Bad Choice Road

In 2014, I spent three months as a counselor at a summer program for blind and visually impaired youth. My time there was largely an exercise in futility. It was, among other things, a stark reminder of why I have no desire to be a parent. I did, however, try to impart certain universal truths to my teenaged students.

One of those truths was, for every action, there is a consequence. Every time you sneak out after curfew to smoke a joint, there will be consequences. Every time you get freaky with another student because you think your blind counselor is clueless as to his surroundings, there will be consequences. Every time you cheat with your sleepshades, there will be consequences.

Six years later, I have no idea whether my message took or not, but I get an A for effort.

Rush Limbaugh always said, “Elections have consequences.” The election of 2016 was no exception. The country chose to elect a man whose professional credentials included bankruptcy, beauty contests, gambling casinos and a successful reality TV show. His personal credentials included open sexual predation, a string of high-profile divorces and unashamed boorish behavior. Four years ago, the GOP (the party of family values) made a collective choice that personal character in a president no longer matters. Four years later, we have seen the consequences of these choices.

Yes, President Trump has enacted some public policies and made some judicial appointments that are favorable to conservatism, but they are overshadowed by chaos wrought by his erratic behavior. His contraction of COVID-19 and the infection of many prominent Republicans in his orbit is merely the latest (and most ironic) example of consequences befalling a leader and a base of supporters too incompetent and thickheaded to affect a course correction.

I think Ben Sasse is exactly right. We are in for a political blood bath. I think Trump is going to lose next month. I think Republicans are going to lose the Senate. I think local races in red states will feel an impact as well. Trump supporters love to tout the so-called, “shy Trump vote.” This is the phenomenon in which those who are secretly supportive of Trump don’t admit it openly to close associates or anonymous pollsters. I think the opposite will and is occurring. I think we’re in for a Trump fatigue vote. I think many voters who did take a chance on Trump four years ago are now exhausted with his antics, particularly in light of COVID-19, and are ready for a return to normalcy at the top of the electoral chain. Given the nature of many of Trump’s supporters who tread a very thin line between persuasion and bullying, it’s easier for these quietly exhausted voters just to smile, nod and go with the flow when pressed. This includes everyone outside of the base from operatives inside the D.C. Beltway to fellows and gals at the local pub who just want to have a beer in peace without being inundated by the MAGA crowd.

Sidebar: I’m not talking about the opportunistic huxters who are raking in the eager suckers through sham operations such as The Lincoln Project. I’m talking about average voters.

I don’t know, of course. Two weeks is an eternity with Trump at the helm and the chaos factor is always high. If the GOP loses, it will be a loss much deserved by a party that was all too quick to abandon its long-held principles for short-term victories. Yes, they’ll successfully appoint Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, but it will come with a very large price tag.

I take no pleasure in this forecast.

The Democrats have also squandered much of their credibility. They refused to loudly and roundly condemn the mob violence that has erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death. They insulted the intelligence of the electorate by equating racism as a comparable disease to the Coronavirus. They constantly move the definitional goal posts of long-held terms such as, “court packing,” “sexual preference,” and “white supremacy,” all in the name of a strategy of domination and cultural subjugation in the public arena of ideas. Their ‘blame and shame’ tactics with respect to all things white is reactionary, short-sighted and it will prove to have a very short shelf life before the public at large cries, enough!

Moreover, the Democrats have chosen as their candidate a man whose chief claim to the White House was won upon the coat tails of Barack Obama. Joe Biden was never a politician known for his deftness, and he now seems decrepit in comparison to his glory days in the ‘90’s. His running mate is a woman who is clearly an authority junkie, given to her own fits of political hyperbole. When they win and enact their leftist policies, whether it be packing the Supreme Court or implementing the quixotic Green New Deal, there will be consequences.

The left is lampooning Trump for holding rallies while numbers of new COVID cases are spiking around the world. This is a valid criticism. Yet, as I type this, the Women’s March is holding a national protest in Washington D.C. This protest is populated mostly by the blue state, pro-lockdown crowd. The CDC is advising people to reconsider Thanksgiving holiday dinner with family, but they are happy to go out and flaunt CDC guidelines when it suits their purposes.

Whatever happens in November, neither candidate has won my vote. Both men are singularly unfit for office. I miss the GOP, but I plan to remain an Independent voter for the foreseeable future.

To any of my former students, have you guys figured it out yet? Have you learned the lessons that the GOP forgot on election night, 2016, and the Democrats forgot after Memorial Day Weekend, 2020? Have you realized that the Bad Choice Road really exists and it only gets harder and harder to steer away from the further along you travel upon it?

If you’re reading this, I will try to impart one final lesson as a nod to the ghost of Ryan O, teacher. At some point in your life, you will face a test. Someone (likely someone you know, love and respect), will ask something of you that you know is wrong. They will have seemingly good and sound reasons for asking you to do, think or speak something that you know in your heart and mind not to be true. At that moment, the courage of your convictions will be tested. You will be standing at a fork in the road of life. One path leads to a road shrouded by the mists of uncertainty, unpopularity and disenfranchisement. The other leads to the bad choice road.

Both political parties have stood at this fork in the past four years and both have taken the wrong path. But then, who am I to judge? I have faced this test more than once and I too have failed.

Take heart, former students. When your time comes, rejoice in the knowledge that you were warned beforehand.

Ben Sasse for Senate!!!

Don Bacon for Congress!!!

Jean Stothert for Mayor!!!

Optimus Prime for President!!!

Statement of Principles

After a long, hot week in which things only seem to be getting worse on the dual fronts of the Coronavirus and public discourse, I felt it was time to post the following article from the editors at Commentary Magazine.

I post this after the owner of a local café here in Omaha was forced to shut down due to harassment after racist Facebook posts from the son of the business owner came to light. This after the business stood in good stead with the community for 44 years and had already taken a financial loss from the ravages of COVID-19. While there can be no justification for racist posts from anyone of any age, the mob tactics used to bludgeon this business owner into submission are unacceptable.

This, along with the national trend of the toppling of public statues at the hands of the mob without any preceding public discussion is deeply troubling to me.

With that statement, here is the editorial. Their principles are my principles.

We Must Stop the Great Unraveling
Editors’ Commentary
by
The Editors

Across the United States, a great unraveling is in progress. A rolling crime wave, under the guise of social activism, has left city after American city
shattered and smoldering. Armed anarchists seized territory inside Seattle with the blessing of local government. In Minneapolis and other cities, a campaign
to enfeeble or eliminate the police has gained full legitimacy. In Kentucky, the governor has vowed to provide free health care only to one racial group.
In the private sector, companies such as Uber Eats have pledged their commitment to a policy of race-conscious discrimination as well. And major media
organs sanction all of the above as proper and good.

The unraveling goes further still. Social-justice mobs have taken aim at freedom of expression, inventing new heresies daily and ruining the lives of those
who unwittingly give voice to them. Forced confessions and language proscriptions are the order of the day. Poetry, fiction, movies, and television shows—including
children’s cartoons—are canceled and excised from history. Indeed, all art and opinion are now subject to the chopping block lest they prove insufficiently
propagandistic.

To rewrite the present, the mob has rewritten the past. They have forced upon us a distorted and grotesque version of American history. With the support
of corporations and education boards, school textbooks and curricula tell of an unredeemable America founded not on the promise of human liberty but human
bondage. What’s more, this history discounts the transformative progress on racial equality for which Americans—black and white—have given their lives.

Listen and Subscribe to the Commentary Podcast
—–

Through the violent politicization of all aspects of American life, the mob aims to destroy the country as we know it and replace it with a new one—an
anti-America that trades speech for violence, police for thought police, a free press for an indoctrination network, and the respect due the citizen for
the obeisance owed the mob.

There is one way to stop the unraveling: Refuse the mob. We have seen again and again that the mob comes only for those who hope to please it. And when
it does, no amount of apology will save you. We stand against the mob and all its aims. We stand against the chaos and violence, the silencing of debate,
the purging of heretics, the rewriting of history, and the destruction of the greatest country in the world. We will defend the most majestic achievement
of humankind, the United States of America, against the most ignoble impulse in human history, to tear down that which is good.

What we stand for:

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• A plurality of opinion in the public square. We affirm that the right to voice a minority opinion is equal in every respect to the right to voice a majority
opinion. We therefore reject the public policing of opinion in all its forms.
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• A full airing of available facts and data on all topics. We welcome any impartial findings that may serve to advance discussion. No objective facts are
beyond the bounds of deliberation and debate.
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• A rejection of cancel culture and all it entails. We renounce enemies lists, online/media mobs, and professional scalp hunts.
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• Clear bright lines between speech and violence. We affirm that speech, spoken or written, and no matter how egregious, is not equivalent in any way to
violence. Similarly, physical violence is not a mode of speech.
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• An absolute rejection of political violence. We affirm that lawless violence, even in the service of a just cause, is wrong—no exceptions or excuses.
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We hope you will join us.
The Editors

Demented Games in the Hall of Mirrors

“There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.”
Raymond Chandler

We live in a very reactionary time. We now live in an age when the simple click of a mouse or a few keystrokes can render us any sort of truth we want to hear, regardless of its factual basis.

