More and more, on the issue of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her House Democrats are so far out over the tips of their skis that they remind me of Vinko Bogotaj.
Mr. Bogotaj is the 22-year-old Slovenian ski jumper whose spectacular ski jump crash became the iconic image showing “the agony of defeat” in the video montage used to open the old TV show, ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
After the release of the transcript of the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are crashing downhill at full, skull-breaking speed. Mr. Bogotaj himself would be proud.
Virtually everything Democrats told us about this phone call turns out not to have been true.
It began, you will recall, with the allegation that the president had “promised” something to Mr. Zelensky. Then that allegation morphed into a reverse promise – that Mr. Trump had threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Ukraine if Mr. Zelensky did not do what Mr. Trump demanded. Mr. Trump had referenced former Vice President Joe Biden’s name eight times, it was reported.
None of these things, it turns out, is accurate. The transcript reveals no quid pro quo, no commingling of offers, or threats, with asks.
Instead, the transcript of the 30-minute phone call reveals that President Trump used the name “Biden” a total of three times, not eight — once in reference to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, and twice to Mr. Biden himself — over a total of two sentences about two-thirds of the way into the phone call.
Reads the transcript: “The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General that would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
Yet, Democrats continue to press forward with their “official” impeachment inquiry. Said Speaker Pelosi Wednesday morning, before she had even read the transcript: “The fact is that the president of the United States, in breach of his constitutional responsibilities, has asked a foreign government to help him in his political campaign, at the expense of our national security, as well as undermining the integrity of our elections. That cannot stand. He will be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
In Mrs. Pelosi’s view, asking the new Ukrainian president to investigate what happened in 2016 is “help” to the Trump re-election campaign, and that is a “breach” of his “constitutional responsibilities.” What rubbish.
This is only news because Mr. Biden is running for the Democratic nomination for president. If he were not running now, there would be nothing at all remarkable about an American president asking a new Ukrainian president to look into what may or may not have happened years ago.
Mrs. Pelosi says, “no one is above the law.” I agree. But no one is below the law, either. Should the fact that Mr. Biden is now running for president be allowed to shield his previous activities from investigation? Mr. Biden never should have done what he did in 2016 in the first place — once his son accepted a paid position on the board of directors of a Ukrainian company, Mr. Biden should have been conflicted out of having anything to do with Ukraine. Instead, he traveled to Ukraine and threatened to withhold a billion dollars’ worth of U.S. aid if the Ukrainian government did not immediately fire the very prosecutor who was investigating his son’s company — and then later bragged that he had succeeded in having that prosecutor fired.
I don’t know if Joe Biden’s son did anything wrong in Ukraine. But I do know you’d have to be blind not to see the conflict of interest in the former vice president doing what he did. To think that no one should investigate that because he is now, years later, running for president, is absurd.
Democrats claim that President Trump believes himself to be “above the law.” The truth is the exact opposite — it is the Democrats, not President Trump, who believe they can act in their own interest with impunity. Mr. Biden never should have traveled to Ukraine, let alone threatened to cut off aid to Ukraine, after his son started taking money from a Ukrainian company.
Next year, the voters will render their verdict — and I’ll wager Democrats will be disappointed. Again.
• Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.
Congress has introduced a bipartisan measure calling for the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since December. Still awaiting trial, Mr. Whelan is being held in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, the onetime KGB operative who also served for a time as director of the FSB security police, is probably enjoying the sweet irony of being on the receiving end of rare harmony between Democrats and Republicans.
Mr. Whelan sits in prison through no fault of his own. Mr. Putin is using him as a pawn in a Kremlin espionage chess match involving Maria Butina, the founder of Russian gun rights group Right to Bear Arms. Ms. Butina was arrested in July 2018 by U.S. authorities and accused of attempting to use the National Rifle Association and conservative religious organizations to create back-channel lines of communication between conservative Americans and Russian officials.
Ms. Butina is also nothing more than one of Mr. Putin’s pawns, who took on more personal risk than she likely ever understood or expected.
