Progressivism and Political Violence

The modern Left idealizes political violence.  That’s a bold statement, but it’s true, and the truth of that claim dates back to the French Revolution.  That revolution—so different from our own—was the root of almost all totalitarian movements in the 20th century, and of the American Left’s current mood for mob activity in the name of “progress.”

The big story in the world of the American Right this week has been Democratic Congresswoman “Auntie” Maxine Waters’s calls for active disruption of Trump administration officials in their private lives, to the point of harassing them at restaurants, department stores, and gas stations—even picketing at their homes, as happened to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen‘s home twice.

Waters’s execrable remarks—and her blasphemous contention that “God is on our side” (if she’s referring to Baal, the ancient Canaanite fertility god who worshipers tried to appease with child sacrifices, I’m sure he is pleased with Democrats’ support of abortion, but THE One True God must be weeping constantly over those lost lives)—were inspired by the ouster of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders from the Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.  In a Fox News interview after the fact, Sanders’s father, former Arkansas Governor and bassist Mike Huckabee, alleged that the progressive owner of the restaurant followed the Sanders party down the street, heckling them.

None of these events, in my mind, are surprising, but, rather, a reminder of the progressive Left’s taste for violence—or, at the very least, of achieving its long-term political goals by “any means necessary” (a slogan of the so-called “Resistance”).

Recall the soon-forgotten shooting of congressional Republicans last year as they practiced for Congress’s annual interparty baseball game.  That attack, the fevered result of a Bernie Bro’s break with reality, nearly killed Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise.  It’s easy to forget the anti-Trump hysteria of 2017 (because the anti-Trump hysteria of 2018—after the President’s proven himself in office—seems even more unhinged), but the Left was out for blood after the Inauguration, with pink-hatted activists shouting at the sky in protest.

The Left has taken America’s cold civil war hot because it doesn’t control any of the levers of power in government.  With the retirement of swing Justice Anthony Kennedy, progressives may see their last ace-in-the-hole, the courts, lost for a generation (to be clear, the Left is still dominant in academia, pop culture, the arts, major non-profits, the corporate world, and pretty much everything that isn’t the federal and State governments).  The last tactic, then, is to amp up their social intimidation to borderline—and, if necessary, actual—violence.

Consider that the Left can only push forward its agenda for any length of time through means of coercive power (although maudlin emotional manipulation comes in handy, too, and works well with easily-manipulated “feel-good” types).  Traditionally, that’s been through the power of the state—the massive reach of the federal government.

It was the modern political Left, growing out of the Progressive movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that brought first the New Deal, and then the Fair Deal and the Great Society, that vastly expanded the size, scope, and reach of federal power.

While Americans were largely content with some government assistance during the throes of the Depression—and naively believed that the federal government could actively solve the nation’s problems after the Second World War, given the government’s success in fighting that global conflict—they could not stomach actual Marxism.  So it was that Democrats began gradually to lose their mid-twentieth-century vice grip on the ballot box.

With the rise of the “New Right” in the 1960s and 1970s, followed by the election of His Eminence Ronaldus Magnus in 1980, Leftists increasingly turned to the courts to fulfill by judicial fiat what could not be achieved at the ballot box.

Take, for example, the overturning of California’s ballot initiative, Proposition 8, to amend the State’s constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.  In California—the beating heart of the modern progressive movement—a small cadre of unelected officials overturned the will of the people.

Similarly, Justice Kennedy more or less decided that federalism doesn’t matter, and we should believe that the Founding Fathers meant to support casual same-sex boning, but just forgot to put it in the Constitution (I have friends who support same-sex marriage who disagree with the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, arguing that it oversteps the Supreme Court’s constitutional authority).

The courts were the back-up plan.  I’ve actually read (anecdotal evidence alert) some progressives posting on Facebook to the effect that, “Well, we overplayed the judicial activism thing for too long, and we relied on it at the expense of electoral victory.”  Those comments are rare—more of them are childish weeping and/or promises to move to Canada or “stop joking around.”

