The Jury Talks Back

4/28/2018

No, Criticizing Trump Is Not the Ticket to Fame and Fortune

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:17 pm

Yesterday, several writers were fired from RedState. All of them were fierce Trump critics. While some Trump critics remain at the site, no Trump supporters were fired.

A common reaction to this news goes like this: No problem! Trump haters can get a job anywhere they want! They can just go to ABC, NBC, CBS, NYT, WaPo, LAT, CNN, or any number of other places! The claim is made that opposing Trump is somehow a resume enhancer.

This is wrong, and I thought I’d set aside some time to quote Erick Erickson at length about just how wrong it is:

When I uninvited Donald Trump from the RedState Gathering in 2015, I got death threats, harassment, and also saw the more than 30,000 people unsubscribe from the daily email I was sending at the time. That 30,000 came in only a few weeks.

After saying that I could not support the man for President, I pretty much ensured my days filling in on national talk radio were over for the time being. But not only that, it also played a part in disrupting my career advancement in talk radio to some degree. My bosses were quite worried about my own show, which is significant given its time slot. A few things that seemed just on the horizon have disappeared for now. Thankfully, though, God was watching over me and I’m actually in a stronger position now than before. More on that in a minute.

Over the course of the campaign in 2016, we had people show up at our home to threaten us. We had armed guards at the house for a while. My kids were harassed in the store. More than once they came home in tears because other kids were telling them I was going to get killed or that their parents hated me. I got yelled at in the Atlanta airport while peeing by some angry Trump supporter.

We got harassed in church and stopped going for a while. A woman in a Bible study told my wife she wanted to slap me across the face My seminary got calls from people demanding I be expelled. And on and on it went. When I nearly died in 2016, I got notes from people upset I was still alive. When I announced my wife had an incurable form of lung cancer, some cheered. All were directed from supposedly evangelical Trump supporters convinced God was punishing me for not siding with his chosen one. For a while, given the nature of what we were getting in the mail, my kids had to stop checking it.

When my Fox contract came up, not only did I not want to stay, but Fox made clear they had no use for me. I had jumped from CNN to Fox with a number of promises made, none of which were kept and then wound up hardly ever getting on. After saying I could not support Trump, the purpose of my Fox contract became more about keeping me off anyone’s television screen than putting me on. When I did go on in 2016, I frequently found myself getting called a traitor by some Trump humping celebrity. After the election, that stopped, but most of my appearances did too except from a few kind producers with whom I had become friends.

I have no TV contract now and have literally been on more in the past three three months than in the past year at Fox, though all of it unpaid. Of course, much of the rest of the media prefers Republicans who will only blast the GOP and I don’t do that anymore than mindlessly praise Trump.

Compare that to the soul-searching that Ace of Spades did when he contemplated the future direction of his blog:

Some time ago I faced the choice of doing an anti-Trump-but-pro-conservative blog, or getting on board with Trump. (The latter turned out to be easier than I thought, as the idea of President Hillary Clinton got my partisan dander up.)

But when I was contemplating the idea of a blog that was allegedly pro-conservative while simultaneously being against the key player (flaws and all) of the actual on-the-ground real-world conservative movement, I realized: This makes no sense.

What’s the audience for that? How many readers would that attract?

. . . .

The old expression for this “a feathered fish” — a feathered fish can’t fly, and the feathers weight it down so that it also can’t swim. It’s a blend of two inconsistent things that results in a non-viable hybrid for which there is little audience.

Eh. I think (and long thought) this business model was non-viable but I don’t wish any ill on the fired people and I hope they can find jobs somewhere.

But I still think that, on strictly practical terms, they really have to decide if they’re birds or fish if they want to get anywhere.

I’ve bolded that last part, with the phrase “get anywhere,” because I think it’s central to Ace’s world view.

By “get anywhere” Ace means “get clicks” — which translate to money in the “business model” that he describes. Ace is refreshingly forthright here, which is what I like about Ace at his best: he’ll be brutally honest about some things that other people wouldn’t. He’s not talking about his message primarily in terms of what he believes; his primary focus is economic. And the message is: if you want a lot of readers, you gotta be on the Trump train. Of course, once you make that decision, you can easily rationalize the various ways in which you ignore or minimize the dumb stuff Trump does. After all, you’re just being hard-headed and realistic — much in the same way that settling with a convicted bomber and perjurer like Brett Kimberlin, which Ace also did, can be viewed as a hard-headed and realistic decision when the alternative looks costly or risky.

