Revolution? 4

Is America in the throes of a revolution? Are we sliding unstoppably into totalitarian communism?

Angelo Codevilla writes at American Greatness:

Some conservatives, rejoicing that impeachment turned into yet another of #TheResistance’s political train wrecks and that President Trump is likely to be reelected by a bigger margin than in 2016, expect that a chastened ruling class will return to respecting the rest of us. They are mistaken.

Trump’s reelection, by itself, cannot protect us. The ruling class’s intolerance of the 2016 election’s results was intolerance of us.

Nor was their intolerance so much a choice as it was the expression of its growing sense of its own separate identity, of power and of entitlement to power. The halfhearted defenses with which the offensives of the ruling class have been met already advertise the fact that it need not and will not accept the outcome of any presidential election it does not win. Trump notwithstanding, this class will rule henceforth as it has in the past three years. So long as its hold on American institutions continues to grow, and they retain millions of clients, elections won’t really matter.

Our country is in a state of revolution, irreversibly, because society’s most influential people have retreated into moral autarchy, …

Autarchy, or autocracy, is rule by a dictator. Has any Democrat proclaimed a desire for a dictator, or to be a dictator? If so, we missed it. The Democrats want absolute power in their own hands, but have’t yet wished up a Stalin or a Mao. It’s highly likely that Bernie Sanders would like to be an American Stalin, but has he admitted it?

Besides which, there is not a single Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States who could run a poll in Iowa, let alone the country. 

Moral autarchy? Not sure what that means. But okay, let’s accept the term in order to follow the writer’s argument.

… have seceded from America’s constitutional order, and because they browbeat their socio-political adversaries instead of trying to persuade them. Theirs is not a choice that can be reversed. It is a change in the character of millions of people.

Does character change? Does the character of a people – a nation – change? What characterizes any nation must by definition be what does not change about it. For a country to change its character it would have to have its population replaced by a different population – as is happening rapidly in Sweden, France, Spain, and Germany.  The Democrats seem to like the idea of America becoming more “Hispanic” than “Anglo”, but it hasn’t happened yet, and might never happen.

There has been a change in America over the last 70 years or so. It is not a change of character. In all their variety, Americans are recognizably the same as they were 100 years ago. What has changed in America are ideas about values and morals, about what matters and what doesn’t.

And that is what the article under discussion is really about.

The sooner conservatives realize that the Republic established between 1776 and 1789—the America we knew and loved—cannot return, the more fruitfully we will be able to manage the revolution’s clear and present challenges to ourselves. How are we to deal with a ruling class that insists on ruling—elections and generally applicable rules notwithstanding—because it regards us as lesser beings?

The resistance that reached its public peaks in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and the impeachment imbroglio should have left no doubt about the socio-political arbitrariness that flows from the ruling class’s moral autarchy, about the socio-political power of the ruling class we’re forced to confront, or of its immediate threat to our freedom of speech.

Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over the Senate’s impeachment trial, was as clear an example as any of that moral autarchy and its grip on institutions.

Pursuant to Senate rules, Senator Rand Paul sent a written question through Roberts to House Manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) regarding the extent of collaboration between Schiff’s staffer Sean Misko and his longtime fellow partisan, CIA officer Eric Ciaramella in starting the charges that led to impeachment. Roberts, having read the question to himself, declared: “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted.”

The chief justice of the United States, freedom of speech’s guardian-in-chief, gave no reason for declining to read Paul’s question. The question was relevant to the proceedings. It violated no laws, no regulations. The names of the two persons were known to every member of the House and Senate, as well as to everyone around the globe who had followed news reports over the previous months. But the Democratic Party had been campaigning to drive from public discussion that this impeachment stemmed from the partisan collaboration between a CIA officer and a Democratic staffer.

“Collaboration” is the polite term for it; “conspiracy” the more accurate one.

Accordingly, the mainstream media had informally but totally banned discussion of this fact, supremely relevant but supremely embarrassing to Schiff in particular and to Democrats in general. Now, Paul was asking Schiff officially to comment on the relationship. Schiff could have explained it, or refused to explain it. But Roberts saved him the embarrassment and trouble—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spared senators the problem of voting on a challenge to Roberts’s  ruling. The curtain of official concealment, what the Mafia calls the omertà, remained intact. Why no reason?

