The Trump Era Held Up A Mirror To Our Shattering Culture

“The madness of Trump, as bad as it was, it really needed to happen. We really needed a reflection of our world’s greatest problem, which is not climate change, but sociopathy and narcissism. Especially in America. It’s going to kill the world. It’s not capitalism, it’s narcissism.” So said songstress Lana Del Rey, reflecting on the Trump administration this week.

She’s right to dig deeper than climate change and capitalism, but wrong to finger an incurable element of the human condition for America’s ills. The broader point, however, is important. Del Rey is arguing that Trump’s political ascent exposed or, perhaps, accelerated a cultural clash. She seems to be convinced this exposition will ultimately be constructive.

I’m not so sure. The problem is not that we’re all as narcissistic as Trump. The problem is that we’re all as anxious. Characterizing Trump as anxious may seem odd—and I’m certainly not invoking the psychological concept—but his central promise to “Make America Great Again” was predicated on a reasonable anxiety that the version of America he knew and loved was slipping away. That resonated immensely, and for some eminently fair reasons.

Where the anxieties of the working class and Baby Boomers were channeled into Trump, the anxieties of the left were channeled into a furious, culture-wide censorship campaign. Each vessel has profound issues made worse by their inevitable confrontation, which accelerated this painful culture clash in which we’re now engulfed. So why are we anxious?

While they’re a small fraction of the population, let’s begin by zooming in on the young men who populate the ranks of Antifa and even far-right groups like the Proud Boys. It seems in many ways that we’re harvesting the bitter fruit of a campaign Christina Hoff Sommers identified two decades ago in “The War Against Boys,” coping with a generation of alienated men now aging into their thirties and forties.

Much of what Sommers reported can ultimately be traced back to a thesis Mary Eberstadt persuasively advanced in “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics.” That thesis is also in harmony with Tim Carney’s central argument in “Alienated America,” that “the death of the American Dream is a social phenomenon, not an economic one,” and that the decline of churches and other civic institutions has left a lot of Americans behind, desperate for authentic champions.

This is not to condense complicated problems into the arguments of a few books. It is, however, important to see Trump not as a function of narcissism or NAFTA, but as a very predictable manifestation of cultural upheaval rooted in the dramatic technological advancements that have changed everyday life quickly.

For instance, the left and the right agree that birth control pills, enabled by medical technology, were central to the sexual revolution. If you accept Eberstadt’s premise that the sexual revolution led directly to the rise of identity politics, the picture starts to become clearer.

Modern technology allowed us to move far away from home and stay superficially more connected than ever. It brought women into academia and the workforce at a rapid pace. That seems like old news now, but in the scope of human history it’s not.

Likewise, technology that now seems old created 24-hour news. It’s created more sedentary jobs and recreational activities, sucking us into screens for most of our days, leading to mental health and obesity epidemics. It’s put the sum total of human knowledge in our pockets, along with all of the other vast changes smartphones have induced in as little as a decade. What did we expect to happen?

Obesity, mental health, church attendance, tech addiction, and family structure play small roles in our political discourse, drowned out by politicians preening about job creation and coastal media members who can numb the pain with expensive childcare and pricey wine. But these trends have very immediate influences on our everyday lives, and are the root causes of the policy conversations that Washington at least pretends to be interested in.

The point of this ramble through modern history is simply to say Joe Biden cannot right the ship. No president can. Politicians can help, but we’ve fallen into a hole that will take years at best to dig out of. Legislation and policy can help, but this is much deeper than politics.


Big Corporate Uses Capitol Riots To Push Communist-Style Social Credit System On Americans

We appear to be at the beginning of a massive crackdown on people who have supported Donald Trump, led by big tech and big media. These entities are making Trump into an example of their power to frighten the half of America that supported him in November. We cannot allow them to intimidate us.

But they sure are trying, and on some, they will succeed. They are using the excuse of an unrepresentative group of fools criminally ransacking U.S. Capitol offices with a lighter touch than many of this summer’s often unpunished Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters. Remember: Some of those rioters got away with murder, attacking public buildings including in state capitols, arson, and stopping ambulances from bringing wounded police into hospitals for treatment. They were bailed out with the help of the incoming Democrat vice president.

Now we are being told that an unorganized group of stupid people knocking down doors and throwing Nancy Pelosi’s desk papers on the floor are “seditionists” aiming for the “overthrow of the U.S. government”? Please. That’s giving them credit that they don’t at all deserve.

But they have provided a useful pretext for much darker strategic actions from much better-funded and better-coordinated powers. On the assumption with an excellent track record that Republicans have lost all power and wouldn’t intelligently use any power they have anyway, Twitter has banned Trump permanently and suspended Mike Flynn. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat also banned Trump.

Google and Apple banned the Twitter alternative Parler from their app stores, claiming it’s because right-wing agitators have used it to organize, although the same is true of left-wing agitators, mass-murdering foreign dictators, and apolitical criminals on Twitter. Amazon defenestrated Parler from its servers Sunday.

One of the Trump campaign’s email service providers suspended the campaign’s account, according to Financial Times reporter Dave Lee. Shopify also banned Trump’s official stores from the platform.

The purge wasn’t at all limited to Trump himself. It’s also pursuing his supporters. YouTube banned all videos discussing voter fraud. Reddit shut down its Donald Trump subreddit. On Jan. 8, Facebook shut down the Walkaway campaign that shared the stories of people who left the Democratic Party to vote for Trump, and banned every one of the group’s owners from using Facebook. The publisher of a forthcoming book by Sen. Josh Hawley cut ties with him over his support for proving to the American people that our elections are free and fair.

The National Association of Realtors “has revised its professional ethics code to ban ‘hate speech and harassing speech’ by its 1.4 million members,” both on the job and off. To them, hate speech includes basic conservative ideas, not at all actually racist or otherwise indefensible words. “The sweeping prohibition applies to association members 24/7, covering all communication, private and professional, written and spoken, online and off. Punishment could top out at a maximum fine of $15,000 and expulsion from the organization.”

Police departments across the country have opened “probes” into whether any of their employees attended the Trump protest on Jan. 6. They’re not at all alone. Employers have begun firing people who merely attended the rally of hundreds of thousands, out of which a minority broke the law.

The label of an indie musician terminated their relationship because he posted that he had “peacefully” attended the Trump protest. A Wall Street Journal article documents the firing of a lawyer for an insurance company who posted on Instagram that he had attended “peacefully.”

Other such punishments for mere attendees at the Trump rally were reported and egged on on Twitter, such as this one:

The notorious Never Trump group The Lincoln Project is launching a pressure campaign to ensure more such firings to purge leftists’ political opponents from all aspects of public and private life, in the name of “America.” Here’s Steve Schmidt, a Lincoln Project cofounder, using Twitter to do what it does best: organize and aim demonic flying Twitter monkeys:

Well-funded groups like The Lincoln Project, Southern Poverty Law Center, and other leftist pressure campaigns are dedicated to earning money and status by destroying the lives of anyone who disagrees with their politics. It’s excellent business. Schmidt has released tweets outlining many of his group’s planned actions, a terrifying blueprint of the cultural revolution mindset ascendant among America’s political left, who just seized control of every branch of the federal government:

Already this creepy lust for punishment has Reddit users revealing their plans to turn family members into the FBI for attending the Jan. 6 protest, regardless of whether these family members committed any crimes or merely, like the vast majority of attendees, walked peacefully in D.C. streets.

A Jan. 8 blog post from Mozilla Chairwoman Mitchell Baker declared tech companies need to do “more” than deplatforming people like Trump, including “Turn on by default the tools to amplify factual voices over disinformation” like those Twitter and Facebook used to interfere in the 2020 election.

You had better believe there are discussions among credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions about punishing organizations they view as opposing leftist political views. In December, for example, a so-far unnamed credit card processing company refused to process donations to the American Family Association because it is socially conservative. Previously, big banks refused to bank for legal gun manufacturers after pressure from leftist activists.

This is the kind of power the left holds over all the institutions that make life possible for Americans, and they have already revealed they are not afraid to flex that power against the left’s chosen enemies. All of this is merely the next step in years of campaigns to use economic pressure to control public policy.

The watershed moment was the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act attempt in Indiana that was turned into LGBT legal preferences because big corporations decided to override the state’s voters, and then-Gov. Mike Pence and state Republicans turned tail and ran. When a pressure tactic works, it will be increased. That’s precisely what has happened in the past five years, including the most recent information ops on the 2020 election.

We all saw Big Tech and Big Media collude to hide information damaging to the left and amplify information and narratives damaging to the right. Corporations are now wielding supragovernmental power untethered by even the pretense of constitutional legitimacy, and our government seems entirely powerless to stop them.

This all moves us closer to a nongovernmental social credit system like that employed by Communist China, which economically and socially punishes people for “wrongthink.” It appears that global oligarchs have decided to not only collude with China’s totalitarian control over its society, but to export that social control to formerly free nations such as the United States.

Consider these companies’ vocal support for and use of Chinese slave labor in their supply chains versus their nuclear retaliation against Trump saying words they don’t like. Then consider that they still distribute propaganda from foreign leaders who fomented global instability by mismanaging COVID-19 then lying about it (China), fund terrorism (Iran and Russia), and confine millions of minorities in slave camps (China).

These companies give mass murderers, global villains, and slave traders a platform while denying one to their arch-enemy whose worst crime is saying mean, imprecise, false, and stupid words while not being a Democrat. So of course Chinese government censors cheered them on.

