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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has joined Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, in a move that some see as a preparing for a potential 2024 presidential run. “I am pleased to be joining Hudson Institute and look forward to contributing to its mission of promoting American leadership and global engagement,” Pompeo said. The institute, which is reputed among the conservative community, said in a statement that Pompeo will come on as a distinguished fellow. “From his leadership in promoting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors to confronting strategic threats to the United States, Secretary Pompeo has been among the most consequential secretaries of State,” said John Walters, president and CEO of Hudson Institute. “It is an honor to have this outstanding public servant join Hudson Institute.” Aligning himself with the institute could give Pompeo the opportunity to engage in policy discussions and be close to …
In A Move Sure To Give The Mainstream Media A Second Dose Of Trump Derangement Syndrome, President Donald J. Trump Introduces The Office Of The Former President To Advance US Interests, Carry On Trump Admin Agenda
Washington, DC has been continuously militarized beginning the week leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, when 20,000 National Guard troops were deployed onto the streets of the nation’s capital. The original justification was that this show of massive force was necessary to secure the inauguration in light of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
But with the inauguration over and done, those troops remain and are not going anywhere any time soon. Working with federal law enforcement agencies, the National Guard Bureau announced on Monday that between 5,000 and 7,000 troops will remain in Washington until at least mid-March.
The rationale for this extraordinary, sustained domestic military presence has shifted several times, typically from anonymous U.S. law enforcement officials. The original justification — the need to secure the inaugural festivities — is obviously no longer operative.
So the new claim became that the impeachment trial of former President Trump that will take place in the Senate in February necessitated military reinforcements. On Sunday, Politico quoted “four people familiar with the matter” to claim that “Trump’s upcoming Senate impeachment trial poses a security concern that federal law enforcement officials told lawmakers last week requires as many as 5,000 National Guard troops to remain in Washington through mid-March.”
The next day, AP, citing “a U.S. official,” said the ongoing troop deployment was needed due to “ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol.” But the anonymous official acknowledged that “the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility.” Even National Guard troops complained that they “have so far been given no official justifications, threat reports or any explanation for the extended mission — nor have they seen any violence thus far.”
It is hard to overstate what an extreme state of affairs it is to have a sustained military presence in American streets. Prior deployments have been rare, and usually were approved for a limited period and/or in order to quell a very specific, ongoing uprising — to ensure the peaceful segregation of public schools in the South, to respond to the unrest in Detroit and Chicago in the 1960s, or to quell the 1991 Los Angeles riots that erupted after the Rodney King trial.
Deploying National Guard or military troops for domestic law enforcement purposes is so dangerous that laws in place from the country’s founding strictly limit its use. It is meant only as a last resort, when concrete, specific threats are so overwhelming that they cannot be quelled by regular law enforcement absent military reinforcements. Deploying active military troops is an even graver step than putting National Guard soldiers on the streets, but they both present dangers. As Trump’s Defense Secretary said in response to calls from some over the summer to deploy troops in response to the Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations.”
Are we even remotely at such an extreme state where ordinary law enforcement is insufficient? The January 6 riot at the Capitol would have been easily repelled with just a couple hundred more police officers. The U.S. is the most militarized country in the world, and has the most para-militarized police force on the planet. Earlier today, the Acting Chief of the Capitol Police acknowledged that they had advanced knowledge of what was planned but failed to take necessary steps to police it.
Future violent acts in the name of right-wing extremism, as well as other causes, is highly likely if not inevitable. But the idea that the country faces some sort of existential armed insurrection that only the military can suppress is laughable on its face.
Recall that ABC News, on January 11, citing “an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News,” claimed that “starting this week and running through at least Inauguration Day, armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol.” The news outlet added in highly dramatic and alarming tones:
The FBI has also received information in recent days on a group calling for “storming” state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Donald Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day. The group is also planning to “storm” government offices in every state the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump.
None of that happened. There was virtually no unrest or violence during inauguration week — except for some anti-Biden protests held by leftist and anarchist protesters that resulted in a few smashed windows at the Oregon Democratic Party and some vandalism at a Starbucks in Seattle. “Trump supporters threatened state Capitols but failed to show on Inauguration Day,” was the headline NBC News chose to try to justify this gap between media claims and reality.
This threat seems wildly overblown by the combination of media outlets looking for ratings, law enforcement agencies searching for power, and Democratic Party operatives eager to exploit the climate of fear for a new War on Terror.
