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The press used to uncover government wrongdoing. Today’s press is defending it.

FISA Memo Is Scarier than Watergate.

Victor Davis Hanson write: 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 midst 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.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

Nor did these officials reveal that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, had already been dropped as a reliable source by the FBI for leaking to the press.

Nor did officials add that a Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr, had met privately with Steele — or that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, had been hired to work on the dossier.

Unfortunately, such disclosures may be only the beginning of the FISA-gate scandal.

Members of the Obama administration’s national security team also may have requested the names of American citizens connected with the Trump campaign who had been swept up in other FISA surveillance. Those officials may have then improperly unmasked the names and leaked them to a compliant press — again, for apparent political purposes during a campaign.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Victor Davis Hanson: Counterfeit Elitism

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

victor-davis-hVictor Davis Hanson writes: 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.

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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.

Republicans “trust” Devin Nunes, because without his dogged efforts it is unlikely that we would know about the Fusion GPS dossier or the questionable premises on which FISA court surveillance was ordered. Neither would we have known about the machinations of an array of Obama Administration, Justice Department and FBI officials who, in addition to having possibly violated the law in monitoring a political campaign and unmasking and leaking names of Americans to the press, may have colluded with people in the Clinton campaign who funded the Steele dossier.

[Read the more here, at American Greatness]

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

The frustration with chronic elite incompetence was a theme in the 2016 election. “Expert” pollsters assured us of a Clinton landslide. The media could not follow undergraduate rules of decorum and truthfulness. “Brilliant” Ivy League trained pundits preached that the Trump administration’s first year would be disastrous and without accomplishment. Televised legal eagles insisted that Robert Mueller by now would have indicted Team Trump on charges of Russian collusion.

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Half the country no longer believes these self-appointed authorities, largely because there is no visible connection between what the self-congratulatory say and do and any commensurate discernable accomplishment.

After a half-century of “whiz kids,” “the best and the brightest,” and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Americans finally yawned and are moving on.

Deplorables, Clingers, and Those Not Worthy of Worry

One symptom of such a played-out elite is its blanket condemnation of the supposed blinkered middle-class—usually evident in their virtue-signaling outrage and in their inclination to contrast their own supposed enlightenment to the supposed ignorance of everyone else.

You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic—Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that… Now, some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.

So said Yale law graduate Hillary Clinton, in an incoherent, factually unsubstantiated, and politically disastrous rant that may have lost her the 2016 election.

Clinton all but wrote off 25 percent of America as “not America”—this from the 2008 primary challenger to Barack Obama who was blasted by progressives for pandering to just such a white gun-owning consistency.

[Read the full story here, at American Greatness]

Or as Barack Obama once said, Hillary Clinton is “talking like she’s Annie Oakley . . . Hillary Clinton is out there like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday. She’s packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better.”

Or as Clinton herself once put it, “[I’ve] found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me . . . There’s a pattern emerging here.”

It is hard to image the Yalie feminist Clinton having any sort of political career without attachment to president emeritus and spouse Bill Clinton, whose serial sexual harassment and assault she not only contextualized over four decades, but by serial defense fueled. Read the rest of this entry »


Fake News: Postmodernism By Another Name 

Exhibition Clip; Revolution of the Eye Modern Art and the Birth of American Television The Jewish Museum May 1 – September 20, 2015; Organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Exhibition Curator: Maurice Berger

victor-davis-hVictor Davis Hanson writes: After the election, Democrats could not explain the inexplicable defeat of Hillary Clinton, who would be, they thought, the shoo-in winner in November. Over the next three months until Inauguration Day, progressives floated a variety of explanations for the Trump win—none of them, though, mentioned that the Clinton campaign had proven uninspired, tactically inept, and never voiced a message designed to appeal to the working classes.

When a particular exegesis of defeat failed to catch on, it was mostly dropped—and then replaced by a new narrative. We were told that the Electoral College wrongly nullified the popular vote—and that electors had a duty to renege on their obligations to vote for their respective state’s presidential winner.

“Fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public.”

Then followed the narrative of Trump’s racist dog-whistle appeals to the white working classes. When it was reported that Barack Obama had received a greater percentage of the white votes than did either John Kerry in 2004 or Hillary Clinton in 2016, the complaint of white chauvinism too faded.

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“The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.”

Then came the allegation that FBI Director James Comey had given the election to Trump by reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before Election Day. That fable too evaporated when it was acknowledged that Comey had earlier intervened to declare Clinton without culpability and would so again before November 8.

[Read the more here, at Hoover Institution]

Then came the trope that Vladimir Putin’s hackers stole the election—on the theory that the Wikileaks revelations had turned off the electorate in a way the Clinton candidacy otherwise would not have. That storyline then evolved into the idea of Russian propagandists and Trump supporters variously peddling “fake news” to websites to promulgate myths and distortions—as a grand plan to Hillary Clinton and give Trump the election.

More specifically, it was alleged that Trump’s exaggerations and fabrications—from his allegations about Barack Obama’s birth certificate to rumor-mongering about Ted Cruz’s father—had so imperiled journalism that the media in general was forced to pronounce there was no longer a need to adhere to disinterested reporting in the traditional sense.

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“No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes.”

The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour confessed that they could not be fair in reporting the news in the era of Donald Trump. Apparently, being fair had become tantamount to being a co-conspirator in Trump falsity. The New York Times in a post-election op-ed explained why it had missed the Trump phenomenon, admitting, but not necessarily lamenting, that its own coverage of the election had not been fair and balanced.

“Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt).

Yet all politicians fib and distort the truth—and they’ve been doing so since the freewheeling days of the Athenian ekklesia. Trump’s various bombastic allegations and claims fall into the same realm of truthfulness as Obama’s statement “if you like your health plan, you can keep it”—and were thus similarly cross-examined by the media.

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 “As Rhodes put it, ‘The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.’”

Yet fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public. The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.

[Read the full story here, at Hoover Institution]

Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen has never been to Prague to negotiate quid pro quo deals with the Russians. Trump did not watch Russian strippers perform pornographic acts in the bedroom that Barack Obama once stayed in during a visit to Moscow. Yet political operatives, journalists, and even intelligence officers, in their respective shared antipathy to Trump, managed to lodge these narratives into the public consciousness and thereby establish the “truth” that a degenerate Trump was also a Russian patsy.

No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Victor Davis Hanson: The Mythologies of the 2016 Election 

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[VIDEO] MSNBC Terrorism Analyst Misidentifies Victor David Hanson as Russian Spy

On AM Joy, MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance, bragging that he knows some of the FBI spy catchers, says “guys who have taken down big names, such as Aldrich Ames and Victor Davis Hanson.”

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Hanson, an historian and one of America’s leading conservative intellectuals, is currently a Senior Fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is surely not a spy.

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Nance presumably had in mind Robert Philip Hanssen, a former FBI agent who was convicted of spying for the Soviets and Russians. Read the rest of this entry »


Victor Davis Hanson: America’s Civilizational Paralysis

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Our nation faces many existential challenges that our politicians refuse to address.

Victor Davis Hansonvictor-davis-H writes: The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.

“We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss.”

Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class.

[Read the full story here, at Hoover Institution]

Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453.

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We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss. Consider the $20-trillion national debt. Most Americans accept that current annual $500 billion budget deficits are not sustainable—but they also see them as less extreme than the recently more normal $1 trillion in annual red ink.

Riot police clear demonstrators from a street in Ferguson

“Race relations pose comparable paradoxes. Inner-city Chicago has turned into a war zone with over 500 murders so far this year alone.”

Americans also accept that the Obama administration doubled the national debt on the expectation of permanent near-zero interest rates, which cannot continue. When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.

Doors Are Opened To Migrants At Budapest Railway Station

“Illegal immigration, like the deficits, must cease, but stopping it would be too politically incorrect and painful even to ponder. The mess in Europe—millions of indigent and illegal immigrants who have fled their own failed states to become dependent on the largess of their generous adopted countries, but without any desire to embrace their hosts’ culture—is apparently America’s future.”

Count up current local, state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, property and sales taxes, and new health care taxes, and it will be hard to find the necessary additional revenue from a strapped and overtaxed middle class, much less from the forty-seven percent of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes.

[Read the full text here, at Hoover Institution]

The Obama administration has tried to reduce the budget by issuing defense cuts and tax hikes—but it has refused to touch entitlement spending, where the real gains could be made. The result is more debt, even as, paradoxically, our military was weakened, taxes rose, revenue increased, and economic growth remained anemic at well below 2% per annum.

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“…there are few multiracial societies of the past that have avoided descending into destructive ethnic chauvinism and tribalism once assimilation and integration were replaced by salad-bowl identity politics. Common words and phrases such as ‘illegal alien’ or ‘deportation’ are now considered taboo, while ‘sanctuary city’ is a euphemism for a neo-Confederate nullification of federal immigration laws by renegade states and municipalities.”

Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard. Read the rest of this entry »


Victor Davis Hanson: America’s Versailles Set 

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Like Marie Antoinette, today’s elites pretend to commiserate with the less fortunate.

Victor Davis Hanson writes: During the last days of the Ancien Régime, French Queen Marie Antoinette frolicked in a fake rural village not far from the Versailles Palace—the Hameau de la Reine (“the Queen’s hamlet”). “Peasant” farmers and herdsmen were imported to interact, albeit carefully, with the royal retinue in an idyllic amusement park. The Queen would sometimes dress up as a milkmaid and with her royal train do a few chores on the “farm” to emulate the romanticized masses, but in safe, apartheid seclusion from them.

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The French Revolution was already on the horizon and true peasants were shortly to march on Versailles, but the Queen had no desire to visit the real French countryside to learn of the crushing poverty of those who actually milked cows and herded sheep for a living. It is hard to know what motivated the queen to visit the Hameau—was it simply to relax in her own convenient and sanitized Arcadia, or was it some sort of pathetic attempt to better understand the daily lives of the increasing restivread the full story here,e French masses?

The American coastal royalty does not build fake farms outside of its estates. But these elites, too, can grow just as bored with their privileged lives as Marie Antoinette did. Instead of hanging out with milk maids in ornamental villages, our progressive elites, at the same safe distance from the peasantry, prefer to show their solidarity with the dispossessed through angry rhetoric.

[Read the full story here, at Hoover Institution]

Take the case of Colin Kaepernick, the back-up quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who makes $19 million a year (or about $20,000 per minute of regular season play). He has been cited by National Football League officials in the past for his use of the N-word, yet he refuses to stand for the pregame singing of the national anthem because he believes that his country is racist and does not warrant his respect. His stunt gained a lot of publicity and he now sees himself as a man of the revolutionary barricades. A number of other NFL athletes, as well as those in other sports, have likewise refused to stand for the national anthem to express solidarity with what they see as modern versions of the oppressed peasantry. But Kaepernick and his peers make more in one month than many Americans make in an entire lifetime. Still, for these members of the twenty-first-century Versailles crowd, the easiest way of understanding the lives of the underclass is expressing empathy for them for no more than a minute or two.

