John Adams, Facts, & Brett Kavanaugh: A Primer

It was March 1770 when a crowd of Boston colonists began angrily harassing a British sentry. Soon other soldiers came to his aid. In the confusion, amidst the clamor, the throwing of snowballs, ice, and stones, and even being threatened with clubs, the soldiers misunderstood a command from the officer in charge and began firing into the crowd. Five colonists lay dead and six more were wounded. It became known as the Boston Massacre.

Emotions ran high. Would the soldiers have any hope of a fair trial? Into this tension-packed atmosphere, John Adams entered and volunteered to defend the soldiers. Adams was not in favor of British policies, but he believed the soldiers had been provoked into the attack, and therefore all the facts had to be taken into consideration.

He took a chance by standing up for them. He could have become the most hated man in Boston. Yet he showed that the crowd had been more of a mob than a simple crowd of people standing around. He argued for the soldiers while simultaneously critiquing the British government’s decision to place soldiers in the streets, thereby increasing the tension.

The result? The officer in charge was acquitted, as were most of the soldiers. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and sent back to England. Given that death would have been the sentence if a guilty verdict of murder had been returned, this was quite an achievement for Adams as he stood for the concept of the rule of law—a concept that is currently little understood, even less appreciated, and constantly under attack.

One of Adams’s statements in these trials has come down to us today, repeated by those who understand the basis for the rule of law. Here’s what he said:

Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

At different times in American history, emotions have run rampant and caused no small amount of anguish, civil disturbances, and assaults on the rule of law. I point out John Adams’s strong character in this blog today as a reminder that we must not allow passions to run wild. We must always make all our decisions on the basis of evidence, not mere emotion.

All I have seen in the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh up to this point is pure emotion, stripped of any genuine evidence of wrongdoing. The FBI has now been tasked with another round of interviews to find out if there is any corroboration at all for the allegations against him. This came about through one of the most disgusting displays of partisanship ever seen in Congress, and that’s saying a lot considering what has transpired many times before.

Thus far, all we have is the word of women who are basing their testimony on strong emotion . . . yet without even one piece of corroborating evidence. We are supposed to believe them because they are women.

Do women never lie? Are they always to be believed? Do they not also have agendas at times? Has the media looked into the backgrounds of those who are making the accusations, or are they focused on Kavanaugh only?

Whatever happened to the need for real evidence before convicting someone?

Yes, I know this is not a court of law, but someone can be convicted in the arena of public opinion to the point that truth no longer matters. Just believe, even when there’s no reason to do so.

Could Kavanaugh be lying? Well, if he is, he’s survived six previous FBI background checks. Further, women who have known him in high school have testified that he never acted like the accusers have said. Even further, dozens of women who have worked with him in government have stood solidly with him, attesting to his impeccable character.

But we’re supposed to believe someone, in the case of Prof. Ford, who has escaped all media scrutiny. Where have you seen any in-depth treatment of her background, moral behavior, or current political agenda? Maybe I missed it, but nothing I’ve seen has even broached the subject.

No, she’s a woman who came across as credible. Yet by “credible,” what is really meant is she came across as emotional enough to convince people she must be telling the truth.

Yet where is the evidence?

Thomas Sowell has been a favorite writer and commentator of mine for decades. I’ve come across a couple of his most poignant quotes lately, and they are appropriate for what we have been experiencing in this current controversy.

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this. But years of dumbed-down education and emphasis on how people ‘feel’ have left too many people unable to see through this media gimmick.

He’s one of the new John Adamses in our day. May there be more.

Bring Down the Curtain on This Theater of the Absurd

Just when we thought the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were over, the judge is hit with an eleventh-hour accusation of sexual harassment. From his high school days. Thirty-six years ago.

The hearings themselves were a ludicrous display of manufactured outrage and protests as extremists deliberately disrupted the proceedings. The screaming and hysterics were carefully timed to erupt every half hour or so, it seemed.