Now that President Trump is in the White House, Republicans control Congress, and the Supreme Court is ready to tip narrowly toward constitutional originalism, Leftists are apoplectic, and are showing their true colors.  They have two choices:  make a compelling case to the American people to elect more Democrats in November, or double-down on hysteria and send us hurtling closer towards the Second American Civil War.

While there’s been much talk of a “blue wave” this November, the Left’s outbursts and fascistic tactics seem to be hurting Democrats nationally.  That doesn’t mean they won’t take the House or the Senate—after all, some of these districts are so blue they keep voting in borderline illiterates like Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas—but their chances are narrowing.

Even if they do take control of one or both chambers, President Trump will still control the executive branch, and, as yet, has done nothing impeachable (being crude or saying awesome stuff on Twitter don’t qualify as “high crimes and misdemeanors”).  Sure, they might try, but it would be like the Radical Republicans impeaching President Andrew Johnson for ignoring an unconstitutional act of Congress—purely politically-motivated.

If there is impeachment in the House, it will fail—Trump will not be removed from office by the Senate—the Democrats will find themselves stuck for another two years with a president they irrationally despise.  The way things are going, he’s likely to win reelection in 2020 (please, sweet Lord).

But all of this is conjecture.  There’s a good chance Republicans hold onto the House and pick up vulnerable Democratic seats in the Senate (such as Heidi Heitkamp’s seat in North Dakota).  What then?  With a new conservative Supreme Court justice, the Left is marginalized at the federal level, other than their Deep State cronies.

My guess is that we’ll see more insanity and violence before we see less.  The Left will double-down on this progressive agenda for a decade, until a moderate, Bill Clinton-style moderate appears, or the economy turns sour (not likely!), or they can cobble together another Obama-style rainbow coalition.

The question is, will their propensity for political violence boil over into full-scale warfare and defiance of constitutional authority?  We’ve already seen California nullify federal law by refusing to enforce immigration law.  Distrust between people of different political backgrounds is at feverish highs.

Beyond some fringe kooks, no one on the American Right wants to see violence.  But the progressive Left’s deep-rooted love of “punching Nazis” and strangling dissent won’t broach much room for disagreement.

We’re living in scary times.

 

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Indian Man Worships Trump as a God

Bussa Krishna, a 31-year old Indian man living in Hyderabad, has spent the last three years worshipping President Donald Trump.  His devotion to the God-Emperor is so intense that his parents have moved out of the house—almost the reverse of the parents who sued their 30-year old son to move out.

It seems that the social alienation Trump supporters face is an international phenomenon.

While I’m glad to see the President has admirers overseas, I pray that this gentleman will downgrade his admiration from “god worship” to “avid supporter.”

I also see an opportunity for President Trump here to evangelize.  All it would take is a quick tweet, something along these lines:

“Thanks for the love, Bussa!  But while we’re still winning and Making America Great Again, there is One far greater than me. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Personal Savior, and He deserves your praise.”

Y’all forward this along to Sarah Huckabee Sanders and see if we can’t make this happen.

 

TBT: Family Matters

Back in 2016, I wrote a series of posts about the importance of family (these posts will eventually be compiled—with some editing—into the eBook Values Have Consequences).  The first such post was entitled “Family Matters” (5 August 2016).  This piece sparked so much feedback and productive discussion that I followed it up with two more essays on the topic.

The nuclear family is on decline, and while Americans and Europeans have experimented with alternative family arrangements—unmarried parents, same-sex unions, “open” marriages, single-parent households, etc.—the nuclear family is, in general, the tried-and-true way to ensure intergenerational success and security.

A bad family can do a great deal of damage, sure, but a good family can become an multi-generational anti-poverty machine.  It also serves as the incubator for virtue and morality.

Since writing this essay, it seems that there is a minor revival of the traditional family unit and its relationships, although out-of-wedlock births are still on the rise.  The so-called “TradCons“—traditional conservatives—have popped up of late, and even enjoy spokesmen in the forms of Jordan Peterson and former punk rocker and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes.

Nevertheless, it will take more than some charismatic spokesmen and alarming statistics to reverse the Epicurean decline Western civilization is enduring.  But knowing that the problem exists—and what its consequences are—is part of the battle to restore virtue and morality.

