Kris Kobach Is the G.O.P. at Its Worst

In his race to be Kansas’ next governor, Kris Kobach represents the ugliest part of today’s Republican Party. He also sounds a lot like the president.

.. Kris Kobach, the state’s secretary of state — and quite possibly the most pernicious public official in America.
.. This distinction is not conferred lightly. Mr. Kobach has labored for it long and hard, notably in the areas of voter suppression and nativism. He is best known for having been the vice chairman of President Trump’s ugly voter fraud commission, spawned in 2017 to root out the millions of illegal voters who Mr. Trump’s ego pathetically, and falsely, claimed had cost him the popular vote in 2016. The commission was dissolved this January, having failed to find any evidence of widespread fraud, but having succeeded in raising Mr. Kobach’s national profile and cementing his reputation as a master purveyor of Trumpism.
Mr. Kobach on Wednesday declared victory at a noon news conference, acknowledging that only 191 votes separated him from Mr. Colyer and that the election result may change as provisional and other ballots are counted. Awkwardly, as the state’s top election official, Mr. Kobach would be the person charged with overseeing any recount of votes. Unless he recused himself, which he has said he would not.
Mr. Kobach is running for governor on a promise to “Make Kansas Great Again.” (#MKGA!)
.. Starting with a failed run for Congress in 2004, Mr. Kobach has regularly sounded the alarm that illegal immigration and widespread voter fraud are destroying this nation. Indeed, he has suggested that fraud played a role in his congressional defeat.
A former constitutional law professor with degrees from Yale, Harvard and Oxford, Mr. Kobach’s specialty is concocting creative legal arguments to achieve controversial political ends — such as, say, forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall. (His plan: use a provision in the Patriot Act to track and tax the remittances that undocumented immigrants send home to family members.)

He was the brains behind the self-deportation proposal for which Mitt Romney was widely mocked in his 2012 presidential run.

..  As an adviser to immigration hard-liners in Arizona — including the felonious-until-pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio — he helped write the state law that, among other measures, tasked the local police with verifying the citizenship of anyone they had “reasonable suspicion” to believe was undocumented.

.. ProPublica and The Kansas City Star recently detailed Mr. Kobach’s 13-year history of pitching his consulting services to small towns, helping them enact such ordinances. This has been a profitable gig for Mr. Kobach, but not so much for the towns in question, some of which wound up drowning in legal fees after trying to defend measures that ultimately proved unenforceable.

.. His crowning achievement as secretary of state was a law passed in 2011 requiring people to prove their citizenship before registering to vote. Or, rather, it was his crowning achievement until a federal judge this year struck down the law as unconstitutional.

In the course of that case, Mr. Kobach so violated basic courtroom rules that he was held in contempt and, among other humiliations, ordered to take six hours of legal education.

.. he has a flair for the dramatic and isn’t overly concerned with facts.

.. His speeches contain plenty of red meat, such as comparing Planned Parenthood to the Third Reich’s Josef Mengele.

.. Until early 2017, Mr. Kobach spent several years hosting a local call-in show, on which he held forth on such terrors as the “illegal alien crime wave” that he warned was decimating America.

.. He also got a kick out of indulging the dark fantasies of listeners, such as the 2014 caller fearful that the immigration policies of then-President Barack Obama would lead to the “ethnic cleansing” of whites.

.. Then there was the 2015 caller anxious about whether Mr. Obama might one day decree that “any black person accused of a crime, charged with a crime, is not going to be prosecuted.”

“Well, it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Mr. Kobach soothed. “So I guess it’s not a huge jump.”

.. in Mr. Kobach, Mr. Trump clearly sees a kindred spirit.

 

 

 

Making China Great Again

As Donald Trump surrenders America’s global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces.

The hero, Leng Feng, played by the action star Wu Jing (who also directed the film), is a veteran of the “wolf warriors,” special forces of the People’s Liberation Army. In retirement, he works as a guard in a fictional African country, on the frontier of China’s ventures abroad. A rebel army, backed by Western mercenaries, attempts to seize power, and the country is engulfed in civil war. Leng shepherds civilians to the gates of the Chinese Embassy, where the Ambassador wades into the battle and declares, “Stand down! We are Chinese! China and Africa are friends.” The rebels hold their fire, and survivors are spirited to safety aboard a Chinese battleship.

