Views on the News

Views on the News*

December 2, 2017


GOP Ohio Representative Jim Jordan’s message to Republican leadership and every member of Congress is simple: don’t mess with the voters.  From the uprising of the Tea Party movement in 2010, to Dave Brat defeating House Majority Whip Eric Cantor in a primary, to the formation of the Freedom Caucus as a new center of gravity in the House, to John Boehner’s early dethroning, and then the 2016 upset by President Donald Trump, the American people have a message for elites in Washington.  Jordan also said. “Maybe we ought to do what the American people sent us here to do.”  Knowing that former President Barack Obama’s IRS was guilty of using the agency against political opponents, Jordan is worried that the national security apparatus was equally compromised for political purposes.  Jordan wonders whether the Obama administration was complicit with the Democrat National Committee and the Clinton campaign “in producing an opposition research document,” the “Trump dossier,” that was turned into an intelligence document and then presented to the FISA court, and used to get warrants to spy on Americans associated with the Trump campaign.”  Congress needs to better highlight the free speech war occurring on campuses, in social media and by the left in America.  The use of defamatory smears and mob tactics is changing America, and the congressman sees the need for more hearings, a congressional resolution of disapproval and more.  With Thanksgiving and tax reform nearly behind Congress, the must-pass year end spending deal by a Republican Congress with a Republican president should make voters cheer, but instead Jordan fears that Republican leaders are afraid to stand firm for what they campaigned.

(“Watch Jim Jordan Offer His Advice for Republican Leadership” by Ginni Thomas dated November 25, 2017 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/25/watch-jim-jordan-offer-his-advice-for-republican-leadership-video/ )

The American tradition is not deference to authority; it's defiance of authority, even when the cause is hopeless.  Defiance is Donald Trump's signature attitude; his defining characteristic of the 2016 Trump campaign.  Trump defied the political establishment, the news media, conventional wisdom, common decency, former President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, former Governor Mitt Romney and even the pope.  Trump's supporters admire his defiance, which they see as fearlessness.  They share his contempt for the establishment, the news media, educated elites and the norms of political correctness, all of which helps explain why Trump's base is sticking with him now that he has antagonized the entire national establishment.  In the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, Trump's job approval rating is down to 38%, but 81% of Republicans are standing by their president.  We have, actually, great unity in the Republican Party,” Trump boasted.  The Republican Party is now the Trump party:  There is zero appetite for the ‘Never Trump’ movement in the Republican Party.  Special counsel Robert Mueller represents the national establishment judging the president.  Trump's response to the investigation is Defiance: “Why aren't Crooked Hillary and the Dems the focus?” Trump tweeted.  Now, some Republican lawmakers are pressuring the Justice Department to name a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.  Such a move would instantly destroy the norm, established after the Watergate scandal that the White House should never use law enforcement agencies to go after political enemies.  Trump's commitment to tax reform further solidifies his Republican support.  Tax reform, more precisely, tax cuts is the issue that has defined the Republican Party since Reagan.  The GOP, who normally trumpet fiscal conservatism, aren’t even worried that the tax cuts will increase the federal deficit: Fewer than one in five Republicans believe the he tax changes will increase the deficit.  Religious right voters are not attracted to Trump because of his lifestyle; they're attracted to him because he's a street fighter who will do whatever it takes to get them what they want.  The deep divisions in American politics started long before Trump came into the picture, but what Trump did was exploit the division.  Democrats have been responding with their own show of defiance: The day after Trump took office in January, the anti-Trump resistance movement sprang up and staged the Women's March on Washington, the largest political demonstration since the anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and ‘70s.  Calling for impeachment won't have the same effect as simply defeating the Republicans who support him.  It will be seen as an act of political revenge, and Trump would become even more defiant and more dangerous.  We may see another act of defiance on December 12, when Alabama holds a special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Senate seat.  The Republican nominee, Roy Moore, faces allegations of sexual improprieties.  Many Republican senators, as well as the National Republican Senatorial Committee, have withdrawn their support for Moore.  If Moore wins in the face of repudiation by the Washington establishment, it will be a spontaneous act of political defiance by the voters, just like Trump's victory a year ago.