Mr. Putin holds a black belt in judo, a key principle of which is to use an opponent’s strength against them. Applying this judo technique to Russia’s strategic relationship with its stronger rival and primary adversary, the United States, Mr. Putin has targeted our open democratic institutions, the core of our strength as a nation, with discoverable influence operations.
With an extensive social media profile, Ms. Butina never sought to conceal her wide range of contacts, including with Alexander Torshin, a Kremlin insider and deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia. She developed high-profile and conspicuous links to U.S. interest groups. Her social media postings, bank transactions and outreach on behalf of the Russian government were easily and deliberately discoverable.
Mr. Putin hoped to use Ms. Butina to soil Republicans’ reputation by making it appear as though the party was implicated in the Kremlin’s intrigues.
Ms. Butina was part of a broader Putin strategy of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs from his influence operations on U.S. soil to the Kremlin. The Russian operatives who purchased advertisements on Facebook, for example, would have chosen a currency other than rubles had they wanted to conceal their identities.
Rather than use his own intelligence services, Putin outsourced Russia’s attacks on U.S. social media and networking sites to the Internet Research Agency, whose chief financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is better known as “Putin’s chef.”
The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting began with a barely concealed “poison pill” email from a British publicist. The Russians who attended the meeting all had ties to the Kremlin (and in one case to the FSB). There was no attempt to be secret about the meeting, especially given the ultra-high-profile venue. The meeting was specifically designed to put the Trump team on the defensive about alleged ties to Russia.
Ms. Butina carried a Kremlin virus designed to sow distrust in our institutions. Mr. Putin’s goal was to make Russia fodder for the acrimonious partisan bickering, producing political gridlock in Washington.
Mr. Putin will now hold Mr. Whelan until Ms. Butina is released. His goal is to create just enough proof that Russia was seeking to influence our political process to persuade some — but not all — Americans.
Key to Mr. Putin’s strategy is to make Ms. Butina appear to be a more accomplished agent than she in fact was. It will be all the better for Moscow if she is released simultaneously with Mr. Whelan, the victim of a classic KGB-style setup to make it appear he was engaged in espionage as well. Mr. Putin knows how to gaslight a conspiracy theory as well as anyone.
Mr. Putin is also concerned about Mr. Butina’s lengthy jail term. Leaving her behind enemy lines for a year and a half can be a disincentive for others to take risks on behalf of an ungrateful czar.
Mr. Putin’s Russia is not known for transparency or its respect for the rule of law. Mr. Whelan reportedly suffered a hernia but is being denied appropriate medical care behind bars. Mr. Putin likely welcomes U.S. protests on the prisoner’s behalf, calculating that there will be pressure on the U.S. side for more lenient treatment of Ms. Butina.
Other than granting Ms. Butina an early release, the Trump administration appears to have no leverage to ameliorate Mr. Whelan’s predicament. Russians have a saying: Svoya rubashka blizhe k telu — “Take care of yourself first.” Mr. Putin, who has steadfastly continued aggressive military, economic and espionage attacks in spite of crippling Western sanctions, has shown he has a high tolerance for collateral damage in his existential conflict with democracy.
⦁ Daniel N. Hoffman is a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency. His combined 30 years of government service included high-level overseas and domestic positions at the CIA. He has been a Fox News contributor since May 2018. Follow him on Twitter @DanielHoffmanDC.
For gun owners like me, it’s hard to forget President Trump’s promise on his 99th day in office, proclaiming that President Obama’s “eight year assault” on our Second Amendment rights had come to a “crashing end.” But in the years since Mr. Trump took his seat in the Oval Office, the “eight year assault” of the Obama administration has seemed more like a holiday by comparison. Just this week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on banning assault weapons. Yet, the response from the Republican administration has been deafening silence, leaving millions of American gun owners like myself powerless against the continual assault to our constitutional liberties.
Mr. Trump and the Republican Party at large haven’t done gun owners any favors. The administration has managed to ban possession of “bump stocks” by administrative fiat, making felons out of tens of thousands of gun owners overnight. It also supported state efforts to implement red flag laws, restrict the gun rights of young adults, and threatened gun owners with domestic surveillance and unconstitutional seizures. So much for that “crashing end” to the assault on the Second Amendment.