Just as no dog wags his tail without a reason, neither did Roberts wag his without reason. Neither the laws of the United States nor the rules of the Senate told the presiding officer to suppress the senator’s question. Why was Roberts pleased to please those he pleased and to displease those he displeased? In short, why did this impartial presiding officer act as a man partial to one side against the other?

This professional judge could hardly have been impressed by the ruling class’s chosen instrument, Adam Schiff, or by Schiff’s superior regard for legal procedure. Since Schiff’s prosecution featured hiding the identity of the original accuser—after promising to feature his testimony—and since it featured secret depositions, blocked any cross-examination of its own witnesses, and prevented the defense from calling any of their own, it would have been strange if Chief Justice Roberts’s bias was a professional one.

Is it possible that Roberts favored the substance of the ruling class claim that neither President Trump nor any of his defenders have any right to focus public attention on the Biden family’s use of public office to obtain money in exchange for influence? That, after all, is what Washington is largely about. Could Roberts also love corruption so much as to help conceal it? No.

Roberts’s professional and ethical instincts incline him the other way. Nevertheless, he sustained the ruling class’s arbitrariness. Whose side did he take? His dinner companions’ side? The media’s? His wife’s? Roberts’s behavior—contrary as it was to his profession, to his morals, and to his political provenance—shows how great is the ruling class’s centripetal force.

The sad but inescapable consequence of this force is that conservatives have no choice but to follow the partisan logic of revolution—fully conscious of the danger that partisanship can make us as ridiculously dishonest as Adam Schiff or CNN’s talking heads, into rank-pullers like John Roberts, and into profiteers as much as any member of the Biden family.

Do conservatives have no choice but to go along with “the revolution”, with the abandonment of the values that inspired the Constitution, with corruption as a matter of indisputable but unchangeable fact?

The writer then seems to change his mind. He suggests there is a choice:

And yet, revolution is war, the proximate objective of which is to hurt the other side until it loses the capacity and the will to do us harm. That means treating institutions and people from the standpoint of our own adversarial interest: controlling what we can either for our own use or for bargaining purposes, discrediting and abandoning what we cannot take from our enemies.

Opposing them by the means they choose, the weapons they use? That – so the writer suggests – is our best recourse?

Unlike our enemies, our ultimate objective is, as Lincoln said, “peace among ourselves and with all nations”. But what kind of peace we may get depends on the extent to which we may compel our enemies to leave us in peace. And for that, we must do unto them more and before they do unto us.

Which is true? Do we have no choice but to join “the revolution” – a change from a free open society of self-reliant individuals into a government-controlled, race and sex obsessed, doom prophesying, totally organized community? Or are we still in control of our destiny? And if we fight our revolutionary enemy, must it be with their weapons, or ours? On their terms, or ours?

We do not see that there has been a revolution – though the Obama administration tried to make one. We do not think the only way to save America from totalitarian one-party rule is by following the rules laid down by the Gramsci-Alinsky school of sedition and the Cloward-Piven blueprint for chaos. (See here and here and here and here.)

By great good luck we have President Trump leading us in another direction, showing us another way, prioritizing better (characteristic) values: freedom, individual enterprise, innovation, industry, competence, patriotism, strength, ambition, self-confidence, prosperity. For a few more years at least. During which the Left revolutionaries may, in the fury of their frustration, stamp themselves into the ground.

The gains of Helsinki 1

What actually was discussed by the presidents of the US and Russia at Helsinki on July 16, 2018?

Was anything achieved, anything agreed between them that will have an effect in reality?

Were the leaders of these two powers, who together have more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons under their control, able to find common cause in at least some troubled areas where their militaries are or might be engaged?

Angelo Codevilla writes at American Greatness:

The high professional quality of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s performance at their Monday press conference in Helsinki contrasts sharply with the obloquy by which the bipartisan US ruling class showcases its willful incompetence. …

Having taught diplomacy for many years, I would choose the Trump-Putin press conference as an exemplar of how these things should be done. Both spoke with the frankness and specificity of serious business. This performance rates an A+.

