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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, April 06, 2018

The Important Fight in California

John Cox
by Newt Gingrich: John Cox is doing something remarkable: He’s giving Republicans hope in California.

A recent survey indicates that Cox is now within striking distance of becoming governor of the infamously liberal state.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Republican candidate John Cox (who I greatly respect and have worked with for years) has been gaining support since January and is now the second-place pick for governor among likely California primary voters. This puts him right behind the leading Democrat and represents a great potential for Cox to take the governorship in November.

This poll result is important because California’s primary system for congressional and statewide elections is a bit unusual. Instead of running individual party primaries, all candidates for governor – regardless of political affiliation – will appear on a single ballot on June 5. The two candidates who earn the most votes move on to the November 6 gubernatorial election. Washington is the only other state that elects both congressional and state-level candidates this way.

It’s a great system for silencing and drowning out political minorities, and it has likely been a big help to California Democrats since it was adopted in 2010. This is why Cox’s polling gains are so important. In the PPIC survey, Cox earned 14 percent support against the five other primary candidates, as well as options for “someone else” and “don’t know.” This was up from 7 percent support in January. The top Democrat still has a significant lead on Cox, but nearly a quarter of likely voters in California remain undecided.

This race is also important for Republicans across the United States because having Cox on the election ballot in November will be vital for keeping the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans currently hold only 14 of the state’s 53 congressional district seats, all of which will be on the ballot this November. Any losses or gains in California could have a serious impact on our ability to keep control of the House.

A survey by SmithJohnson Research found that 99.6 percent of California Republicans said they planned to vote in the June primary, with 97 percent reporting they “definitely will vote.” However, when asked if they would vote in the November election if there were only Democratic options for governor, only 56.1 percent of these Republican voters responded affirmatively, and only 42.8 percent reported they “definitely will vote.” If California Republicans do not turn out in force in June and November, the Republican majority and President Trump’s agenda could be in trouble.

Clearly, Californians would benefit from Cox’s conservative leadership. The state is ranked worst for individual income taxes and 48th overall by the Tax Foundation’s 2018 State Business Tax Climate Index. Cox will work to cut taxes in California so that Californians will see more take-home pay and small businesses will be more able to grow, succeed, expand, and create more jobs. This includes the hugely unpopular gas tax that the Democratic California legislature and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed into law last year.

The expensive welfare and government dependency programs California’s liberal leadership has embraced and enacted over the years have also made it the “poverty capital of America,” as Kerry Jackson wrote in an LA Times op-ed.

Jackson, a fellow of California studies at the Pacific Research Institute, pointed out that duplicative state and local welfare programs in California have resulted in nearly $958 billion in spending from 1992 to 2015, yet when cost of living is factored in, California has the highest poverty rate among states in America. The state is home to 12 percent of the national population but about one in three of our welfare recipients. As Jackson puts it, “The generous spending, then, has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse.”

Establishing a system that promotes work and capability over welfare and dependency would do wonders to bring struggling Californians out of poverty. We know this system works. We saw it work when we put work requirements on welfare benefits when I was serving in Congress, and we’ve seen it work in states such as Maine, where Republicans leadership moved 80,000 people out of the Medicaid program and 70,000 off food stamps.

Following these pro-work models, Cox could do wonders for replacing poverty with prosperity in California. You can bet the Democratic candidates will simply double down on the government spending model and make the problem worse.

Democratic leadership has also made California a haven for criminals who are in the country illegally. Cox has pledged to end California’s lawless sanctuary policies and work with federal officials to get those who are in the country illegally and committing crimes off the streets and out of the country. As governor, Cox would put the safety and interests of Californians over those of criminal non-citizens.

If Republicans are serious about keeping and growing our governing majority – and making America great again – we need to engage and build momentum in every election, at every level. Each fight we win will make winning the next ones more and more likely.

There’s no doubt: California will be a difficult battleground. Our opponents are entrenched and well-funded. However, if we can win there, it will show the nation that we can win everywhere.
Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.

Tags: Newt Gingrich, commentary, Important Fight, California, John Cox  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Citizen's Righteous Rant Defending 2nd Amendment Goes Viral

Debra Heine
by Debra Heine: A North Carolina gun rights advocate gave an impassioned speech defending the Second Amendment earlier this week, and the video of his speech quickly went viral. His passion was especially impressive considering the Greensboro resident isn't even a gun owner.

Mark Robinson's unplanned and unscripted comments came during a city council meeting Tuesday evening, where residents were debating whether a gun show should be canceled in the wake of the Parkland high school massacre. Although he does not currently own a firearm, Robinson passionately supports the rights of others to bear arms.

"I've heard a whole lot of people in here talking tonight about this group and that group, domestic violence and blacks, this minority and that minority," Robinson began. "What I want to know is -- when are you all gonna start standing up for the majority? Here's who the majority is -- I'm the majority! I'm a law-abiding citizen who's never shot anybody. I've never committed a serious crime -- never committed a felony," he added.

"It seems every time we have one of these shootings, nobody wants to put the blame where it goes, which is at the shooter's feet. You want to put it at my feet! You want to turn around an restrict my right -- constitutional right that's spelled out in black and white -- you want to restrict my right to buy a firearm and protect myself from some of the very people you are talking about in here tonight,” Robinson continued.

"It's ridiculous! I don't think Rod Serling could come up with a better script!" he quipped, referring to the creator of the Twilight Zone, the science-fiction, psychological-supernatural horror anthology television series that ran in the early sixties. "It doesn't make any sense!" he exclaimed. “The law-abiding citizens of this community, of other communities, we are the first ones taxed and the last ones considered.”

Robinson's rant is a thing of beauty:

Robinson joined Fox News' Fox and Friends Friday morning to explain why he felt motivated to speak out.

"I see a concerted push to end the Second Amendment. It's simply not going to happen and the citizens of this country need to stand up and push back because if they can take away the Second Amendment, the First Amendment is obviously right behind it," he said.

"After hearing some of the comments, I could not hold back. ... I do not intend to sit idly by while politicians make rules and take away my rights as a law-abiding citizen," said Robinson. "Now if I commit a crime, I expect my rights to be withheld. But until that time, I expect to have all the rights that are due to me under the Constitution," he added.

"Good people need to start standing up," he noted. "There used to be a saying -- 'write your congressman.' I'm not going to write my congressman, I'm going to find my congressman and I'm going to confront him face-to-face and I'm going to tell him -- you're not going to run over me anymore, you're not going to put me last. You're going to put me first because the law-abiding citizens of this country -- we're the ones that make the wheels turn and we need to have our voices heard!"

He told the Fox and Friends hosts that he hopes his viral speech encourages other Americans to also stand up and defend their rights.
Debra Heine is a Catholic, mom of six and long time political pundit. She has written for PJ Media and several blogs including her own, Nice Deb!

Tags: Mark Robinson, Citizen's Righteous Rant, Defending 2nd Amendment, Goes Viral, Debra Heine, PJMedia To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Are We Rolling Downhill Like A Snowball Headed For Hell?

. . . The kernel of wisdom in the "declinism" impulse.
by Bruce Thornton: Country music legend Merle Haggard released “Are the Good Times Really Over” in 1982. Like his earlier songs “Okie from Muskogee” and “Fightin’ Side of Me,” Haggard was looking back to simpler times, before the sixties revolution began the two-bit Nietzschean “transvaluation of all values,” especially the disdain for traditional virtues like patriotism and faith. Progressives and leftists dismissed Haggard as a naïve hillbilly at best, and a white racist pining for his lost privilege at worst.

But the question in Haggard’s chorus still persists in our culture and politics, with prophecies of doom coming from both ends of the political spectrum. So, are “the good times really over”? Or is anxiety over declinism misplaced?

After all, worrying over decline is universal. In constitutional governments, much of it comes from the melodramatic hyperbole of political rhetoric. Ever since ancient Athens, prophesizing doom is a way to frighten voters into choosing one party and set of policies instead of another. After the disappointment of 1968, the left-leaning Democrats particularly turned to hysteria and hyperbole to salve their wounds and jump-start the “fundamental transformation of America.” Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and his son were all cast as portents of the coming doom: the destruction of civil liberties, the dismantling of the democratic order, nuclear annihilation, the creation of a plutocracy––these are just a few of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse predicted by Dems.

