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Today — September 29th 2022Power LinePower Line

This senior moment

(Scott Johnson)

Yesterday at the White House conference on hunger etc. President Biden sought to acknowledge deceased Rep. Jackie Walorski among those in attendance for the event (White House transcript here):

And I want to thank all of you here, including bipartisan elected officials like Representative McGovern, Senator Braun, Senator Booker, Representative — Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie? I didn’t think she was — she wasn’t going to be here — to help make this a reality. And thanks to Senator Stabenow, Representative DeLauro for their leadership.

Not surprisingly, several White House reporters sought an explanation from press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. The communications team had put their heads together following Biden’s remarks and come up with a story, but the story is somewhere beyond farfetched.

I think I have pulled out from the transcript all the questions and answers on Biden’s senior moment. This is how it went:

Q What happened in the hunger event today? The President appeared to look around the room for an audience member, a member of Congress who passed away last month. He seemed to indicate she might be in the room. What happened there?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the President was, as you all know — you guys were watching today’s event, a very important event on food insecurity. The President was naming the congressional champions on this issue and was acknowledging her incredible work. He had — he had already planned to welcome the congresswoman’s family to the White House on Friday. There will be a bill signing in her honor this coming Friday.

So, of course, she was on his mind. She was of top of mind for the President. He looks — very much looks forward to discussing her remarkable legacy of public service with them when he sees her family this coming Friday.

Q He said, “Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie? She must not be here.”

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I totally understand. I just — I just explained she was on top of mind. You know, this wasn’t — what we were able to witness today and what the President was able to lift up in this — at this conference at this event was how her — her focus on wanting to deal with, combat food — food insecurity in America. And this is something that he was lifting up and honoring.

And, again, he knows that he’s going to see her family this coming Friday. There’s a bill signing that’s going to happen in renaming a VA clinic in Indiana after the late congresswoman. He knows that he is going to see her family, and she was at top of mind.

* * * * *

Q And just one more quick follow-up, because I’m trying to get my head around the response. If the late congresswoman was top of mind for the President and her family was expected to be here and that’s what he was thinking about, what — why was he looking for her? I’m not trying to be snarky here. But I —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I mean — and I’m —

Q I don’t understand the connection between what you’re saying and what he said there.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And, again, I think people can understand, I think the American people out there who, you know, watch the briefing from time to time, maybe at this moment, will understand when someone is at top of mind. And — and this was such an important — such an important event, when we’re talking about hunger, when we’re talking about food insecurity, when we’re talking about these champions, these congressional champions who were in the room, who have worked in a bipartisan way.

You know, we don’t talk much about bipartisan actions that we see in Congress at this time. And as he was naming folks, he — she was on top of mind, and he understands and knew that she was — he was going to see her family on Friday for this bill signing.

Again, I don’t think it’s all that unusual to have someone top of mind, especially as there’s a big event — two big events — today and also Friday — that is going to occur. And so he’s going to see her family. They’re going to honor her. They’re going to celebrate her. And he will do a bill signing for this really critical — let’s not forget — this critical, important issue for millions and millions of Americans across the country.

* * * * *

Q I’m sorry to have to do this, but I’m compelled to ask you to go one more time back to the question about Congresswoman Walorski.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not sure why. Why? Why one more time?

Q Well, because I think — frankly, honestly, I think the memory of the congresswoman in history requires some clarity here.


Q Can you explain where the mistake was made? Did the Pres- — was the President confused? Was something written in the teleprompter that he didn’t recognize? Can you just help us understand what happened?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, you’re jumping to a lot of conclusions.

Q No, I’m simply seeing — seeking to find —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, but you’re — but I —

Q — out what happened here.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I hear you, Steven. I’m — I’m answering the question, that you’re jumping to a lot of conclusions.

I just answered the question. If I had said — if that had been the case, I would have stated that. Right? I clearly have stated what you just laid out.

What I had said is that she was on top of mind and that he is going to see her family in just two days’ time, on Friday, to honor her, to honor her work, to honor — to honor her legacy, if you will. I just mentioned this. It’s going to be a renaming of a VA clinic in Indiana in her name. And, you know, that is — that is what he was thinking of.

He was thinking about her as he was — as he was naming out and calling out the congressional champions on this issue — on this really critical issue that’s going to help millions of Americans. And that is — that is — that is what the President was focused on.

Q Would you be prepared to release the prepared remarks that the President had in the teleprompter just so we could understand?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not understanding why — why that would be — would be necessary. We always share the remarks that the President had — even, you know, delivered. That’s probably going to be up on the website. Not really sure what that has to do with anything.

I just answered the question about her being on top of mind. I don’t think that’s any — that’s unusual. I feel like many of us have gone through that particular, you know, time where someone is on top of mind and you call them out and you mention them. Especially in this — this type of context, if you think about how he’s going to the see the family in two days; if you think about how, when he sees them in two days, it’s going to be for such an important moment, assigning — signing a piece of legislation that’s going to rename a VA clinic in her state — that’s important — if you think about this issue and how important this issue is.

And he was, again, calling out congressional champions for this particular issue.

* * * * *

Q Lastly, I just wanted to return to this question of the congresswoman. And I think we all totally get why she’s top of mind. You’ve made that case pretty effectively.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, thank you.

Q But I think the confusing part is why, if she and the family is top of mind, does the President think that she’s living and in the room?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t find that confusing. I mean, I think many people can speak to sometimes when you have someone top of mind, they are top of mind. Exactly that. And it is also — if you put it into the context, it’s not like it happened without — outside of context, right?

It happened at an event where we were cha- — we were calling out the champions — congressional champions, in particular, of this issue — this important issue, when it comes to food insecurity, something that this administration has led on — led on from the beginning of this administration, not just across the country but also globally.

You heard him talk about food insecurity last week at the U.N. and the investments that we have put forward as — as the — as the United States of America and helping — and helping deal with that.

Look, he was at an event — you all saw, you all watched, which is why you’re asking the question — right? — where he was calling out, again, congressional leaders — a bipartisan leadership that we have seen on this particular issue.

And, again, he’s going to see her family in just two days, and she was on top of mind. I mean, I don’t — that is — I mean, that is — that is not an unusual — unusual scenario there.

Q Karine, I have John Lennon top of mind just about every day, but I’m not looking around for him anywhere.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: When you sign a bill for John Lennon — Lennon as president then we can have this conversation.

Okay —

Q Why doesn’t he just apologize?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — go ahead. Go ahead.

(Cross-talk by reporters.)

Q Thanks, Karine. There are —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Q These moments of confusion are happening with increasing frequency.

Q Why not just apologize?

Jean-Pierre never did get around to answering that last question. Something — something other than love — means he can’t say “I’m sorry.”

In free lunch fraud: Analyze this

(Scott Johnson)

I’m scheduled to join Jon Justice on KTLK this morning at about 8:35 to discuss the massive $250 million free lunch fraud. The $250 million represents the payment of federal funds administered by the Minnesota Department of Education. The show can be live streamed here. I want to compile related materials for listeners in this post.

United States Attorney Andrew Luger announced charges against 47 defendants in six indictments and three criminal informations at a press conference on September 20 (video below). Two additional defendants have been charged since then.

Luger presented the factual background with illustrative exhibits at the press conference. At the same time the Department of Justice issued this press release summarizing the charges and posted PDFs of the indictments online. The indictment of ringleader Aimee Bock and 13 other defendants, for example, is posted here. The press release includes Luger’s salient quote: “This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions.” The emphasis should be on “brazen.”

The Minnesota Department of Education administered the free lunch programs in which the funds were paid out to perpetrators of the fraud. Some $200 million of the funds were paid out in 2021 after the MDE had detected the fraud. Aided and abetted by the Star Tribune, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison have sought to shift the blame for the continuing payments to Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann and to the FBI. Indeed, Governor Walz called for an investigation of Judge Guthmann. Judge Guthmann responded this past Thursday in this press release that called out both Walz and the Star Tribune. The key document supporting Judge Guthmann’s press release is the transcript of the April 21, 2021 hearing before him in the lawsuit brought by Feeding Our Future against MDE. This is the key passage of the press release:

[T]he Department of Education voluntarily resumed making payments to FOF. The Department of Education was not ordered by the court to do so. After the Department resumed voluntary payments, counsel for the Department of Education wrote the court asking that FOF’s motion for sanctions based on non-payment be denied as moot because the Department voluntarily resumed payments. In a later court filing related to FOF’s separate motion for sanctions based on the failure to approve or deny 144 applications for new food delivery sites, the Department of Education advised the court that FOF’s serious deficiencies were resolved as of June 4, 2021. Of the 144 applications, 143 were denied, resulting in FOF’s separate administrative appeal.

On February 26, 2022, the Star Tribune reported on a federal investigation of FOF. The article included the following false statement: “In April 2021, Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann told the department it didn’t have the authority to stop payments and ordered the department to resume payments.” Since February, that Star Tribune quote has been repeated or paraphrased on many occasions by many other media outlets. The same media sources reported that, in her April 4, 2022, testimony to the Minnesota Senate, the Commissioner of the Education stated that the MN Department of Education tried to stop payments to FOF, only to be ordered by Judge Guthmann to resume payments. That is false. Then, when federal indictments were announced this week, many new reports were published. On September 22, 2022, Governor Tim Walz told the media that the Minnesota Department of Education attempted to end payments to FOF because of possible fraud, but that Judge Guthmann ordered payments to continue in April 2021. That is also false.

As the public court record and Judge Guthmann’s orders make plain, Judge Guthmann never issued an order requiring the MN Department of Education to resume food reimbursement payments to FOF. The Department of Education voluntarily resumed payments and informed the court that FOF resolved the “serious deficiencies” that prompted it to suspend payments temporarily. All of the MN Department of Education food reimbursement payments to FOF were made voluntarily, without any court order.

On Tuesday morning Ellison submitted to an interview by WCCO’s Vineeta Sawkar (audio below). You can feel the flop sweat break out on Ellison’s forehead as Sawkar ever so slightly pressed him on his nonfeasance in shutting down the fraud. Citing Ellison’s own timeline on the scandal, she asked who knew what when. (Ellison’s timeline links to the 66-page affidavit of FBI Special Agent Travis Wilmer supporting the search warrants that were executed all over the Twin Cities in January.)

Responding to Sawkar, Ellison hemmed and hawed, pleaded attorney-client privilege, referred to cooperation with the FBI investigation, and repeatedly alleged compulsion by Judge Guthmann’s mythical “order” to continue payments. Ellison proclaimed at 13:30 of the audio clip: “This is a success story.”

Yesterday — September 28th 2022Power LinePower Line

Mister, Can You Spare a Dime?

(John Hinderaker)

Times are tough, although the elites that run our country probably haven’t noticed. But for most of us, the rising costs of gasoline, electricity, manufactured goods and groceries, along with a decline in the value of our savings and the prospect of paying for trillions in new federal deficits, are alarming.

How worried are Americans? This worried: Rasmussen finds that 57% of Americans are expecting a depression:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 57% of American Adults believe it’s likely that, over the next few years, the United States will enter a 1930s-like Depression, including 21% who think a depression is Very Likely. Thirty-two percent (32%) don’t think a depression is likely, and another 12% are not sure.

You might think that those who believe a depression is likely are alarmist, and, as an inveterate optimist, that would normally be my view. But with the most incompetent, out of control, and downright anti-American administration in history holding the reins, anything could happen. Especially if our government continues to pursue a grotesque vision of wind and solar energy powering our economy. That will never happen, but a serious effort to make it happen could indeed result in a 1930s-style depression, or worse.

Still, to look on the bright side, it is hard to imagine the Democratic Party faring well in November if more than half of Americans think the Democrats’ policies have led us to the brink of a depression.

Thought for the Day: Civil War 2?

(Steven Hayward)

The speculation about whether the United States might somehow be hurtling toward a second civil war is usually dismissed because there doesn’t exist a clean sectional or geographic split as we had in 1860. But this misses the point.

This passage from Harry Jaffa in 1964 would seem to apply very well to our current moment:

“The Civil War is the most characteristic phenomenon in American politics, not because it represents a statistical frequency, but because it represents the innermost character of that  politics; it is the event in which the things that forever drive us toward and hinder us from achieving our political salvation emerge in the sharpest and most visible confrontation.”

In free lunch fraud: Bill Glahn explains

(Scott Johnson)

The Center of the American Experiment hosted a webinar on the massive Minnesota free lunch fraud that has now given rise to charges against 49 defendants and counting. When it comes to pandemic fraud, we’re number one.

Center president John Hinderaker quizzed adjunct policy fellow Bill Glahn on the scandal before an online audience. Bill laid out the case as of this date for 30 minutes and then fielded audience questions posed by John. The center has posted the video here. I have embedded it below. John and Bill cut through the politico/media clatter in this excellent presentation.

Senior moment of the day

(Scott Johnson)

President Biden delivered an address at the first White House conference on hunger since 1969 today. (The White House transcript has not yet been posted.) My impression is that childhood obesity is a bigger problem than childhood hunger and that however big the problem of childhood hunger is, a lack of government spending devoted to it is not the problem. Some redefinition of the problem as one of “food insecurity” is required to turn up the spigot.

At the conference Biden thanked “bipartisan elected officials” including Rep. Jim McGovern and Senator Cory Booker before seeking to acknowledge Rep. Jackie Walorski, who died in an automobile accident this past August. (Biden released a statement mourning her passing at the time.) “Jackie, are you here?” Biden asked. “Where’s Jackie? [mumbling]. She must not be here.”

Well, the follow-up question did not go unasked at today’s White House press briefing. However, some things cannot be explained frankly in public by Biden’s staff. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre posited that Rep. Walorski was “at top of mind” — such as it is, I would add.

REPORTER: "He said, 'Jackie, are you here, where's Jackie. She must not be here."

Karine Jean-Pierre: "I totally understand. I just explained, she was on top of mind."

— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) September 28, 2022

And that’s not all.

REPORTER: "The confusing part is why, if she and the family is top of mind, does the president think that she's living and in the room?"

KJP: "I don't find that confusing."

R: "I have John Lennon top of mind just about every day but I'm not looking around for him anywhere."

— (@townhallcom) September 28, 2022

The Washington Free Beacon compiles the weekly Biden senior moment of the week. Andrew Stiles turns his attention to today’s entry in the week’s sweepstakes in “SILVER ALERT: Biden’s Bumbles Hit New Low.”

The Daily Chart: What California Housing Prices Tell Us

(Steven Hayward)

I borrow today’s chart from a recent presentation from Peter Thiel (who I am having dinner with tonight in Palo Alto, as it happens). A close look reveals that the previously “red hot” housing market in California actually lags the truly dynamic metro areas of the country by a lot. In his full talk at the link, he explains how progressive “tolerance” of California’s homelessness and crime actually serves the self-interest (and housing values) of the progressives who supposedly “care” about the downtrodden.

Who Blew Up the Pipeline?

(Steven Hayward)

Who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines? Your guess is as good as mine. It does seem peculiar to think Russia would have blown up their own pipeline, but it is not inconceivable that a faction of Russia’s military is trying to sabotage Putin as a prelude for ousting him, or that Putin sees it as a kind of “Cortez burning his ships” moment to indicate that he is all-in on Ukraine and a wider confrontation with the West. Freezing more Germans this winter is just a bonus, but if Putin is behind it the possibility that he might yet use nuclear weapons in Ukraine just got assigned a lower discount rate.

Our friends at The Pipeline (and what a great name just now!) wonder, along with Tucker Carlson and my old pal (and former Polish foreign minister) Radek Sikorski, whether the United States did it (see below). It is hard to imagine President Biden having the stuffing to take such a step. But it is not without a precedent mostly forgotten today.

Back in the early 1980s, the Reagan Administration was intent on blocking the first Soviet Trans-Siberian gas pipeline to western Europe that became the beginning of Nord Stream system of today. Unable to persuade the Europeans to block the pipeline, the CIA fed the Soviets bad software (since the KGB was stealing American technology secrets left and right) that caused the pipeline to explode in spectacular fashion in 1982, setting back the project by months if not years.

So it’s not like we haven’t done something like this before.

The cancelations: If the law doesn’t fit

(Scott Johnson)

President Biden’s “cancelation” of student loans in the aggregate amount of hundreds of billions of dollars is bad public policy in several dimensions. It lacks any respectable justification. It is also of dubious legality — although they have a theory.

The theory is a farcical stretch. They couldn’t care less about the weakness of their pretense to legality. If the law doesn’t fit…what they really count on is the difficulty of finding plaintiffs with legal standing to challenge the scheme in court.

Now come Frank Garrison and the Pacific Legal Foundation. Garrison has a claim of illegality that relies on a colorable standing claim based on the taxation of the giveaway as it applies to him under state law. If Garrison can make his standing claim fly and the court has to address the merits of the lawsuit, Garrison should win. Biden lacks the authority to do what he did.

Robby Soave links to Garrison’s complaint in his Reason column on the lawsuit. Andrew McCarthy takes up the standing argument briefly in his New York Post column on the illegality of the giveaway.


Today, Pacific Legal Foundation filed suit against the U.S. Department of Education to block its illegal move to cancel more than $500 billion in student loan debt.

— Pacific Legal 🗡⚖ (@PacificLegal) September 27, 2022

Media feeding our fraud

(Scott Johnson)

Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison have a line on the massive Feeding Our Future fraud. Their fallback defense is that the Minnesota Department of Education brought the case to the FBI and that MDE’s $250 million payout of federal tax dollars to the perpetrators of the fraud was required by the FBI so as not to blow the investigation. They count on the inability of friendly and incompetent reporters to pierce this absurdity and they think the voters are morons.

Ellison appeared yesterday morning for an interview by WCCO’s Vineeta Sawkar. Like Walz, Ellison is unaccustomed to unloving questions from friendly reporters. You can hear him beginning to sweat as Sawkar slightly pressed him on his nonfeasance in shutting down the fraud. He hems and haws, pleads attorney-client privilege, refers to cooperation with the FBI investigation, and alleges compulsion by Judge Guthmann’s mythical “order” to continue payments. Ellison presses the story that the payments continued at the instance of the FBI. (See Ellison’s timeline of the scandal here.) This is a lie as open and obvious as the underlying Feeding Our Future fraud, yet this is where we are.

My friend Howard Root elaborated on this in an email yesterday (below the break). Howard writes:

* * * * *

The Minnesota Department of Education didn’t want to be seen as attacking minority businesses trying to feed children in the heart of the pandemic. Instead of saying “no” on the site applications that resulted in the lawsuit before Judge Guthmann, MDE just delayed making a decision while they thought about what to do. On top of this, in early 2021 everyone’s working from home, and the department isn’t an efficient organization at getting things done even in the best of times, so delay is the first choice to every decision.

But then Feeding Our Future got a good lawyer and dragged MDE into court. Guthmann told MDE to either accept or deny the site applications so MDE could appeal any denial, which is as reasonable a decision as a judge can make in this situation.

Guthmann didn’t say “pay the claim” or “deny the claim,” but instead said “make a decision on the claim.” Even with this clear direction, MDE continued to delay making the decision on the claims because MDE still saw risk on both sides.

Then Guthmann got upset at MDE, fined them for violating his order to make a decision, and MDE at that point thought let’s just pitch it to the FBI and give up and resume paying. That’ll at least get this judge off our backs.

The investigation continues for over another year and the fraud grows to a massive $250M+. Locked into a decision to punt to the FBI, however, MDE certainly weren’t interested in all of a sudden saying or doing anything that would make it look like MDE was responsible.

So this can of fraud continues to be kicked down the road until Luger finally holds his press conference announcing the indictments just two months before the election. DFLers must be livid that Luger couldn’t just wait until after the election to indict.

Now Walz needs to come up with a quick explanation for his administration’s inaction and that explanation cannot cause any harm to his or Ellison’s campaign. So he says Guthmann ordered payments to continue, not expecting the judge to respond–because judges never do.

With his thin skin Walz couldn’t help throwing in fake outrage at the judge’s decision and demanding an investigation of Guthmann. This prompted Guthmann’s response pointing out he never required payments to resume.

So now Walz has to shift his explanation to what Guthmann said during the court hearing. But that explanation falls apart when the court transcript shows that Guthmann said no such thing. So now Walz needs a third explanation of how this fraud continued for well over a year after MDE first knew about it.

At this point Walz and Ellison figure they really need to point the finger at someone who definitely will not respond, at least until after the election. That makes the FBI the perfect alibi, because the FBI will have no comment on any of these communications while the criminal case is proceeding.

Walz and Ellison assert not only that the FBI demanded that MDE continue to pay these fraudulent claims, but they brag that the FBI thanked MDE for its cooperation in the criminal investigation — as if that’s the FBI’s endorsement of MDE continuing to pay the fraudsters.

When asked about what the substance of the FBI communications with MDE and when anyone at MDE first knew about the fraud, Ellison claims he can’t disclose anything because of attorney-client privilege — even though just seconds before he said the FBI told MDE to stay silent!

At this point, Walz and Ellison need to do is land on a story (a third story) that they can stick with through the election without creating a new angle. And dutifully, the Star Tribune has already shifted the narrative from how could MDE continued to pay this much money for this long of a time in an obvious fraud to the standard “Republicans pounce.”

There’s no way the FBI would tell MDE to continue paying fraudulent claims in order to build a stronger case. Instead, the FBI would say either “you do what you need to do” or “don’t pay if you think it’s fraud,” because the FBI doesn’t control the MDE. But Ellison is so arrogant that he doesn’t spend any time formulating answers to obvious questions. Walz at least has the political sense to head to Grand Marais for a doughnut and isn’t available for press inquiries until Thursday.

UPDATE: Former TCF Financial Corporation general counsel Greg Pulles also makes our points in his Alpha News column “The DFL’s big lie.”

Goodbye, Manchin Tuesday

(Scott Johnson)

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin sold his vote to pass the Ignorance Is Strength a/k/a Inflation Reduction Act to Chuck Schumer in exchange for Senate Majority Leader’s promise to include permitting reform on oil and gas projects in the must-pass continuing resolution to fund the government. I called it Manchin’s Wimpy deal. Schumer got his hamburger on the promise that he would pay Manchin in the currency of “permitting reform” next Tuesday.

Right on cue yesterday we learned that Manchin Tuesday isn’t going to come. Manchin looks like a chump. In the words of the Rolling Stones song, “Ain’t life unkind?”

This is the story reported by the Hill: “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesday asked Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to remove permitting reform language from a stopgap government funding bill, bowing to the reality that there was too much opposition to the measure.” I kinda think Chuck told Joe he was pulling it, but it’s big of Chuck to give Joe the appearance of some kind of agency.

Politico calls on three reporters to work up “Why Manchin backed off on his top priority.” I think we come closer to the naked truth in RedState’s “Joe Manchin’s Humiliation Is Complete After Deal Falls Through.”

An evening with Garrison Keillor

(Scott Johnson)

At the American Conservative Peter Tonguette recently reflected on seeing Garrison Keillor perform in Newark, Ohio. Tonguette’s column was published as “An evening with Garrison Keillor in exile.” Prudence Johnson performed with Garrison. Last month I included Prudence in my series on the Minnesota music scene in “Wash my eyes” (singing a song by Greg Brown).

Tonguette covers some of the same ground I did this past December in my post “Mr. Socialist confesses.” I greatly enjoyed Tonguette’s observations. He too noticed Keillor’s possible rethinking of his point of view (“Yet there were also signs that Keillor is mildly, politely fed up….”) I thought I would take the occasion to recommend Tonguette’s column and repost my own observations of December 8, 2021.

* * * * *

This is a personal note about Garrison Keillor. I began listening to Keillor on Minnesota Public Radio while I was in law school. Garrison occupied the station’s three-hour morning slot five days a week with A Prairie Home Morning Show. I thought the show was so entertaining and funny that he would become a star.

I learned a lot about American popular music listening to the show. The first time I ever heard Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Miss Otis Regrets” was when Garrison played it. I also learned some American history. At this time of the year [i.e., December] back in 1977 or 1978 Garrison read Daniel’s Boorstin’s take on the department store from his three-volume social history The Americans. I think it was excerpted from chapter 10 (“Consumers’ Palaces”) of Boorstin’s third volume (subtitled The Democratic Experience). It’s a book I never would have read were it not for Garrison’s morning show.

After law school I moved away from the Twin Cities to work in St. Louis and lost track of Garrison’s radio career. I wasn’t surprised when he and his show went on to receive the national recognition I had thought they deserved.

My friend Bruce Sanborn reviewed Garrison’s Lake Wobegon Days for the Claremont Review of Books in 1985. We saw Garrison around town, as Bruce notes in his review. Bruce persuaded me that I wasn’t missing anything as Garrison’s career prospered. We found his politics alienating.

Eight or so years ago one of my kids asked us to take her and a guest to see Garrison’s live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion from the Minnesota State Fair. Garrison was great. Garrison’s deadpan interview with the judge of the butter sculpture competition was hilarious. The music was excellent. Even his Lake Wobegon monologue was entertaining.

Garrison became big business. He must have made a fortune working the Prairie Home Companion line. If Boorstin were still around, he could update Part Two (“Consumption Communities”) of that third volume of The Americans with a profile of Garrison, Minnesota Public Radio, American Public Radio (the company MPR set up to distribute A Prairie Home Companion), and Garrison’s fans.

When Garrison became a victim of the MeToo movement in 2017 I felt bad for him. I started patronizing his bookstore on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul (since sold). In February 2020, just before the the Covid shutdown, I went to see his beautiful show with Heather Masse of the Wailin’ Jennys. I snapped the photo above from our seat in front of the stage. Heather didn’t seem too put off by the sexual harassment thing either. My old friend Rich Dworsky was Garrison’s long-time musical director. Rich accompanied Garrison and Heather for the show. Below is a video of Garrison singing Ann Reed’s “If You Were Mine” with Heather Masse accompanied by Rich Dworsky and the band in 2016.

Garrison writes a weekly column that is carried by Binyamin Jokolvsky at Jewish World Review. Garrison has moved to Manhattan. I find his columns funny. Binyamin tells me that he also finds the columns funny and that Garrison has a lot of New York fans.

Garrison’s column this week is “Mr. Socialist confesses.” I think the column sends up the Minnesota state of mind. If it’s possible to shove a state of mind down your throat, it’s shoved down our throat every day in the Twin Cities. If a state of mind can be in the air we breathe, it’s in the air that we breathe. If air can suffocate, the air is suffocating.

Garrison himself doesn’t confess to seeing the column exactly that way. At his site he titles the column “Mr. Socialist confesses a love of opera.” Read between the lines to see if you think his confession is limited to a love of opera.

Before yesterdayPower LinePower Line

Reality Bites Wind

(John Hinderaker)

It is an article of faith among many governments that we are in the midst of a transition from fossil fuel energy to “renewable” wind and solar. (Notably absent from this consensus are China, India and Russia.) In fact, no such transition is underway; wind and solar account for only a derisory portion of the world’s energy consumption, despite countless billions in subsidies. Nor will any such transition happen at any time in the future.

One of the fundamental problems with wind and solar is that they are ridiculously low-intensity. As a result, it requires a vast quantity of raw materials to produce a modest, and unreliable, amount of energy. Did you know that a single wind turbine requires 8,000 pounds or more of copper? Like me, you probably have no concept of what it takes to produce that quantity of copper, or of the vast amounts of fossil fuels that are needed to create just this one component of a wind turbine. Wind and solar installations are parasitic: they cannot be produced without using enormous quantities of fossil fuels.

This thread is one of the best explanations I have seen of the absurdity of wind turbines, as it relates to a single raw material: copper. Please read the whole thing, and bear in mind that copper is just one of a number of minerals that wind turbines and their mythical “batteries” require in enormous quantities. Cobalt and lithium are among the others.

COPPER is an essential and limited resource for civilization, dating back to the Bronze age. With the advent of electric power, world demand for copper suddenly became infinite. Butte, MT held the world's most important copper resources. And the whole world came to Butte /2

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

A 3-MW wind turbine contains up to 4.7 tons of copper. Half is from the cable and wiring, 24% from the turbine/power generation components, 4% from transformers, and 19% from turbine transformers. Onshore wind farms use approximately 7,766 lbs. of copper per MW. /4

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

For copper processing, size reduction is essential so typical blasting patterns are small. That means lots and lots of holes through hard rock. It can take weeks or months to drill out a single bench. Tungsten carbide drill bits are essential for economical drilling. /6

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

Then comes the fun part: BLASTING. Ammonium Nitrate / Fuel Oil -ANFO- is the primary blasting agent. It's 94% ammonium nitrate with diesel fuel oil. AN is manufactured from methane and requires a great deal of fossil-fuel energy and associated emissions. /8

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

Steel to manufacture the equipment; tires; lubricating oil; grease; fuel; maintenance; batteries; wear steel; and associated transportation, mobilization, and demobilization – 100% consumptive just to pick up and move rock. /10

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

Next comes milling & grinding. Copper ore is hard and must be milled down to a fine sand. This step consumes vast amounts of electrical energy, which must be 100% reliable, 24/7, so much so that most copper mines operate their own power plants. Coal/gas. /12

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

The KUC tailings pond enormous. Its construction to date has required moving tens of millions of tons of soil, rock, clay, and cover material. It's an engineered system, requiring the use of tens of millions of tons of processed, washed, screened, and imported sand and gravel /13

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

Next, the concentrates (24% Cu) are smelted using coal. No other fuel will do. The KUC ore is high in sulfur. Most is removed and converted to acid, but some is released. My kids and I breathe this daily. The carbon / FF used in this step are astronomical. But we aren't done /15

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 25, 2022

The end result of the mining process is new cathode copper. I directly challenge analysts calculating lifecycle impacts of VRE to account for the fossil fuel and carbon impacts expended in producing new cathode copper. Every step before cathode is 100% consumptive. /17

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

Copper cathode is transported (diesel fuel) to a rod mill, where it is melted in an electric arc furnace and turned into rods and then wire. The EAF requires vast amounts of dispatchable electric energy. Wire is then shipped to the turbine manufacturer. /19

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

Since Roman times, copper ore grades have been decreasing, astronomically so since Edison's and Tesla's inventions electrified the planet. This is a function of the natural occurrence of copper in earth's crust and the cost of extracting it. Commodity economics. /21

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

Why does grade matter? Because the essential inputs and impacts required to extract one pound of copper cathode go up as grade decreases. Today's ore was yesterday's waste rock. BTW, Jackling's breakthrough? The coal-powered steam shovel. /23

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

It's hard to describe the internal amusement I experience every time a Wind/Solar/Battery advocate lectures me about the imminent depletion of uranium and thorium fuel or the contention that nuclear energy is "not renewable." Windmills Forever! /25

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

ALL of the copper mined on earth prior to the advent of wind/solar energy was essential to civilization for uses unrelated to wind/solar. Copper requirements will continue and will even expand with technology development. Such is competing with wind/solar. /27

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

Resolution is one of the largest undeveloped copper projects in the world and has the potential to become the largest copper producer in North America. Unlike other copper mines, the Resolution resource is high-grade, vast, and deep underground. /29

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

Naturally, the same groups frantic to stop Climate Change via massive deployment of wind/solar/batteries came out in force to SUPPORT the opening of such a rare, world-class, high-grade copper resource. Well, not so much.🤷 /30

— B.F. Randall (@brandall9481) September 26, 2022

I don’t suppose anyone has made a serious effort to compare the amount of energy needed to produce a wind turbine and its long transmission line–copper is just one of the many raw materials that are needed–with the amount of energy the turbine produces over its pitifully short lifetime.

A final thought: prices for commodities like copper and lithium are already skyrocketing. If Western governments continue in their mad obsession with “green” energy, those prices will be utterly out of sight. This means that every projection that anyone has made of the ultimate cost of a wind and solar economy is vastly too low. It also means that the cost of pretty much everything else we buy, from cars to cell phones and anything that requires equipment to produce, will also rise beyond the resources of the average consumer. No one has yet plumbed the depth of the disaster that awaits if we continue on our present course.

Thought for the Day: Affirmative Action Chemotherapy

(Steven Hayward)

“Racial preferences should now be thought of like chemotherapy, a cure that can cause side effects that should be applied judiciously. We’ve applied the cure long past that point, and have drifted toward an almost liturgical conception of diversity that makes less sense by the year.”

—John McWhorter, NY Times

The Daily Chart: Consequences of the Great Reset

(Steven Hayward)

Everyone recall’s Rahm Emanuel revealing the core tactic of progressivism, which is never letting a crisis got to waste in service of extending government power, and as such the global COVID pandemic was the dream crisis for the Davoisie’s dream of “the Great Reset.” We can see the concrete result: a diminution of economic freedom as measured by the Fraser Institute’s fine annual report on Economic Freedom in the World.

For a counter to the Great Reset, check out Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order.

Feeding Our Future: The Inside Story

(John Hinderaker)

The Feeding Our Future scandal is one of the worst frauds, and worst government screw-ups, of recent years. We have written about it repeatedly on Power Line, and have often turned to the person who has followed the scandal more closely than anyone, American Experiment’s Bill Glahn. Both the scale of the fraud and its brazenness are breathtaking, and the scandal has deepened with government officials’ repeated resort to falsehoods to excuse their dereliction of duty.

