Bernie’s Q&A: Biden, Stirewalt, Pompeo, Woods, and more! (1/22) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)
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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
Over the years various, universities have blocked free speech of non-liberals and that expanded to include the firing/forced retirement of professors for stating such seditious remarks as “all lives matter.” This trend of the redefining basic rights is expanding further as evidenced by various Congressional members’ (e.g., AOC) call for blacklists of Trump supporters with unspecified penalties to be imposed, and even Harvard is now considering withdrawing diplomas of selected Trump officials and supporters for sedition (or whatever). It seems that ‘woke’ (definition is fluid) is the new “Enlightenment,” with Trump and his supporters the new Louis XVI and the Ancien Régime. I’m afraid Pres.-Elect Biden has hands full if he really intends to unify this country, but he seems to be focusing a lot on Climate Change. I believe that we are nearing an American version of the Reign of Terror led by the new ‘enlightened’ elites and where valuable resources will be squandered on a possible threat that is 100 years away versus one that has greater immediate consequences, existential or not. Maybe this is an overly pessimistic view and Biden will be effective. What are your thoughts on this trend/state of affairs, if you believe it is dire at all? — DonEstif
Your observations are quite thoughtful. And I’m not saying that because I’ve written about the same things and come to the same conclusions. There are nut jobs on the right, but the cancel culture is overwhelmingly a left wing bludgeon — with one great big exception. Fox News cancels conservatives who say negative things about Donald Trump. They cancelled George Will, Colonel Ralph Peters, Erik Ericson, me … and now their own political editor Chris Stirewalt. This is way beyond ironic, even if the doofuses who make decisions at Fox don’t get it. FNC spends all day rightly lamenting the cancel culture — and they’re one of the biggest practitioners of the cancel culture.. You can’t make this stuff up.
Now, onto Joe Biden. Despite his gracious and optimistic inaugural address, he will have a very tough time bringing the country together — because we’re way too divided and I can’t thing of anything — literally, anything — that will bring us together anytime soon. So, Don, I don’t think your view is overly pessimistic … and yes, I do believe the situation is dire. And my apologies if I’m depressing you with these observations.
Two things I’d love to do, is to vote for you president of the United States, and second, sit down and talk sports with you for an afternoon. — Barney G.
Barney, you’re way too kind. If you voted for me for president, they’d have to lock both of us up in an asylum — and for the same reason: You’d be nuts to vote for me and I’d be nuts to run. On the sports matter, trust me, I’m not being immodest: I don’t know that much. I peaked when I was 10 and living near the Yankee Stadium. But be assured I appreciate the very kind words.
What do you think of Pompeo as a presidential candidate for 2024? Also, have you ever listen to Geraldo’s radio program which is also a podcast? You should be on his show sometime. You both have reasonable ideas and thoughts. — Tony P.
I liked Pompeo more before he became a Trump sycophant. He’s very smart. I could like him again. As for Geraldo: He’s not a fan of mine. I once said something personal he didn’t like and he threatened to punch me in the face. He said that on TV no less. So, if he calls, I’ll think about the offer. But he won’t call.
Bernie, do you think one of the worst things Republicans can do as we move towards the midterms is determine its slate of candidates based on the candidates’ loyalty (or disloyalty) to Trump? At the end of the day, the best strategy for taking back the House is fielding the best candidates, not worrying about who did or did not kiss Trump’s ring. If the Republicans engage in internal fighting during the next two years over who was and was not loyal to Trump, the Democrats will be very happy come January of 2023. — Joe M.
Joe, you are absolutely correct. The problem, I think, is that Trump’s most loyal fans may demand that any GOP candidate be someone who kissed his ring. If the candidate didn’t, he or she likely won’t get the support of those loyal fans, who I fear will sit home on Election Day and hand victory to the Democrats.
