often illegal newcomers may violate every rule of successful immigration policy. Yet the onrush does serve the purposes of the statist, who demagogues for an instantaneous equality of result. Bloc voters, constituents of bigger government, needy recipients of state largesse, and perennial whiners about inequality are all fodder for European multicultural leftists, who always seek arguments for more of themselves.

Which is the case in America too. As he says:

The same phenomenon is with us in the United States … [where] importing the poor and the uneducated expands the Democratic constituency. …

The Western therapeutic mindset, which maintains that impoverished immigrants should instantly have what their hosts have always had, trumps the tragic view: that it is risky, dangerous, and sometimes unwise to leave one’s home for a completely alien world, in which sacrifice and self-reliance alone can make the gamble worthwhile — usually for a second generation not yet born.

Demography is Europe’s bane. One engine of unchecked immigration has been the need for more bodies to do the sorts of tasks that Europeans feel are no longer becoming of Europeans. …

Again that is also true of America.

But more curious is the reason why Europe is shrinking — the classic and primary symptom of a civilization in rapid decline.

Europeans are not having children for lots of reasons. A static and fossilized economy without much growth gives little hope to a 20-something European that he or she can get a good job, buy a home, have three children, and provide for those offspring lives with unlimited choices. Instead, the young European bides his time, satisfying his appetites, as a perpetual adolescent who lives in his parents’ flat, seeks to milk the system, and waits for someone to die at the tribal government bureau. After a lost decade, one hopes to hook up with some like soul in her or his late thirties.

And –

The last eight years in the U.S. have seen an acceleration of the Europeanization of America’s youth.

Socialism … insidiously takes responsibility away from the individual and transfers it to the anonymous, but well-funded, state. … Why seek children and the honor of raising and protecting them when the state can provide all without the bother and direct expense? Why have a family or invest for the future, when the state promises a pleasant and politically correct old-age home?

Without a Second Amendment or much of a defense budget, Europeans not only divert capital to enervating social programs, but also have sacrificed any confidence in muscular self-protection, individual or collective.

Even postmodern nations remain collections of individuals. A state that will not or cannot protect its own interests is simply a reflection of millions of dead souls that do not believe in risking anything to ensure that they are safe — including their own persons and those of their family. Finally, Europe is Petronius’s Croton. It does not believe in any transcendence as reified by children or religion. If there is nothing but the here and now, then why invest one’s energy in children who live on after one dies? Like atheism, childlessness reflects the assumption that ego-driven rationalism and satisfaction of the appetites are all there is and all that there ever will be.

Europe’s perfect storm is upon us. A shrinking, statist, and agnostic society that does not believe in transcendence, either familial or religious, is now in a war with near neighbors of a very different sort. In the Middle East, the fundamentalists are growing in numbers, and they most certainly do believe that their own lives are nothing in comparison to the Phoenix-like resurrection of their Caliphate and the sensual pleasures in the hereafter that will reward their martial sacrifices in the here and now. Of all the many reasons why immigrants to Europe so often dislike their generous hosts, the simplest may be because they so easily can.

… It would take another St. Jerome (“All were born in captivity and siege, and do not desire the liberty they never knew. Who could believe this?”) to chronicle the Western tragedy.

As a general rule, whatever Europe is now doing, we should do the opposite — for our very survival in an increasingly scary world.

So, an article saying much that needs to be said.

But we come back to this: Europe “does not believe in any transcendence as reified by children or religion. If there is nothing but the here and now, then why invest one’s energy in children who live on after one dies? Like atheism, childlessness reflects the assumption that ego-driven rationalism and satisfaction of the appetites are all there is and all that there ever will be.” And: ” A shrinking, statist, and agnostic society that does not believe in transcendence, either familial or religious, is now in a war with near neighbors of a very different sort.”

His argument is that Europeans now do not think, or feel, or believe that there is any larger purpose to be served than the achievement of their own private personal ambitions and pleasures; no goals beyond their own individual lives worth putting their energies into. Previous generations believed they had a posterity in their children, the continuation of their families; and/or in the immortality of their nation; and/or in a spiritual afterlife.

And that is true. They did.

Then their nations were taken away from them, blended into a monstrous political entity called the European Union. What Frenchman, or Italian, or Englishman will ever say: “Breathes there a man with soul so dead/ Who never to himself has said/ This is mine own, my native … European Union”?

And what of their losing the desire for descendants? That’s harder to explain. In addition to the fading away of marriage, the dread of the expense of children, the shrinking from the emotional risk of entering into the responsibilities of relationships, there is a much larger source of discouragement; what one might call a cosmic despair: our knowledge of global doom. By “global doom” I don’t mean “global warming”, but the certainty that this world in which we exist and act, will one day itself cease to exist. It may be only in about 3 billion years that the final doom will come upon it, but go it will, for sure.

Whether or not those explanations are the right ones – perhaps among many others  – it is a fact that Europeans are not having enough children to ensure the survival of their nations, even if they were to take back national sovereignty from the bureaucratic dictatorship of the EU.

This means they are discarding the future, as individuals and as a bridging generation between their nation’s yesterday and tomorrow. And because they have no future to work or build for – what have they to defend? So when another culture, a savage culture that arose and remains in the ignorant Dark Ages and knows nothing of the physical destiny of this planet, invades their continent, and increases with many children, and believes that making war ensures their endless and dominant continuation on earth and immortal happiness after death, there is nothing effective standing in its way. No one to bar the gates. No one to fight back. The imaginary spokesman of the dying European culture with no stake in the future says, “Come in, if you want to. Take what you want. Do as you will. I won’t be around much longer to know or care what happens here.” (“A shrinking, statist, and agnostic society that does not believe in transcendence, either familial or religious, is now in a war with near neighbors of a very different sort.”)