The ongoing attacks on Donald Trump are just a more hysterical and hyperbolic version of this age-old staple of electoral politics. From Robert Kagan’s “this is how fascism comes to America,” to Thomas Friedman’s looming “constitutional crisis,” bipartisan disappointment seasoned with class prejudice conjures up these signs of imminent doom that only the elite political class can ward off. Yet for now, the resilience of the Constitutional order has made theses Jeremiads mere sound and fury.

Another, more insidious response to declinism is to remind us how good we in the West have it. Popular explainer Steven Pinker reminds us just how much progress has been made over the last 150 years. Electricity, homes networked to treated water and sewers, antibiotics, pain-killers, communication and transportation technologies, governments based on consent rather than force, historically unprecedented levels of personal freedom, modern medicine, the wider distribution of wealth, the decline in inter-personal violence and large-scale wars have all created more leisure, more nutrition, longer, safer, and healthier lives, and greater freedom from the tyrannies of nature, prejudice, and irrational superstition. Even the most ardent declinist would not want to return to 1870, before these innovations began their development.

Yet just because declinism is a political cliché, and our material lives are so good, doesn’t mean that decline is just the product of electoral calculations, or ignorance of our good fortune, or our susceptibility to making judgments based on the flood of dramatic images in which we are daily submerged. Cultures and civilizations do decline and disappear, and the causes are not just material, such as depletion of resources or destruction by invaders. More important are the ideas and beliefs of a culture that weaken it from within, causing the loss of faith and confidence in who we are as a people, what we believe, and why we prefer to live as we do.

History shows us that certain political ideas can undermine a society’s cohesion, its stabilizing narrative and belief in its goodness that motivate a people to die and kill in its defense. Leftist ideas like radical egalitarianism, centralized power, or collectivism, for example, are contrary to human nature, and so must resort to force and tyranny in order to realize those ideals. The cost of this ambition is political freedom, human rights, respect for life, moral vigor, personal autonomy and dignity, and self-rule according to the law––the foundational ideas of the West, and the reasons why the West is for now so globally dominant.

Policies and ideas that chip away at these goods, that denigrate the belief in the superiority of a life lived by those ideals, and that marginalize patriotic affection for one’s way of life, will lead to an insidious process of decline. At that point, as we see in Western Europe today, once the will to defend one’s civilization and to nourish its foundational goods is lost, political-social cohesion begins to weaken and eventually fragment. The process is slow, and its effects often not visible until the disease is well advanced.

The modern West displays numerous symptoms of this civilizational failure of nerve. Secularism has triumphed, sweeping away the spiritual foundations of our virtues, principles, and morals. Traditional wisdom, the “democracy of the dead,” as Chesterton called it, is scorned and denigrated by the “small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” Our history and its heroes are scrutinized for sins to be judged and condemned, weakening their role as exemplars of our cultural achievements. Martial valor and service have become the purview of a small portion of our citizenry, and satisfying the people’s desire for butter rather than guns is the highest goal of our political leaders.

The pleasures of the body, subsidized by our unprecedented wealth, have replaced the development of the mind’s critical judgment, leaving us prey to intellectual charlatanism and fads. Families are broken, leaving children adrift to be raised by the streets or popular culture. Nature is simultaneously worshiped as a threatened mother, even as its truths about sex identity and the costs of sexual license are cast aside. The future of our civilization is a matter of indifference to people who don’t want children and the sacrifices they require. The tragic truths of the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions have been replaced by the therapeutic cult of personal feelings and sentimental regard even for the enemies sworn to our destruction.

In short, what makes us human, our minds and the cultures they have projected into the world, has been reduced to the merely material. That is why the Panglossian argument of a vulgar materialist like Pinker is more dangerous than political rhetoric, and in the end is a distortion of creatures with minds and free will, who do not live by bread alone, no matter how various and abundant it may be. Without something more than the mere material, we cannot be truly fulfilled. We will retreat into sordid hedonism and cheap sentimentalism, living only for the self, averse to risk and sacrifice, and willing to barter away our freedom if only we can consume for one more day.

If history teaches us anything, it is that such a people will be overwhelmed by those who still believe that there is something, even if that something is evil, worth killing and dying for. Political speech that exhorts us to beware of bad ideas and to fight against their destructive consequences is not just a campaign device, but the first duty of a true leader who sincerely cares for his country and its future.

For decline, as the cliché goes, is a choice, not a destiny. Haggard ends his song with some good advice: “Stop rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell/Stand up for the flag and let’s all ring the liberty bell.” Simplistic and corny, the jaded sophisticates no doubt think, typical of retrograde “deplorables.” But that doesn’t make it any less true than was Churchill’s rousing call after the Munich debacle for a “supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor” so that “we rise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”
Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase. He contributes to FrontPage Mag.

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No Trade War, What Is FBI Hiding, Friday Of Tires

Gary Bauer
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: No Trade War - The ongoing war of words between Washington and Beijing has rattled the financial markets and spooked the media.  President Trump yesterday suggested he might impose tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese goods.  The Chinese Ministry of Commerce shot back, saying:

"We will immediately fight back with a major response. . . We feel America is very arrogant. . . We won't start a war, but if someone does, we will definitely fight back."

If there is any "arrogance" here, it's coming from China.  Beijing has been waging a trade war against us for years.  It routinely steals U.S. intellectual property, which saps hundreds of billions from us.

Unfortunately, the fake news media are overreacting again.  These are merely announcements of what may happen if trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing fail.

As White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said yesterday, "None of the proposed tariffs are in place yet.  The president is the best negotiator on the planet."

This article notes there is a review process that can take "at least two months" while talks continue.  Meanwhile, even CNN is acknowledging that we hold tremendous leverage.

And here's something you won't hear from Big Media:  Most Americans support President Trump's efforts to force China to play fair.  The latest Harvard/Harris poll finds that:
  • 71% say the U.S. should take steps to correct our trade imbalance with China.
  • 67% support punishing China for its theft of U.S. intellectual property.
  • 61% support Trump's tariff threats to negotiate better trade deals.
  • 58% support Trump's announcement of $30 billion in tariffs against China.
  • 55% said most recent trade agreements have cost U.S. jobs.
"What Is The FBI Hiding?" - That is the question columnist Kimberley Strassel is asking in today's Wall Street Journal. In spite of prodding by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the FBI is still refusing to comply with an eight-month-old subpoena from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

What is Nunes after?  He wants to see the "electronic communication" that formally launched the Trump/Russia investigation.

Here's why this matters:  Initially we thought that the Steele dossier was the trigger for the investigation.

Yet when it was revealed that the dossier was in fact a partisan opposition research document paid for by the Clinton campaign, the FBI leaked to the New York Times that it was really a conversation by George Papadopoulos that triggered the whole thing.

But as Strassel notes, that doesn't make sense. The FBI didn't get a warrant on Papadopoulos nor did it interview him until well after the election.  He was clearly a bit player in the investigation.

Something stinks here.  In fact, a whole lot of things stink.

Chairman Nunes should go to court now to compel the FBI to surrender whatever it is hiding.

Speaking Of Stinking Things. . . Earlier this week, I wrote that the president should avoid speaking with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  Well, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has a brilliant take on the idea:  Trump should only talk to Mueller if he is given the same deal Hillary Clinton got from the FBI.

Attkisson laid it all out in a series of tweets: 
  1. An exoneration letter is drafted in advance.
  2. Immunity is given to top Trump aides (and they're allowed to sit in on interview).
  3. Interview isn't recorded.
  4. Lead official (Mueller) doesn't attend.
  5. #2 official's family [on Mueller team] has received large donations from Trump political friends.
  6. Prior to the interview, lead official meets privately on plane tarmac with
    Trump's wife (to discuss grandchildren).
  7. Main interviewer has expressed disdain for Trump's opponents, such as discussing an "insurance plan" with higher-ups to undermine them. If the same terms aren't offered…Was Clinton's interview process unfair? Or is the one proposed for Trump unfair?
  8. As long as they believe Trump didn't intend any harm, he's let off the hook for any violations.
  9. If Trump becomes a target, it should be referred to as a "matter" not an investigation.
  10. Trump aides should be permitted to destroy subpoenaed or relevant public records and wipe relevant servers with a cloth or something.
That is a brilliant summary of just how much the "Deep State's" investigation of Hillary Clinton reeked of corruption.

