Good Friday Morning! As I sat down to write this week’s edition, news broke that North Korea has fired another rocket across Japan, violating their airspace and sending terrified citizens for cover. That means we’ll start with that story and work out from there. My favorite links this past week follow.
Two stories that I don’t plan on covering, but do recommend pieces on this week, are the blowup over ESPN anchor Jemele Hill and the “Religious test” being imposed by Senate Democrats on Catholic nominees. On ESPN, go with Clay Travis’s take, which matches mine, on why Hill shouldn’t get fired and why ESPN’s liberal turn got them in this mess. On the religious test, listen to David French break down why Senate Democrats are imposing unconstitutional requirements on Catholic nominees (also if you enjoy podcasts, his is great).
New this week at the Conservative Institute
No new pieces this week for the Conservative Institute. Stay tuned to this space, however, because larger projects are in the works!
North Korea – The persistent and growing problem for America and her allies
For the second time in the past month, North Korea has fired a missile over Japanese airspace and into the ocean, NBC News reports:
North Korea on Friday fired a ballistic missile Friday morning that flew over Japanese airspace before crashing into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean and U.S. military officials said.
The ballistic missile was launched at 6:57 a.m. Friday Seoul time (5:57 p.m. Thursday ET) from the Sunan area of Pyongyang in an eastern direction nearly around 2,300 miles, and passed over Japanese airspace, a South Korean military official said.
The launch comes weeks after North Korea in late August fired a missile that traveled over Japanese airspace.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a televised address that the single missile launched Friday flew over Hokkaido. There are no reports of any objects falling in Japanese territory or any other damage, Suga said.
“We as a nation simply cannot accept these repeated provocative acts [by] North Korea and we have lodged our firm protest and while communicating the strong anger from the Japanese public. We expressed our condemnation using the strongest of terms,” Suga said. He said the missile landed around 1,242 miles east of Cape Erimo.
Provocations like this are why I don’t buy Progressive’s argument that we have to learn to live with a nuclear North Korea. It’s one thing if North Korea sat quietly with its nukes and didn’t provoke other countries, or violate their airspace, it’s another to ask Japanese and South Korean people to live continuously with less than 10 minutes to prepare for an attack.
My analysis of the situation hasn’t changed, the situation is difficult, and no solution is safe. But, the witching hour for North Korea gets closer with each violation of Japanese airspace. Either the United States deals with North Korea, or you can expect Japan to move forward with amending its constitution to allow for a complete military rearmament, the first since WWII.
No country can afford to remain defenseless, especially if American foreign policy remains incapacitated by poor leadership and empty bluster. Donald Trump may feel his words on North Korea are harsh, but his voice rings hollow to Japanese citizens watching missiles go over their houses. Japanese leadership will have no choice but to act.
If the US wants to control this situation, it needs to step in more forcibly to impose its will. Otherwise, The US will soon be an observer in a situation involving a rogue nuclear state and the nations threatened by it. If you want to avoid nuclear confrontation, ensuring US control of the situation is your best bet.
The Art of the Deal… Chuck n’ Nancy Edition
President Trump decided to cut another deal with Democrats this week, this time over DACA. Predictably, this set off a firestorm among Trump’s most ardent supporters. Some, like Ben Domenech, conservative publisher of The Federalist, maintain this is finally the “pivot” for Trump, working with Democrats to push forward a populist policy path.
Color me skeptical.
I don’t believe Trump can work with the Democratic Party. He, Chuck, and Nancy may get along, but Trump is toxic to the progressive base. As I argued last week, Trump could open up deep rifts in the Democratic Party. Schumer and Pelosi have far shorter leashes with their base than people give them credit.
Furthermore, people have been arguing Trump was going to pivot since he entered the Presidential race in 2015. He hasn’t done so, and, as Jonah Goldberg aptly observes, these pundits are guilty of reading what they want into Trump, rather than reality:
[H]ere’s the thing: So much of the “analytical” punditry about Donald Trump’s genius isn’t analysis at all. It’s a form of haruspicy. The priests of the Trump cult look at Trump’s kneejerk, in-the-moment, utterly instinctual, and unthinking outbursts and spasmodic actions like the death rattle of a vivisected chicken and imbue them with meaning that simply isn’t there. They connect cherry-picked dots to create an image of sagacity, sometimes brilliantly, but the dots are just dots.
To this day, no one can explain to me how Trump is playing so far above everyone else — nth level chess! — and yet has the worst poll numbers in history and can’t get anything done. The thought that he’s in way over his head is just too terrible to contemplate, and so we get all of these ornate — and sometimes quite clever — explanations about how Trump has outfoxed everyone yet again.
