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Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds.

He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008.

Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006.

Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004).

A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010).

Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal.

Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days.

Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

The “Deplorables” Get Their Say

By Craig Bernthal

 

Most of the pundits I’ve been reading on the Democratic side who have decided to explain this election chalk up the Trump victory to an America which turned out to be far more racist and misogynistic than they’d ever believed. Among the most hysterical and bitter was Garrison Keillor in the Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-voters-will-not-like-what-happens-next/2016/11/09/e346ffc2-a67f-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html, and any internet survey will find much of the same. Paul Krugman had a vision of the apocalypse,

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/election-night-2016/the-unknown-country, colleges across the country called out their grief counselors, people started wearing Brexit-inspired safety pins (another way of perpetuating fear and division), and riots, possibly pushed by MoveOn.org, are all over TV. The vitriol hurled at Trump voters by progressives is truly astonishing. It does not just show a hatred of half of America, but astounding ignorance about it. Racists! Half the country is racist! (And this claim despite Trump getting 29% of the Hispanic vote and 8% of the African-American vote, bettering Romney’s performance.)
I did not vote for Trump. After he called John McCain a loser for being captured, that did it for me early on. I found his comments about women particularly disgusting.  I didn’t like what he said about Judge Curiel. I saw Trump as a thin-skinned narcissist, a bully, and a potentially dangerous loose cannon on foreign policy. May I be proven wrong. But I didn’t vote for Clinton either, and when the election went for Trump, I felt a vast sense of relief: relief that the corrupt Clinton machine, supported by 80% of the media, had been turned out once and for all, that they hadn’t gotten away with it yet again, that a progressive in the White House wouldn’t continue to talk down to me for the next eight years. Read more →

Carpe Diem, Mr. Trump

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Forgive, but do not forget, and be the strong horse.
While we speak, a jealous age will have fled. Seize the day! Trust as little as you can in tomorrow.
The Latin poet Horace’s advice of carpe diem— to seize the day and not worry about tomorrow — should be Trump’s transitional guide.
The attacks on Trump won’t even wait until he takes office; they begin now, well apart from rioting in the streets. And they will continue to be of several types.
Of the personal sort, expect more “investigative” reporting and “speaking truth to power” op-eds about his tax returns, his supposed theft of the election, his purported instigation of turbulence and mayhem, his locker-room talks about women, his business conflicts of interests in office, Trump University, and so on — perhaps written from the high moral ground by the WikiLeaks journalists of the Mark Leibovich, Dana Milbank, Glenn Thrush, Wolf Blitzer, or Donna Brazile sort.
The nexus of attack will not be a dramatic scandalous revelation — it will be intended to induce bleeding from a thousand tiny nicks and cuts, all designed to reduce his moral authority and thus his ability to ratchet back the progressive decade.
Another trope, as we are now witnessing, will be of the hysterical policy brand: Trump will cook the planet, put y’all back in chains, conduct war on women, traumatize students, destroy dreamers — all the boilerplate extremism designed to put Trump on the defensive so that he will settle for half an agenda and “reach out” to cement his respectability as a “listener” before the court of D.C. fixtures, the campuses, the foundations, the think tanks, the media, the social circles of Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
The Siren strategy of the Left will also be to point out that his future is already destabilizing America — Trump must therefore reach out right now to the “disaffected” in the streets who are “hurting.” Thereby, he will “heal” the nation, if only he backs off from “right-wing” and “extremist” ideas of selling coal overseas or building a wall and taxing billions of dollars in remittance from illegal aliens to pay for it.

Read more →

Comment from an Angry Reader:

I’m sure it was fun exercising your giant brain, but my surprise and I imagine most “liberals” was that enough Americans were willing to vote for what appears to be a sociopath.

He disqualified himself for me when he openly espoused physical violence against those who disagree with you. Basically the root principle justifying fascism—when the entity being disagreed with is the state.

 No matter what the real Trump turns out to be—even the greatest president that ever was—anyone who voted for him is no better than a Nazi.

 Don’t bother to answer, I don’t give a shit what your rationalization is, or indeed the rationalization of anyone who equates Clinton and Trump as two equally bad choices.

 Richard Waddle

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Richard Waddle,

Are you referring to Trump’s intemperate remarks to protestors disrupting his rallies? I thought that unwise, but we learn post facto that such use of disruption was paid for by operatives in pay of the Democratic National Committee, and the architect of the project was a frequent visitor to the Obama White House. Did that fact, given it was actual, not verbal, disqualify Clinton from being the President, not to mention the current president of the United States?

