The Dying Narrative

Medellín at La Sierra. Image by Monica Showalter.

Last Sunday, there was an election in Columbia, which is next door to Venezuela. You might have heard there was going to be, but I’d bet money you haven’t heard much about the results. Why? ‘The Narrative’ lost. from Monica Showalter in American Thinker.

Sunday’s election of a hard-core conservative in Colombia has left the media elites and their pundits befuddled. Some are calling Ivan Duque, the 41-year-old new conservative president-elect a ‘populist‘ as if to suggest that both President Trump and the late unlamented Venezuelan strongman, Hugo Chavez, are all dreadful peas in the same pod. Others are speculating that Colombia elected another Emmanuel Macron, the youthful centrist French president, as if the namby-pamby Macron somehow amounted to a comparable sea change that this election represents or something. We heard of the new president (who does favor corporate tax cuts) summed up as ‘pro-business’ by the Wall Street Journal, as if that was all he was about to voters, and more pointedly still, summed up as ‘right-wing’ by Agence France-Presse and National Public Radio, both of which are clearly displeased. He’s also been accused of being a ‘puppet’ of former President Alvaro Uribe, the country’s Reagan-like conservative leader from 2002-2010 who put terrorists on the run and singlehandedly changed Colombia’s reputation from night-haunted hellhole to downright vacation paradise. The press dutifully spread the puppet stuff far and wide.

The best story I saw, however, comes from a local, on-the-ground source, Colombia Reports, run by a Dutchman, Adriaan Anselma, whose news site has almost always been fair and objective. Here’s Colombia Report’s headline:

Iconic Medellin slum votes Duque to avoid ‘another Venezuela’

Now the clarity comes. Poor people voted for a genuine conservative out of terror of becoming another Venezuela, because they know what it is up close. And yes, that’s the much-vaunted poor that for years we have been hearing are so poor they can only vote for candidates who offer to shovel the most pork. They didn’t.

Yet that didn’t merit any headlines?

It gets worse for the press, because the Colombia Reports story is chock-full of on the ground shoe-leather reporting illustrating just that from the poor, an absolutely clear-eyed rejection of socialism, based on the example coming, and coming, out of Venezuela:

“You know what everyone’s saying,” said Teresita Alvarez, 63, as she walked to the polling station with her daughter and granddaughter.

“He [Petro] could bring Colombia down – he could make it like Venezuela. No one here wants that.”

Strangely, both Teresita and her 36-year-old daughter, Liliana, who have always lived in La Sierra, voted for centrist Sergio Fajado the first time round. Their second vote was a massive swing to the right.

Builder Alex Gutierrez, 40, picked Duque for the same reasons.

“We’ve seen the problems with Venezuela. We don’t want to risk that happening here,” he said.

Read it all at: Buried news: Colombia’s shantytowns rejected socialism, big time, to avoid ‘another Venezuela’ 

Imagine that, poor people voting for a conservative, instead of more goodies. How ‘Deplorable’. Good to see Columbia choosing to move towards a better life instead of death and destruction.


I haven’t much to say about the separation firestorm swirling around. It is not optimal to separate kids from their parents, but what does one do with kids who show up without parents, or whose parents are criminals? I don’t know, and I think the President is doing the best he can to take care of them. That’s all one can do, really. The job we elected him to do is to enforce the law, fairly and equitably, without exception. That is what he is doing.

America is a sovereign country, whose citizens get to decide who comes here. In large part that is why we elected Trump, to stop the invasion of migrants, who benefit the Democrat Party (as voters) and Big Business (as cheap and exploited workers), thereby reducing the wages of American citizens. Monica Showalter also has a list of those screaming about this necessary policy…

Laura Bush: Separating children from their parents at the border ‘breaks my heart’

Michelle Obama seconds Laura Bush’s criticism of child separation policy

Romney backs Laura Bush on border: ‘We need a more compassionate answer’

Hillary: Separating Families Contrary to Religious Values – Jesus ‘Did Not Say Let the Children Suffer’

Jeb Bush: Trump should end ‘heartless’ policy separating migrant families

Eric Holder: ‘Unbelievably the Bible is’ being used to defend zero-tolerance border policy

Former Obama aide: Trump’s policy separating migrant families is “immoral”

Speaker Paul Ryan says he disagrees with Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border

Gov. Kasich says it’s “not an American value to be breaking up families”

McCain rips Trump’s family separation policy as affront to American decency

Sen. Kamala Harris: Trump’s “intent” to put “children in cages”

Colorado governor bars state resources for Trump family separation policy

Former CIA Chief Compares Trump Administration to Nazi Germany Over Border Policy

Has Trump finall gone too far? -by Max Boot

Blumenthal, immigrant families condemn separation of children at border

Lindsey Graham says the S-word live on CNN

Senator Ted Cruz Promises a Bill to Deal With the Family Separation Crisis at the Border

Senators Graham and Cruz appear to be looking for solutions, and that is good especially Cruz’s contribution. The others are simply blowing emotional crap that simply condemns without any thought of fixing anything. Why? I think because the free entry and the cheap labor it provides benefits them. I must also mention that I have rarely seen the left (and the GOPe) more completely unhinged. Must be important to them – that makes it important to stay the course.

In other words, Trump is once again upsetting the overseers on the plantation. Good on him. Those overseers are why the country got into such a mess.

And you know, from what I’ve seen of those centers, I doubt those kids ever had it so good, and sooner (more likely than later) they will be reunited with their parents, either in the United States or where they came from. Call it a vacation from destitution. And they could always put all that energy into improving their own country, instead of running away to what we have built.

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Allies and Protectorates

Carolyn Glick has an article up on her site, comparing how Netanyahu and Trudeau deal with Trump. It’s, as usual for her, factual and thought-provoking.

She starts by debunking the obviously flawed comparison of Kim Jong-un and Trudeau. One is obviously an enemy and the other an ally, however tense at the moment.

A much more apt, and enlightening, analysis would be to consider Trump’s disparate treatment of two allies — for instance, Trudeau and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Both Trudeau and Netanyahu lead U.S. allies. But whereas Trump and his advisors sharply rebuked Trudeau for his angry assault following the G-7 summit last week, Netanyahu and Trump enjoy close, intense, and mutually supportive ties. Far from attacking one another, Trump and Netanyahu consistently back one another up in their public statements.

What accounts for the disparity? More broadly, what does the disparity in treatment tell us about Trump’s expectations from foreign leaders? What does it teach us about his foreign policy outlook more generally? […]

Rather than side with Israel in its war against the Hamas terror regime, as all of his predecessors had done to varying degrees, Obama sided with Hamas and its state sponsors, Qatar and Turkey, against Israel.

Obama insisted that Netanyahu accept Hamas’s ceasefire conditions and walk away with no guarantee that Hamas would end its rocket and missile offensive against Israel.

Obama’s embrace of Iran and effective alliance with Hamas through Turkey and Qatar were the last straws for Israel.

But Obama’s behavior had not come as a surprise. Sensing, earlier on, where the wind was blowing, Netanyahu had already been working to sidestep Obama by developing an alliance with America’s other spurned Middle Eastern allies: Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Like Israel, these three regimes were mortally threatened by Iran. Like Israel —  indeed, to an even greater degree than Israel — these regimes viewed the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies and offshoots, including Hamas, as existential threats.

Like many (most probably) Americans I support Israel, which is no surprise to anyone here, nor will anyone here be surprised that his opposition to Israel had a considerable amount to do with my disgust for Obama. My support for KSA and Egypt is not on that level, but they are much preferable to the Moslem Brotherhood and Iran. Continuing:

As Obama insisted Israel accept the Turkish-Qatari ceasefire offer – that is, Hamas’s ceasefire conditions — Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia all sided with Israel against Hamas – and Obama. They rejected Hamas’s ceasefire conditions and embraced Israel’s positions entirely. Their stunning public support for Israel compelled Obama to walk back his pressure on Israel.

As for Iran, the Israel-Sunni operational alliance was important for two reasons. First, it empowered Netanyahu to defy openly Obama on the Iran nuclear deal. That defiance was expressed most powerfully when Netanyahu detailed the problems with the nuclear deal in an address to a special joint session of Congress in March 2015. Second, the operational ties between Israel and the Sunni Gulf states facilitated Mossad and other operations against Iranian plans and capabilities.

As Entous notes, in Netanyahu’s first meeting with Trump, which took place in September 2016 at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer presented then-candidate Trump with Netanyahu’s vision of a new U.S. regional posture in the Middle East. Such a U.S. posture could be based on the U.S. leading the operational alliance that Netanyahu had developed with the Sunnis.

Entous writes that Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, was “blown away” by their presentation. A former Trump advisor told Entous that the two Israelis “had thought this through – this wasn’t half-baked. This was well articulated and it dovetailed exactly with our thinking.”

According to Entous, the “advisor credited Netanyahu and Dermer with inspiring the new administration’s approach to the Middle East.”[…]

Trump’s close relationship with Netanyahu owes, then, to two things. First, by developing Israel’s ties with the Sunni Arab states, Netanyahu demonstrated that he is capable of acting to defend Israel and shared U.S.-Israeli interests, even without U.S. assistance. That showed Trump that Israel is an ally, not a protectorate of the U.S. — and that Netanyahu is a partner, not a burden, for the U.S. in the post-Obama Middle East.

Look what we have here; an American ally, actually several of them, taking the lead on a local problem, committing themselves to a solution, that they think acceptable to America, and asking us to help and perhaps lead while contributing substantially to their solution. And so they present a solution to Trump, which is not free of danger but is clearly thought through, workable, and a reasonable risk for America. That is a good ally.

Then there is Trudeau.

During the 2016 campaign, although Trump made abandoning Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem key foreign policy goals, updating international trade deals was a much more significant campaign issue. And one of Trump’s central pledges to his voters was his vow to improve, or walk away from, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Bill Clinton had signed with Canada and Mexico. […]

Instead of seeking compromises that could advance the interests of both countries, or at a minimum limit the damage that new U.S. trade policies would cause the Canadian economy, Trudeau pretended away the issue — hoping, apparently, that Trump would disappear if Trudeau just ignored him.

Consequently, rather than engaging seriously with American negotiators — as the Mexicans are — Trudeau has added insult to injury by slapping progressive social engineering provisions regarding indigenous, gender, and worker rights onto Canada’s trade policies. Trudeau is apparently attempting to use bilateral trade to dictate the Trump administration’s social policy.

In other words, Trudeau has embraced posturing over substantive policymaking. Rather than presenting Trump with a deal that could make sense for the U.S. and Canada, Trudeau has presented himself as a progressive hero, standing up to the Left’s greatest enemy.

Given Trudeau’s behavior, it was just a matter of time before trade talks between Washington and Ottowa blew up. Canada’s leader offered Trump no alternative to confrontation.

The disparity between Trump’s treatment of Israel and Canada tells us two important things.

First, when Trump criticizes American allies for expecting the United States to defend them and pay for the privilege, he isn’t doing it to blow off steam. Trump believes that for alliances to be meaningful, they have to be alliances between independent states that come together to pursue common interests.

Yep, and quite a few American allies, including the UK, would be very wise to take heed of what is said here. This is a good read on Trump’s policy, and it is one backed by just about all of red state America. We are practical down-to-earth people. We have built the world’s most powerful economy backed by the world’s most powerful military in about 200 years, and we are proud of both and are unwilling to see our work undone.

I’d guess that if things do not change soon, America’s emphasis in Europe will change to the Visegrad countries and the Balts, to the detriment of western Europe and possibly NATO itself. Americans don’t really believe in the welfare state, still less do we believe we owe Europe much of anything. If anything, we resent that three times in the last hundred years, we’ve had to help save Europe from enemies of their own creation. “The Long War” some (not inaccurately) call it.

As long as the EU and Germany want to posture like world leaders while antagonizing we who pay the bills that allow them to do so, well, they can expect chilly weather in Washington, just like Trudeau can.

We like allies, we’re not that fond of unruly protectorates.

Carolyn sums up with this:

Trump’s actual doctrine is that the U.S. will help its allies and foes when they pursue goals the U.S. shares. And the U.S. will spurn allies – and enemies — who expect America to do their bidding as they mistake posturing for policymaking, and attitude for work.

Yep.

Do read her article at Unlike Netanyahu, Trudeau expects America to work for him. There is much that I didn’t cover.

 

 

A Week of Aftermaths

Heading into next week, keep this in mind:

Of Course…

Most from PowerLine and Bookworm, as usual.

 

The IG Report

So, the much awaited Inspector General from the Department of Justice is out. I haven’t yet read it, and may not bother. I increasingly detest bureaucratese, and since retiring, avoid it whenever possible. But it is important, and I’m interested, but Mollie Hemingway read it so I don’t have to. In my experience, she often comes to very much the conclusion I would, never exactly, but often close. So, what does she say, in one of those annoying Federalist 11 things posts? 🙂

  1. [And this is perhaps the most important takeaway of all. Who the author reports to and supports matters, especially when many things are subject to interpretation.]Learn How To Interpret An IG Report
    The best way to understand an inspector general (IG) report is less as a fiercely independent investigation that seeks justice and more like what you’d expect from a company’s human resources department. Employees frequently think that a company’s human resources department exists to serve employees. There’s some truth in that, but it’s more true that the human resources department exists to serve the corporation.

    At the end of the day, the HR department wants what’s best for the company. The FBI’s IG Michael Horowitz has a good reputation for good reason. But his report is in support of the FBI and its policies and procedures. As such, the findings will be focused on helping the FBI improve its adherence to those policies and procedures. Those who expected demands for justice in the face of widespread evidence of political bias and poor judgment by immature agents and executives were people unfamiliar with the purpose of IG reports.

    The IG is also a government bureaucrat producing government products that are supposed to be calm and boring. In the previous report that led to Andrew McCabe’s firing as deputy director of the FBI and referral for criminal prosecution, his serial lying under oath was dryly phrased as “lack of candor.” In this report detailing widespread problems riddled throughout the Clinton email probe, the language is similarly downplayed. That’s particularly true in the executive summary, which attempts to downplay the actual details that fill the report with evidence of poor decision-making, extreme political bias, and problematic patterns of behavior.

  2. FBI Agent Who Led Both The Clinton and Trump Probes Promised He’d Prevent Trump’s Election
  3. Comey Mishandled The Clinton Probe In Multiple Ways
  4. Comey Is Slippery And Weird
  5. FBI Has A Massive Leak Problem And Is Doing Nothing About It
  6. FBI Almost Got Away With Ignoring Clinton Emails On Weiner Laptop
  7. Breathtaking Bias
  8. Clinton Got Breaks, But Some Backfired
  9. Obama Lied When He Said He Knew Nothing About Hillary’s Secret E-mail Scheme
  10. FBI Agent Joked Clinton Associate Who Lied Would Never Be Charged, Questioned Legitimacy Of Investigation
  11. FBI’s Insulting Response

 

Other than the first, I just gave you Mollie’s bullet points, she documents them well, and you do need to read them, which you can in her article, 11 Quick Things To Know About The Inspector General’s Report.

And that last one is very troubling. The FBI doesn’t think it has a problem. It does, it has gotten to the point that a fair size plurality of the electorate is calling for its abolition, and with cause. It is out of the control of anybody, and its bullying practices are increasingly abhorrent, as it’s seen that it is no longer properly enforcing the law, but persecuting individually selected people.

After reading a fair number of reports in the last couple days, I think this is the fairest one, not glossing over problems, but neither contributing to the witchhunt. On the other hand, more often than not lately, the worst interpretations have been the most correct, but one continues to hope for a bottom to the swamp. But we may not be to it yet.

Populism: the Last 50 Years

Frank Cannon at The American Spectator has some thoughts about the assassination of Robert Kennedy 50 years ago this month. Yeah, 1968 was quite the year, a major watershed, seemed like it then and it has proved so.

His impact has resonated well beyond 1968, however. As my late friend Jeff Bell argued in his book, Populism and Elitism, Robert Kennedy’s short-lived campaign drew strongly on populist impulses — that is, an optimism about the ability of people to make decisions about their own lives, rather than relying on elites to do it for them. This approach seemed to be giving Kennedy the momentum in the race, until that fateful moment on June 5th:

Kennedy’s assassination on the night of the California primary put a halt to that effort, not just for 1968 but (in large part) for the decades since. No subsequent liberal leader has made an effective effort to develop a form of left populism… Subsequent polling in 1968 found many white Kennedy voters lining up for Richard Nixon and George Wallace, although, with great difficulty, [Hubert] Humphrey got some of them back by the November election. But no Democratic presidential nominee has ever done as well as Humphrey with these voters in the five elections since. In short, the effort to keep the Democrats’ majority coalition together with a more populist appeal began and ended in the three months of Robert Kennedy’s campaign.

That is, I think beyond question. Many of Kennedy’s policies didn’t appeal to me, even then, but he did, then and now. In truth, of the brothers, with what we know now, he is the only one who does.

In addition, it strikes me that perhaps this is where the traditional liberalism was mortally wounded, as misguided as much of it was, in my view, it was honest and really did want to help people. What we have now merely uses people in an attempt to take and keep power.

In 1964, with the nomination of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party had taken its first tentative steps towards a conservative populism. Since the 1950s, it had been defined by such leaders as Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller, who could best be described as conservative elitists. However, beginning with the tumultuous election campaign of 1968, this ground quickly began to shift. Richard Nixon and his “silent majority” powered a counter-conservative Republican populism, culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan a decade later. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party came to be dominated by elite progressives, who had begun to gradually take over vast swaths of the culture and American institutions.

Since then, this state of affairs has come to predominate, though not without a few twists along the way. After Reagan, the conservatives who had found success with him during his presidency formed their own elite establishment, best represented by institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce, which dominated conservative policymaking, elevating business-friendly policies to the detriment of more populist issues — at least until 2016.

And then came Trump, the heir of both Bobby Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. The author makes the point that Trump is different still again. Rather than conservative, he is anti-progressive (and a lot of that is conservative in nature). But it also owes a fair amount to Teddy Roosevelt, and his love for “The Strenuous Life”.

And in some ways, I suspect it is a very specifically American thing. We really are different, rowdier, prouder, and more passionate about our system, than pretty much anybody in the world. That doesn’t (and never has) precluded us from cooperating with other organizations who have similar goals or opposing those who would overly compromise freedom in any place or time. The main difference really, is that it is the almost unfiltered views of the American people. And the ‘elites’, left and right, don’t like that one bit, but that is how you get more Trump, longer.

A Summit and a Communique

So we have a joint communique. It reads well, it says things that need to happen, and probably its covered in fine leather, the best. What does it mean?

Everything or maybe nothing at all. It’s much too early to tell. On July 5, 1776, Tom Jefferson’s Declaration was mostly a list of people George III thought should be hanged. Its high flown and moving words meant very little until made good in Patriot (and British) blood.

It’s a good start, and you can’t reach the finish if you don’t start. It starts from the fact that last year, the whole nuclear thing became real for Kim, and he got scared right out of his mind when he saw a glimpse of the real power of the United States, sword unsheathed, coming at him, with a president who really would let slip the dogs of war. And to fight through to victory, not some measly little-limited war.

Call it a near-death experience, cause that is pretty much what it was, those change people. Maybe it has here too, he’s a young man, long time left to enjoy life.

Melanie Phillips has as good a write up as I’ve seen.

As Trump himself has said, however, this is merely the start of a process. It has been suggested that his strategy is to reel Kim in over time like a big fish on a line, with every step towards denuclearisation being rewarded by another step in relieving sanctions. And that may be so.

Certainly, Trump’s over-the-top gushing over Kim should not be taken at face value. This was just part of the choreography for his grand theatre of negotiation. Nor do I think it credible that either he or his hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or even more hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton could have failed to factor in the need for robust verification of the de-nuclearisation process and the difficulties in achieving that.

I was most interested by the body language between the two men, and also by something Kim said. Trump’s bombastic bonhomie seemed to me to signify the biggest beast in the jungle beating his chest to demonstrate his dominance; the more effusive the compliments, the louder the message that Trump could afford to be generous because the other guy had lost. It was not designed to make Kim look his equal. It was designed to humiliate.

That’s true, and I doubt it has much to do with Trump’s feelings (or lack thereof) for Kim. It’s a warning, to the Ayatollahs, to China, to the G7, to Putin, to all and sundry that the sheriff is watching them, and limited nonsense will be tolerated.

The only thing that has reduced American dominance in my lifetime is American non-leadership. America is still the worlds most powerful economy coupled with the worlds most powerful military just as it was in 1944. One is well advised to pay attention when such a one speaks.

And Trump is also right on Europe, there is very little support in America for continuing to support Europe, either militarily or economically. The Europeans have grown too arrogant, too sure of their entitlement, too lazy to defend themselves, and the people of America have noticed. Uncle Sugar is retiring. We’ll defend our friends, mostly the ones we restored from communism, and don’t want to go back, but that is close to the limit, and it just might be as anti-German as anti-Russian.

Melanie ends with this, and I think it a fair assessment.

The American strategy towards North Korea cannot be viewed in isolation from its strategy of isolating, weakening and ultimately destroying the Iranian regime. Tehran will be sweating that the outsourcing to Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons programme is not disrupted by the Trump/Kim negotiating process.

It cannot be sure. Trump’s policy of isolating Iran is already working. From being the unrivalled grandmasters of geopolitical chess, the Iranian regime now finds that the board and its pieces have been thrown up into the air by a vandal against the international order whose behaviour it cannot predict. And both China and Russia have already moved as a result to accommodate him.

Who knows where this will end? We cannot at present tell whether Trump will succeed or fail. But one thing seems indisputable: the assistance previously given by the US to the forces of utmost evil in the world has been stopped in its tracks. And only the most unhinged haters of this most extraordinary US President can deny that achievement.

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