.. For decades, Chinese nationalism revolved around victimhood: the bitter legacy of invasion and imperialism, and the memory of a China so weak that, at the end of the nineteenth century, the philosopher Liang Qichao called his country “the sick man of Asia.” “Wolf Warrior II” captures a new, muscular iteration of China’s self-narrative, much as Rambo’s heroics expressed the swagger of the Reagan era.

.. “In the past, all of our movies were about, say, the Opium Wars—how other countries waged war against China,” he said. “But Chinese people have always wanted to see that our country could, one day, have the power to protect its own people and contribute to peace in the world.”

.. For years, China’s leaders predicted that a time would come—perhaps midway through this century—when it could project its own values abroad. In the age of “America First,” that time has come far sooner than expected.

.. Trump often portrays America’s urgent task as one of survival. As he put it during the campaign, “At what point do you say, ‘Hey, we have to take care of ourselves’? So, you know, I know the outer world exists and I’ll be very cognizant of that, but, at the same time, our country is disintegrating.”
.. China’s approach is more ambitious. In recent years, it has taken steps to accrue national power on a scale that no country has attempted since the Cold War, by increasing its investments in the types of assets that established American authority in the previous century: foreign aid, overseas security, foreign influence, and the most advanced new technologies, such as artificial intelligence.
.. It has become one of the leading contributors to the U.N.’s budget and to its peacekeeping force, and it has joined talks to address global problems such as terrorism, piracy, and nuclear proliferation.
.. This was an ironic performance—for decades, China has relied on protectionism—but Trump provided an irresistible opening. China is negotiating with at least sixteen countries to form the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free-trade zone that excludes the United States, which it proposed in 2012 as a response to the T.P.P. If the deal is signed next year, as projected, it will create the world’s largest trade bloc, by population.
.. By setting more of the world’s rules, China hopes to “break the Western moral advantage,” which identifies “good and bad” political systems
.. Meng Hongwei, a Chinese vice-minister of public security, became the first Chinese president of Interpol, the international police organization; the move alarmed human-rights groups, because Interpol has been criticized for helping authoritarian governments target and harass dissidents and pro-democracy activists abroad.

.. Moreover, China’s economic path is complicated by heavy debts, bloated state-owned enterprises, rising inequality, and slowing growth. The workers who once powered China’s boom are graying.

.. In 2000, the U.S. accounted for thirty-one per cent of the global economy, and China accounted for four per cent. Today, the U.S.’s share is twenty-four per cent and China’s fifteen per cent.

.. in the past we were used to going to the White House to get our work done,” Shivshankar Menon, India’s former foreign secretary and national-security adviser to the Prime Minister, told me. “Now we go to the corporations, to Congress, to the Pentagon, wherever.”

.. everybody else in the world will look around and say, I want to be friends with both the U.S. and the Chinese—and the Chinese are ready, and I’ll start with them.”

.. He presented China as “a new option for other countries,” calling this alternative to Western democracy the zhongguo fang’an, the “Chinese solution.”

.. The state press ran a profile of Xi that was effusive even by the standards of the form, depicting him as an “unrivalled helmsman,” whose “extensive knowledge of literature and the arts makes him a consummate communicator in the international arena.”

.. Xi has inscribed on his country a rigid vision of modernity. A campaign to clean up “low-end population” has evicted migrant workers from Beijing, and a campaign against dissent has evicted the most outspoken intellectuals from online debate.

.. Foreign universities with programs in China, such as Duke, have been advised that they must elevate a Communist Party secretary to a decision-making role on their local boards of trustees.

.. The Party is encouraging dark imaginings about the outside world: posters warn the public to “protect national secrets” and to watch out for “spies.”

.. Last June, Yao Chen, one of China’s most popular actresses, received a barrage of criticism online after she tried to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis. (She was forced to clarify that she was not calling for China to accept refugees.)

