America as Animal Farm

By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
New commandments replace the old ones on the barn wall.
The socialist essayist and novelist George Orwell by 1944 grew depressed that as a cost for the defeat of the Axis Powers the Allies had empowered an equally nightmarish monster in the Soviet Union.
Since his days fighting for the loyalists during the Spanish Civil War, the left-wing Orwell had become an increasingly outspoken enemy of Communism. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, when Stalin renounced all his wartime assurances and steamrolled Eastern Europe, Orwell came to see state socialism under authoritarian auspices as the greatest threat to human freedom. It was not as if right-wing dictators were not equally lethal, but the inclusion of the words “socialist” and “republic” in a left-wing tyrant’s official lexicon tended to fool millions.
Indeed, it was precisely the leftist totalitarians’ habit of embroidering their murderous pursuit of power with professions of “equality,” “fairness,” and “egalitarianism” that so often allowed them to employ any means necessary to achieve their supposedly exalted ends. In sum, in Orwell’s eyes, the radical Left’s erasure of historical memory and its distortion of reality through the manipulation of language were the chief threat of the 20th century.

Continue reading “America as Animal Farm”

Assessing the Obama Legacy—Against His Own Mileposts

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
The president’s stated priorities have not turned out well.
In his 2016 State of the Union address, President Obama summarized his achievements. That same night, the White House issued a press release touting Obama’s accomplishments.
Now that he will be leaving, how well did these initiatives listed in the press release actually work out?
“Securing the historic Paris climate agreement.”
The accord was never submitted to Congress as a treaty. It will be ignored by President-elect Trump.
“Achieving the Iran nuclear deal.”
That “deal” was another effort to circumvent the treaty-ratifying authority of Congress. It has green-lighted Iranian aggression, and it probably ensured nuclear proliferation. Iran’s violations will cause the new Trump administration to either scrap the accord or send it to Congress for certain rejection.
“Securing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Even Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton came out against this failed initiative. It has little support in Congress or among the public. Opposition to the TTP helped fuel the Trump victory.
“Reopening Cuba.”

The recent Miami celebration of the death of Fidel Castro, and Trump’s victory in Florida, are testimonies to the one-sided deal’s unpopularity. The United States got little in return for the Castro brothers’ propaganda Continue reading “Assessing the Obama Legacy—Against His Own Mileposts”

Trump’s Russia “Reset”?


Throughout the 2016 election, the American Left venomously attacked Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. He was rightly accused of diminishing freedom both inside Russia and within neighboring nations, of gobbling up Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, and of eyeing the NATO member Baltic states for his next intervention.

But Putin’s real crime, in the eyes of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, was supposedly interfering in the 2016 election by using freelance contractors to hack sensitive Democratic Party communications. Indeed, that latter unproven accusation earned threats of retaliation from the normally live-and-let-live Obama administration that had not been likewise so concerned with Russian territorial aggression. Or as Press Secretary Josh Earnest framed the cyber provocation, “There are a range of responses that are available to the president, and he will consider a response that is proportional.”

During the election, progressives cast Putin, the murderous strongman, and Donald Trump, the populist bully, as kindred spirits who would forge a working alliance that reflected their respective autocratic natures—all at the expense of democratic idealism the world over. Putin in December 2015 had bragged of Trump, “He’s a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt.” Trump sometimes responded in kind, most controversially in September 2016: “Certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader. We have a divided country.” Continue reading “Trump’s Russia “Reset”?”

From an Angry Reader:

I love the Angry Reader section of your website, particularly your responses. I want to be an Angry Reader and see what you have to say about my valid, thoughtful points so here goes.

How can anyone support Donald Trump (I call him DT because he gives me the dt’s, heh, heh)???

He’s a racist. Look at his cabinet appointments. All white people except token minority Cho and she’s not even Black, Hispanic or Muslim. Carson doesn’t count because he’s an UNCLE TOM.

He’s a masoginist (or whatever it is) because he hates women. Look at his cabinet appointments. All men except token woman Cho. She’s a professional token having been one in a previous REPUBLICIAN ADMINISTRATION a few years ago.

He disrespects the Main Stream Media by using his tweets to go around them and get directly to the PEOPLE. This must be a violation of the 1st Amendment, at a minimum it’s certainly in POOR TASTE!!!

He’s not fit to be President because Obama and Clinton both said so. The New York Times too, I think.

Finally, f{^>\**¥+€ you and the horse you ride on and all other Castro lovers too!!!