But now is not a moment when there is much space for questioning anything, especially not measures ostensibly undertaken in the name of combatting white-supremacist right-wing extremism — just as no questioning of supposed security measures was tolerated in the wake of the 9/11 attack. And so the scenes of soldiers on the streets of the nation’s capital, there in the thousands and for an indefinite period of time, is provoking little to no concern.
What makes this all the more remarkable is that a mere seven months ago, a major controversy erupted when The New York Times published an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) which, at its core, advocated the deployment of military troops to quell the social unrest, protests and riots that erupted over the summer after the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd. To justify the deployment of National Guard and active duty military forces, Cotton emphasized how many people, including police officers, had been seriously maimed or even killed as part of that unrest:
Outnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence. In New York State, rioters ran over officers with cars on at least three occasions. In Las Vegas, an officer is in “grave” condition after being shot in the head by a rioter. In St. Louis, four police officers were shot as they attempted to disperse a mob throwing bricks and dumping gasoline; in a separate incident, a 77-year-old retired police captain was shot to death as he tried to stop looters from ransacking a pawnshop. This is “somebody’s granddaddy,” a bystander screamed at the scene.
(Cotton’s claim that police officers “bore the brunt of the violence” was questionable, given how many protesters were also killed or maimed, but it is true that numerous police officers were attacked, including fatally).
Cotton acknowledged that the central cause of the protests was a just one, noting they were provoked by “the wrongful death of George Floyd.” He also strongly affirmed the right of people to peacefully protest in support of that cause, accusing those justifying the violence of “a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters,” adding: “A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.”
But he insisted that, absent military reinforcements, innocent people, principally ones in poor communities, will suffer. “These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives,” Cotton wrote, adding: “Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further.”
The backlash to the publication of this op-ed was immediate, intense, and, at least in my memory, unprecedented. Very few people were interested in engaging the merits of Cotton’s call for a deployment of troops in order to prove the argument was misguided.
Their view was not that Cotton’s plea for soldiers in the streets was misguided, but that advocacy for it was so obscene, so extremist, so dangerous and repugnant, that the mere publication of the op-ed by The Paper of Record was an act of grave immorality.
“I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but to not say something would be immoral. As a black woman, as a journalist, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this,” pronounced the paper’s Nikole Hannah-Jones in a now-deleted tweet. The New York Times Magazine writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner posted a multi-tweet denunciation that compared Cotton to an anti-Semite who “says, ‘The Jew is a pig,’” argued that “hatred dressed up as opinion is not something I have to withstand,” and concluded with this flourish: “I love working at the Times and most days of the week I’m very proud to be part of its mission. But tonight, I understand the people who treat me like I work at a tobacco company.”
Former NYT editor and Huffington Post editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen announced, also in a now-deleted tweet: “I spent some of the happiest and most productive years of my life working for the New York Times. So it is with love and sadness that I say: running this puts Black @nytimes staff – and many, many others – in danger.” That publication of the Cotton op-ed “puts Black New York Times staff in danger” became a mantra recited by more journalists than one can list.
Two editors — including the paper’s Editorial Page editor James Benett and a young assistant editor Adam Rubenstein — were forced out of their jobs, in the middle of a pandemic, for the crime not of endorsing Cotton’s argument but merely airing it. Media reports attributed their departure to a “staff revolt.” The paper itself appended a major editor’s note: “We have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.” In addition to alleged flaws in the editorial process, the paper also said “the tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate.”
There is a meaningful difference between deploying National Guard troops and active duty soldiers on American streets. But both measures are extraordinary, create a climate of militarization, have a history of resulting in excessive force against citizens engaged in peaceful protest and constitutionally protected dissent, and present threats and dangers to civil liberties far beyond ordinary use of law enforcement.
Why was the idea of troops in American streets so grotesque and offensive in June, 2020 but so normalized now? Why were these troops likely to indiscriminately arrest and murder black reporters and other journalists over the summer but are now trusted to protect them? And what does it say about the current climate, and the serious dangers it poses, that the public is being trained so easily to acquiesce to extreme measures in the name of domestic security?
We are witnessing the media and their public treat what ought to be regarded with great suspicion as not only normal but desirable, all through the manipulation of fears and inflation of threats. That does not bode well for those who seek to impede the imminent attempt to begin a new domestic War on Terror.
Jeff Bezos and Amazon do not want their workers voting by mail on unionization.