Yet Kavanaugh is the extremist?

As the vote for confirmation was about to happen, suddenly Sen. Diane Feinstein leaked the harassment allegation. From a letter she had in her possession since July. Keep in mind that Feinstein had met with Kavanaugh one-on-one while in possession of that letter, yet never mentioned it to him. There were private hearings before the public ones in which she could have questioned him about it, but didn’t.

No, it was kept back until it could do the most damage. Actually, I’m not sure she really thought it would ultimately undo the nomination, but it was at least the kind of distraction that might delay his elevation to the Supreme Court. That part might be working.

The accuser, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, is a Bernie Sanders supporter (which undoubtedly makes her a socialist). Although I haven’t read this specifically, can anyone believe she is pro-life on the abortion issue? Really?

There is no corroboration from anyone she knows about the alleged incident. She can’t even remember many of the details herself. It’s all kind of a muddle. Yet we are supposed to take her word for it regardless. All such accusations are to be accepted as fact simply because she is a woman making the accusation.

Never mind that 65 women who know and have worked with Kavanaugh over those last thirty-six years signed a letter attesting to his honor and decent behavior toward them. Somehow that doesn’t count. Never mind that two of those women even dated him when they were all in high school and attest that he was always a perfect gentleman. No, we must believe Ford instead. Both Democrats and the media (I repeat myself) are convinced of his guilt.

Now Ford, who at first said she wanted to be heard, has declined to testify before the committee. She’s been offered a closed-door meeting, she doesn’t have to be in the same room with Kavanaugh, and the committee has even gone out of its way—far beyond what is required—to say it will come to her in California to hear what she has to say.

No, she now demands that there be an FBI investigation first. The accusation is not a federal crime; the FBI has no jurisdiction. And what about all those background checks the FBI has already conducted on Kavanaugh’s past? Why did nothing of this nature surface? He seems to have an impeccable past.

What we are seeing here is theater of the absurd taken to new levels of absurdity. Kavanaugh is the victim, not his accuser.

It’s an established fact that most of the senators, Republican and Democrat, already knew how they would vote before any hearings convened. Democrats were poised to discredit whoever the nominee would have been. It didn’t matter who it was; that person, male or female, would be depicted as an ogre of some type.

When President Obama put forward his nominees for the Court, you never saw this kind of hysteria among those who questioned his choices. Decorum prevailed even on the side of those who opposed them. Why is it that only Republican nominees have to face this kind of whirlwind?

I have my answer: Roe v. Wade. That’s what it’s all about for many on the Left. They are afraid that Kavanaugh on the Court will finally deal the death blow for that supposed right to abortion. It’s about as simple as that.

It’s time to bring this lunacy to a close. It’s time to vote and then move forward.

Chambers, McCarthy, & Trump

An interesting question was posed to me yesterday by a former student, wanting to know what Whittaker Chambers might think of Donald Trump. I gave him my short answer but then decided it would be perhaps insightful to provide a fuller one here today.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chambers, here’s a short synopsis of his life.

Chambers at DeskWhittaker Chambers, in the 1920s, became a member of the Communist party because he saw it as the hope of a world filled with destruction after WWI. At one point, he was ushered into the communist underground movement where he helped place communists in government positions to influence policy; he also served as a liaison between those officials and underground leaders, to whom he passed on information stolen from the government.

He soured on communism in the late 1930s as he saw the fruit of Stalinism: the purges of faithful party members, in particular. He had to go into hiding to protect his family, emerging later as a writer for Time magazine, eventually becoming one of its senior editors.

After WWII, Chambers appeared before a congressional committee and told all he knew about the underground subversion taking place. One of the men he fingered in the underground was Alger Hiss, a top State Dept. official. When Hiss denied the accusation, it became front-page news.

To shorten the story considerably, all I’ll say is that Chambers was proven correct, Hiss went to prison, and Chambers then wrote a masterful autobiography entitled Witness, which came out in 1952. It is one of my all-time favorite books.

