Ben Weingarten

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

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John Bolton Rattles the Muslim Brotherhood Echo Chamber

In The Federalist, I write that Ambassador John Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor (NSA) is rattling the Muslim Brotherhood echo chamber.

Indeed, attacks on the former ambassador have inadvertently served as some of his strongest endorsements.

One of the largely overlooked but truly revelatory areas of criticism concern Bolton’s positions on Islamic supremacism, which reflect an understanding that jihadists pose a mortal threat that must be countered using every element of national power. You know these attacks are meaningful because they have been made under cover of a smear campaign.

Bolton has been castigated in a flurry of articles as an “Islamophobe” for the thought crime of being a counterjihadist who supports other counterjihadists.

“Islamophobe” is being lobbed at Bolton to try and discredit him and ultimately scuttle policies he supports intended to strike at the heart of Islamic supremacism. The “tell” is that the articles raising such accusations frequently cast counterjihadist policy positions themselves as de facto evidence of Islamophobic bigotry.

As the representative par excellence of the position that America should exit the Iran deal, it should come as no surprise that the Iran deal echo chamber in exile has sprung into action in savaging the ambassador with the most outlandish of insinuations. For the Islamophobia campaign, the lesser-recognized and perhaps more insidious Muslim Brotherhood echo chamber has been re-activated. Bolton is on record as supporting its designation as a terrorist organization, and Brotherhood apologists and true believers cannot abide this.

In The Federalist I expose this smear campaign — a campaign led by a Muslim Brotherhood echo chamber that previously proved successful in apparently dissuading the Trump administration from designating the Brotherhood a terrorist organization — and suggest that the administration should not concede one inch to the Brotherhood and its backers in the national security and foreign policy establishment. Further, I suggest that the specious and slanderous slurs leveled at Bolton precisely because of his keen understanding of the Islamic supremacist threat reflects all the better on his appointment as NSA.

My Interview with Lord Conrad Black on Trump and Populism

Check out my Encounter Books Podcast interview with the always provocative Lord Conrad Black on the history of American populism and President Donald Trump’s place in it, an assessment of Trump’s populist political agenda, the poisonous legacy of Watergate, The Resistance, the 2018 midterm elections and much more.

I thought the below exchange towards the end of our conversation was particularly compelling:

Ben Weingarten: The ultimate goal of the litany of charges against the President, as we all know, but which is left unsaid frequently, is to, as you said, undermine his legitimacy, and ultimately, from the Democratic perspective, to try to remove him from office — to create, kind of build the case, real or imagined, and then be able to apply high crimes and misdemeanors, and seek to impeach him. All of the signs look fairly ominous for what will happen at the very least in the House, in the midterm elections, for the Republican Party. What do you anticipate happening if Republicans do, in fact, lose the House?

Lord Conrad Black: Well, I agree. I think they’re trying to either remove him…First of all, sort of taint him and plant this generalized view that there’s something illegitimate about him, and therefore, he shouldn’t receive the respect normally offered to a [president]…Secondly, if they can’t push him out altogether, to distract him so much that he can’t perform properly, so they can then accuse him of being a do-nothing president and a mere controversialist, and have him as a sort of…immobilized president sitting in the White House, awaiting the end of his term.

On your specific question, if the Democrats got control of the House of Representatives, certainly there would be a much greater danger that they would try and put an impeachment bill through. I doubt that…On anything we can see at this point, there would be no really serious reason to do it, other than their own partisanship. And there are some sane people in that party and in their House of Representatives delegation. I think Trump would have to do something that the media could successfully represent as really seriously outrageous before they could get a positive vote. I don’t think they…unless Trump actually committed a crime, which he’s not going to do, has not done and will not do, but unless he did that, they would have less chance of actually getting a vote to remove him in the Senate, a two-thirds vote, than the Republicans had when they tried it with Clinton.

So I think the price we paid essentially for the terrible overreaction to Watergate, accompanied by the fact that Mr. Nixon didn’t handle the investigation properly — I don’t think there is any evidence even now that Nixon himself committed illegalities in Watergate, but some people in his entourage did — but the price we paid for that is the routinization of the criminalization of policy differences. “I don’t agree with this person. We’re imaginative and adaptive Americans. Let’s see if we can avoid this policy option we don’t like, and as a bonus, get rid of this President we don’t like ’cause he’s in the other party” — like accusing him of crimes, as if it was just a confidence vote in a parliamentary system like Britain or Canada. And that is not what the authors of the Constitution intended.

