Gleeful Indignation

From Roger Kimball:

It is curious how close certain seemingly contrary emotions can be. Consider, to take just one example, the feelings of glee and outrage. At first blush, they seem very different. Glee occupies a positive register in the metabolism of human emotions. There is such thing as malicious glee, of course—the German word schadenfreude captures that perfectly. But by and large, I believe, glee is a sunny, allegro emotion.

Outrage, on the contrary, is a dour beast. It glowers. It fulminates. It glories in moral indignation, which it eagerly manufactures whenever it is in short supply.

And it is there, in the manufacture, affectation, the pretense, of moral indignation that that outrage shades in smarmy gleefulness. You can see this in operation right now, today, by the simple expedient of turning to CNN and watching commentator after commentator explode in gleeful outrage over Donald Trump’s alleged comments about the relative desirability of immigrants from countries like Norway, on the one hand, and countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and various apparently unnamed African countries on the other. (I say “alleged” not because I doubt the substance of the report, but simply because the president has disputed some details of the reporting.)

Two questions: Were all those commentators at CNN (and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other purveyors of sanctimony)—were they more delighted or unhappy about the president’s comment? Think carefully before answering.

Sometimes, the experience of outrage, and its accompanying moral indignation, is essentially a feeling of displeasure—at a wrong done or suffered, an injustice or cruelty observed, etc.

But sometimes, outrage is but a patina of indignation whose chief motive is incontinent delight. Which is it for the talking heads at CNN? Are they genuinely morally offended by the president’s comments? Or are they really absolutely delighted by the opportunity he has given them to say “shithole” over and over again while also running endless chyrons reminding viewers that the president referred to (if he did refer to) Haiti, El Salvador, etc., as “shithole countries” from which we should not seek immigrants?

I think it is the latter, and I believe there are two parts to the delight. One is the natural expectation of a ratings boost in the wake of all that potty-mouthed commentary. The other is the prospect, once again, of being given free rein to lay into Donald Trump and deplore how horrible, uncaring, racist, and vulgar he is. Maybe, just maybe, this exhibition of political incorrectness will turn the tide of public opinion against this most improbable president. Maybe, just maybe, it will administer the coup de grace against a man who is the walking embodiment of everything enlightened progressive opinion loathes.

Maybe. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Which brings me to my second question: Was the president right to question the desirability of accepting immigrants from places like Haiti? Let’s leave his colorful language to one side. That was just a bit of rhetorical salsa on the burrito. The coarsening of language in the public square (and the private hearth) means that virtually anyone not cloistered hears and/or utters much ruder language almost daily.

The real issue is whether we justly prefer immigrants from some places over others.

I would say that the answer is an unequivocal Yes. Of course we do. Not only was the president correct when, some time ago, he said that we should favor immigrants who knew English and brought with them marketable skills, he is also correct now when he suggests that someone from Norway, say, is more likely to bring those desirable qualities than someone from Haiti, El Salvador, etc.

He is further correct that the Haitis of the world are conspicuously undesirable places: crime- and disease-ridden trous de merde that we may pity and may endeavor to help but that are not necessarily good sources of helpful immigrants.

And here we come to a second curiosity in the preening and ecstatic outrage over the president’s comment. Everyone, near enough, knows that he was telling a home truth. It was outrageous not because he said something crude that was untrue. Quite the contrary: it was outrageous precisely because it was true but intolerable to progressive sensitivities.

In other words, the potency of taboo is still strong in our superficially rational culture. There are some things—quite a few, actually, and the list keeps growing—about which one cannot speak the truth or, in many cases, even raise as a subject for discussion without violating the unspoken pact of liberal sanctimoniousness.

Donald Trump, of course, does this regularly, delightedly. Hitherto, his brazenness has only endeared him to his base and driven his critics mad. Perhaps it will be different this time. Maybe the angry censors will descend en masse in effective indignation and drag him from the stage. Again, though, I wouldn’t count on it. Trump’s Haiti moment is cut from the same script as Trump’s “Rosie O’Donnell is a fat pig” mot. Uncouth. Crude. But was it untrue?