This is a world that one of the leading lights of leftism, The New York Times and columnist Tom Friedman, welcome with open arms. It silences all those pesky dissidents who just get in the way of enlightened policymaking like the Green New Deal. If this bright future requires ignoring a few million enslaved Uighurs, well, omelets require eggs, you know. Anything for the Party.

This week’s escalation of totalitarian speech controls and witch hunts — Are you now or have you ever been a supporter of Donald Trump? — is terrifying, and not just because of the lack of defenses against leftists’ demonstrated control of information and funding. If they can do this to the president of the United States, who can’t these corporations do it to?

If President Trump had actually called for rioters to stop and “go home in peace,” and firmly denounced violent lawbreaking while acknowledging the 99.9999999 percent of his supporters who are peaceful and lawful, but these corporations told the world he was instead “inciting violence” and encouraging “sedition,” how would we ever know the truth?

If they choose to lie to us, to lie about one political party, to lie about events they use to impose draconian speech and social controls, and to ban us from ever sharing information that proves or even simply suggests they lied or aren’t telling the whole story, how would we ever know it?

However long it takes, whatever ethical methods it takes, their power must be broken. You and I can start by not believing a word they say. Next, we need to start securing and expanding our ability to find and proclaim the truth, for as long and as loudly as we can.


Why I Am Joining The Jan. 6 DC March For Trump

I am angry. It’s not a passing emotion brought on by a single circumstance. This anger is a deep, painful, abiding anger created by a mix of frustration, despair, hopelessness, and injustice. For decades I have been told to trust American institutions and if I have grievances to work harder to improve them. I have done so, far more than most Americans, and my reward has been watching corruption and ineptitude only increase.

As a public school science teacher in the late 1990s, I watched parents disengage from their children and students gain more power over my classroom every day. I saw administrators allow it to happen and even excuse bad behaviors: “She has a very hard home life; she just needs to blow off steam and we need to give her a safe place to do that. You don’t want her to feel unsafe, do you?”

I saw good teachers leave the profession rather than fight the brewing storm on the horizon that would make them constables instead of instructors, rely more on technology than instruction, and remove their classroom autonomy. So I quit to begin a family.

Concerned about the way the Obama administration was taking control of public education, handing out stimulus checks, and pushing for government-run health care, I helped start a local citizens’ group. I helped bring in candidates for public office to interview and study bills and legislation. I worked with legislators to develop a bill to improve civic understanding by mandating study of U.S. founding documents in high school.

I watched legislators talk to me and my fellow citizen lobbyists as though we were little more than gum on the bottom of their shoes and explain to us why they knew better than we. A legislator told me voters sent him to the capital to make laws, and I watched a scowl darken his face when I told him, “No, voters send you to the capital to protect their liberty, which often means repealing laws.”

I watched legislators lie to my face about the status of bills and why they wouldn’t vote for them. I became frustrated and disillusioned with legislators and the entire civic system and quit.

On Sept. 12, 2009, I went to our nation’s capital for the Taxpayer March on Washington. It was amazing to flood the streets of Washington D.C. with hundreds of thousands of other human beings, knowing I wasn’t the only person concerned about the state of the union, its history and trajectory.

Although we left the Washington Mall cleaner than we found it, we came home to hear that not only had corporate media downplayed and lied about the numbers of participants, but according to them we were all middle-America yokels who knew little beyond what we could dig up in our corn fields. We were called disgusting names, criticized, denigrated, and smeared by even President Obama himself.

Hoping for the best, I enrolled my children in public elementary school that year. Over the course of five years, I watched a son be bullied so badly by other students and his own teacher that I tried homeschooling just to see him smile again. I watched my other son be left behind in math to the point that he couldn’t add single-digit numbers properly. I watched a daughter bring home papers about global warming and bad white people who hurt Native Americans.

I joined the parent-teacher association only to find that fixing these issues wouldn’t happen there because there were no issues more important than selling wrapping paper to buy a new gymnasium and computers to make sure we had the same equipment other schools did. I saw no future for myself or my children there, so I quit the system.

Hoping that becoming involved in party politics could help steer the type of legislator we elect, I joined the state Republican Party. For years I dutifully went to every precinct meeting, county meeting, and district meeting, even volunteering for the platform committee numerous years.

Every year a group of us tried to create policies that would require Republican legislators to follow the platform upon which they ran but six years of work saw no success with that, or any other activity that attempted to make Republican politicians more accountable to the people who elected them. I became frustrated and disillusioned with the party system and I quit.

I found out about a national education initiative called Common Core. I began writing about its problems and joined many other parents attempting to push back, even helping to get Common Core removed from state law.

After all my efforts, I watched nothing improve. I watched the state department of education continue to find ways to propel Common Core into classrooms with no way to stop it from happening. I watched teachers use social media to tear myself and other parents apart personally for having the audacity to care about our kids and other Oklahoma students, so I quit.

For years after that, I simply taught my kids and served my community as a local elected official. Then came Nov. 4, 2020. On this day, I suddenly saw with my own eyes the depth and breadth of the corruption myself and others had tried to push against for so many years unsuccessfully.

Since that day, I’ve seen legislators and judges ignore significant allegations of wrongdoing, strong reasons for doubting the results, and legitimate evidence of election fraud. I’ve seen congressmen sit quietly and reservedly about the deep concerns of their constituents, presumably too concerned about their committee seats and donors to even croak out words in defense of a republic that was the only one of its kind.

In just a few short weeks I’ve seen the results of all the efforts I’ve ever attempted to uphold my tiny little corner of the world crash into a million pieces. I can never trust a single elected official again. How can I when public officials should have but have not been falling all over themselves to ferret out every single way public trust was violated during this presidential election, knowing that without fair and secure elections in this country, nothing else matters?

Without the assurance of fair and secure elections, the people are not represented. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people cannot be legitimate if the people can’t be sure their representatives were elected in accord with duly passed and equally enforced laws. How is it in the best interest of any state to simply “move on” from an election that has been fraught with as many questions, concerns, and outright unconstitutionalities as this one?

I’m angry because I’ve been playing by the “rules”: paying my taxes, being civil and tolerant of my neighbor, accepting without protest the election of past presidents I didn’t support, and never threatening physical violence, using name-calling, canceling careers, using government goons to unlawfully spy to invent reasons for impeachment, or using media to misreport, misrepresent or otherwise create dissension and anger. Yet the other side has carte blanche to do all this and more without condemnation, conviction, or retribution of any kind.

Yes, the world will continue to turn if this election goes to Joe Biden. Yes, Jesus is still on His throne. In my view, however, God blessed us with a nation unlike any other ever on this planet that was created to allow individuals more freedom to speak, worship, and live than in any other.

Our Constitution reserves nearly all power to the people and very little to the government, yet we’ve continually chosen government over freedom in our individual lives to the point we’re now standing at the edge of a very deep precipice from which we may not return. It’s hard not to be angry when confronted with this earth-shattering truth.

On Jan. 6, I will try one more time. That day I will stand with fellow Americans on the Mall in Washington DC, where I will once again petition Heaven, where I will again hope to see results before I quit for good.


Giving 2021 A Fighting Chance Requires We All Choose To Do What Is Hard

Even before the horrible year that was 2020, New Year’s Eve celebrations have long been filled with the near-certain expectation that things will definitely get better. Generally speaking, it’s a fine sentiment. Optimism is good; hope is good; and striving to improve the future from where we are today led us from the cave to the fields, across vast oceans, and into the limitless of outer space.

But nothing magical happens when the calendar year flips over. There’s no unexplained scientific phenomenon that shifts the incalculable number of atoms in our known universe into undaunted forces for good simply because we’ve reached the conclusion of this year’s cycle through the Gregorian calendar. Instead, history tells us things can always get worse.

After the stock market crashed in 1929, the Great Depression didn’t reach its darkest days until 1933. The 1938 Nazi annexation of Austria was followed by the invasion of Poland in 1939, then the steamrolling of France and near-defeat of Britain in 1940.

Yet while there’s no iron-clad guarantee that 2021 will be great, every one of us can contribute to the effort to realize a redemptive year filled with healing and joy.

No government action will make 2021 better than what we just went through in 2020. As with most positive change, any meaningful, lasting shifts in the trajectory of our towns and our nation will almost always stem from individuals choosing to do good.

World events of a grand nature will remain outside our ability to master. Pandemics, wildfires, and — unless you live in one of a handful of swing states — presidential elections involving more than 158 million votes are things almost entirely beyond our control. Yet, even in the worst of times, we can control how we interact with our fellow Americans, and a shift in the right direction in this regard is one of the simplest — albeit difficult — steps we can take.

It’s within the grasp of each of us, as individuals, to decide if what we both consume and contribute is life-affirming or malevolent, restorative or toxic. In our workplaces, online using social media, with our families, and interacting with total strangers, we are responsible for how we live amongst one another.

In our current rancorous political environment, we’ll have a chance at a better year if we realize most genuine conversations or debates aren’t best served in a tit-for-tat on Facebook or Twitter but in person over coffee, lunch, or a drink after work.

This doesn’t mean surrendering our principles or allowing ourselves to be walked over. It does, however, require we prudently recognize whose minds are open to change, and those who refuse to be unconvinced of what they believe; which arguments may bear fruitful discussion, and those that will only lead to more frustration and anger this country can do without.

Regardless of one’s faith, there is wisdom in the instructions given in the Bible’s 2 Timothy:

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. (2 Timothy 2:23)

As the author of the epistle to Timothy later notes, being honest doesn’t mean being needlessly hurtful or tactless, and he reminds us to “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth.” There’s an Aristotelian golden mean between failing to state a necessary truth and being an overly blunt jerk about it.