For the inside story on one of the most important news stories of our day, American Experiment is offering a free webinar tomorrow from 11 a.m. to noon, Central time. I will walk Bill Glahn through the essentials of the story, along with some of its fascinating details, and Bill will forecast the shoes that have yet to drop. If you want to tune in, all you have to do is go here to register. It will be an interesting hour.

An in-your-face fraud

(Scott Johnson)

Talk to someone who has run a legitimate free lunch program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture as administered by the Minnesota Department of Education. You will learn that it isn’t a way to wealth and riches without fraud on a massive scale. Feeding Our Future gave us fraud on a massive scale. It was open, obvious, blatant, and gross.

Aimmee Bock fronted the scheme and recruited a large cast of Somali participants to get in on the action. Bock’s modus operandi was to scream discrimination whenever anyone questioned the bona fides of her program. Her Somali recruits were the key. They got rich quick.

My friend Abdi Nur put it this way last week in an interview with Star Tribune reporter Jeffrey Meitrodt: “The people who were running the sites had been living in Section 8 housing. Poor people. And all of a sudden they were living in $1 million houses and driving nice cars. It was a free-for-all.”

Meitrodt could follow up with Abdi on the story of Ilhan Omar’s marriage to her brother. He has been telling me all about it since August 2016 and he knows what he is talking about on that subject as well. Omar played the race card on me when I asked her about her marriage to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi and has played it many times since. Unfortunately, Omar remains at large.

Even the Minnesota Department of Education noticed Bock’s fraud. Yet they kept the money flowing. She screamed discrimination.

Bock was so certain of her mastery of the discrimination gambit that she kept it up when the FBI conducted raids on her and her recruits all over the Twin Cities in January. It was time to shut up, but Bock kept talking.

Bock’s live-in boyfriend is one Empress Malcolm Watson. They are depicted in happier times in the photo at right. Watson was convicted of felony domestic assault in 2017. According to the dissolution action initiated against Feeding Our Future by the State, program funds were sent to “a Wells Fargo account in the name of Handy Helper’s [sic] LLC between March 2020 and July 2021. Watson is the sole signatory on the account.”

The Daily Mail picked up on Watson here in its story on the indictments unsealed last week. The Daily Mail story includes a photo of Watson with a caption noting that he “is accused of spending thousands of [Bock’s] ill-gotten gains on flash cars and designer items.” The caption adds that Watson has not been charged.

A Somali friend sent me the photo of Watson below with the explanation that it is circulating among the Somali community. The photo gives visible form to the in-your-face quality of the Feeding Our Future fraud.

Analyze this

(Scott Johnson)

The Congressional Budget Office has set forth the direct economic cost of the illegal Biden student loan giveaway in a letter to Senator Richard Burr and Rep. Virginia Foxx. The letter is posted online here. Following up, Republicans on the House Budget Committee issued
this press release. The press release highlights these key points:

• $400 billion cost to taxpayers from Biden’s decision to cancel student loan debt for families earning up to $250,000.
• $20 billion cost to taxpayers from Biden’s decision to extend the student loan repayment moratorium another four months.
○ $105 billion total cost to taxpayers from loan repayment moratorium since Biden took office.
• $4+ billion per month cost to U.S. taxpayers from loan and interest repayment moratorium.

The press release adds that the CBO score does not include a cost estimate of the changes the Biden administration also made to student loan income-driven repayment plans, “which other analyses have projected could cost American taxpayers over $450 billion.” The press release then provides this assessment of the distribution of the benefits and burdens of the loan and interest repayment moratorium:

• 87% of adults without student loans will be forced to pay for the 13% of adults who chose to take on loans.
• 70% of the benefit from canceling student loan debt will go to those in the top half of the income spectrum.
• 56% of all student loan debt is owed by the 14.3% of individuals with advanced degrees.

The argument served up by the administration to support the legality of the giveaway is a glorified joke.

Inflation, Biden style

(Scott Johnson)

President Biden has delivered the worst inflation in 40 years. We see it one way or another every day. One effect of the current inflation is decline in real wages. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Biden has no idea what it means or that he is willing to say anything to try to mitigate the political damage that it is inflicting on Democrats who have enacted his policies.

Yesterday Biden gave shambling remarks at the Third Meeting of the White House Competition Council (White House transcript here). I wonder if they have a five-year plan, Soviet style.

His remarks require some translation. Biden seems to think that price controls will bring down inflation. “The bottom line for people on Medicare: They’re going to have less inflation; they’re not going to be paying as much money out,” he explained.

He will say anything to keep up the pretense that he has a handle on it. He bragged that he has brought energy prices down. “In some few states,” he said, gas is “below three bucks” a gallon.

Only last Friday the White House corrected a Biden transcript on this point. In fact, zero states have an average price under $2.99 per gallon. Even CNN said so.

The current average price is $3.72 for regular, yet Biden continued: “It’s, you know, in the low threes in most places, although there are some fires and some other problems that had to do with refining capacity in — in the far west, in the middle west. But we’re going to deal with that as well.”

He wasn’t done. He is still peddling the line that energy producers and gas stations are taking advantage of us:

We haven’t seen the lower prices reflected at the pump though. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies are still making record profits — billions of dollars in profit. But guess what? The price of oil comes down. Guess how long — don’t you think the price at the pump should come down? The price of gallon of gasoline. But it takes a long time for that to happen in relative terms. And they’re making a lot of profit, and the public is paying as part of the inflation.

And — but, look, my message is simple. To the companies running gas stations and setting those prices at the pump: Bring down the prices you’re charging at the pump to reflect the cost you pay for the product. Do it now. Do it now. Not a month from now — do it now. And it’s going to save people a lot of money.

He is having a hard time keeping his story straight.

Kulaks beware.

Quotable quote (per the transcript): “I’m directing members of the council to sharpen their focus — sharpen their focus in lowering the costs for families. Because what’s inflation? Inflation is, at the end of the month, do you have less money from your paycheck or more money in your flaysheck [paycheck]?”

“Race Science” Comes Back—On the Left

(Steven Hayward)

If you thought the whole idea of “race science” went out of fashion with eugenics, you’d be wrong. The University of California at Santa Cruz (where Angela Davis remains a tenured professor) is currently looking to hire a professor of “Critical Race Science,” which is no doubt the best kind. Here’s some of the job listing:

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies: Assistant or Associate Professor Critical Race Science and Technology Studies


The Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) invites applications for a an Assistant/Associate Professor of Critical Race Science and Technology Studies (STS). We seek a scholar whose research falls in any area of Critical Race STS—including scholars trained in indigenous, critical ethnic, Black, gender, and/or trans studies whose work critically engages the embedded racism, sexism, and colonial violence of science and scientific worldviews and their correlate, enlightenment humanism. A demonstrated record of research that de-centers Western scientific ways of knowing and challenges extractivist capitalist practices is especially welcome as are commitments to queer and indigenous ecologies, trans-species studies, and race-radical approaches to STEM. In addition to teaching responsibilities for the new Science and Justice minor, which CRES is developing in collaboration with the Science and Justice Research Center, this position requires a clear commitment to and willingness to lead programmatic and curricular development for the new interdisciplinary minor. Ideal applicants will demonstrate an approach to science and technology grounded in histories of and innovative methods of analyzing anticolonial, decolonizing, liberationist political thought and praxis, push the boundaries of the fields they inhabit, ask provocative questions, and relate critically and creatively to norms of knowledge production. Potential areas of research and teaching focus, among various areas of expertise, include but are not limited to environmental racism; climate justice; genomic justice; war technologies; medicine; public health; governance of science and technology; science policy; criminology, surveillance, and policing; border control; educational technologies; new media studies; critical data studies; histories of antiracism and anticolonialism in science, including the impact of grassroots collective and communal movements against racist science; and CRES engagement with the creative arts that facilitates a nexus between creative and critical inquiry.

“Genomic justice”? That’s a new one to me. Apparently it refers to worries that genetic research might reveal differences between, which will be racist, of course. And I can’t wait to see what “race-radical approaches to STEM” are, though we can guess, since math is racist.

Meanwhile, in the “Updates” Department, yesterday’s post on “Feline Marxism” got noticed by the author:

The neat part here is Quinn Slobodian showing up for duty. Slobodian has been busted for bowdlerizing quotes from Ludwig von Mises to grotesquely distort von Mises thought in a manner that ought to get him de-published and demoted (our pal Phil Magness has the receipts), but of course won’t.

Homicidal Urges on the Left

(John Hinderaker)

If you have the feeling that liberals would like to kill you, you aren’t paranoid. You are catching on.

Around the world, we are seeing increasingly violent talk from the Left. All too often, that talk has led to violent action. When Congressman and Senate candidate Tim Ryan says “we’ve got to kill and confront” the movement of “extremist Republicans,” you are right if you think he means you.

This liberal outrage comes from the U.K.: a video game in which you try to kill Margaret Thatcher. The game is endorsed by a former leader of the Labour Party:

Jeremy Corbyn has been pictured playing a video game modified to let players kill Margaret Thatcher.

The former Labour leader was pictured playing the Thatcher’s Techbase game on a console at Left-wing political festival The World Transformed (TWT).
On Thursday night, Mr Purvis tweeted a photograph of Mr Corbyn, the independent MP for Islington North, using the console and posing alongside it, with the caption: “He liked the game.”

I’ll bet he did. Can you imagine the fallout if someone produced a video game where the object was to kill, say, Barack Obama? No, I don’t think you can. But killing conservatives is all the rage.

A description of Thatcher’s Techbase written by Mr Purvis on its release read: “On Sept 24, Margaret Thatcher will rise from her grave. Only you can send her back to hell.

“Faced with the return of one of humanity’s greatest threats, you have no choice but to head to the 10th circle of hell: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Margaret Thatcher is back from hell, and the lady’s not for returning.”

The cover art for the game pictures Baroness Thatcher, who died in 2013, with devil horns, demon eyes, fangs and a gun for an arm.

Here is Corbyn playing the kill-Thatcher game:

I am afraid that political violence is going to get a great deal worse before it gets better.

Urban Devolution Continues

(John Hinderaker)

Major portions of many of our large, Democrat-run cities have become unlivable. Crime, lawlessness, and a general breakdown of the norms of civilization are rampant. Many young people in these cities are untrained, ignorant, and, one suspects, unemployable. But they don’t seem to mind, and our society apparently doesn’t expect more from them. Maybe liberals like the prospect of a generation with no prospects, who will forever be dependent on government.

These trends come together in spectacular displays of anarchy like the ransacking and looting of a Wawa store in Philadelphia, one of many misgoverned Democrat cities, on Saturday night. Reportedly something like 100 young people, described as teenagers although some appear older, participated. Watch this, and contemplate the future of a country in which these people are citizens:

A large group of criminals ransacked a WaWa store tonight in Philadelphia

— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) September 25, 2022

Freaking Out Over Italy

(Steven Hayward)

We’re getting another confirmation today of a key definition in Power Line’s Lexicon of Leftist Terms: ‘”Populism” is when the wrong person or cause wins a free election”.’ The corollary is that every Republican candidate for president is Hitler, and now we learn that every Italian conservative is Mussolini.

On the other hand, I can see why the authoritarian elites of the European Union, who have made vague threats against Italy if Italian voters chose the “wrong” party, are freaking out. Take in these two minutes of Italy’s next prime minister, Giorgia Meloni:

This is Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

I’ve never heard any politician so perfectly explain what we’re up against and why we fight.

When you watch this video, you’ll quickly realize why the establishment is afraid of her.

— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 26, 2022

This one is pretty good, too:

If you’re wondering why all the worst people on the planet are having a meltdown over Giorgia Meloni’s victory in the Italian elections last night, here’s why:

— Alana Mastrangelo (@ARmastrangelo) September 26, 2022

Her English is pretty good, too. She spoke for 11 minutes at CPAC last winter, which you can watch here. It turns out that she doesn’t just quote G.K. Chesterton (horrors!); she’s also a fan of Roger Scruton (shudder!). Oh, and also a friend of this guy:

This collection is just absurd (and a reminder of the media’s uniform talking points):

They’re afraid. They’re all afraid.

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 26, 2022

In any case, this cartoon from our friends at the European Conservative is giving me a smile:

Extra fun:

Chaser: Does anyone really think “fascism” is coming back to Italy when their police dress like this?

Thought for the Day: The Fiduciary Duty of Universities

(Steven Hayward)

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, writing at Heterodox Academy last week:

Universities can have many goals (such as fiscal health and successful sports teams) and many values (such as social justice, national service, or Christian humility), but they can have only one telos, because a telos is like a North Star. It is the end, purpose, or goal around which the institution is structured. An institution can rotate on one axis only. If it tries to elevate a second goal or value to the status of a telos, it is like trying to get a spinning top or rotating solar system to simultaneously rotate around two axes. I argued that the sudden wave of protests and changes that were sweeping through universities were attempts to elevate the value of social justice to become a second telos, which would require a massive restructuring of universities and their norms in ways that damaged their ability to find truth. 

I expanded on this argument in a blog post for Heterodox Academy where I predicted that “the conflict between truth and social justice is likely to become unmanageable … Universities that try to honor both will face increasing incoherence and internal conflict.” It’s now six years later, and I think it’s clear that this prediction has come true. It has been six years of near-constant conflict, with rising numbers of attempts to get scholars fired or punished for things they have said, and a never-ending stream of videos showing students (and sometimes professors) saying and doing things that are gifts to critics of universities and of the left. As one university president said to a friend of mine in 2019, “Universities are becoming ungovernable.” Public trust in universities has plummeted since 2015, first on the right, but later across the board. We are in trouble. 

The Daily Chart: China’s Crashing Population

(Steven Hayward)

Everyone remember back to The Population Bomb of the 1970s? It turns out the story of the second half of the 21st century may be the world’s population starting to crash. China’s population in 2100 may be below 500 million, less than half the population today. The projections below show in graphic form why China abruptly ended its rigid one-child policy a few years ago.

Loose Ends (185)

(Steven Hayward)

Like the best comedy, there’s a serious point behind this David Deeble observation:

No doubt the expert explicators of the hermeneutics of neoliberalism will have an explanation for this. Or perhaps leftists are just plain crazy.

 Speaking of predictable leftist twitter mob actions, the New York Times reports on the about-face of the film world when an acclaimed documentary film with a sympathetic portrayal of jihadist detainees at Guantanamo, “Jihad Rehab,” ran afoul of identity politics. To paraphrase the old internet cliche, of course you’ll believe what happened next:

Meg Smaker felt exhilarated last November. After 16 months filming inside a Saudi rehabilitation center for accused terrorists, she learned that her documentary “Jihad Rehab” was invited to the 2022 Sundance Festival, one of the most prestigious showcases in the world.

Her documentary centered on four former Guantánamo detainees sent to a rehab center in Saudi Arabia who had opened their lives to her, speaking of youthful attraction to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, of torture endured, and of regrets.

Film critics warned that conservatives might bridle at these human portraits, but reviews after the festival’s screening were strong. . .

But attacks would come from the left, not the right. Arab and Muslim filmmakers and their white supporters accused Ms. Smaker of Islamophobia and American propaganda. Some suggested her race was disqualifying, a white woman who presumed to tell the story of Arab men.

Sundance leaders reversed themselves and apologized. Abigail Disney, a grandniece of Walt Disney, had been the executive director of “Jihad Rehab” and called it “freaking brilliant” in an email to Ms. Smaker. Now she disavowed it.

The film “landed like a truckload of hate,” Ms. Disney wrote in an open letter.

Ms. Smaker’s film has become near untouchable, unable to reach audiences. Prominent festivals rescinded invitations, and critics in the documentary world took to social media and pressured investors, advisers and even her friends to withdraw names from the credits. She is close to broke.

Incidentally, Abigail Disney is the best argument in favor of a 100% inheritance tax rate. And when is there going to be a federal program to install traffic signals at all these 10-way intersectionalities where the left keeps having catastrophic crashes?

Question for sports fans: if the international cycling authorities can strip Lance Armstrong of his various Tour de France wins, why can’t Major League Baseball strip the home run “records” of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa?

Hat tip to Jeremy Carl for coming up with the formula, ‘”Blood and Soil” nationalists >> “Bugs and Soros” Globalists.’

So is this a hate crime, or merely a human rights violation:

San Francisco firefighter wears “Lets go Brandon” shirt while on duty

A San Francisco firefighter wore a shirt with the conservative phrase “Lets Go Brandon” written across the back while on duty Saturday morning.

The phrase has become conservative code for something far more vulgar: “F—- Joe Biden.” It’s all the rage among Republicans wanting to prove their conservative credentials, a not-so-secret handshake that signals they’re in sync with the party’s base. . .

“This is not the official uniform of the SFFD. This will be handled immediately. Thank you for bringing it to our attention,” said the fire dept.

On Trafalgar’s Minnesota poll: Howard Root comments

(Scott Johnson)

I’m observing Rosh Hashanah today. My friend Howard Root is lending a hand to a few Republican campaigns this year. Yesterday I asked him if he would respond to my comments on Trafalgar’s Minnesota poll that I could schedule to post this morning. Howard offered these observations (and I thank him for helping me take the day off):

1. What I find so refreshing about Robert Cahaly and his Trafalgar poll is that he admits the substantial and increasing difficulty in accurate polling, including his own. As we’ve seen repeatedly (especially with Covid), too many experts elevate the credibility of their results beyond what is warranted.

Their errors derive in part from the self-selection. Working in a profession you must think it’s credible, but lately I think it’s even more of a “we know better” pushback against the growing anti-establishment spirit. So the experts spend their time defending their credibility instead of working to improve their work product.

Cahaly is a breath of fresh air since he admits that pollsters have a difficult time reaching all kinds of likely voters and the old methods don’t work anymore. He understands that voters the pollsters can reach today are not representative of those they can. He describes the phenomenon as shy or submerged voters, but I think it’s even broader and would call it “leave me alone” voters.

These are largely Republican and independnt voters, but they are unlike voters that most pollsters reach. These “unpollable” voters also are prone to sitting home on election day if they don’t feel the love from the Republican candidates in that cycle.

Because Calahy is the only pollster I’ve seen who freely admits these issues, he’s the only one trying to counter that problem. His polls are short (so people don’t just hang up), better calibrated (based on asking what neighbors think), and reported with a large degree of humility. No one can say that the governor’s race moved from Jensen being down 18 (as one of the Minnesota polls had it) to being down only 3 in just two weeks, so at least one of those two polls is wrong wrong and the margin of error has nothing to do with that discrepancy. I give the Tredegar poll high marks for adjusting to the new world, but I still have little confidence in the accuracy of its results.

2. Your point about Jensen running as a populist while Walz is running as the establishment is spot on, and I think that is the most important aspect of this race. Jensen has very little monetary support from the Republican establishment (Minnesota or nationwide) so he has to try to win a statewide race by personally meeting as many voters as he can. He simply can’t compete with the funds that will be spent supporting Walz. Jensen is outstanding as a populist as we saw at the State Fair every day and every night that he’s been appeared at another grassroots event.

Walz instead showed up for a few photo ops at the fair and now relies on his television commercials running nonstop to deliver his message. Big money makes a candidate lazy and Walz is engaged in carpet bombing instead of targeting. I think the abortion ads supporting Walz were initially very effective and the Jensen campaign did a bad job countering them. By now everyone in Minnesota has seen the abortion ads many times and seeing them again is like pushing a button on the elevator hoping it will arrive sooner. The abortion ads don’t work anymore in swaying new voters’ minds to Walz and some voters are getting very annoyed with them.

A friend mentioned to me that when his daughter was trying to watch a YouTube video geared for kids, on came a Walz abortion ad. When crime is the number 1 issue in voters’ minds and another new crime story is on the local news every night (shootings at a suburban high school football game?), voters may think that Walz’s priorities are misplaced if they continue to be bombarded with abortion ads. That’s not to say that I predict a Jensen victory, but I do think he is in the game.

Toasted Biden and the Polls

(Steven Hayward)

John notes below the latest “mainstream” polls showing both Biden and the Democrats reaching the burnt toast stage of this election cycle, but amidst the lingering questions about the accuracy of polling these days, it should be noted that the outcome of the midterms presents a huge dilemma for Democrats no matter how the election turns out. If Democrats get drowned in a wave, they face the serious problem of how to arrange a succession for the plainly hopeless Biden, whose pride and cluelessness will keep him stubborn, thus prompting an intraparty struggle to push him out.

But if Democrats do better than expected, it makes it all the harder for Biden to be pushed out, and he becomes nearly a lock to be renominated in 2024. The “Comeback Kid” and all that.

But if the Trafalgar pollsters are right that current polling methodology cannot capture “submerged” Republican voters, it means these latest “mainstream” poll results are even worse for Democrats that they look. About those “shy Republicans/Trump voters,” I have a simple theory which I explained on the latest 3WHH podcast last week, but here it is in print for those of you aren’t tuning in. (You don’t know what you’re missing!)

More than 30 years ago I happened to be embedded inside some local sales tax increase initiatives in California, for boring reasons that take too long to relate. In any case, these initiatives, always at the city or county level, were for a 1/2 cent sales tax increase to support local schools, parks, roads, and other good things that government now charges you extra for, since providing basic services is no longer the top priority of government at any level. (That’s an issue for another time.)

These well-funded local tax increase initiatives were always supported by the local establishment—both parties, the local chambers of commerce, the local media, etc—and faced little opposition. And the pollster for the campaign would report that his poll of registered voters found 58 percent said they supported the initiative. Slam dunk, no?

No. The pollster explained that the initiative needed to poll at least 60 percent favorable in order to expect getting to the 50.1 percent mark on election day. This pattern had shown up in several previous local tax increase campaigns, where polls showed strong majority support but then lost on election day.

Me: “Wait—is your polling so bad that its margin of error is so large? And all in one direction every time? What kind of pollster are you?”

He explained that when it came to local tax increase initiatives, about 10 percent of respondents lied to pollsters. Then what is the use of polling at that point? I borrowed the field theory of historian John Lukacs that there is a distinction to be made between public opinion, which is what people think they are supposed to think and tell pollsters, and public sentiment, which is what people actually think. Public sentiment is difficult or impossible to capture in polls. Faced with a relentless local campaign in favor of a tax increase, some people will tell pollsters that they favor the idea, even though they plan to vote against it.

This phenomenon has gone national. Let’s see: with the President of the United States demonizing Republicans in a prime time speech, and the media in full attack mode, how many Republicans want to tell someone on the phone, who asks, incidentally, for their income and other personal data, who they plan to vote for? Answer: fewer and fewer all the time.

Joe Biden Is Toast

(John Hinderaker)

I have been saying all along that Joe Biden’s job approval numbers are inflated. There is no way that anything like 40 percent of voters observe what has happened over the last two years and say, “Great job, Joe!” I think his approval numbers are buoyed by Democrats who know he is a lousy president, but stick up for their party when a pollster calls.

This ABC News/Washington Post poll supports that hypothesis. It finds that only 35% of Democrats want Biden to be their party’s nominee in 2024.

That implies, I think, an overall approval rating of no more than 30 percent, which is one reason why the midterms are going to be a worse wipeout for Democrats than most now predict.

The Democrats’ preference for “someone else” is striking, but one of that party’s problems is that they don’t have anyone else. Gavin Newsom? Right. But that is a topic for another day.

On the Republican side, it looks like half are loyal to Donald Trump, a very good president who has been outrageously maligned and persecuted by the Democrats, the press, and the usual suspects. The other half are ready to move on, as I think partisans always should be when a candidate loses a national race. (Hillary in 2024? Bring it on!) That number will grow as less-engaged voters focus on terrific alternatives like Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, and perhaps Tom Cotton and others.

Based on this ABC/Post poll and others like it, along with common sense and the evidence of my own eyes, I think it is abundantly clear that Joe Biden will not be the Democrats’ nominee in 2024. The Democrats are desperately trying to get past the midterms, pretending that all is normal. Once November is behind us, their search for a successor will begin in earnest.

Likewise, I think that Donald Trump will not be–and to be clear, I think he should not be–the GOP nominee in 2024. Republicans are not in the same desperate trouble as Democrats, but we, too, need a fresh start. Donald Trump might be the only prominent Republican who could lose in 2024.

Give Keith Ellison the Boot

(John Hinderaker)

As Scott has noted, this year’s election offers a real opportunity to end Keith Ellison’s disgraceful career in public life. In fact, the most recent poll shows Republican challenger Jim Schultz with a narrow lead over Ellison for Attorney General.

I think all of Minnesota’s statewide races will go down to the wire this year. As always, the Democrats have a huge cash advantage. Political insiders say that Governor Tim Walz’s re-election campaign will out-spend Republican challenger Scott Jensen by ten to one. The disparity won’t be as bad in the Attorney General race, but there is no question that Ellison, funded by the far Left, has far more financial resources than Schultz.

Jim can win, but he needs your support. Here are some reasons why I ask you to seriously consider donating to his campaign:

* Ellison is a national leader of the defund the police movement. He backed the failed charter amendment in Minneapolis that would have effectively disestablished the Minneapolis Police Department. Ellison’s defeat will be a major setback for the Left’s anti-law enforcement movement.

* Minnesota is a deeply troubled state. One of its virtues is that it has always been a low crime state, but now Minnesota’s serious crime rate is higher than the national average. Keith Ellison has zero interest in law enforcement. In fact, during his tenure the AG’s office has thrown the book at precisely two criminal defendants: police officers Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter. Minnesota needs your help!

* Schultz has a real opportunity to make history here. If he wins, he will be Minnesota’s first Republican Attorney General in 56 years and the first Republican statewide office holder since 2006.

* Jim Schultz is a political outsider. He grew up in rural Minnesota (a town of 186) and graduated from Harvard Law School. His experience is entirely in the private sector. He came forward to challenge Ellison because Minnesota desperately needs change.

* I know Jim personally and can assure you that he is an excellent candidate, a man of high integrity who is eminently worthy of your support. Let’s take this opportunity to send Keith Ellison to the sidelines and elect a real Attorney General.

If you want to help Jim Schultz, you can donate to his campaign here.

In free lunch fraud: A media note

(Scott Johnson)

Today’s Star Tribune features a profile of Bock, the indicted mastermind of the free lunch fraud that we have been covering since this past January. The profile draws heavily on the reporters’ interview of her in the immediate aftermath of the FBI raids that made the scandal public. The only really new element is its mention of my friend Abdi Nur at the top of the story:

Aimee Bock’s organization was keeping a low profile as it handled millions in government money when the video appeared on Facebook in January.

It purportedly showed one of Bock’s employees receiving an astonishing wedding present: an ornamental cart, laden with so much gold that guests gathered around to see it up close.

Abdihakim Nur, a Somali activist and blogger who shot the video, said he heard the gold came from food vendors who were getting rich off the money they collected through Bock’s nonprofit, Feeding Our Future.

Nur was appalled, and his video created a stir in the Somali community.

“We cannot close our eyes to such corruption which will put our entire community’s name in the news as fraudsters and criminals when we only have a few bad apples,” Nur posted.

We quoted Abdi’s Facebook post and embedded the cited video here on February 2. The Star Tribune reports on it now, nearly eight months later. It’s almost funny.

In 2016 Abdi was my first Somali source on Ilhan Omar’s marriage to her brother. Since then we have become good friends and he has helped me deepen my knowledge of the Omar story through his contacts in the community. The Daily Mail caught up with Abdi and his knowledge of Omar’s marriage to her brother in this 2020 story. If you get your news from the Star Tribune, it might come as something of a shock.

Abdi is the person who first brought Guhaad Hashi to my attention. Hashi has served as one of Omar’s enforcers in the Somali community. He is also one of the 48 defendants whose indictment was unsealed in the Feeding Our Future fraud last week. Will the circle be unbroken?

Now that the Star Tribune has happened on to Abdi, perhaps they can follow up on the story of Omar’s marriage to her brother. It’s not too late and it’s quite a story. In the upper reaches of American politics, at least, there’s never been anything quite like it.

And Now Get Ready for . . . Feline Marxism?

(Steven Hayward)

Next year Duke University Press is scheduled to publish Marx For Cats: A Radical Bestiary, by Leigh Claire La Berge, who teaches at Free University of Berlin. Here’s a sample from the introduction (which you can access here if you are a glutton):

Like any text in the Marxist tradition, Marx for Cats gestures in two directions at once. In asking how our society is structured and for whom, Marxism turns toward economic history. And with the materials it finds there, it begins to conceive of how the present might have been different and how the future still could be. In offering a feline narrative of our economic past, I argue that Marxism not only has the potential to be an interspecies project but that it already is one. And in using that knowledge and those histories presented here in cat-form, I suggest that we may collectively plot a new future together, one which recognizes the work that cats have always done for Marxists and one which wonders: what political commitments can Marxists make to cats? This is less a radical history of a single species than a history of how felines and humans have made each other radical, both radically progressive and radically conservative.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Surely this is yet another Sokal Hoax. Nope—Prof. La Berge is a for-real leftist, and a prime exhibit of the thesis that what civilization suffers most from today is an overproduction of (useless) elites. And surely “furries” (people who like to dress up as animals) are yet another legitimate victim class. And another client group for the diversity-industrial-complex.

On Trafalgar’s Minnesota poll

(Scott Johnson)

I have absolutely no feel for the state of play in Minnesota’s elections — early voting commenced this past Friday — so I was especially interested in the results of the Alpha News/Trafalgar Group poll results of our statewide races that Alpha reported here last week. I believe that the poll is the best out there and that the results are accurate within the margin of error as of the poll’s inclusive dates. Trafalgar chief pollster Robert Cahaly discussed his methodology with Alpha’s Liz Collin in the interview posted here.

I have a few relatively brief comments of a personal nature on the gubernatorial and attorney general races.

Scott Jensen (R) versus Tim Walz (DFL).

Scott Jensen is a family physician who vocally opposed the Covid regime instituted by Governor Walz and suffered the predictable harassment as a result. Trafalgar’s poll places him 2.7 points behind Walz, inside the poll’s margin of error.

I admire and appreciate his fighting spirit. To say the least, he is a decent and smart man. In my conversations with him, including one this morning after his appearance on Fox and Friends, I have found him to be incredibly candid. I admire and appreciate his candor as well. On these points I know I’m not alone. When he led off the Republican candidates addressing our local chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition, he received a standing ovation following his remarks. I can’t recall that ever happening before.

In Minnesota’s competitive races this year the Democrats are all in on abortion. You would think it’s the only issue confronting voters this year. In fact, it’s sacrosanct status is protected by a Minnesota Supreme Court decision. It’s not on the ballot in any respect.

Since he secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination the Alliance for a Better Minnesota PAC has runs ads relentlessly attacking Dr. Jensen for his stated opposition to abortion. ABM would oppose him as a matter of course, but abortion is its chosen line on Dr. Jensen.

The ads are effective in their own way. I think one can infer the effectiveness of the advertising from the small number of undecided voters in the Jensen-Walz race. I wonder if it may have something like the impact of the hammering Mitt Romney took in the Obama campaign’s negative advertising before Romney’s general election campaign began in the summer of 2012.

In his comments to me this morning Dr. Jensen indicated he wasn’t happy about the voluminous negative advertising, but speculated that it may be backfiring. He reminded me that it came in third among the most important issues identified by likely voters in the Trafalgar poll, way behind crime.

Dr. Jensen is running a populist campaign. He mentioned that he has received 35,000 individual donations and anticipates raising $5 million in his campaign, a record for a Minnesota Republican gubernatorial nominee. He has 110,000 email contacts and 500,000 followers on Facebook. May I add that he concluded his conversation with me this morning by noting “people are paying attention to Power Line”?

Jim Schultz (R) versus Keith Ellison (Nation of Islam DFL).

I have been beating my head against Keith Ellison’s wall since he ran for Congress in 2006. I profiled him just before he was elected in the Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman.” He is a rank liar and leftist hustler of the terrorist-supporting variety. When he gave up his congressional seat to run for attorney general in 2018, I wrote an equally ineffective Standard column asking “Can Keith Ellison turn lawman?” Rereading it last week, I was struck by how much I had forgotten. Among other things, I made the salient point that Ellison is unfit “for any public office, let alone attorney general.”

Jim Schultz is a Harvard Law School grad. He profiles himself on his site here. He also made an impressive presentation to our Republican Jewish Coalition chapter.

Not surprisingly, ABM has declared Jim Schultz “too extreme” for Minnesota. Again, abortion is a leading theme. Alida Rockefeller Messinger has in past years been identified as a substantial contributor to the ABM PAC. Earlier this year the Center of the American Experiment’s Bill Glahn tried to sort out the players in “The power behind the throne: 1600 University Avenue, St. Paul.” It isn’t easy.

Trafalgar shows Schultz leading Ellison. No Republican has won this office since Doug Head did it in 1966. Those into pattern recognition might reasonably draw the conclusion that the odds favor Ellison, but voters seem to have gotten the idea that law enforcement isn’t really Ellison’s bag.

The Republican Attorney Generals Association sees an opportunity here. I spoke with RAGA executive director Pete Bisbee last week and heard from him again by email this morning. Pete tells me that RAGA “just placed a $1M [advertising] reservation in October.” They oppose Ellison and support Schultz. Indeed, the Fire AG Ellison site and embedded video seem to draw on my own 2018 Standard column.

I can only plead with everyone in our hearing to get out and vote and get your like-minded friends to get out and vote in this and our other statewide elections.

In free lunch fraud: Judge calls out Walz & Star Tribune

(Scott Johnson)

Yesterday I posted Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann’s Order and accompanying Memorandum that Governor Tim Walz has alleged compelled his administration to keep pouring money out to the Feeding Our Future fraudsters. On Thursday Judge Guthmann authorized release of a statement calling out Walz for this lie and the Star Tribune for regurgitating it. John wrote about it here.

Judge Guthmann’s statement is posted online here. I quote it below verbatim in its entirety. Please note that the emphases are in the original:

Due to inaccurate statements by the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, and the media regarding the investigation of Feeding Our Future (FOF) and resulting federal indictments, Ramsey County District Court Judge John H. Guthmann has authorized the issuance of this news release.

Since the investigation of Feeding Our Future (FOF) by law enforcement became public in January 2022, numerous media outlets have reported on the investigation and the events leading to federal criminal indictments. Many of the reports commented on the civil lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court by FOF against the MN Department of Education in November 2020. The original lawsuit was based solely on claims that the Department of Education violated federal regulations and laws prohibiting race discrimination, by failing to act on FOF’s applications for new food-distribution sites as part of its administration of the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program. Judge Guthmann was initially assigned to the case. The lawsuit included a motion by FOF for an order to require the Department of Education to act on pending site applications. Before the court could rule, the parties reached an agreement in which the Department of Education agreed to handle these federally regulated site applications “reasonably promptly.” A consent order approving the settlement was issued on December 22, 2020.

The Department of Education suspended payments to FOF based on a “serious deficiencies” letter it issued to FOF on March 30, 2021. As a result, FOF filed a motion asking Judge Guthmann to order the Department of Education to resume payments and to pay sanctions. Judge Guthmann never ordered the Department of Education to resume payments to FOF in April 2021, or at any other time.

Thereafter, the Department of Education voluntarily resumed making payments to FOF. The Department of Education was not ordered by the court to do so. After the Department resumed voluntary payments, counsel for the Department of Education wrote the court asking that FOF’s motion for sanctions based on non-payment be denied as moot because the Department voluntarily resumed payments. In a later court filing related to FOF’s separate motion for sanctions based on the failure to approve or deny 144 applications for new food delivery sites, the Department of Education advised the court that FOF’s serious deficiencies were resolved as of June 4, 2021. Of the 144 applications, 143 were denied, resulting in FOF’s separate administrative appeal.

On February 26, 2022, the Star Tribune reported on a federal investigation of FOF. The article included the following false statement: “In April 2021, Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann told the department it didn’t have the authority to stop payments and ordered the department to resume payments.” Since February, that Star Tribune quote has been repeated or paraphrased on many occasions by many other media outlets. The same media sources reported that, in her April 4, 2022, testimony to the Minnesota Senate, the Commissioner of the Education stated that the MN Department of Education tried to stop payments to FOF, only to be ordered by Judge Guthmann to resume payments. That is false. Then, when federal indictments were announced this week, many new reports were published. On September 22, 2022, Governor Tim Walz told the media that the Minnesota Department of Education attempted to end payments to FOF because of possible fraud, but that Judge Guthmann ordered payments to continue in April 2021. That is also false.

As the public court record and Judge Guthmann’s orders make plain, Judge Guthmann never issued an order requiring the MN Department of Education to resume food reimbursement payments to FOF. The Department of Education voluntarily resumed payments and informed the court that FOF resolved the “serious deficiencies” that prompted it to suspend payments temporarily. All of the MN Department of Education food reimbursement payments to FOF were made voluntarily, without any court order.

I can’t think of anything comparable ever happening in the state’s public life. It is unprecedented.

Center of the American Experiment’s Bill Glahn has followed the massive Feeding Our Lunch fraud scandal closely and mastered the details. The center has now posted Bill’s update “Judge Guthmann vindicated in Feeding Our Future scandal.” Bill has also tweeted out a companion thread that can be accessed here.

On being a serious country

(Scott Johnson)

The Center of the American Experiment hosted Wilfred McClay this past Friday over lunch in Bloomington to speak on the abomination of Minnesota’s social studies standards in process. It was not only a great event, thanks to John Hinderaker letting me join him at the head table, the lunch gave me a chance to catch up briefly with Professor McClay.

Professor McClay holds the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College. He is a member of the U.S. Commission on the Semiquincentennial, which has been charged with planning the celebration of the nation’s 250th birthday in 2026. Along with Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Kesler, and our own Steve Hayward, Professor McClay is in my view one of our leading lights among conservative intellectuals.

He is the author, most recently, of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, published by Encounter Books along with a two-volume young reader’s edition. In his 2019 Power Line Show discussing the book with Professor McClay, Steve postulated that he is the antidote to Howard Zinn.

At the Miami National Conservatism Conference two weeks ago he gave a speech titled “On Being a Serious Country.” The text of his speech has not yet been published, but I tracked down the video on YouTube (below). It is brilliant and needed.

Quotable quote: “[H]ere is the question that concerns me most. Would a serious country so completely lose perspective on its own past that it would entertain the idea that the nation was founded on slavery, rather than on the ideals that have made it a beacon to the rest of the world? And would a serious country think it appropriate to teach its children that their nation’s past is best understood as a parade of horrors, to which the most appropriate response is not pride but lacerating shame?”

In Italy, the Eve of Victory

(John Hinderaker)

We wrote here about today’s election in Italy, and the likelihood that it will be won by a conservative coalition led by Giorgia Meloni and the Brothers of Italy party. Meloni is “far right,” which means she is skeptical of the benefits of endless illegal immigration, and a “firebrand,” which means she gives speeches that voters like.

The election is going on right now, and Meloni is favored to emerge as Italy’s next prime minister. She sounds like a winner, and like an American conservative:

Meloni made her comments this week during a rally in the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, saying: “Italy is better than the left-wing governments it has had in recent years. The left is there to blather that everyone is afraid, but the only ones who are afraid are them because they have understood that their system of power is about to end.”

“We are ready, until the last vote, to restore freedom and pride to this nation. They say the markets, Europe, TikTok singers, actors, and influencers are worried about a centre-right victory. We don’t care what they say. We care what the Italians think,” Meloni continued, in comments reported by the newspaper Il Giornale.

Does that sound familiar, or what? Happily, “influencers” don’t rule the world.

“We are scary. But to whom? We only scare those who fear losing power, certainly not the Italians. We have shown that we are not as naïve as the mainstream hoped we were. Thank you for showing that in our part of Italy politics is love and not hate, it is not a crusade against one’s opponents but is made up of concrete proposals,” she said.

Spoken like so many conservatives we know and love. I hope it is not premature to offer Ms. Meloni our congratulations.

Margaret Thatcher 2.0?

(John Hinderaker)

British Prime Minister Liz Truss is going big. Her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, has unveiled an aggressive program of permanent tax cuts. The Wall Street Journal likes the plan:

Mr. Kwarteng axed the 2.5-percentage-point increase in the payroll tax imposed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and canceled a planned increase in the corporate income tax rate to 26% from 19%. … Kwarteng also surprised by eliminating the 45% tax rate on incomes above £150,000. The top marginal rate now will be 40%.

As a percentage of GDP, it shapes up as the biggest British tax cut since 1972. From the Telegraph:

As you would expect, most of Britain’s establishment reacted with horror, and British markets plunged. In the short term, Truss’s plan will increase government debt. But she is betting on growth, as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan did during the 1980s. Dan Mitchell hails Truss’s cuts and quotes a surprising admission from the New York Times:

Ms. Truss…has modeled herself on Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister from 1979 to 1990. Thatcher’s economic revolution in the 1980s turned the economy around.

Mitchell sees Truss’s policies as a welcome change from her recent predecessors:

I strongly supported Brexit in part because I wanted the United Kingdom to have both the leeway and the incentive to adopt pro-market policies.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when subsequent Conservative Prime Ministers did nothing (Theresa May) or expanded the burden of government (Boris Johnson).

Where was the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher? Didn’t the Tory Party understand the need to restrain big government?

Perhaps my prayers have finally been answered.

But, of course, the missing ingredient so far is spending restraint:

Tax cuts are good for growth, but their effectiveness and durability will be in question if there is not a concomitant effort to restrain the burden of spending.

Truss and Kwarteng also should have announced a spending cap, modeled on either the Swiss Debt Brake or Colorado’s TABOR.

Lower taxes in the U.S. and U.K. ignited the best growth in recent history in the 1980s. Will that formula work again? Happily, the Truss administration should give us an opportunity to find out.

Today in Crazy

(Steven Hayward)

So this turns out to be a real thing:

When is the IPO happening? I want to be in on the ground floor for this one. Certain to be the next Facebook.

Is Xi Out?

(John Hinderaker)

There are rumors that a military coup is taking place in China, with President Xi Jinping ousted and, in one account, under house arrest. At this point no one is sure what is going on, but this seems like a reasonable place to start:

Unsubstantiated speculation swirled Saturday morning that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been locked down in isolation amid a potential coup.

Far East expert Gordon Chang said the rumor is likely “untrue,” but he noted there is something unusual going on in China and “there is turbulence” among the Chinese Communist Party leadership.

“The lack of news from #China over the last few hours suggests coup rumors are untrue, but whatever happened inside the #Chinese military during the last three days — evidently something unusual occurred — tells us there is turbulence inside the senior #CCP leadership,” Chang tweeted Saturday morning.
“This video of military vehicles moving to #Beijing comes immediately after the grounding of 59% of the flights in the country and the jailings of senior officials,” Chang tweeted. “There’s a lot of smoke, which means there is a fire somewhere inside the #CCP. #China is unstable.”

Things have not been going well for China lately. Stay tuned.

Is It All in Your Head?

(Steven Hayward)

Having hosted Troy Senik on the mid-week podcast, I’m now back to checking on his Kite and Key Media offerings more regularly. Their latest offering, below, explores a subject that has tended to be ignored or dismissed by our public health and social policy establishment, because it runs counter to the imperatives of liberalism to embrace every possible “crisis” no matter the evidence: Mass Psychogenic Illness.

The problem is likely getting worse in the age of ubiquitous social media, and can be implicated in the transgender craze among the young. Take a look—just seven minutes long:

Moments, senior moments

(Scott Johnson)

As of today Thaleigha Rampersad and Andrew Stiles have compiled 12 editions of “Joe Biden’s senior moment of the week.” In today’s volume 12 they cheated a little (video below). They were unable to settle on just one senior moment.

In the accompanying story on volume 12 they include this quote from Biden’s 60 Minutes interview in which Biden comments on his age: “I have trouble even mentioning, even saying to myself, my own head, the number of years. I no more think of myself as being as old as I am than fly. I mean, it’s just not.” And that didn’t even make the cut.

The mischievous Mr. Stiles quotes “Joe Biden” firing back in an exclusive Free Beacon guest column this week. Sounding amazingly like himself, “Joe Biden” wrote: “Joe Biden is not a question of fitness to serve as president. Repeat the line.”

In free lunch fraud: The Walz variations

(Scott Johnson)

Earlier this week United States Attorney Andrew Luger called a press conference to announce federal charges in the massive Feeding Our Future scandal. Luger revealed charges against 48 defendants in six indictments and three criminal informations. He took questions following his excellent presentation.

When Luger called on me I observed that the fraud he had documented in his presentation was open and obvious. I inferred from what he said that the Minnesota Department of Education detected the fraud early on. Alluding to paragraphs 33-34 of the indictment of Aimee Bock et al., Luger made this point at about 23:30 of the press conference video (in the post linked above). I asked Luger if he would explain to the average person how the fraud went on for 20 months before it was shut down in January 2022.

Luger said that he was limited to the allegations of the indictments, but he didn’t dispute the premise of my question. In response to another question, however, Luger blamed the perpetrators for the fraud. Even Ray Charles could see that doesn’t cut it and that the authorities owe us a full and true accounting.

Governor Walz and the authorities have sought to divert responsibility for their nonfeasance in the case. They have blamed Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann for compelling the MDE to keep the fraud flying. To adapt an old political joke, Walz has performed a routine that goes don’t blame MDE, don’t blame me, blame the man behind the tree (or the bench). Walz also blames the Trump Department of Agriculture.

Referring to Judge Guthmann, Walz yammered in his accustomed style at a press conference on Thursday. “I was speechless,” the governor said. “Unbelievable that this ruling would come down, did not really know what to say. Obviously we had to honor it….I wouldn’t have believed in a million years that they were going to rule that way.” Walz opined that an investigation of Judge Guthmann was in order. That triggered Judge Guthmann to authorize release of the statement below yesterday.

NEW: In a rare rebuke, Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann issues a public statement criticizing what he calls false statements by Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota education commissioner about the judge's rulings in the Feeding Our Future fraud case.

— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) September 23, 2022

John reviewed the statement here. In addition to Walz, Judge Guthmann also fingers the Star Tribune. The Star Tribune covers the chain of events here.

The Star Tribune story cites the paper’s own earlier reporting: “MDE leaders acknowledged in a May interview with the Star Tribune that, had they required extensive receipts and other paperwork, they may have been able to end the department’s relationship with Feeding Our Future sooner.”

The Star Tribune story also paraphrases Walz: “Walz defended the department Thursday and said he and his team couldn’t speak publicly about the case while the FBI was investigating.”

Walz actually said, “The way the system works is to not say anything.” This will come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Walz’s performance as governor.

MDE is following the script: “The department didn’t claim that any of the reimbursement claims were fraudulent, according to the transcripts [of the hearing]. This week, the department said that, because it was assisting with the federal investigation, the agency couldn’t ‘assert certain defenses’ when Feeding Our Future sued because it didn’t want to tip off the organization about the investigation.”

I have posted Judge Guthmann’s Feeding Our Future Order and accompanying Memorandum at the bottom. The department gave up on withholding payments and never appealed it any part of the order. At the least, the department failed to jump through the hoops necessary to shut the program down.

Despite his propensity to speak, Walz remained mum. Yesterday MDE issued another evasive statement: “Feeding Our Future demanded that MDE make payments, and the court made it clear that if MDE were to continue the legal fight to withhold payments, MDE would incur sanctions and legal penalties.”

Walz’s lying barely registers with me anymore. The Feeding Our Future fraud lets us see him and his administration in action or, rather, inaction. The guy is a glorified used car salesman of the Joe Isuzu variety.

At his press conference on Thursday following unsealing of the charges, Walz bragged about his performance in the case. Walz stated: “We caught this fraud. We caught it very early. We alerted the right people. We were taken to court. We were sued. We were threatened with going to jail. We stuck with it.”

Walz also said he couldn’t recall precisely when he first learned of the suspicions that Feeding Our Future was running a fraud. Let the investigation begin. What did the governor know and when did he know it (and what did he do about it while the money poured out)?

MCRO_62-CV-20-5492_Order-Other_2021-06-24_20220923175955 by Scott Johnson on Scribd

The Week in Pictures: Martha’s Vineyard Sequel

(Steven Hayward)

You know a political stunt has landed when the new news cycle and the more important memosphere are still obsessing over it a week later. And by the way, what’s wrong with stunts? In football, a stunt by the defensive line confuses the offense and often leads to a broken play, and if there’s anything we want to break these days, it’s the Biden Administration playbook. So more flights to Martha’s Vineyard please!

Actually there is:

Joe Biden’s favorite movie?

Headlines of the week:

Might be a little obscure. . .

And finally. . . “Lucretia” at the range:

On Feeding Our Future, a Blockbuster Development

(John Hinderaker)

We have written a number of times about the Feeding Our Future scandal, the worst to emerge from the federal government’s feckless distribution of covid dollars. Briefly, Feeding Our Future (“FOF”) was a fraudulent nonprofit that accessed an astonishing $240 million in federal money, ostensibly to feed needy children in Minnesota. Under the supervision of Minnesota’s Department of Education, FOF distributed that money to a network of Minnesota nonprofits who allegedly delivered the actual meals to children. But it turns out that the money mostly went to luxury purchases, fancy cars, overseas vacations, gold and jewels, new houses, and property in places like Kenya and Turkey. FOF kept a slice of the $240 million and added to it by charging kickbacks. The entire fraud has now unraveled in a series of 48 or more indictments announced last week by the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

Throughout, the public officials on whose watch this massive fraud occurred have relied mostly on a single defense: in 2021, the Department of Education, having become suspicious, tried to cut off funding to some of FOF’s clients. But a state court judge rejected MDE’s arguments and ordered the Department to resume funding what turned out to be one of the biggest frauds on record. That was the story.

Minnesota’s lazy and ineffective Governor Tim Walz, whose administration oversaw the FOF fraud, has tried to shift blame to the judge who allegedly ordered the criminality to continue. (There are lots of problems with that argument, but let them go for the moment.) Walz told local press that he wanted the judge investigated:

“I would hope there would be an investigation into that,” Walz told reporters Thursday. “I was speechless, unbelievable that this ruling could come down.”

Which is not much of a defense, because it means that Walz knew about the fraud in 2021, but kept silent at a time when publicity surely would have brought FOF crashing down.

But that isn’t the worst of it. Today, the judge in question–Ramsey County District Court Judge John H. Guthmann–had had enough, and unloaded on Walz and other officials, like Attorney General Keith Ellison, who have tried to shift the blame to him. Judge Guthmann released an official statement through the Minnesota court system that I will quote at length because it is so important:

Due to inaccurate statements by the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, and the media regarding the investigation of Feeding Our Future (FOF) and resulting federal indictments, Ramsey County District Court Judge John H. Guthmann has authorized the issuance of this news release.

Since the investigation of Feeding Our Future (FOF) by law enforcement became public in January 2022, numerous media outlets have reported on the investigation and the events leading to federal criminal indictments. Many of the reports commented on the civil lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court by FOF against the MN Department of Education in November 2020. The original lawsuit was based solely on claims that the Department of Education violated federal regulations and laws prohibiting race discrimination, by failing to act on FOF’s applications for new food-distribution sites as part of its administration of the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program. Judge Guthmann was initially assigned to the case. The lawsuit included a motion by FOF for an order to require the Department of Education to act on pending site applications. Before the court could rule, the parties reached an agreement in which the Department of Education agreed to handle these federally regulated site applications “reasonably promptly.” A consent order approving the settlement was issued on December 22, 2020.

The Department of Education suspended payments to FOF based on a “serious deficiencies” letter it issued to FOF on March 30, 2021. As a result, FOF filed a motion asking Judge Guthmann to order the Department of Education to resume payments and to pay sanctions. Judge Guthmann never ordered the Department of Education to resume payments to FOF in April 2021, or at any other time.

I plead guilty here. Relying on a false news report in the Star Tribune, I have said in several radio interviews that a local state court judge ordered that payments to FOF continue. It is one more reminder that you can’t trust Democratic Party newspapers on even the most basic questions of fact.

Thereafter, the Department of Education voluntarily resumed making payments to FOF. The Department of Education was not ordered by the court to do so. After the Department resumed voluntary payments, counsel for the Department of Education wrote the court asking that FOF’s motion for sanctions based on non-payment be denied as moot because the Department voluntarily resumed payments. In a later court filing related to FOF’s separate motion for sanctions based on the failure to approve or deny 144 applications for new food delivery sites, the Department of Education advised the court that FOF’s serious deficiencies were resolved as of June 4, 2021.

So it was Tim Walz’s minions who told the court that everything was A-OK with Feeding Our Future, and hundreds of millions continued to flow.

On February 26, 2022, the Star Tribune reported on a federal investigation of FOF. The article included the following false statement: “In April 2021, Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann told the department it didn’t have the authority to stop payments and ordered the department to resume payments.” Since February, that Star Tribune quote has been repeated or paraphrased on many occasions by many other media outlets. The same media sources reported that, in her April 4, 2022, testimony to the Minnesota Senate, the Commissioner of the Education stated that the MN Department of Education tried to stop payments to FOF, only to be ordered by Judge Guthmann to resume payments. That is false. Then, when federal indictments were announced this week, many new reports were published. On September 22, 2022, Governor Tim Walz told the media that the Minnesota Department of Education attempted to end payments to FOF because of possible fraud, but that Judge Guthmann ordered payments to continue in April 2021. That is also false.

You might think there are limits to the lies that desperate politicians will tell, or limits to the laziness (or, usually, complicity) of liberal reporters who repeat those lies. But in fact, if there are such limits, we haven’t yet found them.

The press release by Minnesota’s Judicial Branch concludes:

As the public court record and Judge Guthmann’s orders make plain, Judge Guthmann never issued an order requiring the MN Department of Education to resume food reimbursement payments to FOF. The Department of Education voluntarily resumed payments and informed the court that FOF resolved the “serious deficiencies” that prompted it to suspend payments temporarily. All of the MN Department of Education food reimbursement payments to FOF were made voluntarily, without any court order.

So responsibility for the biggest fraud relating to federal covid payments rests with Governor Tim Walz and his administration. The fraud is more than bad enough, but it is made far worse by Tim Walz’s attempts to deflect blame to a judge who did not, in fact, order Walz’s administration to do anything.

This dodging of responsibility is typical of the notoriously lazy Tim Walz. Minnesota has declined sadly during his four years as governor. Our economy is failing, our population is so stagnant that we barely held on to a Congressional seat in the last census, many of our most productive citizens are deserting Minnesota for more prosperous states, our serious crime rate, historically low, is now above the national average, we have become an international byword for riots and lawlessness, our state government is driving gasoline prices higher through ridiculous “green” mandates at a time when families are struggling to pay their bills, and so on. But Lazy Tim Walz takes responsibility for none of the disasters that have occurred on his watch. Instead, he lies in order to deflect them onto innocent parties.

Maybe the $240 million Feeding Our Future scandal–and the knowledge that Walz lied about it to save his own skin–will be the impetus for voters to usher in a new administration that will sweep out the corruption of the old.

What Comes of Taking Joe Biden Seriously

(John Hinderaker)

I don’t believe we have covered the story of Cayler Ellingson, the 18-year-old North Dakota boy who was murdered by 41-year-old Shannon Brandt. Why did the murder happen? Brandt says he ran Ellingson down with his car following a “political argument” because he thought Ellingson was part of a “Republican extremist group.”

Where might he have gotten that idea? From the President of the United States. So far no details of whatever conversation Ellingson might have had with the much-older Brandt are known, but apparently it didn’t take much for Brandt to conclude that he was dealing with a “Republican extremist.” Not surprisingly, local authorities say there is no evidence of Ellingson being any sort of extremist. He was attending a street dance prior to his fatal encounter with Brandt.

The story has engendered several types of fallout. PJ Media notes that the Associated Press covered the story of the murder, but left out the key detail:

“A driver charged with fatally striking a teenager in North Dakota allegedly told investigators he purposely hit the teen with his SUV after they had a political argument, according to court documents.”

Can you find the missing piece of data? I’ll let you read it again if you must, but pay attention to the words “political argument.” And of course, we know that Brandt told police he ran Cayler down because he was a “Republican extremist.”

But the Associated Press, which, it should be noted, feeds newsrooms across the nation, decided to omit the fact that Cayler was murdered by Brandt for allegedly being a Republican.

The AP wouldn’t want to interrupt its daily non-stop bashing of Republicans with what, to some, might seem like a counter-narrative.

Many are appalled that Brandt was released from jail on a $50,000 bond, for which he presumably paid a bail bondsman $5,000, as he awaits charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. You might contrast that leniency with the treatment received by those who were arrested for protesting the 2020 election at (or in) the Capitol building, many of whom were held in solitary confinement, without bail, for months. Sadly, politics still plays an important role in law enforcement.

The broader issue here is whether political leaders like Joe Biden can be held accountable for irresponsible speech. No one is talking about banning speech: if Biden wants to allege, insanely, that the vast majority of Republicans (“MAGA,” the slogan of our 45th president) are dangerous extremists and likely traitors, he is free to do so. But that doesn’t mean that his vicious recklessness can’t have consequences.

Sure, the ones who take Biden’s words seriously and act on them, murderously, are marginal and mentally unbalanced characters, like the guy who tried to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh, and like James Hodgkinson, who shot up the Republican baseball team. (Although, to be fair, Hodgkinson was a respected member of the labor union movement and a Bernie Sanders volunteer who apparently showed no signs of mental deficiency until he tried to assassinate Congressional Republicans.)

But that is always true. Political leaders have a duty to conduct themselves in a measured and rational manner so as not to inflame the mentally unstable. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Democratic Party leaders generally have flouted that duty. The result has been political violence by their followers, and I am afraid there is much more violence to come.

Podcast: The 3WHH, from Star Wars to Law Wars

(Steven Hayward)

We got together for this week’s Three Whisky Happy Hour a day early because I was supposed to be traveling again, though another complete airline FUBAR—the second in two weeks—scratched the trip after all.  On top of it all, I was all out of whisky and Lucretia was working from her “no alcohol” campus office, so this episode lacks a certain fluidity that comes from our favorite libations.

This week the gang revisits the taxonomy of which Star Wars characters map properly onto the domain of the New Rebel Alliance, aka, the “national conservatives” we discussed in some detail last week, chiefly because John and Steve knew it would annoy Lucretia, who declined to accept the open position as the Princess Leia of the NatCons.

But this was all just preface for her on-the-scene report of seeing Blake Masters in action on the campaign trail in Arizona this week. Her view is “we don’t need no stinkin’ labels,” or Star Wars characters either! No wonder a faithful listener—one of our charter “fourteen & a half”—memed the show this week.

From here we spend a considerable time discussing the latest front in “lawfare,” that is, politics by other means, looking at the latest legal action brought against Trump, but also how some liberal legal dogmas are turning around against the left, especially in civil rights. Will civil rights law turn out to be the Achilles’ Heel of campus diversity regimes? (Can we even say “Achilles’ Heel” on campus any more, or is that a macroaggression? One can hardly imagine Achilles committing a microaggression. . .) And did President Biden’s declaration that “the pandemic is over” put a number of his policies in legal peril? The precedents here are the court rulings that held Trump’s statements against him in several high profile cases such as the supposed “Muslim ban” and the proposed citizenship question for the 2020 Census.

Stay with us for an update on the continuing weirdness in the polls, with Steve offering some new theories on why they are likely less reliable than ever this cycle. And as always, we end with our “Kamala-ism” of the week, though Steve promises to roll out soon his new parlor game comparing Harris to Al Gore in an all new “Vapid Veepstakes Competition.”

So listen here, or jump into hyperspace over to our hosts at Ricochet.


I dunno—I kinda think this could work:


Thought for the Day: Chesterton on Virtue and Vice

(Steven Hayward)

“When a religious scheme is shattered…it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”

—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Bonus GKC:

Chesterton to George Bernard Shaw (a skinny person): “My God man, from the looks of you there’s a famine in the land!”

GBS back to GKC (a very stout man): “Yes, and from the looks of you, you caused it!”

The Daily Chart: PC MD

(Steven Hayward)

Take a good close look at this table that breaks down MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) scores by race from a few years ago.

Perhaps the most curious anomaly of this table is in the last column, where hispanic average MCAT score is higher than white scores, even though the average GPA is lower. It should be noted, however, that the “hispanic” racial category the government uses is completely incoherent. (More on that later.)

Washington Post Climbs the Learning Curve

(Steven Hayward)

I’m slowing working my way to an article on whether Joe Biden or Vladimir Putin has done the most damage to the climate campaign, but for now I’ll just take satisfaction that the Washington Post has seemingly discovered the learning curve when it comes to energy. Yesterday the Post noted that, gosh, California has a problem generating enough electricity from its massive deployment of solar power when the sun goes down.

California is awash in renewable energy — except when it’s most needed

The state has built up so much renewable energy production in recent years that it can rarely use it all during peak production hours. But it also doesn’t have enough storage capacity to hang onto it for when it might be needed.

The result is that officials are frequently forced to jettison solar power production while the sun is shining, just hours before customer demand peaks in the late afternoon and evening. The same thing happens to a lesser extent with wind energy — and the issue is surfacing in multiple other states as well.

“It all comes down to this problem of: It’s not how much energy we have, it’s the when and the where the energy is being produced,” said James Bushnell, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis. “Particularly the solar resources — it’s just in the wrong places and at the wrong times.”

This detail from the recent heat wave and tight electricity picture, in which rolling blackouts were just barely avoided, is delicious:

Solar production was booming by midmorning as the sun beat down on hundreds of solar panel plants all over the state. By 10 a.m., the California Independent System Operator, the state’s electric grid manager, was rejecting hundreds of megawatts of solar energy power — unable to use it in the moment, make room for it on the state’s congested power grid or save it for later when consumer demand would peak.

But it’s nothing that a few million tons of batteries can’t solve! Wait until the Post learns about the supply constraints and environmental impact of that. Their learning curve might  twist around into a death spiral.

Buckeye blind

(Scott Johnson)

Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan is a 25-carat phony “moderate.” He had the luxury of running a general election style campaign through the primary season, so he has had the time to perfect his act. In just the past two years, however, “he’s voted to federalize elections, admit Washington, D.C., as the 51st state, impose onerous new background check requirements on gun owners, and grant mass amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, in addition to co-sponsoring legislation that would restrict the right of states to legislate on abortion, and voting in favor of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ Act.”

That is according to Shane Harris’s useful Cincinnati Enquirer column arguing my point. In fact, Harris adds, “Ryan has voted with President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time this Congress…”

Ryan has fielded a variety of attacks on Republican opponent J.D. Vance, but they don’t seem to have done the job. In his latest sally, Ryan launched a six-figure ad campaign targeting Vance for scheduling a rally on the same day the Buckeye football game over the weekend. The game pitted OSU against the University of Toledo. It wasn’t exactly a marquee matchup. Rather, it was a preseason tune-up for the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes pulled it out 77-21.

The funny thing is that Ryan himself had a conflict. The Daily Mail reported that Ryan officiated a family wedding during the game. In a photo caption the Daily Mail put it this way: “[Ryan] did not make his celebratory plans public but his campaign blasted opponent JD Vance for participating in a Trump rally at the same time as a big Ohio college football game that day.” Vance’s campaign gave the Daily Mail a statement calling out Ryan as a “shameless fraud,” which I declare a bingo.

Vance’s campaign had another point to make in a statement to the Washington Examiner’s Cami Mondeaux for her story: “Tim Ryan has not only spent the last two weeks childishly attacking J.D. Vance for missing the very Ohio State game that he himself knew he was going to miss, he even had his staff live tweet commentary of the game from his Twitter account to deceptively cover up the fact that he wasn’t watching.” Mondeaux cited the tweet below from Ryan’s account insinuating that he attended the game.

Quotable quote: “A spokesperson for Ryan’s Senate campaign did not respond to a request for comment by the Washington Examiner.”

WOW, what a throw!! Did you see that, @JDVance1?

(Lol, just kidding.)

— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) September 17, 2022

Thoughts from the ammo line

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll assesses THE ICK FACTOR. She writes:

When I was a kid, for many people, baths were a weekly event. It was a smelly world; it was just part of life. Then apparently the good folks on Madison Avenue suddenly noticed that body odor was a problem in search of a profitable solution. But deodorant unfortunately had to be placed in underarms, which were considered somewhat icky and off-limits in those times. What to do? Trust the ad guys to come up with a solution. The first Ban Deodorant commercial I ever saw on television involved marble statuary. No lie.

As the camera focused on the pristine marble armpit, a serious baritone voiceover said, “In the adult male and in the adult female…sometimes you smell so bad you could knock a buzzard off a garbage truck.” (I’m paraphrasing from memory here…)

Is it REALLY a step forward for humanity to turn on television at dinnertime and see obese, incontinent yet vibrantly diverse women pulling on some sort of protective undergarment? Or worse yet, unattractive women sitting on a TOILET saying, “Women poop.” Okay, maybe you have urgent medical information to impart, but I’m eatin’ here…okay? Ick!

I’m reading serious political thoughts on the Internet and, without warning, advertising pop-ups appear for all sorts of medical maladies including but not limited to toenail fungus, featured in full-color pictures. More ick. A Pandora radio commercial for Shopify – occupying the spot that used to feature wretched, nearly continuous BLM ads – has a man talking with his mouth full of the cookies on offer on Shopify. It’s not appealing. Ick. I can’t even listen to my Pandora stations now.

But these things pale in comparison to the Ick Factor of small children exposed to drag queens, cartoon library books with young boys performing oral sex, or ANY overt sexuality, gay OR straight. Double Dog Super Ick. Apparently a sick teacher or librarian gets a pass. But if any other adult – who is not a Democrat – trolled by a schoolyard in a van and showed such a book to a child, “they” would find themselves in serious hot water very quickly.

Even as late as high school, unless they belonged to our church, we had no idea whether any of our teachers were married (we assumed most people WERE) or what they did in bed. I know we had two lady teachers who lived together and everybody loved them both. Maybe they were just roommates, maybe not – nobody cared.

Our handsome Speech teacher (my Debate coach) and our adorable French teacher began dating and soon thereafter got married. For us teenage girls it was an exciting time to watch a Romance Novel come to life. In a small town where everybody knows your car, we got breathless daily reports of dating sightings. I don’t know if any of the boys even noticed.

If you are like me, you have been wondering for some time now what is driving the pronoun-obsessing, child-mutilating, gender-fluid degeneracy? One day American culture was normal and, seemingly, we woke up the next morning and a substantial number of our fellow citizens had gone bat guano crazy. Who is behind it and what do they hope to get out of it, besides the trifecta destruction of academia, the military, and corporate America? Or are they aiming to topple the very foundations of Civilization itself? With mass sterilization of a significant chunk of the current generation of children as a bonus.

All children love to role-play and to dress up. I have pictures of my young son and his cousins (maybe 6, 5 and 2), in funny hats and dresses from Grandma’s play-dressup bin. You can tell by their goofy expressions that they are AWARE that they are stepping outside the parameters of “boy” behavior as a JOKE, not as a hope. I have a picture of myself and my female cousin at about 5 dressed like male hobos. At no point were any of those children pictured at risk of requesting a sex change any more than they thought they would become cowboys, princesses or Ewoks. I was at greater risk of becoming an actual hobo.

We all grew up happy heterosexuals, though I suffered from “height dysphoria” and would have been thrilled to demand that taxpayers pay for eight-inch implants in my legs, so that I could fulfill my lifelong dream to be called – just once – for goaltending. Alas, we can’t all have everything we want. And isn’t that one of the major lessons of life?

Why should a boy who thinks he wants to be a girl be deemed in any more psychic distress than an elfin girl who longs to be tall? Why shouldn’t everyone with imperfect teeth get free braces? And people with large noses get taxpayer-funded nose jobs? Small-breasted women should clearly be entitled to augmentation. Just calling dissatisfaction something medical-sounding and Latin-y like “dysphoria” doesn’t make it any more legitimate.

I have mentioned in a previous column that when our son was about 3 and we lived in a basement apartment, he declared that our home was a “monkey cave” and we were all monkeys. For about a year he had monkey names for us and he answered to “Chip-Chip.” But we did not rush off to tell his nursery school teacher that he needed to be addressed as Chip-Chip or we would see to it that she wound up in prison. We did not find an unethical surgeon to turn him into a monkey, removing his opposable thumbs, installing a tail, and bathing him daily in Rogaine. Why? Because we were not insane. He grew tired of it and one day it just ended.

Children are wonderful little sponges, absorbing much we don’t even know they have noticed. But developing the self-confidence to question authority is something that we learn slowly and later, if at all. In Japan, I’m told, a common expression is “the nail sticking up is the one that gets pounded down.” Many cultures do not much prize “individualism.” Americans are – or were – KNOWN for it.

Kids and teenagers do not yet treasure individualism; they ache to fit in. Even pathetic attempts to break out from the crowd – Goths, blue hair, and such – are within rigidly defined limits. Wearing a pink party dress to a Goth event would be just as outré as a MAGA hat on a National Review cruise.

If a child has an overbearing and mentally ill teacher who believes men can have babies and every day kids can choose a different “gender” from an ever-expanding menu, that teacher will bestow smiles of approval or frowns of disapproval on her helpless little charges every minute of the day. Few grade-school kids would have the confidence to challenge her.

Those of us born with a Lifelong Contrarian Streak paid a considerable price, but one I’m grateful to have paid. I don’t even take much credit for it – it was baked in the genetic cake like my short stature. Thanks, Dad, you wacky but lovable short guy!

I read a book once on how (spit) Charlie Manson — 5’2”, unattractive and repulsive — manipulated a HAREM of loser girls he controlled. He recruited troubled runaways and forced them to perform an escalating series of humiliating, painful, and bizarre sex acts, pushing the boundaries of civilized behavior, breaking down the girls’ inhibitions and very personalities such that eventually murdering several people including a pregnant woman seemed normal.

This is probably just me, but I think all the trans weirdness is also pointed, in-your-face idolatry, a childish nose-thumbing at the Creator: “Ha!” say the gender freaks, “You THINK I was ‘assigned’ by God to be male? Well, watch this. I may not be able to alter my chromosomes, but I can – on pain of Twitter swatting, job loss, or prison – FORCE otherwise sane people to AGREE that I am a woman, even with un-womanly parts still intact. I can mutilate what God has made and re-create myself in whatever image suits me this particular minute. I AM GOD!”

Further, with the new state-sponsored racism against white people, especially white men, a certain percentage of people who have grasped the advantage in being “oppressed” will gravitate toward adopting a preferred category in order to rise higher on the Entitlement Totem Pole.

And finally, in some cases, it isn’t “trans” anything, just rank opportunism. In what sense is Lia Thomas either a woman or even a “trans” thing? He has a penis that he enjoys flopping around in the women’s locker room. He enjoys winning swim meets and being the center of drama and controversy. Period.

What an adult does to surgically and chemically alter himself is none of my business. But neither do I think I should have to pay for it, either as a taxpayer or part of an insurance pool. I don’t think it is “brave” or even interesting. And I refuse to affirm it.

But what is foisted upon children is another story. Previous fads like swallowing goldfish were relatively harmless and no more disgusting than sushi. But this fad has much more tragic consequences. I do not believe it will end well. Who benefits? Who pays? Why is it happening? What is the endgame?

Conservatism Is Prohibited

(John Hinderaker)

I wrote earlier today about the Democrats’ unprecedented attempts to criminalize disagreement with their policies or criticism of their regime. These are more examples, from today’s news, of the suppression of conservative thought, not necessarily through criminal prosecution.

First, Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” comic strip has lost 77 newspapers, apparently because it ridiculed “woke” doctrine:

The cartoon strip Dilbert has been removed from almost 80 US newspapers after it started poking fun at “wokeness”, according to its author.
[A]ccording to Adams, its removal from 77 titles owned by Lee Enterprises came after he began mocking “ESG” — environmental, social and governance, or the practice of looking at issues such as diversity and environmentalism when making financial decisions.
Adams said that “wokeness . . . permeated from ESG” and had provided inspiration for Dilbert strips. One of the cartoon’s latest characters is Dave, who is black but identifies as white.

In a recent strip, a manager explains to Dave how the company can increase its ESG rating. “Dave, I need to boost our company’s ESG rating, so I’m promoting you to be our CTO. I know you identify as white, so that won’t help our ESG scores, but would it be too much trouble to identify as gay?” the boss asks.

“Depends on how hard you want me to sell it,” Dave says. “Just wear better shirts,” the manager replies.

Adams said that some newspapers had had concerns about his cartoons after receiving complaints about the content, but that he was not sure whether that had contributed to their removal. He described the personal financial blow of Dilbert’s removal as “substantial”.

A second case comes from the U.K. and involves PayPal. The Telegraph reports:

[I]n the digital world, life outside the mainstream is becoming harder. All it takes is to tweak a censorship algorithm then: presto! …

It all moved up a gear this week when PayPal closed the accounts of the Free Speech Union and the anti-lockdown Daily Sceptic with no explanation given. The latest victim is the UsForThem campaign, which sought to highlight the impact of school closures during lockdown. They use PayPal to fundraise, but the account has been suspended. Given PayPal’s dominance of the market, it’s quite a problem.

Tech giants are universally hostile to free speech, so shutting down the Free Speech Union–which gets a third of its membership fees through PayPal–is no surprise. The other two are anti-lockdown and anti-school closure organizations. This is a continuation of the tech monopolies’ censorship of any dissent from unprecedented government public health measures as “disinformation” that must be banned. As it turned out, those who spread “disinformation” had a track record at least as good as the international public health establishment.

But now, the lockdowns are over and the kids are back in school. So why are these organizations now being censored? Because they are retrospectively critical of the British government. The current censorship isn’t about public health, it is strictly about regime protection. There is a technical term for a society in which government works through ostensibly private entities to enforce its dictates. It starts with an F.

Finally, Mike Lindell is back in the news. You may remember that the FBI caught Lindell red-handed driving through a Hardee’s and confiscated his cell phone. The warrant supporting that seizure has now emerged. The Epoch Times writes:

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is being investigated by the Justice Department (DOJ) over alleged identity theft and damage to a protected computer relating to an alleged breach of voting machines in Colorado, court documents show.

Of course the “identity theft” and “damage to a protected computer” have to do with Lindell’s role in questioning the integrity of 2020 election results.

Lindell filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the DOJ and the FBI after agents seized his mobile phone while he was at a Hardee’s drive-through in Mankato, Minnesota, earlier this month.
According to the lawsuit, the search and seizure warrant was issued by Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung on Sept. 7, 2022.

Tony Leung was an associate in my law firm before he became a magistrate.

The warrant states that Lindell is being probed by the DOJ over alleged identity theft, intentional damage to a protected computer, and conspiracy to commit identity theft or intentionally damage a protected computer.

Mike Lindell is a wealthy man who wasn’t trying to steal someone else’s identity for fraudulent purposes, and he doesn’t go around bashing computers with a baseball bat. This all has to do with his opposition to the regime.

The FBI’s investigation apparently is going after attempts to prove that Arizona’s official returns were incorrect. There is more at the link, but briefly:

It further states that Lindell is among several other individuals, including Mesa County, Colorado, election clerk Tina Peters, who are part of an investigation into the alleged security breach of voting equipment in Mesa County.

Peters was indicted by a grand jury in March, accused of being part of a “deceptive scheme” to breach voting system technology that is used across the country.

Specifically, they accused her of aiding an outsider to copy sensitive data from the county’s elections systems in May 2021.

So if there were irregularities, the regime doesn’t want them to come to light. It appears that Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice is unhappy with Lindell’s questioning of 2020 election results:

His lawsuit against the DOJ and FBI claims that agents questioned him about a number of subjects relating to “Dominion Voting Systems, Tina Peters, Colorado incidents, Doug Frank, information posted on Plaintiff’s media platform,, Dominion’s Trusted Build software update that destroyed election records, his travel on his airplane throughout the Country and to Colorado, and other matters.”

I think Lindell’s theories about Dominion are probably wrong. Dominion has sued him and others, I believe, for vast amounts of money. Those issues presumably will be thrashed out in court. But why does the FBI swing into action to suppress any suggestion that our loosest election ever might not have been on the up-and-up?

Voting machines aside, the United States has perhaps the worst election security of any developed country. Indeed, many underdeveloped countries would be ashamed to conduct elections so loosely, with such meagre protections against fraud. Why are our election practices so lax? It is because one of our parties, the Democrats, fights bitterly against all efforts, no matter how modest, to assure ballot integrity. We can only assume they do this because they think they benefit from voter fraud, and want to see more of it.

Wherever we turn, conservative principles–normal principles–are under vicious attack. We conservatives have nowhere to run. We can only stand and fight for our country.

Thought for the Day: de Jouvenel’s Warning

(Steven Hayward)

“The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of income from richer to poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State.”

—Bertrand de Jouvenel, The Ethics of Redistribution

Of course, for the left, this is a feature and not a bug.

Democrats Move to Criminalize Opposition

(John Hinderaker)

A hallmark of banana republics is that those who lose power are apt to wind up in prison, or on the wrong end of a firing squad. Even more advanced countries, like Israel, sometimes have a regrettable tendency to prosecute former political leaders.

It is hard to think of anything more destructive to a democracy, and yet the Democrats are going down that path. It seems clear that they intend to bring criminal charges against President Trump over his keeping some White House documents at Mar-a-Lago–a trivial offense, as far as anyone knows.

And that’s not all. The Department of Justice has issued subpoenas to a large number of people who were associated in some way with the Trump campaign or administration. They generally seek information about efforts to challenge the reported election results in several states. A copy of one of the subpoenas, with the name of the person who was served redacted, is linked below. Take a look at the scope of the documents the subject of the subpoena is required to produce:


Nearly all of the documents relate to activities that are plainly lawful. Alleging or denying the existence of fraud in the 2020 election, offering evidence of such fraud or the absence of such fraud, planning to have someone serve as a Trump elector, arguing that the vice president has important constitutional powers in the context of certifying a presidential election, discussing strategies whereby Donald Trump might be found, legally, to have won the 2020 election–these are all legal activities that have long been engaged in by members of both parties.

There are also requests relating to the funding of efforts to contest the 2020 election and for the rally that occurred on January 6, 2021. These, too, were perfectly legal activities.

On top of those subject matter categories, there are requests for copies of all communications with around 100 persons, a few of whom are my friends. Others are current or recently retired Republican politicians. In addition to these documents, the subpoena’s recipients may be called for testimony.

The documents are to be presented to a D.C. grand jury that “is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws.” What violations are those? Almost all of the evidence called for by the subpoena relates to plainly legal post-elections activities. Are the Democrats trying to criminalize criticism of loose voting practices, or questioning the accuracy of official voting results (as long as a Democrat was declared the winner)? It certainly looks that way.

Then we have the case of Gavin Newsom, who has called for a Department of Justice investigation into Governor DeSantis’s shipment of 50 illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, which Newsom deems “illegal” for no particular reason. The real offense, no doubt, is punking the Democratic Party. Ironically, there unquestionably is illegality here: the illegality of 50 aliens crossing the border in violation of our immigration laws. But that actual illegality is not what Newsom is concerned with.

And then there is Texas Sheriff Javier Salazar, who announced that he is opening a criminal investigation into the transport of illegals to Martha’s Vineyard. The alleged crime? Who knows?

Salazar said it was not clear whether any laws had been broken, but he said that 48 migrants appeared to have been “lured under false pretenses” into staying at a hotel for a couple of days before they were flown to Florida and Martha’s Vineyard.
Salazar said his office’s organized crime investigators would handle the investigation.

So far, of course, no criminal investigations have been launched into Joe Biden’s shipping of illegal aliens to many points across the country, often in the dead of night, for the last year and a half.

More examples could be multiplied. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon likely will go to jail for contempt of Congress, the same offense that former Attorney General Eric Holder was held to have committed by a bipartisan 255–67 vote of the House of Representatives. But unlike Bannon, Holder was not prosecuted. He now makes millions as a partner in a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm.

Given the thorough corruption of the Department of Justice under Merrick Garland, there is a reasonable possibility that the Democrats will move to imprison both Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans. I suppose they think they are secure, because Republicans would never follow such a third-world precedent when they regain power. I don’t know about that. In any event, there is a more fundamental question: are the Democrats trying to trigger a civil war, as they did in 1861? Judging from their actions, I think the question must be taken seriously.

The Daily Chart: Public School Bloat

(Steven Hayward)

I am at a loss to think of a single measurable improvement in public education that can be attributed to the existence of the federal Department of Education, and a look at staffing changes since the year 2000 suggests that George W. Bush’s signature education bill should perhaps be known as the No Administrator Left Behind Act.

A conspiracy so immense

(Scott Johnson)

We had doubts about the efficacy of the reality principle working its will on Stacey Abrams in connection with her refusal to concede her 2018 loss to Brian Kemp. Running against Kemp again this year, she is drowning in the sea of her own self-love.

Working a new angle on the Democrats’ devotion to the sacrament of abortion, Abrams spoke at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center in Atlanta yesterday. Abrams declared that there is “no such thing” as a fetal heartbeat at six weeks of gestation. She claimed that the sound of is “manufactured” by men seeking to “take control” of women.

“There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks,” Abrams told the audience. “It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman’s body.” That’s what she said.

It’s a noteworthy conspiracy theory. Are female obstetricians in on it?

Via Timothy H.J. Nerozzi/Fox News (“Fox News Digital reached out to Abrams’ office for clarification, but did not receive a response”).

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams: "There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks. It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman's body."

REMINDER: Abrams supports NO LIMITS on abortion.

— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 22, 2022

“A Doocy on the border”

(Scott Johnson)

Politico’s West Wing Playbook dubs Fox News reporter Bill Melugin “a [Peter] Doocy on the border.” Both Melugin and Doocy defy the White House yen for the love slathered on it approximately everywhere else in the media. I thought readers who haven’t seen this might find it of interest in a variety of respects. Yesterday the Playbook reporters added a footnote via a Democratic source who complained that they had “left out the best part” regarding Melugin’s former part-time job as an Abercrombie & Fitch employee. However, their source had it wrong. This is the best part.

* * * * *

There’s a tall Fox News reporter in his mid-30s with slicked back hair and an air of combative indignation who is getting under the skin of some people in JOE BIDEN’s administration. And he’s not PETER DOOCY.

BILL MELUGIN, a former local Los Angeles Emmy-winning reporter, has become a growing presence online and in broader political circles as Fox’s go-to reporter at the U.S. southern border. He’s done hundreds of television hits since joining the network last year, largely from border states, where he often focuses on the historic flow of migrants that are overwhelming communities there.

In recent days, several current and former White House and administration officials expressed to West Wing Playbook their increasing frustration with his on-air coverage, arguing that there is an alarmist quality to it, designed to feed political narratives rather than illuminate the actual issues feeding the migrant flow. Last week, he was the first to break the news that Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS chartered two planes to transport 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard to make a political statement about immigration. He followed up that story with appearances on Fox News opinion primetime — which some of Fox’s straight news reporters notably avoid — and a series of exclusives on DeSantis’ escalating fight with the Biden White House over migrants.

Immigration has been a key issue that has filled many hours of programming for Fox News since its inception. The network regularly dispatches people to the border to cover illegal border crossings, stoking fears about caravans of immigrants. The coverage is often accompanied by stories of crimes committed, despite studies showing the immigrants have a lower propensity for committing such acts.

But Melugin has helped usher in a new style of coverage of the issue by the network. He is part of a more technologically savvy generation of Fox reporters and producers whose work leans more heavily on on-the-ground reporting augmented by soaring aerial drone footage of migrants crossing the border. The technique gives the story a dramatic visual scale that Fox pundits use to bolster their arguments about the enormity of the problem (Fox has built up its flight team in recent years to incorporate aerial drone footage into the network’s coverage.)

Last year, Fox clashed with the Federal Aviation Administration over its use of drones to cover border migration in Texas after claiming the agency temporarily restricted drone use in the area. (The FAA said it first learned of drones being grounded from Fox reports claiming the agency was “trying to keep Fox News from covering what is happening.”)

As Melugin has become an increasingly visible figure on the network, his coverage has caught the attention of the White House, which has become increasingly irritated by his reporting. During a press conference last week, press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE noted that Fox News got the heads up on the Martha’s Vineyard flight before local, state and federal agencies.

“The fact that Fox News — and not the Department of Homeland Security, the city, or local NGOs — were alerted about a plan to leave migrants, including children, on the side of a busy D.C. street makes clear that this is just a cruel, premeditated political stunt,” she said.

One administration official who used to work on immigration issues told West Wing Playbook that the Biden team has complained about the lack of nuance in the network’s coverage of the topic, which focuses more on the number of migrants rather than explaining the root causes of the situation. Another administration official believes that the conservative network amps up border coverage whenever there are bad headlines for conservatives in the news….

* * * * *

Read the whole thing here. It is all worth reading. See if you can decipher the concluding sentence: “Top White House officials like RON KLAIN, ANITA DUNN, and others have made it clear to staff that they are aware of the powerfulness of immigration as a wedge issue for Republicans.”

The coming Shoganate

(Scott Johnson)

We have learned in recent weeks that there is such a thing as an Archivist of the United States at the head of the National Archives and Records Administration and that the position is not unimportant. President Biden has nominated one Colleen Shogan to fill the position and she appeared for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee yesterday. C-SPAN has posted video of the hearing here. ABC News reports on the hearing here with some useful background.

Senator Josh Hawley examined Shogan concerning her 2007 Perspectives on Politics article “Anti-intellectualism in the Modern Presidency: Republican Populism.” (Perspectives on Politics is the American Political Science Association’s flagship journal.) In C-SPAN’s summary, “Shogan says the article was about Republican presidents’ use of rhetoric and their success connecting with the American people. She also says that she is non-partisan and has a demonstrated record during her 15 years of service at the Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress, and the White House Historical Association.”

Senator Hawley questioned Shogan closely about the article (video clip below). His examination of her is exemplary. It is amazing how disingenuous Shogan is and how Hawley is able to expose her evasions so quickly. “I have your article. Don’t dissemble in front of me,” he told her. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Quotable quote (Senator Hawley): “It’s not your view? Why did you write it?”

Now what?

(Scott Johnson)

Following his shambling UN speech yesterday afternoon President Biden spoke at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference. The White House has posted the transcript of his remarks here. It must have been a long day for the elderly gentleman. He appears to be lost in a fog as he seeks to depart the stage (video below).

He’s so lost

— (@townhallcom) September 21, 2022

Looking for an explanation, I find this brief account at the Hindustan Times. Unfortunately, it only states the obvious: “US President Joe Biden appeared confused on stage during an event on Wednesday. As Biden was addressing the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference, he was seen, in videos widely shared on social media, confused after his speech, turning to leave the podium but stopping. Joe Biden, 79, can be then seen, looking lost and saying something which was not audible.”

Biden may or may not have been lost in a fog. He seems clearly to be awaiting instructions. Now what? That is a question that applies to all of us. While Biden appears to be awaiting instructions, we await the obligatory media fact-check explaining that all is in order.

Cahaly says

(Scott Johnson)

Trafalgar’s poll results in Minnesota and elsewhere this year stand out from the pack, as they have done generally in recent years. Dan McLaughlin’s excellent NRO column on Trafalgar’s methodology as explained by Trafalgar founder Robert Cahaly includes this comment on the current state of play:

On the issue environment, Cahaly says that he hasn’t seen any issue in a long time that motivates people as much as opposition to Biden’s student-loan forgiveness — “nothing touches it.” But he has also heard from people who scoffed at its comparatively small size relative to their overall debts. He sees a lot of general anti-incumbent sentiment, and believes that safety issues (crime, border security) are particularly driving opposition to Democrats in blue states.

We decried the student loan giveaway the day it was announced and have wondered if it was something less than a political stroke of genius. I find Cahaly’s comment interesting in itself. His comment about the percolation of anti-incumbent sentiment and the salience of “safety issues” is reflected in the Alpha News/Trafalgar poll of Minnesota’s statewide races and leading issues reported here earlier this week by Alpha News.

The Latest Academic Travesty

(Steven Hayward)

In my review last spring of Glenn Ellmers’ The Soul of Politics, I included this passage about the Leo Strauss Dissertation Award that the American Political Science Association (APSA) gives out each year:

One last stark example of [Harry Jaffa’s] vindication in the controversies that are at the root of the rancor associated with his name is his attack, in the mid-1970s, on the American Political Science Association’s establishment of the Leo Strauss Dissertation Award. Jaffa argued that the award would come to represent the opposite of everything Strauss stood for: “Works of genuine brilliance and distinction will seldom if ever have a chance, because they will antagonize by their uncompromising superiority.”

This seemed a trivial quarrel to most everyone in the wider Straussian community. Joseph Cropsey thought Jaffa was overreacting, with “absolute conviction that what everybody else understands to be insignificant is the germ of universal calamity,” and the episode was taken to be yet another example of what Harvey Mansfield called Jaffa’s “excess of fighting spirit.” Yet APSA’s 2020 winner of the Leo Strauss Dissertation Award was Elena Gambino of Rutgers University, who “works at the intersections of feminist, queer, and critical race theories.” Title of the dissertation: “Presence in Our Own Land:’ Second Wave Feminism and the Lesbian Body Politic.”

Turns out the APSA was just warming up. Here is this year’s winner of the Leo Strauss Dissertation Award:

Siddhant Issar is an Assistant Professor of Political Theory at the University of Louisville.  His research and teaching interests lie in modern and contemporary political theory, particularly Black, Indigenous, and anti-colonial thought, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the politics of race, class, and empire.  In his scholarship, Issar delves into the entanglement between capitalist political economy and racial/colonial domination, as well as the theoretical insights social movements generate against such interlinked domination.  He is currently working on a book manuscript, titled Theorizing Racial Capitalism in the Era of Black Lives Matter. . .

Siddhant Isser’s “Thinking with Black Lives Matter: Towards a Critical Theory of Racial Capitalism” is a superb argument for moving beyond analyses of contemporary oppression that think through only one critical lens (i.e. “anti-racist” or “anti-capitalist” or “anti-colonial”).  Taking his starting point from the Black Lives Matter movement, which relies on an expansive understanding of racial capitalism (as necessarily entwined with settler colonialism), Isser shows the importance of a robust theory of racial capitalism for political theory by way of engagement with a wide range of thinkers (e.g. Marx, Cedric Robinson, David Harvey, Wendy Brown, Jodi Melamed).  Isser’s dissertation shines especially in its incisive critique of major thinkers of neoliberalism for their failures to sufficiently analyze the importance of race, and its brilliant analysis of “racial/colonial primitive accumulation.”  Isser’s dissertation is most important, though, because it gives political theorists something they really need: a theory of racial capitalism that they can use and put to work in analyzing contemporary oppression.

Yeah, this really looks like the kind of analysis Strauss would have respected. (Sarc.)

Two possible responses: First, a petition to abolish the award. Second, given that “mainstream” political science despises Strauss and his faithful students, maybe we should start a guerilla campaign to brand anyone who receives the Strauss Award as unacceptable to hire by any “mainstream” political science department. That might be a more effective way of killing the award, or deterring leftists from accepting it.

Thought for the Day: Hayek’s Warning

(Steven Hayward)

F.A. Hayek, from The Constitution of Liberty:

The current situation has greatly altered the task of the defender of liberty and made it much more difficult.  So long as the danger came from socialism of the frankly collectivist kind, it was possible to argue that the tenets of the socialists were simply false: that socialism would not achieve what the socialists wanted and that it would produce other consequences which they would not like.  We cannot argue similarly against the welfare state, for this term does not designate a definite system.  What goes under that name is a conglomerate of so many diverse and even contradictory elements that, while some of them may make a free society more attractive, others are incompatible with it or may at least constitute potential threats to existence.

I’ve asked Salma Hayek for a comment.

A Political Mystery

(John Hinderaker)

Generally I think I understand liberals pretty well. They like wealth and power, and they favor policies that give them more wealth and power. But some issues are puzzling, like their insistence on little children being indoctrinated in transgender ideology. This is a hill that Democrats seem willing to die on, but why? I don’t see that it brings them wealth or power, nor does it advance their cause politically.

On the contrary, voters are strongly opposed to trans propaganda, especially with regard to very young children. Take this New York Times/Siena poll, for example. The pollster asked, “Do you support or oppose allowing public school teachers to provide classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to children in elementary school (grades 1 to 5)?”

A large majority, 58%, were strongly opposed, while another 12% somewhat oppose such indoctrination. Conversely, only 27% expressed support for this instruction. And yet this was the issue on which Democrats attacked Ron DeSantis with their “don’t say gay” theme.

As kids get older, voters apparently become more comfortable with classroom trans instruction. Thus, when the same question was asked about classroom instruction directed at junior high school kids, grades 6 through 8, 44% supported while 54% opposed.

And when asked the same question about high school students, grades 9 through 12, 56% were willing to accept gay and trans instruction, with 42% opposed.

These findings are similar to what my organization got when polling Minnesotans a month ago. We asked, “Do you favor or oppose teaching elementary school children about homosexuality and transsexuality, and encouraging them to explore these alternative forms of sexual identity?” 33% favored such indoctrination, while 60% opposed, with by far the largest cohort, at 45%, being strongly opposed. We didn’t ask the question for higher grades.

The message seems clear: pushing gay and trans indoctrination on young children is a political loser. Yet Democrats seem undeterred. Similarly, there has lately been a recurrence of “drag queen story hours” in young children’s libraries, and of drag shows in which children as young as two or three are invited to participate. These phenomena baffle me. They must be strongly disapproved of by a large majority of Americans, and I don’t see how they bring wealth or power to liberals. So why this unwavering commitment to bizarre sex on behalf of the Democratic Party?

Maybe you can elucidate the mystery in the comments.

Cahaly speaks

(Scott Johnson)

I wrote about the Alpha News/Trafalgar Group’s poll of statewide races and issues in Minnesota here yesterday. Alpha News has posted the results here. Trafalgar’s Minnesota results should be encouraging to Republicans, as Trafalgar’s results are elsewhere.

Today NRO’s Dan McLaughlin homes in on Trafalgar’s methodology. McLaughlin interviewed Trafalgar’s Robert Cahaly and summarized the key points in an excellent column that is unfortunately posted behind NRO’s paywall.

However, Liz Collin also caught up with Cahaly by cellphone for an interview that Alpha News has posted in Rose Williams’s story here. Williams’s story and Liz’s interview are both freely accessible at the link. I have embedded the video below.

The Daily Chart: America’s Politburo?

(Steven Hayward)

Back in the late stages of the Cold War, we used to mock the Soviet Politburo for being a collection of senescent Communist Party time-servers. Well, America’s Congress is looking more and more like the Politburo these days. Maybe this explains a few things, and perhaps is another reason for term limits.

Take a Lemon

(Scott Johnson)

CNN’s Don Lemon played the fool — okay, he did his thing as usual — in conversation with Strelmark president and “Royal Watcher” Hilary Fordwich. Lemon packs slavery, reparations, the empire, and the monarchy into his boffo question. Fordwich dispatches it in a baloney meets the grinder moment. Lemon was unprepared to engage beyond the shibboleths. That must be why this highly satisfying video has gone viral.

Quotable quote: “It’s an interesting discussion, Hillary. Thank you very much.”

CNN’s @DonLemon tells royal commentator Hilary Fordwich the royal family should pay reparations — immediately regrets it

— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 20, 2022

Bordering on incoherence

(Scott Johnson)

Why has President Biden opened our southern border? That wasn’t quite the question that he took on his way out the door of his remarks on the DISCLOSE Act yesterday (transcript here), but it was close. He was asked: “On the border, why is the border more overwhelmed under your watch, Mr. President?”

Everyone knows that Biden has invited illegal aliens in. That is the answer. Biden, however, regurgitated what he had recently heard somewhere about last month’s numbers (cited in the AP story that I linked to here):

Because there are three countries that are — never have — there are fewer — fewer immigrants coming from Central America and from Mexico. This is a totally different circumstance.

What’s on my watch now is Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. And the ability to send them back to those states is not rational. You could send them back and have them — we’re working with Mexico and other countries to see if we can stop the flow. But that’s the difference.

I have no idea what this means other than that Biden’s mental capacity has gone south of the 40 percent at which I have had it pegged.

On handling the U.S. border crisis, President Biden says it's "a totally different circumstance" and that "there are fewer immigrants" coming from Central America and Mexico.

"What's on my watch now is Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua," he says.

— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 20, 2022

In free lunch fraud: The press conference

(Scott Johnson)

Alpha News covers United States Attorney Andrew Luger’s press conference announcing the filing of federal charges in the massive free lunch conspiracy in editor Anthony Gockowski’s story “47 charged in alleged $250 million Feeding Our Future fraud scheme.” Supplement Anthony’s story with Bill Glahn’s Center of the American Experiment’s backgrounders here (an invaluable scandal timeline with links) and here (on the related Partners in Nutrition story).

The Alpha News story links to video of the press conference below. Sitting in the front row to the right of the screen that was set up for the press conference, I was unable to take photos of the slides that accompanied Luger’s presentation. Luger’s slides include exhibits that depict the scope as well as the open and obvious nature of the fraud. You couldn’t miss it. Indeed, as Luger made clear, the Minnesota Department of Education (which administered the free lunch program) picked up on it more or less from the outset.

So how do you explain that it continued for 20 months? That was the question that I asked Luger at about 44:00 of the press conference video. You can’t hear my question but you can hear Luger’s answer. He referred me to the four corners of the six indictments. However, I wasn’t the only one asking the question.

Apart from going to the FBI, the Minnesota Department of Education dealt with this massive fraud ineffectively. Bill Glahn shows that $227 million poured through these programs in fiscal year 2022 alone. I can’t penetrate the circle of love around Walz. Someone really ought to follow up with a question or two addressed to him.

This is a huge case and a big story. It nevertheless represents only half of the story — see Bill Glahn’s backgrounders above. Luger vows more charges to come in the Feeding Our Future cases filed yesterday. Aimee Bock and Feeding Our Future spun off from Partners in Nutrition. Partners In Nutrition now has a pending federal lawsuit (complaint here) seeking reinstatement to the free lunch program. Bill Glahn notes:

In addition to suing MDE in Federal court for reinstatement, Partners in Nutrition is suing MDE in state appeals court for payment of hundreds of invoices representing millions of dollars dating from November 2021 through May 2022.

For the vast majority of unpaid invoices, MDE cites incomplete (or missing) documentation. But for a dozen or so invoices dated from November and December 2021, MDE flat-out refuses to pay because they involve figures named in the FBI search warrants.

In addition, Partners is suing MDE for the agency’s refusal to admit an additional 213 new locations into the program.

One way or another, there is more to come.

A Video Interlude: About Those Electric Vehicles

(Steven Hayward)

This video from the South China Morning Post is almost a year old, but I only now just caught up to it. It shows a row of electric buses in China combusting rather dramatically:

Imagine if you were a passenger on the first bus as it was going down the street, or even stopped at a pickup point, when it combusted. You likely wouldn’t make it out. The point: if not for the hysteria over climate change, and the romanticizing of electric-everything, our various transportation- and safety-czars in the government would never allow these vehicles to be brought into use. One of the first things I teach students on the first day of energy policy classes I have taught is how energy density works, and how a battery is a device to store energy at high densities. But at a certain point, when you increase the energy density enough, we don’t call it a battery any more. We call it a bomb. No wonder the airlines now ask everyone not to check anything with lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage.

Bonus video: Some genius has put together this treatment of Martha’s Vineyard:

That’s some bad hat, Harry!

Up Next: Green Starvation

(John Hinderaker)

As has often been noted, environmentalism is, for many, a religion. It now appears that it is a religion that demands human sacrifice.

Agricultural productivity depends on fertilizers. The world cannot be fed without them. Yet, when it comes to a tradeoff between carbon dioxide and mass starvation, the “green” left is OK with starvation. Reuters reports:

The European Union is divided on how to help poorer nations fight a growing food crisis and address shortages of fertilisers caused by the war in Ukraine, with some fearing a plan to invest in plants in Africa would clash with EU green goals.
At a summit of EU leaders later this week, the EU was planning a new initiative that would structurally decrease poorer nations’ reliance on Russian fertilisers by helping them develop their own fertiliser plants.

But at a meeting with EU envoys last week, the EU Commission explicitly opposed the text, warning that supporting fertiliser production in developing nations would be inconsistent with the EU energy and environment policies, officials said.

The production of chemical fertilisers has a big impact on the environment and requires large amounts of energy. However they are crucially effective in boosting agriculture output.

Yes. See: Sri Lanka. Green zealots threaten the lives of millions.

Thought for the Day: Cleveland’s Clinic

(Steven Hayward)

“Bodily movement alone, undertaken from a sense of duty or upon medical advice, is among the dreary and unsatisfying things of life. It may cultivate or increase animal strength and endurance, but it is apt at the same time to weaken and distort the disposition and temper.”

—Grover Cleveland, Fishing and Shooting Sketches.

The European Disaster Yet to Come

(John Hinderaker)

Germany has long led the “green” parade, touting its alleged transition to wind and solar energy and encouraging other nations to follow in its footsteps. The “green” pretense has always been exaggerated if not downright fraudulent, as Germany has never managed to meet more than a small percentage of its energy needs with wind and solar.

But now, the chickens are coming home to roost, as German manufacturers are seeing their costs explode:

German producer prices rose in August at their strongest rate since records began both in annual and monthly terms, driven mainly by soaring energy prices, raising the chances that headline inflation will surge even higher.

Producer prices of industrial products increased by 45.8% on the same month last year, the Federal Statistical Office reported on Tuesday.

45.8%! It is hard to see how German manufacturers can remain competitive in world markets.

The cause of the problem is not a mystery:

Energy prices in August on average were over double the same period last year, up 139%, and 20.4% higher than the previous month, the office reported.
Producer prices for electricity rose 174.9% compared with August 2021 and by 26.4% compared with the previous month.

Despite the investment of billions of dollars and years devoted to an alleged transition, wind and solar energy are utterly unable to power a modern economy, as the Europeans are learning the hard way. Let’s hope we can learn from their example.

The Daily Chart: Open Borders

(Steven Hayward)

Let’s look at what’s on everyone’s mind at the moment, especially on the mean streets of Martha’s Vineyard. Vice President Harris says “the border is secure.” Maybe her best nonsense word salad ever. Here’s what “secure” looks like:

Bonus for our first day:

Podcast: Cleveland Rocks, with Troy Senik

(Steven Hayward)

Move over Calvin Coolidge: Grover Cleveland has a valid claim to being regarded as the most constitutionally faithful and fiscally frugal president since the Civil War—a case made splendidly in Troy Senik’s new biography that is being published today, A Man of Iron: The Turbulent Life and Improbable Presidency of Grover Cleveland.

What explains this outlier of a politician, who is so unlike Democrats before him, never mind all the Democrats who came after him? Senik, perhaps better known to the podcast world as the host of “Law Talk” with John Yoo and Richard Epstein, does a masterful job of exploring this remarkable figure, how he rose from obscurity to the White House in less than four years, and how he returned to the White House for a second non-consecutive term, amidst allegations of improper personal behavior and vote fraud. (If this all sounds familiar, it should.)

But wait—there’s more! Troy is the co-founder of Kite and Key Media, and we spend the last few minutes of our conversation on how and why Kite and Key was founded, and the reasons for its deliberate editorial style. Kite and Key is worth checking out and adding to your regular internet rotation, if you haven’t done so already.

Needless to say, I think it’s pretty easy to guess the exit music for this episode.

You know what to do now: listen here, or run non-consecutively to our hosts at Ricochet.

In free lunch fraud: The charges

(Scott Johnson)

United States Attorney Andrew Luger called a press conference to announce indictments in the massive Minnesota free lunch fraud that we have covered in the linked series of posts since that date back to this past January. At that time the FBI executed a search warrants and property seizures all over the Twin Cities. The fraud involved hundred of millions of federal tax dollars. It was massive, as I say, but it was also open, obvious, and notorious. The government has charged 47 defendants in six indictments and three criminal informations — with a promise of more defendants to come — in what it assesses to be a $250 million fraud. Luger stated that the government has recovered cash and property worth a total of $50 million to date.

I just left the press conference (photo above). It was attended by representatives of the FBI (Minnesota Special Agent in Charge Michael Paul), the IRS (Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell, Chicago), the United States Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge (Ruth Mendonca, Denver), and Associate Deputy Attorney General & Director of Covid-19 Fraud Enforcement (Kevin Chambers, from Main Justice in DC). The Department of Justice has posted a press release here. The press release links to two of the six indictments. If you read one, read the one charging Bock here.

This is a huge story involving the biggest food fraud in history and the largest pandemic fraud uncovered so far. We’re number one.

Bock appears to have been the ringleader who recruited members of the Twin Cities Somali community to participate in the fraud. Bock was the front person who claimed discrimination when the Minnesota Department of Education first sniffed out the fraud. Bock was a genius plying that line. She may even be able to teach her fellow prisoners a thing or two about it when she is sent away.

We’ve been writing about Guhaad Hashi Said on Power Line for several years. We have previously identified him as Ilhan Omar’s enforcer. His picture shushing the Somali community is our thumbnail image for stories about Omar and now for this one involving Hashi himself. He is charged in the third of the six indictments: “Guhaad Hashi Said, 46, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Hashi ran a site under the name Advance Youth Athletic Development that falsely claimed to serve up to 5,000 meals a day.” He is a well-known thug. What a farce.

I asked Andy Luger if he could explain to the average person how such a massive and obvious fraud — “an egregious plot,” in the words of the press release — could continue for nearly two years before it was shut down. Consistent with Department of Justice policy, he referred me to the indictments, but the question will persist.

Trafalgar polls Minnesota

(Scott Johnson)

Polls conducted by Robert Cahaly’s Trafalgar Group are the ones to which I pay most attention. While other polls have become a recurring joke, Trafalgar’s have established an impressive record in recent years. Trafalgar, for example, was one of the only pollsters to predict President Trump’s 2016 victory and was the second most accurate pollster in 2020.

While other polls in Minnesota and elsewhere have given Democrats heart this summer, Trafalgar’s current polls show Republican Senate candidates doing well in difficult races around the country. What gives?

Cahaly has found those of us who think unapproved thoughts difficult to reach and to poll. This year he speculates on the phenomenon of “submerged voters.” He thinks that other polls are missing them. You can follow Cahaly on Twitter here.

Alpha News (on whose board I sit) commissioned Trafalgar Group to conduct a comprehensive Minnesota survey on the upcoming election. The results include all four statewide races and the top issues for Minnesota voters. Alpha News editor Anthony Gockowski reports the results this morning in “EXCLUSIVE: Jensen surges, Schultz leads in new Alpha News/Trafalgar Group poll.”

The poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen within three points of DFL Governor Tim Walz. According to Trafalgar, the Republican candidate is at the least running neck and neck with his DFL opponent. The poll shows Republican candidate Jim Schultz is actually leading Keith Ellison in the race for Attorney General outside the margin of error. No Republican has won the office of Attorney General in Minnesota since Doug Head in 1966. It has become a Democratic preserve.

Crime, the economy, and abortion are the top issues for Minnesota voters, in that order, but crime comes in first by a long shot at 41.5 percent. If you have followed Power Line over the past few years, this shouldn’t come as a shock.

The poll results are intensely interesting. Check them out here. I will save my further comments for another post.

A record fairly earned

(Scott Johnson)

President Biden and his administration have won bragging rights in opening our southern border to the whole wide world. They have achieved their objective. Indeed, the statistics — which are themselves incomplete and understated — make for a new record. The New York Times puts it this way: “Arrests at Southwestern Border Exceed 2 Million in a Year for the First Time.” The subhead includes the mandatory euphemism: “The historic pace of undocumented immigrants entering the country continued as the Biden administration tried to steer clear of immigration issues with the midterm elections approaching.” The Times story also euphemizes the Biden policy of catch-and-release.

For some reason, the AP homes in on one nationality among the dozens whom Biden has welcomed: “US officials: Border crossings soar among Venezuelans.” The Washington Examiner puts Biden’s record in perspective. It’s actually more impressive than you might have thought: “Broken Border: Illegal immigration arrests under Biden exceed Obama’s eight years.” RedState provides its own assessment here.

President Biden proudly opened the border on day one of his administration. The word went out to friend and foe as well as everyone in between. This is what he wanted. Although his administration proclaims that “the border is secure,” he must be proud of his achievement in taking it down for one and all while denying it at the same time. It’s an IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH kind of thing. I don’t think we will love Big Brother any time soon, but maybe Big Nonbinary Sibling is on the horizon.

I first heard “Abolish ICE” advocated as a policy by Ilhan Omar speaking to the special DFL endorsing convention on June 17, 2018. I covered the convention for Power Line on a Sunday afternoon. It was one of Omar’s leading themes in her remarks to the assembled Marxists, pacifists, and vegetarians whose endorsement she won. I thought it was a little out there, but Biden et al. have delivered the functional equivalent.

It’s Official: “Diversity” = Leftism

(Steven Hayward)

One of the definitions in Power Line’s lexicon of modern leftist terms is “Diversity: Where everyone looks different, but thinks the same.” Virtually every office of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” is a Soviet-style ideological enforcement bureau, a campus Stasi.

And now the New York Times has made it official: “diversity” is a synonym for “leftism.” Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has appointed a cabinet without a single white male. Are the diversicrats happy? No, they are not:

When Diversity Isn’t the Right Kind of Diversity

Liz Truss, the new Conservative prime minister, announced her cabinet, and for the first time ever, not a single member of the inner circle — what’s referred to as the Great Offices of State — is a white man. . .

Did the left break into applause? Were there hosannas throughout progressive Twitter heralding this racial, ethnic and gender diversity as a step forward for society?

Not exactly.

Instead, the change was dutifully relayed, often with caveats. “Liz Truss’s cabinet: diverse but dogmatic,” noted The Guardian. The new team was criticized as elite, the product of schools like Eton, Cambridge and the Sorbonne. These people aren’t working class, others pointed out. They don’t sufficiently support the rights of those seeking asylum in Britain or policies that address climate change.

Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, a think tank that focuses on issues of immigration, integration and national identity, told CNN, “It’s not an advance on social class terms.”

The trouble is that for many of the same people, ethnic and racial diversity count only when combined with a particular point of view. Even before Truss’s cabinet was completed, one member of the Labour opposition tweeted, “Her cabinet is expected to be diverse, but it will be the most right-wing in living memory, embracing a political agenda that will attack the rights of working people, especially minorities.”

Loose Ends (184)

(Steven Hayward)

I have to begin with a personal note today, about the passing of Mal Kline. Mal was (I think) the last senior editorial director for M. Stanton Evans at the National Journalism Center, and was one of the most useful sources for my recent biography of Stan. He had gone on from NJC to run Accuracy in Academia, where he invited me to speak several times back when I lived in Washington. Mal had been suffering from COPD, and had some difficulty speaking, so we had lots of long email chains in the course of research for my book. The book wouldn’t have been any good without Mal’s extensive help.

For those Power Line readers who are also Philadelphia Society members, I’ll be attending the meeting this coming weekend in Tyson’s Corner, where I want to buy a round for Fred Mann, who is registered to attend, and was Stan’s principal right-hand man for a long time (and another key source for my book), so please join me in the bar as soon as I arrange with Fred where we’re gathering.

For some reason I’ve been on a Twitter tear the last few days, and as I use Twitter mostly to tell jokes, and as many of you (sensibly) are not on Twitter, I may as well do my own Twitchy imitation and share a few recent provocations:

Proof, at last, that Popeye’s fried chicken is indeed the best on the planet:

Why do so many accomplished chefs call Popeyes their favorite fried chicken?

Thought for the Day: Frederick Douglass

(Steven Hayward)

From Frederick Douglass’s speech “What the Black Man Wants,” April 1865, Boston:

What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice.  The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us. . . Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a workshop, just let him alone—your interference is doing him a positive injury.

The Daily Chart: COVID Is Over

(Steven Hayward)

COVID is so over that even Joe Biden gets it, though his declaration over the weekend that COVID is over is going to annoy the masks-forever faction of the Democratic Party, and make J. Edgar Fauci totally redundant. Prediction: somehow I expect the Biden Administration will find reasons to extend the COVID “state of emergency” anyway, because we’re still coping with the aftermath. Or something.

Give him an inch

(Scott Johnson)

I would be embarrassed to conduct an interview with the president that was as lame as Scott Pelley’s lovefest with President Biden on 60 Minutes last night. The Biden administration accorded Pelley a substantial amount of time to chat with Biden and Pelley returned the favor with a variety of softballs and dropped balls as well as his own apologetics — to no one’s surprise, of course, but still. It was an embarrassment.

CBS has posted the transcript here. NewsBusters covers the Biden segments in “State-Run TV: 60 Minutes Drools Over Biden in Syrupy Interview.”

The lack of follow-up questions was one striking feature of the interview. You’d almost think that Pelley himself doesn’t follow the news. He appears to be somewhat less knowledgeable than the average voter.

The good news is that “the pandemic is over.” That’s what the man said. The pandemic is over — until it’s not. You may recall that the administration now relies entirely on the pandemic to support it’s illegal student-loan giveaway. It’s an emergency. You may recall, but Pelley did not.

According to Biden, the Trump administration dealt him a bad hand on the pandemic. His poor approval ratings are somehow attributable to the “difficult time” he inherited. He gives the Trump administration no credit for the development of the vaccines that the Biden administration has proclaimed the key to the happy life. Rather, he complains that the vaccinations had only just begun under the Trump administration. Biden’s galling lack of grace is sickening.

Biden claimed credit for reducing “the debt by $1.5 trillion.” Pelley left it at that.

Pelley brought up Hunter Biden. He appeared to be unfamiliar with Miranda Devine’s reporting on the contents of the laptop. As I say, one might reasonably infer that he doesn’t follow the news beyond CBS broadcasts.

Pelley also invited Biden to comment on the staged FBI photo of the seized Trump documents. Yet Biden professed not to know anything about the documents.

Biden vowed to defend Taiwan from Chinese invasion. The AP covers this part of the interview here. Biden’s daycare minders in the White House have walked back this commitment three times before. Did Pelley know? The whole thing set the background of Pelley’s question but he let it ride. As usual, the White House walked back Biden’s comments on Taiwan.

Pelley observed that “some people ask whether” Biden is fit for the job. Biden responded: “Watch me. And ma– honest to God, that’s all I think. Watch me.” Pelley of course kept a straight face. We observe that Biden is unfit for the job based on our own observations. I set the over/under on his mental capacity at 40 percent.

I yield the floor to Miranda Devine.

This is quintessential Biden. Lying, gaslighting, emphatic, nasty, denying reality while in the same breath denying he's denying reality. It is so out of the bounds of normal behaviour that people discount it or blame their own perception

— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) September 19, 2022

Jan Karski’s message

(Scott Johnson)

Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal ran Charles Isherwood’s review of a new one-man play depicting the career of Jan Karski. Isherwood’s review ran under the headline “‘Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski’ Review: Dramatically Bearing Witness.” Karski’s name should be known far and wide and it’s good to be reminded of him, though I would find the moralizing that frames the play annoying. Turning the play and review to good use, I want to take the the occasion to reiterate this account of Karski’s story.

I first learned of Jan Karski in Walter Laqueur’s The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth About Hitler’s “Final Solution,” published in 1980 (and first learned of Laqueur’s book from George Will’s excellent column on it in the Washington Post that year). Karski told his own story in his best-selling 1944 memoir Story of a Secret State: My Report To the World, published in updated form by Georgetown University Press. I reread the last 50 pages or so of Karski’s memoir yesterday afternoon. They are devastating.

Karski was an incredibly brave, dignified, and self-deprecating man. He performed heroic service in World War II and moved to the United States, where he earned a Ph.D., became a citizen, and taught at Georgetown University. Joshua Muravchik was one of Karski’s many students at Georgetown. He wrote about Karski in the 2014 Mosaic essay “A tree grows in Lublin.” It is a moving and instructive essay.

When the war broke out Karski served in the East as an officer in the mounted artillery. He was taken prisoner by the forces of the Soviet Union. Because the Soviet forces routinely held back Polish officers, most of whom never returned, Karski disguised himself as a private and was repatriated to Poland, where the Germans put him on a train to a labor camp. He escaped from the train and made his way to Warsaw where he joined the Underground, for which he worked as a courier.

Work as a courier was of course a high-risk affair. On one mission in June 1940 he was caught by the Gestapo and tortured. Unsuccessfully attempting suicide in captivity, he slit his wrists. He was sent to a prison hospital from which he escaped. Karski lived underground in Warsaw in 1941-1942. Prior to his last mission as a courier, Karski met with Jewish leaders, whose message he solemnly promised to convey to the West.

He visited the Warsaw ghetto in October 1942. This did not, in Karski’s words, present any special difficulty; the area of the ghetto had shrunk after the deportations of June-September 1942. The tramways that crossed the ghetto reached the streets which had been taken over by the “Aryans.” Elsewhere one could enter or leave the ghetto through the cellars of houses which served as the ghetto wall.

Karski was taken to a shop nearby the Belzec death camp by a Jewish but “Aryan-looking” contact. The contact provided both a uniform (of an Estonian guard) and a permit. He entered Belzec with his contact through a side gate. There he saw “bedlam” — the ground littered with weakened bodies, hundreds of Jews packed into railway cars covered with a layer of quicklime. The cars were closed and moved outside the camp; after some time they were opened, the corpses burned and the cars returned to the camp to fetch new cargo.

After watching the scene for some time he began to lose his nerve. He wanted to escape and walked quickly to the nearest gate. His companion approached Karski and harshly shouted: “Follow me at once!” They went through the same side gate they had entered and were not stopped.

Karski arrived in London to convey his message to the West in November 1942. In July 1943 he traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt and many others. The message he conveyed to Anthony Eden, President Roosevelt, and others is reproduced in Laqueur’s book at pages 232-235, which this post closely follows. Karski reported to Laqueur that Roosevelt’s response was “Tell your nation we shall win the war” and some more such ringing messages. He also met with Justice Felix Frankfurter. Frankfurter’s response was: “I don’t believe you.” It’s not that he thought he was lying: “I did not say this young man is lying. I said I don’t believe him. There is a difference.”

Laqueur writes that Karski was neither the first nor the last courier to arrive in the West from Warsaw with news of the Holocaust, but as far as the information about the fate of the Jews in Poland was concerned, he was certainly the most important.

Karski patiently submitted to Laqueur’s detailed questioning in a September 1979 interview and even wrote out for him the message that he (Karski) conveyed to President Roosevelt, Anthony Eden, and others in 1942 and 1943. According to Laqueur, the message could not be published during the war. Karski’s message is included in Appendix 5 to Laqueur’s book. Laqueur comments elsewhere in the book:

Democratic societies demonstrated on this occasion as on many others, before and after, that they are incapable of understanding political regimes of a different character….Democratic societies are accustomed to think in liberal, pragmatic categories; conflicts are believed to be based on misunderstandings and can be solved with a minimum of good will; extremism is a temporary aberration, so is irrational behavior in general, such as intolerance, cruelty, etc. The effort needed to overcome such basic psychological handicaps is immense….Each new generation faces this challenge again, for experience cannot be inherited.

Before the war Poland was of course home to a thriving Jewish community of some 3,000,000. By the end of the war the Nazis had eliminated the community through the death camps they operated in the country with German efficiency.

For reasons that Muravchik discusses in his essay, Karski maintained a despairing silence about his wartime experiences until he was interviewed for Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah in the 1970’s. Video clips of Lanzmann’s interview have been posted on YouTube. I think the clip below represents the opening of the interview.

In the clip below Karski recounts his meeting with Roosevelt.

In the clip below Karski recounts his meeting with Frankfurther.

The Holocaust Museum’s Spielberg video archive has posted a compilation of video clips with Karski here and a transcript here.

The Bright Side of Cannabis?

(John Hinderaker)

In my opinion, of all the policy disasters to which the Left has subjected us in recent years, the legalization of marijuana is near the top of the list. This is one area where I part company with doctrinaire libertarians. Wherever cannabis has been legalized, the results have been bad, and are getting worse.

People are beginning to notice–in this case, the London Times, on California: “The dark side of California’s cannabis boom.” In my opinion, there is no bright side.

Unburdened by the onerous taxes and regulations that legal dispensaries in California must contend with, the illicit shops can offer marijuana at much cheaper prices.

This, campaigners say, is a sign that the state’s well-intentioned experiment to legalise cannabis is failing and has created a thriving black market for untested and unregulated products, all while serving as a hotbed for crime.
“The illegal market still dominates California, just about everywhere,” Adam Spiker, the co-founder of Southern California Coalition, a cannabis trade association, said.

This always happens. Marijuana is cheap to grow, so if you legalize cannabis, you are more or less legalizing illegal cannabis, which takes over the market. The Times reports that illegal cannabis shops are everywhere in the Los Angeles area, and they are magnets for crime.

An illegal dispensary visited by The Times appeared to be doing strong trade, with a steady stream of customers passing through its doors. The operators of similar shops, according to police reports, are often arrested with about $1,000 in cash, a supply of cannabis and a gun.

The lack of protections in the illegal trade makes violence more likely, police say, with owners, employees and customers vulnerable to being robbed or killed.

If you get caught selling marijuana–a legal drug–illegally, there is little if any penalty:

Proposition 64, which legalised recreational cannabis after being passed by California voters in 2016, lowered the penalties related to the drug.

That has made the police’s job “extremely difficult,” Ceccia said, adding that because criminals knew they would not face strict sentences for marijuana-related offences, there was not much of a deterrent and “we’re not going to arrest our way out of this”.

Well, we could, but the will is lacking. Instead, California relies on a “progressive enforcement strategy.” Good luck with that.

As with moth lucrative criminal opportunities, “illegal” cannabis has been taken over by gangs:

The gangs of Los Angeles are getting in on the act, according to law enforcement. Two of the area’s largest gangs, Varrio Nuevo Estrada and East LA-13, have opened dispensaries of their own, according to the Los Angeles Times. These shops also sell methamphetamine, heroin and guns, fuelling their rivalry.

Cannabis has always been a gateway drug. If you legalize marijuana, you can be sure that a tidal wave of meth, heroin and so on will follow. And guess what: people prefer not to live in a state that is bedeviled by drugs and gang violence:

The drug trade is fuelling homicides and violent crime, both of which are on the rise in California. That, in turn, has led to an exodus from the Democrat-controlled state. California lost more than 352,000 people between April 2020 and January this year, according to official figures.

The problem is acute in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Nationally the cities are ranked first and second, respectively, for the number of residents leaving, according to a report from the property website Redfin.

Legalizing marijuana means enabling illegal marijuana, and encouraging the sale and use of hard drugs. The inevitable result is violent crime. It will be a long time before we can fully evaluate the consequences of the improvident legalization of marijuana.

Annals of Liberal Cluelessness, Martha’s Vineyard Edition

(Steven Hayward)

To paraphrase Will Rogers, it’s no trouble being a humorist when you have woke liberals working full time for you for free. Today was one of those days when the staff of the Babylon Bee could sleep in and skip coming to the office, as this CNN story sounds like a Bee parody:

‘They enriched us.’ Migrants’ 44-hour visit leaves indelible mark on Martha’s Vineyard

Edgartown, Massachusetts (CNN)After sharing hugs and teary goodbyes with roughly 50 migrants who had arrived unexpectedly by plane on this affluent vacation island, the volunteers who sheltered them at an Episcopal church carried out tables and chairs, packed food onto trucks and folded portable cots. . . Some passersby recorded the scene on their cell phones.

During their whirlwind 44-hour visit this week, migrants like the young Venezuelan woman left an indelible mark on their accidental hosts in this isolated enclave known as a summer playground for former US presidents, celebrities and billionaires. . .

On Thursday night, a group of young male migrants congregated on the narrow street outside the church, just blocks from the glittering upscale shops, restaurants and art galleries on Main Street in Edgartown. One asylum seeker, in his early 20s, ventured down the street to explore at one point. He asked about the price of a hamburger at a fancy eatery. When told it was $26, he noted that was much more than he earned in a month in Venezuela when he could find work. . .

On Friday, after the migrants had left Martha’s Vineyard, a volunteer with the Harbor Homes nonprofit, Sean O’Sullivan, disassembled the folding cots that 18 of the male migrants slept on in the parish hall.

“The year round community is very strong because you are kind of isolated here — whether it’s the ferry or the bad weather, you’re stuck here,” he said. “We’re used to helping each other. We’re used to dealing with people in need and we’re super happy — like they enriched us, we’re happy to help them on their journey.” At the empty parish house hours after the migrants had departed, Charles Rus, the church organist and music director, said the place felt lonely.

I can think of one way to end the loneliness now felt in the empty rooms of that parish, but alas I think the imprint of the migrants is entirely delible.

Someone has said that the primary purpose of woke liberalism is to feel good about yourself, and the residents of Martha’s Vineyard certainly rose to the challenge of providing proof.

A Preview of Coming Attractions

(Steven Hayward)

This week Power Line readers can look forward to two new regular features, the first of several contemplated changes and potential new initiatives on the site.

First, I have decided for two reasons to retire my irregular and episodic “Geek in Pictures” category that was the nerd’s homage to the Week in Pictures, even though I know the item is somewhat popular with many readers.

The first defect of the current format is that it is too much data at once, and some charts or tables deserve more extended comment and analysis than can be done in a big grouping. Second, unlike the pics of armed and therefore authentically empowered feminists featured at the end of each TWiP who are in ample supply on the internet, I’m running out of pics of fetching feminists doing math and science for the “And finally. . .” component of the item. For some reason such pics are in short supply. I blame the patriarchy!

In place of the Geek in Pictures, starting tomorrow we’ll now offer “The Daily Chart,” which will offer usually a single graphic, or sometimes two if they relate to a main point, along with such commentary and analysis as is useful. The Daily Chart will appear mid-day during the work week, and will be the perfect thing to take in right before lunch, depending on your time zone.

Our second new feature will be “Thought for the Day,” which will be just what it sounds like. In our wide and eclectic reading, we always come across worthy thoughts (and sometimes unworthy ones that deserve notice for their “you can’t believe how crazy this is” quality—maybe even the latest profundity from Kamala Harris) that we’ll now share for everyone’s edification. Content will range from Xenophon to Yogi Berra, which is not meant as an ironic truncation of “from A to Z,” but rather the diversity of sources.

More Violence From the Left

(John Hinderaker)

Despite Joe Biden’s absurd search for “white supremacist” criminality, the reality is that virtually all political violence comes from the left. The latest case in point occurred on Thursday at the University of New Mexico, where Turning Point USA sponsored a speech by Tomi Lahren. Far-left students, determined not to allow speech they disagree with, created an ugly and dangerous scene (via Breitbart):

BREAKING: State police called at TPUSA event with @TomiLahren after a violent leftist mob arrived at the @UNM Student Union | @tpusa_unm

— Turning Point USA (@TPUSA) September 16, 2022

Later, Ms. Lahren herself recorded this:

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the ongoing epidemic of left-wing violence is that no one in the Democratic Party opposes it. Can you recall the last time a Democrat condemned mob violence like what occurred in New Mexico? I can’t. Even the BLM/Antifa riots, in which somewhere between 30 and 50 people were killed, were viewed with tolerance, if not approval, by every mainstream Democrat.

The Past and the Furious, with Bill Maher

(Steven Hayward)

I think it is possible that Power Line was first to the story last month of historian James Sweet calling out politicized “presentism” in academic history, and, noting the Twitter backlash from the left, predicting that his groveling apology tour was certain to follow. Which it did—in less than 24 hours. The major media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and others, all picked up the story at this point. (And we had our last word here.)

Now the Sweet story has made its way to Bill Maher’s weekly rantfest on HBO. This is not one of his better ones, as some of his obligatory “both sides” jokes and jabs fall flat (when they’re not flat wrong, like his sideswipe of the Bible), but the woke left is his main target. One line in particular lands perfectly:

Being woke is like a magic moral time machine where you judge everybody against what you would have done in 1066 and you always win. Presentism. Yeah this professor [Sweet] is right. It’s just a way to congratulate yourself about being better than George Washington because you have a gay friend and he didn’t. But if he was alive today he would too. And if you were alive then, you wouldn’t.”

In search of tree equity

(Scott Johnson)

The Twin Cities have serious livability problems that stare us in the face every damn day. They can be refined through the filter of statistical disparities, but most of us can see what it’s all about with such analysis as framed by the left. Indeed, the analysis presented by the left obfuscates the problems.

Today’s Star Tribune delivers one such statistical disparity that might be at the the bottom of any sane person’s worry list: “Twin Cities’ communities of color hurt most by lack of trees.” Subhead: “A tornado made it worse.”

The Star Tribune assigned two reporters and two graphic artists to go deep on this Pulitzer-worthy story. Here are the the key points — the shade, if you will — through which readers must amble before getting to the story proper (emphases omitted):

Every spring, as the Twin Cities’ beloved trees leaf out into a green canopy, some neighborhoods look like an unbroken forest, with branches arching over houses and streets.

But others are a harder landscape of rooftops, yards and concrete. Trees are few, scrawny or nonexistent.

“Trees are not distributed evenly around the region. There are real inequities,” said Met Council data scientist Ellen Esch. “That has major consequences … not only on individuals, but on the livability, on the prosperity and on everything in our region.”

* * * * *

Martha Burton, a St. Paul resident, doesn’t need data to appreciate the vast difference between the 43% tree canopy in Highland Park, her current neighborhood, and the 23% tree canopy in Frogtown, a poorer neighborhood where she lived for 20 years.

“[Highland Park] is so comfortable to walk in; you’re just not as exposed to the sun. There’s a psychological calming when you’re in spaces with trees. In Frogtown you feel so exposed … It’s so stark.”

* * * * *

In Minneapolis, nearly 38% of the Southwest community is protected from the hot summer sun by a lush tree canopy — and in some areas it’s more than half. This helps limit the high surface temperatures to around 80 or 90 degrees.

* * * * *

A few miles away, most of Near North has tree coverage of 30% or less. Some of this is due to massive tree loss in a 2011 tornado. Thermometers here are more likely to reach 100 degrees in the summer, leading to higher cooling costs and more risk for heat stroke and other illnesses.

* * * * *

Across the Twin Cities, neighborhoods with the lowest tree canopy levels — such as Near North, Phillips, North End and Frogtown — are disproportionately populated by people of color, while areas with the thickest tree canopy tend to have the lowest share of people of color.

* * * * *

With its new data tool, called Growing Shade, the Met Council is pinpointing the neighborhoods suffering the most from the patchwork urban forest, giving policymakers and nonprofits guidance on where to focus their reforestation efforts.

But it will not be easy. Tens of thousands of trees have been lost to storms and invasive pests. Restoring them will require persuading renters and private landowners to plant and care for trees that will be enjoyed decades from now.

The Star Tribune is promoting this story by email as one of its Sunday Best and who can argue? Ammo Grrrll, call your office. I’m filing this under Laughter is the best medicine.

Shapes of things: Facebook edition

(Scott Johnson)

It is past time to resume my “Shapes of things” series on our Orwellian present. This is approximately the thirty-third installment, but the first since January 1 of this year. I have fallen down on the job.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs convened on Wednesday to hear from current and former social media executives. The hearing was called to address the impact of social media on homeland security consistent with Biden administration talking points — you know, “white supremacist, conspiracy related, and anti-government violence'” That is a quote from committee chairman Gary Peters’s opening statement.

The committee has posted video of the full hearing along with the written statements submitted by each witness here. In the video below Senator Josh Hawley interrogated Meta chief product officer Chris Cox on Facebook’s collaboration with the authorities to censor “disinformation.”

Just so you know, everything is copacetic. On Twitter Will Cain got my attention when he declared that “this should be the top story in the country.”

Steve Mosher coincidentally serves up Exhibit A in his current New York Post column “Government censorship should scare us just as much as COVID once did.” Cox might serve as the authoritative voice of O’Brien instructing Winston Smith in chapter 3 of 1984: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

A newer science of politics

(Scott Johnson)

In Modern Liberty and Its Discontents, the French political philosopher Pierre Manent praises the comprehensive understanding advanced by Aristotle in his Politics:

Aristotle’s Politics gives a description and analysis of political life that in a certain way is exhaustive—in any case more complete and subtle than any subsequent description or analysis. The bringing to light of the elements of the city, the critical and impartial analysis of the claims of the different parties, the exploration of the problem of justice, of the relations between liberty, nature, and law: the phenomenology of political life is presented without either prejudice or lacuna. Whoever wants to orient himself in the political world, for the sake of either action or understanding, finds in Aristotle’s Politics a complete teaching. It is therefore the case that only a historical accident could have obliged us to dismiss Aristotle and given us a reason to invent the notion of the sovereign will.

According to Aristotle, every human association has for its end a certain good; and every human action is done in view of a certain good. Therefore, when Aristotle studies the elements that constitute the city, he only encounters groups and “goods,” each group defining itself by the type of good it seeks and can attain, and on which it ordinarily bases its claims for power. At no time does the individual with his will appear: Aristotle does not even have a word to name him…The landscape is reversed with the founders of modern politics. Henceforth only one element enters into the composition of the legitimate city, the one for which Aristotle did not even have a word, the sovereign individual.”

The founders of the United States drew on “the founders of modern politics” to whom Manent referred. They proclaimed advances making for a new science of politics. In Federalist Number 9, writing as Publius, Alexander Hamilton reviewed the sorry history of ancient democracies and republics:

From the disorders that disfigure the annals of those republics the advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against the forms of republican government, but against the very principles of civil liberty. They have decried all free government as inconsistent with the order of society, and have indulged themselves in malicious exultation over its friends and partisans. Happily for mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the basis of liberty, which have flourished for ages, have, in a few glorious instances, refuted their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust, America will be the broad and solid foundation of other edifices, not less magnificent, which will be equally permanent monuments of their errors.

But it is not to be denied that the portraits they have sketched of republican government were too just copies of the originals from which they were taken. If it had been found impracticable to have devised models of a more perfect structure, the enlightened friends to liberty would have been obliged to abandon the cause of that species of government as indefensible. The science of politics, however, like most other sciences, has received great improvement. The efficacy of various principles is now well understood, which were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients. The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election: these are wholly new discoveries, or have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times. They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided….

I quote Manent and Hamilton at length because these excerpts are worth reading in themselves and because Michael Anton calls them to my American mind in his American Mind essay “Elite, not expert” (from a speech delivered at an event entitled “Lies of the Ruling Class,” hosted in May 2022 at the Claremont Institute’s DC Center for the American Way of Life). Anton writes near the top of his talk:

It’s hard to say what, exactly, the present regime is. I can find no precise analogue for it in the various regime catalogues of classical, medieval, or modern political philosophy. For classical political science, a regime is defined by who rules. But who rules ours? Who is sovereign? This is not, at least not for me, an easy question to answer.

Although he leaves it an open question, Anton postulates the answer “some combination of a corps of elites and the doctrine they follow.” He nevertheless raises a good question and the whole of his remarks as published are worth reading. I recommend them as published in the American Mind column.

As his tentative answer suggests, however, he knows better than I do that the present regime, whatever it is, derives from the “newer political science of politics” (as Dennis Mahoney calls it) of the progressives who rejected limited government and the Constitution in the name of history. They thought (think) the political science of the founders was outmoded and obsolete. The progressives sought rule by experts. Anton has me thinking that what we have here is a virulent variant of the original virus, which was lethal to begin with.

Young People Shouldn’t Be Vaccinated…

(John Hinderaker)

…or, at a minimum, they shouldn’t be boosted. I am not an anti-vaxxer, although my mind has been opened by recent events. But for now, let’s stay with the case at hand: covid 19 vaccines and boosters, which millions of young people are being required to take, whether they like it or not. College students can’t enroll without getting shots, soldiers are kicked out of the Army if they don’t get shots, and so on.

Does this make sense on any theory? Covid is not dangerous to young people, while there is substantial and growing evidence that covid vaccines pose significant dangers to the young. So this study is noteworthy, in part because of who did it: Kevin Bardosh of the University of Washington and University of Edinburgh Medical School; Allison Krug of Artemis Biomedical Communications LLC; Euzebiusz Jamrozik of Oxford University; Trudo Lemmens of the University of Toronto Law School; Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School; Vinay Prasad of the University of California, San Francisco; Martin A. Makary of Johns Hopkins University, Department of Surgery; Stefan Baral, John Hopkins University; and Tracy Beth Høeg of the Florida Department of Health and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

I infer that what once could only be whispered, and was banned on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, can now be said aloud by people with careers to lose. From the abstract:

Students at North American universities risk disenrollment due to third dose COVID-19 vaccine mandates. We present a risk-benefit assessment of boosters in this age group and provide five ethical arguments against mandates. We estimate that 22,000 – 30,000 previously uninfected adults aged 18-29 must be boosted with an mRNA vaccine to prevent one COVID-19 hospitalisation. Using CDC and sponsor-reported adverse event data, we find that booster mandates may cause a net expected harm: per COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented in previously uninfected young adults, we anticipate 18 to 98 serious adverse events, including 1.7 to 3.0 booster-associated myocarditis cases in males, and 1,373 to 3,234 cases of grade ≥3 reactogenicity which interferes with daily activities. Given the high prevalence of post-infection immunity, this risk-benefit profile is even less favourable.

Those findings are stunning. Young people are vastly more likely to be injured by covid boosters than by covid. The authors’ conclusion:

University booster mandates are unethical because: 1) no formal risk-benefit assessment exists for this age group; 2) vaccine mandates may result in a net expected harm to individual young people; 3) mandates are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given the modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; 4) US mandates violate the reciprocity principle because rare serious vaccine-related harms will not be reliably compensated due to gaps in current vaccine injury schemes; and 5) mandates create wider social harms. We consider counter-arguments such as a desire for socialisation and safety and show that such arguments lack scientific and/or ethical support. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our analysis for current 2-dose CCOVIDovid-19 vaccine mandates in North America.

That the covid vaccines have proved disappointing, no one can deny. But the evidence seems clear that endlessly vaccinating young people is a terrible idea, and I suspect ongoing data collection will show that the age at which vaccination is a net benefit is quite high.

An Honest Man Tells It Like It Is

(John Hinderaker)

I have been surprised at how Democrats have responded to Ron DeSantis’s master stroke of sharing a handful of illegal aliens with the rich liberals on Martha’s Vineyard. “All are welcome here”? Not exactly, and the Vineyard turned out not to be much of a sanctuary, either. Yet Dems like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“crimes against humanity”), Elizabeth Warren (“repulsive and cruel”) and, of course, Joe Biden (“unAmerican”) have doubled down. Is there some theory on which this doesn’t make them look idiotic? I can’t think of one.

For the straight story, turn to Ron DeSantis:

By the way, in case you didn’t see it reported…heh…the migrants thanked DeSantis for sending them to the paradise of Martha’s Vineyard before they were whisked away to Cape Cod. Too bad they couldn’t have stayed a while longer, but political exigencies intruded and the Democrats needed to stop the bleeding.

A Huge Win for Free Speech

(John Hinderaker)

This is seismic: a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Texas’s new law banning viewpoint discrimination by the major social media platforms. The case is NetChoice v. Paxton, and the opinion is by Judge Andrew Oldham. Oldham is a brilliant guy with a gilt-edged pedigree. He also was once the General Counsel to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

The Texas law is similar to the one I drafted for the Minnesota legislature (which has not yet been enacted), in that it is couched as a ban on viewpoint discrimination. It is different in that it explicitly labels the major platforms as common carriers, and it also does not provide for statutory damages.

The Court’s majority opinion is long, detailed, and to my mind persuasive. At times, it is almost mocking in its characterizations of the Platforms’ (as those parties are collectively referred to) legal positions. For example, at the beginning of the opinion:

In urging such sweeping relief, the platforms offer a rather odd inversion of the First Amendment. That Amendment, of course, protects every person’s right to “the freedom of speech.” But the platforms argue that buried somewhere in the person’s enumerated right to free speech lies a corporation’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech.

The implications of the platforms’ argument are staggering. On the platforms’ view, email providers, mobile phone companies, and banks could cancel the accounts of anyone who sends an email, makes a phone call, or spends money in support of a disfavored political party, candidate, or business.

That is, of course, exactly what the Democratic Party has in mind, and already it is beginning to come to pass.

What’s worse, the platforms argue that a business can acquire a dominant market position by holding itself out as open to everyone—as Twitter did in championing itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party.” Blue Br. at 6 & n.4. Then, having cemented itself as the monopolist of “the modern public square,” Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1737 (2017), Twitter unapologetically argues that it could turn around and ban all pro-LGBT speech for no other reason than its employees want to pick on members of that community, Oral Arg. at 22:39–22:52.

This is the court’s summary of its holdings:

The Platforms contend that Section 7 of HB 20 [the Texas statute]is facially unconstitutional. We disagree. We (A) first reject the Platforms’ facial overbreadth challenge because Section 7 does not chill speech; if anything, it chills censorship. Then we (B) turn to the First Amendment’s text and history, which offer no support for the Platforms’ claimed right to censor. Next, applying Supreme Court precedent, we (C) hold that Section 7 does not regulate the Platforms’ speech at all; it protects other people’s speech and regulates the Platforms’ conduct. Our decision (D) is reinforced by 47 U.S.C. § 230, which reflects Congress’s judgment that the Platforms are not “speaking” when they host other people’s speech. Our decision (E) is still further reinforced by the common carrier doctrine, which vests the Texas Legislature with the power to prevent the Platforms from discriminating against Texas users. Finally, even if all of that’s wrong and Section 7 does regulate the Platforms’ speech, it (F) satisfies the intermediate scrutiny that applies to content-neutral rules.

It is noteworthy that the court finds that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which the social media giants seem to think protects them from every form of liability from auto accidents to rigging elections, cuts in favor of the Texas law. I think the court is right.

From the court’s discussion of the common carrier issue:

The common carrier doctrine is a body of common law dating back long before our Founding. It vests States with the power to impose nondiscrimination obligations on communication and transportation providers that hold themselves out to serve all members of the public without individualized bargaining. The Platforms are communications firms of tremendous public importance that hold themselves out to serve the public without individualized bargaining. And Section 7 of HB 20 imposes a basic nondiscrimination requirement that falls comfortably within the historical ambit of permissible common carrier regulation.
Texas permissibly determined that the Platforms are common carriers subject to nondiscrimination regulation. That’s because the Platforms are communications firms, hold themselves out to serve the public without individualized bargaining, and are affected with a public interest.
The Platforms nonetheless contend that they cannot be regulated as common carriers because they engage in viewpoint-based censorship—the very conduct common carrier regulation would forbid. This contention is upside down. The Platforms appear to believe that any enterprise can avoid common carrier obligations by violating those same obligations. That is obviously wrong and would rob the common carrier doctrine of any content.

The court echoes the concern I have often expressed that network effects may make the main social media platforms natural monopolies:

It’s also true that each Platform has an effective monopoly over its particular niche of online discourse. Many early telephone companies did not have legal monopolies, but as a practical matter, they monopolized their geographic area due to the nature of the telephone business. See id. at 238. Likewise with the Platforms: While no law gives them a monopoly, “network effects entrench these companies” because it’s difficult or impossible for a competitor to reproduce the network that makes an established Platform useful to its users.

The opinion is well worth reading in its entirety. This case is destined, obviously, for the Supreme Court, but probably not yet. It probably will take a case in which the Texas law has actually been applied against a platform to frame the issues for a Supreme Court appeal. (The Supreme Court has already gotten involved, to a degree. The district court granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Texas statute. The 5th Circuit granted Texas’s motion to stay that preliminary injunction. The platforms petitioned the Supreme Court, which vacated the 5th Circuit’s stay.)

This case reminds us how important it is that the federal courts have remained bipartisan. The social media platforms have all pledged their loyalty to the Democratic Party, and if the Democrats controlled the Supreme Court the platforms’ ability to censor conservative content would undoubtedly be upheld. But in our present Court, free speech and the First Amendment will get a fair hearing.

Podcast: The 3WHH Says Drink Up for Constitution Day!

(Steven Hayward)

Today is Constitution Day, so naturally conversation at the 3WHH bar turned directly to the question of whether the state-mandated observances of Constitution Day in public colleges and universities are unconstitutional! Naturally there is division on this issue that maps with our ongoing division over the perspicacity of peated whisky.

John (left) appears less than convinced here.

From there we delve into the lively subject of the “National Conservatives,” who met again this week in Miami. John was present for part of the program, and his disposition is well expressed in the photo nearby. We devote a lot of time to looking over the NatCons’ “Statement of Principles,” observing some difficulties, while also expressing cautious support. The NatCon movement is where the action is right now, and deserves attention going forward. I express my longer thoughts here and here.

From there the bartenders ask—what the hell is Lindsay Graham up to? John thinks Graham’s bill to impose federal restrictions on abortion after 15 weeks is unconstitutional, while Lucretia thinks it is perfectly within the four corners of the 14th Amendment to extend the protections of the law to unborn persons. I wonder about the timing, political prudence, and intent of Graham’s gambit.

Finally, we discuss briefly the increasing signal-to-noise ratio of the pre-election polls, which are now producing highly volatile and contradictory findings.

You know what to do now: listen here, or exercise your constitutional right to travel over to our hosts at Ricochet.

When the axis tilts

(Scott Johnson)

The Martha’s Vineyard’s meltdown illustrates the efficacy of a few of Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. Governors Abbott and DeSantis have put several of Alinsky’s rules in play Among them:

• Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.

• Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

• A good tactic is one your people enjoy.

• Keep the pressure on.

• The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

• Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

These rules were formulated for the use of the left. When employed to mount opposition to the left, the axis of American life and politics tilts. The end of the world is nigh.

Politico’s West Wing Playbook gives us the White House reading of “the DeSantis stunt.” A “stunt” = the application of an Alinskyite tactic on the right. It must be time to call in the enforcers at the Department of Justice: “During an immigration meeting on Friday, White House and administration officials discussed potential responses, including ‘litigation options.'”

You can feel the axis tilting:

Privately, White House officials have been annoyed by the story line, viewing it as a manufactured political wedge issue designed to try and elevate the Republicans governors pushing it. They are reluctant to do anything that might look like they are feeding the theatrics — disinterested, one official said, in further making the migrants look like political pawns — even as they take steps to help alleviate the needs of those who have been relocated.

* * * * *

Former White House Deputy Cabinet Secretary CRISTÓBAL ALEX, whose portfolio included immigration issues, said he was outraged by the incident. And, he added, he suspected that it would rebound politically on the governors.

“I think DeSantis and Abbott are overplaying their hands. They are using families, children as political pawns. It’s shameful – and will backfire on them. They want a political fight on the border, and they are creating images that remind us of the disastrous anti-American immigration policies of the last administration,” he said. “DeSantis in particular is pissing off Venezuelans – an important Florida constituency. He’s taking people fleeing communism and a brutal dictatorship and putting them on planes and sending them to a random destination for photo ops. It’s outrageous.”

But behind the White House’s outrage, there is an implicit recognition that the issue does have the potential to cause political headaches. DeSantis showed no signs of reconsidering the move. In fact, there are signals that he is set to keep going with the migrant transportation.

On Friday, White House aides largely deflected questions about whether the administration should have, or could have, done more to accommodate those migrants, specifically the ones who were dropped in front of the vice president’s residence.

“There’s no time for angling,” said the person familiar. “And it would be inappropriate. No time to make small talk and give more footage of migrants chatting with the vice president as political pawns.”

Alex has a more direct take when asked how he thought the White House should respond politically to DeSantis and Abbott.

“They should call it out for what it is,” he said, “political bullshit.”

Opening the borders = authentic political integrity. Call it out, baby!

The Alinsky effect was on public display at the White House briefing by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre yesterday. The White House has posted the transcript here. KJP directed Fox News Channel’s Jacqui Heinrich to consult it (see below).

Curtis Houck captures the questions and answers on the Martha’s Vineyard action: “[KJP] struggled with questions from both her allies in the press corps and actual reporters about the move, including a Kamala Harris-like answer and a general attitude painting Martha’s Vineyard as some sort of Third World outpost.”

Here is Jacqui Heinrich homing in on the contradictions:

Q Karine, yesterday, you repeatedly blamed the Trump administration for what we’re seeing at the southern border, but the record crossings have been happening under President Biden. One migrant we interviewed yesterday thanks the President for keeping the border open.

So I just want to confirm: The way that this administration sees it, ending Remain in Mexico or Title 42 had nothing to do with the surge that we’re seeing?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So let me just step back for a second and lay out what we have done. under this administration: Twenty-three thousand agents and officers, more than 1,200 additional support personnel working to secure our nation’s borders. That’s more than what was happening in the last administration.

Every individual that is encountered at the border is taken to CBP custody and processed and vetted by Border Patrol agents. Individuals taken into CBP custody are either expelled under the CDC’s Title 42 authority, as required by court order, or placed in a removal procedures. In fact, more individuals encountered at the border will be removed or expelled this year than any previous year. That is just a fact.

Q But what about the record crossing number. I mean, you’re reading off, you know, expulsions and things like that, because all these people are coming over.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. And they’re also being encountered. Individuals encountered are also being removed or expelled in this year more than — removed more in this year than any previous year.

Q Why would the President turn down a DHS plan then to move migrants to the northern border to relieve some of the crowding at the southern border?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just — I was just asked about this question — that’s been already asked and answered.

Q So hasn’t — he hasn’t turned it down?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just — I literally just answered that question.

Q I didn’t understand what your answer was. Did he turn down the plan? Or —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: When this is over, you can look at the transcript and take a look.

Q So you won’t clarify whether the President —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I literally — Jacqui, I just answered that question.

Q Okay. So do you think then that the system that you have in place is working?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What we are asking for — we are asking for Congress to act. Again, on the President’s first day in this administration, he put forth a comprehensive immigration reform. And instead of Republicans playing political games, using people’s lives — humans, individuals, children, families — as political pawns, they should help us and work with us in finding solutions, and they are not.

Q So it’s not —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And, again, there is an immigration legislation — a comprehensive immigration legislation that we put forth on day one. And again, Republicans have voted — many of them have voted against the funding — record funding — for DHS.

So we’re willing to figure out how to fix this problem. We are. We put forth ways to do this. We put forth policies to do this. And we put forth ways to make sure that we’re dealing with a broken system.

Q Is that an acknowledgement that —

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I just answered your question. We’re moving on.


Embedded in Mark Krikorian’s New York Post column on the cost of open borders is a listing of stories (with links) on “what’s happening around the country as border states bus migrants around the US.”

(She hadn’t answered it)

— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) September 16, 2022

The Week in Pictures: Martha’s Vineyard Agonistes Edition

(Steven Hayward)

The spectacle of the left’s reaction to a mere 50 “migrants” turning up in Martha’s Vineyard has to be the most satisfying since Nixon’s Christmas bombing of Hanoi in 1972. Just when you think liberal hypocrisy and virtue signaling can’t get any more obvious, two airplanes and a few buses show how easy it is to find more depths to it. I believe this is what some notable person called “winning,” and I’m not tired of it yet. I think I’ll do my part and send a relief package of Mike Lindell’s pillows up to the beleaguered residents of MV.

News item: Harvard hires Brian Stelter

Headlines of the week:

I have a suggestion.

Sharknado was a documentary!

Those who don’t get it will accuse you of ableism.

That’s his mom in the background.

And finally (from a reader). . .

Biden Demands White Supremacy

(John Hinderaker)

FBI whistleblowers–in this case, the term is probably warranted–have come forward to say that the Bureau is pressuring them to come up with “white supremacists” to investigate, in order to advance the Biden administration’s agenda:

Current and former FBI agents have come forward saying the Biden administration is deliberately exaggerating the danger posed by white supremacists. They claimed that high-ranking FBI officials were pressuring field agents to fabricate domestic terrorism cases and label people as white supremacists in order to “meet internal metrics.”

To the best of my knowledge, I have never met a white supremacist, so this doesn’t surprise me. What ought to surprise all of us is that the FBI’s politicized hierarchy is so willing to do the corrupt bidding of the Democratic Party.

“The demand for white supremacy” coming from FBI brass “vastly outstrips the supply of white supremacy,” one agent told the Washington Times. “We have more people assigned to investigate white supremacists than we can actually find.”

The FBI agent, who requested anonymity in order to discuss internal bureau politics, said that top officials in the FBI “have already determined that white supremacy is a problem” and established a policy to prioritize investigations into racially-motivated domestic extremism.

“We are sort of the lapdogs as the actual agents doing these sorts of investigations, trying to find a crime to fit otherwise First Amendment-protected activities,” he said. “If they have a Gadsden flag and they own guns and they are mean at school board meetings, that’s probably a domestic terrorist.”

That is consistent with the disgraceful behavior we have seen from the FBI in recent years. The Bureau is one more once-great institution that has been destroyed by the Left.

Migrants, We Hardly Knew Ye

(John Hinderaker)

Well, that was quick. A mere 50 illegal immigrants threw Martha’s Vineyard into a tizzy, revealing the shallowness of liberals’ humanitarianism. At least one Vineyard resident called on the Obamas to open up their $12 million mansion to the illegals, and there were social media exchanges like this one:

I’m in a couple Martha’s Vineyard Facebook groups and they’re all turning on each other. Calling out their friends for not letting migrants in their summer homes

— AidanKearneyTB (@DoctorTurtleboy) September 16, 2022

But mostly, liberals reacted with outrage. Joe Biden denounced Ron DeSantis’s shipping of illegals to Martha’s Vineyard as “unAmerican”–Biden is quite the patriot lately–but why? The Biden administration has been flying illegals to various locations around the country, usually in the dark of night, for the last year and a half. Apparently what is “unAmerican” is sending illegal immigrants to the haunts of the rich rather than to hard-pressed working class communities.

You can tell that no one was buying it, and DeSantis’s gambit was hurting the Democrats badly, because the migrants are already gone: “Massachusetts Gov. Activates National Guard, Sends Martha’s Vineyard Illegal Immigrants to Military Base.” Reportedly, 125 National Guard members were sent to Martha’s Vineyard to shepherd the 50 illegal immigrants to Cape Cod. Applying the same ratio, the Biden administration would have had to send 2.5 million National Guardsmen, border agents, soldiers or law enforcement personnel to Texas to deal with the one million illegals who have recently crossed the border. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Martha’s Vineyard is special.

So the episode ended quickly, but it won’t be forgotten. No one can ever take an “All Are Welcome Here” sign, or alleged “sanctuary city” status, seriously again. And where those 50 came from, there are lots more illegals to send to locations that are inconvenient for liberals.

Laptop from hell revisited

(Scott Johnson)

Brendan O’Neill interviews Miranda Devine on the laptop from hell — as O’Neill notes, Devine wrote the book on it — and related subjects in the terrific Spiked podcast below. Spiked has posted the podcast here with this précis: “Miranda discusses her role in the groundbreaking investigation into Hunter Biden’s laptop, the FBI and Big Tech’s attempt to kill the story, and how the cover-up is now falling to pieces.” I think I know the story, but I learned from the podcast. It draws out the deep meaning and totalitarian implications of the story’s suppression. The podcast not only brings the story up to date in a little over 36 minutes, it also accents all the right notes. Stick with it all the way to the end.

Pensées à la Pelosi

(Scott Johnson)

Yesterday Punchbowl News featured an insidery report on Chuck Schumer speaking to a few of his Democratic colleagues over dinner at a DC restaurant. This morning Punchbowl features an insidery report on Nancy Pelosi sharing concerns internally with her Democratic caucus:

During a closed-door meeting of House Democrats on Wednesday morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi relayed to her members something she’s been hearing from donors.

Donors have been asking Pelosi why more House Democrats don’t donate to the DCCC. Pelosi, famous for her fundraising prowess, was trying to make the point that it doesn’t send a good message to donors if members aren’t doing their part to keep the House majority.

Put more bluntly, Pelosi was complaining about her Democratic colleagues not ponying up their dues to the DCCC.

* * * * *

The statistics are surprising, to say the least. Ninety-eight House Democrats have paid less than half of their dues. Even worse, this doesn’t include Frontliners, who are essentially exempt from funding the DCCC because they need that money for their own races.

The Scadenfreude takes a timeout:

As of July 31, the DCCC has raised more than $252 million this cycle, with more than $118 million in cash on hand, according to its FEC report. However, the committee has already reserved tens of millions of dollars in TV ads, with every vulnerable incumbent clamoring for more help as Pelosi and Democratic leaders defend their razor-thin majority.

We get down to a few interesting cases:

→ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), who has north of $6 million in the bank, hasn’t given a dime to the committee. The DCCC has her down for having raised $1,000 for the committee and $145,000 raised or given to “Red-to-Blue” candidates and Frontliners.

“I’ve contributed at the beginning of the term by essentially providing over a quarter million in direct donations. It’s been kind of documented, but I try not to put grassroots money and commingle it with big money.”

In other words, AOC doesn’t like how the DCCC raises money – from lobbyists, corporate executives and the like – so count her out.

AOC also didn’t like how SPM decided to run in Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones’ district following New York’s chaotic redistricting process. She endorsed SPM’s primary opponent (who lost, of course.) Jones was defeated handily by Dan Goldman, the former Donald Trump impeachment counsel who put $4 million from his own pocket into the race.

→ Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents a safe seat in Minneapolis, said “I’m not one of those” when we asked if she’d pay dues. Omar hasn’t given a dime of the $150,000 she’s expected to donate. Omar spent heavily in a Democratic primary and has $471,000 in the bank as of her July 20 FEC report.

Whole Punchbowl News morning newsletter here.

When is a protest a stunt?

(Scott Johnson)

Drawing on the White House party line, Politico Playbook PM headlined last night’s edition “GOP govs’ migrant stunts return to center stage.” The reference was of course to the flight of illegal aliens from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard (thanks, Governor DeSantis) and the busing of illegal aliens from Texas to the Vice President’s DC residence at the Naval Observatory (thanks, Governor Abbott).

The governors seek to draw attention to the opening of our southern border by the Biden administration. It is the kind of political protest (or whatever) that one might think only ’60’s radicals turned Democrat could manage. Indeed, it is straight out of the Rules For Radicals playbook. The media response puts an exclamation points to its bite and brilliance.

Let it all hang out. Make the man live with it, baby!

I understand that the illegal aliens voluntarily undertook the trips they were offered. This morning Reuters strives to make the case that they were misled. So far as we know, not a single one was harmed in the process.

How brilliant are these protests? CNN (perfect!) brought in Ken Burns (perfect!) to liken the DeSantis variant to, well, you know what. “This is coming straight out of the authoritarian playbook,” Burns…”explained.”

“What we find in our all films is that the themes that we engage in the past are present today,” he concluded. “And so when you look at the story that we’re telling of the U.S. and the Holocaust, you understand that the time to save a democracy is before it’s lost. We promise you.” I’m sure our own Jewish Community Relations Council and all the like organizations will get right on it.

To answer my own question, I have a two-part answer. A protest or demonstration is a “stunt” when it is devastatingly effective and undertaken by Republicans or conservatives.

Thoughts from the ammo line

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll finds “DATING” REDEFINED (and a few other thoughts). She writes:

For God-knows-what reason, my In-Box, with a very clear woman’s name in the email address, is often plagued with several offers for me to “date” women from foreign countries. I guess they can’t legally say “boink” even if Sister Mary Algorithm would let them through. I surmise that solicitation for prostitution is still technically “illegal.” But it’s probably just a matter of time, like with academic support for “Minor Attracted Persons.” So, “dating” it is.

The usual suspects on offer are “hot” women from the Ukraine, Russia, and, lately, Colombia. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that by “hot” they do not mean recently menopausal. Sorry, I AM a woman, and that’s the first thing that comes to MY mind when you say “hot”: standing in front of the fridge with the door open, trying not to pass out. Good times, good times.

About 20 years ago, there was a major mess-up in my one and only foray into an experiment with Yellow Pages Advertising for my comedy business. My ad for “adult comedy entertainment” got put in the “Adult Entertainment” Section with the hookers, strippers and so forth. What I meant by “adult comedy” was that it required the sensibilities of a grown-up, not that it was “dirty” in any way. I was not about to try to entertain at a Bar Mitzvah party (even though the celebrant might technically now be “a man”) as the 13-year-old boys were simply too young to “get” the jokes.

But “adult” is just another word the Left has stolen from us. It used to mean “responsible,” or “for grownups,” like Rush’s “adult beverages.” But it has basically been re-defined as “seamy, dirty, and overtly sexual,” (See, Adult bookstores). Like “gay,” “hate speech,” “gender,” and “oppressed,” the list of pilfered or ruined words goes on and on. Plus new words like “intersectional” and “cis-gender” are being made up all the time.

Anyway, that misplacement in the Yellow Pages caused me many a sleepless night as a legion of pathetic men phoned me after striking out at “last call” in the bars, to engage my “services” without the slightest note of embarrassment. It was quite the eye-opener for me.

Often it involved a heavily accented foreign man, with astonishing messages on my primitive answering machine. “My name is Mohammed. I am married, so when you call back be discreet.” “Oh, I’ll get right on that, Mo.” The temptation to call the number, ask for his wife, and play his message was great, but I’m not that heartless.

Sometimes there would be a Mexican guy in town to work, staying in a motel. He would give me his room number on the machine and inquire about prices. And I always dreamed of going to the motel room the lonely roofer had provided, standup mic, amp, and Sig Sauer in hand, setting it up and doing my 40-minute corporate act to an astonished and severely-disappointed gentleman and then handing him a “bill” for my corporate rate — several thousand dollars. A girl can dream.

And likewise if it didn’t mean my computer would be hacked, my bank account cleaned out, and my email address sold to every perv and criminal in the world, I would also love to respond to the daily invitations to “date” ladies from The Ukraine. By which I mean an actual date, as it was defined the last time I HAD a date, which was sometime in 1966.

“Yo, Svetlana, my name is Kevin and I am in 10th grade. I play football on the JV team (NOT ISIS! Haha!), and enjoy gaming and science fiction. I notice from the picture your – father? Uncle? – sent me that you seem nice, if somewhat chilly, in that outfit. And very friendly. Would you like to go to the Homecoming Dance with me and then get a burger and fries at Osterberg’s Café on Broadway? Please respond by Friday as the dance is Saturday.”

Do teenagers still date? I wonder how young people can even afford to date these days? I didn’t date much in high school – not for lack of interest in it so much as teenage boys’ pointed lack of interest in ME – but a coed grouplet of us undated pals would sometimes go out in somebody’s father’s car and we would all chip in coins to purchase gas. That’s right, kids, COINS. Gas prices in my yute ranged from nineteen cents to a quarter a gallon, an attendant checked the oil, pumped the gas for you, and washed your windshield! (To be fair, your father’s aircraft-carrier sized vehicle probably got about 12 mpg…so there’s that.)

Now before our wretched President drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower the price of gas before the midterms, the price was $5.00-$6.00 a gallon here in Arizona, and nearly double that in some uninhabitable states like California.

Biden’s looting of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – either one of the words surrounding “Petroleum” should have been a clue that it’s for an unforeseen EMERGENCY only – reminds me of my own failures in regard to my putative Winter Emergency Kit, back in the day. Now that I’m in Arizona, of course, what we mostly need for emergencies like a flat tire in August is an umbrella, a sunhat and sunscreen, and a few gallons of water, maybe an inflatable kiddie wading pool.

But for the decades I lived in Minnesota, every winter I would faithfully make a kit for winter driving which I kept in the trunk. The large duffel bag contained a handwarmer, a sleeping bag, mittens, matches and kindling, Gatorade and several – okay, MANY – varieties of candy bars and granola bars. Also an empty ice cream bucket and roll of toilet paper.

All well and good until, on a trip when my parents were still alive, between Alexandria and our home in Maplewood, I felt hungry and remembered that there were Peanut M&Ms and Cadbury Easter Eggs in a large baggie in the Kit. Sounds like an emergency to me!

And might as well wash it down with the Gatorade, too. Nice and cool in the trunk in November. And then I had to replace everything. This became a regular pattern: I lived in fear that some awful day I would have an emergency before I could restock.

Sadly, even if I had gotten buried in a ditch in a blizzard, there was little danger of my starving to death before someone found me, what with my carefully maintained robust BMI and all. And the fact that I mostly traveled on Interstate Highways or surface streets. I would probably have barely laid out my Trail Mix and Snicker Bars, and tucked my napkin into my t-shirt before some busybody neighborly rural Minnesotan in a Silverado towed me out!

Compare that to the danger of any number of emergencies – from natural to military – where an empty Strategic Petroleum Reserve could spell total disaster for millions.

But not as big a disaster as the Democrats losing an election and their unfettered access to the bottomless government checkbook and currency printing machine, plus a world of grift, graft and influence peddling. Oh. Em. Gee, you guys. SOME of these lying, loafing lardbutts would have to get JOBS. (Or just retire on their $44 Million, say, like Liz Cheney.) Oh, the humanity! But, then, what about the Georgetown cocktail parties? Nobody invites a nobody, even one with $44 million dollars.

Will Comedians Save the West?

(Steven Hayward)

I’m starting to wonder. We’ve noted here repeatedly the tergiversations of Bill Maher, and of course we could dilate the long history of the effectiveness of political satire and comic philosophy at least as far back at Aristophanes.

And then there’s Ricky Gervais, who more or less blew up for good the Golden Globe Awards in 2020.  And here’s his latest (just one minute long):

I doubt there is a single college campus in America where he could speak without a woke student protest.

Fraud Pays

(John Hinderaker)

It is no secret that our federal, state and local governments waste enormous amounts of money. Neither is it a secret that outright fraud accounts for a significant part of that waste. My organization, which conducts quarterly polling in Minnesota, has twice asked the question, “What is your best estimate of the percentage of state spending that is wasted?” The results were identical: the first time, the median answer was 29%. The second time, it was 30%.

Why are Americans so skeptical of government spending? In part, because of scandals like the Feeding Our Future fiasco, which we have written about before, in which hundreds of millions of dollars were funneled to community groups that purported to be feeding ridiculous numbers of poor children. The FBI has been investigating this scandal for some time, but so far the only criminal charge is a passport violation brought against a perpetrator who was trying to flee the country.

It remains to be seen whether today’s left-wing Department of Justice and FBI have the courage to charge the criminals who stole hundreds of millions from taxpayers. The criminals were, I believe, loyal clients of the Democratic Party, and the Democrats don’t mind defrauding taxpayers. They just want the proceeds to go to their people, which they pretty much always do.

My colleague Bill Glahn has the latest on the scandal. There is a great deal of information at the link, but for now I just want to highlight this. Bear in mind that most of the dollars in the Feeding Our Future scandal were federal. So wherever you may live, this was your money:

The affidavits against Farah and Ismail make for fascinating reading. They reveal how much money the FBI seized from the Empire Cuisine empire ($6.2 million) and how much money was diverted to China and Kenya ($1.5 million).

The Somali-born Farah claimed to a friend (p. 31) that he has invested more than $6 million in Kenya.

In the May affidavit against Farah, the story of how the FBI seized his original passport (which he reported as “lost”) is told. It begins (paragraph 69, page 24) with his May 2021 purchase of a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for $79,389 (Unlimited? I should say so.). In August 2021, he traded in the Jeep for a Porsche Macan SUV (also $79,000).

That same month, he bought a GMC Sierra pickup for $65,000. In October, he bought a Nissan Murano SUV ($47,000) and in December a Tesla Model Y ($80,000).

All four vehicles were seized by the FBI in the January raids. In the console of Farah’s Sierra, they found his passport with an envelope containing $18,000 in cash.

In the backseat, the FBI found a laptop bag with another $42,500 in cash.

Like me, you probably have never walked around with $60,000 in cash. Like me, you probably don’t drive a Porsche and a Tesla, and several other vehicles, either. But then, we have never been in the business of defrauding taxpayers. Are people like us just suckers? Are we crazy not to join the Democratic Party and get on the gravy train?

One more thought occurs to me: financial fraud of the kind we see here exists largely because the Democratic Party doesn’t have a problem with it. So, how about voter fraud? As with financial fraud, the Democrats are not opposed to it; even more so, they count on voter fraud to supplement their honest vote totals. If financial fraud exists at the epic levels that we have documented, voter fraud is probably even worse.

Migrants In the Vineyard [Updated]

(John Hinderaker)

The strategy of Greg Abbott and others to send illegal aliens to sanctuary cities around the country was a stroke of genius. Not that it was original: for at least the last five or six years, a friend has been emailing me to the effect that illegals should be sent to Marin County, Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco mansion, and, above all, Martha’s Vineyard. That, he said, would bring the open border problem to a screeching halt.

And it may. Ron DeSantis’s master stroke of sending two planeloads of aliens to Martha’s Vineyard has made liberal heads explode. The irony is evident to everyone. These places are “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens, but if they actually see a few of them they panic. Their yards boast “All Are Welcome Here” signs, but it turns out that some are more welcome than others.

Rasmussen finds that most people approve of Governor Abbott’s shipping illegals to sanctuary cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., by 52% to 36%. Those 36% are diehard Democrats who think it is fine for Texas to try to deal with one million aliens, but an outrage if a liberal city has to take on a few hundred.

Unlike most Americans, liberals don’t appreciate the irony. Their reaction has been priceless. The White House’s Press Airhead Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, thinks what Abbott and DeSantis are doing is terrible. She also thinks Ted Cruz is the Governor of Texas:

KJP: "Using migrants as political pawns is shameful, is reckless, and just plain wrong…if these governors truly care about border security, they should ask Texas *governor* Ted Cruz…why [he] voted against…record funding for DHS."

— (@townhallcom) September 15, 2022

By the way, if KJP thinks it is “shameful” to use migrants as political pawns, one can only imagine how outraged she would have been if she had known that the Democrats were using families ostensibly separated at the border as political pawns. Too bad she missed that one.

Of all the crazed liberal reactions, this is one of the nuttiest. Sending some illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard–I wish I could afford to live there–is kinda like the Holocaust:


— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) September 15, 2022

As for what is going on at the Vineyard, America’s paper of record comes through as usual:

Martha’s Vineyard Resident Calls Police To Report A Hispanic In The Neighborhood Not Operating A Leaf Blower.

For a non-satirical update on events, the New York Post headlines: “Martha’s Vineyard in chaos after DeSantis ships migrants to liberal enclave.”

The liberal enclave of Martha’s Vineyard was thrown into chaos by the arrival of two planeloads of migrants sent to the Massachusetts island by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to local reports.

Members of the West Tisbury Select Board were told about the unexpected development during a Wednesday night meeting at which Town Administrator Jennifer Rand said she’d been receiving “furious texts” from residents, the MV Times reported.

I’ll bet they were furious! Not just anyone can live on Martha’s Vineyard. Maybe the Vineyard folks can ship the unwanted illegal aliens to a more downscale location, like the Hamptons. Or else the illegal immigrants, of whom there are only around 50, could all stay at Barack Obama’s $12 million estate. There is plenty of room there, and I understand his mansion has 10 bathrooms. That would be more than enough. But don’t hold your breath.

In all seriousness, if there is anything that could motivate Democrats to accept United States sovereignty, this is probably it.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that Governor Abbott also bused around 100 illegals to Kamala Harris’s Washington, D.C., residence, the Naval Observatory. This was in response to Harris’s absurd claim that the southern border is “secure.” No way, say the illegals themselves: the border is “open!” Let’s have more of this, until the Democrats say “Uncle.”

UPDATE: Will the Obamas come through for their illegal friends? Some are doubtful:

Are There Transgender Mice?

(Steven Hayward)

Apparently there could be. Herewith the opening of an article just out in Nature magazine:

The fraught quest to account for sex in biology research

In 2016, pharmacologist Susan Howlett wrote up a study on how hormone levels during pregnancy affect heart function and sent it off to a journal. When the reviewers’ comments came back, two of the three had asked an unexpected question: where were the tissues from male mice?

Because they were studying high hormone levels related to pregnancy, Howlett, at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and her team had used only female animals. “I was really surprised that they wanted us to repeat everything in males,” she said.

Nonetheless, they obliged, and their findings were published in 2017. As expected, they found no effect of the hormone progesterone on heart function in males; in females, it influenced the activity of cardiac cells.

Howlett had mixed feelings about the request to add males. “It was a big ask and it was a lot more research.” But in general, she adds, it’s really important to factor sex into studies. “I’m a big proponent of doing experiments in both males and females.”

How long will it take “the scienceTM” to acknowledge transgender mice, who can get pregnant just as readily as human transgender men? How about we just move right away to micex and save everyone a whole lot of trouble?

The GOP Learning How to Fight (Updated)

(Steven Hayward)

When I first saw a NY Times headline yesterday that read “This Jellyfish Can Live Forever,” I thought it was about Republican office holders. But no, it refers to the real ocean-going invertebrates passively borne along by the currents, though it is easy to see how one might be misled, since this oceanographic description applies fully to Beltway Republicans so much of the time.

And when I saw the headline that Gov. Ron De Santis had flown two planeloads of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, and that Gov. Abbott had dropped off two busloads of illegal immigrants out front of Kamala “The-Border-Is-Secure” Harris’s residence, I thought sure this had to be another madcap satire of the Babylon Bee. But no, this actually happened.

Finally—Republicans are learning how to fight, and we’ve seen the sanctimony of “sanctuary cities” revealed for what it is. More of this please. I’ve been saying for years that southern border states should send busloads of illegal immigrants to Marin County, Evanston, Westchester, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Malibu, Boulder, Cambridge, etc. Hopefully this is only the beginning, and the pace of these resettlements to affluent blue enclaves will increase. After all, isn’t Vice President Harris in favor of busing?

Now can the GOP please start loudly calling for an end to the Democrats’ war on affordable energy? This seems like such a no-brainer that even Tom Friedman gets it, as noted here last night. This ought to be front and center of every Republican ad campaign. What are they waiting for?

UPDATE: Martha’s Vineyard has declared that the arrival of 50 migrants is a “humanitarian crisis”:

I thought a “humanitarian crisis” on Martha’s Vineyard is when the vegan coop runs out of gluten-free flour or something. But apparently all it takes for a UN intervention is 50 people without trust funds showing up. What’s that old saying about needing a heart of stone not to laugh?

UPDATE 2: The Wall Street Journal this afternoon:

Why are Democrats “scrambling”? They are the party of solutions, after all. Vice President Harris told us over the weekend that they are on it, managing the situation. I’m sure they have “top men” working on it 24/7:

Also this from the WSJ story:

“We are not a sanctuary state,” Mr. DeSantis said Thursday at an event in Niceville, Fla. “It’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction. And yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures.”

I’d say DeSantis has just about locked up the 2024 GOP nomination if Trump doesn’t run—or even if he does.

And this:

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the flight of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard was a political stunt by Republican governors and “a cruel, inhumane way to treat people who are fleeing communism.”

She’s got it backwards: she might have a point if she said sending migrants from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard was putting them at risk of returning to communism.

And—because I can’t help it—a preview of Saturday morning amusements:

Abbott refutes Harris

(Scott Johnson)

FOX News reports: “2 migrant buses arrive outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ Naval Observatory residence in DC.” Subhead: “Between 75 and 100 migrants who were picked up in Eagle Pass, Texas, were sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.” Video is posted with the story.

In her Meet the Press interview this past Sunday, Harris asserted twice that “the border is secure.” Governor Abbott has thus refuted Harris.

Readers of The Life of Samuel Johnson may recall Boswell’s account of this 1763 incident:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, “I refute it THUS.”

This is Abbott’s Samuel Johnson moment.


(Scott Johnson)

Punchbowl News is one of the insider online outlets that facilitates the Democrats’ Gleichschaltung. The founders describe the venture here. I subscribe to the morning newsletter via the Punchbowl home page when they established the site.

In this morning’s edition — it can be accessed here at the moment — Punchbowl gurus Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan pass on the the Schuminations of the Senate Majority Leaders speaking to colleagues at a DC restaurant this past Monday. I found the summary of interest and pass on the excerpt below for what it’s worth, including the entertainment value:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer privately told a group of Democratic senators Monday night that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “in trouble” and Democrats are going to lose the House.

These comments came during a dinner at Trattoria Alberto, an Italian restaurant on Capitol Hill frequented by lawmakers from both parties. Senators at the dinner included Chris Coons of Delaware, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

The comments are in stark contrast to Pelosi’s declaration in recent days that not only would Democrats keep the House but they’d add to their slim majority.

During the dinner, Schumer let loose on a whole range of topics. Schumer spoke loudly and his remarks were overheard by other patrons in the restaurant – and confirmed by multiple sources.

→ Schumer said that if the election were held today there was “a 60% chance we hold the Senate, and a 40% chance we hold the House.”

I’m omitting a few of the bullet points. The newsletter is accessible in its entirety at the the link above. Sherman and Bresnahan wind up with these two:

→ On the legislative front, Schumer said Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) claim that taxing the rich is akin to “inflation” for wealthy Americans is “ridiculous.”

→ Schumer criticized former New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo over redistricting, blaming Cuomo for Democrats failure to pick up House seats during redistricting.

I infer that Senator Manchin did not attend the dinner. Sherman and Bresnahan conclude: “Schumer’s office declined to comment.”

Party on, Joe

(Scott Johnson)

President Biden threw a party at the White House to celebrate the absurdly named Inflation Reduction Act on Tuesday. I noted it in “KJP on the IRA.” Asked to explain what the IRA would do to moderate inflation, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded in word that, when translated, indicated it would do nothing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended the party, as did Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Byron York observed: “Both were in high spirits, smiling, laughing, joking, happy to be there.” Byron quoted Pelosi: “What a thrill it is to be here to celebrate this life-changing legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act,” Pelosi said. “Inflation Reduction Act — so beautifully named.”

On that we can agree. The Inflation Reduction Act is beautifully named. It is beautiful in its absurdity. Pelosi glories in the Democrats’ ability to shove it down our throats. Fans of George Orwell understand.

The White House celebration of the Inflation Reduction Act adds a Wayne-and-Garth vibe to the mix. Party on, Joe. Indeed, it looks like Biden had a cameo with the boys way back when.

The White House party was perfectly timed to coincide with the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation report that morning. The report was not favorable. Oliver Wiseman quoted former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers commenting on the BLS data. He commented via Twitter that the BLS report “confirms that the US has a serious inflation problem. Core inflation is higher this month than for the quarter, higher this quarter than last quarter, higher this half of the year than the previous one, and higher last year than the previous one.” Unlike the Biden administration, Summers is an adherent of the reality principle.

Median inflation used to be a favorite indicator for team transitory. This month it was at its highest ever reading.

— Lawrence H. Summers (@LHSummers) September 13, 2022

Party on, Joe.

Tom Friedman Says . . . Drill, Baby, Drill?

(Steven Hayward)

I’ll bet Tom Friedman would really like to indulge his authoritarian impulse to be “China for a day” (because then we could impose the “right solutions” to all our problems) right now. Today he uncorked a primal scream whose subtext is: Sarah Palin (and Donald Trump) were right: we should drill, baby, drill! here in the U.S.  Yes—for oil and natural gas!

Don’t believe me? It turns out that Putin is living rent free in Friedman’s head, and it is causing Friedman to abandon his heretofore rigid adherence to the Climate Change Catechism of renewables uber alles. Here are some excerpts:

I wish I could say for certain that Putin will fail — that the Americans will outproduce him. And I wish I could write that Putin will regret his tactics, because they will eventually transform Russia from the energy czar of Europe to an energy colony of China — where Putin is now selling a lot of his oil at a deep discount to overcome his loss of Western markets.

Yes, I wish I could write all of those things. But I can’t — not unless the U.S. and its Western allies stop living in a green fantasy world that says we can go from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy by just flipping a switch. . .

But the climatistas have been telling us for the last 30 years that this will be easy, wind-and-solar-are-cheaper, all we need is willpower, etc. Funny how a geopolitical event like the comparatively small war in Ukraine has thrown the entire green playbook in the trash can. More Friedman:

If we want to get oil and gas prices down to reasonably low levels to power the U.S. economy and, at the same time, help our European allies escape the vice grip of Russia while we all also accelerate clean energy production — call it our “Energy Triad” — we need that transition plan that balances climate security, energy security and economic security. . .

But the most important factor for quickly expanding our exploitation of oil, gas, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro or nuclear energy is giving the companies that pursue them (and the banks that fund them) the regulatory certainty that if they invest billions, the government will help them to quickly build the transmission lines and pipelines to get their energy to market.

Yes, well, good luck with that.

I can’t repeat this enough: U.S. energy policy today has to be the arsenal of democracy to defeat petro-Putinism in Europe, by providing desperately needed oil and gas to our allies at reasonable prices so that Putin cannot blackmail them. It has to be the engine of economic growth that provides the cleanest and most affordable fossil fuel energy as we transition to a low-carbon economy.

I’ll be happy to let Friedman and his fellow greenies cling bitterly to their fantasies of an energy transition. I’ll just keep this column filed away as evidence that they now acknowledge that this “transition” is going to be run on oil and gas. Good to see he’s giving up on his flat-earthism at last.


“Green” Energy Will Bankrupt Us

(John Hinderaker)

It is remarkable that, with the example of Europe before us, and with blackouts in California and Texas in the immediate past, our masters are plunging ahead with plans to do away with fossil fuels in favor of solar and wind energy. I have written many times about what folly this is, and won’t repeat those arguments here. Instead, something new.

Minnesota’s far-left Governor Tim Walz has proposed to make 100% of Minnesota’s electricity–not all energy, just electricity–carbon-free by 2040. Of course, he and his backers had no idea what would be required to meet that goal when they announced it. But my organization’s energy experts know how to do the math. They have just released a report that calculates the cost of that one “green” initiative.

Their conclusion: the 100% carbon-free electricity plan would cost $313 billion and would still lead to blackouts.

Please take a moment to at least scroll through the report. Its logic is compelling and its calculations are transparent. It is 65 pages of charts, graphs, data and analysis. No one will try to refute it. No one can.

And this is just one tiny slice, a relatively insignificant one, of the catastrophic “green” future that liberals are trying to inflict on us. That future will never arrive; the laws of physics don’t permit it. But the countless trillions of dollars in wealth that will be destroyed, if liberals continue to dominate politically, will have disastrous consequences.

I think a global economic meltdown is possible as a result of “green” fantasies. I don’t mean just a recession or garden-variety depression, I mean a collapse in which homes can’t be heated, lights don’t go on, factories shutter, supply lines break down, agriculture is devastated resulting in acute food shortages, a generation’s accumulated wealth vanishes, civilization begins to break down, and hundreds of millions of people–maybe more–may die. “Green” energy doesn’t mean unicorns and fairies frolicking in meadows. It means grim, fatal dystopia.

Biden’s Personal Gestapo

(John Hinderaker)

The FBI appears content with its role as the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party, somewhat like–although, so far, not as bad as–the role the Ku Klux Klan played years ago. The Mar-a-Lago raid was a low point, but the FBI has followed up with more intimidation tactics. Subpoenas reportedly have been served on dozens of Republicans, apparently fishing for some evidence of a connection to the almost entirely peaceful protest in Washington on January 6, 2021.

The day after Joe Biden’s notorious Nuremberg speech, three armed FBI agents visited the home of a New Jersey woman named Lisa Gallagher. Why? The FBI had an anonymous tip that Gallagher had something to do with the January 6 demonstration. She also had a pro-Trump sign on her lawn:

A New Jersey woman who voiced her support for former President Trump on Facebook said Monday that three FBI agents showed up at her home last month claiming to have an anonymous tip connecting her to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, despite her having no involvement.
“I was terrified. I’ll be honest with you, when my daughter woke me up telling me there were three armed FBI officers at my door, I thought she was joking. I immediately tried to throw [on] clothes. I called my husband, I was crying, my knees were shaking. And even though I knew I had done nothing wrong, after seeing Joe Biden’s speech the night before, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is political.’”

She was right, of course.

“I have subsequently called the FBI office in Newark to document or know for sure that it really was FBI agents at my home. It was. They said it was an anonymous tip, but they won’t tell me anything else.”

Such is life in Joe Biden’s America. If I send the FBI an anonymous tip that someone was involved in the infinitely more destructive Black Lives Matter/Antifa riots, will they send three armed agents to his or her door?

Then we have the case of the My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell. He was en route from Iowa to his home in the Twin Cities and pulled into a Hardee’s drive-through in Mankato, whereupon he was surrounded by FBI agents. As far as I know, no one has disputed Lindell’s account:

“I open my door and I say, ‘Who are you?’ And he says, ‘We’re FBI,'” Lindell recalled on his show, the Lindell Report. He said the FBI agents showed him their badges upon request and told him to pull over.

“He goes, ‘We’re taking your cellphone. We have a warrant for your cellphone.’ I go, ‘No.’ I said, ‘My whole company, I run five companies off of that. I don’t have a computer. My hearing aids run off of this. Everything runs off of my phone,'” Lindell said. “I said, ‘If I don’t give it to you, will you arrest me then?” At that point, the agents apparently handed him the search warrant for his phone.

Lindell said he was advised by his lawyer, whom he was allowed to call, to hand over his phone to the FBI.

What is Lindell’s offense? He is a friend of, and donor to, President Trump, and he has argued that the 2020 election was marred by serious improprieties. Which I think is indisputably true, although my list of improprieties would be different from Lindell’s. But why is this any of the FBI’s business? Will they want my cell phone next? Or yours?

Finally–for the moment–the FBI’s role in the worst scandal in American history, the Russia collusion hoax, seems to be expanding. It turns out that both Christopher Steele, the fabricator of the Steele report on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and Igor Danchenko, the employee of a left-wing think tank who supposedly was the chief source for Steele’s dossier, but turned out to know nothing about it, were paid FBI informants. Every time you think you have gotten to the bottom of the Russia collusion hoax, it turns out to be worse than you thought.

I don’t see how the FBI, in anything like its present form, can be salvaged. The bureau has been so thoroughly politicized, so corruptly placed at the disposal of one of our political parties, that it has lost the confidence of most Americans who pay attention. It will take legislation to abolish or drastically reform the FBI, but that should be a goal when Republicans retake control of Congress.

Bordering on insanity

(Scott Johnson)

The Biden administration’s happy talk on border security is at least equal to it’s happy talk on inflation in its absurd denial of reality. I took a pass at Vice President Harris’s performance in her Meet the Press interview here on Monday. Media Research Center’s Tim Graham did better than I did in his comments on Sean Spicer’s Newsmax show (video below). Graham was joined in the segment by Ben Weingarten. MRC’s NewsBusters reports on the segment here.

KJP on the IRA

(Scott Johnson)

The White House celebrated the passage of the bizarrely named Inflation (tax, spending, climate) bill yesterday. President Biden spoke at excruciating length on the White House lawn. He had the crowd yearning for an encore by Nancy Pelosi, or even James Taylor. Opening with “What a great, great crowd,” Biden may have succeeded in avoiding the utterance of a true statement in his entire spiel. The White House has posted the transcript here.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre previewed the celebration at the White House press briefing (transcript here). Given the unfavorable inflation report released yesterday morning, a few of the questions inquired about the subject of the day. One reporter cruelly asked KJP: “What exactly would the Inflation Reduction Act do to reduce inflation in the short term?” Anyone familiar with the IRA knows that question is a brain-twister. KJP did not disappoint in her response:

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I — I — when you look at the lowering costs, in particular, for Americans, I think that’s important when you think about how inflation has — has increased cost for American — Americans.

If you think about the hundred dollar — saving $100 per year on premiums with ACA; when you think about lowering costs for our seniors, capping that at $2,000 a year instead of thousands and thousands of dollars a month — that lowering of cost, as we — as we deal with a time that is difficult for many, many Americans.

Look, experts, economists has said themselves that this would be — the Inflation Reduction Act would — would be beneficial to — that 300 — that extra $300 billion in deficit that is really important, as we have — right now have $1.7 billion [trillion] in deficit deduction [reduction] under this administration. It would — it would help lower that even more, which is incredibly important.

And so, look, we’ve heard from Republicans and Democrats who were U.S — U.S. Treasury Secretaries who said it would lower inflation.

We’ve heard from — more than 126 economists said it would lower inflation.

And so I think that is — that is also an important fact that we point to when we talk about the importance of the Inflation Reduction Act, the importance of lowering cost for American — for American families, even as you look at the energy cost as well.

KJP’s response to the question posed can fairly be translated as “nothing.” The reporter let it ride and followed up:

Q But some of the savings that you’re pointing to wouldn’t kick in until 2024 or 2026. So is it fair to suggest to people that somehow they’re going to see some inflation reduction right now while they’re hurting the most?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, that — that is actually not true. So, just — this is — just for some folks who are watching: Consumers, families, and small businesses owners can head to — as it relates to the energy cost component, the lowering of cost — to learn more about how they can start saving money immediately.

Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, tax credits and rebates — that is real. Inflation Reduction Act credits and rebates available today include a 30 percent credit to cover the cost of insta- — installing roof — rooftop solar; up to 10 percent credit to cover the cost of installation materials and other energy efficient improvements, like energy-savings windows and doors; a $300 tax credit for purchasing efficient heating and cooling equipment, like a heat pump or central air conditioner; a tax credit of up to 7- — $7,500 for purchasing a new electric vehicle.

All of these things could happen and are available to folks. Those rebates are available to folks. Those tax credits are available to folks today.

There is a Laughter is the best medicine quality to this performance, but it is both pathetic and revealing.

NOTE: James Freeman reviewed yesterday’s inflation data in his excellent Best of the Web column “The inflation election.”

After last night

(Scott Johnson)

New Hampshire held its late party primaries yesterday. The only interesting races were on the Republican side and Democrats had a hand in two of them. In the Senate contest to pick a challenger to vulnerable incumbent Maggie Hassan, Don Bolduc faced off against Chuck Morse. Democrats supported Bolduc because he is the less viable candidate. With 87 percent of the vote tabulated, Bolduc leads Morse by about 1300 votes (1 percent of the vote).

Democrats also supported Robert Burns for the Republican endorsement in New Hampshire’s Second District. Again, Democrats supported Burns. With 83 percent of the vote tabulated, Burns leads his closest opponent by about 1,000 votes (2 percent of the vote).

Neither of the two races has yet been called [UPDATE: RealClearPolitics shows that the Senate primary contest has been called for Bolduc], but the writing appears to be on the wall. The Washington Post’s Annie Linskey touched on these races in a September 12 story that Jewish World Review posted here in accessible form. Linskey noted:

As primary season nears its Tuesday endpoint, Democrats are giving the strategy one more try in New Hampshire, in two congressional races. In the Republican Senate primary, Senate Majority PAC, a group aligned with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), is spending $3.2 million on ads that effectively enhance the candidacy in the GOP primary of retired Gen. Don Bolduc, by portraying his more moderate rival, state Senate President Chuck Morse, who has trailed in GOP primary polls to Bolduc, as beholden to the party establishment.

Bolduc has said he “concurred” with Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged and signed a letter along with other retired military leaders claiming without evidence that the FBI and Supreme Court ignored “election irregularities” in 2020. In a statement, Senate Majority PAC spokeswoman Veronica Yoo said the spending was a response to Morse’s attacks on TV against Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), which the group “won’t sit idly by” and tolerate.

In New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, where Rep. Annie Kuster (D) is seeking reelection, a group called Democrats Serve is directing about $100,000 into TV commercials accentuating the conservative credentials of Robert Burns, an otherwise poorly-funded Republican House candidate who acknowledges that President Biden won but has claimed that “a ton” of other unspecified elections were “stolen” in 2020.

The Democrats’ support of Bolduc and Burns belies the ravings of Joe Biden about “fascism” and his alleged support of “democracy.” Here we have the president’s party interfering in the deliberations of the opposing party for purely partisan advantage. The alleged threat of “fascism” must not be so great that the Democrats won’t toy with it as it suits their purposes. If Republicans did the same, we would hear incessantly from Biden, the Democrats and the Democrats’ media adjunct that it presents a threat to “democracy.”

In New Hampshire’s First District primary, the AP has called the race for former Trump press staffer Karoline Leavitt. Age 25, Leavitt “is only the second member of Generation Z to win a House primary and the first Republican,” according to the NPR story on the race. Leavitt’s closest opponent was Matt Mowers, who lost to incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas in 2020. Pappas defeated Mowers by 20,000 votes (5 points) in 2020. This time around Leavitt will face of against against Pappas in what should be an uphill race that might be winnable.

Primary results via WMUR News 9 (Manchester).

Waiting for James Taylor

(Scott Johnson)

Those who are doing their best to sell us out to Iran with another wrap on the JCPOA have given up for the time being. The AFP/Times of Israel story puts it this way: “Europe: ‘Serious doubts’ Iran wants nuke deal; program ‘way beyond’ civilian purpose.” The subhead cites a joint statement saying that France, Germany and the United Kingdom have reached the “limit of flexibility” while Tehran escalates its nuclear program “way beyond any plausible civilian justification.” The statement is published in a press release here. This is the text:

We the governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom have negotiated with Iran, in good faith, since April 2021 to restore and fully implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), along with other participants to the deal and the United States. In early August, after a year and a half of negotiations, the JCPoA Coordinator submitted a final set of texts which would allow for an Iranian return to compliance with its JCPoA commitments and a US return to the deal.

In this final package, the Coordinator made additional changes that took us to the limit of our flexibility. Unfortunately, Iran has chosen not to seize this critical diplomatic opportunity. Instead, Iran continues to escalate its nuclear program way beyond any plausible civilian justification.

While we were edging closer to an agreement, Iran reopened separate issues that relate to its legally binding international obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its NPT safeguards agreement concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This latest demand raises serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the JCPoA. Iran’s position contradicts its legally binding obligations and jeopardizes prospects of restoring the JCPoA.

In June, the IAEA Board of Governors’ adopted, by an overwhelming majority, a resolution calling on Iran to take urgent action to answer the Agency’s outstanding questions. Three months later Iran has taken no steps at all as confirmed by the IAEA Director General’s latest report.

Our position remains clear and steadfast. Iran must fully and, without delay, cooperate in good faith with the IAEA. It is up to Iran to provide technically credible answers to the IAEA’s questions on the whereabouts of all nuclear material on its territory. The JCPoA can in no way be used to release Iran from legally binding obligations that are essential to the global non-proliferation Regime.

Given Iran’s failure to conclude the deal on the table we will consult, alongside international partners, on how best to address Iran’s continued nuclear escalation and lack of cooperation with the IAEA regarding its NPT safeguards Agreement.

They don’t have a clue. In a related story, Jonathan Tirone and Iain Marlow give us the American angle in the Bloomberg story “Blinken Says Revival of Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Unlikely’ for Now.” Blinken is leaving his options open. “For now” is not forever. In his world, someday always comes.

When it does, the White House will want to throw another party featuring James Taylor. Taylor will take a deep dive into his catalog for the occasion. He’ll sing a collection of oldies including “Brighten Your Night With My Day,” “Sunshine Sunshine,” and “The Blues Is Just a Bad Dream.” For an encore he’ll perform “Steamroller” with a moving dedication to the mullahs.

I’ve Seen Gaslighting and I’ve Seen the Stock Market Tank

(John Hinderaker)

The Dow was down 1,276 points today, or 4%. Why? The August inflation number came in worse than expected:

The new data showed the consumer-price index rose 8.3% in August from the same month a year ago. That was down from 8.5% in July and 9.1% in June—the highest inflation rate in four decades.

But on a month-to-month basis, the figures showed inflation accelerating in August, dashing investors’ hopes that price pressures would weaken….

The Biden administration ludicrously claimed that there was no inflation in July, since the year-over-year number was down slightly from June. But the salient point is that the people who couldn’t afford to buy groceries or fill up their gas tanks in June, also couldn’t afford those things in July, nor could they in August. This was one of the most pathetic attempts at gaslighting we have seen.

Apparently expecting better numbers, Joe Biden planned a party to celebrate the alleged success of the Inflation Reduction Act. Thus, Politico: “‘The future of America is bright’: Biden celebrates Inflation Reduction Act.”

It was an other-worldly scene, especially in view of the grim August numbers and the stock market’s tanking. James Taylor, who must be about as old as Biden, kicked off the party with a rendition of “Fire and Rain.” This led to considerable hilarity on Twitter.

sure, why tf not

— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) September 13, 2022

If Biden had thought more clearly, he might have realized that “Fire and Rain” is not exactly a party song. On the contrary. As I recall, it is a song about suicide. It is thus apt for a day on which billions of dollars of wealth are wiped out as a result of government fecklessness.

— Flappr (@flapprdotnet) September 13, 2022

This year’s midterm elections can be seen as a test case that will show whether organized gaslighting, supported by the entire news and media establishment, can cause voters to forget reality. The Democrats’ mantra is: Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

Who’s Extreme?