We live in a surreal moment when it becomes ever harder to tell the truth about sensitive subjects. Donald Trump has strutted across our timid landscape like a wrecking ball, telling truths, putting noses out of joint. The toffs will never forgive him, but I suspect the American people have stronger stomachs and are up to the task.

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The History is Clear

From Alan Dershowitz:

In his testimony former FBI director James Comey echoed a view that I alone have been expressing for several weeks, and that has been attacked by nearly every Democratic pundit.

Comey confirmed that under our Constitution, the president has the authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual. I paraphrase, because the transcript is not yet available: the president can, in theory, decide who to investigate, who to stop investigating, who to prosecute and who not to prosecute. The president is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.

As a matter of law, Comey is 100 percent correct. As I have long argued, and as Comey confirmed in his written statement, our history shows that many presidents—from Adams to Jefferson, to Lincoln, to Roosevelt, to Kennedy, to Bush 1, and to Obama – have directed the Justice Department with regard to ongoing investigations. The history is clear, the precedents are clear, the constitutional structure is clear, and common sense is clear.

Yet virtually every Democratic pundit, in their haste to “get” President Trump, has willfully ignored these realities. In doing so they have endangered our civil liberties and constitutional rights.

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Election Therapy Guide for Leftists

From Kevin Dowd:

Donald Trump pulled off one of the greatest political feats in modern history by defeating Hillary Clinton and the vaunted Clinton machine.

The election was a complete repudiation of Barack Obama: his fantasy world of political correctness, the politicization of the Justice Department and the I.R.S., an out-of-control E.P.A., his neutering of the military, his nonsupport of the police and his fixation on things like transgender bathrooms. Since he became president, his party has lost 63 House seats, 10 Senate seats and 14 governorships.

The country had signaled strongly in the last two midterms that they were not happy. The Dems’ answer was to give them more of the same from a person they did not like or trust.

Preaching — and pandering — with a message of inclusion, the Democrats have instead become a party where incivility and bad manners are taken for granted, rudeness is routine, religion is mocked and there is absolutely no respect for a differing opinion. This did not go down well in the Midwest, where Trump flipped three blue states and 44 electoral votes.

The rudeness reached its peak when Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed by attendees of “Hamilton” and then pompously lectured by the cast. This may play well with the New York theater crowd but is considered boorish and unacceptable by those of us taught to respect the office of the president and vice president, if not the occupants.

Here is a short primer for the young protesters. If your preferred candidate loses, there is no need for mass hysteria, canceled midterms, safe spaces, crying rooms or group primal screams. You might understand this better if you had not received participation trophies, undeserved grades to protect your feelings or even if you had a proper understanding of civics. The Democrats are now crying that Hillary had more popular votes. That can be her participation trophy.

If any of my sons had told me they were too distraught over a national election to take an exam, I would have brought them home the next day, fearful of the instruction they were receiving. Not one of the top 50 colleges mandate one semester of Western Civilization. Maybe they should rethink that.

Mr. Trump received over 62 million votes, not all of them cast by homophobes, Islamaphobes, racists, sexists, misogynists or any other “ists.” I would caution Trump deniers that all of the crying and whining is not good preparation for the coming storm. The liberal media, both print and electronic, has lost all credibility. I am reasonably sure that none of the mainstream print media had stories prepared for a Trump victory. I watched the networks and cable stations in their midnight meltdown — embodied by Rachel Maddow explaining to viewers that they were not having a “terrible, terrible dream” and that they had not died and “gone to hell.”

The media’s criticism of Trump’s high-level picks as “not diverse enough” or “too white and male” — a day before he named two women and offered a cabinet position to an African-American — magnified this fact.