Barack_Obama_and_Dmitry_Medvedev_in_Kremlin-1

Lately, the entire Clinton clan has created a sort of Hameau de la Reine of the mind. Chelsea Clinton, for example, is married to hedge-fund operator Marc Mezvinsky (whose suspect Greek fund just went broke), and she once made over $600,000 for her part-time job as an NBC correspondent. She serves in a prominent role and is on the board of the non-profit billion-dollar Clinton Foundation, which has been cited for donating an inordinately small amount of its annual budget (often less than 15 percent) to charity work, while providing free jet travel for the Clinton family and offering sinecures for Clinton political operatives in between various Clinton campaigns.

Hillary-Toast

Explaining why she works at the Clinton Foundation and for other non-profits, Chelsea confessed, in Marie Antoinette style, that “I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t.” She cared enough, though, to purchase a $10.5 million Manhattan apartment not long ago rather than, say, rent a flat in the Bronx. Read the rest of this entry »


A Liberal’s Ten Commandments 

Victor Davis Hanson writes: The best way for liberals to advance their various causes would be to take a pledge to live the rather progressive lives that they advocate. Here are a modest Ten Commandments to lend them credibility in the eyes of the American people.

1. Climate Change. Perhaps the greatest carbon emission sin is jet travel. On an average London-to-New York flight each passenger emits well over 1 ton of C02 emissions, an indulgence that can nullify a year of recycling of other less-privileged Americans. All supporters of government-mandated reductions in fossil-fuel emissions could at least take the following pledge. “I will fly across the Atlantic no more than once every five years.” Private jet travel — the worstliberal-huh of the mortal carbon sins — of course would be banned, at least until we can transition into solar and wind aviation. Al Gore in the middle seat of Row 44, fighting to put his oversized carry-on into the overhead compartment, would be a symbolic act worth far more than all his heated and well-paid rhetoric.

[Read the full Ten Commandments here, at PJMedia.com]

2. Schools. Most liberals oppose charter schools, support teachers’ unions, and encourage generous immigration, legal and illegal. To further diversity in the schools, create easier integration, and to nullify the insidiousness of white privilege, each liberal should pledge, “I will put at least one of my children in an inner-city public school, or in a school where the white enrollment is in a minority.” What better way to acculturate a young elite to the new world around him? Could not the Obama children attend a D.C. public school?

3. Guns. Gun control is an iconic liberal issue, specifically limitations on handguns and concealed weapons. Too many guns in too many places supposedly encourage violent crime. Again, what better way to make a statement than by having all liberal celebrities, business people, and politicians take the following pledge: “I will pledge that no one in my security detail will ever carry a concealed firearm of any sort”? Surely the pope, of all people, did not need armed guards, with lethal concealed weapons, surrounding his pope-mobile? Read the rest of this entry »


Hillary Clinton Scandals Quote of the Day

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Hillary’s Campaign Has Already Begun to Derail

victor-davis-HHillary Clinton’s second race for the presidency is only about a quarter through, but she already seems to be causing general fatigue.

Victor Davis Hanson writes:

…Clinton’s serial meltdowns may bring Vice President Joe Biden into the race. The only other serious Democratic alternative to Clinton at the moment is 73-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders. He is not registered in the party whose nomination he seeks.

“Most of what happened on her watch as secretary of state is better forgotten: the destruction of a self-reliant Iraq, the rise of the Islamic State, chaos in Libya, failed reset with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, disaster in Benghazi, the alienation of Israel and moderate Arab nations, and Iran’s ascendant.”

Clinton’s derailment has given breathing space to Republicans. Otherwise, they would be panicking that erratic showman Donald Trump has hijacked their party and might lead it to a meltdown in 2016.

“Hillary’s latest troubles reflect a quarter-century of Clinton habits that transcend time and space.”

— Victor Davis Hanson

Both parties face crises — though there are more viable Republican alternatives to Trump than there are strong Democratic choices, at least for now. And whereas the upbeat Trump would probably agree with — or even welcome — charges that he is an egomaniac, Clinton would hardly accept the equally common impression that she cannot tell the truth.

Bill-Clinton-Hillary-Clinton-Getty-Images

Both Bill and Hillary seem to have always believed they should be exempt from the law. Both seem needlessly tawdry in their avarice. Their cover-ups often prove even more damaging than their indiscretions. Read the rest of this entry »


Now Comes the Super-Shocker: 59% Back Trump On Mandatory Deportation of Illegals

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Politicians who ignore this sea change in attitudes on immigration do so at their own peril.

Immigration: When Donald Trump proposed mandatory deportation of illegal aliens, pundits and politicians on both sides of the political aisle were appalled. But on this issue it looks like Trump has the public on his side.

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[For an insightful analysis of this, see Victor Davis Hanson‘s How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public]

The fire from the right was almost as fierce as that from the left. “It’s not conservative and it’s not realistic and it does not embrace American values,” said Jeb Bush.

Sen. Lindsey Graham called it “absolute gibberish.”

Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer called the idea “crackpot” and “morally obscene.”

Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

“What’s surprising is that 59% of the overall public does as well. Mandatory deportation gets majority support in all age groups except 18-24, every income group, among both women and men, at every level of educational achievement, and in rural, urban and suburban regions.”