(“Trump and his voters are drawn together by a shared sense of defiance” by Bill Schneider dated November 25, 2017 published by NBC News at https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-his-voters-are-drawn-together-shared-sense-defiance-ncna823266 )


The hard left in America is a industry whose business model is to gain social control by generating chaos. It comprises three tiers:

·   The Board of Directors: Recently referred to as the Deep State, it is a covert, unstructured but ideologically integrated nidus of unelected public servants and their private sector cohorts and benefactors.  They seek the downfall of our republican democratic form of government and the establishment of statist rule by expert elitist puppeteers who micromanage every aspect of society via technocratic bureaucracies.  Only through ultimate central control and power, they contend, can a just society be attained.

·   The Salesforce: Those holding the bully pulpit, like-minded or otherwise disenfranchised media pundits, academics, entertainers, ideological politicians, and lone-wolf activists.  They preach to and indoctrinate the masses with the tenets of the directors.  They spin every issue into a villain/victim social context, debasing the "establishment', waging war on "social injustices", and vanquishing the "oppressors."

·   The Consumers: The liberal community whose innermost feelings of guilt, marginalization, subjugation, exclusion, or idealism are preyed upon and exploited to recruit a diverse army of angry dissidents: the vulnerable youth, Caucasians imbued with white guilt, blacks held in perpetual bondage by "compassionate" liberal policy, Hispanics welcomed through open borders and granted sanctuary and amnesty, and women under the yoke of male chauvinism.  They have been successfully coerced and goaded into creating an angry, divided nation, generating conflict and confrontation over increasingly inane "injustices" -- bathrooms, statues, micro-aggressions.

Under the pretense of creating an egalitarian brave new world of equality, coexistence, and brotherhood, the hard left instead seeks to create chaos, destablization, erosion and collapse of the existing system, and to rise victorious from the ashes, gaining absolute power and control.  The liberal flocks need to realize that they are pawns being manipulated toward an unforeseen goal.  Should their exalted leaders succeed in establishing their autocratic brave new world, the liberal rank and file will have fulfilled their purpose and are disposable.  They, like the Clintons before them, will be dispensable and will be thrown under the bus with everyone else, then they will have real social injustices to rail against.

(“Liberals: Lemmings of the Left” by J.A. Frascino dated November 27, 2017 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/11/liberals_lemmings_of_the_left.html )

At its core, liberalism is an incoherent, value-free ad hoc ideology that doesn't promulgate any enduring ideas that stand the test of time.  It has no underlying moral foundation to support its ideas other than pilfering those rooted in Judeo-Christian ethics and is parasitical of its foundations and morality.  Liberalism is relativistic in that it is constantly contradicting itself based on phony compassion, its pretense of virtue, and its constant search for identity.  Everything liberals and liberalism stands for masks its real objective of seeking and maintaining political power.  It is a con and a deception, where millions have fallen for its contrived and manufactured objectives based on accepting it at face value.  These same accusations can’t be made against conservatism, because conservatism has consistently held to the same principles going all the way back to Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism, who stressed that it is tradition and obligation that are the most important principles that lead to a just and stable society.  Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley are considered the fathers of modern conservatism.  They put forth primarily the principles of smaller government, lower taxes, individual accountability, and prudence, among others (in opposition to the collectivist welfare state).  These principles haven't changed in over fifty years, and you can actually go back farther to Franklin Roosevelt's administration, where there was significant opposition from the right to the unprecedented expansion of the federal government through his New Deal programs.  Ever since, it's been a contest between the limiting principles from the right versus the left's insatiable desire to expand the size and scope of the government as well as the allowance for unlimited and unrestrained individual behavior.  There's an old saying that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  Its these lliberalism "good intentions" that create more problems than they solve.  Liberals live on their perpetual virtue-signaling and alleged compassion while creating problems they don't take responsibility for.  They blame problems on the right and then go on to create "solutions" that end up just adding more layers of problems on top of the ones they created in the first place.  They rely on the public's historical ignorance and myopia in not grasping the roots of the original problem.  A lack of limiting principles allowed Lyndon Johnson to put the administrative state, that began with FDR, on steroids with the implementation of his Great Society programs that, in turn, gave us the modern American welfare state.  It is a monster that has been devouring the country ever since.  Along came the social upheavals of the sixties that gave birth to modern liberalism and today's far-left Democratic Party.  Out of this era came a new morality that, like liberal politics, washed away the limiting principles of acceptable social behavior and mainstreamed taboos such as divorce, drug use, and obligation-free sex.  This has, in turn, led to the normalization of abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, new-ageism and pseudo-spirituality, legal marijuana, and euthanasia, just to name a few.  Liberalism will scream to the end of time that it is not an ideology rooted in "slippery solipsism," but that's exactly what it is.  So it bears repeating: there are no limiting principles to liberalism, whereas authentic conservatism has been trying to put the brakes on it by promoting tradition, virtue, order, and stability.  Without societal limits and restraints on personal behavior, the natural forces of man will surface in the form of chaos and nihilism, and removing limitations on a central government will always lead to totalitarianism.  