Here is a final word to my Democratic friends. The election is over. There will not be a do-over. So let me bid farewell to Al Sharpton, Ben Rhodes and the Clintons. Note to Cher, Barbra, Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham: Your plane is waiting. And to Jon Stewart, who talked about moving to another planet: Your spaceship is waiting. To Bruce Springsteen, Jay Z, Beyoncé and Katy Perry, thanks for the free concerts. And finally, to all the foreign countries that contributed to the Clinton Foundation, there will not be a payoff or a rebate.

As Eddie Murphy so eloquently stated in the movie “48 Hrs.”: “There’s a new sheriff in town.” And he is going to be here for 1,461 days. Merry Christmas.

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Political Chemotherapy

Trump is the only way in which to halt the further metastasis of Leftism on America.

From Dennis Prager:

All #NeverTrump conservatives maintain that their decision to never vote for Donald Trump is guided by their principles. I have no doubt that this is true.

But some of them seem to imply, or at least might think, that conservatives who vote for Trump have abandoned their principles. Indeed, the charge of compromising on principle is explicitly levied at Republican politicians and members of the Republican “establishment” who support Trump.

I cannot speak for all conservatives who are voting for Trump, but I can speak for many in making this assertion: We have the same principles as the #NeverTrumpers, especially those of us who strongly opposed nominating Trump. That’s why we opposed him, after all. Almost everything that prevents #NeverTrumpers from voting for Trump also troubled us about the candidate. (I should note that some of us are less troubled today.)

So where do we differ?

We differ on this: We hold that defeating Hillary Clinton, the Democrats and the left is also a principle. And that it is the greater principle.

Obviously, the #NeverTrumpers do not believe that. On the contrary, some of the most thoughtful #NeverTrumpers repeatedly tell us that the nation can survive four calamitous years of Clinton-Democrat rule. And then, they say, conservatism will have cleansed itself and will be able to take back the nation, whereas if Trump wins, he will be the de facto face of conservatism, and then conservatism will have been dealt a potentially fatal setback.

This argument is profoundly mistaken.

It assumes that America can survive another four years of Democratic rule.

And it depends on what “survive” means. If it means that there will be a country called the United States of America after another four years of a Democratic presidency, and after, quite possibly, another four decades of a left-wing Supreme Court (as well as dozens of lifetime appointments to the equally important lower federal courts), then country will surely survive.

But I do not believe that the country will surely survive as the country it was founded to be. In that regard, we are at the most perilous tipping point of American history.

It is true that the country was threatened with survival in the 1860s, and only a terrible civil war kept it whole. But with the colossal and awful exception of slavery, neither side challenged the founding principles of America.

That is not the case today. One side seeks to undo just about every founding principle that made America exceptional. Important examples include small and limited government; preservation of the power of the states to serve as political and social laboratories; a belief in individual responsibility; a society rooted in Judeo-Christian morality — one composed of people who nearly all affirmed in God and Bible-based moral teachings; and a deep sense of a unifying American identity and destiny.

The left is successfully undoing every one of those founding principles.

In fact, the left and the Democratic Party (which are now indistinguishable) boast of their aim to do so. As then-Senator Barack Obama accurately prophesied in 2008,

“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

And for the first time in American history, a man calling himself a socialist won the great majority of young people’s votes in the Democratic presidential primaries. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ new political movement is accurately named “Our Revolution.”

Of course, for conservatives “our revolution” occurred in 1776. So the left is in fact leading a counter-revolution.

Therefore, with another four years of Democrat-left rule — meaning a nearly permanent left-wing Supreme Court and left-wing-controlled lower courts; the further erosion of federalism; an exponential growth in the power of the federal government; further leftist control of education; and the de-Americanization of America in part by effectively eliminating its borders, in part by substituting multiculturalism for American identity and in part by giving millions of illegal immigrants citizenship — America will not be America.