Donald Trump is a very reactionary individual. He is probably the most reactionary president I’ve seen in my lifetime. In the spirit of his unscrupulous, performative nature, I’m tempted to say that he is the most reactionary president ever in the whole history of the United States. But I wasn’t alive during the reign of Andrew Jackson or Woodrow Wilson, so I wouldn’t really know.

Yet, the presidency of Donald Trump was itself a reaction. This truth crystallized for me a few days ago when I read Jonah Goldberg’s weekly column in the L.A. Times, in which he makes a compelling case that Mitt Romney is owed an apology; an apology that he’ll never get. Romney played nice during both of his bids for the White House in 2008 and 2012. He ran an honest campaign, selected Paul Ryan (another decent man) as his running mate and never really hit Obama below the belt as many felt he should.

Sidebar: When I say, “Below the belt,” I’m talking about Obama’s birth certificate.

Still, despite his above board, straight-laced strategy, Romney was savaged by the press and his opponents as if he were the anti-Christ. He lost both contests. Now, he stands in unapologetic opposition to Trump when he feels it is necessary and the left speaks well of him, as if their below-the-belt jabs never happened.

Come to think of it, the left sure did love John McCain, as long as he was sticking it to a Republican. They championed him during his 2000 presidential run. They beat the hell out of him as he was daring to run against the first African-American candidate eighty years later. The pendulum swung back once again when he torpedoed GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. And they certainly loved him after he died. Those on the right felt that McCain was a traitor who never fought as hard as he should have. And the same is true for George W. Bush, really. He endured eight years of savagery and remained a class act through the entirety of his two terms, much to the consternation of many on his right flank.

Sidebar: I voted for Mitt Romney both times he ran and never regretted that choice. John McCain wasn’t my first or second choice. But I never doubted his character.

One president and two failed presidential candidates, and our answer to, “We need a fighter,” is Donald freakin’ Trump!? Four years ago, I argued that this was like using a nuclear bomb to stop a Sherman tank. No, I don’t believe that Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie or even Carly Fiorina would have been capable of stopping Hillary Clinton. My guy was Marco Rubio. Still… Donald Trump!?

He was and is a reactionary and a reaction. He was a sad, self-fulfilling prophecy that came true for the GOP. Republicans were often spuriously accused of racism, sexism, classism and a host of other isms, but we chose a man who largely made the charges come true. The meek, tepid responses and the passive non-responses of the congressional figures who might have stood up to him served as a sad counterpoint to the enthusiastic leg-humping of his fan base, who contorted themselves into all sorts of ridiculous postures and positions in order to justify the putrid things he would say and tweet at a whim. Those that dared to publicly stand up to Trump, men like James Mattis and Mark Milley, men who have served their country honorably, have been minimized, marginalized and ridiculed. It has been heartbreaking to me to watch people whom I know to be intelligent and of decent character engage in this demented game of Twister that our president would have them play.

In playing this demented game, the right has painted itself into a neat and tidy corner. Now, when we are accused of racism, misogyny, nativism, etc,, we can offer the standard retort, “No we’re not!” All our opponents have to do is answer, “Trump was your standard bearer.”

If all two of you who read this blog are leftists, you have to be nodding your heads with glee. This is understandable. It feels like you’re winning right now. Joe Biden is an unlikely hero, but he’s polling ahead across the board. Maybe the bulk of America has Trump fatigue. Yet, most of you are so blindly partisan that you don’t realize that you are painting yourselves into the same sort of corner in which Republicans are imprisoned.

I’m not talking about the encroachment of the lumbering juggernaut of socialism. The current racial unrest is a much better example.

Three months ago, America was stricken by the same pandemic that had spread across the rest of the world. We were forced to largely shut down, stay home and dawn masks and gloves if we went out. People home schooled their kids, swarmed grocery stores in a panic and watched, mouths agape as the economy tanked. The months passed, the weather warmed up and new battlegrounds began to emerge over masks, governmental health restrictions and miracle cures.

Then, on Memorial Day, George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis cop, and all bets were off.

My favorite contortion of logic came from public epidemiologists who claimed that racism was a worse disease than the Coronavirus. Protests and civil disobedience were the best antidote for this metaphoric illness that has plagued our nation for centuries; a so-called cure that directly contradicts all of the guidelines and recommendations that have poured forth from medical experts since the genesis of the COVID-19 crisis.

It will take a couple more weeks before we begin to understand the consequences of two weeks of perpetual mass public gatherings, but no matter how it turns out, the pro-lockdown crowd, which is largely comprised of those who stand in deference to governmental authority, will lose the argument. If we see a spike in infections, it may very well result in the strain on our medical infrastructure that the forecasters of doom such as Scott Gottlieb have been warning about for months. That will only serve to further damage our economy, which is now officially in a recession. If we don’t see a noticeable uptick in numbers, the anti-lockdown crowd, which is largely comprised of those who stand in skepticism of governmental authority (except for the authority of Trump, of course), will claim victory in the face of a bunch of alarmist pansies who can’t wait to bend over for their tyrannical overlords. And they may very well adopt this view, even if the second wave of mass infections doesn’t come until autumn or winter. And they will most certainly be spearheaded by the president of the U.S.

Sure, the left can argue that many of your Ted Nugent types would flaunt health restrictions regardless of the consequences, but it doesn’t matter. Like the GOP of four years ago, progressives have all collectively peed their credibility into a hot, steaming trough of reflexive political opportunism.

The same thing goes for looting. Once considered to be a universal act of lawlessness that should be condemned by all, it is now romanticized by a bunch of white progressives who want to justify and apologize for acts of theft and destruction, as long as it doesn’t intrude upon their own personal domain. During the first week of turbulence, social media was rife with images of business owners who stood aghast as their buildings were looted and vandalized by thugs against whom they incorrectly assumed their sympathetic political viewpoints inoculated them. When peaceful protests mushroom into riots, the apologists doubled down, refusing to draw a reasonable distinction between lawful protests born of the First Amendment and criminal mob violence. Pseudo intellectuals, advocacy journalists and keyboard warriors made spurious comparisons of criminal rioting to the Boston Tea Party, wrote up sad, guilt-drenched think pieces about suburban white women who have to persuade themselves not to feel bad for a Walgreen’s that got trashed, and downplayed the existence of anarchists and other criminals who use events just like these for personal gain.

Then came the slogans; pop a top on a cold can of sophomoric simplicity and chug it down. President Trump’s favorite was and is, “Make America great again.” The left loves its slogans, too. Nothing as innocuous as, “Yes we can!” Their current favorite is, “Abolish the police.” But wait… It’s not really, “Abolish!” It’s, “Defund.” Or is it, “Disband?” When challenged on the finer points of a future without police, the left engages in a constant campaign of redefinition and redirection. Black Lives Matter, the ACLU and many other radical left organizations quickly adopted the posture of stripping down local police departments for parts without really taking the time to understand the long term consequences of what they are proposing. Corporations, non-profits and community organizations hopped on the band wagon in quixotic fashion, never bothering to dig into what these activists are actually conveying in their messaging.

13 days after George Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis City Council adopted a statement proposing a police-free city. When questioned about the finer points by CNN, the president of the council retreated to the banal progressive talking point of so-called, “White privilege.”

Joe Biden and even Bernie Sanders have publicly opposed the idea of defunding the cops, but the notion rolls on like a bowling ball down an escalator, pushed and kicked by reactionary leftists who rejoice in this sudden shift in momentum. It is the exact same procession that hopped aboard the Trump train; different faces and voices, but the same impulsive lockstep.

Meanwhile, 1203 miles East of Minneapolis, the editorial board of the New York Times dared to publish an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton (Republican) defending the notion of using the military to back up the local police in riot-ravaged areas. He wrote it in the wake of a tweet from Trump, who threatened to sick the military on states if governors couldn’t or wouldn’t get a handle on the violence. Half the staff of the NYT engaged in open revolt, claiming that such a piece makes African-Americans feel, “Unsafe.” Several days later, the junior editor was sent to the professional guillotine and the new editor immediately implemented a, “If you feel something, say something,” edict. Journalists such as Bari Weiss who objected to the suppression of varied viewpoints and express concern over the state of journalism, were roundly minimized, marginalized and ridiculed.

Naturally, the hurtling bowling ball of reactionism doesn’t stop at the political gates. HBO pulled Gone With the Wind from its Max platform in the name of racial sensitivity. Discussions now rage about the scrubbing of cops from television and literary crime fiction as sources of positive characterization. Supposed reality-based cop shows have been quickly pulled from TV line-ups. On social media, classic terms such as, “Racism,” and, “Prejudice,” are now being replaced with harsher terms like, “Anti-black.” More statues symbolizing the Confederacy have come toppling down at the hands of the mob. NASCAR just banned the Confederate flag from all events.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with Confederate symbols disappearing from the public, but the kneejerk nature of all of this at the hands of rioters, weak-spirited politicians and timid corporate executives has an unpalatable Orwellian feel to me. It reminds me of Trump’s promise, “We’re gonna win so much, you’ll be sick of winning.”

I don’t even wanna talk about Drew Brees. I guess he’s been scolded by his wife, now.