But the prize for overheated rhetoric goes to Hillary Clinton, who said Trump wants to “literally pull people out of their homes and their workplaces, round them up, put them, I don’t know, in buses, boxcars, in order to take them across our border.”

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“More interesting still is the fact that 64% of independents and 55% of moderates support deportation. Even among Hispanics, the poll found 40% backed mandatory deportation.”

So what do these folks say about the fact that the majority of Americans back Trump on this?

[Read the full text here, at Investors.com]

The latest IBD/TIPP Poll asked 913 adults coast to coast if they “support or oppose mandatory deportation of illegal immigrants in the U.S.” Not surprisingly, 87% of Trump supporters back the proposal. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Foreign Policy: An Interview with Historian Victor Davis Hanson

An interview with historian Victor Davis Hanson

Directed and Edited by: Joshua Hamilton
Interview and Writing by: Evan Carter
Camera Two: Anders Kiledal

Published on Sep 10, 2014


Victor Davis Hanson: World at War

logoFor Defining IdeasVictor Davis Hanson writes: Will the United States in its near future be hit again in the manner of the 9/11 attacks of thirteen years ago? The destruction of the World Trade Center, the suicide implosions of four passenger airliners, and the attack on the Pentagon unfortunately have become far-off memories. They are now more distant from us than was the Vietnam War was from the Korean War.  islamic extremism threat chart

“Drone strikes continue at a vastly accelerated pace under President Obama, but they also raise existential hypocrisies about our approach to terrorism.”

Two questions will determine whether radical Islamic terrorists will attack us once more: one, are the post-9/11 anti-terrorism protocols that have so far stopped major terrorist attacks still viable and effective, and, two, is Al-Qaeda or an analogous Islamic terrorist organization now still as capable as were Osama bin Laden’s henchmen in 2001?

Unfortunately, the answers to those two questions should raise great concern. Take the current status of the so-called war on terror in all of its manifestations. The southern border of the United States is less guarded than at anytime since 9/11.

For all practical purposes, enforceable immigration laws simply no longer exist. The result is that we have no idea who is crossing into the United States or for what purposes.

“The President’s six years of concentrated Islamic outreach has not won over the Muslim Middle East.”

Some of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols are still in operation—renditions, preventative detention, the Guantanamo detention center, and the Patriot Act. However, the NSA, IRS, and VA scandals, along with the Edward Snowden and Wikileaks revelations, have created an understandably strong public backlash against government surveillance, which will lead to new protocols limiting our ability to monitor terrorist suspects. Read the rest of this entry »


Law is Obsolete: Revolutionary Justice with the Full Backing of the Administrative State

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VICTOR DAVIS HANSON:  Any particular law at any particular moment can be judged obsolete & an impediment to social justice. natl.re/1kRCLWn

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Victor Davis Hanson: Sherman Suddenly Took Atlanta, Confederacy Was Doomed


Victor Davis Hanson’s Disaster Tour: The Turbulent Summer of 2014

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The summer when America fell apart

For TownHall & National ReviewVictor Davis Hanson writes: The summer of 2014 will go down in history as the season when America fell apart. Let’s take a tour of the disasters.

When I read that opening sentence, I thought – finally, someone’s on the same page. When we began this ongoing theme  The Global Panic of July 2014 — it was meant as a joke, dark humor to survive the seemingly endless cascade of bad news. But it’s also an amplified recognition of reality; increasing disorder and dysfunction, nationally and internationally. Mixed with breathtaking technological advances, with the promise of more economic disruption to come. From 9/11 until now, we are witnessing a disintegration of the post-war world order. This summer marks even more global instability. Things are unravelling at a faster pace than even my most pessimistic colleagues have suggested. A historic turning point? If so, Victor Davis Hanson‘s an informed tour guide. Read the whole thing here.

Germany in 2008 enthusiastically hosted candidate Barack Obama for his so-called “Victory Column” speech. Now, Germans suddenly sound as if they are near-enemies of the U.S. Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly was furious that her cell phone was tapped by American intelligence agents.

“Asian powers apparently assume that Obama won’t guarantee the security of the Japanese as America had in the past.”

She just kicked the top CIA official out of Germany, further enraged that the U.S. had recruited at least one German official to provide intelligence on the German government. Polls show that Germans find Vladimir Putin’s Russian tyranny almost as popular as Barack Obama’s America. Read the rest of this entry »


America’s Medieval Universities

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts Photo: AP

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts Photo: AP

Universities are the least transparent of U.S. institutions, defending protocols more secretive than those of the Swiss banking system.

For National Review OnlineVictor Davis Hanson writes: Employment rates for college graduates are dismal. Aggregate student debt is staggering. But university administrative salaries are soaring. The campus climate of tolerance has utterly disappeared. Only the hard sciences and graduate schools have salvaged American universities’ international reputations.

[Order Victor Davis Hanson’s book The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost – From Ancient Greece to Iraq from Amazon.com]

For over two centuries, our superb system of American public and private higher education kept pace with radically changing times and so ensured our prosperity and reinforced democratic pluralism. But a funny thing has happened on the way to the 21st century. Colleges that were once our most enlightened and tolerant institutions became America’s dinosaurs. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Learning from Ancient Warfare

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From the YouTube summary: As part of our ongoing partnership with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, we spoke with Victor Davis Hanson, the Martin and Illie Anderson senior fellow and chair of the Military History Working Group at the Hoover Institution.

