« Commentary Magazine Podcast

Commentary Podcast: The Horrors of Las Vegas and Puerto Rico

2017-10-02 | 🔗
On this week's first podcast, the COMMENTARY crew (Noah Rothman, Abe Greenwald, and I) discuss whether the mass shooting in Las Vegas speaks to the need for new policy or to a disease in the American body politic and the American spirit. Then we ask why on earth the president of the United States found it necessary to pick a fight about the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, and why he went after his secretary of state on Twitter, and why some other stuff. Give a listen.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the commentary magazine, podcast, I'm John path towards the editor of Commentary magazine today is Monday October. Second when he seventeen commentary magazine thee. Almost seventy three year old, monthly of intellectual property, political analysis and cultural criticism. From a conservative perspective, we ask you to join us a commentary magazine dot com, where we give you a few. The reason I ask you to subscribe. Ninety ninety five gets play digital subscription. Two thousand nine hundred and ninety five gets you in all access subscription, including our beautiful monthly magazine in your mailbox, a live.
I'm here with me as always, senior editor aid, Green wild, high Abe hygiene and associate editor nor Rossman high. Now I John we, gather on a terrible day in the United States following the worst mass shooting in these countries history in LAS Vegas. I don't need to reverse the details for you more than fifty dead, four hundred at area, hospitals around LAS Vegas shooting from a thirty second story window onto a country, music outdoor festival from the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The apparent shooter is dead by his own hand, sixty six year old resident of Miss Kate Nevada, who does
Excuse me Nevada, who does not appear to have much of a criminal record. So we are. We. There are two things that are raised by by by such events. One is what, if anything, they say about our culture and the other is what political measures can should will or should not be taken in the wake of of such a disastrous horrible evil. That so Let me start by asking you these mass shootings, of which there are now, I think, something like two hundred and fifty over the past two years. Can we extrapolate from that fact to say that there is something partake
early, diseased or problematic or nightmarish about american culture? That is responsible for these events. I don't think so, because For starters, do we know what the data point to in terms of trends? I mean. We are certainly more aware of of the more spectacular shootings and we I have a lot more footage of them and we who lived through them collectively more but is this? Is this something that's that's happening more than you still I mean it depends on what you mean by used to ride out Well, he's your ordain. The FBI confirmed a sharp rise in mass shootings, since two thousand by twenty fourteen mass shootings had tripled since twenty eleven, so there has been an increase in the events of mass shootings as ever.
It was weird, is that it was at the time it was. The phenomena was gun. Violence was going down, IRAN as mass shooting. I should were increase when I say so the issue so that that then raises two subsidiary issues, one of which is what does it say about our culture that we are seeing this increase in these kind of what you know you, my culture, spectacular events of mass murder? Does that say something about us in general? Or does it say something about this? specifics of mass murderous mass, shooting events that they seem to regenerate copycat killings or they have put in the minds of people who might otherwise not be triggered into these sorts of fantasies that can be made flash made horrible nightmares flesh by the fact that they take place and other points
since, which is why a lot of us I've always wondered whether you know the coverage, and all of that is wildly counter productive in the sense that it too There are people in the world would say man. I want to be just like that. Adam Lanza, I mean look, he's dead, but he now he's world famous and everyone will know who it is for the rest of his life, that kind of thing but this? Whether you can then say that it is it's too something sick, perhaps in that we we making new class of celebrity fur sort of any any trend, repulsive trends as well, but it I dont, think its speed. To something sick in us in the along the lines of are we becoming
Do we care less about human suffering? Are more interested in making other people suffer things long? That of along those lines, I think, are absolutely not the case on without, I think, there's a sort of sickness of or violent sickness of the american soul at work here, will there are people who would say that we are the without unquestionably the most violent democracy in the world? In other words, in terms of in terms of the number of people who are killed simply in the course of our going through their lives, we are the most violent of the democracies and that then there are all sorts of questions. What is that, because of heterogeneity? Is it because we we have a second amendment that guarantees people a writer to keeping bear arms, and this has proven to be a b, a double edged, sword and mix blessing horribly wanna call it in it. In fact, that was some were Morton lips? It I believe who wrote about democratic socialism quite a bit
his this book of collective works on that was called making centralism, a double edged sword and the. What constituted. The other edge was that, while he have. While we are the most charitable while we have the most freedoms of event of any other country. Another motion we, we are also we are, we are more violent and week have been we had. We have what we have been before. I mean two of the you know most interesting books about the origins of the american culture. David Hackett Fischer is Albion rising, which basically is his story of the tells the story of the founding of America as of story of the surfboard nations, that for that formed America, which are basically England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales those cultures. Though we don't look at me, don't you think of the british isles as being of particularly violent place at all. In fact, those cultures were full of tribal wars. Warfare. You know internal strife, control
and they came to the United States, and then they all went to war with themselves and each other domestic war. You know with the famous Hatfield, Mccoy is and stuff like that and then born fighting by by James Web. The former Navy secretary novelist did the fad. Senators senator from Virginia ends presidential candidate, which basically, regulates. The whole thing about the culture of the Scots Irish culture is that it is a culture of honor violence about you know defending groaned, defending prerogative and using violence as a way of establishing nor manhood. In your you know, in your territory and all that and that these are this is written into the DNA of the United States and end
M M, forgot him ill and let all fascinating. I think that, frankly, advances the conversation, a lot better than anybody else has done over the course of the last twenty four hours. But forgive me if I can say that its perhaps a tiny bit fatuous, because we have no idea about anything about this guy, what he thought. What his background was what his inclinations were, what his mental state was, what the weapons he used, where we dont know one single fact, and so we sort of engage in this navel gazing,
and self interested slops ism, and I don't I don't have the advocate solid I'll take. It adds as much to the to the to the conversation in so far as what people are looking for. Here is an explanation and they'll never find it in. That's what that's, of course, the horror that the particular monstrous genius of a lot of these mass killers is the fact that they make sure that their dead at the end of the process right so because, because they're dead, we can never find out what my evaded them really and as a result, they become worship tests for the rest of us. So you know Adam lands of sandy hook killer. He there He is he's dead. We no, why he wins, shot up twenty first graters. What what you know all we can do
pieced together pieces and bits of his life and try to see. What it is so that so that may be there can be weird sign. Posts for other people who could sit? Who you know at the age six or seven or eight see their kids doing stuff and saying, oh, my god, I better intervene. Because this is what Adam Atalanta didn't. In fact, there was a whole speight. There was a very simple row, Pisa saying: oh, I am violent eleven year old in my house, who frightens all of us and is tormenting all of us, and I look at him and I'm not sure that if we don't do something he's not gonna turn into A mass murderer, I dont think that is, that's not solves, as am, I think, that's actually a real thing there virtues of studying the examples of dream evil if we know enough about them, is that they, can give us some sign posts to recognising it in others, seeing if there's a way to arrest.
You're talking about individuals which is absolutely valuable, but where we were talking about a national culture which were somehow isn't in our own. But I'm in that area. The glass houses and then out of sight of that is that we have James HOMES, and we have people like at generally loftier who, upon reflection, are just completely insane raw and are just clinically insane and do not have any sort of then you can draw much broader lesson from about society would know my father right that I have already. I disagree with you. I disagree with you about that. I think that what one of the things that we see here is that we, we live in a society in which admirably we attempt to treat the mentally ill. We try to mainstream them. We try to, sure that they're not you know they are not treated. As though they are. Ostracised Org. You know that we understand that their that they are victims of disease thought
as it is and on the other hand, is much more the case now that people that that they are let loose that they can be let loose because we live in a society of licence that, sir, beyond liberty, I mean it people. Like you know, homes as parents, they will have. Nothing we can do about it. You know we couldn't control M or something like that. It's like well, that's kind of cold comfort. You know what what do you mean you couldn't control and like I do if you're, if you're, not your child keeper you're, not you, you know with saying I'm my brother's keeper, when, in fact you know that somebody is capable of terrible monstrous and struck the violence and that in our country gives people very little recourse in this regard in part, because we air stably again on the side of liberty. So it's not like ok you're for your beer. Nineteen years old, in your fear, your file,
I can say, he's crazy, you better luck! Em up! Well, I mean, I think, This is gonna, be interesting. That does this particular thread going forward, because This shooter was sixty six years old, so we'll begin to have an understanding of whether or not There is a record a vial of mental illness too have acted on whether whether people were were actually doing something bout him along the way or not or orphaned, fallen through a succession of crags who arrive towards rail network of all. This is that is that were hearing. Does that much record he's not dead is not dad than then we learn his father was you know one of the ten most wanted people in the United States in the nineteen seventys. We don't know we don't know like, in fact it could turn out that you know he was wanted for crimes in every state in the country for all we met, you know it's like just because he wasn't wanted in Nevada doesn't mean that he wasn't in other state data.
So we don't know anything about it. That's one of the things that people always say the beginning of this process and nobody follows up on it, which is you can't speck it? You know everything we're gonna find the first twenty four hours, half of its gonna be false, half of its not gonna, to be true, half of its gonna be nonsense, and we don't Of which half by definition, so we ve gotta be careful about that, but that is what's so frustrating about. All of this is that nobody observes any sort of wretch perspective on how they react the last time this happened. They only remember the fact that the last time this happened was sixteen months ago, and it was insane- and there shouldn't be this than the amount of mass violence that we have. This country, and also less engaging in rehash the debate we had sixteen months ago rub okay, so there are two different debates, a throw saying. So the debate that I. So entering into with aid is whether there is a general,
national condition in the United States. That, in our view, I think that far more valuable, because it's not I've, never heard it. Where are the sort of things are you're so conditioned and steeped in these debates? If you do what we do for live, where I sit round the television watch, these things happen in real time and you get kind of inured to them, but I've never heard anybody engage in a kind of literary analysis of the nature of America. Look it is happy. I mean there are two things about the last hundred years. You know which are not just with America You know in the war in the world at large. On the one hand, we ve lived through the most violent century. We lived through the trade century was the most violent century in human history, world wars cost one hundred million lives the regimes in the Soviet Union and China cost another hundred million lives livable amounts of state violence and war, and on the other
Hannah Steven Pinker points out in his research. Violence as a cause of ups of of serb daily did. Did this A disaster in horror is, is in a gigantic centuries long, secular decline? In other words, your possibility of simply being you know just like walking. Down the street and somebody just cutting you and half with a with a sword. You know, if you want to you some weird example: well, But here is the here's an example you could use an end is also happens as a result of of of mental illness in its also it it's another problem, it's it's like when This seems to have been be happening more often than we used to when someone gets push on subway tracks in New York, right, Is it not happening more and I think it needs to happen more. I dont know if it is these, it's got. My got. Eight feels like you. I don't know how long I almost no, but this is where the copy calving starts coming rime and there is no
question that people who are inclined towards you know paranoid violence. Schizophrenia are deeply affected by things that they hear in the media and they may never thought of to push somebody on the subway track, but then the voices in their head once they see something on tv or something start that then it becomes thing. Although they see someone and their there, they they found themselves, you know possessed by the irresistible impulse to do it just somebody else. If they never heard that someone was pushed on track, they wouldn't have done it. I mean that's, you know they are not That's why we say that you know if, if your found guilty by not reason would say that you were not responsible for your actions, because you were in the grip of an irresistible impulse, it came from a diseased part of your brain so and that you know there's where we get into the question of whether or not the institutionalization and the fact that we have decided to privatized mental illness in the United States
again, not that I'm saying that bad, because we are a country dedicated to liberty and the idea that the state should have the right to kind of control and contain large numbers of people without recourse simply on the say so of you know a doctor or a parent Oh, you can see how that could be horrified and involuntary commitment. That's ordinarily, I use a way in which men control women and
well we'll worry or at which onwards, with social justice fact or in which the you know. What a way to serve the wheel we used to call retarded people were were were subjective and voluntary commitment simply because it was more convenient and having them home. You know so the same kind of conditions, and we don't. We we consider those things you now monstrous in an active and acts of tyranny, and we don't do them any more, and yet it could be that in some of these isolated cases, the fact that we don't do it had these unintended consequences that we
have to accept our part and parcel of the way that we function now. That's where we start getting into public policy, which is generally these things happen and then largely to producing when it comes to gun violence. People on the noble of liberals and Democrats and people on the left side of the ledger instantly go to the notion that the problem here is liberal gun laws owing to, in their view, misreading of the constitutional approach in other constitutional right to keep and bear arms rights What is this so we're gonna go through this again and what will go through is the whole question of where these guns, it doesnt matter that the facts of these cases don't matter
in general, because the idea is there are too many guns are bad. There are too many of them there too easy to get and because there too easy to get people use them and they kill people, and these mass events happened and then it turns out That's usually turns out that that's not the story in these cases that the guns were words, her procured in any way shape or form that the authorities could have prevented it. Necessarily unless we lived in a country in which there were no guns. And that is as I as I always say in these cases, which is the thing that makes. The so maddening to me if today, a national consensus that all guns, should end no gun. Manufacture should ever work in the answer to everything like that, and you stopped all gun sales and they ended. There are still three hundred billion extent pieces of weaponry in the United States and private hands. Three hundred million handguns rifles.
You now web whatever so what happens to them? They eat they'd, they aren't magically, they dont magically disappear. People dont melt them down. In fact, you would also, if you, if you make this an illegal activity, then it is more likely the more legal you make it the only criminals or will it will be able to fight then the trade for them, the extent to which the usual suspects went about, Politicizing this event, without lack of a better term this morning, was faster than
normally go about it, which is usually remarkable alacrity. We went immediately from discussing this worst mass shootings in history of the United States to talking about congresses efforts, moving forward to relax restrictions on the purchase of silencers and Armor Pearson bullets, which, by the way, you can have a pretty robust discussion about whether or not that smart policy, but it has nothing to do with what happened last night and reflects the extent just antipathy towards gun control dominates this discussion. When I had a conversation with people who are going on saying, we need new guidelines does matter what this guy we have no idea what he is. Who cares was talk about what happened? Newtown, I'm gonna remind people what happened after, China is a four month press new gun laws for restrictions on magazine,
ices limits on magazines and a new us all weapons ban, and it's all we talked about for four months and in the end it died a quick death in the Senate. Because for Democrats affected and wouldn't support the the the initiative and resulting in the vice president in the present and having a little contemptuous rose garden speech him. It feels like nobody remembers what we went through when twenty twelve and twenty thirteen that was so formative they did are these individuals who are constantly talking about the need for new gun laws, as though there aren't political impediments within the democratic establishment right now. They definitely there remember the sensation in the end, the misery of of of the shootings, but they bade certainly don't remember the weeks long followed afterward and also there's there's something that that's that characterizes all these political moments when when suddenly this happens- which is the politicizing takes the form of. When will they finally get it,
when will conservators finally get it. When will Republicans wake up? It's never a good faith discussion about Well, there are some reasons that some people oppose what you're describing as stricter gun laws there. The reasons that some people dont think that those who are actually affect they made me they may even be counterproductive for all sorts of ways and that then the visa. The discussion that were supposed to have never actually materialise, as indeed it in that way, May I say I guess you, the other side of the argument doesn't exactly presume good faith in their interlocutors, either let's go through this is a matter of numbers. Okay, so So there are thirty, six percent american households or something like that. I believe. According the last last thing, I read their our guns in thirty six percent of american household, so If you want to know if this is not, this is how you got Trump or this is it, but I mean
beginning and ninety nine before this is how you got Republicans. This is how you got Republicans if the culture war means anything, it is that certain types of of of urban liberal- opinion, find the idea of gun ownership, horrifying inexplicable and an incomprehensible and indefensible, and there are a hundred million people in this country who live with guns in their homes every day and do not know what these other people are talking about. They don't use them, there never guilt, they don't they go out, they hunt they Oh, they want them in their house to put they live in the middle of nowhere. The cops can't get to them for an hour. You know, if of this scaped convict comes up there, My way they have no recourse, all of that they needed.
For security. They feel like they need for security constitution gives them the right to own them in their view, and- and this is eight- this is a cultural divide. This is easily the largest cultural divide that we have- I mean I say that I don't know anybody once again. We fail practically or would want to own a gun and things everybody owns. A gun is insane and their. This notion itself blinds, many people to the fact that you know enormous numbers of people live comfortably with guns and they are in their lot with no conceivable threat to any. And you're, saying to them that you that they are, they are responsible for terrible things happening in the country they are. They are complicit in crime because they,
one own guns. In the meantime, let an array owners here, because there are members of the UN array who are being a whore activists in war. I'm talking about everybody. Will that sort of, and that that little parable about- and you said not nunnery owners but in a raised is plays a big role in this. In my view, that played out- I am reminded of this in August, and early on It doesn't seem now long ago it were not long ago potential myself me things are happening in her, but there was a in an hour re campaign that sort of switched from advocating for hunting and gun rights in the age of Obama. When there was a genuine threat to Maximum list gun ownership. Ideas to now this culture warrior ism. When that threat is completely dissipated. There is no threat to the energy from Washington anymore, not right now
and so it became this attack on fake news and the New York Times and a variety of other cultures we liberal institutions and using, they had aggressive right, we're guy or younger you, the clenched fist of truth, something being allowed said, which is just a little excessive, and the response to that was from this was an this prompted, an internal republican conservative debate over whether or not this was productive language at whether it was counterproductive, whether was possibly dangerous, because it was in creating new thing, weakening the divisions between speech and violence, which is something that written Republicans are frustrated at the left over all the time in the response to this debate was from. People like from Democrats was from people like New York's. Fourth congressional district representative, Kathleen Rice, who wrote that the inner Ray and Dana Lash are quickly becoming domestic security threats under president from forced everybody, obviously to a ban
Then their internal debate and focus squarely on Kathleen Rice and horrible. She was there is sort of an irrational fear of both sides of the gun debate, which I can wrap my head around, because I'm utterly ambivalent towards firearms ownership. My dad has guns, I've shot his gun. Once I didn't care, then I dont care. Now it just does nothing for by both sides of this debate seem either really jazzed about guns or really terrified by guns- and I just I just can't can get in here I mean provided that there is. There is one thing the, whereas it two sides of the same coin. So, on the one hand, you have people who say guns everywhere now I'll play the guns are either that these pieces, of metal are evil women of themselves because they they can launch a projectile at at at somebody, and it's not fair, and then, of course, you have the other side, which is everyone must have a gun in case the government comes after you. That's why militia
that's why the constitution was written. The way it was written, because the whole point is you can rely on the state and affect the state might might you might need to take arms against the state if its depredations and wants to come after you and both of these kinds of extremist views, I think another would recognise each other as such, but they are there to their literally flip sides of the same coin. Either guns are evil or they are necessary to prevent are necessary to prevent the state from you know, from tyrannising. Go you know. We we gonna be Wolverines and will retreat to the to the hill. Rights of minorities, except the Volvo rings of red on work. We were facing a foreign invasion, that's a whole separate idea, but but you know, but that there's there's another dimension to this, and which is that?
There is a conservative pro gun argument here that is grounded very concretely indeed, and that is very hard for four four for liberals rather hydrant heads around which end and that the data speaks to the idea when and where gun ownership is based. Is made more difficult country does not go down in factors there. There's many examples of going up instead and and the The reverse is also true that in this is where it is easier to retain it on the agenda are allowed drug. You do concealed, carry argument for guidelines and the and the conservative gun argument is now that we need to turn these reciprocity in. All states need to have agreement across these these laws and a Nazi
reasonable to, because the left also says well, yes, gun laws across the state should agree there talking about. Obviously blue states should agree with red states and red states believe that they should have that red blue states should agree with them and then, by the way, it's all, but the democratic liberal argument is essentially that we need to do something doesn't matter what arise there, is not even essentially its explicitly. We need to act for its own sake in? I am your prayers in One thousand nine hundred and ninety four Bill Clinton and Al Gore believed after the November election that it was their moves on gun control that were the final impetus to that led to the Republican Revolution of ninety four, and if you think that the that the moves on the beat that this this cultural divide, on guns, is as playing a division along the Trump Non Trump border. As we have, I mean it's, you know woods, people
watch different tv shows may be, and they have different attitudes on on various things and all that. But my guess is that if you ask a trump voter, whether he believes that people have the right to keep and bear arms under the second amendment, he will say she will say yes and if you ask a Hilary voter, the opposite question, many of them, if not all of them, but most of them in one of the ones that we would think we're representative would say now and that that is a pretty stark dividing line and and as it happens, despite the heat on this on this, matter when push comes to shove. People who vote on guns, vote for guns that this this is something as part of a set of attitudes that Democrats and liberals have, but it is not well, we tested them. It is not their voting issue. There have been tests on. This is a voting issue, for example,
When Elizabeth Dull ran for president in two thousand and eight she very much, you thought she could use gun control as an issue. She was going to be a liberal or a conservative on gun control, and it it it it ate her alive like it. It did not work in the in the we're Publican Party and similarly, Bernie Sanders, and you know Bernie Sanders a Democratic party only in twenty sixteen. Only in time, Sixteen did. Hillary Clinton. Think that the that the culture had shifted so much that she could attack Bernie Sanders on guns, Amber was holding about how Bernie Sanders loved guns and he would love guns, and he was like look I'm from a rural state, every effort, but he in Vermont one of those liberals that has a gun and that's it. Today. Most liberal gun was right,
where there is also an lies because they all live because they live in small towns. Are there in the middle of nowhere in they don't have any cops, but there's against her there is. I mean that's illustrative of the fact that there really is no eighty illogical, you know you're, not. You need unity. On the issue of guns, you had even people. There exists an open now, you're hurting people accept molten, whose british conservative democratic from Massachusetts I had the pleasure of meeting him on Friday is a lovely gentlemen. Not a Nancy Blowsy fan wants to unseat or doesn't like the liberal direction. The party which is going- and he says, did I am not going to observe a moment of silence. On the floor of the house, because that is tantamount to not doing anything. Just do something we're the do. Something thing resonates even with non liberal congressmen as much as ninety sanders, maybe beholden to his constituents back home, whoever just an allergy towards gun laws in Vermont, which is weird never.
There's one, not universal. There's one more debate, the ten stones pull out of it at the end of these answers. I haven't seen it happening yet, but it's the one about violence and media, which is which also provides people right when used because they're at the end of this is also granted in data mean there are a lot of that is, the whole body of of of psychological research about Violence and media and its effects on on behaviour. That is that So that's another that the second that comes up the very soon. In people reserves of coastal the rose, who are word, denounced you want to do something do so they don't want quite do something about that there they're, not lines wonder. I wonder how that's gonna go, though, that idea that you, you know, you don't say that the media encourages violence, because you know pics of free speech and that now that now the liberals are all coming out of the closet is as opponents of four speech. Why wonder whether they're gonna
well they're gonna hold onto that. I mean that. Look that the two pieces of data that that made All of these arguments seem crazy. We're too, were twofold, one of which was, if you said that violence unto me media cause people to be violent or that you no gun ownership was causing aware to be more of a violent from ninety. Ninety three to twenty fifteen. You had gigantic drop in the amount of violence in the United States, including gun violence as a general rule murders at your crime drop of of around fifty five percent nationally and higher in the high crime areas. Now that's been reversal, but over the last two years, but this was always the telling thing which is okay, so you're gonna tell me that liberal leader with the energy has been winning victory your victory all over the place and violence has been going down so gun violence has been going down to so you you have been disprove it. You are your contention false based on the evidence and then the.
Same thing with via media violence causing violence, which is that media violence has gotten worse and worse still, none the less you now violence is going down. So so that's why the focus on spectacular events like mass shootings because the is. Are you know these are black swans? In theory they come out of nowhere there you can't defend against them. Dad and yet on the same by the same token, they are increasing in number, and we ve just had one that seems like you know, you're amazed that hasn't happened before somebody. It happened once right when Charles women went up to the tower at the University of taxes and start shooting down of people on the quad right here we have somebody, he located a festival he's although there were windows above it- and he let you know we just start shooting down out the window and a crowd of fifty thousand people and by the way this is the danger of talking about
How did the Orlando shooting, as if it were just another spree spree killing? Because now, when we have one, we were at work? Where media tends not to talk about this fact? where, where there there's already discussion, how we There was Orlando and others this, as if they're the same thing in the area of land and wells jihadist. That's right! That's right in this from what we can tell so far was not so let us work so far right, ok, anyway, but let us move from the horrifying to the edifying and from the dregs of western civilisation to its highest summits, cause you know. So many of you listening to this podcast or curious ear to work as much as possible, where that way too, and were particularly eager to promote and defend an advocate for the best and highest and western civilization, and that's why we know you'll enjoy watching the great courses plus as much as we do with it re courses plus you can learn about anything interesting from
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So- you can learn that from the re courses plus. If we want you to experience that so they're giving our listeners a full month of limited access to enjoy they all of their lectures for free, but you need to sign up with especial your elbow that'll, to give you free, today sign up now at the great courses plus dot com, slash commentary, that's the great courses plus dot com. One word slash commentary. We thank the great courses plus the rate courses for sponsoring the Commentary magazine podcast, so the other thing that happened over the weekend was, of course, a flurry of social media appearances by our President star. Saturday morning in which he unloaded on the mayor of San Juan for being
nasty toward him according to him, because she had been ordered to do so by Democrats and saying that people in Puerto Rico just wanted everything to be done for them, and later calling her and in great or others in grades and then backing in filling in talking about how everybody in Puerto Rico, was once it became clear that maybe he had unloaded too fast and that doing so in the middle of veto What may be the worst NASH natural disaster in american history or in the history of an american protectorate, as was done like so far that maybe getting into it with a with a politician, you know who compared to the colossus that, as the president is like, you know, a tiny little, figurine on this. You walk. I would say this was a distressing to set of events and the and clad in keeping with the dust
pressing set of events, how the president managed call into distance, a whole series of defenders on the right who then serve turned around to try to attack the mayor of San Juan, who, from what I read, is not a particularly good mayor and is very left wing, and you know, as a defender of that terrorist, who spent thirty five years in jail and was just let out and blah blah blah blah but like what that has to do. With this whole question. On the whole, the whole question of of the debt. Response to this. You know unique horrible disaster in Puerto Rico was totally unclear. Yet they wish, As we have said before, there is no fight that Trump considers himself to be. Above you know, hill at home, he'll get down there and have any fight, and on this question
his predecessors. Faced. Similarly, you knows roof or overawed charges about about mishandling things mean Bush Bush was completely destroyed. I'm on country wasn't true, and he didn't he didn't lash out on that on local government. There there were, perhaps too, and he didn't brok. Obama was very bizarrely blamed for the BP spill during his, I guess was his first term yeah money, time and He didn't you know what what did he do he's he said I'm trying to figure out trying to see who's asked to kick that was his. He came out Like the rapporteur was swinging, look look there was that as bizarre cottage industry of liberal commentary that held that the president should be angrier, and I should
splay his anger towards BP and the thai reason whatever, because they knew it was nonsense that they just wanted to see some sort of engagement from IRAN. That was the frustration with Trump and people are talking about. This is trumps Katrina. Trumpets and paying any attention to this. He just wasn't tweeting about it. There was plenty of evidence that you could site if you hadn't people on the ground and people did have people on the ground and corrected this. Russian, but the notion that he was ignoring this early on was not supported whatsoever. It is we better supported now, because he spent the weaken tweeting in great and dedicating a Gulf trophy and his new Jersey clubhouse to the displaced and Storm RAF hitched in in Puerto Rico, you can't imagine worse optics right. Well, here's what I would say. I think that the the hunger to declare Puerto Rico his
Trina was was was was very evident, any so evident, transparently evident and was so evident fact that it may have provided a necessary spur to make sure that FEMA and the mill Terry really did jump into prayer Regos fasts possible under these hot conditions, and you know this is where is he is such a great communicator in such a razor? Sharp understanding was people and all of that This is where his inarticulate see starts to become self destructive, so that much derided thing that he tried to say when he said Puerto Rico is surrounded by water, lots of water, a big ocean. There's lots of water. You now and then but these are made fun of them. Could they sounded ridiculous sounded, like you know, judge, Chauncey, Gardiner and being there, and yet the simple fact that matter is if he could have set it more, Beverly. What he would have said was you know we don't our ability to get
materiel to wear Rico? It's not like it's not in the end. It states end are so our naval vessels are not parked mere there. A lot of them are out on you know in the South, China Sea In- and you know we Deployed all over them all out with a more recently said that he wasn't going to rescind the Jones anguish forces, vessels retouching. U S port before they go anywhere else, including. U S, territory that he wasn't gonna. Do that because shipping interests wouldn't like it right, but then he but then so they have and then he's out there. The registry Rhine pulses are obviously that he didn't really consider this the world's most pressing issue. It wasn't like used right him no favour noticed right now. I think that the thing that is unjust to say is to say that you know we took care of Houston the Florida because there are a lot of white people their first of all. There are a lot of black people in Houston. There a lot of hispanic people in Florida. So that's it.
As you know, there are many things that you can accuse it out, but to say that you have to say that it says salvation Project in Houston, which is one of lack of assembly of the United States. I think it's them. Still bright, but I think it is one of in fact of the large season it states it is it is. You know it is among the ones that is most heavily african American. So that's not that's ridiculous point I think, just as a matter of even simple logic and unfairness. That said, he clearly does not feel like Puerto Rico as part of the United States. He keeps he keeps acting as though it isn't Willie You know it is, but it is in its not stayed so it isn't it isn't there any one of the interesting things or pray Rico that is quite
breaking. Is that it's horrible financial condition in which you know which was governed with greater responsibility and piled up all this debt that it is actually under federal orders that are different from other burst from the fifty states. States can actually do have the power to the clear bankruptcy, not that they do but be horrible if they, they never be able to find out a bond ever again, but Puerto Rico can't under the laws of the United States. So it is in fact more of a protectorate of the federal government than any in the
Joel State is its more under the thumb of the federal government in a visual state is and therefore, arguably when there is a natural disaster, the federal government, just as it would have to in a place like Washington DC, which does not have a state government. It would have to be the lead agency in doing things in and then to say something like they want everything done for them when it out when five percent the island has power. And no one has drinking water. What the hell is he talking about? I mean in a fine, so I'm sure people or stay there to try to move trees out of the road, so the trucks can get by that's what well they do that and we should not forget their obligations to Goldman Sachs, but when he reminded them of their therein hawk to Wall Street, and they should keep that, mind as they are the boil their water, I mean it's a very the whole they had they Cavan boil what were they can be used to boil water with burned bricks,
de foliated trees everywhere. Right I mean it's just you know it's just a terrible, terrible approach and and its heart breaking in fact, because if, if the, if the relief effort has been positive, this just all turns into like ashes and wormwood. You know just turns it bad. It makes you feel bad like y. All he wants is to be praised for it and he makes it impossible to get the praise that he wants for it. I mean he's going there tomorrow and I am not who knows what kind of yet reception he's going received, but I can't imagine it'll be as positive as it was in Houston it was great, warlike or conquering Europe, as it would have been had he gone last week when both the notorious-
mayor that he now hates and the governor and all the public officials were were were actually being were actually sing. Words of thanks for the intervention of the federal government on Porter Rico's behalf, which is by the way as a sane, unnecessary, went abroad, and you can tell from things like Chris Christy's behaviour after Hurricane Sandy. It is the natural human impulse when you are feeling desperate and terrified that this notion, that you know the pricked, paternal federal guy we're going to come in and give you some help comes as a great relief. It may well be that, due to the mayor, got on the phone with lunatic pollen left as politicians in the United States like Melissa, Mark Vivre either the City Council speaker in New York City, who is a terrible, awful monstrous person terrorist lover, an idiot and who has been like saying horrible things about trumpet, maybe they had a conversation and now
it's fine. Now, that's how it that's how it happened that she decides it go negative. It doesn't matter- and this is a national efforts not about trumpets and national average. They wouldn't be nice if we could all feel as though we are all at you know collectively as a country. Are you trying to do something to help the suffering island which, by the way and also carries over to things like today, when he got up there and spoke about the shooting in LAS Vegas? And he talk about how moments of crisis we come together as a country. You can't help, but look through that. Look at that, but through the lens of of his insane divisiveness. The week that was scripted trump. We're we're gonna get extemporaneous trump, because current scripted trump always is followed by time. Tethered trowel, so tomorrow, he'll be in he'll, be him he'll, be in Puerto Rico and Wednesday will be in he'll, be in Lhasa. Selling all he has a habit of resenting will being lashed to responsibility. You both speaking,
of what we were also forgetting what I think has to be included among his top five craziest tweets, which was his tweet to wreck Sillerton. I ask if we're going to mention that we should at least impassioned passing note that the Department of Health and Human services is now headless and Tom Price has condemning him, even all, even amid weakens worth of news. We had not even touched on the fact that yet another member of the cabinet, who will not be replaced or confirmed anytime soon, has resigned when those that wouldn't be yet another man The cabinets requirement of homeland security is headless yeah, but he too has I am he resigned as late as two becoming him without genuine. He seems to have noticed or care that the department responsible for can't curtailing illegal immigration to the United States in maintaining and counter terrorism efforts, including domestic terrorism efforts. Intent, is led by enacting director who no ability to navigate the West wing like a political pointy. What okay, so just to get through the Tom price thing I mean the fact that
lastly, as long as he did after the first story about the planes, its is itself indicative of of how the trumpet position itself must be saying. Look I can deal with that with lead, let's, let's lids even talk about that. I get so much other stuff to deal with because he was down the minute. You read that story, you knew he was going down. It was just like the fact that it took him three or four weeks of veto getting worse. Don't you know that that went on like that was just bizarre and in saying that the second thing about Rex Teller, some. This is a very interesting thing, because I would say nominally we would probably agree more with the true. World view, as expressed at the tweet, which was it's useless to negotiate directly with North Korea, but what he did was tellers and when told the New York Times that he was negotiated or somebody whatever said he was negotiate directly with North Korea and Trump. Then publicly said, I told our wonderful secretary of state. This was pointless.
So we will do what we have to do. So, if he's tweeting that its pointless until it is doing it, then he could have just told tellers Not to do it is to listens by now. The while say to prevent spokeswoman had an hour was discussing these efforts and very clinical fashion as though there had been no policy change, but there's no input from the White House, we always thought the telecoms and to be one of the first to go, I thought at which-
point. There would be a third agency that would have no appoint little appointed as its head and nobody interested in replacing them and no time in the Senate calendar to schedule some sort of a confirmation hearing, even if they were somebody interested in replacing a well. I do think this is one of the biggest issues here, maybe the biggest issue, if you want to, if you want to think about it, which is so there's the Department of Health of Health and Human services open- and there was talk this week in a senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who was a doctor- might be the appropriate person to take it over. If you were John Barrasso, would you accept what you leave your sin opposed to become the derive the Secretary of Health and Human services, seeing how Jeff sessions was publicly humiliated after leaving his and Tom Price, a representative Georgia is now out. I think you would be insane to go into the government if you had. If you had a position,
as an elected official, where you were suddenly gonna have to start kowtowing to this weird you know palace, that's my concern is that they will eventually find somebody who's interested in these positions and it will not be men or women of the highest calibre, though I may look I'll give you example I should now my we must say forget, because I don't want to get in trouble Evan. I can take a people who would be good for health and Human services warrant, elected officials who are public servants who would be great and it I'll get put their heads down and and do the job, and if I say anything like that, that probably am I going to their chance or sell I can say thing, but there are. Such people are such people and homeland security. There are such people at their said. I have a who could do state as well, but what they are not are people who are. You know like leading figures of in o in american society, because I don't know why you would want to subject what what what what
word, you would get for subjecting yourself too, and this is not just trumbo- have opposed up today, which you should all read about how it's important to have political appointees at these places, because their subject to different pressures than professional bureaucrats and civil servants it's worth reading round, but it's also in theirs is we're. Culture has nothing to do with Bush or Bush, rather I'm sorry Trump that goes back to forever about how the department has an agency's cabinet level. Positions have to be like these statesmen and men of great stature with some sort of already existing footprint in the american culture is like. Why? Why does the Secretary of state needs to be? in a professional diplomat that everybody's, whose name everybody knows when you have tens of thousands of professional diplomats who could plucked from obscurity
nine times out of his arm? He obviously does not mean there is the greatest secretaries of state of our time. Like you know, George SALT George Schulz was had been secretary of labour and then ran accompany and was a public policy intellectual of a kind that mean he was known. He ran back tell and he had been a public official. One thing that you do seem to me to know how to do is: have experience working in government, because the incentives and pressures and and rewards of working government are so different from the for profit sector, that you cannot, as I think, televisions, horrible tenure and and Paulo Niels tenure. When he was secretary of the Treasury and John Snows tenure when he was secretary of the Treasury and various other people's ten years, when they were because they only worked for profit cumbered. They don't understand what the incentive structure as and they don't know that they can't fire people. They don't know how this work.
And they ve they never get their arms around it. So you know at the very least, having some experience negotiated in the functioning of the federal government is a necessary precondition to be, but we're getting out of ourselves to the reality is that John Kelly isn't replaced he's not gonna, be replaced any times in the Senate. Didn't have time to replace him. Even if somebody nominated him Hs is gonna, be here. For a long time? Anybody who leaves is gonna leave an agency with an acting director for who knows how long the president has no interest in staffing up his administration. He did it reluctantly in the first place right. Well, because you have that's what happens when you have an excellent presidency, when you have somebody who doesn't think he's gonna win soak where the great joke was. As we now understand it, Chris Christie was making a transition plan, and then we got all these leaks about how Chris Christie was so terrible and it turned out basically jarred cushion or through Chris Christie over the side because he hated them cause, Christy prosecuted, his father for the crimes his father had committed the evil disastrous monstrous crimes is Father committed, so he eighty six is
stay the off the side and then there's no transition plan, which means there's always staffing administration, which means nobody had done anything because Jared, commissioner, is a putz he's allowed mouth idiot pots and let's face it if he were the President son in law, he would be. You know he would be so you know you have is ass kicked into either into them into the EAST river? You wouldn't even believe it all the way from washing all the way from Washington into the EAST River and if you think that I think that I'm understating the case with that moron that moron jerk and his idiot something like this morning, Joe with a little less than, gets heartedness, it's gonna get it. It's got it's gotten hot nurse. Now you're gonna, malaria, noise responsible for the thought in relations between the United States and the Sunni States, yards response for the fuck, unless Bello saying the thinking of the agony spelt, you know. If we really had thirty third hand, I know here he is responsible for the far he heard.
He heard of the sunny Shi Ite distinction in probably mid December from somebody from Moscow anyway, and with that we come to the clothes of a hysterical edition of the Commentary magazine podcast, where I seem to have lost my wife, my cool. I was going to use another four letter word there about what I lost literally literally a guide, and once I really I condemn the lot of people I condemn with a marked with red. Oh, I condemn Tom Price. I condemned prisoners I'm just I'm, I'm I'm even avenging angel today, so they had to come cuz, it's so hot in the studio by God, so hot in here anyway, We go on for a long time, so for everyone, and nor Razumihin John. Let's keep the category.
Transcript generated on 2019-12-13.