Archive for the ‘Trump and the Establishment’ category

Trump: The President at War

November 23, 2017

Trump: The President at War, FrontPage Magazine, November 23, 2017

Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript to remarks given by Steve Bannon and Pat Caddell at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2017 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 16th-19th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

 

Steve Bannon: The last time I was in this room was a couple years ago.  I made a film, “Occupy Unmasked,” about that war starring David Horowitz and Andrew Breitbart, which was actually the film we were making when Andrew passed away and David was kind enough to take a bigger role in that.  But that film, I think, showed the precursor of a lot of what laid the groundwork for the Trump victory.

When I stepped into the campaign in mid-August of 2016, I think it was August 14th — these numbers are rough — but roughly, the candidate was down anywhere from 12 to 16 points, basically double digits down in every battleground state, every state that had to be won.  Not a lot of money, and as you’ve seen from revelations in this investigation with Manafort, not a lot of organization.  The campaign from the time that Corey Lewandowski had left until the time I stepped in in August had really deteriorated into a pretty disorganized mess that left the best candidate I think we’ve had since Reagan in real extremis.

And that’s what I knew we had.  I knew we had a great candidate.  I knew we had an individual who I believed was the finest orator in American politics since William Jennings Bryan and, more importantly — and I told the President, or the candidate this when I took the job on the 13th and 14th: “Don’t pay attention to any of these numbers.  Don’t worry about how many points down we are.  Don’t worry if we’re in the battleground states.  It’s not relevant because what is relevant is the themes that you’re going to run on and how we’re going to bring this home.  We only get 85 days, but we’re going to compare and contrast Hillary Clinton as tribune of a corrupt and incompetent elite.  And we’re going to focus on a handful of themes that show you as an agent of change, and all we have to do is give people permission to vote for you as that agent of change, and we’re going to win this.”  And I told him that day on the evening of the 13th and then the day of the 14th, because he’s a percentage player and he was asking what percentages. I said, “You have a 100 percent chance.  Metaphysical certitude of winning.  Not a question.  100 percent.”  And we’ll get into it later about Billy Bush week, etc. “But you have 100 percent chance.”

The reason is what David said.  This is a war.  This is a war for our country.  This country, we’ve been in this war for a while.  It’s going to take another 15, 20, 25 years and we’re going to be one thing or the other on the other side of this.  We’re either going to be the country that was bequeathed to us by the 14 or 15 generations that came before us, or it’s going to be something radically different.  And David Horowitz has been the leader of telling you what that radical difference is going to be and what this country is going to be if we don’t fight and fight every day to take it back.

The reason that I could step in with a team of Dave Bossie and Reince Priebus and Katie Walsh and others and help the President — because he’s really the one that won it; basically gave him the platform so that he could drive his message home — is for years I had been spending time listening to a guy that I came to greatly respect.  That guy’s Pat Caddell and Pat had been doing research.  There’s another of the unsung heroes, a gentleman who came to Restoration Weekend every year.  It’s a Palm Beach resident named Lee Hanley.  Lee Hanley’s like when you read the history of the American Revolution or the Civil War, all these great events, you find out about these individuals in back that never won any credit, but if it was not for them, the victory would not be achieved.  Lee Hanley for years was a big believer. Although a guy of tremendous wealth and lived in Palm Beach and throughout the rest of the world, he had an incredible appreciation for the grassroots.  He had a real love of the hobbits, of the deplorables, and he put his money where his mouth was.  He’s a big supporter of the Tea Party movement and Tea Party causes.  But I think what he’ll be known for is that he was the guy that really became the sponsor for the analytical work and the intellectual work that Pat Caddell did over a number of years.

And this work, two things epitomized the Trump revolution or the Trump revolt.  It’s J. D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy.”  If you haven’t read it, it’s quite powerful, the sociological content of the Trump revolt. But as important was Pat Caddell’s analytical work on where the country was, and that’s what I told the candidate that night.  I said, “Hey, two-thirds” – is it two-thirds or one-third?  “Two thirds think the country’s going in the wrong direction. Seventy-five percent think America’s in decline. Virtually none of the electorate believe that Obama brought the fundamental change they wanted, and people are looking for an agent of change.”

Now the mainstream media doesn’t cover that.  You wouldn’t know that by the campaign in mid-August 2016.  That was never talked about.  But that tone below the surface is the foundational element, the keystone that really drove the Trump campaign. And so, Pat, I’d like, if you could, just tell us what it is — and this is very important.  We’re going to talk about how we won, and what the underlying analytics of that was, and then, to get to David’s point: It makes total sense when you see that on the left, there was no honeymoon, right?  Because they will never concede, ever, that the basic working-class Americans think America’s in decline.  Because it’s been their watch.  And the elites in this country will never admit to that, and that’s why from Day One, the second part of this talk will be about the nullification project. Because since 2:30 a.m. on November 9, when AP called the election, the progressive left, the opposition party media, and the Republican establishment have been on a nullification project.  Pat, you want to talk about the math?

Pat Caddell: First of all, let me echo what Steve said about Lee Hanley.  Back in 2011, 2012 actually — 2012 or 2013 — after the Romney disaster election or as I call it, the confluence of the Republican consultant lobbyist core of gangsters, the “RICO campaign.” Anyway, I said, “I think something’s happening in the country.”  Lee said, “You know, I think something may be too.  I want you to go out and just find out.”  He wasn’t for anybody or any cause.  It was basically to discover what was there, and it was the most startling research that’s ever been done.  It has been public for some time.  The press has never paid attention.  The political class won’t pay attention.  But what we found from the beginning was the level of discontent in this country was beyond anything measurable, and I believe worse than any time that we have ever seen in our country.

Steve mentioned a couple of the attitudes: about things going in the wrong direction, the 70-75 percent of people who absolutely believe the country was in decline, a narrative so different from what Washington was telling us or the mainstream media if you looked at the way they covered the conventions even.  Oh, my God!  It’s so dark.  It’s like the inaugural speech. That’s so dark! It’s terrible! No. It happened to be the truth, but they’re not allowed to speak that.

And then another attitude, which is really important, was the fact that in a country where we believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead (as Bill Clinton used to tell us), about 15 percent of the people believe that’s what works and 85 percent believe that the rich and powerful have rigged the rules and have the advantage, which is also a truth.

When I was at Harvard — I was at my class reunion, which I’d never been to before for a reason — I had to do a survey of my class, the Class of ’72, which was, I would describe, the epicenter of the white Ivy League privileged class, they actually were higher. The only thing they were higher than the American people on was 95 percent of them knew that’s the way it worked because that’s how they worked it.  But in any event, those things all led to also the fact that a couple of attitudes have maintained themselves, which I realized the real question about them is, would anybody weaponize them? Let me just give you a couple examples because they’re important.