(“The problem with liberalism: It has no limiting principles” by Tim Jones dated November 25, 2017 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/11/the_problem_with_liberalism_it_has_no_limiting_principles_.html )

Each day brings new allegations about powerful men who have sexually abused, harassed, assaulted or otherwise exploited others, and nearly every day, more heads roll, but obscured behind the legitimate outrage against sexual predators is an unceasing cultural onslaught against men that should concern us every bit as much as the predation dominating the news.  I am speaking of a longer-term and more insidious attack against men, and masculinity, generally.  Masculinity itself risks becoming a dirty word.  Across the country, workshops are being held to teach men how to avoid "toxic masculinity."  It's one thing to suggest, as some of these workshops do, that there is healthy and unhealthy masculinity.  There are toxic parents, toxic spouses, toxic co-workers; there is healthy self-love, and then there is narcissism, and so on.  It is something else altogether to suggest that masculinity is in and of itself toxic, a not-infrequent idea expressed on social media and by some so-called feminist writers.  Such a view smears all men, simply because they are men.  We have seen a similar dynamic play out in discussions about race.  Decades ago, efforts to raise awareness of an eradicate "discrimination" focused on actions that were unfair and harmful to racial minorities.  Later, the conversation broadened to "racism," which focused more on attitudes behind the actions.  Recently, however, these have morphed into "white privilege," which conveniently requires neither reprehensible individual conduct nor hostile personal attitudes in order to impose culpability.  Are we seriously going to argue that male sexuality has never been "examined"?  Not all men are monsters, and morality shapes culture, but that conclusion is deeply unpopular with large segments of the American population, especially on the left.  The "anything goes" ethos of the sexual revolution, and the abandonment of individual restraint and traditional sexual morality, has only empowered the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.  Over the past couple of years, there has been an explosion of media coverage, almost a fetishizing, of transgender and other gender-nonconforming individuals.  While heterosexual and "cisgendered" men endure a barrage of criticism and suspicion, the media fawns over men who wear makeup, dress like women and cut off their genitals.  The symbolism here is profoundly disturbing.  There have always been men who exploited their power over women (or children, or other men), but this is not characteristic of all men, and saying so is a terrible slur.  The solution is morality, a return to sexual restraint, and personal and professional decorum.  What we need are more men who are trained to be gentlemen, not boys who have been indoctrinated to be feminine.

(“The War on Men” by Laura Hollis dated November 30, 2017 published by Town Hall at https://townhall.com/columnists/laurahollis/2017/11/30/the-war-on-men-n2416042 )

The candidacy and subsequent election of Donald Trump to the presidency caused a great deal of consternation among the U.S. foreign policy establishment, Democrat and Republican alike.  His campaign rhetoric suggested that he had no coherent view of U.S. foreign policy, other than the gauzy commitment to “making America great again” and “America first.”  Trump criticized America’s overseas commitments, including the ongoing effort in Afghanistan; called into question the value of NATO; and argued the United States was being undone by its adherence to free trade. On the other hand, his bombastic language suggested he was ready to abandon the constraints on the use of force that traditionally have guided our military efforts.  Even though Trump’s rhetoric often remains undisciplined, his actions as president suggest the emergence of something resembling a doctrine.  It is important to note that the “doctrines” associated with presidents in the past: the “Truman Doctrine,” the “Nixon Doctrine,” the “Carter Doctrine,” and the “Reagan Doctrine” were usually not the result of a coherent plan developed at the outset of a president’s administration but were instead attempts by outsiders to discern a pattern in the actions of a given administration.  So it is with any attempt to describe a nascent “Trump Doctrine.”  National security specialists employ several lenses to ascertain the content of an administration’s foreign policy.  The two dominant paradigms from international relations theory are, of course, “realism,” which focuses on the relative power of states in the international system; and “liberal internationalism,” which stresses the role of cooperation, norms, and international institutions in the international system.  Although often little more than a sterile debate between Machiavelli and Kant, these two paradigms give rise to various policy and strategy taxonomies, for example, “primacy,” “strategic disengagement,” “selective engagement,” and “cooperative internationalism.”  Truth is, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to shoehorn U.S. foreign policy into any one of these categories.  Trump’s Doctrine is emerging based on five pillars:

