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Gary Bauer / July 7, 2018

Breaking Pruitt

After months of controversy, the seemingly inevitable happened. Environmental Protection Agency director and Trump Cabinet member Scott Pruitt resigned his post.


After months of controversy, the seemingly inevitable happened. Environmental Protection Agency director and Trump Cabinet member Scott Pruitt resigned his post.


I like Pruitt. He is a Midwesterner, a straight shooter, and an across-the-board conservative. Clearly, he made a couple of misjudgments during his tenure at the EPA. Frankly, though, most of what we’ve heard about seems insignificant compared to what went on, routinely, at the Justice Department during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But don’t think for a minute Pruitt’s stepping down has anything to do with cut-rate mattresses or his wife vying for a Chick-fil-A franchise. Scott Pruitt was targeted because he was fighting the tidal wave of EPA regulations that are touted to save lives but instead kill jobs. It is Trump’s agenda, not Pruitt’s finances, that brought on the flood of negative publicity.


What’s worse, many of Pruitt’s “missteps” had to do with his family’s security. To say the least, the media’s concern about the safety of public officials is selective. When Rep. Maxine Waters reported death threats, we heard all about it — as we should. But the same media professed itself mystified that Pruitt and his family wanted extra measures taken to protect them from constant threats and harassment.


The final proof of what is really happening here arrived quickly. The administration has intimated that Pruitt’s deputy, Andrew Wheeler, will succeed him. Within minutes, opponents of Trump’s growth and reasonable regulation policy jumped on Wheeler, with the predictable Huffington Post labeling him “even worse” than Pruitt.

This is what the Left does. Rather than debate policy, it drives personal slander. Imagine going to a workplace every day where nearly the entire career staff perches on your shoulder digging for flaws and “scandals” they can share with their friends in the press. Talk about collusion.


This is the way Washington is for every conservative. Changing it — draining even one fetid corner of the swamp — isn’t easy. It’s what we’ve signed up for. But if you’re tempted to harsh judgment that one appointee or another has betrayed the public trust, look a little closer and see if it isn’t the rebellion of the swamp monsters instead. They like things just the way they are.
 


On the Verge in Venezuela


Hard as it is to believe, after a century of economic and political crimes of vast proportions, radical socialism is on the march again. This weekend in Chicago 2,000 dedicated socialists are gathering to celebrate their return to political relevance. If you miss this event, you won’t have the chance to attend sessions like “Socializing with Socialists” and “Capitalism and the Gender Binary.”

The event is intended for everyone interested in “overthrowing capitalism,” and yes, of course all the bathrooms are “gender neutral.” No word yet on whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will attend. She is the socialist-Democrat who defeated the fourth-ranking Democratic House member, Joe Crowley, in a primary last week.


Meanwhile, a reminder of what radical socialism will mean is playing out across the Caribbean Sea. It seems like a report from another century — or even another planet. The latest news from Venezuela shows fresh protests spreading there due to a new shortage: drinkable water.

How can this be in a modern nation, blessed with a resilient people, physical beauty, and massive oil reserves? Much of the media refers to the present leader of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, as a dictator, and he is that. But before his political dictatorship bloomed with the abolition of the National Assembly last year, his economic dictatorship — socialism — was in full flower.


The word “disaster” doesn’t begin to describe the Chavez-Maduro reign of terror. How bad are things in Venezuela? Spurred by stark poverty across a swath of the country, these ideologues imposed policies that ravaged the private economy and delivered:

  • Hyperinflation at an annual rate of 15,657% (that comma is not a misprint);

  • A weight loss of 19 pounds per person due to malnutrition (we’re not talking Jenny Craig here);

  • A national poverty rate of 82%;

  • Shortages of bread, flour, milk, meat, coffee, rice, toilet paper and other staples, and medicine;

  • People foraging in garbage for scraps of food and fighting over the empty plastic bags to resell them for cash;

  • The departure of an estimated 4,000,000 Venezuelans, fleeing the country’s economic collapse.

To make matters worse, after implementing the classic socialist policies of nationalization of industries and price controls, the Maduro government has refused all international aid. It dares not risk having its demonization of outsiders disproved, even at the cost of many lives.


Political violence has grown, and opponents of the regime are persecuted or killed, possibly by the hundreds, with the slayings portrayed as fighting crime.


What to do? Reports say President Trump has drawn flak for raising the prospect of military action. Latin American history makes intervention tempting, but clearly unwise. Maduro, like the Castro brothers and other dictators before them, uses any hint of external action to tighten his grip on power.

With enormous suffering worsening by the day, the Trump administration and our allies could do more to aid the Venezuelan people. It has been a year since analysts started suggesting free nations organize a South American version of the Berlin Airlift to ease the present crisis.


The Venezuelans must know, and will know, who came to their rescue in their hour of need. Whatever happens now, we have one more proof of the criminal nature of socialist dictatorships. Venezuela’s pockets of abject poverty needed attention. But socialism erases the “goods” in the common good. It converts the noble ideal of a social safety net into a mummy wrap.

Venezuela needs an answer soon. Those whose antennae are attuned to the crush of refugees reaching America need to recognize what produces this diaspora — it’s the policies so many of them are making haste to bring to our shores.

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