Good Friday Morning! It’s is one of the weeks where everything was crazy, and Donald Trump didn’t have a thing to do with it. Apart from the State of the Union speech, it was a pretty quiet week from the President. It’s amazing in our current moment that the State of the Union is the 3rd or 4th most significant story of the week. I’ll give some of my thoughts on the State of the Union below. I’m also covering the burning dumpster fire that is the Virginia Democratic Party. Democrats released their Green New Deal, and I’ve done a writeup on it for the Conservative Institute, you can expect that out today. If you want a laugh though, read the full 14-page proposal — it’s so stupid and insane, it’s hilarious. Links follow.
Where you can find me this week
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The far left agenda of Democratic Socialists in the Democratic Party is driving all policy discussion right now. And as such, it’s also pushing the decisions of all Presidential contenders right now. Kamala Harris is seen as the top candidate right now, and she’s doing everything she can to capitulate to that side of the party, which is creating the gaffes you see now. She’s faced one mild question on Medicare for All, and it caused mayhem for her campaign.
The Ralph Northam story is crazy. What’s just as absurd are the standards the left is enforcing on everyone. What Northam did is wrong and despicable. There’s very little evidence, however, that he’s a racist. If anything, his record points in the opposite direction. But according to the new culture of shame or Scarlet Letter culture, the new rules dictate that Northam gets branded as a racist and cast from society. The rules are wrong, but I’m not going to stop Democrats from destroying themselves.
Trump’s Second State of the Union
In general, when Trump gives a speech and stays on message/prompter, the result is good for him. And this SOTU was no different. It was a good speech, he delivered a lot of meat for his supporters, and looked Presidential. All of these things are important.
I don’t think it will move the needle on the looming shutdown. Nothing has shifted on that front, and no one has leverage on the other side. Convention wisdom is that Trump declares a national emergency and his emergency wall gets tied up in the courts, the two parties reopen the government, and we begin the slow march towards the 2020 election.
I’m increasingly less convinced the modern State of the Union speech, started by the worst President in US history, Woodrow Wilson, has any meaningful place or impact. No one focuses on the address, the content, or anything relevant; it’s all about the optics of the speech, who clapped when and at what, who was there, and who did something wrong during the speech. The media wrote endlessly afterward about Nancy Pelosi’s sarcastic clapping motions.
I take Peggy Noonan’s warning, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, of ditching the State of the Union, she raises some good points:
I’m hearing a lot of “good riddance” about the speech, but that’s shortsighted and historically ignorant. Yes, the event has devolved into Kabuki in which stupid applause lines prompt rote cheering. Yes, it’s too often a laundry list. The language has become phony as it attempts to be elevated: “Let us follow those better angels.” My urging to speech-givers has been to hold the let-us. Plain, straight and honest is the way to go, and if you have a little wit that won’t hurt either.
What’s being overlooked is that the speech has a high policy purpose. It’s not a celebration of the imperial presidency. In fact, it puts the president on the spot. The Founders were not stupid and knew what they were doing when, in the Constitution, they instructed the chief executive to report to Congress on the condition the country is in.
The speech is a public acknowledgment that America is both a democracy and a republic. Somehow we’re never reminded. But that’s the chief executive going down the street to Congress’s house, asking to enter, and trying his best to persuade that coequal branch as the judiciary looks on.
The fact of the speech forces a White House to concentrate on what it thinks. Suddenly it must determine and put into words its priorities for the coming year. Suddenly it has a deadline. Suddenly it has to take its own sentiments seriously. The speech forces the president to decide, to focus, and not to take shelter in the day-to-day and whatever crisis just came over the transom.
The president is forced to take stock. He must state with at least some measure of credibility that “the State of the Union is . . .” Is what?
All that said, I think Kevin D. Williamson has the stronger argument here, in pointing out that the SOTU is a spectacle that raises the Presidency above the other branches in a way that’s unhealthy.
It’s also increasingly strange to listen to a President lay out a legislative agenda and the nation’s spending goals — when that entire exercise is supposed to be the goal of Congress. Neither the President nor the Congress has passed an actual budget since 2007. We’re living in a world where Continuing Resolutions (CR’s) to fund the government is the new normal, with no budgetary controls.
It’s no surprise government shutdowns are more prevalent now — we don’t have budgets anymore. We’re relying more on CR’s than ever before.
So while Trump’s speech was great, he’s continuing a pattern of the Executive Branch leading the legislative agenda, and not Congress. I don’t expect him to fix all these things, in a speech or his administration. It’s just a trend I’d like to see reversed in general.
Good speech. Nothing has changed politically.
Virginia politics are crazy
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen that state politics in Virginia are bonkers right now. A recap, for those who didn’t follow the story:
- Democratic Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia gave a viral answer on the radio where he argued in favor of a bill before the House of Delegates that would allow an abortion while a woman was in the process of labor. I referenced this bill briefly in the intro last week, “the VA House of Delegates debate over it and VA Governor Northam defending the law.” It’s the equivalent of infanticide because these are fully formed babies, at the end of the third trimester, who are waiting for their chance to leave the birth canal.
- The next day, someone from Northam’s Medical School days disagreed with that answer because an anonymous tip went into a right-wing site, and then the Virginia Pilot newspaper followed up and found a picture of a man in blackface and another in a KKK costume on Northam’s yearbook page. Northam admitted it was him, and apologized.