Similar valuable cautions are given in Titus 3:2 not to slander, to “avoid quarreling,” and to “show true humility to everyone.” Later in the chapter, we’re also reminded it may be best to walk away from those who continue to engage in foolish controversies:

If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. (Titus 3:10)

Admittedly, it’s hard to do, especially in a climate that often mistakenly views the last person who responded in a Facebook fight as “the winner” or politeness as a sign of “weakness.” Even so, it’s one of the few ways to lower the temperature to the point where authentic, amiable exchanges and healthy debates are possible. We’ll be a better nation in 2021 if Americans take time to ask and reflect, “Will this truly make things better?” before acting.

Furthermore, giving 2021 a fighting chance will involve constantly “checking one’s priors” at the door. Or, as Jordan Peterson has phrased it, we’d do well to “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something that you don’t.”

As more Americans limit their media consumption to voices and opinions they already agree with, ideological and philosophical blindspots pose an increasingly higher risk. Yet rarely are things as simple as either the “left” or “right” (antiquated terms to begin with) being absolutely correct or absolutely wrong.

Taking in the views of only a small territory of the political spectrum is one of the contributing factors that led us to a place, never more evident than in 2020, where one half of the country can’t even stand being in line next to the other half — six feet apart, no less. We don’t have to agree, but we have to be able to at least relate to where those we disagree with are coming from. This begins with the humility to acknowledge we may be wrong about something, or, at least, not as correct as we think we are.

“Genuine conversation is exploration, articulation, and strategizing,” Peterson writes, “When you’re involved in a genuine conversation, you’re listening.” This may also require mingling outside a safe, “bubbled,” friend group, especially if that group is comprised of similarly like-minded folks.

It means not assuming to know the totality of someone’s beliefs and values based on their stance on a single issue. It means being OK with someone thinking, even acting, in a way we personally disagree with (as long as it doesn’t directly infringe on anyone’s rights to life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness). A tolerance of true intellectual diversity will be a key factor in helping 2021 rebound after the past year.

In what could be the most important New Year’s resolution we make, by exercising humility, patience, and grace, we can each take responsibility in helping make 2021 the year we all need it to be, one individual choice at a time.


Festivus 2020: The Year Of Great Grievances

On this episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky and Senior Editor Christopher Bedford air their 2020 grievances. Whether it is pesky D.C. runners and bikers, fast food, or Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as Time’s person of the year, there are plenty of complaints to go around.

“I know your grievances could fill, not a podcast, but an audiobook really. A long audiobook. A biblical-sized audiobook,” Jashinsky told Bedford.

“A lot of things grind my gears,” Bedford agreed. 

While this year was filled with crazy people, unprecedented times, and Amy Klobuchar’s overused blizzard joke, Jashinsky and Bedford agree there are still some beacons of hope such as Olive Garden breadsticks, scooters, A1 steak sauce, and many more opportunities to air grievances in 2021.

“Soon it will be 2021, which I hate to tell you is probably going to be as bad as 2020,” Bedford said.


What Gave Us Joy In 2020

At The Federalist, we recently spent some time thinking over what we missed in 2020: big things, little things, surprising things. We also decided to consider what amid this strange and stressful year brought us joy, sometimes unexpectedly. Enjoy. Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

Ben Domenech

What a terrible, awful, horrific year for the people of the United States. The scourge of the coronavirus combined with our corrupt governments to ravage the nation. Our public officials, trusted to confront one of the most daunting tasks they will ever face, failed utterly. They compounded one lie after another with the help of a corporate media filled by corrupt or ignorant lickspittles whose lies cost us dearly.

And many Americans proved far too willing to go along with their authoritarian demands. A country that longs for a little revolution now and then is not a bad thing. A country that is docile in the face of government overreach is much worse.

An entire generation of children trapped in the hell-holes they have the audacity to call schools will feel the effects of our nation’s craven partisan failure for decades to come. New York’s media pleasured Andrew Cuomo with the verve and dedication of a committed coke whore, all while his policies ensured grandma died alone.

The Atlantic, once the greatest American magazine, descended into one long petty eye-bulging Anne Applebaum rant. The New York Times became one unending Slack fight and managed to make a bunch of people who cannot stand Tom Cotton defend him from their arrogant stupidity. Big Tech showed how willing they are to invade your privacy and destroy free speech with all the subtlety of setting Julie Andrews on fire. Brian Stelter remained Brian Stelter.

So how does one find joy in such a terrible year for media, for politics, and for freedom of thought in a country ruled by the likes of Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, and the spoiled limousine pajama class of essential journalists and politicians already cutting in line for the vaccine? It turns out the best path to finding this joy in this terrible year is to have a purpose.

By many counts, this was an excellent year for us at The Federalist. We doubled in size. Our scope of coverage was incredible. We covered the election and the pandemic with our small team branching out across the country. Our new young talents grew wonderfully. Those who attacked us failed in their efforts or elevated our stature. It’s a very good place to be.

At the same time, work is not a purpose. It is good to be motivated by it, to enjoy it, and to have such a smart, entertaining team of fun-loving rabble-rousers. But that’s only one aspect of life.

A purpose comes when something more important comes along. In my case, the news that we would have a child this year came mere weeks before the news that New York was locking down. Managing pregnancy during a global pandemic seems daunting. Yet at The Federalist, five of our families — nearly half of our staff — did just that this year.

They welcomed five healthy, happy babies in a year that will require a story to be told to them. They kept mom healthy, they followed the rules where they had to and dodged the stupid ones where they could, and at the end, were rewarded with healthy little Americans, born with the right to breathe free.

That is a purpose. And it is one we will meet. This gives me joy.

I always like to read Winston Churchill’s guidance on Christmas Eve, 1941, delivered from the White House to the American people. This year, it seems more appropriate than any other.

This is a strange Christmas Eve. Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle, and, with the most terrible weapons which science can devise, the nations advance upon each other.

Ill would it be for us this Christmastide if we were not sure that no greed for the land or wealth of any other people, no vulgar ambition, no morbid lust for material gain at the expense of others, had led us to the field.

Here, in the midst of war, raging and roaring over all the lands and seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart.

Therefore we may cast aside for this night at least the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children an evening of happiness in a world of storm. Here, then, for one night only, each home throughout the English-speaking world should be a brightly-lighted island of happiness and peace.

Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.

And so, in God’s mercy, a happy Christmas to you all.

Libby Emmons

I got my bike when I was 11, a shiny blue 10-speed, and it’s still the only bike I’ve ever owned. For years after I moved to a city and discovered public transit, it sat idle in the garage. But with gyms closed and much of the world shut down, I took to riding it again.

I rode all around New York City, out to Coney Island, further, down the Jamaica Greenway and out to the Rockaways. I rode out to the Bronx and across the bridges that crisscross the East River, which is actually not a river but a tidal estuary.

I liked how it felt to ride far and fast, I relearned how to ride with no hands. I screwed up my courage and took curves at high speed. I packed fig bars and water so I wouldn’t have to worry if I landed somewhere with no fuel. I listened to loud music on my airpods and sometimes if no one was around I would sing at full voice.

While biking I learned all the words to Fiona Apple’s new record, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” and same for Morrissey’s “I Am Not a Dog on a Chain.” I found power in pedals, strength in pushing, and freedom in sailing through air.

Inez Feltscher Stepman

I know it’s a forced thing, but nevertheless it brings me joy to see our parks, whether national or local, be in use. Unfortunately, too often, parks in large American cities sit basically unused outside of joggers and the homeless. This year, though, they’re full of groups of 20- and 30-somethings, whether sharing a drink or a picnic. In a rough year, it was nice to walk through the parks of D.C. or New York and see them come to life.

Mitch Hall

While many of my fellow Seattleites eagerly abided by nonsensical government lockdowns and shelved their “normal lives,” I found myself on the brink of depression two months into the pandemic. Without a vibrant social scene or thriving culture, city life is pointless for a single twenty-something like me, and clumsy Zoom happy hours mixed with living-room yoga just didn’t cut it.

So in May, after my company became permanently virtual and I realized I could still make my living from anywhere, I packed a duffle bag and a Nikon camera, threw it in my well-loved 1995 Toyota 4Runner, and set out on the road. A tour of the American West had been a dormant dream of mine for years, and it dawned on me that there was no better time to do it.

When all was said and done, I spent 80 days on the road, driving more than 12,000 miles in a rough loop from the Pacific Northwest to Idaho and Montana, down to the Mexican border by way of Colorado and the Southwest, then back up through Utah, Nevada, California, and Oregon. I slept in the back of my truck, worked in any open café I could find, and spent my weekends touring National Parks and pursuing my hobby of photography.

I reconnected with long lost friends in different cities, who offered me shelter and showed me the meaning of true friendship. I traveled over winding mountain passes, through Native reservations, and down many abandoned Main Streets that hearkened back to bygone eras.

I was wholly self-reliant, beholden to the whims of no one but myself, and in this, I found the greatest joy. While each new day offered endless opportunity, it was up to me to make the most of it. I learned just what sort of stuff I was made of, and in doing so, I tasted freedom. Let me tell you: it is utterly and completely intoxicating.

Mollie Hemingway

One of the many benefits of this dismal year has been more time spent at home by everyone. As November drew to a close, it became obvious that more people than ever before were decorating their homes for Christmas.

We were no exception. We had a creche last year, but this year we schlepped to Home Depot and got stakes so we could line our path with lights and get some lights on the bushes. We take long routes home from evening church services and choir practice so we can survey the broader scene in surrounding neighborhoods.

Some of our neighbors have gone above and beyond. One family has decorated their cars with lights. Another has a nutcracker theme. One large house near ours has an indoor Christmas tree and a decorated outdoor Christmas tree.

The quality of roof lighting is markedly improved over previous years. In one part of town, several blocks of houses all got together and decorated their houses similarly. Each house had a large wooden sign set up in their front yard that they had painted with a holiday theme. Only one of them thought it a good opportunity to make a snotty anti-Trump political point — which is a major victory in my very liberal city that heavily pushes virtue signaling.

While I don’t understand secular Christmas traditions as much as the religious ones — someone will have to explain to me why so many of my neighbors think dragons are a good Christmas theme — I love that everyone is getting into the general spirit.

I also noticed a ton of colorful lights, as opposed to the white lights that dominated the neighborhood in years past. White lights can be put up at any time of year — we have them up in our sunroom year-round — but the multi-colored lights are unmistakably for Christmas.

Advent, the period of time leading to Christmas, is when we await the coming of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” It’s a perfect message, in this and every year, and brings those who hear it great joy.

Tristan Justice

I savored the space this year provided.

When the pandemic hit, I lost my D.C. bar job going into peak tourist season, which features the most profitable shifts of the year, a season ultimately canceled anyway. Even as D.C. restaurants began to reopen weeks later, my restaurant had been destroyed in the riots after George Floyd’s death, making a return to waiting tables all the more unlikely.

The loss of my service job was initially a curse, but became a blessing in disguise. I spent my weekends seeking refuge in the sanctuary provided in D.C.’s Rock Creek Park as the pandemic shut down everything exciting the city had to offer. Live music wouldn’t be returning any time soon, socially distant bars felt pointless, and paranoia had set in for an anxious population.

In other words, D.C. had become boring and no less expensive in the beginning months of summer. But my days in Rock Creek Park reignited my appreciation for tranquility, which translated into re-centering my values, my focus, and my faith.

In a year defined by trauma and filled with death, disease, and despair, I find myself still leaving 2020 far better than I entered it. I’ve earned a promotion, moved to a better city, cultivated better relationships, set better goals, learned how to cook, and busted myself into the best shape I’ve ever been.

As much as I miss the music festival — and I deeply miss the music festival — it’s an odd twist to look back and write that life is personally better than it was 12 months ago, even in the midst of a pandemic. I attribute that to prioritizing self-care and spiritual growth, with an optimism that when things open fully back up next year, I’ll be thriving like never before.

For better and for worse, 2020 still remained a series of firsts. My first big purchase. My first major health scare. My first campaign. My first pandemic. My first relationship. My first break up. All of these, however, are guaranteed to happen over the next 60 years or so to just about everyone.

At the age of 23, I understand my darkest days are still ahead, but so too are the brightest. And that is something which brings me joy, and is worth celebrating.

David Marcus

The last time I was at a live professional sports event I went to a Nets versus Sixers game with my buddy Scholnick down in Philly. I’ve been a Nets fan since they arrived at Atlantic and Flatbush in 2012.

It has not been an easy ride. After selling out its future to the Boston Celtics for an aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the early days, they now have a solid core to which they have added future hall of famers Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both back from injuries and playing together for Brooklyn for the first time.

I enjoyed watching the Nets in the mini-season this summer. They had no star power and got swept in the playoffs opening round. But the other guys, the Jarrett Allens and the Joe Harrises, played with a lot of grit, leaving me salivating to see the team with the new superstars.

At a time there wasn’t much immediate to look forward to I looked forward to winter too now. Tuesday the Nets played their first game, and already they look like easily the best basketball team I have rooted for in my adult life. My ten-year old-son is thrilled. He told me so and that it’s because he’s from Brooklyn.

This is the first time that a Brooklyn Nets team could ever really be thought of as a contender, and it’s fun. It’s that thing to look forward to a few times a week that we missed in spring and early summer. With a little luck and a lot of vaccinations, I could back at the Barclay’s Center with my boy watching the Nets live again soon. They have already brought me joy in 2020; I’m looking for a lot more in the year to come.

Helen Raleigh

Since we are working from home, my husband and I have been taking evening strolls before dinner. These walks bring me much joy. Sometimes we stop by the pond to watch ducks swimming, or boys from our neighborhood trying to catch frogs, or catch a moment of the most glorious sunset. One time we encountered a fawn, which was initially lost but quickly reunited with his mommy deer. Seeing their reunion brought happy tears to my eyes.

On Halloween evening, we put individually wrapped candy bags out on the front porch, wondering if any kids would show up. To our surprise, our neighborhood kids not only showed up but also dressed in costumes — a bumblebee, a butterfly, a Spiderman, and a knight with shining armors and a cape. Seeing these kids, especially how our candy bags had brought big smiles on their faces, made me happy.

It also brought me joy when I first held the author’s review copy of my new book, “Backlash.” I love the smell of fresh print, and the book cover looks amazing. I didn’t let fear, anxiety, and despair run my life during the many months of lockdowns and isolation. Instead, I was focused and productive, and I did something meaningful.

Holly Scheer

2020 was a hard year for many families, and mine certainly had our difficult times. But we also had so many moments of joy this year, too. I’m very thankful for all of the extra time we spent with our children, and the extra time they spent as siblings together, reading books, playing games, creating adventures.

We made memories this year we will treasure forever. 2020 we spent taking long drives through the mountains, cherishing the natural beauty around us. We read books out loud as a family. We did devotions together, praying as a family. My girls mastered sourdough baking, bringing us so much joy in the simple form of bread.

We spent time this year getting to know our neighbors, and learning how much we really like them. We expanded and built our community, involving ourselves in ways we can enrich our local town. 2020 brought us hyper-local and we learned how much joy that gave us as a whole family.

Ilya Shapiro

What gave me joy in 2020 was watching my kids grow. Even if I worked from home as many hours (or more) as I did in the Before Times, the time savings from not having to commute, travel, or attend evening receptions — plus seeing my family throughout the day (especially lunch) — made for a lot of “quantity time.” It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, to be sure, but for my wife and me to just be around all the time was joyous for our young family.

Kylee Zempel

2020 took many things from us, and the worst part is that most of those “things” weren’t really things at all. One little virus robbed us of loved ones and celebrations of milestones and unmasked laughter. It stole youthful experiences and savings accounts and worship the way God intended.

But out of all the loss and the chaos, this year brought the sweet and tangible reminder of God’s providence. 2020 represents not only a year of upheaval, but also the clarity of hindsight — and hindsight reveals this year was also one of joy.

If it weren’t for COVID-19, I never would have left my high-rise apartment in Washington, D.C., and driven back to the Midwest to spend precious time with my family — time that might never come around again. Back home in Wisconsin, I found familiar smiles instead of masks, and warm embraces instead of social distance.

If not for the pandemic, I never would have gone camping this summer — and I went three times. I wouldn’t have gone cliff jumping or spent my birthday with my best friends or realized how much I enjoy running. I wouldn’t have been blessed with my mom’s home-cooked meals, wouldn’t have worked with my dog’s head in my lap, and wouldn’t have helped my dad chop wood to heat the house where I grew up.

If 2020 had gone the way I had expected, I wouldn’t have been around to reconnect with my childhood best friend. This year, I sent snail mail and ate fresh kale straight out of the garden and tried wake-surfing. Heck, I even jumped out of a plane! If not for this hell of a year, I wouldn’t have let go of old friendships, met wonderful people who have become some of my closest companions, and fallen in love.

I never would have chosen 2020, but God has blessed me beyond measure. Soli deo gloria!

Joy Pullmann

What gave me joy in 2020 were my children and husband, especially the new child we welcomed in May. But, as befits the year, this great joy began in suffering, much of it self-inflicted. For much of the year, I resisted the gift of their being, resentful of being pregnant a sixth time. It seemed so unfair when I already had “a billion” children and so many women who want just one cannot. Why couldn’t any of these aching, empty would-be mothers have a baby instead of me?

The problem of evil seemed to blossom in my literal lap. I stroked my sickened ego by resentfully feeling cursed that I had to drag around my belly while already carrying, I thought, such big burdens of life responsibilities. But this sorrow ultimately flowered in joy, thanks to no merit of my own but pure grace.

Like the first son I didn’t want, the second son I didn’t want gave me the gift of a love that breaks the narrow chambers of a selfish heart. The year I didn’t want either taught me, in a miracle of inner change I certainly didn’t cause or deserve, to repent and rejoice.

Inwardly, I had claimed the right to pity my own suffering when hundreds of millions of people in the world go hungry, naked, destitute, and sick, with not a touch of medical relief. I complained about the possibility of giving birth without my husband — because COVID — but in a state-of-the-art birth center with giant Whirlpools accompanied by a host of highly qualified medical attendants.

So this has been an extremely embarrassing year for me, as much it has been for the rest of our pampered and ego-driven elites. I’ve bitterly railed against them, but we have been exactly the same. Thus, this year, I am grateful God has given me the gift of repentance. Without it, no joy can be had. With it, no joy can be denied. “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.”


20 Stories The Media Got Horribly Wrong In 2020

It should be no surprise as 2020 comes to an end that corporate media covered a horrific year as horrifically as expected. From its laudatory coverage of the presidential impeachment it encouraged to the blatant gaslighting about this year’s riotous protests, the nation’s least accountable institution performed as usual, only escalating its protection of Democrats and leftism, and shameless manipulation of the facts while demanding total power to determine them.