Amazon says mail-in voting wouldn't be "valid or fair” and is encouraging in-person voting instead pic.twitter.com/1nBozsGqAH
— TalkRadio 77 WABC (@77WABCradio) January 24, 2021
For Most Americans, The Hipocrisy Never Ceases To Amaze. Apparently, Amazon Agrees With Donald J. Trump & Bill Barr: Voting By Mail Is Not A Good Idea.
“We believe that the best approach to a valid, fair and successful election is one that is conducted manually, in-person,” an Amazon spokesperson told news outlets. “We will continue to insist on measures for a fair election, and we want everyone to vote, so our focus is ensuring that’s possible.” ~ Click Here For More
Look Ahead America has released its plan for fighting corporate censorship and is calling on patriots everywhere to join the effort.
“Social media networks, tech companies, and financial institutions are not entitled to tax dollars paid by citizens whom they censor, blacklist, and deplatform for engaging in legal speech and political activity,” said Look Ahead America Executive Director Matt Braynard. “So we’re calling on citizens to lobby state legislatures to declare government money and contracts off limits to such companies.”
“We’ve released a list of policy objectives to guide legislation on this issue covering everything from marketing spending, technology contracts, and divestment. And we’re training citizens on how to be grassroots lobbyists to advocate for these reforms at the state capitols.”
Look Ahead America will be hosting its first free, online-training session on how citizens can become grassroots lobbyist on Wednesday, January 27, and has released a copy of the policy objectives on its website, lookaheadamerica.org/speech.
In an episode slightly delayed by Ben’s melodramatic hypochondria (aka hospitalized with appendicitis), Ben and Glenn discuss the media’s swooning on Inauguration Day, what this suggests about how the press will likely cover Biden/Harris, the serious dangers of the new War on Terror being planned, and whether a left/right coalition is possible to stop i…
Will Wilkinson is about as mainstream and conventional a thinker as one can find, and is unfailingly civil and restrained in his rhetoric. But yesterday, he was fired by the technocratic centrist think tank for which he worked, the Niskanen Center, and appears on the verge of being fired as well by The New York Times, where he is a contributing writer. This multi-pronged retribution is due to a single tweet that was obviously satirical and sarcastic and for which he abjectly apologized. But no matter: the tweet has been purposely distorted into something malevolent and the prevailing repressive climate weaponized it against him.
Neither Wilkinson nor his tweet are particularly interesting. What merits attention here is the now-pervasive climate that fostered this tawdry episode, and which has unjustly destroyed countless reputations and careers with no sign of slowing down.
During the Bush and Obama years, Wilkinson worked at the libertarian CATO Institute but, even then, he was not much of a libertarian. As he himself explained, he is far more of a standard-issue neoliberal that one finds everywhere throughout DC think tanks, the op-ed pages of large newspapers, and the green rooms of CNN, just with a bit wonkier style of expression and a few vague libertarian gestures on some isolated issues. That self-description was in 2012, and he since then has become even more of a standard liberal during the Trump era, which is why the Paper of Record made him a contributor opinion writer where he published articles under such bold and groundbreaking headlines as “Trump Has Disqualified Himself From Running in 2020.”
On Wednesday, the night of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Wilkinson posted this now-deleted tweet in which he was obviously not calling for violence. He was instead sardonically noting that anti-Pence animus became a prevailing sentiment among some MAGA followers over the last month, including reports that at least a few of those who breached the Capitol were calling for Pence’s hanging on treason grounds, thus ironically enabling liberals and MAGA followers to “unite” over that desire:
The next morning, a right-wing hedge fund manager and large-money GOP donor, Gabe Hoffman, flagged this tweet and claimed to believe that Wilkinson “call[ed] for former Vice President Mike Pence to be lynched.” Hoffman also tweeted at Wilkinson’s New York Times bosses to ask if they have “any comment on your ‘contributing opinion writer’ calling for violence against a public official?,” and then tweeted at Wilkinson’s other bosses at the think tank to demand the same.
It is unclear whether Hoffman really believed what he was saying or was just trying to make a point that liberals should be forced to live under these bad faith, repressive “cancel culture” standards he likely blames them for creating and imposing on others. This is how he responded when I posed that question:
I was not attempting anything. Numerous major news outlets reported on Wilkinson’s tweet, including Fox News. I simply documented the events on my Twitter feed yesterday. Clearly, many liberal journalists were outraged at his firing, noticed my documentation, and decided to inexplicably blame me for his firing. It’s ridiculous that many liberal journalists apparently had nothing better to do on Twitter, than blame a guy with less than 10,000 followers documenting events, for getting Wilkinson fired, considering many major news outlets reported on Wilkinson’s tweet.