- The entire Democratic establishment, both state and national condemns Northam and demands he resigns.
- The following day: Northam recants his apology, says it wasn’t him, and that he plans on getting to the bottom of the scandal. He says he did, however, have a separate blackface incident where he dressed up like Michael Jackson. He refuses to resign. We still don’t know who was in blackface or the KKK costume.
- The man next in line, should Northam resign, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), then has a story drop on him that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004. So now we have infanticide, blackface, the KKK, and #MeToo.
- Fairfax blames Northam and his other political Democratic Party rivals for running a hit on him. When his accuser released her testimony, he exclaimed in a secret emergency meeting of Democrats, “F*ck that bitch.” Fairfax then hired Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s lawyers he used during his nomination hearing, and his accuser hired Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers from the same proceeding.
- The Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who is third in line on the succession chart, revealed that he too had won blackface in his past.
- And then, top things off, the Virginia Police Sergeant who got tasked with investigating and protecting Northam from the rallies against him, was revealed to have ties to a white nationalist group.
- The first Virginia Republican to get pulled into the debacle is Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment. He was one of the editors of the now infamous yearbook with Northam in it.
The short version: Richmond is on fire, no one knows who is in charge anymore, and these three politicians could all ride out the storm, or resign.
My CI column this past week was on the Northam scandal, and how the left’s new moral code demands all three of these men resign. I don’t necessarily believe any of them are racist, and I’m not versed enough in the Fairfax allegations to have an opinion on their validity. But the standards of the new left now demand: 1) The men step down, and 2) That Northam and Herring be branded racists, and Fairfax, a sexual assaulter.
This code goes beyond the Kavanaugh hearings, and into things like Title IX kangaroo courts on college campuses, and the burgeoning shame culture. The left wants this code and society, and they believe they can enforce it mercilessly. But now there at a place where imposing it costs them politically. If all three resign, the next in line is Kirk Cox, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, who is also a Republican.
Some of you know that, but what you may not know, or remember, is that the only reason Kirk Cox is the Speaker is that the Virginia GOP won a coin toss to win a tied race that decided who had the majority in the state house. Technically, because it’s Virginia and the laws are old, the race was determined by the “drawing of lots.” So now, a small random House race, won by picking a film canister out of a bowl, could decide who is the next Governor of the state of Virginia.
Hence the chaos.
To quote a guy on Twitter, Virginia Democrats haven’t had time this bad since the third day of Gettysburg. The last time they were this bad off, Richmond was burning, and Grant was at the Appottomax.
Will they resign? What happens next? No one knows. The state is in genuinely uncharted territory right now. And in one state, Democrats having to face every issue they’ve yelled about regarding Trump and Republicans.
Links of the week
02/01/1865: On this day, John Rock, the first African American sworn in as Supreme Court lawyer – The Constitution Center
Green New Deal Excludes Nuclear And Would Thus Increase Emissions — Just Like It Did In Vermont – Michael Shellenberger, Forbes
Social justice has become a new excuse for prejudice – Noah Rothman, The New York Post
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword – Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review
Democrats Overplay Their Hand on Abortion: In New York and Virginia, state governments are working to loosen restrictions on late-term abortion—and giving the anti-abortion movement an opportunity. – Alexandra DeSanctis, The Atlantic
Warren’s Folly: Imposing a “wealth tax” would be unwieldy—and probably unconstitutional. – Erik M. Jensen, City Journal
Everyone a Conscript: Metaphorical wars, drummed-up crises, and the link between statism and one-nation politics – Jonah Goldberg, National Review
The Problem with ‘Social Justice’: Historically oppressed or disadvantaged groups want payback. – Jonah Goldberg, National Review
A One-Question Quiz on the Poverty Trap: What are the biggest signs that a community’s children will remain poor? – David Leonhardt, New York Times
Inside The World’s Biggest Gun Show | Shot Show 2019 – Stephen Gutowski, Washington Free Beacon (video)
Trump’s bizarrely brilliant State of the Union speech – John Podhoretz, The New York Post
The Timeline of Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Controversy – David Rutz, Washington Free Beacon
Trump Is Right to Warn Democrats About ‘Socialism’: Progressives have embraced the term, and that’s a dangerous mistake. – Cass R. Sunstein, Bloomberg Opinion
The New Generation of LA Rap Is Changing Everything: A group of rappers and producers are reimagining not just the sound of Los Angeles, but its slang, its fashion sense, and the cultural divide between Blacks and Latinos. – Torii MacAdams, Noisey
Fight the ship: Death and valor on a warship doomed by its own Navy. – T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi, ProPublica
Banished: After passing a series of restrictive housing laws, Miami-Dade County faces an odd predicament: bands of nomadic sex offenders and a cat-and-mouse game to move them. – Beth Schwartzapfel and Emily Kassie, The Marshall Project
Satire piece of the week
VIRGINIA—In a statement issued from on high, the Almighty has agreed to spare the state of Virginia from His imminent wrath if state officials can locate just ten Democrats who never wore blackface or a KKK costume at some point in their lives.
God had announced His plan to immediately destroy Virginia, but Democrat leaders quickly begged him to spare the state if they could locate just 50 Democrats who never dressed in blackface. Being unable to do so, they managed to get the Lord to reduce the requirement to 40, then 30, then 20, and finally just 10.
Thanks for reading!