.. In Rao’s view, Trump’s “America First” slogan is an honest declaration, a realist vision stripped of false altruism and piety.

.. “In this world, power speaks,” he said, making a fist, a gesture that Trump adopted in his Inauguration speech and Xi displayed in a photo taken at the start of his new term.

.. “I think Trump is America’s Gorbachev.” In China, Mikhail Gorbachev is known as the leader who led an empire to collapse. “The United States will suffer,” he warned.

.. In 1991, when Bush, Sr., launched the war against Iraq, it got thirty-four countries to join the war effort. This time, if Trump launched a war against anyone, I doubt he would get support from even five countries.

.. For Chinese leaders, Yan said, “Trump is the biggest strategic opportunity.” I asked Yan how long he thought the opportunity would last. “As long as Trump stays in power,” he replied.

.. When Trump won, the Party “was in a kind of shock,”

.. “They feared that he was their mortal enemy.” The leadership drafted potential strategies for retaliation, including threatening American companies in China and withholding investment from the districts of influential members of Congress.

.. Before he entered the White House, China started assembling a playbook for dealing with him.

.. “China knows Trump can be unpredictable, so we have weapons to make him predictable, to contain him. He would trade Taiwan for jobs.”

.. there were two competing strategies on China. One, promoted by Stephen Bannon, then the chief strategist, wanted the President to take a hard line, even at the risk of a trade war. Bannon often described China as a “civilizational challenge.” The other view was associated with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, who had received guidance from Henry Kissinger and met repeatedly with the Chinese Ambassador, Cui Tiankai. Kushner argued for a close, collegial bond between Xi and Trump, and he prevailed.

.. While Xi was at the resort, the Chinese government approved three trademark applications from Ivanka’s company, clearing the way for her to sell jewelry, handbags, and spa services in China.

.. During the transition, Kushner dined with Chinese business executives while the Kushner Companies was seeking their investment in a Manhattan property.

.. In May, Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, was found to have mentioned his White House position while she courted investors during a trip to China.

.. During the Mar-a-Lago meetings, Chinese officials noticed that, on some of China’s most sensitive issues, Trump did not know enough to push back.

.. “Trump is taking what Xi Jinping says at face value—on Tibet, Taiwan, North Korea,”

.. “The Chinese felt like they had Trump’s number,” he said. “Yes, there is this random, unpredictable Ouija-board quality to him that worries them, and they have to brace for some problems, but, fundamentally, what they said was ‘He’s a paper tiger.’ Because he hasn’t delivered on any of his threats. There’s no wall on Mexico. There’s no repeal of health care. He can’t get the Congress to back him up. He’s under investigation.”

.. a Beijing think tank, published an analysis of the Trump Administration, describing it as a den of warring “cliques,” the most influential of which was the “Trump family clan.”

.. The Trump clan appears to “directly influence final decisions” on business and diplomacy in a way that “has rarely been seen in the political history of the United States,” the analyst wrote. He summed it up using an obscure phrase from feudal China: jiatianxia—“to treat the state as your possession.”

Fifty Shades of Orange

 In a performance that would have embarrassed the most obsequious lackey of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Vice President Mike Pence delivered an encomium to his boss, who sat across the table with arms folded over his chest, absorbing abasement as his due.

“I want to thank you, Mr. President,” Pence said. “I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. And we are making America great again.” The president thanked him for his kind words, and Pence replied, “Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.”

.. Trump and establishment Republicans adopt one another’s worst qualities. Trump, who campaigned as a putative economic populist — even calling for higher taxes on the rich — will soon sign into law the tax plan of the House speaker Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian dreams. The majority of elected Republicans, in turn, are assuming a posture of slavish submission to Trump, worshiping their dear leader and collaborating in the maintenance of his alternative reality.

.. From a secular perspective, Pence, like many other Republicans, appears to be a person inclined to authoritarianism.