Hanson suggests that the Europeans’ discarding of the future, and consequent abandonment of the greatest civilization the human race has ever attained, is not only tragic – which it is – but also immoral. He implies this by adding to the causes – familial, national – that kept European Man going for centuries, the cause of religion. He plainly considers it a highly desirable thing that human beings should believe that their time on earth is not the whole of their existence. He believes in an afterlife as formulated in Christian doctrine. The quality of that afterlife for each individual may depend on how the individual Christian behaves in his earthly life. Hoping for heaven, he will be good according to the precepts of his faith. (Now that is true of Catholics, whose church allows that good works as well as “the grace of God” can bring one to heaven. But many Protestant sects, most notably Calvinists and Lutherans, teach that only God decides your eternal destination, and he does that even before you are born, so what you do can make not a jot of difference to the iron ruling. The only encouragement such churches offer the faithful is that if you live dutifully, obedient to the commandments of your God, you will be perceived as a person destined for heaven, and thus perceived, you may live in hope.)

One way or another, Christianity – Hanson seems to assume – helped Europeans be strong in defense of their inheritance, prolific in procreation to ensure their posterity, and above all continent in their appetites for the hope of heaven.

And that may very well have been true. But we deny that lack of religious belief now is a cause of the self-inflicted doom of Europe. It seems plain to us that lack of interest in this life  – beyond personal attainment and pleasure – is at work.

Atheism does not assume that “ego-driven rationalism and satisfaction of the appetites are all there is and all that there ever will be”. Some atheists might assume it, but there is nothing about atheism that logically involves any such assumption.

Atheists are more likely to strive harder in this life to know, to achieve, to build, to love and hate, defend and attack, as well as to think and enjoy, than those who believe that their final, greater, and possibly happier destiny is in another world. Atheists who learn and build are very likely to want descendants to continue their discoveries, further their achievements, and add to their works, since only those they beget and what they bequeath will survive their death.

By that reasoning, atheism could have been the salvation of Europe. We might propose that far from the loss of Christianity dooming the European nations, it is the legacy of Christianity as self-abasement, non-resistance to evil, the choice of self-sacrifice, and the love of martyrdom that has primed Europeans through their inherited moral culture to let this death happen to them. And if that is so, what we are seeing is the logical end of Christian history in the age of science.

But as the Christian religion peters out in disbelief, its acolytes perish unresisting at the hands of other – passionate – believers. 

Now if only Muslims could be persuaded to abandon their faith, their belief that they must conquer and subdue all others and gain an afterlife in paradise …  what then? Europeans might still be dying out, but at least not in agony and  terror.

Be there? 14

Much can be said against Donald Trump. And much is said against him.

But what if he is the force – the only force on the horizon – that can and will smash “political correctness”? And ISIS? And keep savage Islam from any further invasion of America? And restore the borders?

Roger L. Simon looks on the bright side of a Trump presidency, writing at PJ Media:

Now that Donald Trump has wiped the floor yet again with the other Republican candidates in the Nevada caucuses, it’s time for the GOP to face reality — barring force majeure, they have a presidential candidate, like it or not. The so-called establishment has a choice: Get on the Trump bandwagon or try some desperate maneuver to stop him. But what would that be? A Rubio-Cruz ticket, assuming they would do it?  At the time of this writing, the two men added together don’t equal the Trump vote in Nevada — and that’s even assuming their voters would hold, which is a risky assumption, given the current momentum. I mean — Donald won 46% of the Hispanics!  Enough already.

A lot of my Republican friends are depressed about this situation. They worry that Trump is not a real conservative.  They cringe at his vulgarity. They are concerned he’s a bully, even totalitarian. I’m not.  And  I am not depressed, even though I admire many of the other candidates in the race.  Given the gravity of the situation, what Obama has done to this nation and the candidates being offered by the Democrats, a world class liar and a Eugene V. Debs retread, a personality as large as Donald may be necessary to revive our country. In fact, I think I’ll take the “may” out of that.

This is what I think the electorate senses and what the Republican establishment fears. Rather than being afraid that Donald will lose, many establishment folks, I suspect, are afraid he will win.  It will not be business as usual and most human beings seek business as usual, especially successful ones. What, for example, is more conventional and unchanging than the Democratic Party?  They have patented stasis under meaningless junk terms like “liberal” and “progressive”.  Nothing ever changes.  Republicans are at risk of doing the same thing with the word “conservative”.  If I hear another candidate claim to be the most “conservative”, I think I’ll bang my head against the table.  I can’t be the only one who feels that way.

So if I were a member of the Establishment, whatever that is, I would quit bellyaching, embrace Donald and make him my friend.  He’s ready and willing.  If you bother to check that ultimate news source the Daily Mail, you’d see that already he is hobnobbing with such Republican stalwarts as Rudy Giuliani, Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore. Unless I missed it, I didn’t notice the article mentioning David Axelrod or James Carville.

And listen to what Trump is actually saying.  He’s for lower taxes and a strong defense and he’s not really against free trade.  He just wants a better deal.  Who wouldn’t and who wouldn’t assume he’d  get a better one than the Obama crowd?  Or the Bush crowd for that matter, on just about anything. He’s also pro-life, despite soreheads … screaming that Trump supports Planned Parenthood when he has said explicitly he does not support what they do on abortion, only on other women’s health issues. …

Don’t fight Donald.  Be smart, co-opt him.  Or, as we used to say, be there or be square.  Next November depends on it.

Arguments pro and con are invited.

(And please do follow the link to the Daily Mail article, which is worth reading.)

Posted under Commentary, Conservatism, liberalism, liberty, Progressivism, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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