[Order Victor Davis Hanson’s book The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost – From Ancient Greece to Iraq from Amazon.com]

Hanson, an expert in the classics and military history, explains what today’s leaders can learn from the ancient Greeks and Romans. As Hanson says, the ancients teach us why wars begin, how they proceed and how they can be ended. Although this may not prevent future conflicts, the knowledge can help mitigate the effects of war on people.


Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Boko Haram and the Sultan of Brunei Couldn’t Care Less About Western Twitter Outrage

Modern-Barbarians

For National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson writes:

Nigeria’s homegrown, al-Qaeda linked militant group, Boko Haram, brags openly that it recently kidnapped about 300 young Nigerian girls. It boasts that it will sell them into sexual slavery.

What do we do in the face of 19th-century evil that is unapologetic, has lethal weapons at its disposal, and uses savage rhetoric to goad us? Tweet it to death?

Those terrorists have a long and unapologetic history of murdering kids who dare to enroll in school, and Christians in general. For years, Western aid groups have pleaded with the State Department to at least put Boko Haram on the official list of terrorist groups. But former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team was reluctant to come down so harshly, in apparent worry that some might interpret such condemnation as potentially offensive to Islamic sensitivities.savior-generals

[Order Victor Davis Hanson’s book “The Savior Generals  from Amazon.com]

From Greece to Jerusalem to Rome to the Enlightenment to the Founding Fathers slowly grew a standard of human rights that could be applied to anyone, regardless of race, creed, or color. But that is still not how most of the non-Western world works today.

Instead, Western elites now flood Facebook and Twitter with angry postings about Boko Haram — either in vain hopes that public outrage might deter the terrorists, or simply to feel better by loudly condemning the perpetrators. Read the rest of this entry »


The Rise of Partisan Bureaucracy

Untruthful and Untrustworthy Government

pic_main_032714_SM_Untruthful-and-Untrustworthy-Government

The massaging of critical data undermines our society

Victor Davis Hanson  writes:  Transparency and truth are the fuels that run sophisticated civilizations. Without them, the state grinds to a halt. Lack of trust — not barbarians on the frontier, global warming or cooling, or even epidemics — doomed civilizations of the past, from imperial Rome to the former Soviet Union.

The United States can withstand the untruth of a particular presidential administration if the permanent government itself is honest. Dwight Eisenhower lied about the downed U-2 spy plane inside the Soviet Union. Almost nothing Richard Nixon said about Watergate was true. Intelligence reports of vast stockpiles of WMD in Iraq proved as accurate as Bill Clinton’s assertion that he never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.

Presidents fib. The nation gets outraged. The independent media dig out the truth. And so the system of trust repairs itself.

[Order Victor Davis Hanson’s book “The Savior Generals  from Amazon]Savior Generals

What distinguishes democracies from tinhorn dictatorships and totalitarian monstrosities are our permanent meritocratic government bureaus that remain nonpartisan and honestly report the truth.

The Benghazi, Associated Press, and National Security Agency scandals are scary, but not as disturbing as growing doubts about the honesty of permanent government itself. Read the rest of this entry »


When Failure Is Success

obama-tv-screens-2

For Obama’s supporters, what matters is not what he does, but what he says and represents.

Victor Davis Hanson  writes:  Losing a job is freedom from job lock. A budget deficit larger than in any previous administration is austerity. A mean right-wing video caused the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. Al-Qaeda was long ago washed up. The Muslim Brotherhood is secular. Jihad is a personal journey. Shooting people while screaming Allahu akbar! is workplace violence. Unaffordable higher premiums and deductibles are the result of an Affordable Care Act. Losing your doctor and your health-When-Failure-Is-Success-Obabainsurance plan prove you will never lose your doctor and your health-insurance plan — period! Being a constitutional lawyer means you know how to turn the IRS and the FCC on your enemies. Failure is success; lies are truth.

President Obama’s polls are creeping back up again. They do that every time the latest in the series of scandals — the IRS, AP, NSA, Benghazi, and Obamacare messes — recedes into the media memory hole. The once-outrageous IRS scandal was rebranded as psychodramatic journalists being outraged. The monitoring of AP reporters and of James Rosen is mostly “Stuff happens.” The NSA octopus was Bush’s creation. You can keep your doctor and your health plan — period — begat liberation from “job lock” and the ability to write poetry because you don’t have to work.

[Victor Davis Hansons’s book, The Savior Generals is available at Amazon]

There will be more momentary outrages on the horizon, as a president who would fundamentally transform America continues to circumvent the Constitution to do it. The latest are the failed efforts of acting FCC director Mignon Clyburn — daughter of a Democratic stalwart, Representative James Clyburn. She dreamed about monitoring news outlets to ensure that they prove themselves correct in matters of race/class/gender thinking.

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The Death of the Humanities

Head_Platon-sm

A liberal arts education was once a gateway to wisdom; now, it can breed ignorance and arrogance

Victor Davis Hanson writes:  The humanities are in their latest periodic crisis. Though the causes of the ongoing decline may be debated, everyone accepts the dismal news about eroding university enrollments, ever fewer new faculty positions, the decline in majors, and the lack of jobs for humanities graduates. Less than 8% of current BA degrees are awarded to humanities majors. The New York Times recently reported that while 45% of the undergraduate faculty at Stanford teach in the humanities, only 15% of the students major in them.