Joe McCarthy 2Sen. Joe McCarthy is infamous for trying to root out the communist conspiracy in the early 1950s. Nothing wrong with that, except McCarthy seems to have been motivated more by personal glory than principle. He also was not a man of towering intellect like Chambers. Neither did he have the inside knowledge Chambers did.

Naturally, McCarthy sought to have Chambers on his side publicly. Yet Chambers declined to join in his crusade. Why? It had to do with the character of the man.

In letters Chambers wrote to William F. Buckley, the dean of the modern conservative movement in America, he laid out his concerns—even fears—of what McCarthy might do inadvertently to undermine genuine anti-communism.

Odyssey of a FriendIn one of those letters, responding to Buckley’s queries as to why he wouldn’t come out in support of McCarthy, Chambers replied,

One way whereby I can most easily help Communism is to associate myself publicly with Senator McCarthy; to give the enemy even a minor pretext for confusing the Hiss Case with his activities, and rolling it all in a snarl with which to baffle, bedevil, and divide opinion.

That is why I told Senator McCarthy, when he asked me to keynote his last Wisconsin campaign, that we were fighting in the same war, but in wholly  different battles, and that the nature of the struggle at this time enjoins that we should not wage war together.

I do not think that the Senator really grasps this necessity. For it is more and more my reluctant opinion that he is a tactician, rather than a strategist; that he continually, by reflex rather than calculation, sacrifices the long view for the short pull.

While Chambers obviously wanted much of what McCarthy wanted—the exposure of the communist threat—he didn’t see McCarthy as the man to accomplish this.

In that same letter to Buckley, Chambers expressed his deepest fear:

All of us, to one degree or another, have slowly come to question his judgment and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions, his tendency to sacrifice the greater objective for the momentary effect, will lead him and us into trouble.

In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some irreparable blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come.

Chambers was prophetic. That’s precisely what happened. McCarthy ultimately went too far with his accusations and fell from his lofty perch politically. Ever since then, anytime a conservative sounds a warning about socialism/communism, critics on the Left have been able to sound the alarm of “McCarthyism.” The senator dealt a deadly blow to intelligent concerns about subversion.

So what about Trump? What would Chambers think if he were here today? Of course, we are dealing with a hypothetical, but we do have Chambers’s own words and feelings about someone who could be disastrous to a good cause. That’s how I see Trump.

Looking again at Chambers’s comments, I can see Trump in many ways. Just as McCarthy was not a principled person, but rather someone out for his own notoriety, so is Trump, in my view. He has no solid principles; he is no conservative; he has little knowledge of constitutional government.

Then there are the tactics. Chambers criticized McCarthy for being merely a tactician, not a strategist, someone who went for the short-term advantage rather than having a long-term goal. Trump again.

Chambers questioned McCarthy’s judgment, his flair for the sensational, and the inaccuracies and distortions in his comments. I see Trump there as well.

Finally, there was Chambers’s biggest fear, that McCarthy would do more damage to the cause in the long run and discredit real anti-communism that knew what it was talking about. I believe Trump will cause great damage to conservatism in our day. People will associate him with that ideology, despite the fact that he is a man of no particular ideology himself. He is merely a narcissist looking for a way to advance himself.

If Trump doesn’t change (and that’s highly unlikely), and he wins the presidency, we may, in the future, hear the alarm of “Trumpism” just as readily as the Left has used “McCarthyism” for the last six decades.

If Chambers were alive today to see what’s transpiring, there is no way I believe he would be a Trump enthusiast. Rather, he would be on the front lines sounding a proper alarm, fearful that conservatism will be undermined by support for Trump.

As an addendum, Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael, has stated that he doesn’t believe his father would have jumped on the Trump train either. From everything I know about Ronald Reagan, I have to agree. Although Reagan called for unity in the Republican ranks, he always wanted that unity to be based on principles.

