Last night was the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden. It was a grudge match; “hard to watch” and similar sentiments are the main comments I’m seeing on social media.
As a Trump supporter, I enjoyed the debate for GEOTUS’s zingers and no-nonsense combativeness. He was aggressive and feisty, and clearly understood the Leftist slanting of the questioning (as Milo Telegramed, “Why are we still talking about climate change?” Chris Wallace was clearly in Biden’s corner in terms of the tack of his questions, and he didn’t interrupt Biden the way he interrupted Trump.
To be fair to Wallace, Trump was talking over Biden and Wallace frequently, and as the role of a moderator is to moderate the debate, Wallace’s job was to try to keep the candidates to the two-minute rule. That said, Trump was responding to a number of inaccurate and false accusations against him, including the widely debunked but oft-repeated Charlottesville myth.
I do think on the substance of the issues, Trump hammered Biden. Trump has facts, history, accomplishments, and morality on his side. His first term has been wildly successful by any metric. The irony of Trump’s presidency is that if it were anyone else in his position, they’d be lauded as the greatest president in a generation, but anyone else wouldn’t have had the cajones to accomplish what Trump has.
Unfortunately, for all that I loved Trump’s aggressive attempt to rattle the ailing Biden, I’m afraid it came across as bullying and unprofessional to squishy swing voters. Trump’s base is with him no matter what (especially after he refused to be maneuvered into denouncing the Proud Boys, a completely benign organization unfairly slandered as “white supremacists”). He’s got to win over those undecided folks in key swing States who probably love the president’s policies, but find the president personally distasteful.
As of right now, it looks like Amy Coney Barrett will get confirmed to the Supreme Court before the election, even if she’ll be seated under the wire. A plurality of Americans want Barrett seated, according to a Rasmussen poll. Conservatives shouldn’t take anything for granted; to quote Marcus Cato Censorius, “many things can come between the mouth and a morsel of food.” But it does seem that ACB will soon be Justice Barrett, and America will be better off for it.
Of course, the Democrats are in high dudgeon, and are already threatening to pack the Court should they win the presidency and gain a senatorial majority this November. Conservatives have anticipated this potential move for some time, but haven’t done much to stymie it. Our focus has been, understandably, affixed on merely gaining a solid constitutionalist majority on the Court, but today’s Left will do anything to demolish a conservative Court.
The brouhaha over Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court will provide ample blog fodder in the days ahead, but there is plenty of time to get into senatorial wrangling. Mondays should be eased into a bit, so I’m taking today to write a short review of one of the best (and probably most over-reviewed) films of all time, The Empire Strikes Back.
Growing up as a chubby kid in the 1990s, I was a huge Star Wars fan. That was long before the new trilogy retconned/soft-rebooted everything and destroyed the legacy of classic Star Wars, and even before the prequels made the flicks even more cartoonishly ridiculous. I’m not even a huge critic of the prequels—they were never going to live up to the perfection of the original trilogy—and I enjoyed some of the fun world-building and thorny trade blockades of Phantom Menace (although that’s all a bit too technocratic for a space opera). But the magic of the original trilogy is more than the sum of its parts, and it’s based on rich storytelling and exceptionally strong character development, with nearly every major character growing and evolving over the course of the three films.
That was readily apparent in Empire, which my girlfriend and I saw (for five bucks!) on the big screen Saturday evening. It has been many years since I’ve watched the original trilogy, and I’m regretting that now. Empire catches the main trio of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo at transitional points in their development: Luke at the beginning of his Jedi training with Master Yoda; Leia assuming great command responsibilities in the Rebellion while also wrestling with her feelings for Solo; and Han feeling the tug of his old life (and debts) while maturing as a man capable of great self-sacrifice for his friends.
So many of the West’s problems are fundamentally spiritual in nature. Our politics are no longer the pedestrian, earthy wranglings over how to maintain the roads (clearly not) or what the marginal tax rate should be. Even the most mundane of political discussions become theological battles about the nature of Truth itself. It’s ironic given the Left’s wholesale embrace of postmodernism’s rejection of Truth.
As such, it seemed like an opportune time to dedicate a Lazy Sunday to posts about big ideas. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details—the Devil is in them, after all—but it’s also important to grasp at the makeup of the entire forest, not just its diversity of trees.