Last Friday, I wrote about one of my intellectual heroes, Richard Weaver (and I recommended his masterful treatise Ideas Have Consequences in the wildly popular Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016).  In that post, I promised to begin a series of pieces “exploring why tradition, morality, and Truth matter to a free society, and how we can restore them.”

To that end, I’d like to focus on the importance of family to the maintenance of a free, prosperous society.  This topic should be fairly uncontroversial–that is, if we still lived in a society that did not demonize the traditional family structure while unthinkingly validating less productive–and, indeed, at times destructive–alternatives.

Unfortunately, we seem to take the nuclear family for granted.  We do so at our peril.  I would argue that a host of modern American society’s worst problems–generational poverty, increased government dependence, loosening morals–are in many ways byproducts of the destruction of the nuclear family.

In 2012, over half of births to women under 30 were out of wedlock72.3% of blacks were born out of wedlock, while nearly 30% of whites were born so.  Compare those figures to the 1950s–before President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which wreaked havoc on the black family–and illegitimacy rates were comparably very low, and only somewhat higher among blacks than whites.  Now it would seem that the rising tide of illegitimacy is indeed lifting all ships, and the ill-effects of illegitimacy are decreasingly color-blind.

The most adorable public domain family I could find.

(For more reading, I highly recommend anything written by economist Walter Williams, especially his excellent book Race and Economics:  How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination.  I’ve also used this Williams article in preparing this post:  http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/258575/culture-and-social-pathology-walter-williamsFor more statistics–and nice line graphs–check here:  http://www.redstate.com/repair_man_jack/2013/04/26/the-president-planned-parenthood-and-the-black-mass-against-traditional-morality/UPDATEHere’s a link to a transcipt of Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous “Moynihan Report,” written in 1965 while he was working in the US Department of Labor:  http://www.blackpast.org/primary/moynihan-report-1965.)

It’s a testament to the institution’s destruction that I even have to argue in favor of it.  The benefits of the nuclear family should be self-evident.  To wit:

The Family is an Incubator for Morality:  The family is the first place in which children’s morality is taught and reinforced.  We all have an inherent sense of right and wrong (except for sociopaths), but the family helps to develop the conscience and to give morality meaning, usually through a system of punishments for bad behavior and rewards for the good.  Parents (ideally) model good behavior for their children, and take an active role in inculcating proper behavior.

Indeed, self-government is impossible without this moral instruction:  we learn self-control and -restraint so that we can live freely.  Without such moral instruction, we raise generations of adults who are unable to control their impulses and who fail to understand the consequences of wickedness.  Therefore, a poor or incomplete moral upbringing breeds more criminality and recklessness, causing a growing portion of society leaning on the state for support.

“Without such moral instruction, we raise generations of adults who are unable to control their impulses and who fail to understand the consequences of wickedness.”

The Family is a Generational Anti-Poverty Machine:  I am able to live a modest, comfortable life on a private school teacher’s salary (it’s noticeably less than that of public school teachers in the State)–and was able to pursue two degrees in History/Advanced Trivia–because my father read water meters while going to school full-time, and because my parents scrupulously saved money (and taught my brothers and me how to do the same).  My father was able to teach me those lessons because his father accepted ChristHis father–from what I can discern–was a restless gadabout who played piano in juke joints and lumber camp bars.  My grandfather reversed what could have been a negative trend of absenteeism and amorality.

It took three generations of self-restraint and moral uprightness to build a solid foundation.  Even then, it required loving moral instruction from my parents to help preserve the gains of the past.  The hard work and sacrifice of my parents and grandparents not only taught me how to fend for myself; it provided (and continues to do so) a powerful economic incubator.  Without that sacrifice, I would have been unable to attend college, or would have become massively indebted doing so.  I’m able to slam money into retirement now because dad read those water meters, went to college, and worked his way up in municipal government.  In the process, he taught me to work and study hard (which is why I spend most of my summers painting classrooms and trimming the football field).

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was right when he called the nuclear family the most effective anti-poverty program available.  It works!