I know Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  He is a good man.  I am glad he has someone from the outside (Utah federal prosecutor John Huber) investigating the staggering evidence of corruption at the Justice Department.

But at the end of the day, it's up to us -- "We The People," the voters -- to guarantee that the D.C. Swamp gets drained and that the "Deep State" is defeated.

President Trump can't do it alone.  He needs more allies in Congress.

Friday Of Tires - Thick black smoke filled the air along the Israeli/Gaza border today.  For days, Palestinians have been gathering hundreds of tires, and this morning they set them ablaze.

At the same time, Hamas urged Palestinians to swarm the border, hoping the smokescreen would obscure the view of Israeli soldiers.

Now think about that for a moment.  This is not a peaceful protest.  Thousands of Gazans are massing along Israel's border, threatening an invasion. (Trust me -- they are not there hoping to gain access to Israeli shopping malls.)

Once again, Hamas is exploiting the Palestinian people as human shields, as cannon fodder.  Only this time, they have taken the extra step of ensuring that even more civilians will be harmed because they are deliberately trying to prevent the IDF from being able to identify the terrorists from the civilians.

That, my friends, is the war crime.  Not what Israel does in defense of its borders.

Yesterday, White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt condemned Hamas and urged the Palestinians to avoid any provocations against Israel's sovereignty.  In a statement, Greenblatt declared:

"We condemn leaders and protestors who call for violence or who send protestors — including children — to the fence, knowing that they may be injured or killed. Instead, we call for a renewed focus by all parties on finding solutions to the dire humanitarian challenges facing Gazans."

Unfortunately, Hamas is not interested in finding solutions to Gaza's humanitarian challenges.  Hamas is the cause of Gaza's humanitarian challenges.  As of this writing, seven Gazans have reportedly been killed in clashes with Israeli forces today, while hundreds have been injured.

Again, the burning tires, the Molotov cocktails, the hurled rocks, the attempted breeches of Israel's border -- none of that is Israel's fault.  The fault lies entirely with Hamas.
Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

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Mexican Standoff . . .

. . . Democrat Voter registration drive? A Caravan of Central American migrants is headed to the U.S. border with the blessings of the Democrats.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

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Syrian Showdown: Trump vs. the Generals

by Patrick Buchanan: With ISIS on the run in Syria, President Trump this week declared that he intends to make good on his promise to bring the troops home.

“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home,” said the president. We’ve gotten “nothing out of the $7 trillion (spent) in the Middle East in the last 17 years. … So, it’s time.”

Not so fast, Mr. President.

For even as Trump was speaking he was being contradicted by his Centcom commander Gen. Joseph Votel. “A lot of good progress has been made” in Syria, Votel conceded, “but the hard part … is in front of us.”

Moreover, added Votel, when we defeat ISIS, we must stabilize Syria and see to its reconstruction.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been even more specific:

“It is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, as they chart a course to achieve a new political future.”

But has not Syria’s “political future” already been charted?

Bashar Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, has won his seven-year civil war. He has retaken the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. He now controls most of the country that we and the Kurds do not.

According to The Washington Post, Defense Secretary James Mattis is also not on board with Trump and “has repeatedly said … that U.S. troops would be staying in Syria for the foreseeable future to guarantee stability and political resolution to the civil war.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who fears a “Shiite corridor” from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, also opposes Trump. “If you take those (U.S.) troops out from east Syria,” the prince told Time, “you will lose that checkpoint … American troops should stay (in Syria) at least for the mid-term, if not the long-term.”

Bibi Netanyahu also wants us to stay in Syria.

Wednesday, Trump acceded to his generals. He agreed to leave our troops in Syria until ISIS is finished. However, as the 2,000 U.S. troops there are not now engaging ISIS — many of our Kurd allies are going back north to defend border towns threatened by Turkey — this could take a while.

Yet a showdown is coming. And, stated starkly, the divide is this:

Trump sees al-Qaida and ISIS as the real enemy and is prepared to pull all U.S. forces out of Syria as soon as the caliphate is eradicated. And if Assad is in power then, backed by Russia and Iran, so be it.

Trump does not see an Assad-ruled Syria, which has existed since the Nixon presidency, as a great threat to the United States. He is unwilling to spill more American blood to overturn the outcome of a war that Syria, Iran and Russia have already won. Nor is he prepared to foot the bill for the reconstruction of Syria, or for any long-term occupation of that quadrant of Syria that we and our allies now hold.

Once ISIS is defeated, Trump wants out of the war and out of Syria.

The Israelis, Saudis and most of our foreign policy elite, however, vehemently disagree. They want the U.S. to hold onto that slice of Syria east of the Euphrates that we now occupy, and to use the leverage of our troops on Syrian soil to effect the removal of President Assad and the expulsion of the Iranians.

The War Party does not concede Syria is lost. It sees the real battle as dead ahead. It is eager to confront and, if need be, fight Syrians, Iranians and Shiite militias should they cross to the east bank of the Euphrates, as they did weeks ago, when U.S. artillery and air power slaughtered them in the hundreds, Russians included.

If U.S. troops do remain in Syria, the probability is high that Trump, like Presidents Bush and Obama before him, will be ensnared indefinitely in the Forever War of the Middle East.

President Erdogan of Turkey, who has seized Afrin from the Syrian Kurds, is threatening to move on Manbij, where Kurdish troops are backed by U.S. troops. If Erdogan does not back away from his threat, NATO allies could start shooting at one another.

As the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria are both uninvited and unwelcome, a triumphant Assad is likely soon to demand that we remove them from his country.

Will we defy President Assad then, with the possibility U.S. planes and troops could be engaging Syrians, Russians, Iranians and Shiite militias, in a country where we have no right to be?

Trump is being denounced as an isolationist. But what gains have we reaped from 17 years of Middle East wars — from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen — to justify all the blood shed and the treasure lost?

And how has our great rival China suffered from not having fought in any of these wars?
Patrick Buchanan is currently a conservative columnist, political analyst, chairman of The American Cause foundation and an editor of The American Conservative. He has been a senior advisor to three Presidents, a two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and was the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He blogs at the Patrick J. Buchanan.

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Who Are the Luckiest?

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: Dennis Prager stirred up some controversy by saying something progressives would never let you say. As a Jew, he says that American Jews are the luckiest Jews in Jewish history. He also says that about many other ethnic groups.

As I mentioned in a previous commentary, his father wrote his senior thesis on anti-Semitism in America. Nevertheless, he taught his two sons that they were the luckiest Jews in Jewish history. Dennis Prager still believes that, even though he has written a book about anti-Semitism and taught Jewish history at Brooklyn College. He reminds us that many more Israeli Jews have moved to America than American Jews have moved to Israel. That is not a reflection on Israel but a reflection on how good it is for Jews to live in America.

He then moves on to black Americans. Despite the existence of racism in America, he also makes the case that black Americans are among the luckiest blacks in the world. He even quotes from Keith Richburg, a distinguished black journalist who admits that though his ancestors were brought here on slave ships, he was grateful to be an American when he saw the present-day horrors of Africa. In a moment of candor, he revealed: “I thank God my ancestor made that voyage.”

What about people from Latin America? Dennis Prager comes to the same conclusion. They are among the luckiest Latinos in the world. How could they (or anyone else) deny this fact when millions of Latin Americans have been willing to leave their family, their friends, their culture, and their language to come to America? And we know there are tens of millions more who desire to do the same.

Of course, there are many in this country that claim America is the source of evil. They claim that racism and bigotry are alive. They vilify the founders. They ignore the good of America and focus only on what is wrong. They may not admit it, but they are also some of the luckiest people in the world. I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.
Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

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The Myth of the Monoliths

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: According to organizers of the “March for Our lives,” the National Rifle Association is wholly evil, a corrupter of democracy, a malign presence straight out of Mordor, bent upon murder — a monolithic influence responsible for every mass shooting event.

The clearest expression of this is by young David Hogg, who figured that the NRA’s sum of contributions to Sen. Marco Rubio, when divided not by the number slain in the recent Parkland shooting but instead by the total number of students throughout Florida, came out to $1.05 per student.

Forget the computation — think nasty imputation.

What Hogg and his friends in the media elide is a simple little fact: the NRA is a membership organization. When critics of the Second Amendment point at the NRA and shout “evil!” they are really pointing at the organization’s millions of members.