Mr. G., I just got around to watching the Dec20’ Real Sports last night. God Bless you sir! Aside from my eyes being abused by Bryant G’s hideous sport jacket shout out to Wimbledon, my ears were abused by all your “woke” colleagues who dismissed anything the Right is concerned about including dead police officers because it’s the Left’s turn at the sympathy megaphone. How one sided can a group be? Would any of your enlightened colleagues not call the police if they had just been invaded, robbed and beaten because it was the criminal’s turn to express themselves? That was a tough watch. –ScottyG
How one sided can a group be, you ask? I AM diversity on that show. And let me share a secret with you: I’m getting tired of it.
Regarding Monday’s column about courageous liberals who need to stand up and speak out against the illiberal left: I see people asking who they are and where they can be found. As several people (myself among them) have been pointing out, the liberals’ heads will also be on the chopping block at some point in the future, but for some reason, they just don’t believe that it’s going to happen to them. Maybe this is a better question:
HOW do we, the right, CONVINCE the liberals, (some of whom may be our enemies) that THEY are the ones who need to step up to the plate and put a stop to this? If they really want to be the champions of the underdog, conservatives currently fit into that category. Your thoughts are welcome. — “Love Your Enemies” Regards, From The Emperor
I have no desire, Your Royal-ness, to try to convince liberals to stand up and do the right thing. They need to come to that decision all by themselves. If they don’t … and if the cancel culture gets worse, as I suspect it will … there will be a backlash against the left in some form or another. As for liberals and progressives standing up for conservative underdogs … Your Majesty has quite a sense of humor, unusual among those who wear the crown.
I’m curious to get your comment on a statement made by your colleague Bryant Gumbel during the recent HBO Tiger Woods documentary. Woods was shown on the Oprah show describing for the first time his racial identity as “Cablinasian”. For the unaware, it stands for Caucasian/Black/Indian/Asian and is Woods’ acknowledgement of his multiracial background. Gumbel took issue with this, saying it disappointed many black people who wanted Woods to represent them in popular culture. Gumbel also said that Woods should identify as black because that’s what the population at large saw him as. I take issue with Gumbel’s assessment, especially in light of the left’s granting individuals their ability to self-identify by race, sexual orientation, and even gender. Plus, Woods is being truthful. He’s not just black, he’s multiracial, something shared by many Americans of his generation. My kids are significant parts Mexican, Italian (mother’s side), Scots-Irish and Russian Jew (my side). Shouldn’t they and Tiger Woods be allowed agency to be who they say they are? Surprised a liberal like Gumbel would have such a narrow mind on this issue, especially in today’s climate. — Steve R.
We’re told over and over that minorities have the right to identify anyway they want. You can be overwhelmingly white, but if you had a black great grandmother, and you want to call yourself black, that’s your right. That said, I understand Bryant’s position. But you can’t have it both ways. Either we have the right to self-identify … or we don’t.
Bernie, a little potpourri for you this week. Mustn’t the NY Times no longer refer to itself as “The Gray Lady?” Am I the only one who thinks that Dr. Fauci gives a whole new meaning to the term Political Science? Has the label of white supremacy transcended race given the fact that Larry Elder and Candace Owens have been called white supremacists simply for arguing that no race should be deemed superior to any other race? And finally, how many people under the age of 30 were taught that fascism arose in Italy not Germany and that one of the key elements of fascism was the close relationship between the Italian government and the leading Italian corporations (known as corporatism)? I am hoping that four rhetorical questions count as one question on the Bernie-meter. — Michael F.
Re the Gray Lady question: Huh? Where did that come from, Michael? Who cares what they call it? The Dr. Fauci question leaves me even more puzzled than the one about the NY Times. Next. That two black people have been called “white supremacists” is proof positive that the people who called them that … are idiots. And finally, your question about the origin of the word “fascism” — let me go back to my response to your question about the Gray Lady: Huh? And if the questions really are rhetorical as you say … why am I answering them?
[Regarding this week’s “Off the Cuff”]: Listening to biased commentary is not in itself foolish or a complete waste of time. It’s how one listens. Please note Francis Bacon….”Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”. Is not what you –and I, in sympathy– are really lamenting is the loss of a reasonableness, an open mindedness, a balanced, contemplative disposition in our fellow citizens? A willingness to be challenged/engaged/upset by other points of view is a serious aspect of the truly civil individual. Is that not the great loss in the modern American body politic? Take care — Andrew M.