Both presidents started with the basic truth.

Putin: The Cold War is ancient history. Nobody in Russia (putting himself in this category) wants that kind of enmity again. It is best for Russia, for America, and for everybody else if the two find areas of agreement or forbearance.  

Trump: Relations between the globe’s major nuclear powers have never [since the Cold War? – ed] been this bad — especially since some Americans are exacerbating existing international differences for domestic partisan gain. For the sake of peace and adjustment of differences where those exist and adjustment is possible, Trump is willing to pay a political cost to improve those relations (if, indeed further enraging his enemies is a cost rather than a benefit).

In short, this was a classic statement of diplomatic positions and a drawing of spheres of influence.

As Putin listed his agenda, he showed that today’s Russia is a status quo power, whose primary objective is stability. Having come to power over a country diminished and dispirited, he sought to recover as much as possible of what Russia had lost in the Soviet break-up. He forcibly took back parts of Georgia and Ukraine. In doing so, he pushed against open doors.

Today, no other doors are open. Now being ahead, he wants to stop the game. He knows that this is possible because nobody is going to wage or even risk war against Russia to try disgorging Abkhazia and Crimea. He wants Trump to acknowledge that. Warning against extending NATO to Ukraine and Georgia, he signaled that all else is negotiable.

He also has rebuilt Russia’s military and wants to protect its edge by persuading Trump to keep US missile defense in its current dysfunctional mode. This is an inflexible demand that deserves an equally inflexible rejection. Trump had already delivered it by ordering the establishment of the US Space Force.

By securing his naval and air bases in Syria, Putin succeeded in returning Russia to warm-water sea power. That required backing the Shia side in its intra-Muslim war against the Sunni in Syria, while the United States backed the other side. Today Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey are much as Putin wants them. He wants Trump’s acknowledgment of this statusRussia continues to argue to Americans that both countries have suffered far more from Sunni terrorism — ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood — than from the Shia version.

The two made clear that their commitment to stability in the Middle East outweighs support for either side, and signaled wider cooperation, especially on military matters.

Trump, leaving no doubt that America’s commitment to Israel’s security is absolute, faced Putin with the choice of partnering with America in restraining Iran or of being drawn into an Israeli-American war against an Iran with whose forces Russia’s are interwoven. Putin, for his part, seemed to concur with Trump’s priority. That along with tripartite security consultations with Israel is likely to cool Iran and Hezbollah’s ardor for war.

Trump signaled that America’s interest in Eastern Europe lies in re-establishing peace there, and in safeguarding the independence of its states. Poland and the Baltic States are not just NATO members, but also close to the American people’s hearts. By stressing peace, he made clear that America does not intend to make its defensive commitments there the occasion for a war at or beyond the extreme reach of American power.

Though Russia has backed North Korea in the past, Putin signaled that he is not happy with its acquisition of a modern nuclear force that is effectively China’s pawn. He seemed to promise pressure on North Korea to denuclearize — something that would displease China. Though that was a minor part of both sides’ press conference, it may well signal both sides’ recognition of their mutual interest in not letting China become the Western Pacific’s overlord. Such an understanding would be no minor achievement.

The American ruling class’s attribution of the 2016 election to Trump-Putin collusion, which has characterized US-Russia relations for two years, provided the press conference’s fireworks. Both denied any such thing and insisted there was no evidence of it. In response to a question about whether Putin would make available the 12 Russian state intelligence employees indicted for interference in that election to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Putin pointed to the existence of a treaty of cooperation on criminal matters and promised Mueller that access to the accused through the treaty.

This led to the final flourish. The Associated Press reporter demanded that Trump state whether he believes the opinions of US intelligence leaders or those of Putin. It would be healthy for America were it to digest Trump’s answer: The truth about the charge that Russia stole the contents of the Democratic National Committee’s computer server is not to be found in the opinions of any persons whatever. The truth can be discovered only by examining the server in question—assuming it has not been tampered with since the alleged event. But, said Trump emphatically, those making the accusations against Russia have refused to let the server be examined by US intelligence or by any independent experts. What is the point of accusations coupled with refusal of access to the facts of the matter?