“Political leaders are more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people.”  Eighty-one percent of the Americans agree. By the way, we have a divided country except when it comes to how Americans from left to right really think of how this country works.  It isn’t partisan.  At this point, it’s overwhelming.  “The power of ordinary people to control our country is getting weaker every day.  Political leaders on both sides fight to protect for their own power and privilege at the expense of the nation’s wellbeing.”  Seventy-nine percent agree. These are from just a few months ago. “Powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions, political interest groups, have used campaign and lobbying money to rig the system for themselves.  They’re looting the national treasury of billions of dollars at the expense of every man, woman and child.”  That’s 72 to 75 percent who agree.

“I believe the government is working for the people’s best interest.”  Twenty-eight percent say that’s true.  Sixty-seven percent don’t think it’s true.  “Politicians really care about me” — when I first started polling and then Bennet wrote this question, the result was it was about a 40/50 split.  It’s now 19 percent say yes, agree, and 76 disagree.  And perhaps most interesting of all is the question we asked on whether the Declaration of Independence says that the government receives their authority from the consent of the people.  “Does the federal government today have the consent of the people?”  And it’s 68 to 75 percent we’ve ranged saying no, and I call that, when I first saw that result in 2013, a pre-revolutionary moment.  And the question was whether anybody would speak to any of this.

And from the beginning, Donald Trump, a lot of his own instincts were – it’s not exactly the way I would’ve designed it – but he managed to make a campaign and he stood up against 16 other people who were, in their own ways, essentially epitomizing the political class or the ideological class of their party, when the issue was neither ideology or the right of kings of our political class to rule.

I said the day before the election, I wrote a piece because I needed to get it out, because I’d been doing some work for Breitbart and had been doing some polling, and we were asking some more in-depth questions and I could see what I had found in a big study we had done in September, which was that you had a quarter of the country who were not favorable to either Clinton or Trump.  Most of those people were concerned about Trump’s qualifications, whether he had the temperament to be President, things that would’ve normally disqualified.  Hillary Clinton was viewed as a, let’s put it this way: 75 percent of the people, including almost a majority of her own people, believe that there are two sets of rules of law, one for everyone else and the one for the Clintons.

And corruption is a problem and we’ll talk about that today, but at the heart of much of this was a sense of the corruption and loss of our country.  Those people started breaking for Donald Trump.  Well, I was waiting for that to happen.  I’d seen some evidence in a different situation in 1980 with Reagan and Carter, but what was important was when I saw the exit polls. Everyone saw the exit polls when we got them at 5:00, 5:30, the networks and everyone were going, “Oh, Hillary’s got it!  Hillary’s got it!”  Well first of all, nobody remembers that those polls are always wrong because of the bias in them, but more importantly, nobody bothered to look inside. The people who had said that they were unfavorable to both were now breaking to Trump by 18 points.  And I called Steve and said, these exit polls are all wrong.  This is a key break.  And it is breaking for Trump.

I do believe, and I don’t want to get into it, but this mistake of early voting: we were supposed to have an election, not a rolling election.  It is a problem with all the unintended consequences, people vote who will change their mind.  So, there you have it.  Trump won and everyone else in the media was stunned because they would not look at the country that they actually deplore.

Steve Bannon: What do you think was the specific messaging that drove those low propensity voters to actually, at the end of the day, pull the trigger for Trump?

Pat Caddell: Yeah, as I said, my question all along had been whether those voters would respond.  Alienation can often make people depressed and not participate.  What did it, I think, is if you look at the last 8 to 10 days of Trump’s message, where he said, “This isn’t about me and Hillary.  This is about you and them.”  Essentially a campaign that said your country is going to hell.  You have to do something.  And whether it was on immigration, which was a big issue, trade, where the country had taken a huge leap, or basically the idea, which I think was the most powerful of all, of “drain the swamp” and the corruption. Enough people felt that they, with good reason, would want a change, and they took the biggest gamble in history.

By every other measure we have had, this never should have happened.  But the reason it did is because the country has never been where we are except twice before. I believe in the 1820s and the Civil War – well three times – and the Great Depression.  And what we have is a new paradigm in politics.  This isn’t the traditional Democrat/Republican, Liberal and Conservative.  This is inside, outside, us, them and the question of who’s country it is, and I have said to Steve the other day, and I’ll end on this note: At the heart of it is a perception. The subtext is that they know that their leaders are trying to manage the decline of America.

Steve Bannon: This is the key point.

Pat Caddell: They think that their job is to make –

Steve Bannon: The reason, okay, we’re going to frick and frack this a little bit.  This is the key point.  The American people have a great common sense.  Right?

Pat Caddell: Yes. That’s the ideology of America.

Steve Bannon: When Pat Caddell starts to stand, we’re in trouble.

Pat Caddell: Yes, you are.  Yes, you are.

Steve Bannon: Now he’s really about to go Old Testament prophet. If you remember CPAC a couple of years ago, he was in a ballroom this size, and people were Tweeting, “you gotta get up there.”  Caddell was so over the top. He was Caddell unchained.  I thought they were going to throw a net over him and, you know, escort him out.

Pat Caddell: And they never had me back after that.

Steve Bannon: No, the issue of the polling and the analytical work, which was so thorough — this is not some slapdash poll like is done all the time. This was really deep analytical work.  The question that the American people answered — 75 percent of your countrymen think America’s in decline. And what they understand is the country is in decline, right?  Particularly vis-à-vis the rest of the world.  And that’s what the elites, that was the whole contrast in the campaign.  Hillary Clinton and the Republican elites are very comfortable managing that decline.

Pat Caddell: Yes, they believe their destiny, I think, is to make sure it’s soft, we’ll be like the British.  I have news for them: this election in 2016 and the ones that are coming are really about the fact that this country will not go gently into that good night of decline.  They will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Steve Bannon: Now here’s the great news is that who understands this is the American working man and woman. I mean, that’s why Trump’s brilliance of “make American great again” resonates so strongly.

Pat Caddell: The single greatest slogan in my lifetime in American politics, in terms of what summed it all up.

Steve Bannon: That was compared and contrasted to — what was Hillary’s? “Happy together”?  What was that? “Forward together” or whatever it was. “Happy forward together.”  Always forward, never back.

Pat Caddell: The millions of dollars they spent to come up with the dumbest slogan I’ve ever heard of is amazing.

Steve Bannon: Before we get to the victory and talk about what happened the next day, you’ve got to remember — and this is very pertinent, I think, to the folks in the audience.  I think 85 percent of the votes in the Republican primary, if you totally take away all the bistate stuff and you look at the total vote count, I think 85 percent went to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson. But you couldn’t get three more anti-establishment guys, right? It shows you the party — this is what McConnell and the donors don’t get.  The votes are with the working men and women of this country, the Republican Party.

Pat Caddell: Well, let me make a point on that.  All during the primaries, I was on a show we had on Fox which a lot of people watch called Political Insiders with Doug Schoen and John LeBoutillier, and all along we kept noticing — they’d look at the vote of the anti-establishment candidates everywhere you go, and you’re right.  Yes?

Audience Member: Give Steve some time on the microphone, please.

Steve Bannon: Hang on, we’re fricking and fracking, we got it. My agent right there.  I’d like to introduce my agent. Thank you.  As you were saying?