.. Erich Fromm, a German-Jewish psychoanalyst who fled Nazism, described authoritarian personalities as simultaneously craving power and submission. “The authoritarian character loves those conditions that limit human freedom; he loves being submitted to fate,” he wrote. Fate, in his formulation, can be the laws of the market, the will of God, or the whims of a leader. According to Fromm, authoritarians might make a show of valuing freedom and independence — watchwords of the American right — but long to be ruled by a stronger force.

.. Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, spoke of his “love” for the president, who he described as “one heck of a leader.” He added, “We’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever.”

.. Either Hatch really believes this, or he believes in the utility of unabashed sycophancy. Neither possibility suggests he will be an ally in preserving democracy.

.. participating in the ludicrous fiction that there was a pro-Hillary Clinton conspiracy afoot in the F.B.I., an entity led by a succession of Republicans and described by one agent during the election as “Trumpland.”

.. If Republicans were as loyal to the country as they are to the president, they’d want to know exactly what had Strzok so alarmed.

.. It is, as they say, not normal for erstwhile law-and-order Republicans to attack the F.B.I. for being overzealous in its pursuit of Russian subversion.

.. Nunes’s inquiry appears similar to Trump’s voter fraud commission

.. Hannah Arendt once wrote of this sort of policy-as-disinformation: “Totalitarianism will not be satisfied to assert, in the face of contrary facts, that unemployment does not exist; it will abolish unemployment benefits as part of its propaganda.”

.. a lot of us have assumed that Republicans are putting up with Trump out of fear of their base or lust for tax cuts. We’ve imagined that beneath our mutual partisan loathing lies some remaining shared commitment to liberal democracy.

.. But there’s another possibility, which is that a critical mass of Republicans like being in thrall to a man who seems strong enough to will his own reality, and bold enough to voice their atavistic hatreds. Maybe Trump is changing Republicans, or maybe he’s just giving men like Pence permission to be who they already were.

Transcript of Richard Spencer’s Speech at Texas A&M

I’m just curious; I want to do a bit of a demographic study. If you’re a member of the media, please raise your hand. Okay, okay, put your hand own, please. That’s a very offensive gesture. Shut it down. We knew you were the lying media, but for God’s sake, that’s out of hand.

.. I actually did grow up in Texas, so I am proud to say, the Alamo did nothing wrong.

.. It is certainly the expression of the desire of a mainstream media to slander and just silence us with one thirty second footage.

.. But I think it also says something about the life of the Alt Right. We don’t allow other people to tell us what we can joke about. We don’t play by their rules. We have fun, we can be outlandish, and that is never going to stop.

.. So, the Alt Right can’t be defined by something from the past. We can’t be trapped in the past. But we also need to go forward guilt-free. We need to be high energy, we need to have fun, we need to be a little outlandish, we need to trigger the world. So all I would say is: keep it up. I love you all.

.. So what is the Alt Right? When I first started using that term, it was about mid-2008, and at that point, I think the Alt Right was fairly, you could say, negative in its meaning. We didn’t quite know exactly what it was. I knew that something was profoundly wrong with mainstream conservatism. That was evident enough with the George W. Bush administration, with the neoconservatives disastrous wars in Iraq and so on, and with the rest of the mainstream Right offering no answers, the religious Right, all that kind of stuff. I knew that we had to have a new starting point. I also knew that we needed to — this wasn’t a matter just of tweaking the Right, as it is — this was really the matter of a new beginning. Of a new starting point for conservatism in America.

You can actually look at the starting point of the conservative movement, and they talk about global capitalism, and free markets, and the Constitution, and vague Christian values of some sort. But they never ask that question of “Who are we?” They never ask that question of identity. They probably assumed it. They probably assumed a white America, a European America, but they never really asked about it and they were never really conscious of it.

.. the conservative movement became, in its way, a mirror reflection, a photographic negative, of the Soviet Union. It became an ideological nation, it became a nation based on abstract values, like “muh freedom,” “muh democracy,” “muh bombin’ muh commies and Muslims.” It was never a place; it was never a people; it was a kind of ideology. That’s what conservatism was.

.. So, in a way, George W. Bush was the founder of the Alt Right. He was at least the founder of the term, because I knew that we had to get away from that. We had to get away from him.

