National Review cruise — Hillary’s America, the military, and abortion

img_1903That title is correct: I’ll give you a brief rundown of Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary’s America, an abortion panel, and a military panel. Things happen quickly on a National Review cruise and if I miss a bit of blogging, I’m seriously behind the eight ball.

Hillary’s America. Because Hillary’s America showed only briefly in Marin, I missed it. Fortunately for me, the movie’s two writers and producers were on the cruise and hosted a special showing yesterday.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s quite a good movie, as it is well-researched, well-written, and very professional produced. The movie begins with Dinesh’s sentencing for a campaign donation crime that, when it is a small, first-time infraction, as was the case with Dinesh, is invariably treated with fines and other minimal punishments.

Dinesh was special, however, for at the time the Justice Department got him in its sights, he was the writer and producer of the scathing (and prescient) Obama’s America, a documentary that ranks immediately behind Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine when it comes to popularity and revenue. Not only was Dinesh prosecuted with the full force of federal law, he had the misfortune to appear before a Democrat-appointed judge who sentenced him to time-served, plus two years of sleeping in a supervised facility, five years probation, mandatory public service, and court supervised therapy.

The first four items were the normal punitive stuff one would expect from a corrupt government. The last punishment was purely Orwellian punishment for “wrong thinking.”

In any event, after reenacting the sentencing and his experiences in the overnight facility, the movie (which Dinesh narrates) hones in on the real issue, which is the con that the Democrat party is running against the American people. Readers here are familiar with the con, which is to tell Americans that the Republicans are the party of slavery, Jim Crow, eugenics, immigrant ghettos — they’re all Democrat ideas. Through clear narration and equally clear visuals, the movie really drove that point home.

The movie then shifted to Hillary’s lifelong pursuit of power through Democrat policies. It highlighted her close relationship with Saul Alinsky, as well as her lies and the vast corrupt enterprise that is the Clinton Foundation.

Overall, if I hadn’t gone in the movie knowing what I did, I would have been well informed coming out. And if I had been a Democrat dragged along by a Republican friend to see it, I would have been agitated coming out and instantly taken to Bing to try to disprove the movie’s many factual assertions — something I would have been unable to do.

After the movie, during a Q&A session, I asked Bruce how they went about finding the many black and other minority actors in the movie. He replied that these men and women were just ordinary actors, not Republicans or conservatives. Many were disturbed when they learned the nature of the movie in which they were to appear. All that Bruce could do was to tell them to do independent research and, if they found different historically accurate information, to come back to him because he wouldn’t want to make an inaccurate movie.

After the movie was completed, at the premiere in Dallas (where it was filmed), those involved in the making of the movie had a pleasant surprise. Many of the black and other minority actors attended the premiere. Some of them stood up in the audience and said that the movie was an eye-opener to them. Although none were instant conservatives or Republicans, they admitted that they could not longer call themselves Democrats.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend it. Although we dodged the Hillary bullet, the Democrat party is still out there, selling its con that it can save America — if we just let the party control our money and our souls.

Abortion. Jay Nordlinger quizzed Dinesh D’Sousa and Kevin Williamson about abortion. All three are openly pro-Life, but Jay opened by saying that he recognized the audience was mixed and promised to be respectful of other views.

The fact is, though, that once you’ve broken through the Democrat barrier saying the fetus isn’t human, it’s very hard to accord respect to the pro-Abortion view. You can be respectful to the people who hold that view (no screaming, no name-calling, no threats), but the view is untenable. I certainly made that journey. The cognitive dissonance of pretending that there was no connection between my pregnancy and my children simply couldn’t last.

As with other seminars, the points the participants made were familiar, but stated in clear, compelling, and often quite witty terms. I think that, had I not already crossed the Rubicon on this one, I would have been troubled by what the men said and fought hard to maintain my false universe in the face of their larger, manifest truths.

The only thing I wish they would have added is something that’s a pet peeve of mine, which is the Left’s insistence on framing women’s plight as if it were 1890 or 1950. We have readily-available birth control today, pregnant women are not being thrown into the snow to die, and there is no stigma for out-of-wedlock pregnancy. The social drivers for past abortion arguments don’t exist anymore, but you’d never know it from the Left’s rhetoric.

Our Military. For the discussion about the military, Rich Lowry quizzed Bing West, David French, John Hillen, and Victor Davis Hanson. I’m sorry to say that I can’t remember who said what, but I’ll try to hit upon the high points.

All were agreed that our military is the best in the world, in terms of both weapons and personnel. All were agreed, however, that the military is putting so much money into personnel that weapons are aging rapidly.

Also, the money for personnel isn’t going into current personnel, but into post-military benefits. While all of its want to see our vets cared for, the fact is that only 10% are combat vets, yet everyone is lining up for disability benefits because not to do so is seen as leaving money on the table. As with Social Security, that’s an unsustainable economic burden that has to be addressed.

All were agreed too that Obama, through his active withdrawal has left the world an infinitely more dangerous place that would be difficult for any subsequent president. The panelists are not sanguine that Trump entirely understands what he’s getting into, but they saw his appoint of General Michael Flynn as his National Security advisor as a heartening sign. The fact that Trump has made nice noises to Russia, though, is at odds with Flynn’s deep distrust of that nation, so we’ll have to see where that apparent conflict goes.

I believe it was VDH who made the point that for all Trump’s nice statements about Putin, it was Hillary and Obama who did the pro-Russia “reset,” Obama who promised Putin more “flexibility” after 2012, Obama who left our allies near Russia unprotected, and Obama who invited Putin into the Middle East. It’s Trump who has to deal with this. VDH hopes his strategy is to convince Russia and China that they will benefit most from being in America’s sphere of interest, rather than playing out lone hands dealing with myriad petty tyrants around the world.

All were agreed that America’s upcoming energy revolution, thanks to Trump’s promise to take most limitations off of oil, coal, and natural gas production and export, will radically change America’s roll in the world and the cards that Middle Eastern dictators have to play. VDH also pointed out something I’ve talked about for awhile, which is that the realignment in the Middle East means Israel is not a pariah anymore. Sunni Muslim nations frightened of Iran are desperate to ally with her.

All panelists agreed that the most toxic spot in the Middle East is Syria — thanks entirely to Obama’s continued fecklessness. The coastal area is hardcore Assad, Iran, and Russia; the northern area is going to be Kurdish; and the vast middle is a wasteland of death and violence, and will be for a long time. David French thought we need to create “safe zones” in Syria to keep refugees from flooding into Europe and further destabilizing the world. Bing West disagreed, saying that, the Middle East being what it is, those safe zones will turn the region into our Palestine.

There was obviously a lot more, but for the life of me, I can’t remember it now. I’ll update with future posts should anything come to mind.

I must say that you really get a lot of bang for the buck with this National Review cruise. For the price of an ordinary seven-day-long seminar, you get not only hours and hours of interesting and informed commentary and debate, but you also get the pleasure of a cruise. If I complained about anything, I’d probably be lying to you.

Oh! One more thing: If James Lileks were a Democrat, he’d have his own show and it would actually be funny (unlike all those nasty Leftist talking heads who sprang fully formed from Jon Stewart’s meager brow). Because Lileks is a conservative, though, he’s limited to a smaller audience, which is a shame. He has an incredibly agile mind, a beautiful voice, and adds to that good values and great erudition. I hadn’t realized before the cruise how impressive he is.