We conservatives who will vote for Trump understand that he is the only vehicle we have to prevent this. We recognize that though there are some fine individuals who hold left-wing views, leftism is a terminal cancer in the American bloodstream and soul. So our first and greatest principle is to destroy this cancer before it destroys us. We therefore see voting for Donald Trump as political chemotherapy needed to prevent our demise. And at this time that is, by far, the greatest principle.

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It’s the Supreme Court, Stupid!

From Hugh Hewitt:

Of course I am voting for Donald Trump. You should be too if you are a conservative. Let me break this down into three arguments, the first of which is Trump’s trump card on the #NeverTrumpers.

If Hillary Clinton wins, the Left gavels in a solid, lasting, almost certainly permanent majority on the Supreme Court. Every political issue has a theoretical path to SCOTUS, and only self-imposed judicial restraint has checked the Court’s appetite and reach for two centuries.

That restraint will be gone when HRC’s first appointee is sworn in. Finished.

This is not hyperbole. I have the advantage of having taught Con Law for 20 years, of having argued before very liberal appellate judges like Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the very liberal Ninth Circuit, of practicing with the best litigators in the land, and I know what a very liberal SCOTUS means: conservatism is done. It cannot survive a strong-willed liberal majority on the Supreme Court. Every issue, EVERY issue, will end up there, and the legislatures’ judgments will matter not a bit.

So vote for Hillary Clinton (or sit it out) and then prepare for the deluge of court-ordered solutions to every social problem, bench-drawn congressional districts and extraordinary deference to every agency of the federal government combined with a sweeping away of federalism.

Second, but much harder to see or understand, Hillary Clinton is thoroughly compromised by the Russians (or the Chinese, or the Iranians, or all of them). Deny the testimony of expert witnesses like former CIA Acting Director Mike Morell or Rudy Guiliani if you want, or the implications of the distribution of DNC emails via the WikiLeaks front, but just know everything she sent and received on her security-free “private” server is in the hands of the bad guys.

The influence they will have over her and all of her cyberassociates as a result will be complete even if unknown to the folks being worked and watched.

That’s espionage. The Russians are very good at it. They are a GEICO ad of spying: That’s what they do. They use what they steal to advance their national interest, sometimes crudely, sometimes with breathtaking sophistication. The consequences of her complete compromise haven’t sunk in yet, but it is real, not reversible, and dangerous beyond description to the national security of the U.S. Trump critics worry that he’s oblivious to Vladimir Putin’s risks. Hillary is already a Putin pawn.

The first two arguments are negatives. But there is a positive case for Donald Trump, a third prong in the case for working for Trump’s election: He brings 3,000 political appointees with him, and the first two — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as VP and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has chief of the transition — telegraph that the vast majority of his team in the executive branch (and his appointees on the courts) will be conservatives.

Yes, Trump is transplanting economic populism into the GOP, and parts of the conservative movement are struggling to reject the transplant (just as parts of the Democratic Party are denying that the principle of transference works when applied to their passion for/love of Bernie Sanders/President Obama and HRC.)

But Donald Trump, like it or not — like him or not— is the imperfect messenger of the perfect storm in American politics. He is the shuddering, convulsive conclusion to decades of perceived indifference to the American middle class combined with a conviction that the GOP is spineless, and if he is not to your tastes, too bad.

If the charges of elitism and weakness are unfair, too bad. He won fair and square. No one stopped him because he could not be stopped. And he picked a genuine, deeply principled conservative to partner with on the ticket.

Read or listen to the long interview I conducted with Gov. Pence on Friday morning, then put down your #NeverTrump pride and start working to save the Supreme Court and national security. Help Christie staff the new government. Explain to family and friends what Clinton’s compromised status means. Argue for the future and make peace with the present.

I would not have picked Donald Trump as my party’s nominee. But he is that nominee. And he backed away from the cliff of indifference to race of such massive proportions — the Judge Curiel episode which had me launching whatever rhetorical broadside I could muster against him — that it would have obliged me to surrender the election and the courts.

That demonstrated to me, as did the Pence selection, that Trump is learning that there are indeed third rails in politics and governing. In this process he is being assisted by his remarkable children and a growing team of, wait for it, conservatives.

And, a key and non-negotiable thing, Trump isn’t a racist. He is simply monumentally indifferent to the language of race, and having interviewed him a dozen plus times and helped conduct four debates among the GOP candidates including him, I’m confident of this judgment.

He has many flaws and some strengths, but he isn’t a racist, or a dangerous demagogue, a Mussolini-in-waiting, a Caesar off-stage. He isn’t going to roll Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell or, most formidable of all, the Constitution. If he nominated a replacement for Justice Scalia who wasn’t on his list of nominees — the most frequent of imagined future outrages I hear from #NeverTrumpers — the GOP Senate should simply refuse hearings as it has to Judge Garland.

In short, there is too much at stake to spend August fanning yourself and the fall fuming about foiled plans for a better nominee. It is Trump or Clinton. The choice is easy. If you have any doubts at all, take a course in Con Law. If Hillary wins, the casebook you use to do so will simply be a history book, not a guide to how the Supreme Court should decide things based on precedent.

To borrow from James Carville, who ran the first Clinton campaign in 1992 from a room adorned with a sign “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”: “It’s the Court, Stupid!” Which means it’s the Constitution. Think on that at the beach.

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Violent Rhetoric Is Terrible, But Actual Violence Is Cool

From Kevin D. Williamson:

Hearken unto me, o ye students of political history, and recall the ancient days of . . . 2011.

Anybody remember 2011? I remember 2011 pretty well. One of the infamous and horrifying events of that year was the shooting of Gabby Giffords by a pathetic misfit in Tucson. That was followed by a veritable Wagner opera of alarm and distress regarding the state of American political rhetoric. Oh, you remember, do you not: Sarah Palin, who had targeted several purportedly vulnerable Democrats for special electoral attention, had published a map with crosshairs — crosshairs, people! — over those Democrats’ congressional districts.

You’d have thought that Palin had pulled the trigger herself. Every good liberal on God’s green Earth began lecturing us about the need for “civility,” about the horrifyingly violent rhetoric of the Tea Party, etc. The president himself lectured us on civility. E. J. Dionne went the Full Yglesias (What’s the Full Yglesias? Stroking your beard and wetting yourself at the same time), writing:

Since President Obama’s election, it is incontestable that significant parts of the American far right have adopted a language of revolutionary violence in the name of overthrowing “tyranny.” . . . We must now insist with more force than ever that threats of violence no less than violence itself are antithetical to democracy. Violent talk and playacting cannot be part of our political routine.

Former senator Gary Hart, writing in the Huffington Post, insisted that riling up partisans by employing martial tropes in political campaigns (but we can’t call them “campaigns!”) is “to invite and welcome their predictable violence.”

The editors at the Huffington Post seem to have evolved on the issue, having just published a column by Jesse Benn, whose mirth-inducing bio-line identifies him as a doctoral student in journalism, in which he calls not for a revival in violent political rhetoric but for actual political violence: “Sorry Liberals, A Violent Response To Trump Is As Logical As Any,” the headline reads. Benn argues that the Trump phenomenon is not “a typical political disagreement between partisans,” and that “there’s an inherent value in forestalling Trump’s normalization. Violent resistance accomplishes this.”

E. J. Dionne has not been heard from.

A few days ago, Vox suspended an editor (after considerable criticism) who called for violence, in the form of riots, in response to Trump.

Gary Hart has not been heard from.

Neither has the president.

What’s violent rhetoric compared with genuine calls for violence?

Actual political violence is apparently to be encouraged when the goons are on the left and the target is (I suppose) on the right. Let a couple of ranchers in Nevada get squirrely, though, and it’s the end of days.

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