Here are 20 top mortifying moments of the media in 2020.

20: Iranian Terrorist Was A War Hero

The Trump administration rang in the pre-pandemic new year with the execution of Iranian Revolutionary Guard terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani, or, as legacy media described him, a “war hero.”

Soleimani had recently orchestrated attacks on U.S. military bases in Iraq, killing at least one American contractor in December. The Iranian terrorist had also been behind bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to administration officials who said this played no small role in the decision to take Soleimani out.

American media however, infected by Trump Derangement Syndrome in a debilitating condition that only grew worse as the following months marked this year among most challenging of the 21st century, refrained from celebrating Soleimani’s demise. Instead, the media lionized the Iranian general as a Middle Eastern hero while spiking fears of World War III begun by a mad man in the White House.

19: Media Celebrates Impeachment

While the novel Wuhan coronavirus brewed in China preceding a global pandemic that would bring the world to its knees, Democrats and the media entered the new year on the cusp of achieving the top item on their policy agenda since 2016: the impeachment of President Donald Trump, for any reason at all.

When the final vote was held in February, exonerating the president following the four-year stunt, corporate outlets nevertheless fawned over the process they promoted that distracted the federal government from preparing for the disease in overseas later crippling the nation.

“There’s a sacramental quality to this. There’s a ritual,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews lamented. “There’s also something sort of this excommunication aspect to this thing.”

18: Fake Math Meets Fake News

In March, MSNBC’s Brian Williams, safe from the Army helicopter shot down that he never flew in, brought New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay on air to affirm a wildly inaccurate tweet flying around on social media.

“Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over,” the post on Twitter wrote, which Williams promoted on the national network unironically while interviewing a New York Times editor who called it accurate.

“It’s an incredible way of putting it,” Williams said.

“It’s an incredible way of putting it. It’s true, it’s disturbing,” Gay responded.

17: Media Downplays COVID Before Attacking President For Doing It

Just before legacy outlets spent the rest of the election whipping hysteria over President Trump’s comments downplaying the severity of the novel Chinese coronavirus, corporate media elites were doing the same thing.

“Coronavirus is not going to cause a major issue in the United States,” one guest said on CBS.

Meanwhile, commentators on CNN frequently compared the coronavirus to the seasonal flu.

Yet, at the launch of the general election season after Labor Day, legacy outlets reported on Watergate journalist Bob Woodward’s book release. The book revealed statements from the president downplaying the viral threat, which media then treated as the biggest scandal to plague the Trump White House in the final weeks to November. The “bombshell” reporting book published in September, however, revealed no sentiments the president not already issued directly to reporters in the White House press briefing room.

But the headlines didn’t follow until September, when it all of a sudden became a media-manufactured scandal.

“Trump Admits Downplaying the Virus Knowing It Was “Deadly Stuff,’” titled a front-page piece in the New York Times. “Trump Acknowledges He Intentionally Downplayed Coronavirus Threat,” followed the Washington Post cover.

16: Media Change Tune On COVID, Raise Hysteria to Promote Lockdowns

Almost right on cue, the media changed its tune on COVID once the president did. As Trump pulled the levers of the federal government to encourage states to reopen and get kids back in school, outlets escalated their hysterics over the coronavirus as promising to wipe out the entire country.

When Trump encouraged Americans not to let COVID “dominate your life,” as he recovered from his own infection, the media was triggered into a frenzy.

“This is so disrespectful, I’m not even sure I can speak about this,” CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

By the year’s end, hundreds of thousands of more children have dropped out of school than have died from COVID as teachers unions and Democrats target school closures with made-up science.

15: Lockdown Protests Are Violent

In the past nine months, legacy media has condemned lockdown protestors, whose lives have been upended because the government deemed their lives’ work non-essential. They’ve been described by corporate media as recklessselfishdangeroussuicidalracist because they could spread the virus to black people, and undeserving of medical attention.

As Americans took to the streets to demand their freedom, elite on-air media personalities sitting comfortably in their offices raking in generous paychecks derided the protestors as “ugly,” “extreme,” and “dangerous.”

“I don’t understand what is wrong with people,” CNN’s Don Lemon said in prime time. “Stay at home.”

Of course it’s hard to understand protests over losing employment when your celebrity-estimated net worth stands at $12 million.

14: Violent Protests As Peaceful

After vilifying protestors advocating for a cause they didn’t like, the woke media began righteously lionizing militant riots for social justice as “peaceful” demonstrations for progress.

MSNBC’s Ali Velshi’s May episode standing in front of grand inferno calling the surrounding riot “mostly a protest” is emblematic of the entire corporate coverage afforded to the explosion of political violence sweeping the nation this summer.

In August, CNN aired an early-morning chryon featuring their correspondent in Kenosha, Wisconsin unironically spelling out a phrase that had become a meme to define the network’s riot coverage.

There are practically endless examples of media malfeasance on the summer social justice riots to choose from, but CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s entire dismissal of Velshi in front of a burning building and calling the events a “protest” may best sum up the media’s attitude towards the epidemic of unrest.

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13: Bubba Wallace Hoax

In June, controversy ensued following news of a “noose” hanging from NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage. Wallace is credited as one of the most successful black racers in the sport’s history and the only black driver currently in the league’s top tier.

A subsequent FBI investigation featuring 15 agents concluded the “hate crime noose” had actually been a garage pull rope. Further, the FBI found the rope had been there since October 2019, and Wallace’s team was only assigned to the garage just days before this summer’s race.

Mere allegations of a hate crime didn’t stop the media from amplifying a hoax hate crime to promote their narrative, though, while characterizing NASCAR as a relic sport of white supremacy. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell declared the unsubstantiated “noose” a “horrifyingly, racist incident,” which it would have been if it were actually a noose.

Former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, who now writes for The Atlantic, called the “noose” a “disgusting reminder of who this sport is for.” Considering last year’s stories about the Covington high school kids and actor Jussie Smollett, this kind of media conduct is becoming a routine trend.

12: Kobe Bryant Gaffe

MSNBC Sunday anchor Alison Morris mixed up the words “Los Angeles Lakers” with “knicks” before correcting herself from what could have sounded like the N-word when reporting on basketball legend Kobe Bryant’s early and unfortunate death. Morris later apologized, claiming that she stuttered on air.

11: Media Claims Trump Preparing To Enact Martial Law

The same entities charging Trump with amplifying conspiracies saw no end in manufacturing their own claiming the president was preparing to enact martial law to secure the November election.

“Is there anybody, having watched Donald Trump over the past three and a half years, who doesn’t think that Donald Trump would try to employ martial law?” asked one MSNBC guest.

10: Blow Up Mount Rushmore

As left-wing media led the 21st century woke revolution redefining the nation as an irredeemably racist society built by white supremacists for white supremacists on “stolen land,” the national monument at Mount Rushmore became a target.

The assault on the monument and the nation’s history provoked a presidential visit over Independence Day weekend. Trump’s trip heightened scrutiny of the American masterpiece. Leftist reporters derided the visit as paying homage to “slave holders” because two of the men enshrined on the South Dakota memorial owned slaves.

Despite Trump’s speech celebrating the country’s civil rights heroes, The New York Times still declared the patriotic address “dark” and “divisive.” Other outlets followed suit.

9: Chris Matthews Confuses Black Senate Candidate For Black Senator

In February, then-MSNBC prime-time host of “Hardball” Chris Matthews mistook Republican Sen. Tim Scott for Jaime Harrison, another South Carolina African-American politician running to oust Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“Jaime, I see you standing next to the guy you’re gonna beat right there, maybe,” Matthews said.

8: Everything Chris Cuomo

From staging a fake re-emergence from his basement following his infection with the novel Wuhan virus to promoting his New York governor brother in prime time with silly gimmicks and indignantly demanding someone just show him the First Amendment, CNN’s Chris Cuomo became the poster child for CNN bias in 2020.

7: Mika Throws Temper Tantrum

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski underwent an on-air meltdown in August after President Trump mocked his Democratic opponent’s proposal for a federal mask mandate.

Brzezinski alluded to the idea Trump might kill her at one point.

“You can be sure that you will never see me on Fifth Avenue, ever ever, because he has said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue. I believe him,” Brzezinski said in an apparent audition for Bravo programming following queens with Trump Derangement Syndrome.

6: Trump Weaponizing Postal Service to Steal Election

In August, Democrats spun a new conspiracy following the failure of the Russia hoax to indict President Trump. This time, he was baselessly accused of manipulating the U.S. Postal Service to secure re-election.

Former President Barack Obama said Trump was “undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to the election that’s going to  be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump was out to “sabotage the election” through the Postal Service to “disenfranchise voters.”

The media characteristically followed the party line.

“Trump: Clearly I’m Screwing With The Post Office To Sabotage The Election,” headlined Vanity Fair. Vice and New York Magazine issued similar headlines.

Of course none of what Democrats and their allies in the media alleged actually happened. No voters were denied their right to vote because of sweeping last-minute changes implemented to curb Democratic turnout. To the contrary, it was Democrats in key swing states who initiated last-minute rule changes that increased voting error margins, to their own benefit in November.

5: Pack The Court

After President Trump cemented his legacy with the appointment and confirmation of three conservative Supreme Court justices with Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s successful admission in October, Democrats and their allies in the media followed suit.