The Family Provides a Model for Masculinity and Femininity:  The image of the sexy single career mom–the one who doesn’t need a man to raise a kid–and the schlubby, do-nothing dad are probably two of the most destructive notions ever to plague the modern West.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m all about women pursuing their dreams and careers as they wish.  What I object to is the unrealistic notion that somehow people can “have it all”–all the rewards of work, family, and the like–without any of the necessary sacrifices that come with them.  It’s selfish to want and expect everything, even at the cost of a child’s well-being.  Further, any objective observer will acknowledge that it’s harder to raise a child with one parent rather than two.

“[S]tatistically and historically, the best possible social arrangement for the rearing of children is the traditional family structure headed by a mother and a father.”

Allow me to make a point that is, unfortunately, now controversial:  men and women need each other.  Yes, that’s a generalization.  Yes, there are some exceptions.  But, broadly speaking, it’s the truth most of the time.  More importantly, children need a mother and a father.

Please note:  I’m not arguing that a stable, same-sex couple or a single person shouldn’t be allowed to adopt a child.  The need to find good homes for orphans far outweighs the potential shortcomings of lacking a male or female role model.  Nor am I arguing that all traditional families are always perfect–far from it.

What I’m saying is that, statistically and historically, the best possible social arrangement for the rearing of children is the traditional family structure headed by a mother and a father.  It’s pretty much the way we’re designed.  Children need and receive different things from their fathers than they do their mothers, and vice-versa.  Young boys learn how to be good men from their fathers.  That means they learn how to treat women with respect, among other things.  Little girls, for that matter, learn different lessons from their fathers than their mothers.

As I often tell my students, men and woman are different, but equal.  One sex isn’t better than the other, but both are complementary and possess intangible qualities that the other needs.  That’s why marriage is a coming together of two people to make one.  And, again, it’s just the way we’re made.

***

There’s a reason the nuclear family is a subject near-and-dear to the hearts of social conservatives, and why we despair upon seeing the rise in illegitimacy rates and the decline of traditional marriageThe nuclear family as an institution and social arrangement is hugely successful, yet we’ve jettisoned it from society in favor of… practically nothing.  If all arrangements are deemed equally valid, then none of them is worthy of supporting.  Thus, why bother?

At that point–the point, I fear, we have reached now–there is little hope that the next generation will enjoy, on the same scale, the manifold benefits the nuclear family provides.

This sobering reality, more than anything else, is our true national and civilizational crisis.  To repair it will require an acknowledgement of the benefits of the traditional family structure and an emphasis on the proper roles mothers and fathers are to play in the moral lives of their children.

 

Breaking: Justice Anthony Kennedy Retires

The past few weeks have been chock-a-block with major developments.  The Supreme Court, in particular, has been in the news quite a bit, including striking down compulsory dues payments for non-union members.

Now that the current session of SCOTUS is in recess, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the infamous “swing” justice, has announced his retirement, which is effective 1 July 2018.

This gives President Trump his second opportunity to appoint a justice to the highest court in the land.  The Neil Gorsuch nomination was a slam-dunk, as recent Supreme Court rulings have demonstrated.  Now Trump has the opportunity to appoint a true, consistent, constitutional conservative to the bench.

Justice Kennedy was nominated thirty years ago, after the railroading of Robert Bork.  Bork, a hard-nosed conservative and constitutional originalist—indeed, Bork made originalism cool again—was slandered by the execrable Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy, the so-called “Lion of the Senate,” in his melodramatic “Robert Bork’s America” speech against Bork’s appointment.

The speech—a classic misunderstanding of constitutional originalism, and a classic example of fearmongering—argued that women would be forced to have back alley abortions, that black Americans would have to sit at segregated lunch counters, and that Americans would face “midnight raids” on their homes.  Critics of originalists ignore that constitutional originalists recognize the amendment clause of the Constitution—they wouldn’t very “originalist” if they didn’t—and so falsely claim that anyone who supports a literal reading of the document supports slavery (or some such nonsense).

Regardless, President Trump’s potential nominee—who will be chosen from a list of twenty-five—will no-doubt face a proper Borking of his own.  Here’s hoping the Republican-controlled Senate can avoid cucking out on this rare opportunity, and put someone who actually understands and believes in the Constitution on the bench.