When I pressed further on whether he really believed that Wilkinson’s tweet was an earnest call for assassination or whether he was just demanding that perceived “cancel culture” standards be applied equally, he responded: “I did not take a position either way on the matter. Wilkinson is perfectly capable of explaining the tweet and his intended meaning, since he wrote it. Clearly, given the content, the least one can expect is that he should give that explanation.”
Either way, intentional or not, Hoffman’s distorted interpretation of Wilkinson’s tweet produced instant results. That afternoon, Wilkinson posted a long and profuse apology to Twitter in which he made clear that he did not intend to advocate violence, but still said: “Last night I made an error of judgment and tweeted this. It was sharp sarcasm, but looked like a call for violence. That’s always wrong, even as a joke. It was especially wrong at a moment when unity and peace are so critical. I’m deeply sorry and vow not to repeat the mistake. . . . [T]here was no excuse for putting the point the way I did. It was wrong, period.”
At least for now, that apology fell on deaf ears. The president and co-founder of the Niskanen Center, Jerry Taylor, quickly posted a statement (now deleted without comment) announcing Wilkinson’s immediate firing, a statement promptly noted by Hoffman:
Wilkinson’s job with The New York Times is also clearly endangered. A spokesperson for the paper told Fox News: “Advocating violence of any form, even in jest, is unacceptable and against the standards of The New York Times. We’re reassessing our relationship with Will Wilkinson.”
So a completely ordinary and unassuming liberal commentator is in jeopardy of having his career destroyed because of a tweet that no person in good faith could possibly believe was actually advocating violence and which, at worst, could be said to be irresponsibly worded. And this is happening even though everyone knows it is all based on a totally fictitious understanding of what he said. Why?
It is important to emphasize that Wilkinson’s specific plight is the least interesting and important aspect of this story. Unlike most people subjected to these sorts of bad faith reputation-wrecking attacks, he has many influential media friends and allies who are already defending him — including New York Times columnists Ezra Klein and Ross Douthat — and I would be unsurprised if this causes the paper to keep him and the Niskanen Center to reverse its termination of him.
All of this is especially ironic given that the president of this colorless, sleepy think tank — last seen hiring the colorless, sleepy Matt Yglesias — himself has a history of earnestly and non-ironically advocating actual violence against people. As Aaron Sibarium documented, Taylor took to Twitter over the summer to say that he wishes BLM and Antifa marchers had “rushed” the St. Louis couple which famously displayed guns outside their homes and “beat their brains in,” adding: “excuse me if I root for antifa to punch these idiots out.” So that’s the profound, pious believer in non-violence so deeply offended by Wilkinson’s tweet that he quickly fired him from his think tank.
Whatever else might be true of them, the Niskanen Center’s president and The New York Times editors are not dumb enough to believe that Wilkinson was actually advocating that Mike Pence be lynched. It takes only a few functional brain cells to recognize what his actual intent with that tweet was, as poorly expressed or ill-advised as it might have been given the context-free world of Twitter and the tensions of the moment. So why would they indulge all this by firing a perfectly inoffensive career technocrat, all to appease the blatant bad faith and probably-not-even-serious demands of the mob?
Because this is the framework that we all now live with. It does not matter whether the anger directed at the think tank executives or New York Times editors is in good faith or not. It is utterly irrelevant whether there is any validity to the complaints against Wilkinson and the demands that he be fired. The merit of these kinds of grievance campaigns is not a factor.
All that matters to these decision-makers is societal scorn and ostracization. That is why the only thing that can save Wilkinson is that he has enough powerful friends to defend him, enabling them to reverse the cost-benefit calculus: make it so that there is more social scorn from firing Wilkinson than keeping him. Without the powerful media friends he has assembled over the years, he would have no chance to salvage his reputation and career no matter how obvious it was that the complaints against him are baseless.
Humans are social and political animals. We do fundamentally crave and need privacy. But we also crave and need social integration and approval. That it is why prolonged solitary confinement in prison is a form of torture that is almost certain to drive humans insane. It is why John McCain said far worse than the physical abuse he endured in a North Vietnamese prison was the long-term isolation to which he was subjected. It is why modern society’s penchant for removing what had been our sense of community — churches, mosques, and synagogues; union halls and bowling leagues; small-town life — has coincided with a significant increase in mental health pathologies, and it is why the lockdowns and isolation of the COVID pandemic have made all of those, predictably, so much worse.
Those who have crafted a society in which mob anger, no matter how invalid, results in ostracization and reputation-destruction have exploited these impulses. If you are a think tank executive in Washington or a New York Times editor, why would you want to endure the attacks on you for “sanctioning violence” or “inciting assassinations” just to save Will Wilkinson? The prevailing culture vests so much weight in these sorts of outrage mobs that it is almost always easier to appease them than resist them.
The recent extraordinary removal of the social media platform Parler from the internet was clearly driven by these dynamics. It is inconceivable that Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and Google executives believe that Parler is some neo-Nazi site that played anywhere near the role in planning and advocating for the Capitol riot as Facebook and YouTube did. But they know that significant chunks of liberal elite culture believe this (or at least claim to), and they thus calculate — not irrationally, even if cowardly — that they will have to endure a large social and reputational hit for refusing mob demands to destroy Parler. Like the Niskanen and Times bosses with Wilkinson, they had to decide how much pain they were willing to accept to defend Parler, and — as is usually the case — it turned out the answer was not much. Thus was Parler destroyed, with nowhere near the number of important liberal friends that Wilkinson has.
The perception that this is some sort of exclusively left-wing tactic is untrue. Recall in 2003, in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when the lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, uttered this utterly benign political comment at a concert in London: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” In response, millions joined a boycott of their music, radio stations refused to play their songs, Bush supporters burned their albums, and country star Toby Keith performed in front of a gigantic image of Maines standing next to Saddam Hussein, as though her opposition to the war meant she admired the Iraqi dictator.
But two recent trends have greatly intensified this mania. Social media is one of the most powerful generators of group-think ever invented in human history, enabling a small number of people to make decision-makers feel besieged with scorn and threatened with ostracization if they do not obey mob demands. The other is that the liberal-left has gained cultural hegemony in the most significant institutions — from academia and journalism to entertainment, sports, music and art — and this weapon, which they most certainly did not invent, is now vested squarely in their hands.
But all weapons, once unleashed onto the world, will be copied and wielded by opposing tribes. Gabe Hoffman has likely seen powerless workers fired in the wake of the George Floyd killing for acts as trivial as a Latino truck driver innocently flashing an “OK” sign at a traffic light or a researcher fired for posting data about the political effects of violent v. non-violent protests and realized that he could use, or at least trifle with, this power against liberals instead of watching it be used by them. So he did it.
It’s exactly the same dynamic that led liberals to swoon over Donald Trump’s banning from social media and the mass-banning of his followers only to watch yesterday as numerous Antifa accounts were banned for the crime of organizing an anti-Biden march and how, before that, Palestinian journalists and activists have been banned en masse whenever Israel claims their rhetoric constitutes “incitement.”
Unleash this monster and one day it will come for you. And you’ll have no principle to credibly invoke in protest when it does. You’ll be left with nothing more than lame and craven pleading that your friends do not deserve the same treatment as your enemies. Force, not principle, will be the sole factor deciding the outcome.
If you’re lucky enough to have important and famous media friends like Will Wilkinson, you have a chance to survive it. Absent that, you have none.
Every Black Life Matters (EBLM), a black Christian pro-life group, released an open letter of commendation to President Donald Trump on his last day in office on Tuesday to show their appreciation for his policies. “Dear President Trump, Thank you! While there have been many presidents of the U.S. who have asserted support for the Black community, you have fully demonstrated your commitment and resolve to support and improve Black life by standing firm on the right to life. The right to life has a significant and specific impact on Black life. We commend you!” the group wrote in the letter. In a press release, the group said that they will deliver their letter, signed by the group’s co-founders and more than 300 individuals, along with a Certificate of Appreciation, to Trump. “We want you to know your stand and focus on improving Black life has not been in vain. Your …
President Donald Trump didn’t campaign in 2016 on a promise to confront the global spread of communism, but his efforts over the past four years against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), its proxies, and other elements of the communist specter have become the centerpiece of his legacy. Viewed through this lens, the “America First” slogan was a fitting one for a campaign against a communist adversary and a medley of the causes it has co-opted in a decades-long campaign to supplant the United States as the most powerful nation in the world. The CCP has spent decades plundering American wealth through the theft of trade secrets, protectionist trade policies, and market distortion. The regime has used this wealth to fund a behemoth soft power campaign, undermining U.S. interests in every domain and gaining influence over multinational institutions. Despite significant interference from within his own government, Trump confronted the menace head-on …