Of course, the numbers of humanities majors have been in decline since the 1970s. But what seems different today is that the humanities are less sacrosanct in the university. Literature, philosophy, and art are no longer immune from budget cuts by virtue of their traditional intrinsic value to the university. Either humanities professors can no longer make the case for the traditional role of their subjects or no one cares to listen to what they have to say.

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The Israel Double Standard

The-Israel-Double-Standard

The prejudice against Israel in diplomatic matters is as troubling as more crude bigotry against Jews.

Victor Davis Hanson  writes:  An obscure academic organization called the American Studies Association not long ago voted to endorse a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli universities. The self-appointed moralists were purportedly outraged over the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians.

[See Victor Davis Hanson‘s book The Savior Generals at Amazon]

Given academia’s past obsessions with the Jewish state, the targeting of Israel is not new. Yet why do the professors focus on Israel and not Saudi Arabia, which denies women the right to drive and only recently granted them the right to vote? Why not Russia, which has been accused of suppressing free speech, or Nigeria, which has passed retrograde anti-homosexual legislation?

The hip poet Amiri Baraka (a.k.a. Everett LeRoi Jones) recently died. He was once poet laureate of New Jersey, held prestigious university posts, and was canonized with awards — despite being a hateful anti-Semite.

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The Outlaw Campus: Ten Steps to Reform

campus

The university has become a rogue institution in need of root-and-branch reform
NRO‘s Victor Davis Hanson writes:  Two factors have so far shielded the American university from the sort of criticism that it so freely levels against almost every other institution in American life. (1) For decades a college education has been considered the key to an ascendant middle-class existence. (2) Until recently a college degree was not tantamount to lifelong debt. In other words, American society put up with a lot of arcane things from academia, given that it offered something — a BA or BS degree — that almost everyone agreed was a ticket to personal security and an educated populace.

Not now. Colleges have gone rogue and become virtual outlaw institutions. Graduates owe an aggregate of $1 trillion in student debt, borrowed at interest rates far above home-mortgage rates — all on the principle that universities could charge as much as they liked, given that students could borrow as much as they needed in federally guaranteed loans.

Few graduates have the ability to pay back the principal; they are simply paying the compounded interest. More importantly, a college degree is not any more a sure pathway to a good job, nor does it guarantee that its holder is better educated than those without it. If the best sinecure in America is a tenured full professorship, the worst fate may be that of a recent graduate in anthropology with a $100,000 loan. That the two are co-dependent is a national scandal.

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Nuclear Gangbangers

gangster-nukesHostile countries with nuclear capabilities have the upper hand on the global police
Victor Davis Hanson writes: The gangster state of North Korea became a nuclear power in 2006–07, despite lots of foreign aid aimed at precluding just such proliferation — help usually not otherwise accorded such a loony dictatorship. Apparently the civilized world rightly suspected that, if nuclear, Pyongyang would either export nuclear material and expertise to other unstable countries, or bully its successful but non-nuclear neighbors — or both.

The United States has given billions of dollars in foreign aid to Pakistan, whose Islamist gangs have spearheaded radical anti-American terrorism. Ever since a corrupt Pakistan went nuclear in 1998, it has been able to extort such foreign-aid payouts — on fears that one of its nukes might end up in the hands of terrorists.

By any measure of economic success or political stability, without nuclear weapons Pakistan would not warrant either the cash or the attention it wins.

An observant Iran appreciates three laws of current nuclear gangbanging:

1. Nuclear weapons earn a reputation.

2. The more loco a nuclear nation sounds, the more likely it is that civilized states will fear that it is not subject to nuclear deterrence, and so the more likely that they will pay bribes for it to behave. Gangbangers always claim they have nothing to lose; their more responsible intended targets have everything to lose.

3. As of yet there are no 100 percent effective nuclear-defense systems that can guarantee non-nuclear powers absolute safety from a sudden attack. The nuclear gangbanger, not the global police, currently has the upper hand.

Again, the actual bombs are not the problem. We do not worry about a nuclear but democratic Israel or France. We are not even bothered by a hostile but non-nuclear Cuba or Venezuela. The combination of a bomb with a rap sheet is what changes all diplomatic and strategic considerations.

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Unenlightened Disinterest and Perverse Incentives: The War on Human Nature

Obama-capsule

For nations as for individuals, pretending self-interest doesn’t exist is perilous

Victor Davis Hanson writes: At some critical point, everyone makes choices based on incentives and his own perception of self-interest. Somehow the Obama administration has forgotten that natural law.

A therapeutic sense of self-sacrifice is fine in the abstract, but in the concrete such magnanimity causes far more harm to the innocent than does a realistic appraisal of self-interest and a tragic acceptance of the flawed nature of man. The theme of the present administration is that it possesses the wisdom and resources to know better what people should do than they do themselves. From that premise arose most of catastrophes that have befallen this administration.

Consider the logic of Obamacare — a protocol that we lesser folk were supposed to learn about only after the bill was passed, in the expectation that eventually we will surely like it, although we are not able to know that yet.  If you use medical care infrequently, you supposedly will rush to sign up to pay more for it, so that those who will pay less can use it more. I wish such idealism were innate to the human character, but nothing suggests that it is. Does providing more coverage at less cost to more people somehow lead to lower costs for all participants? If so, the entire history of capitalism would have to be rewritten. Is it true that the more you try to get onto a website and are stymied, the more you will redouble your efforts to log on? If that were true, wouldn’t Amazon rig its website to fail 20 percent of the time?