SC Primary Run-Off Election Results

Every time we have these unusual off-season primaries and run-offs, it seems ridiculously difficult to find election results online in one, easy-to-read place (although I’m willing to concede this could be my own n00bishness at work).  I shouldn’t have to go to the New York Times to get all the results, accurately updated, on one page.  The State needs to up its game in this regard (if I’m missing a super-obvious link, please comment with said link below).  Kudos to my local paper, the Florence Morning News, which places a convenient link to locally-relevant run-off results on its homepage.

But I digress.  If you’re looking for results, read below, or find them in beautiful chart form at… sigh… the New York Times here:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/26/us/elections/results-south-carolina-primary-runoff-elections.html

SC Run-Off Primary Election Results (Winners in GREEN)

Republican Gubernatorial (Governor) Run-Off:

  • Henry McMaster (Incumbent) – 53.6%
  • John Warren – 46.4%

I was holding out hope for John Warren in this race, but he proved he’s got chops going forward.  McMaster may not be as eager for reform as Warren, but he’ll continue to build upon Nikki Haley’s positive legacy of economic growth and development in the Palmetto State.

Republican Attorney General Run-Off:

  • Alan Wilson (Incumbent) – 65%
  • Todd Atwater – 35%

As I predicted yesterday, Wilson won this election handily.  He’s been a capable AG.  That’s nothing against Atwater, but Wilson’s strong record of public service buoyed him to another term.

Democratic US House District 2

  • Sean Carrigan – 53.5%
  • Annabelle Robertson – 46.5%

Democratic US House District 4

  • Brandon Brown – 62.1%
  • Doris Turner – 37.9%

Republican US House District 4

  • William Timmons – 54.3%
  • Lee Bright – 45.7%

This race was an interesting one, but I didn’t follow it as closely as I should.  Essentially, there were about thirteen candidates vying to fill conservative sweetheart Trey Gowdy’s seat.  Lee Bright led the first round of primaries, but the partially-self-funded Timmons pulled out a convincing win, and will likely coast to victory over his Democratic challenger, Brandon Brown, in November.

Democratic US House District 7

  • Robert Williams – 51.4%
  • May Hyman – 48.6%

This was a fairly close race in my district.  Hyman was the more progressive candidate, and Williams’s faced some flack over some injudicious Facebook posts from his Chief of Staff, Robert Rhinesmith, but it appears the more moderate Williams pulled out a narrow victory.  Democrats seem to think the 7th District is vulnerable, but Congressman Tom Rice, the Republican incumbent, probably won’t have much trouble winning another term.

Those are results for all the major statewide races here in South Carolina.  Locally, the most interesting race in Florence County was the run-off for County Auditor.  The feisty, reform-minded Betty Dowling ran a strong race (she was endorsed by Congressman Rice and had some excellent radio ads), but Debra Dennis, a long-time employee of the Auditor’s office who enjoyed the endorsement of the current Auditor, won 55% to 45%.

That might seem like a wide margin, but it works out to about 800 votes.  It just goes to show you that your vote does matter, especially in local elections, and turnout is everything.

Congratulations to all the candidates; good luck in November!

Reality Breeds Conservatism

There’s a piece in the Washington Post about how progressives (“liberals,” as the article puts it) and conservatives think differently.  Like many such pieces, it essentially reduces conservatives to being more fearful, and touts that, in the absence of fear, conservatives become liberal.

I don’t entirely disagree with the basic findings of the Yale researchers; beloved Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson makes similar claims.  Peterson argues that progressives are risk-takers, the ones who explore over the mountain or innovate new businesses, while conservatives are the managers (and conservators) of the new institutions that arise from innovation.

Obviously, this basic analysis is a generalization, a reduction that makes it a little easier to understand the world around us.  As such, there are broad exceptions:  we all know conservatives who fight hard in the culture wars, who build new businesses, and who support new ideas or techniques—many at great personal, financial, and political risk.

Meanwhile, progressives politically are still clinging to the same failed ideas that have motivated their policy proscriptions for decades—increasing the minimum wage, expanding the welfare state, pushing identity politics.

That said, the article linked above—which chillingly says “we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals” in the title—points to the fear factor as the key to determining conservative vs. progressive viewpoints.  In doing so, it points to said experiment, which is deeply flawed at its core.

To wit:  researchers conducted an online poll (a bit iffy) of 300 U.S. residents, only 30% of whom were Republicans.  Two-thirds of the survey-takers were women, and 75% were white, with an average age of 35.  This collection isn’t exactly heavy on conservatives to begin with, and it’s unclear who was offered the opportunity to take the survey, which itself has a very small sample size.  I’m picturing a group of undergraduate psychology chicks posting a link to a SurveyMonkey survey on Facebook, which is about the amount of rigor I would expect from the “academic” social sciences these days.

Besides the small sample size and lack of diversity, the core flaw is the methodology.  Those surveyed were asked to imagine a scenario in which they were given one of two superpowers:  half were granted the power to fly, the other half granted the power “to be completely safe, invulnerable to any harm.”  The participants then completed the aforementioned survey.

What they found was not all that surprising, although the researchers feign as such:  it turns out that, in the absence of physical harm, conservatives become much more progressive, which—in the context of this study—basically means that they’re more open to people or situations that are different from them, and therefore inherently riskier.

Well, duh—in the absence of objective reality—to be free of any risk of physical harm, broadly-defined—I would partake in all sorts of risky activities that I would be reluctant to attempt when the threat is real.  That’s because I wouldn’t bear the costs of any of those risky actions (and as someone who broke a wrist falling from a ladder last fall, I can say that those costs are very high).

The late Kenneth Minogue wrote an essay in 2001 entitled “The New Epicureans,” in which he pointed out that, historically, only the very wealthy—the aristocratic elites of society—could afford to partake in risky behaviors, things like casual sex, drug abuse, and the like—while the rest of us plebes had to adopt a more Stoical approach to life—avoiding undue risk, living life cleanly and simply, dutifully serving our families and communities.

With broadly-spread wealth and widely-available contraceptives, however, modern chumps can mitigate the risks of a “live fast, die young” lifestyle in the same way ancient elites could—to an extent. What used to be the self-indulgent indolence of a very small group (the hated 1%!) has now become the self-destruction of a majority of modern Westerners.  And, of course, it doesn’t work out well, as most folks don’t have the means to pay for their immoral-but-convenient choices.

While we might be able to avoid more of the consequences of our actions—and, therefore, participate more eagerly in the temptations of a hedonic existence—there are still consequences, often dire ones.  I’ll write about some of these in my upcoming eBook, Values Have Consequences:  Why the West Needs Social Conservatism, but take one lethal example:  abortion.

What could more self-destructive, for more selfish ends, than to snuff out a human life?  Looking at this in the most dispassionately, economic way possible, it boils down to a calculation:  do I buckle down and adopt the Stoic lifestyle necessary to provide for this new life, thereby sacrificing my own personal enjoyment, or do I get rid of this “clump of cells” and avoid the huge costs and time-commitments of childrearing?  The major legal hurdles being removed via the disastrous Roe v. Wade ruling—and in the absence of a deep-rooted moral framework—many women, sadly, have opted for the latter option (which many, sadly, come to regret).

So, yes, if you strip away external costs and the threat of pain, people of any political or temperamental persuasion will indulge in more risk-tasking, for good and for ill, and might be more welcoming of strangers or alternative lifestyles.

But a healthy dose of Stoic skepticism about life is not detrimental.  We should not live our lives in fear, but we should govern sensibly—for example, by enforcing our national borders.  In short, conservatism is rooted profoundly in reality—it responds to real threats, prepares for real dangers, and seeks to build a life that, rather than relying on vague abstractions, grows organically from the nature of things as they are.

***

One final note:  the study found that, when witnessing acts of physical violence or hearing about one group or another causing trouble, liberals will become more conservative, even if temporarily.  This was true of the original “neocons” in the 1960s and 1970s, who were “mugged by reality.”

I believe it also holds true for those soft-liberals and centrists who saw the electoral chicanery, cultural division, racialized politics, and violent tactics of the Left in the 2016 election; having been “mugged” once again, they voted for a safety and reform.