The classic texts of diplomatic practice teach that diplomacy advances the cause of peace and order only to the extent that its practitioners avoid contentious opinions and stick to demonstrable facts.

The AP reporter, who should be ashamed, is beyond shame. Then again, so are the ruling class representatives who have redoubled their animus against Trump. Cheap partisanship is not all that harmful. It is the transfer of domestic partisan animus to international affairs, however, that has the potential to start wars. …

What that ignorant “journalist” was demanding of Trump — precisely what the credentialed experts should know better than to have demanded — was that the president of the United States scream at the president of Russia for all his evils. Competitive “virtue signaling” has become the way of political life in America. To the extent that it bleeds into America’s foreign policy, we are all in big trouble.

It did not, and will not, “bleed into America’s foreign policy” through President Trump. Though his style of negotiating is to be frank and straightforward, he knows, through long experience, how to maintain an atmosphere of amicable goodwill which makes agreement easy where it is possible.

Contrast this meeting with the silly performance that a giggling US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, put on with her failed “Reset” act when she met the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on March 6, 2009, in Geneva; a farce which simply signaled to the Russians that Obama’s America was a push-over.

From the Obama-Clinton “reset’, Russia made all the gains. The US agreed to reduce its nuclear arsenal by a third (which Vice-President Biden hailed as a victory for the US!). Obama broke a US promise to Poland and the Czech Republic to provide them with missile defense systems and radar stations because the Russians were furious at the very idea. The Russians proceeded to destabilize Ukraine, shoot down a civil aircraft in Ukrainian airspace – and annex the Crimea. Though Obama drew a “red line” against the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, using chemical weapons against his own people, he did nothing about it when Assad crossed the line by gassing the population of Ghouta, an area in southwest Syria, in August 2013. In the following month, the egregious John Kerry, successor to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, claimed to have reached  an agreement with the Russians whereby they would reign Assad in, to prevent such a horror being perpetrated again. Russia, he was confident, would oversee the destruction of Assad’s arsenal of sarin and mustard gas and the facilities for their manufacture. Needless to say, Russia did no such thing.

True, we have yet to see the long-term results of any understanding reached by the two presidents at Helsinki. But of this this we can be sure: Vladimir Putin will have understood that Donald Trump is not a man to be trifled with.

Raging mutiny 1

There is a civil war raging in America – a “cold civil war”.

The always interesting political analyst David P. Goldman, aka Spengler, writes at the Asia Times:

The distinguished political scientist Angelo Codevilla coined the ominous term “cold civil war” to describe America’s precarious condition, adding, “Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot.”

The attempted massacre this week of Republican Congressmen and their staff by a deranged partisan of Sen. Bernie Sanders turned up the heat a notch, but it would be mistaken to attribute much importance to this dreadful outburst of left-wing rage. The augury of American fracture will not be street violence, but a constitutional crisis implicating virtually the whole of America’s governing caste. The shock troops in the cold civil war are not gunmen but lawyers.

Here we interrupt an argument that we very largely agree with, to cavil: Lawyers acting as shock troops in this cold civil war, and the politicians who employ them, are themselves making “a dreadful outburst of left-wing rage”, albeit with words and not guns.

A considerable portion of America’s permanent bureaucracy, including elements of its intelligence community, is engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional mutiny against the elected commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump. Most of the Democratic Party and a fair sampling of the Republican Establishment want to force Trump out of office, and to this end undertook an entrapment scheme to entice the president and his staff into actions which might be construed after the fact as obstruction of justice.

By means yet undisclosed, the mutineers forced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn from office and now seek to bring down the president for allegedly obstructing an investigation of Gen. Flynn that arose in the first place from the entrapment scheme.