Mr. Nixon was a patriotic man who, in fact, was convinced himself that he did not commit crimes; and if he was judged fairly, would be judged not to have committed crimes. But as a patriot, since impeachment had not been mentioned in the presidential context for over a century, for a president, he just didn’t want to put the country to such a demeaning process. And Bill Clinton had no such reservations, but he did achieve something by showing that it wasn’t a process that would necessarily be very successful. They had not even got that far with Reagan and the Iran-Contra nonsense.

But what should happen at some point soon is both parties, and the powers that be politically in the country generally, should realize that impeachment of a president is something that should be regarded as an absolutely extreme measure, as it was intended to be, in the case of utterly profoundly unconstitutional conduct. It was really designed to prevent a domestic George III coming in. Not that he was that bad a king either, but…he wasn’t. He wasn’t that good either. And he was mad half the time, but he was not a madman…I mean, a mad despot, an autocrat, as he was accused of being. But again, that’s beside the point.

But if the United States — and Alan Dershowitz speaks very well about this, he’s a liberal Democrat who supported Clinton — if the U.S. is going to criminalize in an accelerated and unjust way, or purport to criminalize the conduct of people who are just doing what they said they would do when they ran for election, and then psychiatrize them too, and claim that they’re mentally unbalanced and so forth, you’re going to get chaos in the country. The whole system will break down.

What should happen as a result of all this talk is, have an all-party, nonpartisan resolution and agreement, not legislation, but just a state of mind that is agreed upon, that discussion of the impeachment or removal from office of a president should only be entertained in the event of high crimes and misdemeanors on which there’s real evidence, and not in a routine and frivolous and dangerously irresponsible way, which is what we’ve got now.

[Additionally] I don’t think the Democrats will win the House. I think what will happen is that the President will carefully assemble his healthcare reform that the Republican Party is pretty much agreed upon, and an immigration reform that it’s pretty much agreed upon, put those out very firmly to the voters, stand on his high economic growth and continuing excellent economic numbers, and order the release by the Justice Department, relatively close to the midterm elections, of everything to do with the collusion investigation, to reveal in its ghastly infirmity the absolute vacuity of that argument, the falsity, the malice and the defamatory destructiveness of the entire argument that he or anyone closely associated with him ever colluded with a foreign power to rig an American election. Just administer a bone-crushing defeat to the Democrats, and their echo chamber in the national media. And do it right…just coming into the midterm election campaign. And I think he will gain seats in both the House and the Senate.

Listen to the London Center ‘Grand Strategy Podcast’ on National Security and Foreign Affairs

Believing firmly that there is a lack of rich audio content on national security and foreign affairs, London Center for Policy Research President Herb London and I decided to launch the “London Center Grand Strategy Podcast.”

Each biweekly podcast features vigorous discussion on vital issues of American national interest, covering critical events around the globe with an eye towards threats and opportunities, and a grounding in history and political philosophy.

In our latest episode, Episode 3, which you can find at top of this post, we discuss the appointment of John Bolton as national security advisor, what Kim Jong-un really means by “denuclearization,” comprehensive efforts to counter China, the importance of information warfare, the expulsion of Russian agents from the West and much more.

If you like what you hear, please consider subscribing on iTunes (you can also subscribe at Google Play and Stitcher or grab the RSS at Libsyn).

If you really like what you hear, please give us a five-star rating and kindly write us a review.

Our first two episodes are below:

On North Korea Distrust and Verify

For The Federalist I prepared a quick analysis of the political and policy implications of the forthcoming U.S. – North Korea summit.

As I note in the piece, America must define what is in its national interest in North Korea, and have an understanding as to the regime’s ultimate goal.

Few have raised outgoing Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris’ view, in spite of his experience leading America’s forces in the region: That North Korea desires to reunify Korea under Communist rule, contrary to the conventional wisdom that Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are solely about ensuring his regime’s survival.

Adm. Harris’ ignored perspective squares perfectly with what Kim Jong-il indicated in his purported last will and testament.

In fact, virtually all of Kim Jong-un’s actions have tracked perfectly with what his father allegedly counseled.

Read my take on the forthcoming talks here.

My Interview with Instapundit on ‘The Judiciary’s Class War’

For Encounter Books, I recently interviewed the incomparable Glenn Harlan Reynolds (aka Instapundit) on his new broadside The Judiciary’s Class War.

