Ben Weingarten

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Category: Government (Page 2 of 14)

Democrat Pollster Doug Schoen on Life Lessons from Politics, Learning from Clinton and Nixon, Threats from China and Russia and Our Damaged Institutions


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My Guest

Doug Schoen has been one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for over thirty years. A founding partner and principal strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland, he is widely recognized as one of the co-inventors of overnight polling. He has advised presidents, prime ministers and titans of private industry. He is the author of multiple books; his most recent include Putin’s Master PlanThe Nixon Effect (interview here), and Return to Winter: Russia, China, and the New Cold War Against America (interview here). Schoen is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and various other newspaper and online publications as well as Fox News.

Even though Doug and I disagree on several political issues, I am proud to call him a mentor and friend. His insights on politics and policy are not at all clouded by ideology, something rare in the world of punditry and prognostication. And his experience, judgment and wisdom are unparalleled. Perhaps most importantly, Doug and I share a love of country and belief in the imperative to defend it.

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Big Banks Had More Integrity than the Obama Admin in Refusing to Collude with Iran for Iran Deal

When Obama Pressured Big Banks To Break The Law For Iran, They Resisted

Financial institutions, though often maligned especially in the post-financial crisis world, serve a vital marketplace function. Just like all enterprises, they can be vehicles for good, such as raising capital to help businesses grow, and ill, such as engaging in fraudulent activities.

On the negative side of the ledger, there is a sordid history of banks prioritizing profit over principle (principal over principal?) when it comes to doing business with evil regimes and sinister characters — most notably Swiss institutions during and after World War II, something I am proud to say my father worked to rectify.

This is what makes revelations over the latest Iran Deal-related Obama administration scandal so astonishing.

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Victor Davis Hanson on the Decline of the American Academy, Threats to Western Civilization Foreign and Domestic, ‘The Resistance’ and its Assault on the Trump Presidency (VIDEO INTERVIEW)

For Encounter Books’ “Close Encounters” video interview series, I spoke with the eminent Hoover Institution classicist, historian and National Review Online contributor Victor Davis Hanson on a wide range of subjects from the decline of the American academy to Middle East policy, North Korea, the Mueller special counsel and the assault on the Trump presidency from all sides and much more.

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Penn Law’s Amy Wax on Being Ousted from Her First-Year Class Over Comments on Race, Performance and Bourgeois Values, Attacks on Free Speech, Criticism of Affirmative Action and Diversity, Hard Truths, Anti-Western Colleges

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My Guest

Amy Wax is the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she specializes in social welfare law and policy as well as the relationship of the family, the workplace, and labor markets. She is the author of Race, Wrongs, and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century.

Professor Wax has become a controversial figure because of her politically incorrect comments advocating in favor of bourgeois values and the WASP culture from which they stem, and in her claims that black students had generally performed at significantly lower levels than other students in her classes in context of a conversation about the downsides of affirmative action — comments that got her ousted from teaching the first year civil procedure class for which she had previously won an award for “teaching excellence.”

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Andrew C. McCarthy on Russiagate, Clinton-Trump Investigation Double Standards, Mueller’s Mandate, DOJ-FBI-CIA Politicization (Part II)

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My Guest

Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, contributing editor of National Review and author most recently of essential books on the threat of Islamic supremacism including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the JihadThe Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

In Part II of my in-depth interview with Andy, we discussed Russiagate, the pervasive unethical and at times lawless behavior of law enforcement and the intelligence community with respect to Donald Trump and Russia versus Hillary Clinton and her e-mail server, the apparently limitless mandate of Robert Mueller’s special counsel, obstruction of justice and much more.

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Andrew C. McCarthy: Lessons from the Blind Sheikh Terror Trial, What Animates Jihadists, Why U.S. Middle East Policy Fails, Collapsing Iran’s Regime (Part I)

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My Guest

Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, contributing editor of National Review and author most recently of essential books on the threat of Islamic supremacism including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the JihadThe Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

In addition to being one of the nation’s foremost national security analysts and legal experts — formerly serving as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the vaunted Southern District of New York — he is one of the most humble, insightful and devoted patriots I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

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My Interview with Leon Kass on Leading a Worthy Life in the Modern Age

For Encounter Books I recently had the opportunity to interview the eminent Professor Leon Kass on his latest book Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times.