Mr. Obama’s administration, on the other hand, relaxed prohibitions on carrying firearms on federal land, and made it easier for people to acquire NFA items like suppressors and machine guns. Of course, it wasn’t all good. The administration also cracked down on homemade firearms and tightened some import restrictions.
But despite constant claims that Republicans are beholden to gun rights organizations, when the GOP held the entire government in 2017 and 2018, nothing changed — no concealed-carry reciprocity, no deregulation of firearm suppressors, no changes to any of the thousands of absurd regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). In fact, during the time the Republicans controlled the entire government, all that passed was stiffer background checks. Mr. Trump could’ve taken action on many of these items anytime he wanted. This doesn’t sound like a party under the thumb of gun owners.
Clearly, the GOP has gotten lackadaisical on the concept of civil rights. Some Republicans are even throwing support to dangerous red flag laws and other worrisome proposals, such as the TAPS Act, which would see law enforcement combing social media for “threats” to “manage.” Meanwhile, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear, Senate Republicans are waiting for Mr. Trump to hand them an agenda on gun control — entirely forgetting how our government is supposed to operate.
A seventh-grade civics class would tell you that it’s absurd for a president to tell the legislative branch what laws to pass. When it comes to laws that might abridge our rights, nobody should be deferring to anyone. But now the president is poised to tell the entire Republican Party just how much respect our Second Amendment rights are due, and it seems the GOP will follow along with whatever he says.
Of course, the majority-Democratic House has committed to redpen the Second Amendment out of existence. And since the Senate has deferred its judgment on our rights to the president, gun rights advocates need to make it clear to him that the haphazard approach he’s taken thus far with our civil rights will no longer fly. If we don’t, we’ll suffer yet another one of the proverbial thousand cuts. Unlike your flesh, though, cuts to our rights don’t heal after a few days.
The right to bear arms is about the right to stay alive — to have a real way to protect yourself against anyone who wishes you harm. For the ruling class sitting in America’s ivory towers with their security details, gated communities and quick police response times, that can be hard to understand. For the rest of America, especially those living below the poverty line, the threat of unlawful force is real, and having an effective mechanism for self defense is literally a life-or-death proposition. What the American people don’t need is one more excuse for an overzealous, militarized law enforcement to lock us in cages for victimless crimes.
What we need is for our government to respect our lives and liberty. Mr. Trump claims to be the champion of ordinary Americans. If he really means this, he could direct the ATF to roll back any one of the absurd regulations that are irrationally restricting the rights of Americans. Things like George H.W. Bush’s “sporting purposes test” — which keep effective, inexpensive arms out of the reach of ordinary Americans — are long overdue to be repealed. If we ever have a president who cares about the Second Amendment, he or she will actually work to restore our rights, not ever-so-slowly remove them while we aren’t paying attention.
• Matthew Larosiere is the director of legal policy for Firearms Policy Coalition and a senior contributor to Young Voices. He can be found on Twitter @MattLaAtLaw.
House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, in a series of scathing tweets, ripped Democrats in general and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in particular for caving to “unrelenting pressure” and launching the impeachment inquiry the “socialist wing” of the party has been pressing “since the beginning of this Congress.”
He’s right to rip.
He’s wrong on the time frame, though.
Jordan tweeted: “Democrats have been trying to impeach the [p]resident since the beginning of this Congress. — Michael Cohen’s testimony was a bust. — John Dean’s testimony was a waste of time. — The Mueller report did not live up to the hype.”
Actually, Democrats, along with others, have been talking about impeaching Donald Trump since before he even took office. Since before he was even inaugurated.
There was this racy headline, from Vanity Fair on Nov. 14, 2016: “Will Trump Be Impeached?”
Then this, yet another Vanity Fair piece, on Dec. 15, 2016: “Democrats Are Paving the Way to Impeach Donald Trump.”
There was this, from The New York Times, in an opinion headline from Nov. 3, 2016: “Donald Trump’s Impeachment Threat.”
Remember: Trump wasn’t inaugurated until Jan. 20, 2017. He wasn’t even elected president until Nov. 8, 2016.
Remember, too: The Republican Party primaries didn’t wrap until June 2016. And Trump wasn’t formally nominated at the Republican National Convention as the Republican Party’s candidate for president until July 19, 2016.