This broadside cleverly ties together the cultural and political divide in America between elites and Deplorables — or as Reynolds terms it “Front Row” versus “Back Row” kids — perverse cases being heard and rulings be made in the courts, and the pernicious administrative state.

Reynolds suggests that we need to reform the judiciary to restore balance to our constitutional order. His proposed reforms aim in no small part at drawing jurists from outside the bicoastal progressive cultural and ideological bubble to the higher courts, and casting bubble-inhabiting high court jurists out into the heartland.

Have a listen on below or on iTunes, and read the full transcript here.

Is a Census Citizenship Question an Assault on Representative Democracy?

Is it a bigger threat to republican government when American citizens are hypothetically better represented, or when noncitizens in actuality dilute their representation?

This is a question at the core of an emerging controversy I touched on recently over a seemingly trivial query the Department of Justice has urged the Census Bureau to reinstate on the 2020 Census: Are you a U.S. citizen?

Former Obama attorney general Eric Holder has now joined 17 state attorneys general in expressing his outrage over the potential reinstatement of this citizenship question in the census by way of a characteristically deceptive and hyperbolic column penned for popular consumption in The New Republic.

I systematically debunk Holder’s arguments in a new piece at The Federalist.

You can find my related twitter thread beginning below:

My Interview with British MEP Daniel Hannan on Populism, Brexit and the EU and the Long Financial Crisis Hangover

In connection with the release of Encounter Books’ Vox Populi: The Perils and Promises of Populism, I interviewed one of its exceptional contributors, the always-eloquent and erudite British MEP Daniel Hannan.

During our discussion we touch on among other things:

  • The anti-progressive character of modern populism
  • The failure of the elite political establishment
  • Brexit and the future of the EU
  • The death of classical liberalism in Europe
  • The underappreciated impact on the financial crisis on the Western body politic
  • The imperative to defend free market capitalism

You can listen to our interview in full here, and read a transcript of our discussion here.

My Interview with Victor Davis Hanson on Trump, Trumpism and Russiagate

In connection with the release of Encounter Books’ Vox Populi: The Perils and Promises of Populism, I interviewed the author of one its more provocative essays, the often-contrarian and always-compelling Professor Victor Davis Hanson.

During our discussion we discuss among other things:

  • The populism of President Trump
  • The insights President Trump has into the American people that his political opponents lack
  • The significance of the 2016 presidential election in history and what it augurs for the world
  • Whether Trumpism is a full-blown political movement or an outlier in U.S. history
  • How Trump is doing when it comes to constructing the four core pillars of Trumpism
  • Russiagate and Deep State subversion
  • And much more

You can listen to our interview in full here, and read a transcript of our discussion here.

The 10 Richest Ironies of the Trump Age

Beyond the noise of controversies real and invented, a 24-hour news cycle demanding perpetual outrage and hyperbole and partisan polarization on grounds more stylistic than substantive and cultural than ideological, the Trump Age has provided a signal that is incredibly clarifying.

To wit, the Trump presidency has exposed the American political elite by illuminating the internal contradictions, deep-seated biases and core hypocrisies of its players. At heart, what his presidency has revealed — due to equal parts Trump Derangement Syndrome, stylistic disdain and genuine fear that his agenda poses a threat to their livelihood — is that power is the political class’s single unifying principle.

I’ve catalogued the greatest ironies of the Trump era in a new piece at PJ Media titled “The 10 Richest Ironies of the Trump Age.”

And I’ve summarized my piece in a shareable Twitter thread that begins below:

Dems Revolt Over a Citizenship Question in the 2020 U.S. Census With Dramatic Implications

Do Americans have a right to know who is living among them? The Trump Department of Justice says yes, but Democrats are revolting when it comes to the reinstatement of a simple question on citizenship in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census.

For The Federalist I explore the emerging controversy over this issue, which is critical because population count (including noncitizens) impacts (i) the apportionment of seats in the U.S. house, (ii) the relative power of each state in the electoral college, (iii) the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funds and (iv) the drawing of potentially every political district in the country.

I also touch on the broader lack of transparency on citizenship in government data, and why it is in the political class’s interest to shield the truth from Americans — truth that hurts its narrative and threatens its agenda.

I’ve summarized my piece in a shareable Twitter thread that begins below:

Read the whole thing here.

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