Pat Caddell: Nah, I’m done. I know when I’m not wanted. No, this is the fact that in both parties — look what you have with Bernie Sanders. And we’ll hopefully get to a point to talk about that rigging of that system.  But Bernie Sanders, who nobody ever cared about and whatever, he rolls up, he and Trump were, as I like to say, were supping out of the same trough.  Like on trade and corruption and whatever, Wall Street.  The same thing on both from opposite ends.  And that’s what the unity of these numbers were about.

Steve Bannon: And the numbers show you — and the strategy we had, we had kind of two plans.  But the first plan we had to take — remember this is 85 days to go.  You’re basically going to get blown out, and if you read their books, they thought they were going to win by 25 or 30 points.  Take the House, the Senate, the courts.  It was basically over.  Break the back of the Republican Party.  But the key, we had to win Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa just to get to the table.  And by the way, I don’t think in living memory any Republican has done that. You had to get there just to get to the final, that was the bridge that got you to the final. We had a Plan A and a Plan B, but Plan B, which was shattering the blue wall in the upper Midwest, we did some very specific demographic analysis around how the messaging that Pat had overall talked about was playing. And we see could see it in places like Youngstown, Ohio, and Dubuque, Iowa, and other places, that the message was resonating with not just Republicans, but with blue-collar Democrats or Independents that had not voted for a Republican in living memory.  And that’s why we could see western Pennsylvania, we could see Wisconsin, we could see Michigan. We could see that something was changing, and that was the message, this underlying discontent in the country and wanting fundamental change. And Trump’s ability to be the instrument or the messenger that was starting to galvanize people.

It was interesting, the only question I had internally is that the math looked so dramatic. And we kind of knew. We were working on this and it was coming together, because we could see the crowds were getting bigger at the rallies and were getting more vocal. The Facebook and all the social media stuff was working. Her campaign specifically didn’t come to these places.  They didn’t come to Wisconsin until — they never came to Wisconsin.  I don’t think they came to Michigan until the very 11th hour, and so we really knew that there was something underlying the Trump message, and that’s this discontent in the country that’s still there today.  In fact, I would actually respectfully submit it’s probably greater today than it was even a year ago, and that’s about the progress or maybe the lack of progress that’s been made.

I want to talk about the morning after.  And Pat, you’ve got a thing with the Clinton campaign of one of her books. David talked about a honeymoon.  There was no intention of a honeymoon, and here’s why.  They do not think that this was a legitimate election and that we won legitimately.  They will never be able to admit that the working men and women of this country basically revolted, essentially from both political parties, and elected a total and complete outsider.  Someone who’s not a professional politician.  Someone who can connect and does not use the vernacular of the political class, but somebody that can connect viscerally with the working men and women of this country and had an agenda of being a complete disrupter among the institutions that really govern the imperial city.  If you think about it, and I’ll talk a little bit more about it tonight, the geopolitical situation we’re in that’s driving the economics of this country.  But the ascended economy of Silicon Valley and Wall Street and Hollywood and the imperial city of Washington, D.C. is completely detached from the reality of everyday life in the rest of America.  And they will never ratify the election of 2016, because to ratify it is actually calling into question their own tenuous grip on power.  We saw that immediately, and Pat’s got a very interesting quote he’s pulled out from one of the Clinton books.

Pat Caddell: The book “Shattered,” which was written by the two embedded reporters in the Clinton campaign, who were to chronicle the great victory and ascendancy of Hillary Clinton, and this is what it says. This is how it started.  “The strategy had been set well within 24 hours of the concession speech.  Mook and Podesta, the campaign manager and chairman, assembled their communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up and up.  For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public.  Already Russian hacking was at the centerpiece of their arguments.”  And that’s how it began.

Steve Bannon: Yeah, this nullification project, which was both from the left and also from, I think, the Republican establishment, started immediately on the morning of the 9th and the 10th. They had to come up with an excuse for why they lost.  It wasn’t the fact they had $2.2 billion.  It wasn’t the fact that they spent $750,000,000.00, I think is the number I’ve heard, on negative ads against Donald Trump.  It’s not the fact that they had, I believe, the worst candidate for President of the United States in memory.

They kept saying how brilliant she is, how genius she is, how smart she is.  I think she’s dumb as a stick. She’s doing her book tour.  It’s another 900-page book that she’s written.  In fact, I would just like to have the corrupt media and publishing industry just write her a $10,000,000.00 check and don’t force another 900-page book on us. But no, I do think, in her current tour, or at least until the Donna Brazil situation came up, that Pat will talk about in a minute, that she’s got every intention of testing the water to run again in 2020. And my response is, “Bring it baby.  Bring it.”  Would you not love to see a rematch of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?  C’mon.

Pat Caddell: As Saturday Night Live predicted last week, with her in the final episode for the Democrats, “One more time for me.  Maybe one more time.”

Steve Bannon: Let’s talk about this nullification.  The Russian whatever this thing is, the collusion project, is, look, as the campaign CEO in the last 85 days as we drove to victory, I can tell you categorically that we had a very difficult time colluding between the Trump ground game in Pennsylvania and the RNC. So collude that. It’s a complete phony, hide-the-football misdirection play, but it shows you their desperation.

Pat Caddell: Let me make just two quick points on this.  First of all, the one I wanted to make, if Barack Obama knew about this in August, so did the “intelligence team,” those hacks, that as Trump described them, which they are. And if it were such a threat to America, why was the President of the United States keeping his mouth shut until the day after the election, and how come nobody bothered to tell America it was under attack?  Because it didn’t matter.  On the Facebook stuff, Mark Penn, who had run Hillary’s great campaign in 2008, did say the $100,000 on Facebook ads, $56,000 of it after the election, half of it in states that were California, New York and Texas? Let me tell you something, the Stanford University Economics Department did a major study on this, and they found nobody believes what they see on Facebook.  It’s the least credible source.  And, yet, you know why they have to glom on to that?  Because underlying is the subtext that you people, the American people, are too damn stupid that you could — all of the billions spent, the debates, people know what they’re getting.  They’re weighing this heavily.  No, no, no.  You’re so stupid, you can be misled because you didn’t listen to us, and that is their message.

Steve Bannon: That is why it’s so important I think for the defense of the President is we’re seeing something unprecedented here in American history. And I think it’s very important we fight it and we drive it into the ground as much for the Democrats as for Republicans. And the fact that if we allow this nullification project to continue to go forward, if we allow this nullification project to really get traction and to try to bring charges or whatever against the President, every election here on in, trust me, is going to be contested.  We’ll be like a banana republic.  You won’t have elections that matter.