During the interview [audiotranscript], Professor Kass and I discussed among other things how one defines a “worthy life,” finding meaning in this modern libertine (though often not libertarian) age, the decline but potential for rebirth of core values and principles of Western civilization, squaring scientific progress with ethics, rekindling a love of excellence and much more.

Disturbing Admission of Former CIA Director Inadvertently Illustrates Disastrous Politicization

Gen. Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director, has inadvertently revealed the ultimate subtext for the political establishment’s antagonism towards President Trump.

He writes in a recent New York Times editorial:

When asked for counsel these days by officers who are already in government, especially more junior ones, I remind them of their duty to help the president succeed. But then I add: ‘Protect yourself. Take notes and save them. And above all, protect the institution. America still needs it. [Emphasis mine]

This is the buried lede in an essay adapted from Gen. Hayden’s forthcoming book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies.

The focus of his piece is that we are moving into a new “post-truth era,” making it impossible for intelligence agencies to do their job.

But as I show in a new piece at The Federalist, this premise masks the true animating factor behind the words and deeds of the national security and foreign policy establishment in relation to President Trump from the 2016 campaign on.

The establishment has served under presidents before who have not been, to put it politely, paragons of truth and virtue — sometimes to the great detriment of our national security.

What really differentiates the current president from his predecessors is his willingness to speak one major inconvenient truth: The world has gotten progressively more dangerous and chaotic under establishment leadership in the post-Cold War era, in particular under the Obama-Clinton administration.

Calling out this failure, and challenging the worldview that has led to the actions that caused it, is what these individuals cannot abide because it represents an attack on their power, influence and credibility.

“[A]bove all, protect[ing the institution” is a sentiment that would suggest those in our bureaucracies would condone all manner of actions that undermine our constitutional order.

And what have we seen over the last two years in the national security and foreign policy establishment, as well as our justice system?

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Why Euphoria Over the Korean Détente is Dangerously Premature

When news broke that President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un would sit down for negotiations with a specific focus on “denuclearization,” I counseled that America deal with North Korea skeptically, cautiously, and with no illusions about the Stalinist regime’s nature.

This advice still holds in the wake of the euphoric coverage of Kim Jong-Un’s historic trip to South Korea, and the sweeping declaration the two nations signed emphasizing their dedication to ending the Korean War and normalizing relations, “denuclearization,” and ultimately reunification of the Korean peninsula.

In a new piece at The Federalist I parse the perilous Panmunjom Declaration.

As I note, words shared by Kim Jong-Un and dovish South Korean leader Moon Jae-in such as “peace,” “denuclearization,” and “unification” are at present ill-defined.

While acknowledging the magnitude of a potential “peace” on the Korean peninsula, we must remember that the terms of that peace, and who is dictating those terms, matters.

While denuclearization — if it means the dismantling and destruction of North Korea’s nuclear program in its entirety — would be excellent, how do we know this wouldn’t be a Potemkin exercise with the North concealing sites, weapons and materials of which we are unaware? Remember that North and South Korea have been party to a denuclearization agreement since 1992.

While in theory reunification might sound like a positive development, we have no idea whether South Korea’s relatively free governmental system would prevail, or if North Korea’s Communist gulag state system would dominate.

When Kim says “We will work towards preventing another horrible war…North and South Korea will be joined as one nation,” consider: What if the means to “preventing another horrible war” is the imposition of a horrible peace?

Last but not least, one should read the Panmunjom Declaration in context of Kim Jong-il’s alleged last will and testament. The declaration tracks perfectly with what Kim Jong-Un’s father advocated in terms of its means and ends. His goal was reunification under Communist rule, with NO denuclearization.

Is the North’s charm offensive a ruse? Will Kim collect all of the benefits of at best some form of a freeze and perhaps superficial dismantling efforts, only for the United States to wake up one day with a reunified Korea rid of U.S. soldiers under one-party Communist rule, and thus an even more dominant China proxy with an expanded regional footprint?

If past is prologue, America’s utmost skepticism is more than merited.

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.

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