“The only way that we restore fairness is for Congress to pass an act expanding the court,” said the Huffington Post’s Jill Filipovic.

4: Biden Bus

In the final days of the election, videos surfaced of vehicles decked out in Trump memorabilia apparently harassing a Biden campaign bus in Texas. Corporate outlets were quick condemn an altercation that occurred between two opposing vehicles as an “ambush,” only for local police to clarify the at-fault vehicle belonged to a Biden-Harris staffer.

MSNBC continued to peddle the lie anyway.

“I guess I wonder where all of the voices are to condemn taking political partisanship and political speech to 70 miles an hour on the highways,” said MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace.

3: Media Gushes Over Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden went through the entire election as the least scrutinized presidential candidate of a major party in decades, answering less than half as many questions as President Donald Trump by Axios’ count in October. Many of the questions the Democratic nominee did get, however, were thinly disguised attacks on Trump.

“President Trump says offensive things, he never apologizes for it. Is there a double-standard here?” asked CNN’s Dana Bash.

“When you hear these remarks, ‘suckers,’ ‘losers,’ what does it tell you about President Trump’s soul?” one reporter asked in reference to an anonymously sourced story alleging the comments published by The Atlantic in September.

2: Media Dismiss Hunter Biden Stories

Among the most consequential follies of the 2020 Trump-era media was its dismissal of credible reporting on President-elect Joe Biden’s potentially criminal family business ventures.

After spending years seeking to indict President Trump as an agent of the Kremlin government, the media went silent on stories implicating Joe Biden in his son’s overseas business dealings while exposing a laundry list of lies peddled by the Democratic candidate on the campaign trail.

Taxpayer-funded NPR said it wasn’t worth the editors’ time.

CBS’s Lesley Stahl denied to nearly 17 million viewers on “60 Minutes” that Joe Biden was under any scandal at all.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour self-righteously declared herself a journalist while gasping in astonishment at the idea that she conduct journalism.

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Read a run-down of those who ought to be most embarrassed over the Hunter Biden story here.

1: Media Weeps Over Biden Victory

To the media, Trump had been the unhinged comic book villain on a course of destruction. It’s no surprise, then, that following Biden’s triumphant victory with their collective support, on-air commentators began to weep at Biden’s claims of victory.

Government-funded PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor offered a preview of the kind of hard-hitting journalism to look forward to under the next four years of a Biden-Harris administration by comparing Biden’s cabinet picks to “The Avengers.”


Our Christmas Tree Is A Scraggly Fire Hazard, And We Love It

2020 hasn’t offered much to celebrate, to put it mildly. Sure, we’ve all found our escapes, things that offer respite from Zoom meetings, for those of us fortunate enough to be able to transition to life through Zoom. People slowed down, spent more time together, cooked more. But sources of joy have been a bit farther between this year.

This is particularly true as we head into a holiday season in which we’re not supposed to celebrate with friends, unless we’re governors. We’re supposed to stay isolated, apart. We can shop online. We can order take-and-bake meals from restaurants. One normal thing we can do, at least in theory, is decorate a Christmas tree.

Except that all the being at home we’ve been doing meant a tree shortage this year, especially for those of us who buy and decorate trees on a more normal schedule. This is super especially true for those of us who moved into a new house this year, closing on December 4 and spending that weekend moving only to get snowed out the following weekend.

Thus, I found myself on a mission on the morning of December 16. I dropped the kids off at school (we’re fortunate enough to have in-person — thanks, school choice!) and began my quest.

I started at Walmart. They had trees, but they were small and bedraggled. I tried another Walmart. That location had nothing. I tried a local garden center and there it was, a real beauty, shining at me from afar. I wouldn’t even have to dig it up with my own hands.

It had a “sold” tag on it.

Sam’s Club had wreaths and nothing else. Another local nursery also had only wreaths. The shopping center with “tree” in the title sadly had nothing to do with tree sales. I looked at a nice full pine of some sort outside a bank and considered stealing it, but that would have required me to dig it up with my own hands.

Not wanting to spend the season in jail, I began contemplating the bedraggled numbers I’d seen at the first Walmart I’d visited and started heading back in that direction. Before arriving, though, I made a fateful decision and stopped at Lowe’s.

And there it was, a real beauty—if your idea of a real beauty is a scraggly, dry fire hazard. It does not have a lot of sap. It is not full. It is, however, very, very tall, which was apparently my only requirement this year.

See, one of the Cromwell Family Christmas traditions is me getting a tree that is far too large for the space. It usually involves having to cut part of the top and part of the trunk off to even stand it upright. In our new home, we have the space for my ridiculous trees. Yet I was thwarted by the aforementioned shortage.

So I bought the tallest Charlie Brown tree ever. It is so dry and light that I was able to easily get it on top of the car by myself, even though it’s about 12 feet tall. Somehow a majority of the remaining needles survived the drive home, where I was easily able to get it into the house and into the stand by myself. This part of the journey is where all the needles that had valiantly held tight during the drive gave up the fight and hit the floor.

At this point I realized I needed a new ladder, so back to Lowe’s I went. Then I realized our hedging shears were also broken, so back out again. With that trip completed and the top of the tree snipped of errant branches, it was time to get the lights on.

Normally, I go for fat, old-school bulbs. The modern iterations don’t get hot like they did back in the day, but they do emit a little heat. The bigger consideration was that they’re heavy, so I went with the smaller bulbs, of which I was short a few strands. I considered going out again, but decided to just roll with it. It still is 2020, after all.

From there, the family decorated. This was not an exuberant decoration. All fragile ornaments were left put away as the branches were already overloaded with the weight of the lights and couldn’t really handle much more. Ornaments dropped to the floor while we were still decorating. Yet we persisted and, with a little effort, got the large piece of kindling masquerading as a Christmas tree decorated.

Much like many humans, it’s much more attractive in the dark, although my attempts at spreading the too-few strands of lights becomes more obvious in those circumstances. A neighbor told me it looks like our tree has mange. He was joking, but he wasn’t wrong.

Yet we love it. Much like Charlie Brown and his own scraggly number, this tree needed me. No one was going to walk into that area of Lowe’s, look across the selection, and think, “There it is.” We took it and gave it a temporary home. We made it as beautiful as possible, especially given its lack of branches and insufficient load-bearing capabilities.

This year, we often have to get creative about what brings us joy. We may be sick of Zooms, we may miss large gatherings, but we’ve got one another, we’ve got a home, and we’ve got a tree. More important, we’ve got a fire pit.

So, while this year’s Cromwell Family Tree may be dry, scraggly, under-lighted, and not that impressive in its current form, it is going to be something to behold when it goes up in flames. That may not be what Christmas is all about, but it is still 2020, after all.


The Federalist’s Notable Books For 2020

Well, they say hindsight is 2020 — and thank God for that. Suffice to say, none of us are going to be wistfully blaring Ol’ Blue Eyes’ “It Was a Very Good Year” on New Year’s Eve. (Side note: Have you ever listened to the lyrics of that song? “It was a very good year / for blue-blooded girls of independent means.” Is Frank Sinatra being feminist or classist? I’m so confused.)

Anyway, if we’re going to go digging for some roast beef in this year’s crap sandwich, most of us had a little more time to read this year. That is good, because it’s time for The Federalist’s annual notable books column.

In it, Federalist writers, as well as those in the publication’s large and growing orbit, take stock of the books we read this year. Unlike other annual lists, this is not necessarily a list of books that came out this year, just the ones that Federalist writers happened to read in 2020 and judged worthy of recommending.

Mollie Hemingway

America Transformed: The Rise and Legacy of American Progressivism by R.J. Pestritto — This book doesn’t come out until next year, but I was lucky enough to score an advance copy. Pestritto is perhaps the preeminent historian of the progressive era, which dramatically reshaped American politics for the worse, by jettisoning traditional notions of constitutionalism and embracing an unaccountable administrative state. The history and politics of the era are fascinating and explain so much about what’s wrong today, and Pestritto has written an indispensible and accessible guide to understanding progressivism.

Libby Emmons

The Story Bible by Pearl S. Buck — The undeservedly out-of-print Story Bible is a retelling of the Old and New Testaments, in order, and told simply and directly. It’s almost as though what D’Aulaires did for Greek and Norse myths, Buck does for Bible stories.

Without the million begats and thenceforths, Buck relates the stories of our Jewish and Christian ancestors’ relationship with God, the land, and each other. At times it’s an adventure story, as with Joshua spying in Jericho, while at times it’s a morality tale, as with the two angels of the Lord in Sodom. There are stories of young women crossing deserts to marry strangers, prideful Pharaohs, and it’s all told in a way that is keeping my son remarkably engaged in learning the Bible.

It is not scripture, to be sure, but the stories are compelling, and lovingly and thoughtfully written, by a woman with faith. I often think God is revealed in so many ways in the Bible so that each person who listens can find a way to let Him into their hearts, and Buck continues that method of telling.

Buck’s big book was The Good Earth, which is very similar in tone and story to Knut Hamsun’s The Growth of the Soil, in that they are both about men who work, raise families, suffer, and toil, with barely a complaint, doing what needs be done when it needs doing.

Rebeccah Heinrichs

American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time by Joshua Mitchell — America feels like it is coming apart. The last four years under the Trump administration have pushed deeply entrenched problems to the fore, causing some to misdiagnose Trump as the cause of our social unravelling. But if it isn’t necessarily caused by Trump, what is the root cause of the dysfunction?

Is it Marxism? Socialism? The sexual revolution? Christian nationalism? In American Awakening, Mitchell says there are three main drivers. The first one is the most severe: identity politics, the anti-egalitarianism, illiberal toxin.