Here we have one more piece of evidence proving that the people who post questions here generally are smarter than everybody else on the internet. I guess I am lamenting the loss of reasonableness and open mindedness … because what we have now is not only the opposite … but a tribal partisanship that results in the loss of principles. I hear way too many commentators telling us how bad such and such is … when just a week ago they were praising their guy for doing the same thing. My goal is to drop out. To stop being a witness to this garbage.
Thank you for the smart question.
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Eternal Denseness of the Binary Mind
I’ve been arguing for some time that media-conservatives’ vehement reliance on whatboutism has led to some of the dumbest and laziest political debates in our country over the past four years, and I’m looking forward to it largely going away — at least on the right — now that Donald Trump has left the building.
No longer under immense daily pressure to defend the indefensible when it comes to the president, righties’ forced abandonment of this embarrassingly weak deflection tool should ultimately prove to be a healthy thing for Republicans and conservatives. Sure, Trump’s shadow will loom for a while (especially with the Senate likely taking up his impeachment trial), and the former president will continue to insist on loyalty from the GOP, but he shouldn’t be nearly the intellectual liability he’s been for Republican leaders and “conservative” pundits since 2016. The new political landscape will hopefully provide a stronger opportunity for principled ideas and substantive policy battles.
What I’m not as optimistic will disappear is the partisan media’s narrowly focused, binary hold on our country’s political debates. It’s been a big problem on both sides for a while, but it worsened significantly in the Trump era.
I vented a little about this issue on Twitter the other day:
5-year frustration as a Trump-critical conservative columnist: Trumpers angrily responding to my columns by slamming arguments I’ve never made, but that they’ve seen presented by FNC commentators (often inaccurately) as the prevailing “anti-Trump” argument.
— John A. Daly (@JohnDalyBooks) January 16, 2021
When one relies on cable news commentary and other partisan-media outlets for their political news, they are conditioned to believe that there are exactly two arguments to every single issue:
- the argument presented and promoted by the partisan commentators they listen to.
- an opposing argument crafted and presented by those very same partisan commentators.
In other words, it’s the same partisan entity who is putting forth both sides of the same story, with their side reliably being the far more compelling argument, and the other side (which often doesn’t reflect what political opponents are actually saying) reliably being the patently ridiculous argument.
It’s a binary choice, as far as partisan consumers are concerned. Third, fourth and fifth arguments (which are usually much better ones), put forth by less partisan individuals (who typically don’t enjoy as large of platforms), aren’t even recognized. Thus, they’re not considered… even at their very source.
Case in point, I’ve written three pieces for this website regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and its aftermath. In each, I laid out the prominent role the president played in inciting the violence by describing how he spent two months (actually longer than that) selling millions of Americans on the perverse lie that our nation’s democracy had been hijacked, that he had actually won the election, and that January 6th at the U.S. Capitol would be the day of reckoning.
Here are some of the rebuttals I’ve received to those columns:
“You see, I’m a free speech absolutist, and to suggest that Trump saying ‘we must fight this injustice’ is tantamount to calling for physical violence is a dangerous road down which to travel. Every politician says ‘we must fight’ the political enemy, for Christ’s sake!”
“I am no Trump fan but if people weren’t so lazy and actually read or heard what Trump said there would be no blame of this on him. The people that were planning to storm the Capitol were already were motion while Trump was still speaking. Not to mention that the lax security sure looked like it was a setup.”
“Individuals are free to make their own judgments, tell me how this fits high crimes and misdemeanors and if it does would it not also apply to others who’ve made incendiary statements?”
You may notice a common theme among those responses. Each of them is working off the premise that my “incitement” argument is defined specifically and solely by what Trump said to his supporters in front of the White House on January 6th, not long before they moved over to the Capitol where the attack occurred.
The problem is that I never made any such argument. I never quoted a line from that speech, never directly blamed what was said in that speech for what happened, and never argued that common-use political terms like “fight,” on their own, are dangerous. My argument was about conduct and rhetoric that spanned more than two months… not just a snippet of speech from the day of the attack.