If the Republicans are playing a sad game of demented Twister, the Democrats and progressives are playing a dangerous game of demented Jenga. They have no idea what they are building. They have no idea what it is supposed to look like. But they seem to be completely unaware or apathetic to the fact that, if they pull the wrong piece out of place, the whole cockeyed structure of half-truths and slogans comes crashing down. When it does, don’t call 911 and expect a cop to show up to help you pick up the pieces.

Where does this all end? Hell, I have no idea. My crystal ball broke after the 2016 election. I was sure Joe Biden wouldn’t make it this far. Now, I’m not certain he won’t win the Oval Office, no matter who he chooses in his grand game of Veepstakes. I would like to think that the white middle class will eventually grow fatigued with the ‘blame and shame’ strategy that is currently proving to be so effective.

History indicates that political victors often overreach. If the right overreached with the selection and election of Donald Trump, the left may overreach when and if this socio-political fad lasts beyond the next few news cycles. But what damage will be done in the meantime? Sooner or later, political theories either remain in an ethereal, idyllic void of ideology that result in little more than dinner conversation, or graduate down to the sausage factory of fermented public policy. If the latter occurs, we may yet get to watch a great and terrible experiment of a city with a diminished or non-existent police force.

It already appears to be happening in Seattle. I’d like to sit back, grab a bag of Peanut Butter M N M’s and laugh, but Katy is over there. What if she gets hurt?

Or maybe it will be worse and history will repeat itself. Maybe a few cops will have to be killed in the name of social justice before the brakes are applied. The BLM movement was gaining traction after Ferguson and Baltimore until several cops were hunted down and executed in the name of occupational retribution. Or it might be something altogether less injurious. The Women’s March was all the rage three years ago until a series of articles exposed strains of antisemitism within its leadership and many public and private entities who expressed their support at the beginning quickly distanced themselves. After BLM and the ACLU spend some time in the public limelight, the honeymoon phase with the mainstream left may end and they will be scrutinized. Like Donald Trump, they will feel powerful and will be disinclined to hide who they really are. At that point, the public at large can take a breath in the cool of post-emotional rationality and judge for themselves.

Honestly, I think most leftists know full well that no modern society can exist without a peacekeeping force to protect it. They know that every bit as much as most Trump supporters always knew that we would never be able to force Mexico to pay for our great big border wall. But in the heat of battle and with the glow of victory just over the horizon, who really cares about the long term? This is the here and now!

Or maybe we’ll all be victims of COVID-19. A month from now, social and mainstream media outlets may be off the racial justice trend and back to the battle of masks and social distancing. Whatever happens, I hope all of you are comfortable in your respective corners. You may be contented in your echo chambers, but eventually, you will discover that you’re really living in a funhouse hall of mirrors.

There are days when I truly envy you. I wish to hell I could be a full-throated Trump supporter. I wish I could stand up in a heady crowd and scream, “Black Lives Matter,” without thinking about the deeper implications. It’s just too hard when you live in the immense, foggy expanse of gray between those two bipolar and binary safe zones. So this is me, waving to the very few of you (left, right or center), who have the self-awareness to be in this terribly lonely place with me.

Hi there. I am Ryan O, the blind guy. I am a conservative who believes that we should open up our economy again while practicing medical safety measures out of concern for others. I am a conservative who believes that peaceful protests are the hallmark of a democracy, while mob violence is antithetical to it. I am a conservative who believes that the police and the African-American community need each other. I am a conservative who believes that you can respect the American flag while simultaneously condemning racism and police brutality. I am a conservative who believes that a president leads by example through good character. I am a conservative who believes that words carry meaning and consequence; words like, “Believe all women,” “Defund the police,” and “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” I am a conservative who believes that I have miles to go before I sleep.

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made. Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made, nothing entirely straight can be built.”
Immanuel Kant

Addendum: Apparently, the removal of Gone With the Wind from the HBO Max platform is not permanent. Several African-American actors are going to record an introduction giving it historical context. This is cool.

Schadenfreude

This article comes from David French at the newly-formed Dispatch. Everyone who cares about fact-driven conservative journalism should subscribe. It is so important that I am placing it here as a snapshot in time.

As Tara Reade’s Evidence Against Joe Biden Builds, All the Chickens Come Home to Roost
When everyone abandons norms, who is left to trust?

David French
Apr 28

I’m not generally a person given to schadenfreude. I try to be empathetic and sympathetic. I really do. But there are times when the consequences of terrible ideas become so plain, and the partisan boxes we build become so confining, that it’s hard not to take at least a degree of pleasure in the sudden public realization that old standards of fairness, due process, and personal character just might have some merit.
Exactly two weeks ago, I wrote a rather lengthy assessment of the Tara Reade’s case against Joe Biden and the conservative case for media hypocrisy in the coverage of Reade’s claims. My verdict was simple. Reade’s claims were shaky. The claims against key media outlets were strong. They did, in fact, apply different reporting standards to claims against Brett Kavanaugh and Biden.
Regarding the claims against Biden, here was my summary:
At the end of the day, however, we’re left with a 27-year-old claim with a single anonymous corroboration that’s inconsistent with the claimant’s own previous accounts and is (so far) unsupported by any other claim of similar behavior. I’m troubled but unconvinced. Based on the current state of the evidence, I don’t think it’s likely that Biden assaulted Reade.
Since I published the newsletter, however, the evidence against Biden has grown stronger. Last week we learned that Reade’s mother apparently called in to the Larry King show in 1993 and made the following, rather vague claim:
“Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington?” she asks. “My daughter has just left there after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.
It’s not proof of sexual assault by any means, but it’s at least evidence that Reade told her mother that something untoward had happened. Then, Business Insiderupped the ante, locating two additional sources who substantiated Reade’s claims:
Now two more sources have come forward to corroborate certain details about Reade’s claims. One of them — a former neighbor of Reade’s — has told Insider for the first time, on the record, that Reade disclosed details about the alleged assault to her in the mid-1990s.
“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” Lynda LaCasse, who lived next door to Reade in the mid-’90s, told Insider.
The other source, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the office of a California state senator in the mid-’90s, told Insider that she recalls Reade complaining at the time that her former boss in Washington, DC, had sexually harassed her, and that she had been fired after raising concerns.
The New York Times’s Michelle Goldberg summed up the effect of these new disclosures nicely:
Michelle Goldberg @michelleinbklyn
This is the most persuasive corroborating evidence that has come out so far. What a nightmare.
Rich McHugh @RichMcHugh
NEW: A former neighbor of Joe Biden’s accuser Tara Reade has come forward, on the record, to corroborate her sexual assault account, saying Reade discussed the allegations in detail in the mid-1990s. https://t.co/EyhJDd0qNJ
April 27th 2020
1,317 Retweets6,741 Likes

What a nightmare indeed, for everyone. Every single side of this story is now living with the consequences of dreadful mistakes. Joe Biden is now confronting the “believe women” movement he helped build. Key media outlets and multiple media figures are now face-to-face with their own, post-Kavanaugh double standards. And, finally, the GOP is left without an arrow in its quiver against the Democratic nominee because of its own profound moral compromise.
Let’s start with Biden’s dilemma. There’s of course the easy contrast with the statements he made during the Kavanaugh controversy, when he said a woman’s claims should begin with a presumption of truth:
“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time. But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron.”
But lest you think this is a one-quote gotcha, we can’t forget that Biden was an advocate for Obama administration policies that systematically dismantled due process protections for college students accused of sexual misconduct. It’s a brutal story—one that I’ve covered time and time again.
To make a long story short, in 2011 the Obama Department of Education published a “Dear Colleague letter” that dramatically reduced due process protections for accused students at campuses from coast-to-coast. The administration mandated a low burden of proof (preponderance of the evidence), expanded the definition of sexual misconduct, and failed to preserve for the accused even the most basic right to confront their accuser with cross-examination.
The result was a legal disaster. Hundreds of accused students have sued their schools, courts all over the country have overturned sexual misconduct findings and struck down deficient campus procedures. The system was so broken in California that its progressive judiciary halted proceedings in more than 70 sexual misconduct cases to fix the broken process.
Yet as Emily Yoffe wrote last year in Politico, Biden repeatedly spoke about the campus sexual assault controversy in crude caricatures, supported the administration’s Title IX reforms, and then directly attacked proposed Trump administration reforms that restored traditional due process protections in campus adjudications, including the right of cross examination.
To put it another way, the Obama administration broke campus due process to favor sexual assault accusers, Biden championed that effort, and he opposed the restoration of the most basic due process rights. And now he’s in the crosshairs of a serious complaint.
But Biden of course isn’t the only party sleeping in the beds they made. I don’t need to belabor the stunning differences in the way the New York Times, The New Yorker, and many other outlets covered the claims against Biden compared with their coverage of claims against Brett Kavanaugh. I wrote about the double standard two weeks ago:
Writing in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow published the completely unsubstantiated claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to a woman named Deborah Ramirez. Not only did she confess to drinking heavily and to memory gaps, she said that she only came forward “after six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney.”
Even worse, The New Yorker stated that the magazine “has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party.” (Emphasis added.) That’s extraordinary. The claim never should have made it to print. Not only did it reach The New Yorker’s prestigious pages, but virtually every other prestige media outlet carried the claims immediately.
But the negligence surrounding Ramirez’s claims is nothing compared to the widespread press negligence and outright recklessness in reporting Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick’s fantastical and grotesque claims that she saw Kavanaugh “waiting his turn” for gang rapes after facilitating them by spiking or drugging the punch at high school parties. The mainstream media reporting on the claim was immediate and prominent. On Twitter, journalist after journalist immediately credited her claims.
To be perfectly clear, the care that media outlets have taken with the Biden allegations should be the standard. When a claim is made, investigate it carefully and comprehensively before rushing it to print. And in the absence of solid evidence, claims should not generate an avalanche of “I believe women” think pieces based on unrelated experiences, teen movies (Vox actually published a piece that used the John Hughes movie Sixteen Candles to bolster the rape claim against Kavanuagh)or shaky social science (like unverifiable statistics claiming very low rates of false rape allegations).
The rush to convict Kavanaugh represented one of the most disturbing media moments of my career, and I’m hardly conservative America’s harshest media critic.
Finally, let’s talk about the GOP. What is it going to do, pray tell, with the Biden allegation besides harp on about media hypocrisy? Can it claim in any way that Reade’s allegations are material to Biden’s bid for the presidency? After all, more than a dozen women have accused Donald Trump of various forms of misconduct, there’s a tape of Trump bragging about grabbing women by the genitals, and his lawyer is currently sitting in prison for his participation in a criminal scheme to conceal hush money payments to a porn star.
Moreover, while the allegations against Trump vary in credibility, some are supported by considerable corroborating evidence. For example, former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos accused Trump of kissing her without consent in 2007, grabbing her breast, and thrusting his genitals up against her. She filed a defamation case against Trump after he said that he never “met her in a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago.”
She not only claims that she told “family and friends” about the incident and that she reached out to legal counsel to consider legal action as early as 2011, but discovery in the case has produced phone logs and itineraries that Zervos claims corroborate her timeline and her account of communication with Trump. And that’s but one claim.
It is so painfully obvious that each and every error outlined above would have painful consequences. No one should think that norms of due process and presumptions of innocence that have been built up over centuries of painful human experience can be cast aside by any person or political party without soon facing their own challenge in responding to presumptions of guilt and lowered burdens of proof.
Media organizations that set irresponsible precedents when confronting a conservative judicial nominee should not be surprised when critics rightly highlight the care they take in reporting on a Democratic presidential candidate.
Finally, a political party that thoroughly discards any meaningful character test for president—including by discarding any real concern as to whether its nominee has abused women—cannot then be surprised when the press and the public ultimately treat accusations against a political opponent with a yawn and a shrug. “Character for thee, but not for me” persuades no one.
And so, here we are, reminded once again that presumptions of innocence are important, careful reporting is a professional necessity, and personal integrity is of paramount importance in national leaders. Yet few of our leading national institutions are well-equipped to make that case. Is it any wonder that Americans deeply distrust virtually every significant player in the American political system?

Radio Man

I went to school at Kearney High, graduating in 1993. I hated school. I viewed it as a prison. But it wasn’t without its charms. Most of those charms were wholly unavailable to me because, frankly, I was completely clueless about girls. Aside from that, Kearney High was one of two high schools in the state of Nebraska blessed with an open campus during the lunch period. An open campus simply meant that students were allowed to leave the school and stuff themselves with wonderfully unhealthy fast food before returning to the drudgery of the classroom. If you were under 16 and confined to walking, you might have been able to make it to 7/11 or Dairy Queen for a quick bite before the clock ran out.

My dad availed himself of this policy by taking me to lunch once a week. One day, in the autumn of 1990 when I was a sophomore, I jumped in the truck and heard a rich, robust voice coming out of the radio. He was going on and on about the Democrats. The only line I remember from his monologue was something to the effect of, “If Bush wins this war, the Democrats won’t have a prayer in two years.” This was about three months after the U.S. had invaded Kuwait.

“Ryan,” Dad said, “You would do well to listen to Rush. He is a very analytical thinker.”

To solidify his point, Dad drove us through Runza and I ate my cheese runza and crinkly fries sitting in the passenger seat of his Blue Ford pick-up somewhere in a park with the windows down as Rush H. Limbaugh III went on and on about the war, President Bush and evil Democrats.

At the time, I assumed that Dad urged me to listen to Rush because he wanted me to be informed about current events from a conservative perspective. Many years later, I came to suspect that Dad had an ulterior motive. I think he wanted me to be inspired by Rush so that I would pursue my dream of one day being a radio personality, just as Rush had done back in the 1970’s.

I was not a popular kid in high school. Like Rush, I was the overweight kid with few friends and no social life. Unlike Rush, I was the sole blind kid at my school. Aside from my dad and a kid named Mike, I seldom went out to lunch with friends, nor was I invited to sit at anyone’s table in the cafeteria. I began to use the school’s Resource Room to eat alone. One day, I found a dusty old clock radio sitting in a corner behind a box of paper. I plugged it in, clicked it to A.M. and spun the tuning dial until I heard Rush Limbaugh’s unmistakable voice issuing from the tinny speaker.

For the next two years, it was not uncommon for me to be sitting alone in the Resource Room during the lunch period with a cheeseburger and fries, orange juice, a chocolate sundae and Rush on the radio. Michelle Obama would’ve been proud.

I won’t revise history and tell you that I preferred this daily scenario. I would much rather have been copping a hurried feel in the back seat of a car with Amy, Jennifer, Heather or a dozen other girls. I had fantasies of steaming up their windows as they panted, “Ryan! Ring my bell before KHS rings theirs!”

With fictional dialogue like that, gentle readers, you can probably understand why I didn’t come to know a woman carnally until I was 18. At first, Rush was a coping mechanism. If I was going to be alone anyway, I may as well be entertained and informed.

One day, Mrs. Redman walked through, stopped, poked my shoulder and said, “Ryan. What. Is. That?”

“Wuhhsss ermmmbawww,” I said around a mouth full of cheap pizza.

“Bummer. I thought you were smarter than that,” she said, and stormed off.

Mrs. Black, one of my Special Ed teachers, also wasn’t a fan of Rush.

“I hate the way he talks about teachers. Paid summer vacations? BS! I’ll bet I put in more hours on nights and weekends grading papers than he ever did on the radio.”

Not all of my teachers were anti-Rush. Mrs. Wolfe, my other Special Ed instructor, liked his style and flair. She even routinely read to me from Rush’s Limbaugh Letter. In fact, her husband worked at KGFW, the local radio station that carried Rush’s daily program.

Like Rush, I started doing gigs on local radio while I was still a teenager. Rush was a D.J., while I merely did little news spots. My official title was, KGFW’s Kearney High Correspondent. It wasn’t sexy work like being a D.J., but it was my official entrance into the radio field.

I wasn’t as lonely in college as I was in high school. I still wasn’t popular. I wasn’t a frat boy. I was more of a dorm rat, though I did serve in student government for a time. I did form a few friendships and got laid here and there. I skipped a lot of classes, hid my lousy grades from my folks and eventually, became active in the NFB. Despite my decided lack of enthusiasm for academics, I attended enough classes to hear the siren song of liberalism from the mouths of professors of all stripes; English lit, Sociology, History, more English Lit, Criminal Justice, political science, Broadcast Journalism and yet more English Lit when I needed to fill a credit here or there. I was almost seduced. My fellow students didn’t pull me back from the brink. Rush was responsible for talking me down from the ledge.

Like Rush, I ultimately dropped out of college in 1998, much to the disappointment of my parents. Dad wanted me to emulate Rush, but this wasn’t what he had in mind. Unlike Rush, I never went back home to live with Mom and Dad. Eventually, I did return to college and repaired my decrepit GPA in 2002.

In retrospect, Rush was in his prime during the ‘90’s. Like every great drama, fiction or nonfiction, a hero is only as good as the villain whom he faces. Rush had the perfect foil in President Bill Clinton. Not only did the 42nd POTUS champion every liberal cause that Rush decried, but he typified the lack of character that Rush claimed exemplified the entirety of the political left. Rush didn’t have to embellish a thing. President Clinton made himself a susceptible target. From Hillary to White Water to Monica Lewinsky, Slick Willie proved to be Rush’s most prominent foe again and again for eight glorious years. Many credited Rush for the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994, which lead to the so-called, “Gingrich Revolution.”

It wasn’t just that Rush spoke plainly to the masses about conservatism. He was in the Republican culture, but not of it. He shattered the esoteric crystal ceiling, carefully forged by high-brow types like William F. Buckley, George Will and Charles Krauthammer, filtering politics and culture down to the lowly pond dwellers in The South, Fly-Over Country, the rugged West and all of those lonely souls in big, blue cities where leftism holds sway. As he put it, he was the man who, “Made the complex understandable.” And it wasn’t merely a facade. He was a man who was truly erudite in politics, but who was able to translate beltway snobbery into decipherable colloquialism.

It was not uncommon to hear Rush spout off self-referential phrases such as, “Talent on loan from God,” “… With half my brain tied behind my back, just to make it fair,” and “Having more fun than any human being should be allowed to have.” His numerous critics would accuse him of having an ego surpassed only by his ample frame, but I call BS. His apparent outsized bravado was pure radio shtick; part of his carefully-crafted public persona meant to endear himself to his fans and rankle his detractors. Every celebrity does it to one degree or another. I always suspected that he was a man of humility bordering on diffidence off-mic.