·    The first pillar is a healthy nationalism - It is not ethnic or racial nationalism but civic nationalism, better described as patriotism.  There is no question that he is a patriot, one who seriously believes that the purpose of American power is to advance the interests of American citizens.  A healthy nationalism recognizes that the sole purpose of American power is—or should be—to secure the American Republic and to protect the liberty and facilitate the prosperity of the American people.

·    The second pillar is a state-centric view of international politics – It is a corollary of the first pillar, one that approaches international institutions and “global governance” with great skepticism.  This is what President Trump calls “principled realism.”  It is in the interest of the United States to advance U.S. political, military, and economic strength not to impose U.S. will on others but to “secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”  “the goal [of U.S. foreign policy] is a ‘republican world’ in which free nations live side by side, responsible for their own defenses and economies, and cut deals with other nations, including authoritarian ones, to the extent their interests overlap.”  The Trump doctrine seems to hold that the United States should not cede sovereignty to international institutions in order to be embraced by the mythical “international community” nor should the purpose of U.S. foreign policy to defend a rule-based liberal international order.  The United States will support international institutions to the extent that they advance U.S. interests.  The freedom, security, and prosperity of the United States are best secured in a world where other states are also secure, free and prosperous. 

·    The third pillar is armed diplomacy - For too long, American policymakers have treated force and diplomacy as an either-or proposition.  But understood properly, force and diplomacy are two sides of the same coin.  The threat of force increases the leverage of diplomats.  The Trump administration’s approach to North Korea is a case in point.

·    The fourth pillar is prioritizing economic growth and leveraging the new geopolitics of energy - The Trump Administration has moved expeditiously to lift regulations that hamper U.S. domestic productivity across the board, but especially in the area of energy production.  While domestic oil and gas production has increased as a result of the technical revolution associated with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and directional drilling, it did so despite the priorities of the Obama Administration, which wished to decrease reliance on hydrocarbons. Trump has made it clear he wishes to exploit America’s energy potential to take advantage of the new geopolitics of energy.

·    The fifth pillar is a defense of liberal principles - Critics claim that the Trump Administration has subordinated defense of such principles to other considerations. As an example, they point to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s address earlier this year, which led some to accuse him of abandoning the U.S. commitment to human rights.

Prudence dictates that the United States attempt to spread its principles only when it can do so in a cost-effective manner.  As noted above, the U.S. is safer and more prosperous in a world populated by other democratic republics, but the United States faces limits.  It cannot unilaterally spread democracy throughout the world.  Much of the critique of Tillerson, and by extension, Trump, mischaracterizes what the secretary said.  He makes the commonsense argument that “in some circumstances,” attempting to promote human rights per se can make it harder to pursue our economic and national security interests. Nonetheless, he argued that the United States must always stand firmly on the side of human rights.  When President Trump went to Warsaw and delivered one of the better speeches of his young presidency, calling on the West “to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization,” he was roundly criticized.  The president was defending the West and its virtues: liberty, reason, the rule of law, property, and prosperity.  Trump’s foreign policy remains a work in progress, but it seems to point to an emerging doctrine, representing a synthesis of the Hamiltonian-Jacksonian schools of American foreign policy.  Trump’s approach so far reflects his understanding that a healthy regard for the safety and happiness of American citizens requires that U.S. power remain supreme but that the president of the United States has an obligation to American citizens, not to the welfare of the rest of the world.

(“Is There an Emerging ‘Trump Doctrine’” by Mackubin Owens dated November 25, 2017 published by American Greatness at https://amgreatness.com/2017/11/25/is-there-an-emerging-trump-doctrine2/ )


There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  Updates have been made this week to the following sections:

·  Service at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/service.php

·  Energy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/energy.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY