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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

The election night words of the long-shot Republican candidate after his upset victory remain with me to this day: “I learned long ago that serving only oneself is a petty and unsatisfying ambition. But serve a cause greater than self-interest and you will know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of fame and fortune.”

That leader was summoning those within the sound of his voice to self-sacrifice. Contrast that with another leader’s explanation, some 25 years after the fact, on why he, a Yale alumnus, had chosen not to answer his country’s draft call to serve in the U.S. military and join his contemporaries then fighting and dying: “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.”

Let’s just think about the logic of that second statement. Those were not the words of a sincere conscientious objector to his nation’s military engagement. The writer expressed no objection to his country’s fight other than his sense that the United States could not win.

Thank God that 241 years ago when the British captured this rebel nation’s capital of Philadelphia and drove Gen. George Washington and his hungry and under-equipped army to the frozen exile of Valley Forge, American patriots didn’t decline to enlist in the battle for independence because the odds against Washington’s army and the American Revolution were too long. “The powerful British empire is the prohibitive favorite, so I’ll sit it out, thank you.”

More Americans died in the Civil War’s Battle of Antietam than in any engagement in the nation’s history. The Union’s prospects were bleak, but fortunately there were then brave young Americans willing to risk their lives and limbs to save it.

We can all be grateful that even after the 1942 Battle of Bataan — when the Japanese drove American and Filipino forces from the Philippines, killing and wounding 30,000 troops and brutally incarcerating 76,000 more — 16 million Americans were willing to go to war for their fellow citizens and for their country.

The election night victory remarks cited above were those of American patriot John McCain, on the occasion of the senator from Arizona’s surprise 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary win. McCain also wisely observed that “patriotism means more than holding your hand over your heart during the national anthem.”

The Yale alumnus who chose not to put himself anywhere near harm’s way in 1970 was John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s choice to become his administration’s third national security adviser in just 15 months. Bolton, who has not been reluctant to recommend pre-emptive U.S. military action against North Korea and Iran and still, some 15 years later, continues to defend the wisdom of the U.S. war in Iraq, apparently misses any moral inconsistency between his own decision as a young man to avoid service and dispatching young Americans to combat that is anything but clearly winnable.

In the matter of Republicans and patriotism, please put me down on the side of John McCain and not on that of John Bolton — or Donald Trump.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.

Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.

Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.