With that, here are some of my own stabs at understanding the dark forest in which we moderns find ourselves:
“What is Conservatism?” & “TBT: What is Conservatism?” – This post kicked off the first run of my History of Conservative Thought Class, in which begin exploring the ideas of Russell Kirk. So much of what Americans consider to be “conservative” today is really an abstract ideology, whereas Kirk’s conservatism varied from one society to the next. It did, however, contain some similar elements across cultures. Kirk is mostly forgotten in conservative circles today, which is unfortunate; it would behoove us to know more of his thought and work.
“Resist the Black Pill” – It’s easy to get discouraged with the state of the world at present, especially here in the United States. Even with the efforts of President Trump and his MAGA cadre, there are long-term concerns for the future of our country. The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett is one sign of hope, though whether or not the Court will return to true constitutionalism is still an open question. What we can know is that nihilistic despair is a sin, and our hope comes from the Lord.
“What is Civilization?” – This post dealt with a lively discussion between Milo and a couple of groypers, Steve Franssen and Vincent James, about the future of civilization. It’s an intriguing debate about whether or not abandoning the cities to progressive destroyers represents an abandonment of civilization itself (my answer would be no).
That’s it for this brief Lazy Sunday. Here’s hoping these posts give you something to chew over as you head into your week.
The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg eight days ago has opened up another power struggle in D.C. Democrats have spent decades perverting the function of the courts from that of constitutional referee into that of constitution interpreter, a role that places the Supreme Court above Congress and the presidency.
The result is rule by nine unelected officials who serve for life. Congress has gleefully passed the difficulty of legislative activity and the push and pull of debate onto the Supreme Court, trusting it to clarify anything Congress may have forgotten to write into law. Presidents have passively executed Supreme Court verdicts, and even signed legislation they believed to be unconstitutional, on the premise that the Supreme Court would make the ultimate decision.
Thus, the Court has emerged as the dominant force in American politics—and morality. Not only does the Court tell us what the Constitution really says—even if the Constitution doesn’t say it at all—it also tells us the moral judgments of the Constitution (thanks to Z Man for that insight). Thus, every cat lady and box wine auntie in America bemoans the death of RBG, their symbolic stand-in, who endorsed free and easy abortions and gay rights.
Now President Trump has the opportunity to shift the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation. But will it be enough to reverse judicial supremacy and restore constitutional order?
Today’s post is an exclusive for $5 and higher subscribers to my SubscribeStar page. Five Dollar Fridays will be a regular feature heading into the 2020 election, with unique analysis of and insights into the presidential and other national, State, and local elections.
Despite Republicans enjoying official political control of the presidency and the Senate, the Left clearly dominates the culture, the media, academia, Big Tech, and more. The question is, how much of this dominance was deliberately orchestrated, and how much of it is the result of various organic left-wing movements?
Most conservatives are familiar with the radical Left’s “long march through the institutions,” in which ’60s radicals and former hippies gained cushy sinecures in government and academia, and began dribbling their Marxist dogma into the political and cultural thought of the country. The anti-war movement and the sense of restlessness among post-war youths offered fertile ground for anti-American ideas, especially when swaddled in terms of “peace” and “love.”
The weather in the mountains this past weekend was delightfully chilly, and it seems the cold up on Mount Mitchell has blown down into South Carolina. In short, the weather is perfect—warm afternoons, and crisp, autumnal mornings. I’ve been taking a cup of half-caff coffee in the afternoons after getting home from work and watering the garden, and it’s been glorious sitting on the porch and enjoying the coolness of the evening.
That first nip in the air is a sign that the hygge—the Danish concept of contented, warm coziness—is near. It’s a time for bundling up and staying warm in old quilts with good books—and good company! Food tastes better, coffee seems more satisfying, and my mind feels more alert and alive this time of year.
There’s also college football, which is nice, too—and Halloween!
So it seemed like a good time to look back to a post from March of this year, during South Carolina’s unusually cool—and long—spring. This post, “Tarantulas and the Hygge,” explored what I called “the weird side of the Internet,” traveling “down one of those byways of oddity.”
It looks like President Trump will make his Supreme Court nomination pick later this week, and that Senate Republicans will deliver the votes he needs. Lindsey Graham, who is in a surprisingly tight race here in South Carolina, came out with full-throated support for confirming a nominee, even this close to the November election.