Yet Politico, on April 17, 2016, posed this in a headline: “Could Trump be impeached shortly after he takes office?” The piece went on to state that “It’s highly improbable, but everyone from law scholars to political junkies are speculating about it.”
April 17, 2016.
Before Trump was even the GOP’s chosen one.
And definitely before Trump was even the elected one.
“Donald Trump isn’t even the Republican nominee yet,” as Politico wrote at the time. “But his incendiary rhetoric … has critics on the right and the left discussing the most extreme of countermeasures at an unusually early point in the race.”
The piece went on to note that everyone from constitutional scholars, media pundits and members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives — were talking up the impeachment of Trump. And that’s before he was elected. That’s before he was inaugurated. That’s before he took office.
Kind of gives buoyancy to those who think the whole “Impeach Trump” rally cry is more bogus than based on any sort of justice for the American people. After all, it’s hard enough to impeach absent impeachable offense, never mind trying to impeach absent an office.
“@SpeakerPelosi’s decision to pursue impeachment now — on the basis of unsubstantiated, indirect, and anonymous allegations — only shows that the [s]peaker has finally succumbed to unrelenting pressure from the Socialist wing of the Democrat Party,” Jordan tweeted.
And he followed that with this: “This was never about Russian collusion or Ukrainian prosecutions. It is all about undoing the 2016 election and the will of the American people,” he wrote.
Have to agree.
So should you.
Grab the popcorn and settle in for the show. This 2020 White House ride is going to make 2016 seem tame by comparison.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
The Joker is a pathological supervillain.
He can’t stop himself, he’s a monkey on Bruce Wayne’s back, and seemingly, he’s a maniacal genius destined to haunt Gotham City forever after because of the toxins coursing through his veins.
That’s the storyline in the world of DC Comics.
In the real world, the U.S. Army is concerned. Not about the Joker, though.
The Army is concerned about Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker,” which is due to hit movie theaters next Friday, and the “disturbing and very specific chatter” online that was discovered recently.
As colleague Andrew Blake reported this week, “A memo issued this week to Army personnel stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, said that the base’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) received intelligence about a ‘credible potential mass shooting to occur at an unknown movie theater during the release of the new Joker movie scheduled on October 4, 2019.’”
What would Victor Hugo say? What would he do? Would he ask theaters not to screen “Joker?”
No one can answer with certainty.
Why would he concern himself?
Well, Hugo was a prolific 19th century writer. He penned not only “Les Miserables” but also “L’Homme Qui Rit,” or what the global world of stage, screen and music has redubbed as the “The Laughing Man” or “The Grinning Man” — which all centered on characterizations of a man with a disfigured face that appeared as a perpetual, grotesque grin.
Jack Nicholson’s 1989 version was supremely comedic, opposite Michael Keaton’s Batman, er, Bruce Wayne.
Cesar Romero’s was as campy as campy could get in trying to outwit Adam West’s Batman in the over-the-top TV series of the 1960s.
Heath Ledger’s acting in 2005’s “The Dark Knight” brought to light the darker sides of the Joker and the darkest sides of humanity — perhaps even beyond those of Hugo’s era.
It was during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012 in Aurora, Colorado, that a man dressed in tactical clothing set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience using multiple firearms. James Eagan Holmes fatally shot 12 people and wounded 70 others.
At his home, investigators found a Batman mask.
Holmes, who is now 31, was sentenced to 12 life sentences without parole and a maximum 3,318 additional years on attempted murder and explosives possession convictions.
While the fictional DC Comics and Marvel Comics characters are considered superheroes — and we love to cheer them on — they, too, have dark sides that arguably could be considered mental derangement. Holmes’ dad argued that his son was mentally ill.
Whenever such mass shootings occur — whether at a gay nightclub, a movie theater, a school or an office building — mental illness is cited as a motive and/or defense.
And, understandably, judges are fond of allowing jurors to accept testimony that speaks to what someone was thinking or believing.
Much boils down to free will. The free will to view a movie or not. The free will to deny your children the right to watch the superheroes and the supervillains or not.
