Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

02/08/18 Angry Reader

From An Angry Reader:

I initially became interested in your work after your podcast interview with Dan Carlin many years ago. The need to engage in a priori reasoning is an important lesson. It is disappointing that you have forgotten this lesson in your many defenses of Trump and your unhinged criticisms of Barack Obama. Most telling is how you criticized Obama (multiple times in print) of once pronouncing corpsman wrong while Trump is given a pass for savaging a gold star family and criticizing prisoners of war as losers who got caught. Let us hope you can regain your senses.

Rajdeep Kandola

Dear Angry Reader Rajdeep Kandola,

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Scandal, Corruption, Lawbreaking — And So What?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The FISA-gate, Clinton emails, and Uranium One scandals are sort of reaching a consensus. Many things quite wrong and illegal were done by both Hillary Clinton and her entourage and members of the Obama agencies and administration — both the acts themselves and the cover-ups and omissions that ensued.

Remember, in the FISA-gate scandal such likely widespread criminal behavior was predicated on two premises: 1) certainty of an easy Clinton victory, after which the miscreants would be not only excused but probably rewarded for their zeal; 2) progressive hubris in which our supposedly moral betters felt it their right, indeed their duty, to use unethical and even unlawful means for the “greater good” — to achieve their self-described moral ends of stopping the crude and reactionary Trump.

The wrongdoing probably includes attempting to warp a U.S. election, Russian collusion, repeatedly misleading and lying before the FISA courts, improperly surveilling American citizens, unmasking the names of citizens swept up in unlawful surveillance and then illegally leaking them to the press, disseminating and authenticating opposition smears during a political campaign, lying under oath to Congress, obstructing ongoing investigations, using federal funds to purchase ad hominem gossip against a presidential candidate, blatant conflicts of interests, weaponizing federal investigations, trafficking in and leaking classified information . . . The list goes on and on.

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Republican Embarrassments

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Free-marketers are right that tax cuts stimulate economic growth that in turn lead to expanding production and eventually more federal tax revenue.

But the problem traditionally has been that to obtain tax reductions, Republicans also have had to sign on reluctantly to larger expenditures. Or, worse, they willingly believed they could spend more, simply because more money poured into the federal treasuries.

George W. Bush doubled the national debt. After running against Bush profligacy (remember the Chinese credit card trope), Barack Obama doubled it again by doubling Bush’s levels of borrowing. Conservatives blasted Obama for his even greater lack of thrift. The Tea Party movement emerged in reaction to reckless expenditures and borrowing to fund Obamacare.

Now Donald Trump is caught in the same old matrix. His deregulation, tax cuts, and energy expansion will likely increase federal revenue. But his various budget concessions and his own proposed increases in defense spending and infrastructure would likely bleed the budget at a far greater rate than the growing federal revenue.

Once again, new spending will discredit conservative vows of budget prudence and supply-side economics. (Budget-wise, what good does it do to expand the economy if the political price is acquiescence to ever greater and costlier government?) Read more →

Counterfeit Elitism

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Those damn dairy farmers. Why do they insist on trying to govern? Or, put another way:

Why are Republicans trusting Devin Nunes to be their oracle of truth!? A former dairy farmer who House intel staffers refer to as Secret Agent Man because he has no idea what’s going on.

Thus spoke MSNBC panelist, Yale graduate, former Republican “strategist,” and Bush administration speechwriter Elise Jordan.

Jordan likely knows little about San Joaquin Valley family dairy farmers and little notion of the sort of skills, savvy, and work ethic necessary to survive in an increasingly corporate-dominated industry. Whereas dairy farmer Nunes has excelled in politics, it would be hard to imagine Jordan running a family dairy farm, at least given the evidence of her televised skill sets and sobriety.

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Swamp Things?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

No doubt people talk indiscreetly when they believe their communications are private; perhaps those in an illicit affair may posture and brag about their self-importance and exaggerate. All that said, when reading through the latest release of the Page-Strzok archive, one is struck not just that the two who eventually were to investigate Donald Trump did not like Trump, but rather that they utterly loathed him, given their banter back and forth included: “God trump is a loathsome human.” Or “And wow, Donald Trump is an enormous d**che.” Or “And Trump should go f himself.” Or “I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot.”

It is hard to imagine how the Mueller investigation was not tainted by such venom — or perhaps the hate is better understood as proof that both were uniquely qualified to serve on the Mueller team doing the holy work deemed necessary to save the progressive project.

And perhaps the two had even more disdain for the supposed white working class who supported this “loathsome human”: e.g., cf., “from buttf*** Texas . . . ” Or “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support . . . ” Or “Loudon is being gentrified, but it’s still largely ignorant hillbillys [sic].”

Anyone trying to chronicle the supposed pretensions and arrogance of a deep-state, deplorables/irredeemables/clingers/dairy-farmer–hating elite could not make all this up, especially the idea that a Trump supporter gives off a unique odor, real or metaphorical.

Of course, if two FBI amorous agents/attorneys in 2008 were investigating candidate or president-elect Obama and their correspondence was later revealed to be anything like the above about him or his constituents, they would have long ago been fired, no questions asked.

FISA-Gate is Scarier than Watergate

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The Watergate scandal of 1972–74 was uncovered largely because of outraged Democratic politicians and a bulldog media. They both claimed that they had saved American democracy from the Nixon administration’s attempt to warp the CIA and FBI to cover up an otherwise minor, though illegal, political break-in.