I rest my case and await your smarty pants response.


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Really Angry Anonymous Reader,

I think your letter is satire and not serious. But in fairness I’ll answer nonetheless. Even satire has to have some originality; your “DT”/“racist” tropes are not even remotely funny. The shouting capital letters resemble most of the style of our angry readers, so you are either likewise deluded or a bad satirist.

What does “count” mean? Does one count as a minority if he fits some liberal ideology, usually established by an elite whose life does not even remotely match his rhetoric? I was trying to figure out the etymology of your neologism masoginist, but I plead I cannot think up any remote roots other than Greek mastos (breast) or Latin massa (lump) that would give me a clue. Sorry on that.

What is a Republician? Analogous to a conservative physician?

So you are a Trump supporter after all in your (poor) satire about tweeting and the 1st Amendment? Is that confirmed with your digs at Obama and Clinton and The New York Times? And maybe even further confirmed with the obscenity and “Castro lovers”?

I don’t offer “smarty pants” responses to angry readers, but try to take them seriously, more seriously I think than they deserve.

Bottom line: if you are serious, the angry reader letter rates a D-. If you are a Trump supporter, the satire earns a C-. If you are disturbed, then I forgive and pray for your recovery.

Sincerely, VDH

The Twin Pillars of Progressive Prejudice

 By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Universities and the media: arrogant, ignorant, and ripe for reform
In media land, Donald Trump is a reckless tweeter; Barack Obama’s outreach to GloZell and rapper Kendrick Lamar is just kicking back and having fun (Lamar’s latest album portrayed the corpse of a judge to the toasting merriment of rappers on the White House lawn).
In media land, Donald Trump risked world peace by accepting a phone call from the democratically elected president of Taiwan; Barack Obama’s talks with dictators and thugs such as Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and Raul Castro were long overdue. In media land, jawboning Carrier not to relocate a plant to Mexico is an existential threat to the free market; not so when Barack Obama tried to coerce Boeing to move to Washington State to produce union-made planes, or bullied a small non-union guitar company, or reordered the bankruptcy payouts of Chrysler and essentially took over the company.
In campus land, the election of 2008 was cause for ebullition; in 2016, elections by nature were traumatic as students were reduced to whining toddlers who needed cookies and milk.

Continue reading “The Twin Pillars of Progressive Prejudice”

‘Clever Fox’ Mattis

By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
The Mattis appointment as defense secretary could prove to be Trump’s most inspired, even given the nightmarish mess brewing abroad. But the media blitz has overdone the idea that Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis is somehow a frenzied, “let me at ’em” gung-ho warrior.
He may be certainly all that (and we hope our enemies focus on the nickname). But he is also probably the most well-read defense secretary we have seen in decades, and his reading extends from Homer and Plutarch to modern strategic studies.
Trump alluded in his announcement to General George S. Patton. And that comparison could be apt — not just because Mattis in rare public moments has used profanity and tough talk as did Patton on frequent occasions. More importantly, though, Patton (who, like William Tecumseh Sherman, is still an enigmatic and often wrongly caricatured figure) was widely read too, and a keen student of biography and history. He often talked candidly not just because he meant what he said, but because it offered another — necessary — combative public side to a contemplative streak sometimes wrongly misunderstood as insufficiently martial.
“Warrior monk” is another sobriquet applied to Mattis, but monk seems also misleading in that few generals are more outgoing, well-traveled, and engaged.
He may be part “Swamp” and “Desert” Fox — but Jim “Clever Fox” Mattis seems the best fit.

From an Angry Reader:

Clinton lost because of Republican voter suppression, Comey and Russian hacking. Trump is the establishment. He Pence and his appointments will cripple America for years. You should remove your head from Trumps ass. People like you are the problem.

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Repeat Angry Reader Raye Harper,

You cite 3 reasons for Hillary’s electoral loss: 1) yet there is no evidence of voter suppression. The Pew Foundation in 2012 suggested that voter registration is unsupervised and leads to voter fraud. Their drift was probably not focused on golf course-Republicans. The President assured Latinos that there would be no scrutiny of immigration status connected with voting; again, his subtle subtext was not election reassurance to the VFW or NRA to not worry about coming out in force at the polls.