The free will to petition Warner Bros. and movie theaters to not screen “Joker.”
The free will to screen “Joker.”
I cannot imagine that “Joker” is going to be a blockbuster or big-time award winner for Joaquin Phoenix, who gave us a convincing Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line.”
But getting into the twisted mind of the Joker character, I’m not so sure.
Besides, who could believe the Joker has a love interest? Those who cannot separate romantic (Victor Hugo) characters from fictional comic book characters.
⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]
The Watergate office building at the heart of the famous 1970s scandal that took down former President Richard Nixon has a new owner after a $101.5 million deal announced Friday. Situated at 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, the building was purchased by developer Brian Friedman, who plans to add “a sports book, restaurants, an urban athletic club, a co-working office, and a Nixon museum celebrating the break-in that occurred at this building,” according to a release. Part of the iconic Luigi Moretti-designed complex, the building went through a multimillion-dollar renovation over the past three years under Rockwood Capital.
Those updates, including a new lobby, fitness center, and bike storage, helped the building reach 90 percent occupancy by the time it went on the market earlier this year, Bisnow and WTOP reported. “We are very excited about what we have planned at The Watergate Office Building and what it will bring to the neighborhood,” Friedman said in a statement. His firm, Friedman Capital, formerly has invested in Adam’s Morgan’s Line Hotel and other bulidings.
At 11 stories and roughly 230,000 square feet, the Watergate office was constructed in 1967. Rockwood acquired it for $75 million at the end of 2016, property records show. In 1972, the building was the site of the Democratic National Committee headquarters break-in that led to Nixon’s 1974 resignation. It is connected to the 336-room Watergate Hotel, the subject of a $125 million overhaul completed in 2016. The total 10-acre complex also features residences.
It began with a whistleblower who obtained a telephone transcript between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that dealt in part with Joe Biden’s son.
The story, broken by The Washington Post, said that Mr. Trump “pressed [Zelensky] to investigate” the matter that Mr. Trump “thought would deliver political dirt” on his possible challenger in 2020,” former Vice President Joe Biden.
Instead, the president’s question has triggered a House impeachment investigation into what Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called “the most fundamental betrayal of his oath of office.”
“The descriptions of the call provide the clearest indication to date that Trump sought to use the influence of his office to prod the leader of a country seeking American financial and diplomatic support to provide material that could aid in the president’s reelection,” The Post reported.
The whistleblower turned over what he knew to the intelligence community’s inspector general who, The Post said, has “assessed the whistleblower complaint as credible and a matter of such urgency that it should be disclosed to the relevant committees of Congress.”
When Mr. Trump spoke on the telephone to Mr. Zelensky in late July, the president knew that the Ukrainians were waiting for nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid that had been held up by the White House.
Several days after the two presidents talked, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani “met with an aide to the Ukrainian president in Madrid and spelled out two specific cases he believed Ukraine should pursue,” The Post said.
“One was a probe of a Ukrainian gas tycoon who had Biden’s son Hunter on his board,” The Post also reported on its front page.
The front page stories ran under this headline: “Trump said to have pressed Ukraine on Biden.” Next to that was a related story headlined: “Giuliani helped pressure Kiev to investigate Democrats’ son.”
The headlines tell the story: Mr. Trump’s “Ukraine call fuels impeachment take,” followed by this subhead: “Confident Trump On Defense Once More.”
The lead story recalled an earlier time when Mr. Trump was bragging that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III report didn’t lay a glove on him.
The day after Mr. Mueller testified on his final report, Mr. Trump “crowed ‘no collusion’ and claimed full vindication from accusations he had conspired with Russia in the 2016 election.”
“Then, the very next day, Mr. Trump sought to collude with another foreign country in the coming election,” The Post reported Sunday.
No Russian collusion? How about blackmailing the Kremlin’s threatened next door neighbor, withholding any defense assistance if it didn’t play ball with Mr. Trump and give him the dirt on the son of a possible Democratic foe in the 2020 presidential election?
“This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power, to get on the phone with a foreign power who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me, if that’s what happened, that’s what appears to have happened ” Mr. Biden told campaign reporters.
“Trump’s doing this because he knows I will beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try and smear,” Mr. Biden said.
Most campaign polls show that Mr. Biden is beating Mr. Trump in head to head matchups in battleground states.
Until this week no one has released a transcript of Mr. Trump’s telephone conversation with the Ukrainian head of state — though Mr. Biden had challenged him to make it public.
Then in an interview with White House reporters Sunday, before he left for campaign events in Texas and Ohio, Mr. Trump “appeared to suggest he did speak about Biden with Zelensky,” The Post reported.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely [about] all of the corruption taking place, was largely that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” he told reporters.
Then, in Houston, Mr. Trump seemed to backtrack, saying, “certainly I’d have the right to” raise Mr. Biden’s name with Mr. Zelensky.
Then the White House announced it would release a transcript of Mr. Trump’s call on Wednesday, much of which was a summary, scattered with ellipsis marks that signaled the omission of one or more words.
“The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son … and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Mr. Trump says in the transcript.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me,” Mr. Trump said.
President Zelensky, with nearly $400 million in the balance, said he’d see what he could find out.
• Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.
The American Founders institutionalized the best of a long Western tradition of representative government with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These contracts outlined the rare privileges and responsibilities of new American citizens.
Yet the concept of citizenship is being assaulted on the premodern side by the legal blending of mere residency with citizenship.
Estimates of the number of undocumented American residents range from 11 million to more than 20 million. The undocumented are becoming legally indistinguishable from citizens and enjoy exemption from federal immigration law in some 500 sanctuary jurisdictions. An illegal resident of California will pay substantially less tuition at a California public university than a U.S. citizen of another state.
Multiculturalism has reduced the idea of e pluribus unum to a regressive tribalism. Americans often seem to owe their first allegiance to those who look like they do. Citizens cannot even agree over once-hallowed and shared national holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.
It is eerie how such current American retribalization resembles the collapse of Rome, as Goths, Huns and Vandals all squabbled among one another for what was left of 1,200 years of Roman citizenship — eager to destroy what they could neither create nor emulate.
Citizenship has always been protected by the middle classes — on the idea that they are more independent and self-reliant than the poor, but can stand up to the influence and power of the elite.
Yet until recently, we had seen a decade of stagnant wages and entire regions ossified by outsourcing, offshoring and unfair global trade. Historically, with the demise of the middle class so follows the end of constitutional government.
But citizenship also faces a quite different and even greater postmodern threat.
Many of our coastal elites see nothing much exceptional in America, past and present. They prefer the culture and values of the European Union without worrying that the EU’s progressive utopian promises have been wrecked by open borders, economically stultifying regulations, and unapologetic and anti-democratic efforts to curb free expression and local autonomy.
Often, such “citizen of the world” mentalities fuel shame over the origins and traditions of America. Transnational organizations and accords on climate, criminal justice and human rights are seen as superior to their American counterparts.
A new progressive iconoclasm seeks to destroy statues, rename streets and buildings, and wipe away art that does not reflect more global values.
Does voting — the bedrock right of the democratic citizen — matter that much anymore? In California, tens of thousands of votes were “harvested” by paid campaign operatives. There was also abuse in state agencies in sending out voter registration forms to those who were not legally entitled to vote.
Lone activist federal judges frequently overturn legislation and referenda they find contrary to their own political take on legal theory — without worry that the votes of millions are canceled in a nanosecond.
Meanwhile, the proverbial “swamp” of the bureaucratic, administrative and regulatory state is so vast and unaccountable that a few clerks can harass entrepreneurs, issue edicts with the force of legislation that ruins lives, or indict, regulate or audit a targeted individual into legal bankruptcy.
In recent years, we have seen a cake maker, a video maker and a national security adviser so hounded by federal bureaucrats that they either were nearly bankrupted, ended up in jail or were reduced to penury through legal costs.
We still have a Bill of Rights, but many of our constitutional protections are being rendered impotent. If a rural family cannot find ammunition at the local Walmart or gun store due to organized boycotts and threats to such establishments, then the constitutional right to bear arms is not always exercisable in a practical sense.
Brett Kavanaugh was nominated, audited and confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. But if The New York Times and cable news can relentlessly charge without proof that nearly 40 years ago he was a teenage sexual pervert, then a distinguished judge can be rendered impotent without legal impeachment.
If a student cannot safely express opposition to abortion on demand, question the global warming narrative, or object to safe spaces, trigger warnings and race-based theme houses on campuses, does it matter that there is in theory still a First Amendment?
We are unwinding at both ends. Tribalism, the erosion of the middle class and de facto open borders are turning Americans into mere residents of a particular North American region between Mexico and Canada.
Yet even more dangerously, thanks to the fiats of unelected bureaucrats and officials, along with the social media lynch mobs who boycott, harass and shame us, our constitutional rights are now increasingly optional. They mostly hinge on whether we are judged worthy by an unelected, politically correct and morally righteous elite.
In theory, American citizenship remains the same; in reality, it is disappearing fast.
• Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won” (Basic Books, 2017).
Sequels are rarely better than the original.
If we have learned anything over the last six days, as the feeding frenzy over the whistleblower has overtaken official Washington, it is this: Democrats want to impeach President Trump and they do not care if the facts support their cause.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally got with the program and announced she would support an impeachment inquiry. She has resisted impeachment for months as her caucus has grown restless. She was considering the House Democratic majority. I thought she was disciplined and strategic.
She got ahead of the facts and now she is trapped.
As the transcript of the July phone call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president was released Wednesday morning, several key claims made by Democrats and their media allies unraveled.
There was no “quid pro quo.” We were promised that Mr. Trump was explicit. The transcript shows no evidence of that.
The president did not mention defense aid even once. We were promised that Mr. Trump withheld defensive foreign aid as a bribe to secure an investigation of the Bidens. He did not mention the subject of defensive aid once during the call.
The only investigation that Mr. Trump brought up himself, unprompted, was an investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election, as it related to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee email server. Democrats used to care deeply about this subject.
The Ukrainian president was the first to mention Mr. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and he asked that Mr. Giuliani travel to Ukraine.
Despite news reports that Mr. Trump urged an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter as many as eight times on the call, the transcript shows he mentioned them only once. The Ukrainian president specifically said Wednesday he did not feel pressured by Mr. Trump.
This is far too thin for the extreme constitutional remedy of impeachment.
When the public is against the party pushing impeachment, pushing forward with this drastic step is bad politics. Republicans learned this painful lesson in the 1990s.
Democrats have now committed themselves to this extreme step, and they have set themselves up to fail their rabid base or pursue a path the public opposes.
It appears Democrats learned nothing from the Russia collusion hoax.
After more than two years of Democrats’ hyperventilating, Mr. Trump was cleared of collusion and conspiracy. Democrats and their media allies overhyped their claims and won Pulitzer Prizes along the way. But they failed in their objective, and soon we will learn more about the origins of the Russia collusion hoax and FISA warrant abuses.
I will make a prediction.
In the end, the Ukraine investigation and resulting impeachment inquiry will be far worse for Mr. Biden than it will be for Mr. Trump.
Will the former vice president’s calls to Ukraine be released? How many trips did he make there? With whom did he meet? How did his son, with zero experience in Ukraine or energy, secure a $50,000 a month contract with a Ukrainian natural gas company and a highly lucrative contract for his bank?
These questions deserve answers.
The whistleblower complaint has now been provided to the House and Senate Intelligence committees. The Intelligence Community Inspector General said the whistleblower had “partisan bias” in his or her background. We have also learned that the whistleblower never even heard the phone call directly.
Almost everything Democrats have said about this story is probably false.
Soon we will hear from acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire in his testimony before Congress. He will provide additional answers and context.
Instead of overhyping this story, Democrats should have been more careful and measured. But they could not help themselves.
Instead, their hatred of Mr. Trump led to them getting out on a limb. That limb was just sawed off.
• Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney reelection campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.
There was a time when the “Made in America” emblem evoked high-quality manufacturing, competitive pricing and superiority in the international marketplace. Up until the 1990s, we witnessed challengers’ attempts to unseat America’s manufacturing prowess, but only with modest success. However, in the past decade, a consumer would be hard-pressed to find a product made in America.
Fast forward to 2019. Products of all types that are “Made in America” are few and far between. Even if a product does claim to be manufactured in America, after a closer look you will find it usually has the disclaimer, “with components from around the world or assembled in America with products made in …”. America has lost its competitive manufacturing edge and the jobs that go with it.
The most notable example of American manufacturers being overshadowed by our international competitors is the automobile industry. In the early 1900s, the U.S. had three manufacturing giants: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, whose products were reliable, affordable and sought after. However, as Japan began to rebuild post-World War II, with help from investments under the Marshall Plan, their industries, specifically the automobile industry, became stronger and more competitive — rivaling the United States.
Japan’s accession to the international marketplace was in part due to Japan simultaneously rebuilding their political doctrine. Their leaders were no longer fixated on imperialism, but open to building democracy and instituting free market ideals. While Japanese products had previously been considered poorly made and of little value, their presence in the international market gained recognition thanks to their low-cost manufacturing and rising quality and performance. Japan’s willingness to embrace democracy and free-market ideals allowed them to enter the world stage as one of our strongest allies in trade and national security.
In the past, as manufacturers lost market shares or switched production lines to other countries, as was the case with Japan, it made both countries stronger and we forged relationships based on trade and complimentary forms of governments. Our countries worked together to be mutually beneficial. However, as we now witness China rivaling the United States as a manufacturing powerhouse, this is not the case.
China is a predatory Communist country that seeks only to increase the strength of China. As manufactures flocked to China for cheap labor, what they soon discovered was this: China would often own a controlling interest of the business and intellectual property would have to be turned over to Chinese companies in order for those companies to have market access. China would then reverse-manufacture those products and compete against the original manufacturers. This has empowered China to grow its economy to the second largest in the world, subsequent only to the United States.
China has a track record of stealing intellectual property, copying designs and selling products in direct competition to the original manufacturer at a much cheaper selling price. In strategy documents like “Made in China 2025,” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese state have repeatedly made clear that China’s industrial policy intends to take innovation from foreign competitors, surpass them in the industries of the future, and replace them in China and globally. This should be reason enough to pull all manufacturing operations out of China.
Their economic success thus far has allowed China to aggressively march around the world with their predatory lending practices, provided under their Belt Road Initiative, and saddle smaller, developing countries with unsustainable debt. As their initiative grows and strengthens, China will continue to rise as an economic power, rivaling the United States.
Suffice it to say, that if we as Americans and others around the world continue to support and encourage manufacturing in China and continue to buy products “Made in China,” it will only empower the CCP. The CCP will not embrace open economies, human rights or become trusted partners. The CCP’s goal is to become a dominant economic and military power worldwide. This was succinctly and clearly stated by Xi Jinping in 2017 during his address to the Communist Party Congress, where he stated, “The Era of China has arrived. No longer will China be forced to swallow its interests around the world. It’s time for China to take the world center stage.”
As a consumer, I have experienced China’s economic dominance firsthand. I went shopping recently to buy three items, a pocket comb (infrequently used), a drill bit and some swivels for fishing. All three were made in China. I could not find a single product manufactured outside of China. I also recently bought a new foam mattress and before making the purchase, I asked the storeowner where it was manufactured. He assured me it was from Italy. When it arrived, the carton said in bold, proud letters, “Made in China.” I called and told the owner, who profusely apologized and found a comparable bed that was made in America.
We can prevent this advancement with what I have coined the “ABC” approach. Manufacture and buy “Anywhere But China.” We should tell our manufactures that production in China is no longer acceptable and that we as consumers must buy from countries other than China.
While I acknowledge the repeated claims from manufacturers that they must stay engaged in China because of their large market — more than 1.3 billion people — I would like to remind these manufacturers that there is a market of 6.2 billion people outside of China, in markets that do not share China’s unfair and predatory track record against foreign firms and their goal of world dominance.
This transition will take time and effort, but it will send a much-needed message to the CCP. Through this adjustment, we can restrict the fuel that feeds a country that is determined to achieve world domination at the expense of others. However, we must start today.
• Ted S. Yoho, a U.S. representative from Florida, is the lead Republican for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation.