By Charlie Johnston
Thursday’s Congressional hearing with disgraced FBI Agent Peter Strzok was both frightening and revealing. The script for it could have been written by William Peter Blatty. Strzok was defiant and unapologetically evil, mockingly calling it patriotism. Equally chilling were the legion of Democrats who cheered him on and wished they could give him a purple heart. It was nakedly revealed Thursday that, “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12).
Regular readers know I do not like to speak at all of the devil. He is real, he is powerful, he is seductive, and he is pure malevolence. His sole joy is to mock what God has created, to disfigure and maim God’s highest creation – man. If he can get men to cooperate with him in the mutilation, it gives him an especially malevolent frisson of dark joy. Nothing thrills him more than to destroy those who falsely thought they had entered high into his counsels after he has used them. They do not even have to know that it is him they serve. It is sufficient for them to think themselves superior beings, intent on dominating and proving their superiority over their inferiors.
When the devil ceases to worry about staying hidden, when he starts to openly celebrate his disorder, when he starts taunting the victims who still resist that disorder, some sort of endgame is afoot.
Until early last fall, the left and Democrats could plausibly argue they really believed there had been collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to tilt the election. Even if so, it would not have been a crime, but it would have been an outrage. Nonetheless, the left could, at that time, plausibly claim honest concern rather than just a malicious effort to overturn an election that did not go their way. But in the fall, real evidence started trickling in. It was not what the media narrative and Democratic claims had insisted it would be. The evidence started showing that there was no collusion at all involving Trump or his campaign – but there was massive collusion between the Clinton campaign and both British and Russian intelligence agents, in cooperation with the FBI, the American Justice Dept. and Intelligence community and the State Dept. to spy on the Trump campaign before he was elected and to force a bureaucratic coup against him after he took office. At that point, the left could have honorably chosen to step back from the abyss, to support full investigation of these abuses, dismiss those involved, and accept the results of the election while trying to retool for the next. Instead, they doubled down on resistance.
As this year began, the trickle of evidence became a flood. ALL the evidence showed that the Russian collusion narrative was an utter fraud, a manufactured instrument by which a bi-partisan Deep State sought to manage a coup d’etat. It is the biggest political scandal in American history – and is an existential threat against the Republic. Shockingly, the only Democrat of stature to denounce this effort has been Alan Dershowitz, the great civil libertarian. The rest of the party leaders have doubled down, trying to obstruct Congressional investigations and using Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a partisan cudgel – and to perform a malicious form of political performance art.
Last February, Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies, charging them with waging “information warfare” against the US – of trying to influence the American election. This was absurd. Nations constantly try to influence the succession of other nations. The first serious foreign effort to influence an American presidential election came in 1796, when France threatened war if America did not elect Thomas Jefferson over John Adams. There has been foreign meddling in every presidential election since. America has been a consistent meddler in other nation’s elections. This is the way of the world. It has ever been so and will ever be so that nations seek to influence the succession in other countries. Enemies do it – and so, frankly, do allies. The time-honored way of dealing with it has been through diplomacy. You either ignore it as a mere nuisance, impose sanctions if it is serious – and even consider war if it is egregious enough. You do NOT treat it as a criminal matter for the rather obvious reason that foreign nationals are not subject to American law for actions that are not committed on American soil. Yet the indictments Mueller made in February were useful as theatre for the left’s narrative, even if absurd as a legal matter. Make something Russian sound really nefarious. There was no chance Mueller could extradite the Russian nationals he had indicted, so this was a seemingly safe way to make an inflammatory charge without ever having to make an actual case. It got more absurd when one of the Russian companies DID show up to contest the charges. Mueller was completely unprepared to deal with this: those indictments were show, not law. It got most absurd when it was revealed that one of the companies Mueller indicted had not even existed before the election. It was all show.
We have gone from what could be called an honest disagreement early on (though the left’s allegations always strained credulity, one could argue that they honestly held their ignorant and paranoid beliefs) to desperate efforts to defend a collapsing narrative, to making it up as they go along to try to save that narrative. It lacks honor and it lacks dignity…or any sense of justice. As reality was revealed, the left was given a choice: would it embrace honor and shared principles of justice or would it seek power at any price by any means, no matter how malicious or false? It failed that test – and that is, itself, a revelation.
With the Strzok hearing, we have reached a whole new level of disorder. If I were to give it a title, I would call it the, “Yeah, I did it…so what are YOU going to do about it?” hearing. The smugness, the smirking, the transparent and defiant lies all combined (along with Strzok’s absolutely creepy wiggling) to show utter contempt for honor, decency, and the system of law. That Democrats were cheering him on was, frankly, astonishing and completely disheartening. You did not need to be anywhere near that room to notice the whiff of sulfur wafting about the hearing. Both Strzok and the Democrats on the committee nakedly celebrate their assault on the rule of law, defiantly demanding of Republicans, “What you gonna do about it?”
Many years ago I began to wonder whether it was possible for an entire political party to become possessed. Then I began to wonder whether an entire culture could become possessed. At terminal stages of possession, the possessed are destructive of everything, including themselves. The leftist project, if it were to succeed, would destroy even itself – as in Venezuela. Paradoxically, the only way for individual leftists to survive is for their political movement to fail. Though they hiss and snarl at us for it, when we advocate for Christ, we advocate for them, too.
A couple of years ago a prominent cleric who is not given to flights of fancy (most here would recognize his name) took a ride with me while I was traveling. Horrified by the ugly, vulgar acts of “feminists” en masse, he told me, with some fearful awe, that he thought perhaps the demonic spirit of Jezebel had settled over and perverted the feminist movement. I have many friends in religious authority, some who have a mystical bent, many more who do not. I was shaken by this conversation because this man does not. He speculated on how much of this stuff is now overtly satanic, behind the scenes. I thought of my own speculations over the years.
The Congress has, in this case, done a good job of what it CAN do – which is to investigate and reveal the evidence of what happened. Yes, no one has been held to account. The Justice Dept. and FBI still resist every effort of Congress to perform its legitimate oversight responsibilities. Strzok is still an FBI agent. Lois Lerner still collects her pension. Rod Rosenstein, the day after the Strzok hearing, tried a reprise of Mueller’s February gambit, this time announcing indictments of 12 Russian intelligence agents, once again brazenly making an un-prosecutable legal matter of what is entirely a diplomatic matter. Done on the eve of President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this was just raw Deep State defiance – that if we can’t get you directly, we will undermine your every effort for peace and national security. Much of the prancing smugness comes from the fact that, whatever revelations are unveiled, however much outrage accompanies the unveiling, the Congress cannot hold these people to account. It is the president and his justice department that must act.
Thus far, the president has done well to act with restraint. It has allowed documentary evidence – and the left’s own behavior – to reveal who these people are. It has been revealed and there has been no repentance, no re-commitment to the rule of law and equal standards of justice, not even any shame. When Trump gets back from the Russia summit, it is time to hold people and agencies to account. Otherwise, we will continue to see nothing but prancing malice as they celebrate their open defiance of the law and all standards of decency and honor. We are headed for decisive confrontation.
As I said in my opening paragraph, we are not contending with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities – with the dragon rampant. In just a month, Fr. Richard Heilman, President of the Holy League, begins the 54-day Novena for Our Nation. It will begin on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15 and culminate on the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7. Fr. Heilman calls it a “Nineveh moment,” and I entirely agree. I think this is the most important Novena of my lifetime…that it may well be a pivot of civilization.
I appreciate the good work both the Congress and the president have done, thus far. But the great crisis cannot be avoided unless the left re-commits to standards of honor, law and justice. Congress cannot compel them. I do not have confidence that the president will be able to compel them. We each have to do our part to see justice prevail and honor restored. But in the end, it is only the power of Christ that can compel them.