The proper context was even included in the Articles of Impeachment filed by the Democrats (though I think it should have been expanded): “In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.”
So, who were these commenters responding to, since they clearly weren’t responding to me? The answer is a conservative-media opposition narrative, tailored and repeated ad nauseam by Fox News commentators and right-wing talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, in an effort to diminish the case for why Trump should be held accountable for his actions.
To be clear, no one is arguing that select lines from one speech, by themselves, incited the attack. At least, I haven’t seen anyone making that argument. Trump’s “stop the steal” campaign leading up to January 6th is why it happened. His speech that day was just the cherry on the cake.
That reality would have been very hard for Trump’s toadies in the media to defend. Reducing the entire issue to a soundbite or two, however, has made things much easier. So easy, in fact, that all they’ve had to do is present another soundbite or two in return.
Dennis Prager demonstrated this in a column on this website last week:
“Over and over, in every left-wing medium and stated repeatedly by Democrats, Trump is blamed for ‘inciting’ the riot in his speech just before it took place. Almost never is a Trump quote cited. Because there is none. On the contrary, he did say, ‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard’.”
Notice how Prager also attributed the incitement claim purely to the left, despite the fact that numerous prominent Republicans and conservatives have stated the same thing. That’s how the binary game is played.
Bill O’Reilly did the same thing this week:
“The Trump case is subjective, an opinion that he directly incited a mob to violence. However, he used the word ‘peacefully’ in public remarks to the protestors so that is certainly exculpatory.”
To Bill and Dennis, it’s as if those two months prior to January 6th never happened.
I would say you can’t make this stuff up, but you clearly can. And a number of media-conservatives have had extra incentive to do so, being that so many of them (as Bernard Goldberg recently pointed out) ran interference for President Trump as he tried to steal an election he unequivocally lost, helping to legitimize the false narrative of massive voter fraud that ultimately infuriated enough people to provoke a domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The alternate reality they helped spread is further proof of the intellectual ineptitude of binary political arguments. On Fox News commentary shows from election night until January 6th, how many right-leaning voices were given air-time to unequivocally shoot down Trump’s demonstrable lies about massive voter fraud? That work was left almost entirely to the network’s vastly outnumbered liberals like Juan Williams, which effectively deemed that position to be the “liberal” (and thus wrong) argument in the eyes of the network’s viewers.
Imagine if there had been serious, frequent debates between conservative commentators on Fox’s highest rated shows about Trump’s claims of election fraud, with one of those commentators explaining precisely why those claims were total nonsense.
In the past on Fox News, honest brokers like Charles Krauthammer would have been invited on to prime-time (by hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly) to transcend the hyper-partisan B.S., and call things straight. Instead, viewers tuning in were largely handed the binary choice of agreeing with angry grifters like Dan Bongino that something screwy was going on with the vote counts, or buying the supposedly “liberal” argument that Joe Biden won fair and square.
Poll after poll has shown that a strong majority of Republican voters believe that the election was stolen for Joe Biden, and that Trump actually won. What we saw on January 6th demonstrated why that fiction is so dangerous. What we heard from many prominent media-conservatives, for two months, helps explain why that fiction was (and still is) subscribed to by so many people.
It’s a result of binary politics, and it’s only worsening our culture.
Note from John: I’ve been writing a weekly non-political newsletter since October, covering topics like art, music, humor, travel, society and culture. I’ve been surprised by, and thankful for, how many people have been signing up for it. If it sounds interesting to you, I’d love for you to subscribe (it’s free).
Why the Left Has To Suppress Free Speech
Let us begin with this fact: The left always suppresses speech. Since Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, there has been no example of the left in control and not crushing dissent.
That is one of the important differences between liberal and left: Liberalism and liberals believe in free speech. (The present leftist threat to freedom in America, the greatest threat to freedom in American history, is made possible because liberals think they have more to fear from conservatives than from the left. Liberals do not understand that the left regards liberals as their useful idiots.)
The left controls universities. There is little or no dissent allowed at universities.