In the Iran-Contra affair of 1985–87, the media and liberal activists uncovered wrongdoing by some rogue members of the Reagan government. They warned of government overreach and of using the “Deep State” to subvert the law for political purposes.

We are now in the middle of a third great modern scandal. Members of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice sought court approval for the surveillance of Carter Page, allegedly for colluding with Russian interests, and extended the surveillance three times.

But none of these government officials told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the warrant requests were based on an unverified dossier that had originated as a hit piece funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign to smear Donald Trump during the current 2016 campaign.

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A Year of Achievement: the case for the Trump presidency

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

As President Trump finished his first full year in office, he could look back at an impressive record of achievement of a kind rarely attained by an incoming president — much less by one who arrived in office as a private-sector billionaire without either prior political office or military service. As unintended proof of his accomplishments, Trump’s many liberal opponents have gone from initially declaring him an incompetent to warning that he has become effective — insanely so — in overturning the Obama progressive agenda.

Never Trump Republicans acknowledge that Trump has realized much of what they once only dreamed of — from tax reform and deregulation to a government about-face on climate change, the ending of the Obamacare individual mandate, and expansion of energy production.

Trump so far has not enacted the Never Trump nightmare agenda. The U.S. is not leaving NATO. It is not colluding with Vladimir Putin, but maintaining sanctions against Russia and arming Ukrainians. It is not starting a tariff war with China. The administration is not appointing either liberals or incompetents to the federal courts.

A politicized FBI, DOJ, and IRS was Obama’s legacy, not Trump’s doing, as some of the Never Trump circle predicted. Indeed, the Never Trump movement is now mostly calcified, as even some of its formerly staunch adherents concede. It was done in by the Trump record and the monotony of having to redefine a once-welcomed conservative agenda as suddenly unpalatable due to Trump’s crude fingerprints on it.

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The FISA-Gate Boomerangs

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Some things still do not add up about the so-called Steele dossier, FISA warrants, the Nunes memo, and the hysterical Democratic reaction to it.

A Big Deal or a Nothing Deal?

1) Progressives and Democrats warned on the eve of the memo’s release that it would cause havoc throughout the intelligence agencies, by exposing classified means and processes.

When no serious intelligence expert claimed that the released memo had done such damage, the official response to the memo was suddenly recalibrated by progressives. It went from being radioactive to a “nothingburger.”

The obvious conclusion is cynical: Cry Armageddon to prevent its release, then, after the release, resort to yawns to downplay its significance. An even more cynical interpretation is that Rod Rosenstein, James Comey, and other officials stridently objected to the release of the memo because they are named in it. Comey incoherently mocked the memo’s purported unimportance even while listing all its deleterious effects and the crises that would ensue.

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The Ticking Memo

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The House Intelligence Committee memo is pretty simple. It should not have been classified and thus far withheld from the public. In fact, far more information now needs to be released.

Despite the outcry, as Chairman Devin Nunes clarified, the memo can easily be in the near future supported or refuted by adducing official documents. In other words, the memo makes a series of transparent statements and leaves it up to the criminal-justice system and the public to ascertain subsequent criminal liability.

It is likely that the basic accuracy of the document will not be questioned, but rather opponents, some of them mentioned in the memo, will either ask why the resulting embarrassing information needed to be aired or insist that there are only minor possible crimes in the events it narrates, or both. Remember, officials from the FBI supposedly read the memo before its release to ensure that there were not factual errors or misrepresentations.

In sum, on four occasions during and after the 2016 campaign, the FBI and DOJ approached a federal FISA court — established to allow monitoring of foreign nationals engaged in efforts to harm the U.S. or American citizens deliberately or inadvertently in their service — to surveil Carter Page, a sometime Trump adviser. These requests also mentioned George Papadopoulos, apparently as a preexisting target of an earlier investigation by FBI official Peter Strzok, but according to the memo mysteriously there was not adduced any direct connection between the two individuals’ activities.

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Radioactive Trump

Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Ideas

Hillary Clinton seems to be experiencing a strange, slow motion meltdown following her 2016 loss to Donald Trump. Recently, she sent out a Twitter video message, recorded on her cellphone camera, with advice to feminists:  “And let me just say, this is directed to the activist bitches supporting bitches. So let’s go.” At about the same time, she appeared at the Grammy Awards, via a video, reading a snippet about Trump’s fast-food eating habits from Michael Wolff’s widely discredited book, Fire and Fury.

Before Clinton ran against Trump, she was considered a cautious Democratic politician, albeit with a dubious ethical record. Yet after she tangled with Trump, she seems to be suffering mysterious after-effects. Call it radiation sickness from Trump’s toxic gamma rays. Translated, that means orthodox politicians often lose when they try dueling with the unorthodox Trump on his terms—and then, making matters worse, they end up doubling down with more emotional heat.

Early on during the Republican primary, a conventional wisdom developed in the media and within political circles that it was suicidal to engage in ad hominem exchanges with Trump. The mainstream media meant that assessment as no compliment to Trump. Journalists sneered that the showboating Trump had fourteen years of experience in repartee and ad hoc invective on his reality television hit show The Apprentice. They also conceded that Trump had long ago learned that, in the dog-eat-dog world of New York real estate, and in the nasty gossip of Manhattan’s celebrity scene, going on the preemptive offensive is a deterrence strategy, crude or not.  In such a landscape, gentlemanly forbearance was not interpreted as magnanimity to be appreciated but as weakness to be exploited.

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