I would like to have replied to your charge of “fascism,” but you realize that your formulation here is utterly incoherent. What exactly does your half-thought mean: “Basically the root principle justifying fascism—when the entity being disagreed with is the state.” Hieroglyphics or English?

I was wondering when the Nazi charge would come, and was surprised that you held off until half your rant was finished. How exactly is voting for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton—roughly half the country did the same—synonymous with starting World War II and exterminating 6 million in death camps?

And again, you are seriously confused: the statement “No matter what the real Trump turns out to be—even the greatest president that ever was—anyone who voted for him is no better than a Nazi” is internally inconsistent. A president greater than Washington, Lincoln, or Roosevelt obviously is antithetical to Nazism. For example, do you mean to imply that a president who might be greater than the man who warred against and defeated Nazism is a Nazi?

And why so emotional?

Passion without self-control only leaves you confused and adolescent-like. Take you exclamation, “Don’t bother to answer, I don’t give a shit what your rationalization is, or indeed the rationalization of anyone who equates Clinton and Trump as two equally bad choices.”

So you took the trouble to write, but do not wish an answer?

Was the point of this incoherence just to rant rather than to take anti-anxiety medications or to visit a campus safe space lamentation center to pet puppies and play with toys? Note that I never “rationalized” my vote as something equating Clinton and Trump as “two equally bad choices.” They are not. Clinton was worse. Her crimes occurred as a public servant, undermining the idea of equality under the law. Tragically, the Clinton Foundation was run as a veritable crime syndicate that used the cloak of charity to enrich the Clinton family. In contrast, Trump’s excesses were as a private citizen and more rhetorical than factual: what Clinton did is a matter of record; what Trump might do is a matter of conjecture.

After the Nazi smear, I was waiting for the other requisite leftwing trope of obscenity, but again was surprised “sh*t” came so late in your diatribe.

You confirm the old adage the Left loves humanity in the abstract, but does not like people in concrete; in your case, that works out in decrying supposed violence in theory, but in the fact of your writing revealing yourself to be both crude and violent minded to the degree you were occasionally coherent. Quite sad, but also disturbing.

Sincerely, VDH

Why Trump Won

 

Throughout the course of the 2016 election, the conventional groupthink was that the renegade Donald Trump had irrevocably torn apart the Republican Party. His base populism supposedly sandbagged more experienced and electable Republican candidates, who were bewildered that a “conservative” would dare to pander to hoi polloi by promising deportations of illegal aliens, renegotiation of trade agreements that “ripped off” working people, and a messy attack on the reigning political correctness.

It was also a common complaint that Trump had neither political nor military experience. He trash-talked his way into the nomination, critics said, which led to defections among the outraged Republican elite. By August, a #NeverTrump movement had taken root among many conservatives, including some at National Review, The Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal. Many neoconservatives who formerly supported President George W. Bush flipped parties, openly supporting the Clinton candidacy.

Trump’s Republican critics variously disparaged him as, at best, a Huey Long or Ross Perot, whose populist message was antithetical to conservative principles of unrestricted trade, open-border immigration, and proper personal comportment. At worse, a few Republican elites wrote Trump off as a dangerous fascist akin to Mussolini, Stalin, or Hitler.

For his part, Trump often sounded bombastic and vulgar. By October, after the Access Hollywood video went viral, many in the party were openly calling for him to step down. Former primary rivals like Jeb Bush and John Kasich reneged on their past oaths to support the eventual Republican nominee and turned on Trump with a vengeance. Read more →

Surprise, surprise, the disconnected plutocrat lost

by Victor Davis Hanson// Los Angeles Times

Donald Trump’s victory confounded elite pollsters, journalists, politicians, academic experts and captains of industry. They all wrote him off as a fading gasbag. By every conventional barometer, he should have lost big time. His own party largely abandoned him. Former Republican presidents and primary rivals refused to endorse him. Donors bailed on him. His campaign staff was ridiculed as amateurish. Trump became the worst nightmare of the establishment, both Democratic and Republican.

But unnoticed during the last month of the campaigning was a growing realization among Americans that the supposedly sober and judicious Hillary Clinton was irreparably disconnected.