But the man is not some political chess master — he’s a tic-tac-toe chicken pecking at whatever morsel of provocation his sphincterless id lights upon. If not every day, then certainly every week, Trump tweets something that causes his sane supporters to suffer from scrotal constriction and makes his life tougher and his agenda more difficult.
Trump, at his base level, wants wins and adulation in the media. He gets that praise by working with politicians the New York and DC media crowd likes while blasting Ryan and McConnell, people the media and Trump’s supporters hate.
Trump goes with what works because he doesn’t have an ideological core. That’s why he’s willing to flirt with ditching things like the wall:
Mark Krikorian, the leading intellectual advocate for a more restricted immigration policy, should be a natural ally of this White House. He told the New York Times, that Trump is “being pulled in a bunch of different directions, and because he doesn’t have any strong ideological anchor, or deep knowledge of the issue, he ends up sort of not knowing what to do.” Instead, the president goes with his gut on everything, letting himself be baited by negative TV coverage.
Trump apologists see a pivot here because that’s what they want to see. They want to believe Trump is pivoting to their preferred policies and ideas. But if we’ve learned anything from the campaign through the first six months of Trump’s Presidency, it’s that there’s no cohesive set of principles that Trump wouldn’t immediately sell out if it guaranteed him an easy win.
All of this is why I firmly believe Trump should be surrounded by countless actual conservative voices to push forward actual conservative policy. He hasn’t had that yet in his administration, although people like Mattis and Kelly come close. Conservatives need to push more voices into his inner circle.
Otherwise, it wouldn’t shock me if Donald Trump came out in support of single-payer health care/universal healthcare/Medicare for all, just like Bernie Sanders.
The disgraceful decision by Harvard to extend a fellowship to Chelsea Manning
There are very few times I can say a hiring decision is revolting, but the decision of Harvard to offer a fellowship to Chelsea Manning, the former military officer convicted of treasonous acts, is exactly that: revolting.
Manning is directly responsible for endangering the lives of American troops and leaking American military documents and secrets to Wikileaks, a tool of Russian intelligence. President Obama commuted the sentence of Manning because she is, mystifyingly, an idol on the left.
Harvard’s move is so repugnant, Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell, himself a senior fellow at Harvard, resigned over the hiring of Manning. He called Manning an “American traitor,” and said Harvard was explicitly putting a “stamp of approval on her treasonous actions.” Current CIA Director Mike Pompeo refused to appear at a Harvard event after Harvard’s extension was announced.
In a nutshell, this story encapsulates why I don’t believe the left’s newfound hawkishness on Russia or anything related to foreign policy. Manning is a traitor to the United States and should be rotting in a jail cell. Instead, because of progressive identity politics, Obama decided to commute her sentence and Manning is now set to “educate” tomorrow’s leaders.
Liberalism used to have a hawkish wing in it that would have balked at a decision like this, providing an internal check on ideological excesses. You won’t find that in foreign policy circles on the left anymore. I can track down ample doves and hawks on the right, but on the left they praise Manning.
It’s mystifying to watch a disgraceful act like this happen. It’s even more shocking to see a lack of internal controls at Harvard to at least raise concerns.
Best links of the web this week
An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Dream is real – Jason D. Hill, Commentary Magazine
Redoing the Electoral Math: I argued that demographics favored the Democrats. I was wrong. – John B. Judis, The New Republic
How To Tread Lightly With A Superpower – Ottomans and Zionists
Bernie Sanders’s Bill Gets America Zero Percent Closer to Single Payer – Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
I Stand with Bikini-Wearing Baristas – Katherin Timpf, National Review
The Democrats have become socialists – Dana Milbank, The Washington Post
Feinstein’s Anti-Catholic Questions Are an Outrage: Democrats are usually unforgiving of religious attacks, such as the one the senator leveled on a judicial nominee last week. – Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View
It Sure Looks Like Steve Bannon Wants the Democrats to Retake Congress: The alt-right agent provocateur’s plan to find candidates to primary GOP incumbents stands to reason, from his point of view. He must first destroy the GOP, then save it. – Matt Lewis, The Daily Beast
David Simon: ‘If you’re not consuming porn, you’re still consuming its logic’ – David Smith, The Guardian
How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality – Franklin Foer, The Washington Post
Satire piece of the week
Report: 78% Of Marital Problems Now Caused By HGTV Home Renovation Shows – The Babylon Bee
U.S.—A stunning new study just published by LifeWay Research found that up to 78% of all marital fights and problems come from watching home renovation shows on HGTV.
“Most fights used to be about things like finances or kids, but now settling in to watch other people do a great job renovating their homes while your own house is falling apart is the number one cause,” the study’s administrator, Dr. Wes Contrero told reporters Wednesday. “It seems that watching Chip and Joanna Gaines renovate a $20,000 fixer-upper into a gorgeous home has caused irreparable tension in millions of marriages across the country.”
Thanks for reading!