Now, let’s talk about the nullification project where they’re trying to drive the President into the ground.  There are currently, I think, five or six major investigations going on with the President right now.  You’ve got — and this is what upset me so much when I left the White House.  My specific project was against Republican leadership because you have three, count them, three committees on Capitol Hill with full subpoena power and the unlimited budgets.  You had Devin Nunes today, one of the great young men on Capitol Hill. He’s a hero, and he should be running the investigation on the House Intelligence.  Why is he not?  Because Paul Ryan doesn’t have a spine.  The media screwed Paul Ryan.  By the way, Paul Ryan’s a nice guy.  He’s a good guy, but he doesn’t have backbone in this regard.  The Republicans, the media can spook these guys and they’ll run.  Nunes has turned it over essentially to Schiff, so you have a Democrat running the House Intel Committee.  You have Mark Warner, who’s going to run for the presidency in 2020 against President Trump, you have him running the Senate Intelligence because Burr’s just taking a pass on this. So you have two Democrats running this and leaking everything to the media.  The thing’s gone way outside Russian collusion.  They’ve got Michael Cohen and his lawyer and other guys up there talking about real estate deals, taxes, whatever.  The Judiciary Committee is hauling in Don, Jr. and these other guys.  Can you imagine, can you imagine if Hillary Clinton had won?  Would Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have three committees on the Hill investigating Hillary Clinton and her campaign and her finances and let two Republicans run it?  No.  Because they are professionals.  They run the Democratic Party like it’s supposed to be run, and they never give up, and they understand this is a war, and they understand the way they’re going to win is be unified.

In addition to that, you’ve got Bob Mueller. And I was one of the biggest advocates in the White House saying, “You can’t fire Comey.” For a whole host of reasons, because, at the end of the day, you’re going to end up with something like a special council like a Bob Mueller, and I’ve been adamant.  Bob Mueller, in regards to his mandate of looking at anything with Russian collusion, he should be able to do that.  He should have a budget for that, but I support Ron DeSantis.  When he’s outside the range there –and on Manafort, all 12 indictments are about back taxes and “money laundering” and stuff he took from other people.  Rick Gates didn’t even have — he walked in with a public defendant.  He didn’t even know that he was under investigation.  So this thing, I think, has gone way off the rails in the fact that it’s much too broad and not within a mandate.  And look, Jeff Sessions, I consider him a dear friend, but I think Sessions and people on the Hill got to support the DeSantis Amendment, which says hey, there’s going to be a time period and a budget to look at collusion with Russia.  Anything else is off limits.

Pat Caddell: Yeah.  Well, I want to add just a quick comment to this, which is I want to hear from my good friend Mr. Abrams.  When he speaks about the Justice Department, it seems to me that department is still embedded deeply with the people who have been in the business of supporting whatever the political class and particularly Democrats want done.  And let me say something.  When you get someone appointed like Bob Mueller, who is “highly respected by everyone in Washington,” grab your wallet.  The last person that they told me that about was James Comey.  I mean really.  Anybody who everyone says is this great, respectable guy, you got to watch out because he is there doing business that is not going to be very productive for the country.

Steve Bannon: The nullification project, also, is a joint venture.  It’s both the Democratic Party and the Republicans.  Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, in fact, it has taken tremendous pressure on them even to say these things have got to be brought to an end.  They’ve got to end around Christmas, and they got to have joint reports.  You can’t let them have two reports. And that’s not officially done yet, but these guys are just as culpable in this as the Democrats that are baying from the left.

Pat Caddell: Look, Donald Trump’s greatest opposition is not from the Democrats.  It is from the Never Trump Republicans who fill now several networks, cable news networks, with people whose virulence to Donald Trump makes the Democrats in those places look tame.  And the Jennifer Rubins, the Washington Post and its 15 pieces a day attacking Trump, the New York Times, all of which, by the way — and it’s another point that we’re getting a little progress on the rest of the corruption.  It seems to me that the notion that we should move on, and, by the way, all this other stuff never happened, which I don’t know if we’ll get to, but it’s just bullshit, but pardon my language, but it is.  The corruption here is so deep.

And the difference with the Democrats and the Republicans as, David pointed out and Steve just said, let me tell you something, the Clintons, as I once wrote in 1998, have forced the Democrats to squeeze themselves into that tiny little space that’s known as Clinton morality.  My party’s had to give up all of its principles in order to sustain corruption, which is why the left is in motion.  And, by the way, one point, when you have a large majority saying both the Democrats and the Republicans are out of touch with the country, that coalition is in jeopardy except as long as you fight them.  And the Republicans not only don’t fight, they stab themselves in the back and their President.

Steve Bannon: See, that’s the point.  Remember, the point of the nullification project is, their ultimate goal is to remove President Trump from office or to force him to resign.  That’s their goal, but they’ve got a second goal, which they’re just as comfortable with, and that is to so damage him in the eyes of the American people that he’s very restricted on what he can do and what he can accomplish, and so that’s why every day you see this drumbeat.  And I will tell you, outside of Breitbart and Gateway Pundit and a handful of others, the sore losers in the media, in the conservative media, starting with my beloved Wall Street Journal owned by Rupert Murdoch, they’re just Never Trump organs every day.  The Never Trump guys have a complete ability to just launch on the President, and so I think if you’re a supporter of President Trump, we’ve only really started this fight because this is going to get really gnarly over the next couple of months.  I think it’s going to get, by the end of the first quarter of 2018, I think it’s going to get quite volatile, and so the President is going to need all of his supporters to fall in and have his back on this thing.

Pat Caddell: Let me say, I’ve been thinking about 2018 election, and now I know what this is going to be about. And I believe the Democrats can’t control their left.  It’s going to be from beginning to end, if the President is smart — and sometimes I don’t understand, frankly, the politics around the President, because in some ways I think he is being misled and taken down the primrose path by the very people he clobbered and wiped out. And I’m sorry, I’m independent.  I can say this.  It makes me very sad because the swamp — I won’t even get into the tax bill, which I think is an example of this, but let me tell you what, the campaign starts on the issue of if the Democrats win, they are going to impeach the President in the House for sure.

The question we’re going to have is the one we kind of had in Wisconsin.  Do we have what Steve said: our democracy collapses now because now we can throw out who’s in there that we don’t like, and that question is bigger than Trump, and it is about the democracy.  And the real question is who is sovereign in this country, and the American people intend to be the sovereign masters of their country.  And you got to appeal to them on that basis in this kind of fight.

Steve Bannon: One thing to keep in mind on the 14th, the first phone call I made was to Reince Priebus at the RNC to work out a partnership in which we could work together.  I’m a fire-breathing populist and a nationalist, and I am damn proud of it.  But in order to win, we win as a coalition. And this is one thing I could never forgive Bush 41 for when he said the other day in this book, “The Last Republicans” — I think it would be better titled, I hope, “The Last Bush Republicans.”  When old man Bush, between grabbing women in the oval –yeah, I went there — when he says that he voted for Hillary Clinton and when Bush 43, the most destructive president and the most destructive presidency in the history of our country, including James Buchanan, when he says he didn’t vote; he voted some write-in or he didn’t vote for President Trump, that’s all you’ve got to know about those guys.  If they can’t see the basic fundamental difference between what the regime of the Clintons would be versus what President Trump offered, then I’ve got no time for them.  Right?