By no coincidence is Gen. Flynn the central character in this scenario. … The CIA really is out to get him:

Flynn’s Defense Intelligence Agency produced a now-notorious 2012 report warning that chaos in Syria’s civil war enabled the rise of a new Caliphate movement, namely ISIS. … Flynn humiliated the bungling CIA and exposed the incompetence and deception of the Obama administration, and got fired for it. …

The mainstream media makes no effort to disguise its hatred for Trump and insinuates in countless ways that the president fired former FBI director James Comey in order to protect Gen. Flynn from a legitimate investigation. I do not believe this to be the case; I think it more likely that Comey showed insufficient zeal in uncovering the pattern of press leaks and other sabotage which the mutineers employed against the president.

Faced with a mutiny fed by illegal actions (leaking classified information is a felony that carries a 10-year prison sentence), the president requires a Pitbull for a counterintelligence chief. Comey, who in 2005 earned $6 million as general counsel for the giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin, is more of a Pomeranian. …

If it is proven that Russian cyber-spies hacked the email account of Democratic National Committee Chairman John Podesta and handed embarrassing information to Wikileaks, we will know that Russia has done what all intelligence agencies have done for centuries: leak embarrassing political information to the press.

Western intelligence services leak information about Putin’s alleged personal fortune and personal life and skullduggery to the media, as well as information about the dodgy connections of Chinese officials and their offspring to business.

Podesta and his gang at the DNC used unethical and perhaps illegal means to sandbag the campaign of Sen. Sanders, leaks about which embarrassed Hillary Clinton. Sanders, knowing on which side his bread is buttered, declined to make an issue of the sandbagging, allowing Trump’s enemies to transform what should have been an investigation of corruption in the Democratic Party into a fairy-tale about Russian spies stealing an American election with implied collusion by the Trump campaign.

The Trump-Russia collusion story is nonsense, as its disseminators know better than anyone else. The object of the exercise is not to support the innuendo, but to launch an investigation which can provoke the White House into responses that might be construed as illegal.

The intelligence leaks involved in framing the story alone are probably sufficient grounds to put several dozen senior officials in federal prison for double-digit terms. That consideration gauges the scale of the problem: the mutineers have committed multiple felonies, and their downside should the mutiny go wrong is not ignominious retirement but hard time at Leavenworth.

Oh, may it be so! It is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

For the moment, the mutineers have the momentum. The Trump administration continues to run on a skeleton staff, with the vast majority of key positions still unoccupied. If my surmise is correct, it was unable to persuade the director of the FBI, the nation’s chief watchdog, to undertake vigorous countermeasures against the mutiny, for example, a comprehensive screening of electronic communications by the reporters who received leaks of classified materials. …

The White House and in particular the National Security Council … remain riddled with Obama Administration holdovers, forcing Trump to rely on a close circle of trusted advisers. That limits the president’s ability to reach out for allies against the mutineers.

The installation of former FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel … also constrains the counterintelligence operations of the White House. If senior intelligence officials claim to be engaged in counterintelligence investigations against Russian interference in US elections, is it obstruction of justice to investigate their illegal contacts with the media?

The mutineers also can count on the support of Establishment worthies like Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), for whom Trump’s election was an intolerable humiliation. Trump ran against the Bush wing of the Republican Party as much as he ran against the Democrats. …

Trump’s one great advantage in all of this is that he has done nothing wrong. He did not obstruct justice because there is no crime. The mutineers’ only hope is to provoke him to take actions which might be construed as obstruction of justice in an investigation with no crime and no victim. Still, it is a moment of great danger for the American Republic.

The mutiny has burned its bridges on the beach, and its perpetrators will risk everything to make it succeed. Whatever the outcome, the legitimacy of a political system designed to be litigious and oppositional will be called into question, and the polarization of American opinion will become more rather than less extreme.

More physical violence cannot be ruled out. The mutineers must lose the cold civil war, if only after inflicting crippling damage on the country. Then they face long years in jail (with a bit of luck and impartial justice from Trump appointed judges). The chances they will then turn to – or at least encourage – violence, are surely high. The Left will not surrender easily. It worked too long, too hard for victory, got it, and thought it had secured power for ever. It cannot let go without a no-holds-barred fight. It is mostly screaming biting and scratching now, but will almost certainly use guns and knives and all the weapons of mutiny that it can before it is forcibly crushed.

 

(Hat-tip for the Spengler article to our contributing commenter, liz)