The academic, political, and cultural elites who peddle the toxin bestow entire groups of people a platform for power and influence, while censoring other groups of people and denouncing all they have touched. According to Mitchell, those who peddle identity politics proclaim who in society are the “stained” and who are the “innocent,” according to race and sex and any other descriptions outside of their control; and it leaves no possibility for reconciliation.

It is a hideous distortion of Christian ideas, without God and without forgiveness. Michell’s other “drivers” are for you to discover when you read American Awakening in the new year.

Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World by H.R. McMaster — McMaster has come to be one of the most interesting players in the Trump drama still unfolding. To me, the most interesting players are the ones who remained able to offer rational analyses without getting wrapped around the axel by the populist outsider president’s tics and anti-establishment approach, a rabidly hostile and sometimes brazenly corrupt White House press corps and broadcast media, and adversaries savvy enough to exploit the domestic tumult to their advantage.

These arethe people who could roll up their sleeves to help the country without, to paraphrase Kipling, lose their heads when all around them people were losing theirs and blaming it on them. McMaster is one of those people.

In Battlegrounds, Trump’s second national security advisor will disappoint the Always-Trumpers and the Never-Trumpers, although he does destroy the erroneous and malicious myth that Trump’s policies toward Russia were evidence of some kind of Trump-Putin plot. However, McMaster didn’t write a book to embarrass or boost the president. He wrote the book to outline the greatest threats to American security, how we got into the complicated fixes we find ourselves in, and what approaches have worked and haven’t, in an attempt to right the ship.

His book brings his decades of serious thinking as a strategist and a warrior. He led the Trump National Security Strategy, which oriented the next several years of policy to engage in competition with peer threats from Russia and China. You can’t sift through noise and chaff of Trump-era national security challenges and policies and make sense of the way forward without reading Battlegrounds.

Sumantra Maitra

Russian Conservatism by Paul Robinson — The closest word to safety in the Russian language is “Bezopastnost,” which is transliterated to “no danger.” To understand Russia,  perhaps that is a starting point — a historical great power, driven paranoid due to its history, lacking defensible natural frontiers like the British and Americans, and invaded by Mongols, Muslims, Swedes, Poles, Napoleon, Kaiser, and Hitler.

The only times Russia felt secure were when it expanded and had buffer zones. But that’s not all. Our understanding of Russia is shaped by the Bolsheviks.

We forget that Russia is a Christian conservative power historically defending Eastern Europe from Ottomans and, at the peak of its geopolitical power in 1815, the founder of the Holy Alliance with Austria and Prussia. The Soviet-era was an aberration, and current Russia is far more Christian and conservative than the European Union, for example.

Robinson’s fascinating book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the socio-cultural dynamic and history behind Russia’s great-power ambition, and illustrates somewhat convincingly that a farmer in Idaho will have more in common with an average God-fearing Russian trucker than with an Antifa non-binary student rioting in Portland or an EU bureaucrat in Brussels.

You Say You Want a Revolution?: Radical Idealism and Its Tragic Consequences by Daniel Chirot — Speaking of Antifa, is anyone cognizant of the threat we face from left-wing radicalism? Daniel Chirot’s new book argues in the negative.

Studying revolutions and providing empirical evidence, this book argues that history usually repeats simply because we forget lessons of history, that idealism is the ultimate destructive force in the history of humanity. Liberals opposed to tradition and culture, and in thrall of an idealistic worldview, result in radicals taking power. Violence ensues. Moderates always instinctively and naively oppose conservatives and support radicals, only to lose power to radicals, who then cull the moderates.

This book is a neo-Burkean warning against attempted revolutions and revolutionaries of both left and right, with all the modern research methodology and empirical evidence one requires. Perhaps this book should help change the mind of the FBI directors that ideas are not always inherently neutral.

Under a Darkening Sky: The American Experience in Nazi Europe: 1939-1941 by Robert Lyman — Every dark story somehow has something hopeful, and Lyman’s book about Nazis manages to be a hopeful journey.

What were Americans doing in Europe before their country was officially at war? Lyman, a fellow at the Royal Historical Society (and a mentor of mine) charts the poignant experiences, including that of Josephine Baker, an American who later worked for the French secret service, and Janet Flanner, a reporter for New Yorker magazine. He reminds us that not all things are grey, and sometimes there are unconditionally good people in this world, fighting their own Tolkienesque good fights during times of global darkness.

David Harsanyi

The best political book of 2020 is Ilya Shapiro’s Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America’s Highest Court, which not only provides a fantastic historical primer but offers an accessible look at the legal and political battles that dominate our contemporary debate over the court. (You owe me five bucks, Ilya.)

Environmentalist Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, is a clear-headed debunking of the corrosive Malthusian hysteria that surrounds the issue of climate change.

One of my favorites, the always compelling Matt Ridley, is back to explain How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom.

On the ancient history front, Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors, by Adrian Goldsworthy, Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings by Neil Price, and Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece by Paul Cartledge all stand out as excellent.

I also quite enjoyed The Fighting Bunch: The Battle of Athens and How World War II Veterans Won the Only Successful Armed Rebellion Since the Revolution by Chris DeRose, an event I knew nothing about, and The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution, by David Kuhn, about an event I didn’t know enough about.

This year I also felt compelled to re-read Frank Dikötter’s brilliant The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962—1976 and Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962. Both are accessible, horrifying, and indispensable in understanding the evolution of the Chinese communist regime.

The book I enjoyed most, however, was Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of ,by Eric Cline. For anyone interested in archeology and the intertwined histories of Abrahamic faiths in Jerusalem, this book is for you.

As a huge fan of Woody Allen, I found Apropos of Nothing to be a quite entertaining memoir – but mileage may vary. Guilty pleasures included Made Men: The Making of Goodfellas and the Reboot of the American Gangster by Glenn Kenny; Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall by Tim Mohr; and Oliver Stone’s Chasing the Light.

Alex Ross, the author of the excellent The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century – is back with Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music. Like Wagner, it’s not an easy read. But it’s worth it.

Stella Morabito

The Politics of Envy by Anne Hendershott — Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted: “Our envy of others devours us most of all.” This observation is at the core of Hendershott’s extraordinary book, which is a desperately needed investigation into that destructive human emotion.

Envy is the main force behind today’s polarization, unrest, and violence. Hendershott really nails the green-eyed monster, tracing its corrosive power from ancient times to the modern practice of scapegoating in politics, in academia, in social media, and even in religion, where the “social justice gospel” subsists on cultivating envy. Advertisers, demagogues, and media figures stoke envy as a path to power. Envy is also the driving force behind excessive taxation, regulations, and all manner of social control by the state.

Hendershott does a superb job of outlining how envy poisons human relationships and sows misery throughout society. As a sociologist, she draws from Rene Girard’s groundbreaking work in developing the theory of “mimetic desire.” Girard argued that “people desire objects and experiences not for their intrinsic value but because they are desired by someone else.” So we tend to mime or imitate the desires of others, thereby coveting the shiny objects that we think we want. The results are deep-reaching and ugly for society.

When the envious feel frustrated as have-nots, they become obsessed. They target for destruction those they envy, even if it means great cost to themselves. Hendershott sheds much light on Girard’s contention that envy is the primary force behind all violence. Indeed, we see it in mobbings of successful academics, in cancel culture, in rioting, looting, and in all horrific crimes motivated by envy.

In a chapter on antisemitism, Hendershott notes that Jews in 1930s Germany, envied for their success, were described as having “the Jewish advantage.” As I read that, I was unsettled by its striking parallel to the concept of “white privilege.”

Envy can’t be eliminated, but we can try to control it. Hendershott cites Girard’s call for a new “heroic attitude” through Christian charity as the only way to end the cycle of envy, violence, and revenge. The Politics of Envy is an eye-opener. It deserves to be widely read because it is critical medicine for our angst-ridden times.

Jeremy Senderowicz

Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero by Tyler Cowen — The prolific scholar and polymath Tyler Cowen published Big Business in early 2019, and as the subtitle indicates, the book represents Cowen at his most overtly contrarian.

Despite the title, the book was not mostly a defense of American business’ size and scale per se but a more fundamental defense of the American private sector, featuring chapters defending features of that system such as Wall Street, big tech companies, and CEO pay, as well as other chapters pushing back on common criticisms of American business as being anticompetitive, unethical, and just plain evil.

At the time, I thought it was not one of Cowen’s best books because many of the arguments seemed too obvious. But at the time, I also thought the arguments Cowen wrote his book to counter seemed to mostly come from the left.

This includes the Bernie Sanders wing of explicit anti-capitalists and the more establishment liberals such as those who write for and read The New York Times who, while not forswearing any material aspect of the system, profess the belief that business is usually spelled with four letters. Recently, though, given the ongoing pandemic and the spread of anti-business sentiments among many conservatives, I reread Cowen’s book and found it more relevant in 2020 than when it was first published.

Some parts of the book hold up even less well than they did at the time, especially one portion where Cowen defends the burgeoning trend of employees being fired for the “offense” caused to other employees by even routine political beliefs or activities. This was tough to swallow when the book was first published, even accounting for the fact that Cowen is clearly trying to appeal to liberals who agree with this trend, and is much more jarring almost two years later.

But the overall defense of American private sector is now more relevant than ever. It is an exaggeration to say that every public institution at every level in almost every country in the world failed miserably during the COVID pandemic, but it’s not enough of an exaggeration. By contrast, as seen by the recent viral videos of vaccinations being rolled out, the private sector — in the form of the much-maligned pharmaceutical sector — is literally saving the world.