..  the Alt Right evolved, it took on new meanings, and in a way it was outside of my control

.. the Alt Right has been organic, that’s why it has succeeded, precisely because other people have picked it up and they have added meanings to it, and so on.

.. After I dropped out of graduate school, I worked in what you could call the anti-war conservative movement

.. I had an idea of where that new starting place was going to be. And that new starting point was going to be identity. And that was going to be the question that we asked first.

.. So what is identity? In a way, it’s the question “who are you?” We all have many different identities. You could say that you’re a student at Texas A&M. You’re into weight-lifting. You went to a Star Trek convention. You like to wear sweatpants. These are elective identities. They say something about us, but they’re elective.

.. you could say, “I’m a citizen of the United States. I grew up somewhere. We all grew up somewhere. We’re all part of something. We all come from someplace.

.. You can go even deeper, and say, “These are my parents. This is my family.” The Left in the eighteenth century had this line “an accident of birth.” An accident of birth. No birth is an accident. There’s no historical or cosmic accident in birth. You come from somewhere. You have parents. They have parents, they have a history. So you’re part of a family. And you grew up somewhere. And you can go deeper, and you can say that you are part of an ethnicity and you are ultimately part of a race.

.. You might not like this. You might really resonate to the idea that we’re all individuals, we’re all citizens. “We’re just Americans. I don’t see color. But color sees you.

.. We all see color. And race isn’t just color. Color is, in a way, a minor aspect of race. But you’re part of something. Whether you like it or not, you’re part of a bigger extended family. You’re part of this world; you’re part of this history. And that race has a story to tell.

.. As a European, I can tell a story about people, people I never will know. Our lives stretch back to prehistory. We first started to become ourselves in the Greek and Roman world. So there’s a story that involves people you’ve never met. As a European, I can tell this story about the Greeks and the Romans, about the foundation of our civilization, about empire, about the coming of Christianity.

.. Sure, Europe’s a place. It’s a place on the map, the people, the blood and its spirit.

.. I think if I were an African-American I could tell a very different story. If I were to say what that story would be, it would be about being rooted in an African continent, and enslaved and kidnapped, and going through trials that perhaps I cannot imagine, but then becoming a people. You’re still a people. That’s the story I would tell. But it’s a different story.

.. So that’s what it means to be part of a race. A race is genetically coherent, a race is something you can study, a race is about genes and DNA, but it’s not just about genes and DNA. The most important thing about it is the people and the spirit. That’s what a race is about.

.. A lot of white people do not want to have a race. They say, “Oh, I’m just an individual. I’m just an American.” You have a race whether you like it or not. You’re part of a race whether you like it or not.

..  When a Syrian refugee — so called — whether they’re from Syria or Africa or somewhere else in the middle east, when they enter Europe, they don’t look at anyone as “Oh, look, lookee there, this man, he’s Bavarian. Oh, he’s a Bavarian Catholic. Oh look, this guy must be from Ireland. Hmm, interesting. He’s Italian.” No, they don’t see that at all. They see us as white; they see us as white men. They see us as a race, and our enemy can see who we are whether we want to define ourselves as such or not. We are white.

.. You can go up, you can look at elective identities — I’m into weightlifting, I’m into Star Trek — and you can keep going down, and you go down, and down, and down, and you get to the root of identity. You get to that base, where you can’t go any further. And that is race.

.. It was an open country for Europeans who confronted people who were radically different than they were. And that confrontation, I’ll be honest, was terrible, bloody and violent. It was terrible, bloody and violent, but we conquered this continent. Whether it’s nice to say that or not, we won. And we got to define what America means, we got to define what this continent means. America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men.

.. I re-watched perhaps my favorite movie, which is John Ford’s The Searchers.

.. But we won’t be out on that limb forever. At some point, Texas is going to be a wonderful place to live. It’s going to be a great place to live. But perhaps our bones have to be in the ground before that will happen.”

.. Texas is a wonderful place to live. And there are a lot of the white man’s bones in the ground to make that happen. White people did it. And I’m not going to ever claim that there wasn’t a lot of brutality that went along with it. But we did it. Our bones are in the ground, we own it, and at the end of the day, America cannot exist without us. We defined it. This country does belong to white people, culturally, politically, socially, everything. We defined what America is.