The left controls nearly every “news” medium. There is little or no dissent in the mainstream media — not in the “news” sections and not in the opinion sections.
The left controls Hollywood. No dissent is allowed in Hollywood.
That is why we have “cancel culture” — the silencing and firing of anyone who publicly dissents from the left, and even “publicly” is no longer necessary. The National Association of Realtors has just announced that if you express dissenting views (on race, especially) in private, you may be fined and lose your membership in the organization — which effectively ends your career as a realtor.
So, we return to the opening question: Why does the left need to crush all dissent? This is a question made all the more stark because there is no parallel on the right: Conservatives do not shut down dissent or debate.
The answer, though the left will not acknowledge it, is the left fears dissent. And they do so for good reason. Leftism is essentially a giant balloon filled with nothing but hot air. Therefore, no matter how big the balloon — the Democratic Party, The New York Times, Yale University — all it takes is a mere pin to burst it.
Leftism is venerated by intellectuals. But there is little intellectual substance to leftism. It is a combination of doctrine and emotion. The proof? Those with intellectual depth do not stifle dissent; they welcome it.
That is why universities are so opposed to conservatives coming to speak on campus. One articulate conservative can undo years of left-wing indoctrination in a one-hour talk or Q and A. I know this from personal experience on campuses. You can, too. Watch the speeches given by any conservatives allowed to speak on a campus — many of these talks are still on YouTube — and you will see large halls filled with students yearning to hear something other than left-wing pablum. Look at their faces, filled with rapt attention to ideas they never heard that are clearly having an impact. Universities are entirely right to fear our coming to speak. We come with the pin that bursts their $50,000-a-year balloon.
That is also why it is so hard to get any of them to debate any of us. In 35 years of radio, I have never mistreated or bullied a guest. I was unfailingly polite to an icon of the left, Howard Zinn, the America-hating author of the America-hating “A People’s History of the United States.” I even invited a UCLA political science professor and violinist, one of seven members of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra who refused to play when I conducted the orchestra in a Joseph Haydn symphony in the Disney Concert Hall — solely because I’m a conservative. Despite his public letter, in which he accused me of holding “horribly bigoted positions” and wrote, “Please urge your friends to not attend this concert, which helps normalize bigotry in our community,” I nevertheless invited him on my national radio show. He agreed. I had him in studio for an entire hour and treated him and his wife (who accompanied him) with great respect, despite my contempt for his false accusations and his advocacy of the cancel culture. Every American should hear that hour.
Unfortunately for the emotional and intellectual health of our society, he, Zinn and a few others were anomalies. Of the 100 or so left-wing authors, professors and columnists invited to appear on my show, almost none has responded in the affirmative. They prefer NPR, where they are never challenged.
The opposite, however, is not true: Every conservative intellectual I know says yes to every one of the (very few) left-wing invitations we receive. Of course, we are almost never invited. We regularly invite leftists. Leftists almost never invite us. They claim it’s because we are not up to their intellectual level and they have no desire to waste their time. One would think that the opportunity to publicly show how vapid we conservatives really are would be too good to pass up.
Leftists do not debate us or appear as guests on our shows and prevent us from speaking whenever possible, because they (correctly) fear conservatives. Race-baiters such as Ibram X. Kendi or Ta-Nehisi Coates or “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo would never debate Larry Elder, for example. Why won’t they? Because they would be shown to be the intellectually shallow purveyors of hate they are. Deep down, they know it. Larry Elder is one of many conservative black intellectuals who left-wing blacks (and whites) refuse to debate.
Now you know why the left suppresses free speech: because they have to. If there is free speech, there is dissent. And if there is dissent, there is no more left.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” was released to home entertainment nationwide on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.
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Last Updated: Monday, Jan 18, 2021 11:02:35 -0800
The Spirit of Free Speech Is in their Crosshairs …
What if it’s worse than we think? What if this is just the beginning?
For some time now conservatives have been fearful about what a culture dominated by progressives would look like.
It’s not only concern over packing the Supreme Court or raising taxes. Conservatives know that too many liberals have forgotten how to actually be liberal, and so they rightfully worry that if given the opportunity, progressives would use their clout to stifle and even attempt to shut down speech they don’t like.
Well, it turns out, that wasn’t right-wing paranoia.
As you know, Twitter and other powerful social media platforms have cancelled President Trump. They claim it’s because his rhetoric incites violence.
Twitter is a private company and so no one has a constitutional right to tweet. But they’d be more credible at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco if they also banned Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei who not long ago tweeted, “ … Palestine will be free, while the fake Zionist regime will perish. There’s no doubt about this.”
So as far as Twitter is concerned, Donald Trump is a menace that must be permanently banned but it’s okay for Iran’s leader to use Twitter to threaten Israel’s very existence?
That it took a Russian dissident to spot the dangers in what Twitter is doing should tell us something. Alexy Navalny has said that, “This precedent will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world. In Russia as well. Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: ‘this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter.'”
We may think of Twitter as a great big powerful megaphone, which it is. But it’s also a garbage can filled with hateful and at times violent messages.
As the New York Post reports, “Twitter hosts a #KillTrump hashtag. In all of the glorious English language there is no clearer, plainer, or shorter way to call for violence than the word kill followed by someone’s name. But there it is. One of these tweets reads ‘#ArrestTrump not enough #KillTrump.’ And this isn’t new, back in June the hashtag #AssassinateTrump was bouncing around the website with gems like ‘Someone take this clown out NOW.’”
It gets worse. And it comes in the form of modern day blacklists. Once they were rightly despised by Hollywood liberals who lost their jobs and their livelihoods back in the 1950s because of their political beliefs. Now, they’re something the “enlightened” Left has taken a liking to.
Stuart Stevens, a senior advisor to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted that “we are constructing a database of Trump officials & staff that will detail their roles in the Trump administration & track where they are now.” He added: “No personal info, only professional. But they will be held accountable & not allowed to pretend they were not involved.”
Translation: If you ever worked for Donald Trump you are now in our crosshairs. You will pay a price for your perfidy. You are on our blacklist.
And it’s not only what some of us have actually said or done. The worst part is that many Americans — in Hollywood, in academia, in newsrooms, in Silicon Valley and all over corporate America — are so frightened of retaliation for harboring unaccepted ideas, that they’re censoring themselves, making sure they don’t even utter certain words, fearing the consequences that may follow.
As a long time reporter for CBS News, I covered stories in the old Soviet Union and China and Cuba under Fidel Castro. People in those countries watched what they said. They understood the penalties for saying something deemed unacceptable. That’s what happens in repressive regimes. Such fear is toxic in a democracy like ours.
The other day someone on Fox said something that jumped out at me. What if you want to buy a MAGA hat on Amazon, the conservative analyst said, and because of that they close out your account? I had never thought of that.
“Today it is Mr. Trump, and the corporations claim it’s necessary to prevent more violence,” Kimberley Strassel writes in her Wall Street Journal column. “But how long before an online processor refuses to facilitate the credit-card transaction of any American with a Parler account, or an online provider announces it will no longer transmit emails that question climate change? When does Apple start scouring and shutting down iMessages that fit its definition of ‘insurrectionist’ talk?”
I know, it sounds crazy – maybe even paranoid. But given what’s already happening, I’m not counting any of it out – not yet, anyway.
The cancel culture started long before Donald Trump riled up his fans in Washington in a speech that led to some supporters storming the Capitol. It started long before social media found his messages too dangerous to tolerate.
For quite some time the cancel culture thrived on elite, liberal college campuses where conservative speakers were shouted down with little or no consequences to the angry mob. At too many universities, certain speech, apparently, isn’t worth protecting.
So should it really surprise us that this brand of illiberal liberalism has spread from the campus to the broader culture?
Conservatives alone can’t stop the censorship. Conservatives alone can’t stop the attacks on the spirit of free speech. It will take courageous liberals to stand up to the cancel culture that their side is perpetuating.
But if for whatever reason liberals don’t take on the authoritarian excesses of their own side, what we’re witnessing now, bad as it is, may just be the beginning — the beginning of something far, far worse.
If they can silence the President of the United States, no one is safe.