But to Pat’s research, it shows in high relief exactly what we’re fighting.  Everything you see on cable TV, everything you see in the foreground is just pro wrestling.  It’s really to divert the attention of what’s really going on.  At the end of the day, the Bushes, this is the Bush that goes around with Bill Clinton and he says it’s like the son I never had.  Old man Bush is going around saying Bill Clinton, because the permanent political class is inextricably linked with themselves, and you see it on this current tax bill.  The donor corporatist lobbyist consultant apparatus that runs Washington, D.C. — and I’m very proud of Peter Schweizer, that hero. A true patriot hero.  Peter Schweizer’s effort in the three books, “Throw Them All Out,” “Extortion,” and then “Clinton Cash,” which exposed how the apparatus works and why the seven of the nine richest counties in the country surround Washington, D.C.; why the per capita income in those counties is higher than the per capita income in Silicon Valley for the first time in our history.  And Silicon Valley is the greatest generator of wealth in human history.  So you see, it’s a business model, and they’re not prepared to give it up, and they’re not prepared to go. They’re not prepared to go quietly.

But on that campaign, the establishment, at least some of them, came together and worked with us, and that’s how we got a win.  We have to be unified.  We’re not going to get everything.  I’m much more of a protectionist when it comes to trade.  I happen to think that free trade is a radical idea.  I think it’s a radical idea, particularly against a mercantilist authoritative dictatorship like China.  You cannot allow your markets to be totally open.  Not everybody agrees with that.  A lot of guys at Heritage don’t.  A lot of guys at Cato don’t.  A lot of guys at AEI don’t.  But we’ve got to work together to pull this off because if we lose we’re never going to get this country back.

Now, you’re seeing that, I think David brought up this point on our show this morning.  He just brought it up here in his introduction.  The question before us is very simple as conservatives.  Does the establishment that still controls the apparatus of the Republican Party, is it better for them to control that apparatus in a minority or is it better for us to take that apparatus and keep a majority?  Because, quite frankly, they would rather be in a minority as long as they control that apparatus because it’s central to their business model.

Pat Caddell: Right.  Exactly.  They never cared about losing.  I learned that in 2012.  The most important thing was to maintain their piece of the action.  And let me just say something because this is a time for real, thoughtful, intellectual, political debates about where to go.  My problem with the Republican Party is the voters want nothing to do with their leadership.  They have proven that over and over.  Look at the latest poll in Alabama where McConnell has a rating of 21 percent favorable and almost 60 negative among Republicans.  The people know this.  They voted them out.  They beat them every chance they could, and the question is whether that group — and I’m concerned about the Independents who supported Trump.  And many Democrats on the other side, particularly labor, blue-collar people, that is a governing and ruling majority if one can achieve it.  And how this all works itself out is the real challenge.  But I think you have to go to high ground.

The issue is the country.  It’s not which party.  It’s going to be who owns the country, them or you.  And the question is is America going to go into general night of decline or are we going to turn things around for our children and grandchildren.  These are great moral questions.  And that is the new battleground that needs to be fought.  And let me just say something.  The media. The press, which was you could argue is adversarial, but what we have is not adversarial.  We have a partisan opposition press which works hand in glove with the Democrats, which is the most corrupt media, and which, by the way, as a believer in the First Amendment, totally threatens the First Amendment, because as I have tried to say to people, when they figure out, which they have, that they can not only tell you who you must vote for, but they can tell you what truth you’re allowed to know or not to know, as we have seen in all of this other stuff with Russia, all of the stuff with the Clinton Foundation, all these things. The real question becomes why do we need a First Amendment if they’re not going to do their job, which is to be the tribune of the people and instead become the outriders of one political movement or another.

Steve Bannon: See, I look at it differently than Pat.  I like having the media as the opposition party because they’re so dumb and lazy.  I detest them.  I detest them.  Dumb, lazy, worthless.  A great opponent.  One last thing, we’ve got to wrap up here, is that it’s about the President.  It’s about Donald J. Trump.  Look, I got the great opportunity.  I’ve known him for years, but I didn’t know him that well until I got into the campaign.  I saw it every day.  Here’s a guy, everything you see in the mainstream media is basically nonsense.  Here’s a guy that was worth, I don’t know, five, six, seven, eight billion dollars.  I don’t know the exact number, but a lot of money.  He was 70 years old.  He has a lovely wife, a great family, great kids, grandchildren.  The friends he’s got from the sports and entertainment world and the business world are so close to him and such great people.  He just had a perfect lifestyle.  I mean here’s a guy at 70 years old that’s going around not just buying great hotels and refurbishing them and making them part of his Trump organization, but buying great golf courses and making them better and getting them in the U.S. Open or the Open Championship.  It’s the kind of thing you would do, all of us would do when we’re 70 years old.  He ran for President of the United States.  He’s not a narcissist and not in it for his ego or anything like that.  You couldn’t do it for that.  I saw this guy every day on the politics of personal destruction where they came after him hammer and tong.  And you guys only saw a tenth of it.  If you saw the other 90 percent, you’d just be stunned.  These people know no bounds.  I don’t really disagree with it because I see what they’re trying to do.  They’re trying to take control of the most powerful nation on earth, and they’re prepared to do anything to do that.

Donald Trump is an American hero because he had the courage to step up and run.  In that primary, if you think about it, with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Christie, go through all of them, 16.  That was the Republican Party’s an entire generation of their best politicians that have been kind of bred for 10, 20, 30 years.  And as good as those gentlemen are and Carly Fiorina, there’s not one, or even combined could they have taken on the Clinton apparatus.  The Clinton apparatus is a killing machine, and it took somebody like Donald Trump, a blunt-force instrument, to defeat it.

Pat Caddell: Let me make a point, then you can finish.  I just want to say one quick thing. The authenticity question, which is important, even during the election better than two-thirds of people believed that Trump was authentic and that Hillary wasn’t, including almost half of Hillary’s own voters, so that will tell you something.  And the last comment I have to make is what you’re seeing with Mr. Franken, when you see what’s coming, when they announce, when they have to release the $15 million of your money that was paid out in 260 settlements secretly for sexual harassment, it’s going to make the bank scandal of 1990 look like nothing.

Steve Bannon: One last thing, David.  Look, I would love to wave a magic wand and tell you it’s all going to be better, right.  Take your nappy off, powder your bottom, pat you on the head and tell you that November 8th, we’re going to celebrate it every year, November 8th and 9th as MAGA Day.  It’s a high holy day for the populist-nationalist conservative movement, but this is why things like Restoration Weekend are so important.  Every day’s a fight.  And the guys on the other side of the football, and they showed this in Virginia, they’re going to outwork you.  They’re going to out-hustle you.  If we’re not prepared to line up and fight every day, we’re going to lose this country. We’re going to lose it.  If you’re prepared — and I’ll take the guys on our side of the football.  I’ll take the hobbits.  I’ll take the deplorables.  I’ll take the working men and women of this country, but as long as you’re prepared to lead them and prepared to say we’re prepared to fight this every day.  We’re prepared to have Donald Trump’s back every day, and we’re not going to take defeat, and when something happens like Judge Moore down there, on the first allegations you run for the tall grass, to hell with you.  Thank you.