Like Ace, Erick Erickson also depends on audience for his income. He made a different choice, and it’s not working out well for him financially. But even though he struggles to make ends meet, he seems at peace with his decision — because for him, what it means to “get anywhere” is different from what Ace means.

What Erick is doing is far more admirable than what I’m doing. It’s relatively easy for me to just say what I believe. Sure, my comments section fills up with vitriol from people disappointed that I won’t jump on board. But, unlike Erick, I don’t depend on my political punditry to make my living. The money from RedState in particular was nice, and made things easier, but we’ll eat and pay our mortgage without it.

But don’t pretend that my saying what I think is financially positive, or a “resume enhancer.” Of course it’s not. Many readers have left, because they simply can’t deal with the fact that I regularly criticize Trump.

By the way, I often see people try to justify their abandoning me on grounds more principled than “I don’t like it when you criticize Trump.” That sounds silly, so they come up with various rationalizations. But those rationalizations are all provably false. For instance, people will say things like: You seem to insult everyone who supports Trump! So then I go and dig up posts where I said I respect people who voted for Trump:

I have always said — always — that I fully understood why someone would vote Trump in a general election against Hillary Clinton. (If you voted for him in the primaries, that’s a different discussion entirely.) I’ve never criticized a general election vote for Trump. I’ve never criticized the people who cast that vote. . . . I respect people who cast a vote for Donald Trump to avoid Hillary Clinton becoming President.

Then they say: OK, but you never ever praise Donald Trump for what he does right! So then I go dig up my posts where I praise him for what he did right, like nominating Gorsuch:

Tonight, I am proud of President Trump, without reservation.

Or other issues:

[S]o far, he’s been more conservative than I expected. Much of that is the flag-waving I-love-a-parade brand of conservatism that doesn’t excite me much, but a sizable chunk is real conservatism: almost (almost) uniformly excellent judges, reduction of regulation, etc. Notably, so far — as long as he doesn’t get us into a stupid war — his policies have been a clear improvement on what we would have gotten from a Hillary Clinton.

Again:

[T]here’s plenty to like. The executive order on immigration, while concededly poorly thought through and chaotically rolled out, is a fulfillment of an important campaign promise to keep our country safe. He has made an incredibly solid Supreme Court pick. Many of his cabinet picks have been encouraging. And he seems to be taking steps to rein in regulations, even if his manner in doing so has been ham-handed and ridiculous.

Much of the praise is mixed in with criticism. And that’s the part that the flouncers don’t like. They simply can’t handle reading criticism of Trump.

So why do I keep doing it when a lot of people don’t like it?

The answer is pretty simple. I say what I think. Sure, I criticize Trump far, far more often than I praise him. Why? Because I think he deserves criticism far, far more often than he deserves praise. I still think he is unfit to be president — morally, intellectually, and temperamentally. That’s what I actually think. So, I just say what I think.

Saying what I actually think hasn’t gotten me a “gig” at the New York Times or CNN. It is not a resume enhancer. In the end, it has gotten me fired from RedState. Make no mistake: that’s going to be a hit to my pocketbook, at a time when I am sending my first child to college. But it’s nothing like the financial difficulties that Erick Erickson is going through — or that people like Susan Wright and Caleb Howe, also fired for criticizing Trump, are going through. Those folks depended on that income, and now they have to find something else.

But the one thing I can say about Erick, and that I can also say about everyone else who was fired yesterday, is that their view of what it means to “get anywhere” is not about getting clicks or eyeballs or TV appearances. It’s about saying what they believe and letting the chips fall where they may. That is not a popular position, but it’s the position they chose.

And it’s not a position that makes them rich. So stop claiming that what they did is easy. It isn’t. It just isn’t.

Alfie Evans: Even A Little Life Is Worth Fighting For

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:55 am

[guest post by Dana]

Untitled
(photo from CNN)

Little Alfie Evans has passed away. The sweet little two-year old had been the focus of a fierce battle between his parents, who wanted the right to make the life and death decisions concerning him, the British National Health Service (NHS) and the judiciary, who seemingly worked tirelessly to deny the parents these rights:

Pope Francis had been publicly praying and advocating for the 23-month-old boy, and the Italian government offered the child citizenship and created a plan to take the boy to a Vatican hospital. But Alfie’s doctors, who took him off life support against the parents’ wishes, said he couldn’t be healed and shouldn’t make the trip. A judge earlier this week sided with his doctors, who said Alfie suffered from a rare and incurable degenerative neurological condition. The court also ruled that the parents could not seek treatment for him elsewhere because further treatment would be against the child’s best interests.

When the decision was made that the little boy would be taken off the ventilator, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital released this statement:

“This evening the High Court again ruled that it is in Alfie’s best interests to continue with the end of life care plan developed by the clinical team who have cared for him throughout.

“Our top priority therefore remains in ensuring Alfie receives the care he deserves to ensure his comfort, dignity and privacy are maintained throughout. This includes working closely with Kate and Tom as they spend this precious time together with him.

“We would be grateful if respect and consideration is shown to all our staff, patients and families at the hospital at this difficult time.”

The assumption being that Alfie’s own parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, did not have their little boy’s best interest at heart, while the courts and the hospital did. Again, Alfie’s parents had already been told “no” to taking their son to Italy for care, told he would be taken off life support, against their wishes, and were told that he might be able to die at home if they had an attitude adjustment:

But a doctor treating Alfie, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that for Alfie to be allowed home would require a “sea change” in attitude from the child’s family, and they feared that in the “worst case” they would try to take the boy abroad.

I tried to write about Alfie Evans a number of times as the storm swirled around him but continually found myself tearfully fraught with anger at the outrageous unfairness of it all. I read a number of stories about the battles over Alfie. About how conservatives in the U.S. were using his case as an example of the inevitable end of socialized medicine, how Alfie was just a little political football, and how U.S. conservatives have rallied around Alfie Evans. And while I prayed for the little guy and his parents, niggling in the back of my mind was the question of why one little boy’s life didn’t appear to be worth fighting for by everyone? Why wasn’t Alfie Evans viewed with having an inherent value that made him worth the fight? Why was their silence by too many when two loving parents were forced into an ugly and exhausting battle just to be allowed to say goodbye to their little one in the privacy of their own home? It was as if this parental love cost too much for too many in power, and for too many who believed the courts knew best. That two loving and conscientious parents had their rights taken away by the courts should outrage everyone. And in wondering why everyone didn’t feel the urge to fight for Alfie and his parents, I am certainly not the alone:

What the British government is doing to a baby and his family is almost unbelievable. The state has determined that Alfie Evans, afflicted as he is by a rare neurodegenerative disorder, has so poor a quality of life that no efforts should be made to keep him alive.

He was taken off ventilation, but continued, surprising the doctors, to breathe. He has also been deprived of water and food. His parents want to take him to Italy, where a hospital is willing to treat him. The British government says no, and has police stationed to keep the boy from being rescued. It is, after all, in his best interest to die. (Yes, the British courts have made that determination, interpreting an act of Parliament, and in Britain “government” often refers to the executive branch. The point here is that we are discussing a policy of the British state.)

There are end-of-life cases that raise genuinely complicated issues. The same course of medical treatment might be obligatory in one set of circumstances, permissible in another, and cruel in a third. There are gray areas and judgment calls.

This is not one of those cases. There is no allegation that providing the baby with nutrition and hydration, or treatment generally, will cause him suffering — or that extending his life will prolong his suffering, since there is no indication that he has been suffering.

The family is not asking the British government to pay for expensive treatments. They just want the freedom to take their boy to people who will try to keep him alive rather than cause his death.

The considerations that move the government are that the baby’s doctors consider it unlikely that he will ever attain a high level of cognitive functioning or be able to survive on his own, and likely that his condition will eventually kill him. The courts have decided that Alfie Evans therefore derives no benefit from continuing to live.

It really is this simple: The British state has decided that it is the baby’s best interest to die, and it is trying to ensure that he dies expeditiously. It is overriding parental rights in the process.

And while the article focuses on responding to the silent left in the U.S., I believe the concluding statement below can be asked of many, no matter their political stripe. I don’t think it matters that this took place overseas where the laws are different than here. That this could happen here as an accepted practice is a concern that bridges an ocean. We would be fools to not take heed.

The family and its supporters assert, with justified outrage, that it is barbaric to sentence anyone to death by starvation for the crime of being dependent on others, and that parents have a right to make medical decisions for their children. The courts are treating the parents as though they were in the grip of irrational, if understandable, emotions. They are merely loving their baby. It is the British state that appears to be reacting in an irrational and nearly incomprehensible, way.

The Guardian reports that the case has become a “rallying cry for social conservatives” in the United States. So it has. My question is: Why aren’t liberals horrified by the British government’s behavior, too? Shouldn’t everyone be?

Like little Charlie Gard before him, may Alfie Evans be welcomed home by the angels in a joyously giddy reception of loving kindness. And while he is now at peace, may his parents, who are surely walking through a hellish vale of anguish, find comfort in knowing their little love is now home-free.

–Dana


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