I find it kind of ironic that those who are excoriating Ted Cruz for not endorsing Trump forget that Reagan, who lost the nomination to Gerald Ford in 1976, spoke at that convention at Ford’s request. While delivering an impromptu speech about the need for Republican principles to win in the election, Reagan pointedly didn’t specifically endorse Ford in that speech. Neither did he campaign for him prior to the election. If that was acceptable for Reagan, why not for Cruz, who has even far more reason to decline a Trump endorsement?

Book Cover 1I have studied both Reagan and Chambers for many years. That’s why I came out with this book last year, The Witness and the President: Whittaker Chambers, Ronald Reagan, and the Future of Freedom.

If you want greater depth of understanding of both men, I heartily endorse this book (for some reason). As you dig into the thinking of both Reagan and Chambers, I hope you will come away with a greater appreciation of those who stand on principle.

I also hope you will also grasp why I have not been able to endorse Donald Trump. I want men (and women) of principle taking the lead. We have to look beyond the short-term “victory” of one election and concentrate instead on the long-term. Christian faith and conservative governance are my guidelines; I don’t want them to be denigrated by the unprincipled antics of politicians today.

The Game Truly Is On Now

“Game on” was how Rick Santorum described the status of the Republican presidential primary race the night he won Iowa [even though he didn’t know he had won it for another week]. Well, if that win was a signal that the game was on, last night served as an indication this is a serious game for sure. Polls had hinted he might take Missouri, eke out a slight win in Minnesota, and could be encouraged by a strong second-place finish in Colorado. After the votes were counted, he had swamped Romney in Missouri, scored a solid victory in Minnesota, and stunned all pundits by taking Colorado by five points.

Santorum had a perfect three-for-three evening.

Despite the expected caveats—Missouri was just a “beauty contest,” none of those states actually awarded delegates at this point, turnout wasn’t that high—the results have changed the trajectory of this “game.”

What are we witnessing? First, Romney has never nailed down the conservative vote, and it showed in a big way. Second, Gingrich may have already peaked and is now beginning a fade because conservative voters are switching allegiances; when they compare Gingrich with Santorum, they are liking Santorum better. Third, this obviously is no longer a two-man race. Fourth, lots of money and organization may not trump issues after all. And how about this possibility: should Gingrich now leave the race so he won’t drain support from Santorum? How’s that for turnabout?

I’ve always despised the mantra that whoever wins early is the presumptive nominee. I recall another primary battle back in 1976, when an upstart challenger named Ronald Reagan took on the incumbent president Gerald Ford. Reagan lost one primary after another, and the experts were saying he should pull out. Then the tides shifted, and he began winning them all. The race was so close it wasn’t finally settled until the Republican convention that year. Yes, Reagan fell short, but I doubt that anyone today seriously thinks anymore that Ford was the better candidate. So I say, let the race continue.

Santorum is correct when he says that Romney cannot be the Republican spokesman to critique Obamacare, given his background and ongoing defense of Romneycare. Santorum also is someone who can put those midwestern states in the Republican column in November. I’m also convinced he will be the best person to tackle the looming Iranian threat.

Romney last night in his speech said, “This is a time for real change in Washington—fundamental, bold, dramatic change.” I couldn’t agree more. But when has Romney ever been the candidate espousing fundamental, bold, or dramatic change? He’s the mushy middle who will superintend the status quo. I can’t imagine him doing anything bold. He’s always been the “go along to get along” guy. Santorum, on the other hand, has been rock solid on issues dear to my vote—sanctity of life, significance of family, and Biblical morality as the cornerstone of policy.

Santorum has passed one test. Now, can he do the same in Arizona and Michigan at the end of this month? Michigan is another of Romney’s “home” states—he seems to have a number of those. Yet Santorum’s message of reviving manufacturing could play well there. Arizona is quite conservative, and the ongoing battle that state has with Obama over illegal immigration may also be fertile ground for him.

I think he was correct to say “game on” in Iowa. That terminology is even more appropriate now.