People, not malign institutions.

Also neglected? The fact that, as near as I can make out, not one NRA member has mown down students in any school or church in America. Instead, at least one civilian NRA member took out his AR-15 to bring down one such mass-murdering shooter.

“Evil NRA” talk is misdirection and slander.

Also not a monolith? Students. Christian Britschgi, writing at Reason, notes that teenagers made up only 10 percent of marchers at the recent rally, and, catching a whiff of astroturf, cites a poll that found less than a majority of Millenials favoring an “assault rifle” ban.

Citizens of all ages disagree. Pretending that all kids are against guns, or that the NRA is anything other than a citizen advocacy group, distorts reality.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
Paul Jacob is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

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Environmental Radicals Go All Out Against Scott Pruitt

by Printus LeBlanc: If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you know there is a concerted effort to get Scott Pruitt fired. He has been a constant target of the left, but the recent announcement about ending “secret science” in the EPA has sent the radical environmentalists crazy. Who is doing this, and where are they getting the money?

The attacks have been fast and furious against Pruitt. One of the first complaints flung at Pruitt was about the cost of his air travel. The administrator took a trip to Italy to meet with his European counterparts in June of 2017. The left is apparently upset that it cost slightly over $30,000 for the security detail to accompany Pruitt.

What most of the mainstream media is not telling the people is that since Scott Pruitt assumed the EPA Administrator post he has received four times the threats against himself and his family than the previous EPA Administrator received. The extra security and first-class seating are needed to protect Mr. Pruitt. If the radical environmentalists don’t like the cost, they should stop threatening him.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) even dared to complain about the EPA’s spending on the Pruitt detail stating the amount is, “excessive or inappropriate and whether it detracts from the agency’s ability to investigate environmental crimes.” Maybe if the Senator from Rhode Island would speak to the radical environmentalists about their threats to Mr. Pruitt’s safety the EPA would not have to spend so much. I bet he never complains about security costs for the Senate.

Another complaint centered around Pruitt renting a room from a friend at $50 per night, before he found a place for his family to join him. It is only a story because the friend happens to be a lobbyist for an energy company. The EPA’s chief ethics counsel Justina Fugh cleared the stay stating, “the arrangement wasn’t an ethics issue because Pruitt paid rent.” A quick search on craigslist will verify that $50 per night is the market price for a room.

One of the critical groups leading the charge against Mr. Pruitt is the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). The radical group was founded in 2002 by Eric Schaeffer, a former disgruntled EPA employee. EIP is dedicated to ending the fossil fuel economy. Seems like a typical radical environmental group, until the funding comes to light.

EIP has received over $700,000 from a group known as the Energy Foundation. A 2014 Senate report called the Energy Foundation a “pass through.” It is an organization that receives tens of millions from other charities and foundations to dole out to groups that can do the activist work the donors are not allowed to do. It is one of these main funders of the Energy Foundation that raises eyebrows.

The Sea Change Foundation is a San Francisco based group that has given tens of millions to the Energy Foundation. The Sea Change Foundation gets their money from a variety of funders, but $23 million came from Klein Ltd out of Bermuda. Klein Ltd is interesting because according to a report exploring the link between environmental groups and the Kremlin, “Klein Ltd. Klein Ltd., a corporation that ‘only exists on paper’ and is based out of a Bermuda law firm called Wakefield Quin.”

Wakefield Quin is a law firm tied to Russian oligarchs Leonid Reiman and Mickail Fridman (two close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin), along with Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft. Because of Bermuda secrecy laws, this is where the trail of environmental cash ends. This begs the question, are firms connected to Russia funding the radical environmental movement? This would make sense considering the energy policies of Scott Pruitt.

The energy policies of President Trump, enacted by Scott Pruitt, scare radical environmentalists and Russia to death. Russia profits financially and geopolitically when energy prices are high. Oil and gas revenue make up a sizable portion of Russian government revenue and cannot be happy the U.S. is moving towards energy dominance. An energy dominant America, embodied by policies that end the war on coal, and supporting drilling and fracking, do not allow environmentalists get to push unproven unreliable green policies. The USSR was famous for using radical leftists as “useful idiots” in the Cold War, and now it looks like the more things change the more they stay the same.

Clearly, there are no valid claims being levied against Scott Pruitt. The left simply hates him (yes hates, just look at the threats) and will do anything to stop him and push their radical agenda, even if they have taken Russian money in the past to cripple U.S. energy production. The President has already voiced support for Pruitt, and he should continue to do so and ignore these baseless attacks from people that want him to fail.
Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

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Q&A: Trump Sending Troops to the Border

President Trump signed a proclamation Wednesday to
deploy National Guard troops tothe U.S.-Mexico border.
by Peter Parisi: President Donald Trump once again caught all of the pundit universe by surprise.

He was faced with a challenge to his tough border control position from the activist group People Without Borders and its caravan of 1,200 to 1,500 migrants determined to prove sovereign boundaries between nations don’t count, and should therefore be ignored.

The proposal by Trump to deploy the military on the U.S.-Mexican border has raised many questions. We asked Heritage Foundation visiting fellow Steve Bucci what he thinks of the idea.

Q: What do you think of President Trump’s approach to the current crisis regarding the so-called “caravan”?

He took a two-pronged approach. He worked with the Mexican government to get them to help stop the group’s movement north, and then announced he would use our military to secure the border.

The first part went perfectly. The Mexicans, recognizing their sovereignty was being trampled also, and not wanting a huge dust-up on the U.S.-Mexican border, acted swiftly and correctly. Score one for the Trump administration’s hemispheric diplomacy and U.S.-Mexican cooperation.

The second part has set off an enormous amount of hand-wringing, finger-wagging, and, sadly, not nearly enough conscious analysis.

Q: Is this the first time a president has sent troops to the border?

No. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama did so.

Bush sent 6,000 volunteer National Guard troops south from mid-2006 to mid-2007, and then tapered off to 3,000 for the next 12 months.

These forces were in Title 32 status, meaning they were under the control of the governors of the border states, but funded by the feds.

In that status, they can have broad powers (including law enforcement) without breaching the Posse Comitatus Act. (That is the law that prohibits the federal military—active duty and National Guard who have been fully federalized, both funded and commanded by federal authorities—from conducting law enforcement activities domestically.)

A policy decision was made to not use them that way, but instead to maximize their abilities to “free up” the Border Patrol to enforce our laws. The Guardsmen did admin, logistics, engineering, intelligence, surveillance, and transport. In the two years, which cost about $1.2 billion, the Border Patrol was able to cut crossings tremendously and grow its own manpower to a more functional level.

Obama did a similar emergency surge deployment, albeit much smaller and shorter (1,200-plus personnel for about a year).

Q: It seems like we do not know enough of the details to know what exactly the White House is proposing. Therefore, is this early criticism unfounded?

I agree that worries should be muted a bit. Trump has not yet said how many troops will be deployed, or been specific with what they will do, or how long they will stay, except for the general statement that they will stay until the wall is built.

All that leaves things very wide open. What he has proposed is not an illegal use of the military, and is not at all unprecedented.

It remains to be seen if it is good policy or will be effective. Before condemning it, we need to determine what “it” is.

Q: So, you think it is possible to effectively use the military to help secure the U.S. border?

If the president and his advisers (Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and the border state governors) propose a reasonable set of parameters, this may in fact be a good move.

It could also go badly if they overreach. The suddenness of the announcement is a little disconcerting, but like it or not, that is Trump’s style.

It is very likely that the departments of Defense and Homeland Security will look to the previous operations as models to scope their plans now. That sort of reasonable and measured use of the National Guard is not just the most likely answer, but one with which most folks could live.

It keeps the folks in military uniforms out of the vast majority of direct contact with the attempted lawbreakers, and has them doing tasks for which they are trained and organized.

Q: You mentioned that both Bush and Obama used the military on the border in the past. Are there any major differences from the situation today?

Today, the crisis is less well-defined, although People Without Borders has promised continued marches with the intent of “busting” our border.

There is also a steady stream of illegal alien crossings estimated at 1,000 a day. Not the huge numbers of the earlier periods, but not a trickle either.

While we hope the Mexican government will continue to be a constructive partner as they were in the present incident, that could change. Preparing for a bad turn of events is not unreasonable.

Another difference is that during Operation Jump Start, the Bush-era operation, we had much lower levels of Border Patrol agents and much less infrastructure/tech. The force-multiplier effect then was larger than we could expect today.

Combined with the fewer border crossings than in 2006, the bang for your buck would be lower today.

Additionally, the military today is significantly underfunded and has been for years. Funding the entire thing with Defense Department money will be a serious drain on a budget that got its first chance at health only recently.

If the operation drags on too long, this could be a detriment to our overall national defense.

Q: So, I guess it is safe to say you are cautiously optimistic about using the military to secure the border?

The bottom line is this: Trump is right to do something.

He is well within his authority to secure the border with the military, and if so, the National Guard is a very reasonable tool to use. But without the details, we must ask for more information.

The size, the duration, and the mandate/rules of engagement of the forces are critical, as yet unknowns.

Hopefully, the Trump administration will make those calls expeditiously, transparently, and wisely. Until that time, we should be supportive, but watchful.
Peter Parisi (@SBucci) served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, is a visiting research fellow at The Heritage Foundation and an editor and writer for The Daily Signal.

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It’s Getting Harder for Democrats to Deny They’re the Party of Flat-Out Citizen Disarmament

The historically ignorant have no idea what they’re really
demanding. Those manipulating them understand perfectly.
by David Codrea: “Karen Carter Peterson, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, has distinguished herself as the highest-profile Democrat in the country to outright call for a repeal of the Second Amendment,” The Advocate notes. “Last week, Peterson sent out a tweet with the words, ‘Repeal the Second Amendment.’ The tweet also linked to a New York Times column by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, arguing for a repeal of the Second Amendment.”

First of all, Peterson is more than a state politico. She’s Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

As for Stevens, his arguments fall apart simply by comparing them to what the Founders and past Supreme Court rulings have said. And while Stevens was a Republican nominee, he was not the first such “GOP justice” who betrayed the expectations of those who appointed him. William Brennan, Earl Warren, Warren Burger and David Souter all come to mind — because they acted more like Democrats.

When it comes to guns, depriving the people of, as the Miller Court put it, “ordinary military equipment … that … could contribute to the common defense,” and of what Tench Coxe called “the birthright of an American,” is part of the Democrat Party platform. Those “weapons of war” they want to ban (along with a host of other prior restraint infringements) are precisely what we’re entitled to have for reasons the Founders made clear.

There’s a federal so-called “assault weapon” ban out there that Democrat oath-breaker David Cicilline of Rhode Island has been trying to force down our throats for several years now—fortunately, it has never had more than a one percent chance of enactment, but significantly, it has gained 175 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats.

But what about so-called “pro-gun Democrats”? I maintain there is no such thing. Sure, you’ll get politicians in hunting country who appeal to the sport shooter crowd and have to vote a certain way in order to get elected—the Party allows for that so it can increase its power and influence and advance other agenda items. But when you get right down to it, not a one of them will oppose a nominee like Obama or Hillary for president or Sotomayor or Kagan for the Supreme Court, they all support the cultural terraforming of the country in order to gain Democrat voters, and they’ll even betray constituents on guns when it suits their purposes.

Remember A-rated “pro-gun Democrat” and gopher hunter Jon Tester? Remember what this phony “champion of the right to bear arms said when he sided with Bloomberg’s Everytown to deny “allowing” peaceable American gun owners to lawfully carry their firearms when doing business with post offices?

Or here’s another one: Chris Coster, whose “proven record of defending the Second Amendment” evidently included shilling for Hillary and rolling over for Obama executive orders on guns. And don’t get me started on “proven champion of the Second Amendment” (snark) Harry Reid, Joe Manchin, Kirsten Gillibrand…

I could do this all day. The ones who should have to are the paid staffers at NRA who convinced their members to vote for these frauds.

Admittedly, there is no shortage of Republican turncoats (and let’s not forget that neocon George Will called for repeal decades ago). When I see them, I call them out. No matter how high up the food chain. That’s why I recommend never donating to the party, but only to individual candidates who have proven they mean what they say. By and large, when there’s a major push for citizen disarmament, the Republicans need to be managed to keep the herd from spooking and bolting, but the Democrats are the ones trying to start the stampede.

And their constituents are fine with that. Hell, they demand it.

“The vast majority of Democrats also support banning all semi-automatic weapons,” National Review reports. “More than a third of the Democratic party would do away with the Second Amendment [and] Democrats are evenly split on banning all handguns (including revolvers) except those carried by law enforcement.”

And that in turn “inspires” the media to offer advocacy essays like “Repeal the Second Amendment” and “More Democrats Should Be Calling for the Repeal of the Second Amendment.”

“Progressives” who haven’t thought through the logistics and the resistance that trying it would spawn evidently believe it’s simply a matter of getting enough votes.

It’s not a crazy idea,” Christopher M. Norwood, J.D., Spokesman for the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida and a Democratic Executive Committee Member for Miami-Dade County insists.

Sure it is, Chris. You just haven’t thought it through.

None of them have, because a repeal would not eradicate what the Heller court and the Cruikshank court before it recognized as a preexisting right, and some who view it as such will not go gentle into that good night.
David Codrea blogs at The War on Guns, is a field editor/columnist for GUNS Magazine, and and writes for other orgaizations including Oath Keepers.

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The Distortions of Our Unelected Officials

Ex-CIA Director John Brennan
by Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: On March 17, ex-CIA Director John Brennan tweeted about the current president of the United States: "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. ... America will triumph over you."

That outburst from the former head of the world's premier spy agency seemed a near threat to a sitting president, and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted that it probably was: "Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan."

If there is such a thing as a dangerous "deep state" of elite but unelected federal officials who feel that they are untouchable and unaccountable, then John Brennan is the poster boy.

Immediately after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, the careerist Brennan quickly reinvented himself as a critic of the very methodologies that he once, as a George W. Bush administration official, had insisted were effective. Brennan was initially appointed Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, and then took over the CIA after the abrupt and mysterious resignation of Gen. David Petraeus following the 2012 election.

Brennan claimed that intelligence agencies had not missed clear indications in 2009 that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called "underwear bomber," would try to take down a U.S. airliner. Just days later when his denials were ridiculed, Brennan flipped and blasted intelligence agencies for their laxity.

In 2011, Brennan falsely alleged that the Obama administration's drone program had not caused a single civilian death in Pakistan over the previous year. In truth, around 50 civilians had been killed by drones since the 9/11 attacks.

The same year, Brennan offered various versions of the American killing of Osama bin Laden. His misleading narratives required White House revisions.

In March 2014, Brennan denied accusations that CIA analysts had hacked the computers of U.S. Senate staffers to find out what they knew about possible CIA roles in enhanced interrogations. After he was caught in a lie, Brennan was forced to apologize to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Most recently, in May 2017, Brennan testified under oath before Congress that he had no knowledge during the 2016 presidential campaign of the origins of the Fusion GPS/Christopher Steele dossier. Nor, Brennan claimed, was he aware that the FBI and the Department of Justice had used the infamous file to obtain surveillance warrants from the FISA court before and after the election.

Several sources, however, have said that Brennan was not only aware of the Steele dossier, but wanted the FBI to use it to pursue rumors about Trump. Brennan reportedly briefed Democratic Sen. Harry Reid on the dossier. Armed with those rumors, Reid then became insistent that they be leaked before the 2016 the election, according to reports.

Brennan is typical of the careerist deep state.

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice lied about the Benghazi tragedy, the nature of the Bowe Bergdahl/Guantanamo detainee exchange, the presence of chemical weapons in Syria, and her role in unmasking the identities of surveilled Americans.

Andrew McCabe, recently fired from his job as FBI deputy director, openly admitted to lying to investigators, claiming he was "confused and distracted." McCabe had said that he was not a source for background leaks about the investigation of the Clinton Foundation. He wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post that "some of my answers were not fully accurate ..."

Former FBI Director James Comey likely lied about not drafting a statement exonerating Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing in her email scandal before interviewing her.

Comey misled a FISA court by not providing the entire truth about the Steele dossier. He falsely assured the president that he was not under investigation while likely leaking to others that Trump was, in fact, under investigation.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he said that the National Security Agency did not collect data on American citizens. When caught in the lie, Clapper claimed that he had given the "least untruthful" answer to the committee that he could publicly provide.