Would employers hire more full-time employees in order to up their health-insurance costs, or would they keep their work force small enough that the federal guidelines will allow them not to provide coverage? And how would those incentives affect overall job growth? Will employers decide to forgo more of their profits so that the nation’s unemployment rate will stabilize?

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Analysis: The Moral Decline of Oprah

OprahLimoVictor Davis Hanson writes:  Multi-billionaire Oprah Winfrey, after her surreal $38,000 handbag “racism” encounter in Switzerland, has just weighed in again on race and the presidency, as yet the nth way of hyping her new film: “There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says but everybody’s thinking it.”

Nobody ever says? Has she read a newspaper columnist or turned on MSNBC lately?

Aside from her historical ignorance, Oprah Winfrey has increasingly turned to the race card to explain the president’s plummeting polls. In her race-obsessed world, Syria, Benghazi, the NSA, IRS, AP, and ACA messes do not explain why a reelected president crashes from a recent 60 percent approval rating to less than 40 percent in less than a year. Read the rest of this entry »


Analysis: Two Terms is Too Many

Charismatic career politicians don’t make the best commanders-in-chief.
Let's Follow the Coolidge Model

Needed: A Different Sort of President

Victor Davis Hanson writes: The second terms of the latest three presidents have not been successful. Bill Clinton was impeached after his infamous lie to Americans, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

George W. Bush was blamed for the postwar violence in Iraq.

Barack Obama’s scandals — with his accompanying “limited hangout” denials — are ruining his second term: the growing IRS messes, the Associated Press monitoring, the NSA embarrassments, the Benghazi killings, the Syria bluster and backdown, and, of course, the Obamacare fiasco and the misleading statements about it.

What are other common denominators of this collective tenure of our recent presidents?

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Is Obama Still President?

Testing..testing..anyone home? Hello? Mr President...are you there..?

His cadences soar on, through scandal after fiasco after disaster

Victor Davis Hanson writes: We are currently learning whether the United States really needs a president. Barack Obama has become a mere figurehead, who gives speeches few listen to any more, issues threats that scare fewer, and makes promises that almost no one believes he will keep. Yet America continues on, despite the fact that the foreign and domestic policies of Barack Obama are unraveling, in a manner unusual even for star-crossed presidential second terms. Read the rest of this entry »


Déjà vu: Engineered Malaise

660-Carter.AP

Next year could be a frightening one, in the fashion of 1979–80

Victor Davis Hanson writes:  The developing circumstances of our withdrawal from Afghanistan conjure up Vietnam 1975, with all the refugees, reprisals, humiliation, and emboldened enemies on the horizon, though this time there is no coastline for a flotilla of boat people to launch from. The Obama administration is debating no-fly zones over Syria; more likely, it will have the same discussion over Afghanistan soon, once the Taliban drops the diplomatic veneer and comes back into town. Read the rest of this entry »


Power and Paradox: Obama as Chaos

In the mind of Obama there are many contradictory narratives

ochaos Victor Davis Hanson writes: Amid all the charges and countercharges in Washington over the government shutdown, there is at least one common theme: Barack Obama’s various charges always lead to a dead end. They are chaos, and chaos is hard to understand, much less refute.

By that I mean when the president takes up a line of argument against his opponents, it cannot really be taken seriously — not just because it is usually not factual, but also because it always contradicts positions that Obama himself has taken earlier or things he has previously asserted. Whom to believe — Obama 1.0, Obama 2.0, or Obama 3.0?

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If It Wasn’t Syria, It Would Have Been Something Else

Obama-troubledVictor Davis Hanson writes: It is very possible that the president will not obtain a joint authorization to bomb Syria; if he chooses to go ahead and attack anyway, Obama will incite a constitutional crisis—the first time in history that a president has decided to go to war against the declared wishes of Congress. The public and the courts will adjudicate the legality of that act, and it would be contentious.

So the corner that Obama has painted himself into is now inescapable. Defying Congress will put the country into a Watergate/Monicagate mess. Not doing anything will confirm the administration’s impotence and only enhance Russia, Iran, Assad, China, Islamists, and almost anyone else who does not like the U.S. Doing something small, with or without congressional approval, will be looked upon as a cynical waste of human lives to restore Obama’s credibility, the sort of craven, immoral political act that a younger Obama made a career out of mocking. Doing something big will invite public and global outrage if only moderately successful, and doom the Obama presidency if unsuccessful. Read the rest of this entry »


Contemplating three years without a President

ovalofficeLegal Insurrection‘s  writes: Having been mostly away from the internet these past two days, I’ve watched from afar how quickly things have turned on Syria. It’s amazing how Obama has gone from being backed into a corner to being on a ledge where his presidency is just a vote away from being over all but in name. It’s not that Obama was wrong to want to react to the use of chemical weapons. I was willing, at the outset, to give Obama the benefit of the doubt because the stakes were so high if the large-scale use by the Assad government of chemical weapons was proven. This goes far beyond the usual bloodletting when Syria, one of if not the largest stockpilers of chemical weapons, uses chemical weapons strategically. That Syria is in the heart of the Middle East, bordering three of our friends, and a puppet of Iran and Hezbollah, made the situation more dire and in our national interest to address. Read the rest of this entry »


America the Trivial

The Kardashians and Anthony Weiner are deemed more worthy of attention than what affects the security and prosperity of our nation. 

President Obama hits the greens in Martha’s Vineyard on August 18.

Victor Davis Hanson

Two quite different 21st-century Americas are emerging. The nation is not so much divided by “wars” between the rich and poor, men and women, or white and non-white. Instead, there is the world of reality versus that of triviality.