On the eve of the election, Clinton packed her rallies with celebrities. Sometimes the result was bizarre, as, for example, when Jay Z managed to use both the N-word and F-word in the would-be president’s presence. Millions were unimpressed. The so-called deplorables, irredeemables and clingers of America certainly did not think the stump performances of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé or Miley Cyrus resonated themes of amenity or probity.

It used to be that Democrats abhorred the role of big money in politics. But Clinton outspent Trump 3-1 and raised more than a billion dollars. The plutocracy — Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the great American gilded fortunes of Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook and Google — were not just Clinton supporters but often strident ones.  The old idea of a liberal populist underdog had morphed into a haughty moneybag, with a huge staff, lots of opposition researchers and internal pollsters, surfeits of questionable cash donations, and politically correct endorsements that the left used to find plastic and inauthentic. Read more →

A Blow to the Non-Elite Elite

By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Biased and incompetent elites polluted the 2016 election, and they are getting what they deserved.
There were a lot of losers in this election, well beyond Hillary Clinton and the smug, incompetent pollsters and know-it-all, groupthink pundits who embarrassed themselves.
From hacked e-mail troves we received a glimpse of the bankrupt values of Washington journalists, lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, and wealthy donors. Despite their brand-name Ivy League degrees and 1 percenter résumés, dozens of the highly paid grandees who run our country and shape our news appear petty and spiteful — and clueless about the America that exists beyond their Beltway habitat.
Leveraging rich people for favors and money seems an obsession. They brag about wealth and status in the fashion of preteens.
Journalists often violated their own ethics codes during the campaign. Political analyst Donna Brazile even leaked debate topics to the Clinton team. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank reportedly asked the Democratic National Committee to provide him with anti-Trump research.
Reading about the characters who inhabit the Clinton campaign e-mail trove, one wonders about the purpose of their Yale degrees, their tenures at Goldman Sachs, even their very stints in the Clinton campaign. Was the end game to lose their souls?
One big loser is the Obama Justice Department — or rather the very concept of justice as administered by the present administration. It has gone the tainted way of the IRS, VA, and NSA. The Justice Department clearly pressured the FBI to limit its investigation of pay-for-play corruption at the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.

Read more →

The Election Fables of 2016

 

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Clear choices on the issues in 2016 have been far more distinct than in 1960, 1968, or 1992.
Most of what we read about the election of 2016 was untrue. Here are the most glaring of the election fables.
Hillary would have been better off politically to come clean long ago We hear a few on the left lament Hillary’s two-year stubbornness in stonewalling, lying, and distorting the facts surrounding her unlawful use of a private e-mail server — as if her problems were largely a result of not being candid soon enough.
Nothing could be further from the truth if we define “better” as “more politically viable.” Had Clinton in spring 2015, from the outset, confessed that she had violated federal law in her transmissions of classified material, or admitted that she had deleted some e-mails under subpoena that contained government business, or had she apologized for allotting, as secretary of state, time to Clinton Foundation patrons of her husband, on the basis of their donations and honoraria, she would have lost the primaries to Bernie Sanders and landed in jail.
Had the president and the Democratic National Committee not intervened to massage the political climate and help to warp the primaries, or had Donna Brazile not continued to sabotage the sanctity of the debates, Hillary might well not have found herself on the eve of the election tied or ahead in the polls for the presidency. Had Bill Clinton not met Loretta Lynch on the tarmac, James Comey might well have acted earlier and with greater effect — and avoided his flip-flopping.

Read more →

The Strange Silence of Bernie Sanders

The Corner
The one and only.

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

The core of Bernie Sanders’s maverick campaign was “not business as usual.” For a year he offered a comprehensive critique both of status quo Democratic politics and the corrupt culture of elite Washington in uncompromising fashion.

In an era of Never Trump publicity, daily harsh critiques from some conservatives of the Trump campaign, and various signed letters from Republican luminaries distancing themselves from Trump, where is the commensurate Sanders outrage over various email disclosures?

One consistent theme from the DNC and Podesta troves is that the Sanders campaign was sabotaged by the Democratic National Committee, prompting the resignation of its chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (and perhaps soon her successor as well); that the Clinton campaign worked hand in glove with the Obama administration; that Sanders himself was sandbagged in perhaps more than one debate by Donna Brazile, who undermined the integrity of the forum by providing John Podesta and team Clinton with some of the debate questions in advance; and that the transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street six-figure compensated speeches confirm Sanders’s indictment of Clinton’s quid pro quo, wink-and-nod accommodation with big money, along with her admission that she has a public facade that should not be confused with her private (and real) sympathies. All of this is quite aside from the Clinton campaign’s banal disparagement of everything Sanders, from leaking unflattering photographs of him to attacking his purported atheism, as they dismissed his followers as prolonged adolescents who never left their parents’ basements.

What transformed Sanders from a supposedly principled muckraker and uncompromising tiger into an obsequious and mostly silent mouse who shrugs that stuff just happens in politics?

No answer needed.

The Clintons — At the End of All Things

 by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Epic greed, power, and pride: Where’s the bottom? With Bill and Hillary, there’s no telling.

What was the Clinton telos? The end point, the aim of all their lying, cheating, criminality, dishonor, and degradation?

Given the latest Weiner scandals coming on top of the latest WikiLeaks scandals, we wonder, what did the Clintons really wish to end up as — and why? Are they Goethe’s Faust or tortured souls crushed by the weight of their money bags in Dante’s Fourth Circle of Hell?

For a few criminals, remorse comes with old age; but for the Clintons, near-70 was to be the capstone, the last chance to trump all their prior shenanigans. They were artists of amorality, and the election of 2016 was to be their magnum opus.

Collate the FBI reopened investigation, WikiLeaks Podesta trove, revelations about the Clinton Foundation, the e-mail–server scandal, the DNC disclosures, and the various off-the-cuff campaign remarks of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and one then ponders what was the point of the Clinton shakedowns, the loss of reputation, the crude lawbreaking, as they neared their seventh decade. To paraphrase Barack Obama, in his progressive sermonizing on making enough money, did the two ever think they had enough money, enough honors, enough power already?

The Hillary/Bill fortune — generated by pay-for-play influence peddling on the proposition that Bill would return to the White House under Hillary’s aegis and reward friends while punishing enemies — hit a reported $150 million some time ago, a fortune built not on farming, mining, insurance, finance, high-tech, or manufacturing, but on skimming off money. The Clintons are simply grifters whose insider access to government gave them the power to make rich people richer. Read more →

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

The Corner The one and only.
by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
In the “you can’t believe this” category, Washington, D.C. lawyer, former Clinton official, and self-described Hillary Clinton supporter Jamie Gorelick goes to the pages of the Washington Post to complain that James Comey’s FBI reinvestigation is a peril to democracy.
That is a hypothetical, although Gorelick had no apparent problem earlier when Comey could not square the circle of detailing how Clinton’s reckless behavior did not rise to the level of an indictable offense.
What is not a hypothetical, but a real peril to democracy, is Ms. Clinton’s de facto undermining federal law as secretary of state to hide private communications and thereby endanger national security — well aside from calibrating secretary of state face-time with donations to her family’s foundation — and disguising those facts by obfuscation, lying, and stone-walling.
For that matter, what is destroying democracy is an elite culture of amorality in Washington, in which incestuous politicians, journalists, and lawyers go out from government and politics into government-related finance, law, and lobbying, often cashing in without proven expertise or experience — in other words, in the manner that one Jamie Gorelick (whose Post byline of high government service mysteriously stops nearly 20 years ago at 1997) served for nearly six years (1997–2003) as vice chairman of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) under the infamous Franklin Raines. Raines and Gorelick oversaw a $10 billion loss, putting Fannie Mae on the trajectory to its implosion during the 2008 meltdown.
For all that damage, Gorelick walked away from the Fannie Mae mess with $26,466,834 in compensation and “bonuses,” although for what reason and on what merit no one has yet ascertained. The bonus was almost as mysterious as her own original appointment to Fannie Mae as an outgoing Clinton official, given that Gorelick had no banking expertise whatsoever to help manage one of the nation’s most important lending institutions.
In today’s Washington ethos, Gorelick, who owed her job to Bill Clinton, and, thanks to him, made millions as her agency imploded, now writes about the FBI director’s supposed ethical problems as emblematic of a danger to democracy — in a not so subtle fashion to help the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Gorelick’s public career could charitably be called a textbook case of conflict of interest. Meanwhile, no one any longer recalls the millions of Americans who lost their homes and savings in part due to the consequences of sloppy, unethical, and callous leadership of Washington’s government-sponsored finance and lending.
If you seek the monuments of Trump’s origins, look around Washington.

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