In the past, Clapper had also misled the country about the "secular" nature of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Note that Brennan, Clapper, Comey, McCabe and Rice so far have not been held to account for their distortions. We cynically expect our politicians and even presidents to fabricate, but we idealistically (and naively) assume that career government servants do not.

A common strategy of the deep state careerist is the psychological tactic known as "projection." To square their own circles of lying, our so-called best and brightest loudly accuse others of precisely the sins that they themselves commit as a matter of habit.

In the ensuing chaos and uproar, careerists such as Brennan, Clapper and Comey usually escape scrutiny -- to proceed to their next political reincarnation, Beltway billet, book deal or television gig.
Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow, classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He can be read at PJMedia and his website. He shared this article on

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Forget Politics – Think Economics

by Tom Balek, Contributing Author: Politics is too much. It’s just too big. So many issues, policies, personalities, feelings, fears, doubts, lies, propaganda.

Everything is hyped and overstated. The political and cultural divide grows wider and deeper by the day. In the jumble and tumble of daily politics and market-driven “news” it’s so hard to stay focused on what is real and important.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes for me all of the posturing and gamesmanship gets to be too much – too damned much to digest and bring to any kind of focus or certainty or closure. Too much grey area and not enough black and white facts. It’s no wonder so many people tune out and continue their lives in blissful disengagement. I’m not able to do that (you probably aren’t either) and I find myself sometimes needing the “click” of a padlock – the binary knowledge that I know something is right, and imperative, period.

About every ten years or so I come full circle back to what I know in my guts to be true about life, and how we as Americans (and for that matter as human beings on planet Earth) are wired to make the right choice and do the right thing. And the path revealed is not political. It always comes back to economics.

To hell with politics. Every human being on the planet – basket weaver in India, farmer in North Dakota, factory worker in China, soldier in North Korea – has this in common: we get up every morning and set out to improve the standard of living for ourselves and our families. Period.

Isn’t this true? Can you disagree? We all want a little bit better life for ourselves and the ones we love. It is a universal truth – a metaphysical fact. Forget religion. Forget political party. Forget culture, education, race, gender, age, nationality. We all want the same thing. Better food. A nicer house. Less hard labor. More quality time with our loved ones.

We, the people of the United States of America, have been a beacon of inspiration and righteous success since our nation’s noisy and unconventional birth. We have improved the standard of living for not only ourselves but also for people all over the world on a quantum scale ever since we became a “thing” in 1776. We have set the standard. We are the land of opportunity, the place to be, the bad go-getters and the mean motor-scooters. We have what it takes. We know what it’s all about.

Don’t we? Lately we aren’t so sure. I mean we did, but do we still?

We Americans have generally credited our political system for our success – our Constitution, our three branches of government with built-in checks and balances, our Bill of Rights, etc. Great. It’s all good. But there’s more to it.
"I submit that our American success story is the result of our economic system – free enterprise and free markets, equal opportunity, and minimal government intervention.Because the truth is: every human being is ruled by self-interest.

It’s not a bad thing. We work hard to provide for our families. We help those in need because we know we may, ourselves, some day need help. We look for ways to meet the wants and needs of others in the market because that will reward us, as well as them.

Some will say that free markets favor the greedy and unscrupulous. But America, born a Christian nation, avoided that problem. We trusted each other. We were raised to be moral, honest citizens. We believed in fairness. Our word was our bond.

As long as America is a Christian nation, and makes decisions based on economic merit, and values honesty, we will be fine. But we must each shoulder our responsibility. For every political issue or question we should consider: will this course of action help improve the standard of living for all Americans? And will it be fair to all Americans?

Anything outside that simple framework just really doesn’t matter. Try looking at any political issue or question in these terms. Improved standard of living + fairness/honesty (Christian morality). The correct path becomes pretty obvious.
Tom Balek is a fellow conservative activist, blogger, musician and contributes to the ARRA News Service. Tom resides in South Carolina and seeks to educate those too busy with their work and families to notice how close to the precipice our economy has come. He blogs at Rockin' On the Right Side

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Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Pillars of Modern American Conservatism

by Alfred S. Regnery: Over the past half century, conservatism has become the dominant political philosophy in the United States. Newspaper and television political news stories more often than not will mention the word conservative. Almost every Republican running for office—whether for school board or U.S. senator—will try to establish his place on the political spectrum based on how conservative he is. Even Democrats sometimes distinguish among members of their own party in terms of conservatism.

Although conservatism as we know it today is a relatively new movement—it emerged after World War II and only became a political force in the 1960s—it is based on ideas that are as old as Western civilization itself. The intellectual foundations on which this movement has been built stretch back to antiquity, were further developed during the Middle Ages and in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England, and were ultimately formulated into a coherent political philosophy at the time of the founding of the United States. In a real sense, conservatism is Western civilization.

The basic foundations of American conservatism can be boiled down to four fundamental concepts. We might call them the four pillars of modern conservatism:

The first pillar of conservatism is liberty, or freedom. Conservatives believe that individuals possess the right to life, liberty, and property, and freedom from the restrictions of arbitrary force. They exercise these rights through the use of their natural free will. That means the ability to follow your own dreams, to do what you want to (so long as you don’t harm others) and reap the rewards (or face the penalties). Above all, it means freedom from oppression by government—and the protection of government against oppression. It means political liberty, the freedom to speak your mind on matters of public policy. It means religious liberty—to worship as you please, or not to worship at all. It also means economic liberty, the freedom to own property and to allocate your own resources in a free market.

Conservatism is based on the idea that the pursuit of virtue is the purpose of our existence and that liberty is an essential component of the pursuit of virtue. Adherence to virtue is also a necessary condition of the pursuit of freedom. In other words, freedom must be pursued for the common good, and when it is abused for the benefit of one group at the expense of others, such abuse must be checked. Still, confronted with a choice of more security or more liberty, conservatives will usually opt for more liberty.

The second pillar of conservative philosophy is tradition and order. Conservatism is also about conserving the values that have been established over centuries and that have led to an orderly society. Conservatives believe in human nature; they believe in the ability of man to build a society that respects rights and that has the capacity to repel the forces of evil. Order means a systematic and harmonious arrangement, both within one’s own character and within the commonwealth. It signifies the performance of certain duties and the enjoyment of certain rights within a community.

Order is perhaps more easily understood by looking at its opposite: disorder. A disordered existence is a confused and miserable existence. If a society falls into general disorder, many of its members will cease to exist at all. And if the members of a society are disordered in spirit, the outward order of society cannot long endure. Disorder describes well everything that conservatism is not.

The third pillar is the rule of law. Conservatism is based on the belief that it is crucial to have a legal system that is predictable, that allows people to know what the rules are and enforce those rules equally for all. This means that both governors and the governed are subject to the law. The rule of law promotes prosperity and protects liberty. Put simply, a government of laws and not of men is the only way to secure justice.

The fourth pillar is belief in God. Belief in God means adherence to the broad concepts of religious faith—such things as justice, virtue, fairness, charity, community, and duty. These are the concepts on which conservatives base their philosophy.

Conservative belief is tethered to the idea that there is an allegiance to God that transcends politics and that sets a standard for politics. For conservatives, there must be an authority greater than man, greater than any ruler, king, or government: no state can demand our absolute obedience or attempt to control every aspect of our lives. There must be a moral order, conservatives believe, that undergirds political order. This pillar of conservatism does not mean mixing up faith and politics, and it certainly does not mean settling religious disputes politically. It also does not mean that conservatives have a monopoly on faith, or even that all conservatives are necessarily believers.

Each of the four pillars is closely related to all the others. Liberty, for example, is considered a gift of God and must be protected by the rule of law. The rule of law itself is dependent on the natural law—a transcendent law reflected in every orderly and civilized society, demarcating good and evil. Tradition and order are best reflected by our common law—a law developed over centuries by reasonable people in their everyday lives, which sets the rules for social order consistent with the past. And tradition is an important dimension of belief in God. What could demonstrate tradition and order more fully, for example, than the Old Testament and the history of the Jewish people, or the doctrines of the Christian Church?

The Four Cities
Another way of understanding these four pillars is to see them in terms of the historical origins of the conservative tradition. Russell Kirk, who is probably the preeminent conservative scholar of the twentieth century, often spoke of the four cities in which the foundations of Western civilization—and so, of conservatism—were laid: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and London. Our own Philadelphia in the late eighteenth century can then be seen to represent the culmination of a great tradition.