In the vast plains of the Dakotas and the American West, thousands of men and women of all classes and colors are fracking oil and gas to create new energy for millions of homeowners and commuters — while giving America a second chance at strategic energy independence.

Yet the beneficiaries mostly ignore these elemental efforts. They instead prefer to fixate on the alleged sexual creepiness of big-city political mediocrities like Bob Filner and Anthony Weiner.

As we sleep, 7,000 miles away there are still thousands of American soldiers of all races, ages, classes, and genders in godforsaken conditions fighting the Taliban to allow millions in Afghanistan the chance for an alternative to medieval theocracy and to deter terrorists.

Meanwhile, back home, the nation is focused not on such existential struggles but is transfixed by racial melodramas.

Was Oprah victimized by racial insensitivity in a Swiss boutique when inquiring about purchasing a $38,000 crocodile purse? Were ten black American Idolcontestants really victims of “cruel and inhumane” treatment because their arrest records were brought up on the show? Should a rodeo clown — whose stock in trade is humor — be sent to “sensitivity training” for wearing an Obama mask?

At the end of two years of near-record drought in California, the fate of hundreds of thousands of acres of irrigated farmlands, which feed millions of Americans and earn billions of dollars in critical foreign exchange, hinges on a snow-filled winter in the Sierra Nevada. You might never know of that razor’s edge from the state legislature. Rather than discussing new dams and canals, it debated whether transgendered youth in public schools could use the bathrooms of their choice and whether residents should need a permit to buy ammunition.

The historic role of government is changing before our eyes. President Obama is making the argument that the executive branch by presidential fiat can pick and choose which laws should and should not be faithfully executed — whether Obamacare, immigration amnesties, or No Child Left Behind statutes.

The fate of the entire concept of voluntary tax compliance is currently endangered by the politicization of the Internal Revenue Service. Whether the government can monitor the communications of either reporters or average citizens depends on getting to the bottom of the National Security Agency and Justice Department/Associated Press scandals.

Instead, the media seem more interested in whether Obama is playing golf on Martha’s Vineyard. Read the rest of this entry »


Our Postmodern Angst

In our unheroic age, victimhood has replaced valiant struggle.

By  Victor Davis Hanson

In the globally connected and affluent world of the 21st century, we thankfully have evolved a long way from the elemental poverty, hunger, and ethnic, religious, and racial hatred that were mostly the norm of the world until the last century.

Yet who would know of such progress — and the great sacrifices made to achieve it — from the howls of our postmodern oppressed? In fact, the better life has become, the more victimized modern affluent Westerners seem to act.

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By Hook, Crook, or Comic Book

Mexico continues to encourage its citizens to migrate to the U.S., even though it doesn’t need to.

By  Victor Davis Hanson

“If the United States were to treat Mexican nationals in the same way that Mexico treats Central American nationals, there would be humanitarian outrage.”

There are many strange elements in the current debate over illegal immigration, but none stranger than the general failure to discuss the role of Mexico.

Are millions of Mexican citizens still trying to cross the U.S. border illegally because there is dismal economic growth and a shortage of jobs in Mexico?

Not any more. In terms of the economy, Mexico has rarely done better, and the United States rarely worse.

The Mexican unemployment rate is currently below 5 percent. North of the border, it remains stuck at over 7 percent for the 53rd consecutive month of the Obama presidency. The American gross domestic product has been growing at a rate of less than 2 percent annually. In contrast, a boomingMexico almost doubled that in 2012, with its GDP growing at a robust clip of nearly 4 percent.

Is elemental hunger forcing millions of Mexicans to flee north, as it may have in the past?

Not necessarily. According to a recent United Nations study, an estimated 70 percent of Mexico’s citizens are overweight and suffer from the same health problems caused by poor diet and lack of exercise shared by those in other, more affluent Western societies.

Mexico is a severe critic of U.S. immigration policy, often damning Americans as ruthlessly insensitive for trying to close our border. The Mexican government has gone so far as to join lawsuits against individual American states to force relaxation of our border enforcement. Former Mexican president Felipe Calderón sharply criticized the United States for trying to “criminalize migration.”

Is Mexico, then, a model of immigration tolerance?

Far from it.

Until 2011, when it passed reforms, Mexico had among the most draconian immigration laws in the world. Guatemala has criticized Mexico for initiating construction of a fence along its southern border.

Mexico has zero tolerance for illegal immigrants who seek to work in Mexico, happen to break Mexican law, or go on public assistance — and zero tolerance for any citizens who aid them.

In Mexico, legal immigration is aimed at privileging new arrivals who have skill sets that will aid the Mexican economy and, according to the country’s immigration law, who have the “necessary funds for their sustenance” — while denying entry to those who are not healthy or would upset the “equilibrium of the national demographics.” Translated, this apparently means that Mexico tries to withhold legal residency from those who do not look like Mexicans or do not have the skills needed to make money.

If the United States were to treat Mexican nationals in the same way that Mexico treats Central American nationals, there would be humanitarian outrage.

In 2005, the Mexican government published a Guide for the Mexican Migrant — in comic-book form. The pictographic manual instructed the country’s own citizens on how best to cross illegally into, and stay within, the United States. Did Mexico assume that its departing citizens were both largely illiterate and unworried about violating the laws of a foreign country?

Yet Mexico counts on these expatriate poor to send back well over $20 billion in remittances annually – currently the third-largest source of foreign exchange for Mexico.

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