Thank God Trump is a risk-taker.

Breaking: SCOTUS Upholds Trump’s Travel Ban

In a rare victory for constitutionalism and common sense, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling upheld President Trump’s so-called “travel ban” on those coming from five majority-Muslim countries and two non-Muslim nations, Venezuela and North Korea.

Congress has given the President broad powers over immigration, and the Supreme Court upheld those powers, without endorsing the soundness of the policy.

The legal challenge to the ban was on the grounds that it was motivated by an anti-Muslim bias.  Whether such a bias was a motivating factor or not is inconsequential; the US President has the authority to ban travel by foreign nationals to the United States on any grounds, for any reason.  Any distaste for a president’s immigration policy should be demonstrated at the ballot box, not in the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, too, trying to read the mind of the president—especially if it’s President Trump—is a thorny proposition.  While candidate Trump made several (accurate) remarks about the dangerous nature of radical Islam as part of a justification for a proposed ban on travel by all Muslims—an idea that is probably unworkable in practice—that’s not enough evidence to support an anti-Muslim animus.

Further, what counts as an “anti-Muslim animus”?  If I criticize Pakistani-run child “grooming” gangs in Great Britain, is that an indicator?  If I speak out against genital mutilation in Muslim Somalia, does that qualify?  There’s a difference between speaking hard truths (for example, a substantial number of Muslims think terrorism is justified, even if they themselves wouldn’t commit an act of terror) about a group and hating it.

The legal challenges to the travel ban boiled down to feel-good emotionalism—“you can’t say anything bad about a minority group or your policy is invalid!”—not an actual constitutional argument against it.  The policy may or may not be sound—I think it makes perfect sense, but others are free to disagree—but that’s for the voters to decide, not a small group of legal agitators hoping for a win in the Supreme Court.

Vindication – Ben Shapiro Agrees with TPP

Yesterday, I wrote about George Will’s full-scale, Never Trump meltdown.  Later that day, the brilliant Ben Shapiro agreed with me on his daily show (not by name, mind you—that would be awesome).

Check out the video here:

I don’t like purity tests, but George Will isn’t even taking the right exam.  It’s said to see such an eloquent writer and inspired mind succumb to Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Ben Shapiro did not uncritically accept Trump during the 2016 election, and did not vote for him (or Clinton), but he’s been intellectually honest about his assessment of the Trump administration (and has pledged to vote for Trump in 2020 should the administration’s current course continue).

Sadly, such even-handedness among the so-called Conservatism, Inc., has been in short supply.  Kudos to Shapiro for calling it like it is.

Run-Off Elections in SC Primaries Today

South Carolina held its Democratic and Republican primaries two weeks ago.  Today, South Carolinians head back to the polls for a few high-profile run-off races.  I’ll write in detail about the Republican gubernatorial run-off, and briefly summarize the Republican Attorney General race.  While there are some local run-offs, I’m focusing on these races in particular because my readership won’t find much value in learning about, say, the Florence County Auditor race.

There are also some interesting Democratic races, including the run-off for US House District 7—my district—but I don’t know enough about those races to comment (I just know Mal Hyman is the more radical progressive of the two, so if you’re looking to vote as a “spoiler” in the Democratic primary—which I don’t recommend—keep that in mind).

Polls are open from 7 AM – 7 PM.  You can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries, but you have to pick one or the other.  You can find all the information you need, including where to vote, here:  https://www.scvotes.org/

Republicans – SC Gubernatorial Run-Off

The big one is the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor.  The incumbent governor, Henry McMaster, currently holds a 17-point lead over newcomer John Warren in a recent Trafalgar Group poll, but a Warren-commissioned poll has the former Marine and Upstate businessman with a slight edge over McMaster.

McMaster is the former Attorney General of South Carolina—an office that also faces a run-off today—and was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2014, the last time South Carolinians voted for that office before adopting a State constitutional amendment that changed to a “presidential-ticket”-style system.  Governor McMaster ascended to his gubernatorial position upon President Trump’s appointment of Nikki Haley to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations, where she’s continued to kick butt.

Governor McMaster’s running mate for Lieutenant Governor, businesswoman Pamela Evette, has generated some controversy after security-camera footage showed what appeared to be Mrs. Evette accosting State Representative (and then-SC Secretary of State candidate) Joshua Putnam and his wife for “betray[ing] the governor” (Putnam quoting, allegedly, Evette).

It’s unclear how much damage that might inflict upon the McMaster campaign, which has the endorsement of President Trump.  Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop for McMaster in Conway this weekend, and President Trump campaigned for the governor Monday evening.  Then-Lt. Governor McMaster was the first statewide official in South Carolina to endorse then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.

McMaster has overseen the success Governor Haley’s tenure brought, and he has essentially worked to consolidate that success.  John Warren is new to politics—he has never run a race before—but he hopes to use his business acumen and experience in the Marine Corps to be a conservative change agent in Columbia.

McMaster argues that you don’t fire the head football coach and hire a rookie when the team is winning, but there is concern that he’s simply running because he’s always wanted to be governor, and that he won’t push the powerful State legislature—especially the SC Senate—to work on ethics reform, etc.

Warren, on the other hand, seems eager to use the executive power the South Carolina governor does have to make agency-level changes to the State bureaucracy, following the model of President Trump to use executive action (constitutionally) to fix those problems that are immediately fixable.

Anecdotally, I’ve spoken to a number of people about this race, and while one or two predict a blowout victory for McMaster (around 60% of the vote), I’m not so sure.  Warren seems “hot” going into this race, and a number of the folks I’ve spoken to are attracted to his business and military record.  McMaster may have the edge, but turnout in Warren’s crucial base of support in the Upstate could make this much tighter than the polls suggest.

The winner of today’s run-off will face Democratic gubernatorial nominee James Smith.

You can read more about both candidates here:  https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/local/south-carolina/2018/06/23/henry-mcmaster-vs-john-warren-sc-governor-candidates-top-issues-endorsements/724629002/

Republicans – Attorney General Run-Off

Incumbent Attorney General Alan Wilson is seeking another term as AG.  He faced two challengers in the initial primary two weeks ago, Todd Atwater and William Herlong.  Wilson came out with about 49% of the vote, but State election law requires a clear majority (50%+1) to avoid a run-off.  Wilson and Atwater advanced to today’s run-off.

Atwater’s central argument seems to be that it’s time for a change in the Attorney General’s office, and he faults Wilson for not fighting against the Base Load Review Act sooner.

For those outside of South Carolina, some background is in order:  customers of the electric co-op Santee-Cooper—which is a big ol’ chunk of South Carolinians—have been paying higher rates on their electric usage for years because the extra money was supposed to fund the construction of another nuclear power plant, the V.C. Summer reactors.

Well, it turns out that Santee-Cooper couldn’t seal the deal even with that extra money, and the whole scheme has fallen down like a stack of Chernobyls.  Ratepayers are ticked off because they’re not getting that money back, and everyone in Columbia is blaming everyone else.

In short, the Attorney General argues that the Base Load Review Act is unconstitutional on its face, as the ratepayers’ money was taken from them (in the form of higher rates) without due process.

The thrust of Atwater’s criticism, then, is that, if Wilson is challenging this law’s constitutionality now, why didn’t he do it then, when the law was first passed?

It’s an interesting argument, but, c’mon—the Attorney General is inundated with legal issues at the State and federal level constantly.  While I suspect Wilson’s suit against the law is politically-motivated in part—“I’m fighting for the little guy!”—it’s one of those situations that no one saw as a problem until it became a problem.

Wilson’s record is pretty stellar, too, and he’s worked hard to fight human trafficking in the State.  He’s passionate about good governance, and, while he’s certainly not perfect, he seems genuinely concerned about serving the people of South Carolina.

I look for Wilson to win this one in a blowout.

You can read more about both candidates here:  https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/local/south-carolina/2018/06/20/sc-attorney-general-runoff-incumbent-vs-challenger-alan-wilson-todd-atwater/717521002/

That’s all for now, faithful readers!  We’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow.

–TPP