Mark Hemingway

With gyms closed, I ended up taking a lot of long walks and plowed through several books on tape at 1.5 speed. With that on top of my regular reading, I got through probably more books this year than I have in at least 15 years. I count that as a win.

With racial tensions dominating the news, I made it a point to read and revisit a number of books related to understanding racism. I ended up writing about it at length and included a list of books on the topic that I found useful. The list is too long to repeat here, but I encourage you to go read it for yourself.

I also read two utterly fascinating history books. The first, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt, is loosely about the discovery of a long-lost manuscript by the ancient Roman poet Lucretius bv a 15th-century papal secretary. It fomented much of the renaissance-era intellectual revolutions.

The book manages to make a great many interesting philosophical concepts accessible, while weaving it all into a series of very compelling historical stories. With due respect to my Catholic friends, the lurid stories of 15th century Vatican politics were both fascinating and made me feel good about being Lutheran. But we can all agree that, as ideas such as secularism and empiricism began to become more widely accepted in the 15th century, they brought more troubling developments than Greenblatt probably wants to admit in his otherwise superb book.

The second book, The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes, jumps ahead three centuries, but in many respects it’s similar to The Swerve. The default assumption is that “progress” is always a good thing, but both books show how the development of critical ideas underpinning modernity are usually more complex and questionable than they appear.

Holmes keeps the book grounded by telling the stories of major scientific figures of the 18th and early 19th centuries, many of whom are fascinating and underappreciated. I was only vaguely familiar with names such as Jonathan Banks and Humphry Davy, and walked away with tremendous respect for their influence and accomplishments. Nor had I begun to consider just how quickly the inventions of the era — everything from laughing gas to hot air balloons — radically upended society.

But what makes the book really interesting is how Holmes shows that the tremendous scientific ferment of the time was intimately related to contemporaneous artistic accomplishments. Accordingly, Holmes also provides a lot of insight into Romantic writers such as Coleridge and Shelley (Percy and Mary), which provided great inspiration for each other. For instance, Keats was a failed physician and Davy a not untalented poet when he was younger.

You’re left wondering whether the clinical nature of modern science, which rejects the embrace of mystery in favor strict empiricism, isn’t in some ways holding us back. As Keats put it, “In the dull catalog of common things / Philosophy will clip an angel’s wings.”

I had long been meaning to read Roger Scruton, and shortly before he died I had the opportunity to see Scruton speak. I was very impressed. Still, I was wholly unprepared for what a tour de force his book Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left would be.

Essentially, the book is just a series of targets. Scruton basically picks a liberal or postmodernist thinker, and goes through each one’s life and work, tearing them to intellectual shreds. It’s not an easy book at times, simply because even under the best of circumstances trying to understand the nonsense on stilts emanating from, say, Jacques Lacan is difficult.

Nonetheless, it’s all very influential nonsense on stilts, so it’s important somebody try and at least explain how it’s illogical and pernicious. Scruton’s absolute mastery of such a variety of intellectual terrain is astonishing, as is his vicious wit. No wonder the British press resorted to brazenly lying about Scruton. It was their only option, as they had zero chance of winning an argument.

Finally, I can’t endorse Michael Walsh’s just published Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost enough. Outwardly, the book is what it says on the tin — a series of insightful examinations of historical episodes ranging from Thermopylae to Walsh’s father’s courage at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. But what the book really amounts to is an unrepentant defense of masculinity in its highest forms of courage and sacrifice at a time manhood is denigrated by default.

That’s a wrap. We hope you enjoyed this list and found something to read over the holidays and into the New Year. Thanks again for reading The Federalist, we hope you enjoy a merry Christmas (or already had a happy Hannukah). See you all on the other side of herd immunity.


How China Became A Key Issue In The Georgia Runoff

Beijing is thousands of miles from Atlanta, but Republicans hope the Middle Kingdom weighs heavily on voters’ minds in the Georgia Senate runoff.

Rep. Eric Swalwell’s, D-Calif., newly revealed relationship with Chinese spy Christine Fang is helping the GOP press Jon Ossoff about his financial ties to China. Now, a top pollster believes “the attacks on Ossoff about his connections to China are working” for incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue.

The questions are fair. While Ossoff has no known connections to a spy like Fang, he received compensation from a Hong Kong media company with a pro-Beijing bent in the years between his failed House campaign and his run for Senate, then left the transaction off his financial disclosure.

Ossoff first chalked the lapse up to a “paperwork error” through a campaign spokesperson. He then amended the statement to disclose the payment, but also claimed the amount was under the $5,000 threshold that requires reporting.

In response to an inquiry from The Federalist about releasing the records, Ossoff’s campaign passed along a Dec. 18 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, pointing to one section in particular:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed quarterly payments Ossoff’s company received from Sky Vision, the global satellite communication service provider that licensed the two investigations in 2018.

It showed Sky Vision collected 1,047 English pounds from PCCW over the course of 2018 for licensing the films. After a 28% distribution fee, and converting to U.S. currency, it amounts to about $950 paid to Ossoff’s company. The records document the only transactions between the Democrat’s firm and PCCW, Ossoff’s campaign said.

It remains odd that Ossoff amended his financial disclosure form to reflect the payment, blaming a “paperwork error,” then claimed the payment didn’t meet the required threshold for disclosure anyway.

National Review reported Ossoff hadn’t spoken out in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters until his campaign issued a statement in response to questions about the financial disclosure, given that Richard Li, the man who runs the Hong Kong media company that compensated Ossoff, is a strident opponent of Hong Kong’s independence.

“Jon strongly supports Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and condemns the brutality and authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party,” a spokesperson told the outlet, declining to answer whether Ossoff specifically condemned Li’s opposition to Hong Kong’s independence.

The payment from PCCW, Li’s media company, was made in relation to screenings of a documentary produced by Ossoff’s company. The documentary focuses on war crimes committed by ISIS.

Earlier this month, Georgia-based conservative radio host Erick Erickson drew a direct parallel between Swalwell and Ossoff, arguing the reasons Beijing targeted the former also apply to the latter. “Eric Swalwell was compromised by a Chinese spy. Swalwell sat on the Intelligence Committee. Ossoff claims he had an intelligence clearance while working for members of Congress. Swalwell was very clearly charting a bigger path and Ossoff indisputably was.”

Erickson continued to point out that in Swalwell’s case the Chinese weren’t out for classified information so much as private details about his life that serve as political intelligence. Dana Perino made a similar point on Fox News, which ended up in a Perdue campaign ad.

If the payment was as small as Ossoff’s campaign says, it’s unlikely he’s significantly compromised by Beijing. If, however, he’s still hiding something, it’s a different story. As Tom Rogan, who covers intelligence extensively for the Washington Examiner, told The Federalist, “If Ossoff hides the payment, he shows vulnerability and thus makes the originally small investment exponentially more valuable as a tool of leverage from Beijing.”

When I asked the Ossoff campaign whether it was “planning to produce documentation that shows the precise amount of money Mr. Ossoff made in the transaction(s),” they pointed to the AJC article in which reporters say they reviewed the quarterly payments to Ossoff’s company.

“Radical Left Works To Install Another China-Bought Democrat” a Perdue press release blared last week. “From Eric Swalwell to Hunter Biden, it’s clear our foreign adversaries are working to penetrate our government by leveraging any relationship they can, and my China-bought opponent would provide them just another way to threaten our national security,” the senator said in a Dec. 17 statement.

One day later, Robert Cahaly, chief pollster at the Trafalgar Group, told Fox News he believes Perdue’s efforts to highlight these connections are boosting his odds of retaining the seat. “The movement, from what we can see, is more of the Ossoff-Perdue race. The voters are telling us that the movement is about the China thing. I think the attacks on Ossoff about his connections to China are working for Perdue,” Cahaly observed.

Ossoff’s campaign claims it’s Perdue who has a China problem, arguing the senator is whitewashing his own work overseas. “It’s embarrassing how wildly desperate David Perdue looks as he tries to lie himself out of this losing campaign, especially when he is the one with deep ties to China,” an Ossoff spokeswoman told the Journal-Constitution.

Indeed, the same AJC article cites a Huffington Post report that noted a new Perdue ad is very similar to a 2014 Perdue ad, but one major difference is that the new ad omits his two years of work for Sara Lee in Hong Kong, along with a picture of the senator and his wife on the Great Wall of China. In a post-pandemic GOP primary, Perdue’s business history might be a big liability.

That’s really the point. The reason Perdue’s ad shifted may be the same reason Ossoff initially left the PCCW transaction off his disclosure. Elites in media and business have extensive financial ties to China because it’s been a lucrative source of income. As the United States is increasingly skeptical of Beijing, and the country’s human rights abuses are increasingly scrutinized, those financial ties are liabilities in close races like the Georgia runoff.

In some cases, the shift from warmth towards China to skepticism may be sincere. Beijing has provided an abundance of reasons for people to distance themselves in recent years, so people like Perdue who worked in Asia may be well-positioned to explain the CCP’s deep issues. In some cases, the shift is probably as opportunistic as the initial business was. Either way, per Cahaly’s analysis, aspiring lawmakers with past ties to China should be aware voters will want answers.

Rightfully so. As the cases of Swalwell and Hunter Biden demonstrate, the Chinese Communist Party has been and continues to be engaged in serious efforts to compromise American elites, while American elites have been eager to make a buck in China.