I loved Rush not only because of what he believed, but because of how he delivered his message. Radio had been in my blood since I was eight years old. It brought me voices as wide-ranging as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Jim Bohannon, William Conrad, George Strait, Jack Webb, Rick Dees and Casey Kasem.

Sidebar: Does anyone remember Talknet? Gawd!!! How did I ever get so bored that I listened to the likes of Bruce Williams and Sally Jessy Raphael? That further explains my unwanted teenaged celibacy. I was really a loser radio nerd.

From the moment that I heard his first utterance, I knew that Rush Limbaugh was a master of the medium. Everything from his massively controversial “Caller Abortion,” to his deliberately noisy rending of a newspaper in front of the mic after reading a repulsive story, to the parodies delivered by white comedian Paul Shanklin, proved that Rush was born to be on the air. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Rush wasn’t merely a former politician, political pundit or hack journalist slinging hash on the side. He was the real radio deal. How can you not idolize a guy like that?

It’s worth pointing out that Rush almost single-handedly saved A.M. radio in the 1990’s. He owed a large debt to President Reagan, who repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. This antiquated, inflexible legislation forced radio stations to air both sides of any controversial issue, subjecting said stations to hefty penalties from the Federal Communications Commission if they failed to comply. It had the intended consequence of stifling political speech. Many stations, particularly in smaller markets, found it easier to avoid controversy altogether, rather than paying punitive fines. This is why the ‘70’s and ‘80’s airwaves were cluttered with innocuous fluff such as the afore-mentioned Talknet, Larry King, music, hard news and of course, sports.

In the ‘90’s, Rush spiced up the A.M. band with his distinctive style and viewpoint. It didn’t take long for an army of Rush imitators to rise up in his wake. They were an entire cadre of talk show hosts who all sounded different from Rush, but yet, very similar. Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Mark Levin, Michael Savage and Bill O’Reilly all owed their success to the big man seated behind the golden EIB microphone. He created a format that still dominates the medium to this day.

The proliferation of cable TV in the ‘90’s also heralded the rise of Fox News, which gave half the country a small-screen voice. Rush rightly needled Roger Ailes, claiming that Fox News merely mimicked his style with camera-friendly blonds rather than fat guys with faces for radio.

My interest in Rush ebbed a bit after I left college in 1998. I worked at Gallup for a time and was often in my cubical when Rush’s show aired on KLIN from 11 to two. Then, in November of 2000, our one-way love affair was rekindled when the great Bush V. Gore fiasco went down. Luckily, I had transferred to early evenings at Gallup, so I could hear Rush’s show during the day. Thus, I sat transfixed as the whole drama unfolded, until Al Gore finally conceded on December 13.

After W won, Rush’s critics predicted doom. They were certain that his popularity would wane now that his arch nemesis was out of office. But, like Jack Bauer, Rush’s popularity only grew, with no small thanks to Osama bin Laden, along with the Iraqi and Afghani conflicts and No Child Left Behind.

Rush seemed all but invincible when he bounced back from acute hearing loss in 2001. A deaf guy working in an audio medium!? Ain’t life ironic? His bulletproof status was further crystallized when he took a hiatus and underwent rehab for addiction to pain killers in 2003 and came back to an audience who readily forgave his apparent legal transgressions. I didn’t know it then, but our haste in overlooking his evident hypocrisy regarding his hardcore views on the selling and using of narcotics would serve as a bit of dark foreshadowing of things to come.

I stuck with Rush through it all; W’s second election, Hurricane Katrina, TARP, my move to Denver, Obama’s two elections, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, the GOP victories in the House and Senate and the Gang of Eight.

Contrary to what you might think, Donald Trump was not responsible for my conversion away from Dittohead status. My passion for Rush had already cooled before Trump’s grand descent on his escalator in June of 2015. This was due to a local conservative host on Denver’s A.M. blowtorch, KOA, named Mike Rosen.

When I first heard Mike, I instantly compared him to Rush. This guy is as dry as a popcorn fart, I thought. I can’t believe he’s lasted this long.

That was in September, 2007. Two years later, Rosen was my go-to guy. I couldn’t help but notice that, while Rush seldom had callers who disagreed with him on the air, Mike Rosen welcomed them. Rush would usually hang up on a caller before delving into the guts of a debate. By contrast, Mike would revel in substantive disagreement. Sometimes, he would keep after a caller, often holding him/her over for two or three segments until the topic of choice was exhausted. While Rush was the radio guy adept at translating the nebulous world of politics to its lowest common denominator, Rosen was the irascible professor who performed deep, nuanced dives on issues. It wasn’t Rush, but Mike Rosen who kept me sane through most of the Obama years, especially when I went to work in The Peoples’ Republic of Boulder in 2014.

Sidebar: Years before I moved to Denver, Mike Rosen was a guest host for Rush while he was in rehab. He only filled in once or twice. He was always very tight-lipped about why he had never been asked back more frequently. Possibly, it was because of Rosen’s dryer, more intellectual style, or maybe it was because Rosen was less concerned with social issues like abortion or gay marriage than was Rush.

I was shaving in the shower at my folks’ place on Labor Day weekend, 2015. I had Rush on my waterproof blue tooth speaker and I was putting lather on my face when he said, “I know a lot of people are wary of Trump, or don’t like Trump, but I gotta tell ya, folks… I know him and I think he really means what he says.” I nearly slipped and cut my lip.

If Rush had been my man crush, this was where it officially ended. Still, though I seldom listened to Rush after that, I kept a place of affection for him in my radio-loving heart.

This all changed in August of 2016, when a call between Rush and a listener named Rick made a splash on social media. It was after Trump had conquered the GOP primaries, but before the general election. Rick was beseeching Rush to explain how he could support Trump when he knew Trump was lying about his stance on immigration, specifically his intention to deport entire families, including native-born children.

Rush retorted, “I guess the thing is, this is gonna enrage you. You know, I could choose a path here to try to mollify you, but I never took him seriously on this!”

Rick responded, “10 million people did!”

Rush’s response was very illuminating:

“Yeah, and they still don’t care. My point is they still don’t care. They’re gonna stick with him no matter what.”

More dark foreshadowing. Forget the man crush. The genie was out of the bottle and could never be returned. If Rush never took Trump’s rhetoric seriously, what else didn’t he take seriously over the years? What other disingenuousness did he impart under the banner of rock-ribbed conservatism? Did he really reconcile the lascivious behavior of Donald Trump to that of Bill Clinton, or did he just, “Evolve,” as Barack Obama did on the issue of gay marriage?

In fairness, I don’t think Trump was Rush’s first choice for the Oval Office. I think Ted Cruz was his guy, but Rush was too smart to openly endorse him. Rush often admitted that his first order of business as a radio personality was to part people from their money. This is consistent with capitalism. However, the product which he was selling to his advertisers and his audience was truth, refracted through the clear lens of conservatism. “America’s truth detector,” he would often call himself. Yet, the truth detector seemed to undergo a massive recalibration once Donald Trump stormed the beaches of the GOP establishment.

Rush was careful not to alienate Trump and his fanatical base in the early stages. Once Ted Cruz was out, Rush read the tealeaves and realized that, if he wanted to stay relevant, his best bet was to go all in for The Donald. He simply capitulated much earlier than did many of his D.C. beltway counterparts. As a businessman, I understand him. As a principled conservative, I felt betrayed. In the wake of his admission, and with the retirement of Mike Rosen at the end of 2015, I began to ignore Rush altogether in favor of podcasts by Ben Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg and John Podhoretz.

Sidebar: My only exposure to conservative publications such as National Review, The Weekly Standard and Commentary Magazine came when Rush would read an excerpt and analyze it. Those were niche offerings that were not available in braille or audio format. Now, with the internet and my accessible phone and computer, I can read it all. How times change.

Six days ago, I was sitting in the control room fighting off the mid-morning black hole when The Chief came in and informed me that Rush had announced that he has been diagnosed with advanced stage four lung cancer. He was taking a few days off for immediate and aggressive treatment. My emotional response was muted. There was a time when I would have cried on the spot. There was a time when I might have taken the day off work. As it was, I just stopped for a few seconds and absorbed the sorrow, not for Rush so much, but for the respect for him that I once carried. I had already grieved for the passing of Rush Limbaugh three years ago.

The responses to the bombshell were predictable. His fans prayed for him. His enemies rejoiced. The media pounced, feigning empathy mixed with barely-suppressed glee at the likely demise of one of their fiercest critics. Even President Trump was predictable in his unpredictability, awarding Rush the American Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address.

I rightly anticipated the mirthful reaction to Rush’s announcement by many on the left. It was the same response I saw on social media when Andrew Breitbart died seven years ago. It was the same reaction I felt when I learned that Ted Kennedy had died. To a point, I get it. Rush was an agent provocateur of the left for decades. From Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, Rush showed no mercy to those who carried the banner for the other side. I’m sure they feel justified in their vitriolic response to his predicament.

But I wonder how many keyboard warriors have stood at a loved one’s bed side and watched them gasp out their final breaths as the cancer finally claimed them. I wonder how many of them have sat and wept with a cancer victim as they try to decide whether or not to endure the interminable agony of chemotherapy for a result that may ultimately be rendered moot. Some things transcend the bitter divide of politics, and one of them is cancer.

I don’t think there’s a single person who hasn’t been touched by cancer, either directly or indirectly. In 1995, my mother had a brush with it. It was a very scary time for all of us. She had surgery and lost part of her shoulder and a small spot was removed from her lung. Aside from the surgical scars, she’s been healthy for the last 25 years. I’ve also had several friends who have lost parents, spouses, siblings and friends to cancer. I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy.

As for Rush, I wonder if he has any sense of the irony of the timing. Cancer has now invaded Rush’s body, but it has been all around him for five years, infecting the Republican Party and the ideology he once claimed to champion. How fitting that his announcement should kick off a week that included a political debacle at the Iowa caucuses, truly toxic behavior from political and spiritual leaders at the State of the Union and the National Prayer Breakfast, an acquittal of the President on impeachment charges based on partisanship over fact, and the castigation of the loan Republican who voted his conscience over party loyalty. Does Rush even remember that he gave his full-throated support to Mitt Romney in 2012? Hell, Romney was his early favorite in 2008!

And yet, I sit at the microphone in the control room at Radio Talking Book every day and feel right at home. I count myself lucky each morning when I come into work, knowing that I love what I do. Even though I work in a niche industry, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if not for Rush Limbaugh. I reflect upon him often as I turn the mic on and hear my own voice filtering back to me over the headphones. I have lost so much of my identity over the past five years, but I am still a proud radio man.

And tonight, as I ponder Rush’s legacy and my own, I contemplate the half-filled humidor behind me on the bookcase. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Rush than to have a cigar. I say this with the full knowledge that the cancer may very well kill him. “Don’t be afraid to live,” he would always tell his listeners when the topic of liberal health Nazis came up. I’m sure he would approve of my tribute, as would my dad.

Thank you, Rush. Thank you for filling all of the lonely hours in high school. Thank you for my alternative education in college. Thank you for being a beacon of hope in the dark days after 9/11. I will pray for your recovery. If it is your time to leave us, I will pray that your soul finds peace.

Of Slings, Arrows and Smoking Guns

Folks, I just completed reading “Catch and Kill,” by Ronan Farrow. I highly recommend this book, but it is not for the faint of heart. The ways in which the predatory
behavior of Harvey Weinstein was covered up and excused by legions of accomplices from Hollywood to D.C. will chill your blood.

The most disturbing part of the audio book is when you hear the actual recording of Weinstein trying to force himself on one of his victims. I wasn’t prepared for it and it stopped me cold.

My one criticism is over Farrow’s narration of the audio version. His parents are both actors and he has a background in theater. It shows in his delivery. There are times when he swerves into hammy territory (particularly when immitating accents.) This detracts from a subject that should be
treated with the utmost seriousness. Despite his trials and tribulations as he battled to get the story of Weinstein’s victims on the public record, he sounds as if he’s having a lot of fun in the recording booth. This is a small nitpick, however, and should not serve as a reason not to read this impressive (if not disquieting) body of work.

For my blind followers, it is available on both Audible and BARD.

And speaking of Harvey Weinstein, God bless Hollywood! “Bombshell,” the third biopic about Roger Ailes in the wake of his public disgrace and subsequent death after credible allegations of sexual assault came out last weekend. I guess they thought we wouldn’t get the point after the first two.

Look, at this point, I have zero sympathy for FoxNews. If Hollywood
wants to cast stones at the memory of Ailes and laud the bravery of the women who came forward, more power to them. Ailes deserves the slings and arrows
and a network who cheerleads a man like Donald Trump can stand the pounding. However, the contrast in standards is pretty stark to me in the wake of Ronan Farrow’s book.

When is Hollywood gonna bring us an epic about the Harvey Weinstein years? Seriously! If Farrow’s narrative is accurate, the Weinstein affair has all the earmarks of a major thriller; a menacing antagonist, systematically oppressed women, an openly gay reporter who is the son of a celeb also accused of sexual assault, spineless network executives, shadowy foreign surveillance agencies, moles and countermoles, duplicitous lawyers, a ‘smoking gun’ recording… How can ya not love a story like that!?

Maybe we’ll get it after Weinstein is in his grave. Or maybe, we’ll get it after every single Hollywood exec and politician who took money and/or favors from Weinstein is in the ground. Less embarrassment to go with the popcorn,
don’tchya know.

If not Weinstein, what about a biopic of Matt Lauer? They could title it, “Button,” after the device Lauer used to automatically close
his door, thereby holding his victims captive.

I also notice Bill O’Reilly does not appear in the film. That is… Interesting. It’s also interesting that, despite major hype from critics, “Bombshell,” bombed at the box office. I guess the public prefers Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers over Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly.

*yawn*

Alexa, Cancel Ryan O

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to explain to you why you should probably pull me from all on-air breaks, as well as my voice tracks from the automated rotation here at the radio station.

In October 2001, while attending the state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska, I participated in an auction fundraiser in which I dressed up as a woman for the purposes of raising money to contribute to the state’s efforts to send people to the Washington D.C. gathering of the NFB the following February. Although I was surrounded by laughing, cheering fans who wanted to gain both a visual and tactile appreciation of my atypically feminine garb, I now realize (18 years later) that what I did was wrong. Even though this controversy happened over a decade before The emergence of Caitlyn Jenner and controversies over separate bathrooms, I realize that what I did cannot be forgiven. Therefore, we should purge my voice from all aspects of our daily operations.

This doesn’t mean I should be fired. Mags needs to have her vet bills paid for. Yet, my profile should be drastically lowered so as to avoid any possible controversy that may be engendered by an overly aggressive reporter from some newspaper somewhere Who may take a capricious disliking to me.

I just realize that I use the word, “purge,“ in this letter. I would like to state for the record that it is intended only as a verb for cleansing, not as a disparagement of anyone with an eating disorder.

While I’m at it, I should acknowledge that, as a child, I went through a phase in fourth grade when I stole Transformers from my fellow students. This does not mean that I condone thievery. I also acknowledge that the Transformers were a product of the Reagan era. Even though I probably would have voted for Reagan both times had I been an adult, I acknowledge that the Transformers were and still are a blatant symbol of capitalism that, to some, may be offensive. Perhaps my need to steal the toys of others, even though I lived in relative economic comfort, was a sign of childhood guilt. Not really sure, but feel I should cover all bases, even though it occurred 35 years ago.

If it will help to balance the scales of economic justice, I will lend credence to the possibility that Optimus prime, leader of the auto bots, was a socialist. Why else would he be famous for his quote, “Freedom is the right of all beings.“ Obviously, he was talking about economic freedom.

My current confession streak is compelling me to tell you that, on numerous occasions, I stole from my parents. My father would often bake chocolate chip peanut butter cookies to take on his hunting trips. I would find them in the basement freezer and usually eat them late at night while watching Star Trek. When dad asked me if I ate them, I lied about it. I do hope that I can be forgiven for my thievery and dishonesty. I feel that these transgressions are balanced by the fact that I watched Star Trek, which should demonstrate my commitment to diversity.

I also stole chips, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, fried chicken, Cap’n Crunch, pizza and other snacks that I cannot now remember from my parents refrigerator and pantry late at night. I sometimes hid the empty wrappers behind my bed in order to conceal my nocturnal gluttony. This said, I am committed to a clean environment and I am not in favor of littering, pollution and urinating in the snow without being obscured by a tree.

I hope it makes up for it when I tell you that my parents did buy a water filter when I was in high school and encouraged me to drink water, rather than soda. I also hope the fact that I was and still am a compulsive overeater does not display my insensitivity to those who are food insecure.

I just realized that I used the word, “Confession.“ I hope this doesn’t display an inappropriate animus toward Catholics. I respect the fact that our executive director is Catholic. I was raised Catholic, but no longer consider myself part of the faith. Yet, I hope that any participation that I had in Catholic youth groups does not imply that I condone the violation of children, even though those scandals didn’t break until 2001. I respect all protections of the first amendment, particularly any and all minority religions, and any religions that don’t exist yet, but may exist 30 years from now when I might possibly be in a position of influence or prominence.

I mentioned that my father was and is a Hunter. I respect the Second Amendment as well as hunting, but I also respect those who choose to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. There was this one time at an NFB chapter picnic in 1995 when I attacked an entire group of people with a Super Soaker 250 water gun. This does not mean that I endorse mass shootings of any kind and I expressed complete empathy and sympathy to all victims of gun violence. However, I will defend (to the death) the rights of all blind and visually impaired people to own and use water guns, both in public and private, whenever they so choose.

At certain periods, I did drink too much in college. I don’t have a full memory of everything I did and said under the influence (or sober, for that matter), but I want to reaffirm my respect for women, minorities, animals (particularly sheep), nature, the flag, an African-American James Bond, Mom and apple pie. Anything that might be unearthed that would seem to indicate the contrary should be taken as an isolated incident, probably fueled by alcohol. Any photographic evidence that may emerge of my time in college was taken without my express knowledge or consent.

One photo that may surface might be of me floundering around in Broyhill Fountain amidst a huge cloud of soapy suds. This would have come from an entire box of Tide laundry crystals. I hereby acknowledge that many soaps and detergents, previously unknown to be harmful to the environment, were in fact poisonous to mother earth. I respect mother earth and try my best to be a good steward.

After a bad break up in the summer of 2006, I began to smoke cigars on a semi-regular basis. I would like to state for the record that I like cigars and have no intention of giving them up. That being said, I do acknowledge that some of the behavior of big tobacco is unethical at best, evil at worst. But then again, former President Barack Obama, supreme social justice warrior, was a chronic cigarette smoker. Even his wife couldn’t make him quit. I should also go on record as saying that vaping E-cigarettes is probably unhealthy and wrong. Since President Trump has now come out against it, there doesn’t seem to be much harm in being anti-vaping, so I am. During my time in Colorado, I did partake of marijuana several times. Even though it was legal, I realize that it is not legal in Nebraska. To that end, I acknowledge the sovereignty of Nebraska and the general goodness of states’ rights. However, I also acknowledge that the federal government has a positive role to play in the lives of many who are considered to be oppressed.

I honestly can’t remember everything that I have posted on social media. Perhaps I should handover my passwords for Facebook and Twitter to Bekah, so that she may perform a full biopsy on all of my content to gauge its suitability for current cultural and professional standards. There is a chance (albeit a small one) that a picture of me from 2001 could surface. In the interest of equal access, I would like to request that Bekah give me a full visual description so that we can judge how ravishing I was in my red dress, red wig, feather boa, high heels, pantyhose, golden earrings and glittery chest hair.

You know what… You guys better forward this to the entire board of directors, as well as everyone on the general mailing list, so that we can get out in front of this thing well ahead of any crisis. Maybe we should also draft a press release, and perhaps even hold a news conference. Do you guys wanna call the mayor, or should I do it?

Thank you for your attention and your non-judgmental, non-reactionary approach to the situation.

Love,

RyanO

PS: I realize that I just used the word, “Love.“ I stayed for the record that my use of the word was in a platonic, non-sexual sense. As a male working with a predominantly female staff, I state categorically that I respect the #MeToo Movement, but I also respect the due process rights of the accused.

PPS: earlier in this message, I used the term, “Political tornado.“ This was intended as a metaphor for political chaos or backlash that is unexpected. It was in no way subliminal commentary on climate change. I thoroughly respect science. I respect the environment. On the other side of it, as a man who loves our free and open society, I support the right of those who choose to be skeptical of any prevailing wisdom. Even Alex Jones has rights. So do stray cats.

#CarsonKing

#CancelCulture

Part 1: The Great Flood

Another placeholder from Jonah Goldberg, excerpted from his weekly newsletter, The G. File. As usual, it signifies far-reaching truths beyond the events of the moment. My remarks will follow in a separate post.

The Trumpian Flood

The deluges of nonsense in our political era are changing the ecosystem of the right, maybe forever.

Dear Reader (and people who won’t let the light of covfefe ever die),

Yesterday, I drove for nearly 100 miles with my hazard lights on—and not for the usual reason that I forgot to turn them off after double-parking outside a liquor store. It rained like one too many chemtrails from one of the planes owned by “Big Air” had finally burnt a hole between our dimension and the water-verse and all the wet from the Earth where everyone has gills was pouring into our reality. I stopped at the Joe Biden rest stop in Delaware—yes, that’s a thing—where I ran in to go to the bathroom and get a cup of coffee (though not the coffee from the bathroom). For a second, I thought the fire alarm was going off, until I realized a gaggle of people around me all had the same shrieking sound coming out of their pockets and handbags. No, I hadn’t stumbled on a stealth lemur-smuggling operation; everyone’s phone was getting the same emergency broadcast warning about flash-flooding. I should have waited out the rain, but my kid got back from a very long trip, and I promised her a burger and a milkshake.

But that’s not important right now, except to explain why I am writing this from my mom’s lair, surrounded by very high-end cats, in an undisclosed location near where Alexander Hamilton, America’s First Rapper, had his last mic drop.

On my long drive, white-knuckling it like Bill Barr monitoring Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, I had a lot of time to think. I’m not sure that time is a river, but I do think events move as if they were floating on one. Canyons are formed by water carving a slice out of the surface of the planet. This process is very predictable until something—a meteor, an earthquake, a dam, whatever—blocks the water’s path, and suddenly the water seeks a new route. It seems to me we’re in one of those moments. Such periods can be brief from our perspective, or they can last so long that the chaos of the flood seems like a new normal.

I cannot catalog all of my objections to the “post-liberal” crowd’s arguments. But one thing I am inclined to agree with is that the old conservative consensus—limited government, liberal democracy, etc.—has indeed broken down, and it’s not obvious to me it will be restored anytime soon.

I think this is nuts. I wish it weren’t. I wish we could finish the Trump chapter in the unfolding tale of the right as a bizarre moment where the river merely broke its banks and will, after a respectable period, return to the old course. That’s what usually happens after a deluge—like the one I drove through yesterday. The rain stops and the water subsides; everything returns to normal. But sometimes the flood is so strong, the rains so heavy, that the old landmarks that kept the river on its traditional path get washed away.

I fear that is what has happened.

One small example: The Claremont Institute has long been one of my favorite landmarks of the conservative landscape. Its motto is “Recovering the American Idea.” It is dedicated to teaching “the principles of the American Founding to the future thinkers and statesmen of America.”

Well, Claremont just announced its new crop of Lincoln Fellows, long a fairly prestigious program for accomplished young conservative professionals (both my wife and my friends Steve Hayes, Tevi Troy, and Ross Douthat were fellows). This year’s crop includes…Jack Posobiec and Mytheos Holt. Posobiec is one of the more successful trolls of the Trump era, parlaying his Pizzagate theories and stint at Gateway Pundit into a gig at One America News. Here he is explaining how Emmannuel Macron is a pawn of the deep state, which uses drugs for mind control.

Holt is somewhat less embarrassing, in the same way it’s less embarrassing to be caught in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue only pretending to have sex with a donkey rather than actually being caught in the act. He is a prominent defender of “white nationalism” and promoter of the idea that Trump is a man of great personal virtue.

Now, there’s an argument for recruiting immature young professionals into a program like this: to indoctrinate them—in the best sense of the word—to the faith. Literally to make them fluent in right doctrine. But the flip side to prestigious programs is also to send a signal to young professionals that certain arguments and behavior foreclose opportunities like the Lincoln Fellowship.

I would like to think that my friends at Claremont were, in an over-abundance of optimism, focusing on the former to the point that they lost sight of the latter. But I have little reason for confidence. The Claremont Review of Books, which is still a worthwhile journal that I often learn from, seems increasingly interested in reconciling decades of work championing the importance of rhetoric, statesmanship, and fidelity to constitutional principles with normalizing not only Trump, but also the projects of the various remoras (like Posobiec) that have attached themselves to his presidency.

The famous “Flight 93 Election” essay was, according to its fans, a kind of shot heard round the world launching this shift. To me, it was the dull thump of the canary hitting the coal mine floor. If the author of the essay hadn’t deleted his work at the old Journal of American Greatness, I’d offer a link. But here’s something Michael Anton, then called “Decius,” wrote in an argument with me:

Here’s what’s really going on. The old American ideal of judging individuals and not groups, content-of-character-not-color-of-skin, is dead, dead, dead. Dead as a matter of politics, policy and culture. The left plays by new rules. The right still plays by the old rules. The left laughs at us for it—but also demands that we keep to that rulebook. They don’t even bother to cheat. They proclaim outright that “these rules don’t apply to our side….They use our commitment to American principles the same way that Islamic radicals in the West use Westerners’ commitment to Western principles to cow us into acquiescing to anti-Western measures.

Antonious Decius certainly had a point about the left, as I have argued countless times. But as anyone who read the CRB over the years knows, the point of having principles is that they are principles. If owning the libs is a more important priority than sticking to your principles, were they ever really your principles in the first place? Harry Jaffa, whose ideas form the soul of Claremont’s founding mission, held to his Lincolnian principles against all enemies—liberal and conservative alike. Lincoln’s principles made his job harder. The Founders’ principles inspired them to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on their behalf. The reason they’re considered statesmen is that they managed to achieve victory while holding onto their principles and for the sake of those principles.

The old notion of fusionism tried to merge classical liberalism with traditional conservatism. Today’s new fusionism is trying to reconcile traditional conservatism with nationalism, populism, Trumpism, grifterism, and the jackassery of the Broflake mobs who think it’s incredibly manly to whine about how unfair the libs are to them. (I credit Scott Lincicome with the term, which is a perfect marriage of the snowflakey arguments tie-dyed in testosterone rhetoric.)

A minimum requirement for every argument for principle is some truth claim. One needn’t argue for transcendental truth or cosmic truth. Some principles can simply be pragmatic and empirical. For instance, it’s an observable fact that markets are better at producing wealth than collectivism. We can argue about the moral or epistemological super-structure that makes this so—Divine Plan, natural rights, whatever—but the data don’t lie. So much of what passes for conservatism these days isn’t about defending truths, but about fabricating the veneer of truthiness around demonstrable lies.

And the hamster spinning the wheel of this Rube Goldberg (no relation) machine of bullshit is the president.

The Clown Summit

A vast industrial complex dedicated to turd-polishing churns day and night, working at convincing people they should not believe their lying eyes. No granule of B.S. is too small that it cannot use a little buffing. Again, my favorite example: Remember the “covfefe” tweet? That was an act of brilliance!

Trump’s reference to his now-deleted covfefe tweet even got printed and blown up yesterday at the White House “Social Media Summit,” ostensibly dedicated to the glory of free speech.

Free speech, you might recall, is one of those principles the Founders thought to be important. And let me stipulate: There’s a serious argument out there, with reasonable people on every side of it, about how to apply and protect free speech principles on social media. Senator Josh Hawley, a serious man with serious ideas, was there. He wants to protect free speech by empowering commissioners at the FCC to enforce some modernized version of the Fairness Doctrine. I think that it’s a bad idea, for the reasons David French lays out here. But, again, it’s a serious argument, even if I have a hard time understanding how giving the administrative state— and that’s what the FCC is most emphatically part of—the power to enforce ideological balance on private companies is an effort to protect free speech.

Then there’s Donald Trump’s contribution:

“And we don’t want to stifle anything, we certainly don’t want to stifle free speech. But that’s no longer free speech…See I don’t think that the mainstream media is free speech either, because it’s so crooked, it’s so dishonest…So to me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad, to me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it…But that’s not free speech.”

As Thomas Jefferson said, “huh?”

I understand that it’s often hard to pick through the president’s word salads to find the croutons of meaning or reason, but it sure seems like what he’s saying is that free speech is the speech he likes. Meanwhile, the audience he’s speaking to was plucked from the elite cadres of his meme war shock troops. In other words, they were there because he thinks free speech boils down to whoever is most willing to make the shiner’s shammy snap while polishing turds. I have twenty years of criticizing the mainstream media under my belt, but by what sane criteria are the mainstream media not practicing free speech but the folks at Infowars are? For the President of the United States, people like the savior of Flight 93, Bill Mitchell, and QAnon are champions of free speech because, in the president’s apt words, “the crap you think of is unbelievable,” but The New York Times isn’t?

We’re Not Going Back

It’s because of garbage like this that I think we can’t go back to the way it was. Too many people and institutions chose to float with the tide rather than grab sandbags and fight the onrush. Too many owe their credentials to the fact that they served bravely in the meme wars. Too many have changed their minds about the free market, free trade, and free speech to suddenly start extoling Reagan and Lincoln as if Trump never happened.

I don’t want to go apocalyptic because I sincerely believe things will eventually get better. But Yeats’ lines do come to mind,

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

Not too long ago, Paul Ryan won the Churchill award at the Claremont Institute’s annual Churchill dinner. This year, I am reliably informed, his image was greeted with boos when it appeared on the big screen. Tim Alberta’s important new book recounts how Paul, a man I am still happy to say I admire and consider a friend, retired rather than fight the flood. He’s been excoriated by many for it and in honesty some of that is deserved. But at least he recognized the rising waters for what they were and decided to retreat to higher, drier, ground rather than just go with the flow.

I have more respect for that than for the Kent Brockmans who, at the first glimpse of giant ants, welcomed our new insect overlords.

Reality Check

… Good morning to all of my blind peeps; it’s post Easter, so peeps is no longer a dirty word.

When I’m 60, I expect to still be working. By then, I should be back in Colorado, my first million cooling in a bank account in the Caymans. I’ll live in a small town in the Rocky Mountains somewhere. I’ll take my self-driving car to work every day, kick my employees around all day, stab them in the back when they are not in the room, and set them against each other for my own amusement in my own little micro version of Game of Thrones. But they’ll all love me anyway because I give them incredible cash Christmas bonuses every year that they don’t have to claim on their taxes.

I’ll go home to my wife at night. She’ll be at least 30 years younger than I, but I’ll have lots of money, so no one will care. In fact, she’ll be a trophy. She’ll slip some Viagra in my beer, wait 30 minutes, then we’ll devour each other on our palacial patio in full view of the neighborhood. The hired help may be offended, but I won’t know it because they’ll all trash-talk me in Spanish. Many of my male neighbors will secretly envy the fact that I can bag a former porn star. Later, she’ll nail the gardener, but I’ll be too exhausted to care. In fact, I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t catch at least one bone on the side.

Since polygamy will be legal by then, my other wife (the older, wiser one) will bring me a cigar and a snifter of brandy later in the evening, light it for me, and then we’ll discuss the events of the day. She’ll think she is the dominant one in the marriage because, “Girls rule, boys drool.” I’ll think I’m the dominant one because, “Men think, while women feel.” Like most typical marriages, we’ll lie to each other and ourselves, but the status quo will be so comfortable as we live behind curtains of hundred dollar bills, none of us will care.

This is pretty much what I expect my life to look like when I’m 60, which will be in 2035. So… What are y’all’s plans when Social Security becomes insolvent?

The Whip and the Bayonet

Several days ago, Speaker Pelosi announced that she supported a bill that would study the issue of reparations to the African-American community for the crime of slavery.

Before I continue, let’s have an understanding that this is never going to happen. Speaker Pelosi and many others paying lip service to the concept of reparations know that it’s never going to be a reality. They know it just as surely as they know that Mexico is never going to pay for the border wall that is never going to be built. The only difference between Pelosi and Trump is that Pelosi understands the nature of the game she’s playing, whereas I’m not convinced that Trump does.

Having said that, the issue of reparations is worth discussing. As you can guess, I am not in favor of reparations for slavery. This is due to the fact that I am a racist. I hate blacks. I don’t care that they were enslaved. Let them eat dirt for all I care!

I don’t mean what I just said, of course, but I just wrote what those of a certain political persuasion are going to read and/or hear once they get to this portion of my entry. No matter what I say, people have a remarkable ability to hear only what they want to hear and make up the rest.

The real reason I oppose reparations has nothing to do with race itself; at least, not race as we understand it today. We can take all of the well-founded conservative arguments against reparations made by Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and others and put them aside, if we focus only on one issue. History.

In short, we shouldn’t pay reparations because America has already paid them. Not in government checks delivered to every descendant of a slave, but by the most valuable treasure any country has to offer. Blood.

The blood that served as compensation drenched the soil at the Battle of Bull Run, at the Battle of Antietam, at Chancellorsville, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Richmond, Vicksburg, Wilson’s Creek, Glorieta Pass and Atlanta. It ran in many rivers, from the Mississippi to the Ohio to the Potomac.

These were only the major battles. These were the names that we all memorized long enough to pass a test in a classroom somewhere, then promptly forgot. These names of combat sites don’t account for the thousands of people lost in minor skirmishes and encounters throughout the theater of the war. They do not account for those who died as prisoners of war. Nor do they account for the thousands more civilians who died when cities, towns, farms and plantations were overrun and destroyed by enemy forces. Nor do they account for the deaths not incurred in battle; disease, starvation, riots and general unrest in the wake of various occupations.

Not all of the blood spilled during the Civil War was life blood. Much of it gushed from wounds that resulted in loss of limbs, of dignity and morale. Many soldiers who were wounded continued fighting. Medical discharges were unheard of during that period, particularly in the Confederacy. Every lash of the evil whip of slavery was answered by a bayonet in the stomach, a musket ball splattering blood and brains upon the ground, of dead and drowning men leaping from a ship torn by cannonballs, and by the silent, agonized gasps of those dying in makeshift hospitals, bedrooms and barns all across the war-torn country. Every black family torn apart by cruel slave owners was answered by a white family being torn apart by the ravages of war. And for those who survived, there were the ghosts of four years that would go down in history as the most bloody conflict America ever endured.

And finally, America paid with it’s dearest blood when it’s president was assassinated on April 14, 1865 by a Confederate sympathizer as the war was drawing to its conclusion.

According to the National Park Service, the final estimated casualty total of the American Civil War was 1,030,000 dead. It is impossible for us to begin to grasp that number. To break it down into something more comprehensible, that figure represented about three percent of the population of the United States at the time. Both sides of the conflict suffered tremendous losses. The Union lost an estimated 853,838 souls. That number alone is staggering, particularly when you realize that they were fighting on the right side of history. The Confederacy paid even more dearly, losing an estimated 914,660 souls.

Today, the Civil War is merely a story to us. We can read it about it in books, watch it in movies, see it recreated in videogames or in some town squares in the South. But we can never really understand it. If we could, we would have no talk of reparations to a people who have already been compensated. Nor would we tolerate the emotional tantrums of a juvenile political movement that seeks short term gratification by toppling statues that represent America at its best and worst.

Perhaps the argument will perseverate past my initial premise. Maybe the opportunists, glad-handers and political parasites would not view the idea of bloodshed in war as satiation for their greed. I can already hear the greedy cries of, “It’s not enough!” I can anticipate one argument. “Ryan, what about reconstruction? What about Jim Crow? What about 20th century segregation?” Should we not offer reparations to African-Americans for that?

My reply is simple. If so, let the Democratic Party pay the bill. When it comes to the issue of slavery and post slavery racism against blacks, the Republicans are, and have always been on the right side of history.

Nancy and Chuck can sign the first check.