What came as a major surprise was Mitt Romney‘s willingness to vote for a Trump nominee. He did qualify his support by stating that he intends “to vote based upon [the nominee’s] qualifications,” which still leaves open the possibility of his characteristic perfidy. Even with Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins demurring, that gives Senate Republicans some cushion in confirming the president’s choice.
Of course, the Left is in a full-scale, apocalyptic meltdown. They’d turned Ruth Bader Ginsburg into a symbol for their preferred style of judicial activism, and saw her as a crotchety, sleepy champion for their pet causes. Ginsburg never saw an abuse of judicial power she didn’t like, and was a guaranteed vote for the progressives on any case.
The prospect of replacing her with a constitutional conservative is the Left’s worst nightmare. RBG’s refusal to step down into a peaceful (and, surely, lucrative) retirement during the Obama administration has not cost the Democrats—potentially—a reliably Leftist seat for probably another forty years.
It’s little wonder, then, that the Democrats are pulling out every trick imaginable to stall or prevent confirmation hearings, and to otherwise scuttle Trump’s eventual nominee. That includes threats of impeachment.
With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday, the political world was thrown into hysterics. Democrats are threatening to set the Supreme Court building and the White House ablaze if President Trump attempts to nominate a replacement for the Notorious RBG before the November election.
Even if they were serious about their histrionic, treasonous threat, President Trump should do it, and Senate Republicans should act speedily to confirm his nominee. For that matter, President Trump should appoint the most stridently right-wing, pro-life, socially conservative, religious justice possible.
If the Kavanaugh hearings taught us anything, the Left will pillory any mildly conservative nominee to the Court. Kavanaugh is a Beltway Dudley Do-Right, and he was treated as a de facto stand-in for every unpleasant interaction a woman has ever had with a man. If the Left treated him so shabbily, why not go for broke and get the second coming of Antonin Scalia, or a young Clarence Thomas clone?
When I first heard the news, I remembered President Obama’s Merrick Garland appointment, and how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold confirmation hearings. That was entirely constitutional, both for the president to nominate, and for the Senate to decline to confirm. McConnell’s rationale was that the Senate should not confirm a nominee during a presidential election year, so as to give the people a chance to vote for new leadership first.
But then my younger brother informed me that a confirmation at this time would not be a breach of senatorial custom. The rule that McConnell invoked in 2016 only applies when the President is one party, and the Senate is controlled by the opposing party. Presidents who have attempted nominations in those conditions during election years have failed. Ted Cruz covers it beautifully in a short YouTube video:
Of course, McConnell warned then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2009 when the Senate got rid of its requirement that sixty Senators were necessary to confirm Supreme Court nominees that it would one day come back to haunt the Democrats. The price of their political expediency could very well be—let us pray!—a conservative-controlled Court.
Sadly, it seems that the Democrats will keep moving the goal posts, as usual. The cry now is that if Trump gets his nominee before the election, the Democrats will engage in court-packing should they win the presidency and Congress; in other words, they’ll add Supreme Court seats to dilute the conservative majority.
Congress has the authority to alter the number of Supreme Court seats (when the Constitution was first ratified, the Court only had six justices, rather than the present-day nine). However, the last infamous example of court-packing—Franklin Roosevelt’s ham-fisted attempt to inflate the Court to fifteen justices from nine—was met with severe push-back from even his own party, which saw it for the transparently naked power-grab it was. Democrats nearly ninety years later are all too eager to engage in that power grab.
Therefore, even if President Trump gets his nominee confirmed before the 3 November election, it could all be undone with a Biden win and a “blue wave” seizing control of the Senate. That’s why it’s all the more imperative—especially in swing States—to get out and vote for Trump. The Supreme Court pick will be meaningless if Democrats take control of the levers of power again.
More importantly, it will—barring progressive court-packing—secure the Court for conservatives for at least a generation, and possibly beyond. If President Trump is reelected and Republicans maintain the Senate, it may then be advisable—as much as I hate to suggest it—for Justice Thomas to step down, thereby allowing Trump to appoint a younger conservative who can maintain the conservative majority for another thirty or forty years.
Big things are afoot. The Republicans and Trump may just have one last shot to save the Republic.
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