.. it’s not just whoever happened to do the labor. Other people could have done it. But no one could have imagined it, no one could have designed it, because no one else did. History is proof.

..  Embedded in that slogan “Make America Great Again” is its opposite, and that is an acknowledgement that America is not great. I think we know that. I think we know that in our bones and our guts, that things are getting worse.

.. Previous generations couldn’t imagine that their children would have a worse world than they enjoyed, even a worse world than their parents enjoyed. Now 75% of white people think the country is on the wrong track; who could disagree with them, exactly? Does anyone think it’s getting better? “

..  We assume that America is not great. And it isn’t. And why isn’t it great? America is not great because in my lifetime, America has lost an essence. It’s lost a people, it’s lost a meaning.

.. they don’t talk about America as an historic nation and a people with a story, as the product of a race, of a worldview, they basically talk about America as a platform for all of humanity. They talk about America as an economic system, effectively.

.. Many have talked about the Roman Empire’s decline. It went from being a people to being a population, then to being a mob. I think that says a lot about the fall of Rome. America went from being a frontier, to being a people, then to being an economic platform for consumers from around the world. And let there be no doubt: Americanization, in this worst possible sense of the word, this is what Hillary Clinton was talking about when she said she wanted a “hemispheric open market.” This is what George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg want. They want an undifferentiated global population, raceless, genderless, identityless, meaningless population, consuming sugar, consuming drugs, while watching porn on VR goggles while they max out their credit cards.

.. Don’t deny that that is the kind of passive nihilism that so many in the elite class actually want. They want a world without roots, they want a world without meaning, they want a flat grey-on-grey world, one economic market for them to manipulate. That’s what’s happening in the world.

.. It isn’t just a great erasure of white people. It isn’t just an invasion of Europe, an invasion of the United States by the third world, it is ultimately the destruction of all peoples and all cultures around the globe.

I’m not paranoid, they’re just out to get me.

.. We might not all be able to put it into those words, but we know that that is what America is becoming. It’s becoming an homogeneous consuming mass

.. But just the fact that Donald Trump said that word “great” — “Make America Great Again” — meant that he had higher hopes than the Clintons, and the Zuckbergs, and the Bill Gates, and the George Soroses combined. That he had a sense of height, of upward movement, of greatness, of that thing that makes the white race truly unique and truly wonderful, that striving towards infinity, that however vulgar he might be that he had a sense of it.

.. What we need right now are people who are willing to speak truth to power. I find that there’s this amazing thing about the Left. And I have a certain respect for the Left, believe it or not. I understand the Left in a way. What I find so amazing about the people who are protesting me out there, who are attempting to create the largest safe space in the world of 100,000 people at Kyle Field, is that they think they’re the underdog.

.. Richard Spencer is not the Establishment. Richard Spencer is not running the government. Richard Spencer is effectively a heretic in the modern age

.. Think about those places of power. The US military, public education (academia), major corporations whether they’re financial on the east coast, Silicon Valley, what have you. What do they all agree on? “Diversity is good.” “We’re all the same.” “We’re one world.” “C’mon man, we all bleed red.

.. You might think that that kind of limp liberalism is some kind of underdog perspective, that you’re speaking truth to power by saying that nonsense. You are not speaking truth to power. The military-industrial complex agrees with you, so does every major corporation, so does the US government. You are not speaking truth to power, you are power speaking.

.. These institutions do not want you to have a sense of yourselves. They do not want you to have identity and rootedness. They do not want you to have duties to your people. They do not want you to think of yourself as part of an extended family that is bigger than any single individual, because the moment you have those duties, the moment you have that identity, is the moment that you are no longer the perfect, passive consumer-citizen that they want to create.

.. But I will tell that to white people: have a goddamn identity, have a sense of yourself. Be a part of this family.

.. Having an identity is the greatest challenge to the power structure that there is. Speaking truth to it means speaking the truth about race, about people, about nations, about who we are