2) Comey was a neutron bomb who radiated everyone: most dramatically acting improperly as a federal attorney in stating Hillary should not be prosecuted, then again improperly that she might be, then again improperly that she wouldn’t be—all predicated on his perceptions of his own political viability and keeping his job amid rising anger in his ranks. Two of the three times, he gave her a favorable nod—but never should have given a single press conference in the first place. AG Loretta Lynch prejudiced her position by meeting stealthily with Bill Clinton, and in response she outsourced Hillary’s case improperly to Comey, who was an investigator, not a prosecutor who weighs investigatory evidence. He should be fired for malpractice. Continue reading

From an Angry Reader:

Hello Mr Hanson. I read your articles on and have a question on something you wrote in Enemies Of Language. In your article you refer to Nazi Germany as having been “right wing.” This is a question that I have been wanting to pose so many times when reading articles or viewing documentaries on TV. What was it about Nazi government policies in Germany that made it “right wing” rather than left? It seems to me that Nazism was a politically left ideology due to big government control of everything such as industry, one party rule, censorship, anti religion, etc. What are the things you believe made it right wing?

 Rick Bush

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Not So Angry Reader Rick Bush,

Thank you for your reasoned inquiry. I addressed some of this in a prior response to a genuinely angry reader.

National Socialism was an odd hybrid, reflecting both the adjective National and the noun Socialism. In Hitler’s view, socialism in the German context meant more or less what it implied: anti-capitalist screeds, lots of entitlements and government services, infrastructure building, deals for like-sounding corrupt cronies, and government supervised education, recreation, environmentalism, and employment.

But Nazi economics were not so all-inclusive socialist as communism, given that crony capitalists were given concessions to profit and promises from Hitler et al. that they would be free of union strikes and popular pushback. Average Germans for the large part kept their property. There were no confiscations of private wealth on a mass scale other than the nightmarish hounding of Jews and political opponents—unlike the Soviet Union that collectivized almost everything (of course with exceptions for a privileged elite). Continue reading

Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Moderation and humility help politicians avoid results contrary to what they earnestly want.

The mix of politics and culture is far too complex to be predictable. Even the best-laid political plans can lead to unintended consequences, both good and bad — what we sometimes call irony, nemesis, or karma.

Take the election of 2008, which ushered Barack Obama and the Democrats into absolute control of the presidency, House, and Senate, also generating popular goodwill over Obama’s landmark candidacy.

Instead of ensuring a heralded generation of Democratic rule, Obama alienated both friends and foes almost immediately. He rammed through the unworkable Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote. He prevaricated about Obamacare’s costs and savings. Huge budget deficits followed. Racial polarization ensued. Apologies abroad on behalf of America proved a national turnoff.

By the final pushback of 2016, the Obama administration had proven to be a rare gift to the Republican party. The GOP now controls the presidency, Congress, governorships, and state legislatures to a degree not seen since the 1920s. “Hope and change” ebullition in 2008 brought the Republicans salvation — and the Democrats countless disasters.

The Republican establishment hated Donald Trump. So did the conservative media. His unorthodox positions on trade, immigration, and entitlements alienated many. His vulgarity turned off even more. Pundits warned that he had brought civil war and ruin to the Republican party.

But instead of ruin, Trump delivered to the Republicans their most astounding political edge in nearly a century. The candidate who was most despised by the party unified it in a way no other nominee could have. Continue reading “Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences”

A Party of Teeth-Gnashers

By Victor Davis Hanson//National Review
The broken record of racism/sexism/homophobia plays on and on and on.
After the Democratic equality-of-opportunity agenda was largely realized (Social Security, Medicare, overtime, a 40-hour work week, disability insurance, civil rights, etc.), the next-generation equality-of-result effort has largely failed.
What is left of Democratic ideology is identity politics and assorted dead-end green movements as conservation has become radical environmentalism and fairness under the law is now unapologetic redistributionism. The 2016 campaign and the frenzied reaction to the result are reminders that the Left is no longer serious about formulating and advancing a practical agenda. In sum, for now it is reduced to a party of teeth-gnashers.
The Podesta archive, when coupled with the pay-for-play Clinton Foundation, summed up the liberal ideology: progressive platitudes as cover for an elite’s pursuit of power and influence. Examine a coastal Democratic establishmentarian, and there is little discernable difference in his lifestyle, income, or material tastes from those conservatives (usually poorer) whom he accuses of all sorts of politically incorrect behaviors. Self-righteous outrage is a Democratic selling point and a wise career move for journalists, academics, bureaucrats, and politicians.

Continue reading “A Party of Teeth-Gnashers”