Nikki Haley’s Comments on Iran Highlight Russian-Related Complications

June 29, 2017

Nikki Haley’s Comments on Iran Highlight Russian-Related Complications, Iran News Update, Edward Carney, June 29, 2017

On Tuesday, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations delivered testimony to the House panel on foreign operations, a subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee in the US House of Representatives. In that testimony, Haley addressed multiple issues relating to the Islamic Republic of Iran, thereby reasserting the Trump administration’s assertive policies toward the Iranian regime. By most accounts those policies are still emerging, but they have already come to include purposive outreach to other adversaries of the Islamic Republic and a program of expanded sanctions on matters such as Iran’s ballistic missile program.

However, those efforts to confront and contain the Islamic Republic are arguably complicated by other aspects of the Trump administration’s policy commitments, including a focus on domestic issues and an effort to improve relations between the US and Russia, which boasts close relations with Iran in the areas of trade and military cooperation, especially as it relates to the Syrian Civil War.

While the US supports moderate rebel groups fighting against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, the Iranians and Russians have been credited with turning the war in favor of Assad. Various Shiite militias are currently operating as proxies for Iran in that war, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is increasingly playing a direct role in the conflict. Meanwhile, Russia has been providing air support for pro-Assad ground operations since 2015.

Western commentators, including officials in the Trump administration, have variously accused Russia and Iran of ignoring or actively facilitating human rights abuses by the Assad regime, including an April chemical weapons attack that killed at least 80 people in a rebel-controlled civilian area.

As the Associated Press points out, Ambassador Haley’s comments to the House panel came shortly after the White House had issued a warning to Syria regarding alleged preparations for another such chemical attack. The article specified that Pentagon officials had confirmed the intelligence underlying that warning, involving particular movements at the same Syrian air base that had been used as the staging area for the previous chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of Assad that “he and his military will pay a heavy price” if they follow through with apparent plans for another “mass murder attack using chemical weapons.” But the AP quoted Haley as saying that the administration’s remarks were not intended only for Assad, but also for Russia and Iran. Both of the Syrian allies joined in denying Assad’s responsibility for the attacks, with some officials insisting that the chemical weapons had originated in a rebel warehouse at the site of a conventional military airstrike.

The dispute over this issue and the subsequent US cruise missile strike on Shayrat air base can be seen as early examples of the escalation between Iranian allies and adversaries which is still going on to this day. In fact, Haley’s effort to fold Russia and Iran into a warning directed more explicitly against Syria is reminiscent of an incident earlier in June wherein a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said that a ballistic missile strike on eastern Syria had been intended largely as a warning to the US and Saudi Arabia.

Those two traditional adversaries of the Islamic Republic have been expanding relations under the Trump administration, sometimes with explicit reference to shared anxieties over expanding Iranian influence and meddling in the broader Middle East. President Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May for an Arab-US summit coincided with the signing of trade agreements that included 110 billion dollars in arms sales to the Arab Kingdom.

But at the same time that the White House is openly siding with Saudi Arabia and its regional allies against the Iranian regime, it does not appear to be giving up on the prospect of improved relations with Russia. In fact, the Western strategy for a political solution to the Syrian Civil War seems to presently involve the expectation that Russia can be encouraged to rein in the Islamic Republic and prevent it from further sabotaging ceasefire agreements.

Recent developments have cast doubt upon the practicality of this strategy however. As the US has taken a more direct role in defending rebel groups, even resorting to the shoot-down of at least two military controlled drones and a Syrian warplane, Russia has responded by threatening to target US aircraft and to halt the use of a hotline intended to prevent mid-air collisions between the multiple powers operating in the skies over Syria.

Haley’s comments on Tuesday were indicative of a roughly matching increase in American criticism of Russia. And this criticism was not limited to the issue of chemical weapons. Haley also explained that Russia’s position on the UN Security Council allowed it to stymie US efforts to sanctions Iran and hold it to account for ongoing misbehavior in matters including the development of the Iranian nuclear program.

“[The Iranians are] going to continue their nuclear capabilities and we just gave them a lot of money to do it with,” Haley said, referring to the 2015 nuclear agreement that President Trump has described as “the worst deal ever negotiated.” She went on to highlight concerns about Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, suggesting that nuclear weapons could find their way into the hands of terrorist groups at some point in the future, and that Russia would effectively prevent the US and its allies from doing anything to stop this.

“Yes, we would love to sanction Iran; and, yes we will continue to be loud about it; and, yes, Russia will veto it,” Haley said, according to the Washington Examiner.

But this is not to say that the Trump administration has positively brought an end to its strategy of attempting to improve relations with Russia. In fact, various reports suggest that this endeavor is even standing in the way of congressional legislation aimed at increasing national-level sanctions on both Iran and Russia. The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act passed the Senate two weeks ago by a margin of 98 to 2, but it was subsequently stalled in the House on procedural grounds, leading Democrats to argue that the House Republican leadership was trying to protect the president’s Russian agenda.

The prospects for resolution appeared to grow dimmer on Tuesday when the Washington Post reported that energy lobbyists were urging lawmakers to reevaluate the bill on the grounds that its restrictions on doing business with Russian companies could have a punishing effect on American firms and foreign firms doing business in the US. These objections could bolster the prospects of the House leadership sending the bill to various committees for review and markup – a process that could delay a final vote by months.

As it concerns Iran, the bill would include sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile activities and also extend all terrorism-related sanctions to the Revolutionary Guard Corps, for which Trump has urged designation as a foreign terrorist organization. This position has not changed, and it seems that neither has the Trump administration’s hardline approach to Iran policy. Some have suggested that the emerging policy is pointing in the direction of regime change, though this has not become a declared position as yet.

The Washington Examiner pointed out that one member of the House panel on foreign operations, Republican Representative Hal Rogers, had directly raised the prospect of regime change on Tuesday, asking Nikki Haley whether it is an option. The ambassador’s only response was “I don’t know.”

This coming Saturday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran will hold its annual Free Iran rally, which will include explicit calls for regime change driven by a domestic opposition movement within the Islamic Republic. The event is expected to be attended by tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates, plus hundreds of policymakers and experts from the US, Europe, and throughout the world. Notably, these dignitaries will include figures with close ties to the Trump administration, such as John Bolton, who served the second Bush administration in the position now occupied by Haley.

How should Trump deal with the deep state?

June 15, 2017

How should Trump deal with the deep state? Fox News via YouTube, June 14, 2017

 

Trump in Israel

May 23, 2017

Trump in Israel, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, May 23, 2017

Every act of Islamic terror educates us. It is a difficult and bloody education. We graduate when we realize who our enemies are and how impossible it is to achieve any peace with them.

President Trump’s walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre required thousands of police officers, closed stores and houses filled with snipers while their residents were evacuated. 

That is life under the shadow of terrorism.

It’s not only presidents who have to live this way. It’s all of us in Jerusalem and Paris, in Manchester and in Rome where there are soldiers in the street and cries of “Allah Akbar” in the air. And then a car speeds up, a knife slashes, a plane crashes or a bomb goes off. 

And the education continues.

************************************

When President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu met on the tarmac, they and their spouses chatted easily. The two conservative leaders have much in common. They are political insurgents who draw their support from a rougher working class overlooked and despised by leftist elites.

The polls said that Netanyahu and Trump would lose their respective elections. Instead they won big. They prevailed despite accusations of bigotry, attacks by celebrities and a torrent of fake media scandals. The media decided that the big story of Trump’s arrival in Israel would be their claim that Melania Trump had swatted her husband’s hand away. A few months ago, Netanyahu was in court testifying against a lefty journalist for spreading fake news that his wife had kicked him out of the car.

Like so much of the fake media news aimed at Trump, it was sourced from an anonymous source through another anonymous source who knew someone’s dog.

And, sure enough, Sara Netanyahu and Melania Trump bonded on the tarmac over the media’s hatred.

Trump and Netanyahu are political pragmatists with a strong economic focus who run to the right. Trump is a developer. Netanyahu has a degree in architecture. Trump has a Queens accent and Netanyahu still has his Philly accent.  And they prevail despite the opposition of leftist elites.

Subtract the geography and this news story from Netanyahu’s victory would sound familiar to Trump. “Leftist, secular Tel Aviv went to sleep last night cautiously optimistic only to wake up this morning in a state of utter and absolute devastation.”

But there is one difference between the two men.

An hour before President Trump landed in Israel, a car struck people in Tel Aviv. Usually when a car hits people, it’s an accident. But in Israeli and in European cities, car ramming has become a terrorist tactic.

And so the incident was one of the first things that Trump heard about when he landed.

Police decided that it was an accident, but as the presidential visit got underway, there was the usual litany of violence; stonings, a fatality and a stabbing. And the question that so many of us now ponder across the civilized world rose unspoken each time blood was shed. Was it Islamic terrorism?

The efforts of conservative Israeli prime ministers to contain the fallout of a disastrous peace process with terrorists set into motion by leftist prime ministers have reduced the violence so that it no longer touches the lives of most Israelis on a regular basis. But it is always there. And it never truly goes away.

That is what must be understood when we talk about “peace”.

No amount of outreach to Muslim terrorists ends the violence. Not in Europe or America. And not in Israel; the country that has become the test case for whether Muslims and non-Muslims can coexist.

President Trump’s itinerary of Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome is a gamble that “the three Abrahamic Faiths” will join in a coalition to take on Iran and ISIS. It’s a better plan than Bush’s push for regional democracy or Obama’s violently destructive backing for Islamist political takeovers in the Arab Spring. A common enemy is more likely to get different groups behind the same cause. But having a common enemy should not be confused with having peace. At best it means a very temporary truce.

Netanyahu understands this because he has far more experience with Islamic terrorism. When it comes to Islamic terrorism, there are few countries that have faced it as consistently and constantly as Israel.

Muslim terrorists have struck America before. But only in the last decade were the Islamic colonies in the United States large enough and young enough to mount a constant drumbeat of attack plots.

Thousands of terrorism investigations are still new to America. They’re a way of life in Israel.

Terrorism is a bloody education. Trump knows far more about Islamic terrorism than Bush did. And Bush knew far more than his father. Most Americans still can’t conceive of the idea that peace is impossible. It’s too grim and hopeless. We’ve come a long way since the Obama years. But we aren’t there yet.

In the spring of his first year, Obama traveled to the Middle East to seek a “new beginning” with the Muslim world. He stopped off first in Saudi Arabia, but saved his speech calling for political change until his arrival in Egypt. Trump delivered his key speech in Saudi Arabia disavowing calls for political change. Instead America’s relationship with the Muslim world would be defined by its national security needs.

Obama blamed colonialism for the poor relations between the West and the Muslim world. His solution was to dismantle Western power. Trump defined Islamic terrorism as the problem and unity against it as the solution. Obama had bypassed Israel and traveled on to Germany making a heavily publicized visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Trump continued on to Israel instead.

The difference was profound.

Obama was more comfortable engaging with Jews as victims and, in a typically egotistical manner, envisioning what the victims of the Holocaust might have made of his visit. “They could not have known that one day an American President would visit this place and speak of them.” His Cairo speech reduced Israel to a byproduct of the Holocaust. If so, Israel’s capital might as well be in Buchenwald.

Trump however is ready to interact with the living Jewish present in Israel. His trip to the Western Wall, the first by a sitting president, and a cancelled visit to Masada, sought to engage with Israel’s national and religious identity. They signify a recognition that Obama never offered to Israel.

In Saudi Arabia, President Trump rolled out a vision of relationships based on national interest. And no such relationship can be built without recognizing national identity. Trump’s recognition of Israel’s national identity adds a note of respect. But Israel is one of the few nations in the region.

Nations can make peace. They can put aside their bloody past and at least learn to ignore each other. And in the West, religion has come to act as a moral operating system within the infrastructure of nations. Religion provides guidelines that transcend the law. The legal system can only tell us what we must do or may not do to each other. Religion tells us what we ought to do or not do to each other. It is a personal conscience and a relationship to a higher authority than mere government.

Saudi Arabia isn’t a nation. Neither is “Palestine”. They’re powerful extended families whose form of worship is terrorism. Islamic terrorism isn’t a perversion of Islam. It’s the implementation of Islam.

Islam provides the morale and motive for the conquest. And once the conquest is complete, it provides the framework for the kingdom. Islam’s message is the inferiority of Muslims to non-Muslims. War affirms the message. Oppression internalizes it. Islam is meaningful only when it is killing and oppressing infidels. It is not a religion of the persecuted, but the persecutors. Its theology is violent supremacism.

President Trump deserves credit for refusing to let the Saudis pretend that some Islamic terror groups are more legitimate than others by classing together ISIS with Hamas. But the only Islamic terrorism that the Saudis will reject is that which does not serve their interests. And even if they wanted to, they could no more end popular support for Islamic terrorism than Iraq could become a multicultural utopia through the magic of democracy.

Nor can Israel make peace with Islamic terrorists no matter how many more concessions Prime Minister Netanyahu offers them. President Trump calls it a tough deal. But you can only make a deal with someone who follows some of the same rules you do. You can’t make a deal with Islamic terrorists whose only rules are that the Koran lets them [say] anything they want to you.

President Trump called Islamic terrorism evil. And it is. But it’s not just evil. Its codes and ethics are utterly incompatible with our own. The only way to negotiate is through threats. And even threats only go so far with fanatics who believe that if they die, they will earn 72 virgins in paradise.

Islamic entities will tell any lie and commit any crime to accelerate their objective of conquering us. Whether they tell a lie or commit a crime depends on whether they’re moderates or extremists.

Yesterday, I heard Geert Wilders speak. And I recognized a leader who understands this grim reality. Few of his fellow Europeans do. Even fewer American politicians share that understanding. Europe is facing a deeper threat than America. And Israel has been confronting a bigger threat than Europe.

Every act of Islamic terror educates us. It is a difficult and bloody education. We graduate when we realize who our enemies are and how impossible it is to achieve any peace with them.

President Trump’s walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre required thousands of police officers, closed stores and houses filled with snipers while their residents were evacuated.

That is life under the shadow of terrorism.

It’s not only presidents who have to live this way. It’s all of us in Jerusalem and Paris, in Manchester and in Rome where there are soldiers in the street and cries of “Allah Akbar” in the air. And then a car speeds up, a knife slashes, a plane crashes or a bomb goes off.

And the education continues.

Who Rules the United States?

February 17, 2017

Who Rules the United States? Washington Free Beacon, February 17, 2017

(Update re President Trump’s EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt: He was approved by the Senate 52-46. — DM)

President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Donald Trump was elected president last November by winning 306 electoral votes. He pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., to overturn the system of politics that had left the nation’s capital and major financial and tech centers flourishing but large swaths of the country mired in stagnation and decay. “What truly matters,” he said in his Inaugural Address, “is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”

Is it? By any historical and constitutional standard, “the people” elected Donald Trump and endorsed his program of nation-state populist reform. Yet over the last few weeks America has been in the throes of an unprecedented revolt. Not of the people against the government—that happened last year—but of the government against the people. What this says about the state of American democracy, and what it portends for the future, is incredibly disturbing.

There is, of course, the case of Michael Flynn. He made a lot of enemies inside the government during his career, suffice it to say. And when he exposed himself as vulnerable those enemies pounced. But consider the means: anonymous and possibly illegal leaks of private conversations. Yes, the conversation in question was with a foreign national. And no one doubts we spy on ambassadors. But we aren’t supposed to spy on Americans without probable cause. And we most certainly are not supposed to disclose the results of our spying in the pages of the Washington Post because it suits a partisan or personal agenda.

Here was a case of current and former national security officials using their position, their sources, and their methods to crush a political enemy. And no one but supporters of the president seems to be disturbed. Why? Because we are meant to believe that the mysterious, elusive, nefarious, and to date unproven connection between Donald Trump and the Kremlin is more important than the norms of intelligence and the decisions of the voters.

But why should we believe that? And who elected these officials to make this judgment for us?

Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year’s election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. “I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this,” a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured.

Opposition to this president takes many forms. Senate Democrats have slowed confirmations to the most sluggish pace since George Washington. Much of the New York and Beltway media does really function as a sort of opposition party, to the degree that reporters celebrated the sacking of Flynn as a partisan victory for journalism. Discontent manifests itself in direct actions such as the Women’s March.

But here’s the difference. Legislative roadblocks, adversarial journalists, and public marches are typical of a constitutional democracy. They are spelled out in our founding documents: the Senate and its rules, and the rights to speech, a free press, and assembly. Where in those documents is it written that regulators have the right not to be questioned, opposed, overturned, or indeed fired, that intelligence analysts can just call up David Ignatius and spill the beans whenever they feel like it?

The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.

The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class.

“In our time, as in [Andrew] Jackson’s, the ruling classes claim a monopoly not just on the economy and society but also on the legitimate authority to regulate and restrain it, and even on the language in which such matters are discussed,” writes Christopher Caldwell in a brilliant essay in the Winter 2016/17 Claremont Review of Books.

Elites have full-spectrum dominance of a whole semiotic system. What has just happened in American politics is outside the system of meanings elites usually rely upon. Mike Pence’s neighbors on Tennyson street not only cannot accept their election loss; they cannot fathom it. They are reaching for their old prerogatives in much the way that recent amputees are said to feel an urge to scratch itches on limbs that are no longer there. Their instincts tell them to disbelieve what they rationally know. Their arguments have focused not on the new administration’s policies or its competence but on its very legitimacy.

Donald Trump did not cause the divergence between government of, by, and for the people and government, of, by, and for the residents of Cleveland Park and Arlington and Montgomery and Fairfax counties. But he did exacerbate it. He forced the winners of the global economy and the members of the D.C. establishment to reckon with the fact that they are resented, envied, opposed, and despised by about half the country. But this recognition did not humble the entrenched incumbents of the administrative state. It radicalized them to the point where they are readily accepting, even cheering on, the existence of a “deep state” beyond the control of the people and elected officials.

Who rules the United States? The simple and terrible answer is we do not know. But we are about to find out.

Donald Trump and the New American Patriotism

January 20, 2017

Donald Trump and the New American Patriotism, Washington Free Beacon, January 20, 2017

trumpinagspeechPresident Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Trump delivered his combative speech in the midst of the very establishment he is attempting to overthrow. Surrounded by Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, Bidens, and Ryans, Trump aligned himself with the crowd against the celebrities and VIPs on the dais. Mass rallies, social media, and sheer force of personality are his weapons as he attempts to defenestrate the ruling class in Washington and bring a new spirit of patriotism to America. He draws strength from his gut connection with Jacksonian America—a connection deepened and enriched by one of the most combative, polarizing, bold, evocative, and indeed revolutionary inaugural addresses in American history.

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Donald Trump’s inaugural address was a stirring call for national unity and a declaration of war against the establishment in Washington, D.C. The speech was vintage Trump: politically incorrect, critical of both parties, amped up, biting, strongly delivered, and wildly ambitious. Anyone who believed Trump would change his beliefs or style when he assumed the office of the presidency was proven wrong. He’s not going to change. And he’s not going to let up.

Trump espoused his worldview in remarkably few words. He is a vituperative critic of the post-Cold War international system. Where the architects of that system see it as a bulwark of stability and global prosperity, Trump sees it as diminishing the United States in favor of foreign countries and an international class of wealthy political and financial elites. Washington has been serving its own interests, he said, and not the people’s. That ends now. His America will turn inward, focusing on domestic stability, education, infrastructure, and jobs. The one exception will be the fight against Islamic terrorism, where Trump is prepared to join with autocracies in pursuit of common goals.

Trump forcefully rejected identity politics. Racial and ethnic identities, he said, are less important than our status as American citizens. “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” There are no hyphenated Americans in this worldview, only Americans and outsiders. And Americans are to be privileged over outsiders. It’s been said that American presidents are replaced by their opposites. What a contrast to Barack Obama’s second inaugural address, where he called for a “world without walls.”

This was not a programmatic speech. There will be more policy specifics when Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on his budget proposal. Instead the inaugural address was Trump distilled: nationalist, populist, and ready to fight.

He better be. Trump delivered his combative speech in the midst of the very establishment he is attempting to overthrow. Surrounded by Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, Bidens, and Ryans, Trump aligned himself with the crowd against the celebrities and VIPs on the dais. Mass rallies, social media, and sheer force of personality are his weapons as he attempts to defenestrate the ruling class in Washington and bring a new spirit of patriotism to America. He draws strength from his gut connection with Jacksonian America—a connection deepened and enriched by one of the most combative, polarizing, bold, evocative, and indeed revolutionary inaugural addresses in American history.