The first city is Jerusalem, where the concept of a transcendent order originated—the understanding that true law comes from God and that God is the source of order and justice. From Jerusalem came one of the most essential ideas of conservatism—that man does not have all the answers, that there is a power greater than man to which we owe our lives and everything that is good. The Hebrews in the Old Testament taught that God made a covenant or compact with His people; He decreed laws by which they should live, and from that revelation we eventually developed modern ethics and modern law. The idea of a compact forms the very basis of our modern political order.

The second city is Athens, where the ancient Greek philosophers, particularly Plato and Aristotle, described the basis of the social order—what was required for people to live together and to thrive in society. Ethics and politics are, they believed, at the root of man’s existence: ethics is what establishes one’s character, and politics is the means by which human beings can achieve the good life. Aristotle, whose writings have had a profound influence on conservative thought, understood the needs of the individual and his relationship to community. Man is a political animal, he taught, and only recognizes his talents and how to use them for the common good if he is part of a community. The Greek philosophers, however, added nothing to the argument for liberty; in fact, Greek philosophy tended to advocate total subjugation of the individual by the state.

The third city in this progression is Rome, where we learn of the highest form of government, the republic, and the use of the separation of powers and checks and balances for the control of political power. Rome also provided the very idea of the rule of law—how law was necessary to preserve order and liberty, and how it needed to be reliable and consistent. Until the Roman republic collapsed, Roman statesmen such as Cato and Cicero also taught us about virtue as a necessary restraint on the passions of men, vital for the preservation of liberty. The Roman Empire, which followed the republic, taught little about individual liberty, of course, but a great deal about the use, and abuse, of power.

Finally there is London, where the teachings that helped to establish the foundations of modern conservatism stretched from the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century and beyond. The foundation was laid by the Magna Carta in 1215 and evolved into the concept of the common law and the idea that the law applies equally to all, whether the king or the lowliest commoner. The Magna Carta and the common law also taught the concept of the permanence of the law—the principle of the supremacy of law, meaning that an enduring law exists and must be obeyed by all men.

William Blackstone, a professor at Oxford and later a judge, published his Commentaries on the Laws of England in 1765; he argued in that massive work that natural law was the basis of all law and was rooted in Christian ethics, and he declared that man had innate rights to personal security, to personal liberty, and to private property. But Blackstone also argued that these rights were not absolute. In society, you had to give up certain rights as the price for the mutual commerce that you enjoyed. Call it a social contract; it is a fundamental doctrine of American politics and central to conservative philosophy.

The influence that British political thinkers had on conservative philosophy could fill many books. Among those whose thought is central to conservative philosophy are John Locke, John Stuart Mill, David Hume, and most important, Edmund Burke.

Burke was Irish, a member of the House of Commons, and is probably the closest thing we have to the intellectual father of modern American conservatism. Among his most important contributions to conservative philosophy are his views about the wisdom of tradition and order. He believed that the wisdom of any one individual is minuscule compared with the collective wisdom accumulated by our ancestors over the centuries.

To Burke, habit, instinct, custom, faith, reverence, prejudice—the accumulated practical knowledge acquired through experience—is more important than abstract speculation. Tradition, in other words, is vital for a good society. And if laws are reasonable, Burke believed, the benefit of the security they provide compensates for any diminishment of an otherwise abstractly “perfect” freedom. It is not law and tradition as such that are to be feared, but arbitrary laws and arbitrary government. Burke also taught that the most important political virtue is prudence—the art of calculating the eventual results of policies, of avoiding extremes, of shunning haste.

The Philadelphia Experiment
The ideas that came from Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and London were all alive in the minds of the men who gathered in a fifth city, Philadelphia, in 1776 and again in 1787, in order to draft, debate, and eventually adopt the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Our Founders had studied the Bible; they had read the classics and the British political writers; they knew the history of Western civilization. Weaving together the best elements of that tradition, they formed what would endure as the greatest experiment in the history of a political community founded on the concepts of liberty, morality, and justice. In this way, our American Founders were also the founders of the American conservative cause.

The Declaration of Independence dissolved the relationship between the American people and Great Britain and established a new, sovereign nation—the United States of America. The Declaration set out the moral vision of the new nation and articulated a theory of what a legitimate government should be. It then spoke in quite specific terms about how Britain had violated those principles.

Many of the early Americans had left Europe because they had been oppressed and wanted the freedom promised in the New World. They wanted to worship as they saw fit, to speak their minds, and to earn a living freely. But over the years, British rule began to undermine American liberty. The Declaration lists twenty-eight abuses by the king—taxation without consent, denial of trial by jury, denial of religious liberty, freedom of speech, and more. The social contract had been broken—by the king—so the colonists declared that they owed no further allegiance to him.

The Declaration’s most memorable passage encapsulates the most basic beliefs of our Founders:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Here the Founders are affirming that natural law is a higher law than that made by men, one that establishes the difference between right and wrong. The Declaration goes on to say that to secure our God-given rights, “governments are instituted by men”—in other words, natural law is the foundation on which all legitimate man-made law is built. It then says that the only legitimate governments are those that operate by the consent of the governed, and that the governed have a right—again, God-given—to change the government or abolish it.

Put another way, the Declaration says there is no divine right of kings, no absolute power of government. Instead, all rightful power in government derives only from the people. The Declaration makes it clear that we are born with these rights, which means that every person has equal rights. The only legitimate function of a government is to secure these rights, and, again, only with the consent of the people. So the Declaration limits the power of the government not once but twice: once by its purpose or ends (the securing of rights) and once by its function or means (our consent).

Eleven years later, the U.S. Constitution was drafted and ratified by the thirteen states. The Constitution was designed to be the supreme law of the land—the law that constructed a new government and spelled out how it would work. The Constitution reflects the principles of the Declaration. The dilemma the Founders faced was how to create a government that would be powerful enough to protect the rights affirmed by the Declaration from both internal and external threats while also providing sufficient checks and balances so the new government would not have so much power as to overrun those rights.

The Constitution establishes the three branches of the federal government—the executive, the legislative, and the judicial—and delimits the powers of each. It sets forth the role of the states, recognizing in the states a power to do things that the federal government is not specifically tasked with doing. It gives the citizens of the United States various ways of protecting themselves against abuses of government power. It clearly enumerates the powers of the federal government and gives it none that are not enumerated.

The Constitution also establishes a powerful system of checks and balances so that no branch of government would become too powerful. First, through the doctrine of the separation of powers, each of the three branches checks the power of the other two. For example, there are two houses of Congress that must agree on any legislation. Any bill passed by Congress must then be signed by the president to become law. The president can also reject the legislation through a veto, though Congress has the power to override his veto by a supermajority. And the courts can review anything that either Congress or the executive branch does and rule it unconstitutional, outside the scope of the law. To further limit federal power, the Constitution establishes the idea of federalism by recognizing the legitimate powers of the states and insisting that all power not specifically granted to the federal government belongs to the states.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, taken together, were the work not of a moment, an hour, or even a lifetime, but of two thousand years of Western thought, political struggle, and hard-won knowledge about political power and the pursuit of liberty. These two documents have rightly been called the most perfect, and most successful, conservative documents in the history of the world. Consider how these two founding documents of the United States reflect the four pillars of conservative thought:

First is the concept of liberty, and the necessity of protecting liberty from the abuses of state power. The Founders recognized that government was necessary but also recognized that unless its powers are strictly limited, government can threaten the freedoms it was established to protect. The Bill of Rights ensured that our most essential liberties could never be infringed by the U.S. government.

Second is the rule of law. To protect the freedoms recognized by the Constitution, a fixed and certain rule of law was necessary. As the Founders saw it, a system in which the ruling power could alter the Constitution and the law as it pleased, and thus expand the scope of its authority, was a system in which freedom was always imperiled. Thus, in America, there can be no rule by arbitrary decrees, and justice is settled by fixed rules and duly authorized judges. The Constitution can be amended, but to do so is an arduous and cumbersome process that requires both houses of the Congress to approve the amendment by a two-thirds majority, and three-quarters of the states need approve as well. So the Constitution was the ultimate bedrock law of the land, providing certainty and predictability to the American people, the safety of the rule of law.

And third is order and tradition. The Constitution was the culmination of nearly two thousand years of Western civilization and Western thought. Further, the Founders recognized that government was needed to provide defense, administer justice, and otherwise supply a zone of order in which people could safely go about their business. The Constitution established the idea of continuity and stability of leadership, and provided an orderly process for choosing leaders, making laws, and administering the new republic.

And finally, belief in God. Both documents reflect the great reverence of the Founders and their understanding of the Bible. The Declaration of Independence opens by proclaiming that men are “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, continues by speaking of “the laws of nature and nature’s God,” and ends with an appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the World.” The Constitution, although less explicit, recognizes the liberties discussed in the Declaration and protects them as almost sacred. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights also makes religious liberty our “first freedom,” reflecting the Founders’ view that the free exercise of religion would have a positive effect on the workings of government. Sadly, the Founders’ concept of religious liberty has now been turned on its head by a grossly errant Supreme Court.

It is no wonder that many conservatives now call themselves constitutional conservatives, why the Tea Party has adopted the Constitution as its standard text, and why the conservative legal community has resurrected the Constitution as its fundamental document. The Constitution sets forth the basic tenets of modern American conservatism in clear and unambiguous language; it is brief but complete, and still stands as the bedrock of American conservatism. If you are ever asked what conservatism in America stands for, you can say it stands for what is in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and you will have given as good an answer as possible.

Postwar Conservatism
How, then, are these principles reflected in the conservative movement as it rose to prominence over the past half century? In 1945, as World War II drew to a close, America was culturally a conservative country but politically not conservative at all. Government had grown to dominate the economy through both wartime emergency measures and the programs of the New Deal. All three branches of government were controlled by left-leaning Democrats. Communist Russia had been our ally during the war, and “Uncle Joe” Stalin was still considered a benevolent figure. Our other major ally, Great Britain, was largely a socialist state. Opinion makers were pretty much in agreement concerning politics and economics. In short, the liberals were in control.

But within a few years after 1945, conservative intellectuals began to speak out about what they viewed as a dangerous drift of the United States toward socialism. First of all, there were libertarian economists, led by Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, who defended the virtues of capitalism. Hayek argued that socialism was the road to serfdom. Only free-market economics could rebuild Europe and enable the U.S. to combat the growing Communist threat from Russia. These libertarians advocated limited government instead of socialism, self-reliance instead of the welfare state, private property and entrepreneurship instead of central planning. Chaos, they wrote, was the only real alternative to a free economy—chaos and global poverty.

A second group of thinkers believed that the primary threat to the West was the spread of Communism, advancing from both the Soviet Union and China, which exerted their influence geopolitically and also attempted to subvert the American way of life internally. Communism represented everything abhorrent to Western values: it was tyrannical, radical, socialistic, and atheist. It used terror, deceit, and subversion to achieve its ends and was determined to force its ideology on the rest of the world. Communism’s goals included the destruction of tradition and order in the rest of the world, and it routinely defied the rule of law.

Conservative anti-Communists also believed that liberalism was a progenitor of Communism. Because liberalism and Communism shared the same substantive goals, liberalism was more often than not complicit in Communism’s spread. These conservatives were appalled at the peace settlement that followed World War II, particularly the fact that most of Eastern Europe had been handed to the Soviet Union by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. They were concerned about the problems they anticipated from the growing strength of Soviet Russia, the fall of China to Communism, and the lack of will on the part of American liberals to stand up to the Communists. They were also concerned about internal security—the fact that the federal government had been infiltrated by Communist agents and other leftists to the detriment of our national interest. The anti-Communist movement became a mainstay of American conservatism and attracted more people than any other part of the movement.

A third group was concerned with the need to maintain American values. They were focused on tradition and faith and the preservation of Western civilization and culture. They saw a growing threat from permissiveness and vulgarity. They believed in ethics and honor, in the importance of the church, and in the need for traditional education and higher learning. In short, they were concerned about the decline of the West, and they thought the way to reverse that decline was through an appeal to tradition and order. Among these traditionalists were writers such as Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr., and Richard Weaver.

None of the three groups of postwar conservative thinkers was concerned with ideas merely as an academic exercise. Instead, they advanced practical ideas that challenged the status quo. They wanted their ideas to change the world. They lamented what had happened to the United States, and indeed to the rest of the world, during the first half of the twentieth century. They believed that cultural and political liberalism was at odds with American ideals at home and abroad, and saw that liberalism’s assaults on individual liberties, limited government, free markets, and Western culture ran counter to everything they believed in.

Over the next fifteen years, many of the conservatives who would dominate the stage for the balance of the twentieth century developed their views through books, articles, and lectures. In the process, they set the stage for the upsurge in conservative politics that would follow. By the early 1960s, conservative organizations were being formed, magazines and book-publishing companies were organized, and the beginnings of a “movement” emerged. In 1964 Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona and the country’s most popular conservative politician, was nominated to head the Republican ticket for president. Although he lost, his campaign solidified the conservative movement politically, introduced thousands of young conservatives to national politics, and transformed the Republican Party from a middle-of-the-road party dominated by Easterners into a more conservative party largely dominated by the South and West.

It is important to understand the driving force that compelled American conservatives to become practically engaged in the worlds of politics, education, the courts, the culture—namely, the force of reaction. Conservatives believed they had no choice but to fight against what was happening in their country and in the world, and what was happening was largely the result, in one way or another, of the Left. Things were going wrong and needed to be fixed: the advance of Communism, the expansion of the welfare state, overregulation of free-market capitalism, the growing power of labor unions, activism in the courts, sexual permissiveness, crime, the breakdown of the family, the deterioration of the schools and of the churches. What the Left saw as progress, conservatives saw as decline—and in reaction they searched for practical solutions.

During the next two decades—the 1960s and ’70s—conservatives became increasingly influential in politics, conservative organizations grew, financial resources were developed, new periodicals were founded, and a vibrant youth movement in colleges and universities became prominent. In 1980 Republicans nominated, and subsequently elected, Ronald Reagan, the most conservative politician ever to have reached national standing in American politics.

American conservatism had emerged as an intellectual movement in the 1950s, had become a political movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and then, with President Reagan, a governing movement in the 1980s. Along the way, the conservative movement built a coherent philosophy that still exists today. And it is no exaggeration to say that most of today’s prominent conservatives—whether politicians, academics, activists, donors, or writers—got their start, in one way or another, working for Ronald Reagan.

Standing Firm
While the particular issues we face today may be different from those of the past, the four pillars of modern American conservatism remain robust. Conservatives universally advocate a return to limited government, for as Ronald Reagan used to say, a government that can give you everything you want can also take away everything you have. Conservatives advocate free market capitalism, less regulation of economic activity, and fiscal responsibility. They also favor entrepreneurship and lower taxes to spur economic growth. Conservatives work to restrain activist judges in an effort to restore the rule of law.

Social conservatives today work to shore up family values. They oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, and sexual permissiveness. They also advocate strengthening traditional standards in education, and a larger role for religious faith in public life.

On foreign policy issues, conservatives have recently been divided. Traditionally, conservatives have believed that war should be avoided if at all possible but that a strong national defense is nevertheless vital. Peace through strength, if you will. But a new strand of conservatives joined the movement in the 1970s and 1980s: the so-called neoconservatives. Many of these were former Democrats, liberals on domestic policy but anti-Communists and hawks who made common cause with other conservatives toward the end of the Cold War. Neoconservatives tend to be more willing to use military power for purposes other than simply defending American interests.

Still, there are really no clear lines of demarcation between the different branches of conservatism, and in fact most conservatives don’t fit neatly into one or another camp. Almost always there are enough genuine similarities in outlook such that, wherever they come from, conservatives can usually work together for the broader cause. As long as we remain faithful to the four pillars of conservatism, the order of liberty, morality, and justice that we have built will stand firm.
Alfred S. Regnery has served on the ISI board since 2002. Previously he was the president and publisher of Regnery Publishing, Inc., the firm founded in 1947 by his father, Henry Regnery, who was formerly Chairman of the ISI Board. Mr. Regnery served in the Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration, as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and has practiced law in Washington and in the Midwest. H/T Intercollegiate Review (IR) who shared this article with the editor. IR is published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) and is dedicated to advancing the principles that make America free, virtuous, and prosperous.

Tags: Alfred S. Regnery, Pillars of Modern American Conservatism, ISI, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, IR, Intercollegiate Review To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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