(John Hinderaker)

Like me, you probably have been flabbergasted by Joe Biden’s attempt to paint Republicans as violent extremists. Biden’s attacks reflect an alternate reality that seems to come from some other universe. This video (via InstaPundit) does an excellent job of exposing the insanity of Biden’s worldview:

Who ever did this video. Freaking awesome.

🇺🇲Patriot Knights Of America, AZ,NM 3%✝ (@knights_america) September 9, 2022

Sadly, I note that a good deal of that video was shot in Minneapolis.

Ken Starr dies at 76

(Scott Johnson)

Judge Kenneth Starr has died today at the age of 76. I have to borrow from Jake Bleiberg’s AP obituary:

At age 37, he became the youngest person ever to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia also had served. From 1989-93, Starr was the solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, arguing 25 cases before the Supreme Court.

Despite his impressive legal credentials, nothing could have prepared him for the task of investigating a sitting president.

In a probe that lasted five years, Starr looked into fraudulent real estate deals involving a long-time Clinton associate, delved into the removal of documents from the office of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster after his suicide and assembled evidence of Clinton’s sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern. Each of the controversies held the potential to do serious, perhaps fatal, damage to Clinton’s presidency.

As Clinton’s legal problems worsened, the White House pilloried Starr as a right-wing fanatic doing the bidding of Republicans bent on destroying the president.

“The assaults took a toll” on the investigation, Starr told a Senate committee in 1999. “A duly authorized federal law enforcement investigation came to be characterized as yet another political game. Law became politics by other means.”

Judge Starr wrote a memoir of the Clinton investigation that he aptly titled Contempt, although Perjury might also have worked.

I greatly admired Judge Starr for his brilliance and his probity. He was a gentleman, a scholar, an outstanding advocate, and, I thought, a judge’s judge.

I attended his speech in Minneapolis at the Center of the American Experiment’s Fall Briefing in 1999 and, thanks to the general counsel of TCF Financial Corporation, my boss Greg Pulles, had the privilege of sitting across from Judge Starr on the flight back to DC on the company jet — talking all the way. We didn’t give him a moment’s rest. (Greg and I flank Judge Starr in the photo below.)

Mitch Pearlstein was president of the American Experiment at the time. Mitch recalled Starr’s kindness to him that day in the 2018 column “Ken Starr and a gracious call home.”

Mitch hosted many prominent men and women in the upper reaches of the world of law, politics, and public policy over the years. Mitch recalled that Judge “Starr’s remarks, as expected, were brilliant that night.” But he was also struck by “how the public persona of an often-ridiculed public figure can be so wildly different from his true and decent self.” Speaking from his experience with men and women of his stature, Mitch assessed Judge Starr “one of the most gracious people I had ever met.” RIP.

Pay No Attention to the Pollster Behind the Curtain

(Steven Hayward)

The dominant narrative of the Democrat-Media-Complex is that Joe Biden is coming back—look, his approval rating has risen above 40 percent! The “generic ballot” for the House shows Dems back in the lead! Democratic Senate candidates are leading their weakling Republican challengers in several red states! (Although in fact several recent polls reflect rising GOP Senate candidate strength in key races, but never mind.) Independent voters are breaking back to Democrats! Happy days are here again.

The Cook Political Report is already chilling the champagne for election night:

Democratic Senate candidates have been consistently outpolling Biden’s job approval ratings in their states. And, when it comes to the House, the share of voters who say they would vote for a Democrat for Congress is anywhere from 1 to 8 points higher than the percentage of voters who say they approve of the job Biden is doing. For example, the most recent Quinnipiac survey showed Biden’s job approval rating at 40 percent, yet 47 percent of voters said they were supporting a Democrat for Congress in November. In other words, many voters who are unhappy with Biden are nonetheless committed to supporting a Democratic candidate in November.

Not so fast, says Nate Cohn at the New York Times. He remembers the consistently pro-Dem polling errors of 2016 and 2020. And he has receipts. In fact he says the polls right now are in the “danger zone” for Democrats (cue Kenny Loggins): “Democratic Senate candidates are outrunning expectations in the same places where the polls overestimated Mr. Biden in 2020 and Mrs. Clinton in 2016.”

Start with this one:

The same pattern of polling “error,” by the way, showed up for the House in 2020, when Republicans picked up 13 seats despite all the polls and media expectations that Dems would gain 10 or more:

Cohn says this pattern can be seen in individual Senate races this year, and concludes:

It raises the possibility that the apparent Democratic strength in Wisconsin and elsewhere is a mirage — an artifact of persistent and unaddressed biases in survey research. If the polls are wrong yet again, it will not be hard to explain. Most pollsters haven’t made significant methodological changes since the last election. The major polling community post-mortem declared that it was “impossible” to definitively ascertain what went wrong in the 2020 election.

I have a hint: non-Democrat voters don’t trust pollsters, and don’t cooperate with them. Cohn comes close to admitting this:

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on abortion, some pollsters have said they’re seeing the familiar signs of nonresponse bias — when people who don’t respond to a poll are meaningfully different from those who participate — creeping back into their surveys.

Brian Stryker, a partner at Impact Research (Mr. Biden is a client), told me that his polling firm was getting “a ton of Democratic responses” in recent surveys, especially in “the familiar places” where the polls have erred in recent cycles.

My theory of the asymmetry in poll respondents by party is that liberals love to be polled because it flatters their inherent ideological narcissism, while conservatives are correctly distrustful of pollsters. On the few occasions when I’ve been reached by a pollster, I lie about my demographic profile and give massively contradictory answers on the individual questions to mess up their data set.

UPDATE: No sooner do I note this analysis than Echelon Insights comes out with these poll numbers:

I like a lot of the analytical work from Echelon Insights, but these numbers are nuts.

Stelter Goes to Harvard

(John Hinderaker)

Brian Stelter was fired by CNN as part of the network’s effort to shift its image away from far left commentary and toward mainstream news coverage. While at CNN, Stelter used his platform to aggressively promote Democratic Party themes, and in particular to make war on CNN’s more successful rival, Fox News.

But Stelter has landed on his feet: he is going to Harvard.

Stelter broke the news on social media that he’ll be joining the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School this fall.

Stelter will be the Kennedy School’s Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellow. Harvard says that Stelter will “convene a series of discussions about threats to democracy….” So, in other words, he will continue his crazed Republican-bashing under new sponsorship.

This means, remarkably, that even CNN has higher standards than Harvard.

Biden Gets a Clue?

(Steven Hayward)

The Washington Post reported yesterday that someone woke up Slow Joe:

White House alarm rises over Europe as Putin threatens energy supply

White House officials are growing increasingly alarmed about Europe’s energy crisis and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to force a bleak winter on the continent.

Seeking to punish Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and force a retreat, Western allies have moved to set a cap on what buyers pay for Russian oil. Putin last week said Russia would retaliate by cutting off gas and oil shipments, which could devastate Europe’s economy and hurt the United States by sending global energy prices soaring.

Of course this last sentence really ought to read, “. . .which would devastate Europe’s economy and Democratic Party prospects in the mid-term elections.”

In response to my post over the weekend about how the European energy situation is much more serious than people know, a reader writes in:

One of my kids just returned from the GasTech 2022 conference, ironically held in Milan this year.  He is an engineer with a LNG shipping/regas firm. It was nothing like he or the execs from his firm had ever seen. Those same “confident” energy ministry staff from Euro governments are privately in a full fledged panic trying to secure reliable supplies.

One key problem is the lack of port delivery facilities for liquid gas product. Not quick to build—if ya ain’t got one now, won’t for 3-5 years. Normally you solve for this by using FSRU ships that are semi-permanently moored off shore and feed directly to distribution facilities.  But there are only 4 dozen of these in the world and most are already contracted to places like Bangladesh. The industry is trying spin up some regas units built on unused exploration platforms—then just tow them into place. The Korean yards that build most of the tankers are fully booked three years out—so hard to rapidly expand the tanker fleets—and a lot of ships are aging out.

In one meeting a Pakistani speaker almost started crying describing the economic dislocation skyrocketing prices are causing.  He was in a meeting with the Uniper execs…and as you wrote, they are on the brink of shutting down absent massive cash infusion.  Looked like hunted animals.  Unless Vlad turns the spigot back on can’t see a happy ending.  And my understanding with facilities like aluminum smelters is you can’t flip them “on/off”.  Have to run continuously—millions and months to deslag, clean and restart.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed some of this yesterday as well:

Europe’s energy crisis has left few businesses untouched, from steel and aluminum to cars, glass, ceramics, sugar and toilet-paper makers. Some industries, such as the energy-intensive metals sector, are shutting factories that analysts and executives say might never reopen, imperiling thousands of jobs.

Keep in mind that when Europe imposed sanctions on Russia after the outbreak of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, oil and gas were largely exempted because of Europe’s foolish dependence on Russia for oil and gas. It is Putin who is putting the screws to Europe, plainly hoping that imposing serious pain on Europe will cause the EU to drop sanctions or, more importantly, abandon Ukraine and stop supplying weapons. With the war now going badly for Putin, he may well double-down on this strategy.

P.S. Don’t look now, but it appears China may be coming to Russia’s aid:

The first in-person meeting between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin since the start of the Ukraine war is expected to include discussions between the two leaders on how to deepen their economic ties as Russia faces setbacks on the battlefield. The meeting . . . is expected to take place this week at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan. . .


Europe needs China’s diesel if it does cut off Russia imports

If Europe is serious about ending all imports of Russian crude oil and refined fuels by early next year, the key to success lies in Asia, and more specifically China. . .

The problem is that there is not enough diesel in the global system to make up for the potential shortfall in Europe, which has so far been unable to end its reliance on imports from Russia. . .

If Europe does try to draw more diesel away from Asia it will likely boost the margins further, which ultimately will stoke inflation and economic growth concerns in a region also facing record high thermal coal and liquefied natural gas prices.

Oh goody, let’s swap dependence on Russia for even more dependence on China.

Queen Elizabeth’s Death, As Seen In America

(John Hinderaker)

On Saturday evening (Sunday in Australia), I appeared live on Sky News’ Outsiders program to talk about how Americans have responded to the passing Queen Elizabeth II. We also talked about demands for “reparations” and the merits of the British Empire. It is a short segment, only around six minutes, but you may find it of interest:

An overdose of Schadenfreude

(Scott Johnson)

We may take pleasure in the suffering that is roiling the waters at the New York Times. Workers at the Times are struggling with the conditions of their employment. I hadn’t heard about the issues before reading Keith Kelly’s New York Post story “Over 1,300 New York Times employees pledge not to return to office.” Kelly himself seems to enjoy the contradictions:

The New York Times expects employees to start returning to the office three days a week starting this week — but more than 1,300 journalists are saying hell no, they won’t go.

It’s just the latest blow in the increasingly bitter contract dispute between the News Guild journalists union — which includes reporters and photographers, as well as some editors and business-side employees — and upper management, over wages.

As of Monday, 1,316 Times workers had signed a pledge not to return to the office. This includes 879 members of the News Guild, but also members of the Times Tech Guild and the union for Wirecutter, the paper’s product-recommendation spinoff.

“People are livid,” Tom Coffey told The Post. A 25-year veteran editor at NYT, he works on the news desk and serves on the union’s Contract Action Committee.

He added that being forced to return to the office during a period of high inflation means workers will have to spend more money on gas, mass transit, clothing and lunches, despite the lack of salary increase.

NYT video journalist Haley Willis tweeted today: “The @nytimes is giving employees branded lunch boxes this week as a return-to-office perk. We want respect and a fair contract instead — so I’m working from home this week along with 1,300 of my @NYTimesGuild and @NYTGuildTech colleagues, with support from @WirecutterUnion.”

One source said that the branded NYT lunch boxes did not have any sandwiches or other lunch food inside. “They were empty,” said one source. “And the lunch box had no handles.”

The lunch boxes don’t work, as every Bob Dylan fan knows, ’cause the vandals took the handles. Kelly has much more in his deeply reported story here.

The squirming of Mark Kelly

(Scott Johnson)

Blake Masters is running against incumbent Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly in the upcoming November elections. Running for reelection in a purple state, Kelly impersonates a moderate and may even be one in some sense, although he is reliable Democratic vote at a 100 percent level of certainty. In this he presents a telling contrast with his Arizona colleague, Kyrsten Sinema.

Kelly nevertheless holds himself out as Mr. Bipartisan. I assess his claim to be an exaggeration. To the extent it is true, however, we may infer that bipartisanship isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Well, we already knew that. In addition to its inherent defects, bipartisanship is also a fraud. Take my Senator Amy Klobuchar — please.

Asked on local Arizona media to assess the performance of President Biden, a cat seemed to have Kelly’s tongue. It isn’t a good look. Indeed, it is pathetic. As Muhammad Ali urged Antonio Inoki in the match Inoki spent on his back, get up and fight like a man!

Masters may have his own problems, but he makes a good point in his comment on this clip: “Biden’s record is YOUR record. Can’t hide from that now.” In any event, this is interesting and it matters more than Masters’ position on abortion, whatever it is.

Look at Mark Kelly squirm when asked if Biden is doing a good job.

“Hey, I th-, you know, I, uh, you know, I, it, first of all” 🥴

Senator: Biden’s record is YOUR record. Can’t hide from that now

— Blake Masters (@bgmasters) September 12, 2022

Time For Equal Expectations

(John Hinderaker)

Two stories in the news strike a common chord: the need to stop infantilizing minority, especially black, populations. The first comes from the world of sports and involves the familiar racial hate incident hoax. Briefly, the Duke women’s volleyball team played a match at Brigham Young University, and lost. After the match, the godmother of one of the Duke players, who is black, tweeted that someone in the BYU crowd had yelled the “N-word” at her goddaughter when she was serving. It turned out that she (the godmother) is a virulent anti-white racist (“These white folks ain’t never had they ass kicked, but they better get used to it”).

The player then backed up this claim, and it became a national news story. The reliably left-wing ESPN reported it as fact. The President of BYU denounced the incident. Good Morning America, ABC News, CNN and Deadspin all weighed in, as did Lebron James. A BYU student who was accused (wrongly, as it turned out) of being the perpetrator was suspended from attending the college’s sports events. And the coach of the South Carolina volleyball basketball team canceled an upcoming match against BYU.

All of these people and institutions studiously ignored the fact that these campus “hate incidents” nearly always turn out to be hoaxes. One might have expected that Duke, given its history, would be sober enough to reserve judgment. But of course, that didn’t happen, even though the claim here was inherently dubious. Why didn’t the Duke player, or one of her teammates, or her coach, or anyone on the BYU team, or any other observers, say anything at the time?

Meanwhile, BYU carried out a meticulous investigation that involved interviewing dozens of witnesses, searching for someone–anyone!–who could corroborate the Duke claim. No one heard an “N-word” or any other racial slur during the match. Investigators reviewed video footage of the match. Nothing. They played audio recordings of the match, with the television feed deleted so that only crowd noise could be heard. Nothing. They solicited cell phone video from anyone in the audience that might have picked up a racial slur. Nothing. BYU finally concluded that there was no evidence that the alleged racist incident ever occurred, and apologized to the student who had been wrongly accused.

As far as I can tell, no one else apologized. Not Duke, and not the South Carolina coach, who stood by her decision to cancel her team’s match against BYU. And certainly not the Duke player or the godmother who made the false allegation. This is par for the course: a fabricated allegation of racist conduct is made, is greeted with ritual sympathy for the “victim” and condemnation of the unknown perpetrator, but soon is proved to be false. But with no consequences for those who perpetrated the hoax.

Amber Athey has more on the story here, and the New York Sun has more here. A couple of days ago, Steve linked to the report on BYU’s investigation.

On to case number two: the Mayor of New Orleans is a woman named LaToya Cantrell. Mayor Cantrell apparently has a taste for high living, and likes to fly first class. It came to light that she had run up $30,000 in first class air fares on the City’s tab, flying, in separate trips, to France and Switzerland. New Orleans’ rules say that employees are to fly on the cheapest fares available, but Cantrell is unrepentant.

In her own defense, she played the race card in perhaps the stupidest manner on record. She alleged that it is unsafe for a black woman to fly economy:

Cantrell has remained defiant in the face of a backlash, defending her luxury tickets by stating that she was “doing business” on behalf of the city and that it wouldn’t be safe for her to travel coach.

“My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not of luxury,” Cantrell said at a press conference on Thursday, September 8, 2022. “As all women know, our health and safety are often disregarded and we are left to navigate alone. As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be,” the mayor said. She added, “Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in.”

The world that Ms. Cantrell walks in is the first class world, but one can only wonder on what basis the first class cabin is “safer” for black women–or anyone–than coach. If the plane crashes, passengers all go down together. Are there Ku Klux Klan members patrolling the economy section who don’t dare penetrate the curtain to first class? The idea is so dumb that no one could possibly believe it.

And, of course, whatever dangers might lurk in the rear of the aircraft are suffered by Mayor Cantrell’s staff: unlike the Mayor, they fly coach.

These instances are among many that reflect efforts by politicians, journalists and activists to infantilize large segments of our population, especially blacks. Will Mayor Cantrell be held to the same standard as any other arrogant, rule-breaking, self-interested politician? That depends on the voters, the overwhelming majority of whom are black. Is the absurd rationale that she asserts good enough for them? We will find out at the next election.

Will the days of false hate crime allegations ever come to an end? Will ESPN and the New York Times ever stop repeating every such allegation as gospel? Will university administrators ever get over the racial vapors? Will blacks who make false allegations ever be held responsible? And will someone finally ask, even if it were true that one fan at a volleyball match yelled the “N-word,” why is it national news?

It is time to move on, and begin to have equal expectations of all of our citizens.


(John Hinderaker)

In what must be this year’s strangest Senate race, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who I take it is some kind of television personality, is taking on John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. Fetterman is recovering from a stroke, from which he is said to be suffering after-effects, and he refuses to debate Oz or do much of anything in public. Fetterman is a rather strange guy at the best of times:

But now he has managed to produce the most laughable moment of the campaign season, so far:

CRINGE: Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman introduces himself as “John Fetterwoman.”

— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 12, 2022

Fetterman must have had a biologist at hand to advise him on his gender reveal. Any offense he may have given to “trans” people was no doubt unintentional.

Observing candidates like John Fetterwoman prompts once more the question: how is it that we struggle to beat people like this?

Loose Ends (183)

(Steven Hayward)

What could be worse than a documentary about . . . the Lincoln Project? How about a five-part documentary about the Lincoln Project! That’s what Showtime is bringing us, and I know you just can’t wait for this undoubtedly riveting production.

Directed by Fisher Stevens (“Dirty Money”) and Karim Amer (“The Vow”), the five-part docuseries explores how the Lincoln Project, the fastest-growing super PAC in America made up of a veteran group of former GOP operatives and strategists, accepted the duty of “saving democracy” in their plot to defeat their own party’s sitting president.

What—Ken Burns wasn’t available? At least with all the time that a five-part series will allow, it will fully explore and explain the pedophilia of Lincoln Project co-founder John Weaver, though strangely none of the promotional material mentions this angle.

I’m sorry, but Galadriel is a poorly written, one-dimensional character. If the show runners wanted her to be a badass warrior princess, they should have just plugged in Xena, as Lucy Lawless would have made a more convincing warrior elf maiden than the wisp of a blonde they settled on for the role instead.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky.

It appears all the votes are in over in Sweden, and the center-right block, led by the Swedish Democrats, will have a razor-thin 175-174 margin in the Riksdag. Here’s the growth in the Swedish Democrat party over time:

A closer look reveals yet more evidence of why women shouldn’t be allowed to vote:

Special thanks to James Davenport for his very kind review of my Stan Evans biography for the Russell Kirk Center:

It is this reviewer’s hope, and no doubt the author’s hope, that M. Stanton Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom will spark a renewed interest in this impactful journalist, philosopher, and leader. In this biography of Evans, Steven F. Hayward has offered not merely Evans’s story but what amounts to a history of the conservative movement through Stan’s eyes. Hayward presents much of the important history of this movement and highlights the vital role that Evans played in it all.

If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, what are you waiting for??

Even Finance Professors Lean Left

(Steven Hayward)

In response to my latest Loose Ends item that mentions that the Harvard faculty self-reports to be 80 percent liberal (an underestimate in reality), a commenter suggests: “No guarantee, of course. But if you want to find a conservative professor, search out the Finance Department or equivalent.”

Well, bad news I’m afraid. From the Summer 2021 edition of Academic Questions, the quarterly journal of the National Association of Scholars:

Even Finance Professors Lean Left

Emre Kuvvet

This analysis of the political party affiliations of faculty at the top twenty finance departments and of the editorial boards at the top three finance journals shows that both institutions lean considerably to the left. Results also suggest that finance departments will become even less politically diverse in the future. . .

New York University is ranked number one among finance departments in the U.S., with Harvard University coming in at number two. Both institutions have a political affiliation ratio among faculty of 10 Democrats to 1 Republican. (At NYU, eight faculty have no party affiliation and thirteen are not registered to vote.) In other words, for the top two ranked finance departments in the country, for every Republican there are 10 Democrats among the faculty.

There’s more like this in the article. Here’s the table Kuvvet put together for the article (which explains fully his methodology and data sources):

It gets worse. Younger finance faculty skew more to the left than that total faculty, as Table 2 shows:

And the leading academic finance journals are run by editors who skew left, so expect lots of articles on the glory of ESG investing.

You will note in the totals at the bottom of the first table that the number of finance professors who are not registered to vote or have no stated party affiliation outnumbers professors who do have a party preference. Perhaps these are professors who lean right, but don’t want to disclose it, which is commentary all by itself. Lacking data, this article doesn’t speculate.

To be sure, when I was in college back around the time of the Boer War, my finance professors were all conservative Republicans, but they weren’t regular academics. The two finance professors I had were not conventional academic Ph.Ds, but MBAs who had come to teaching after long senior careers on Wall Street. In other words, they actually knew from experience, and were excellent classroom teachers incidentally. (Of course I would think this: I got the top score in my corporate finance class as an undergraduate. And yet for some reason decided to study political philosophy in graduate school. Oh well.) One notable feature: being practicioners, they didn’t publish anything in academic journals.

Part of the problem with universities is that they have fewer permanent, tenured faculty drawn from the real world. Today the ranks of even finance professors will be drawn from purely conventional academic backgrounds, where “publish or perish” is prized over classroom teaching. The “publish or perish” regime is fine for major research universities (though not in all disciplines, such as finance!), but the problem is that this rigid model has trickled down to liberal arts colleges, and has badly diluted their primary teaching mission. Today the publication record of most liberal arts college faculty look just like the specialized publications of major research faculty, i.e., esoteric and boring.

This is one among the very many problems afflicting higher education. I happened to run across an apt comment on this point from Hannah Arendt, from a 1972 conversation of several senior academics convened by the Rockefeller Foundation:

Really good teachers are not thought of highly by the academic society. This business of “publish or perish” has been a catastrophe. People write things which should never have been written and which should never be printed. Nobody’s interested. But for them to keep their jobs and get the proper promotion, they’ve got to do it. It demeans the whole of intellectual life. I used to adhere to the principle that a graduate student on a certain level should be independent from me to the extent that he could also, apart from me, choose and establish his own bibliography. This is absolutely impossible today because there is such an amount of sheer nonsense on the market that you cannot ask a student to review it. He will spend years in the library until he finds the few really important books in the field.

The one who really loses is the person who has a passionate interest in matters of the mind, who is an excellent reader, who can establish contact with his students and make them understand that his subject is important, but who will not write. Or, if he is forced to write, will not write well. And, by doing something which he is forced today because of “publish or perish,” he will become a lesser person.

Arendt did add that “the so-called charismatic teacher is usually a disaster.” Arendt, I am told, was not herself a very charismatic teacher in the classroom, and her lectures could be rather turgid. But the discussions after were golden.

(This Arendt passage not available online. I found it in an obscure collection of some of her uncollected short works, Thinking Without a Bannister: Essays in Understanding, 1953 – 1975, p. 442.)

Official greeter for illegals

(Scott Johnson)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams must be a weird dude. He bitches about the illegal immigrants Texas Governor Greg Abbott buses up to his sanctuary city and dispatches an official greeter to welcome them. He’s funny that way. Perhaps he illustrates the contradictions inherent in making the Democrats’ platform of national suicide real.

I wondered about that official greeter. Why haven’t we heard more about him? He walks the Democrats’ walk, shall we say.

According to CNN’s Ray Sanchez, his name is Manuel Castro. Appointed by Adams, Castro is Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. The city has posted his biography here.

Sanchez is vague on Castro’s status. It states: “Castro himself crossed the US-Mexico border with his mother when he was 5.”

Castro’s city bio is somewhat clearer: “As a child, Castro crossed the border with his mother to reunite with his father who immigrated to NYC years earlier….He was part of the early generation of undocumented youth activists known as DREAMers fighting for the right to an education and legal status.” So he comes by his job as the official greeter honestly, so to speak.

Sanchez’s story lobs a shot at the site of the illegals’ destination: “He has been greeting migrants at the much maligned Port Authority terminal, a notorious commuter gateway once called ‘a hall of unfathomable nightmares’ by the website Failed Architecture.” The illegals deserve something more befitting their exalted status — maybe something more along the lines of Grand Central Station or Yankee Stadium.

The notion of illegality does not cross Sanchez’s keyboard. The illegal aliens are of course “undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.” They are the heroes of Sanchez’s story.

Despite its deficiencies, Sanchez’s story contradicts Adams’s assertion that Texas is deceiving illegals into taking the bus to New York: “Thousands have chosen the Texas-chartered buses to New York City and the nation’s capital –” Sanchez can’t let it go at that — “where they have no connections or know where [sic] to turn for help.”

Do they have connections or know where to turn for help in Texas? I don’t think so. Everybody knows this is know where, as the Neil Young song almost goes.

Sanchez’s story gives adds a dimension to the Port Authority terminal’s status as a hall of unfathomable nightmares. It’s not just an architectural nightmare.

“The border is secure”

(Scott Johnson)

You may not have heard recently that “the border is secure.”   It was one of the assertions embedded in the incoherent verbal rambling with which Vice President Kamala Harris responded to the question posed by Chuck Todd in the interview broadcast on Meet the Press yesterday.  NewsBusters has posted the video excerpt below along with its story and the accompanying transcript cruelly documenting the exchange.

Harris’s rambling belongs in our Veep thoughts with Kamala Harris series, but the seriousness of the subject matter calls for separate attention here. Although there is much that could and should be said about it. I have just a few thoughts about this exchange.

• Chuck Todd is a Democratic operative in the guise of an anchor reporter. He would not have asked the question unless he thought Harris was capable of answering it.

• In her first pass at a response, Harris obviously avoided answering the question. Todd asked it again rather than congratulating her on her brilliant response. I give him credit for that, but Todd leaves the her equally pathetic second response hanging.

• Harris and her staff must read Todd as I do. He’s on their team. He won’t embarrass her. Indeed, Harris was doing Todd a favor by appearing on the show. The ratings of Meet the Press have tanked.

• Todd’s question is so obvious that Harris should have been prepared with a coherent response. Harris was both unprepared and incapable of answering it. She is a glorified idiot one heartbeat away from the job currently occupied by the guy with half a mind to be president.

• “The broken immigration system,” as Harris calls it, has eroded our sovereignty and undermined our national security. According to CIS here this past June, “Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border have apprehended 50 illegal migrants with records in the [agency’s terrorist screening dataset].” You’d never know it if you get your news from the mainstream media.

• Many adroit Democratic politicians could have dealt with the question, but Biden’s record is indefensible and not just on this issue.

The Vile Jayapal

(Steven Hayward)

We’ve already seen how graceless the hateful left can be in their reaction to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, but “Squad Member” Rep. Pramila Jayapal takes the cake with this one:

There were 2,977 killed in the twin towers and at the Pentagon that day. How does Jayapal get the 2,996 figure? By adding in the 19 hijackers.

Pretty clear whose side she’s on.

UPDATE: Jayapal has deleted the Tweet. Maybe she got a phone call from Nancy Pelosi telling her not to be an idiot that embarrasses other Democrats?

Reminder that this isn’t a new dodge with The Squad:

But just how the hell did Kevin McCarthy totally f— this up? (You just know Lucretia is going to hang this around my head on the next podcast. . .)


Sweden Swinging to the Right?

(Steven Hayward)

Sweden held national elections today, and like the United States in 2020, counting the votes has been halted for the night, with about 250,00o votes still outstanding—a significant number in Sweden though probably not enough to alter the outcome, which right now appears to favor four center-right parties over the center-left parties by a razor-close 176-173 margin in Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag.

The trouble with Sweden is that it is one of those parliamentary systems that has eight parties contesting for seats on a basis of proportional (rather than first-past-the-post) representation, so no party has achieved an outright majority for decades, requiring endless coalition governments. Perhaps coalition government produce the same kind of Aristotelian moderation that our two-party system is said to produce with its harmonizing aspects, but I am not so sure.

The surge in support for right-leaning parties, especially the leader among the four, the “Sweden Democrats” (not to be confused with the left-leaning and current ruling “Social Democrats”) reflects the rise in discontent with the effects of mass immigration of non-European populations. The relatively new party has gone from about 5 percent support a decade ago to about 22 percent today.

The Financial Times explains:

In the past decade, Sweden has gone from having one of the lowest per capita rates of deadly shootings in Europe to the highest, according to data from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. This year is on track to be a record for fatal shootings with a total of 44 deaths by mid-August, not far off the previous peak of 47 in 2020.

Law and order, once dismissed as a gang-on-gang phenomenon confined to the immigrant-heavy poor suburbs, is among the top priorities for Swedish voters, according to polling companies. . .

The nationalist Sweden Democrats who appear to be benefiting from the focus on crime, having long warned that the country’s open immigration policies up until 2015 would lead to growing violence. The rise in shootings has been linked to turf wars between drug gangs founded by immigrants. . .

“For many years, we [the Sweden Democrats] were silenced. It wasn’t taken seriously by politicians or the media,” he [Jimmie Åkesson, Sweden Democrat leader] said, adding there were growing signs of parallel societies and even local versions of sharia law.

One clue to the scene is the media coverage that describes the Sweden Democrats as “nationalists,” though some of their critics call them Nazis.

Sounds like what Democrats say about Republicans here! Funny thing—one of Sweden’s left-leaning parties has old Communist Party ties, though the media never mention that.

The pre-election polls, incidentally, showed the center-left coalition holding on to power. In other words, Sweden’s pollsters have the same left-leaning error as American pollsters. One other thing: the right-leaning parties draw a considerable amount of their support from younger Swedes under age 30. Good to see the youth of Sweden want a future. Sometime perhaps our younger voters will get a clue.

As usual, Henry Olsen is on it.

P.S. Right-leaning nationalist parties are leading the polls ahead of elections in Italy being held in two weeks.

Down With Electric Vehicles!

(John Hinderaker)

Are people finally starting to catch on to the fact that electric vehicles are a terrible idea? I hope so. Bjorn Lomborg makes the case in accessible form in the Wall Street Journal. To begin with, EVs don’t even save much on CO2 emissions:

Over its lifetime, an electric car does emit less CO2 than a gasoline car, but the difference can range considerably depending on how the electricity is generated. Making batteries for electric cars also requires a massive amount of energy, mostly from burning coal in China. Add it all up and the International Energy Agency estimates that an electric car emits a little less than half as much CO2 as a gasoline-powered one.

What does that up to, in terms of climate?

If every country achieved its stated ambitious electric-vehicle targets by 2030, the world would save 231 million tons of CO2 emissions. Plugging these savings into the standard United Nations Climate Panel model, that comes to a reduction of 0.0002 degree Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

On that basis alone, the left’s mania to make us all drive electric vehicles is insane. But from there on, the story is all negative:

Electric cars’ impact on air pollution isn’t as straightforward as you might think. The vehicles themselves pollute only slightly less than a gasoline car because their massive batteries and consequent weight leads to more particulate pollution from greater wear on brakes, tires and roads. On top of that, the additional electricity they require can throw up large amounts of air pollution depending on how it’s generated. One recent study found that electric cars put out more of the most dangerous particulate air pollution than gasoline-powered cars in 70% of U.S. states. An American Economic Association study found that rather than lowering air pollution, on average each additional electric car in the U.S. causes additional air-pollution damage worth $1,100 over its lifetime.

Worst of all, the materials needed for all of those batteries are controlled by the Communist Chinese Party.

On top of all that, the cost of the materials needed for EV batteries is skyrocketing, so that EVs will be even less cost-competitive in the future than they are now:

The International Energy Agency projects that if electric cars became as prevalent as they would have to be for the world to reach net zero by 2050, the annual total demand for lithium for automobile batteries alone that year would be almost 28 times as much as current annual global lithium production. The material prices for batteries this year are more than three times what they were in 2021, and electricity isn’t getting cheaper either.

Despite massive subsidies, together with efforts by many governments to force consumers to buy electric vehicles, consumers aren’t buying. Much as wind and solar energy have failed to satisfy more than a tiny fraction of America’s energy needs, electric vehicles remain a footnote:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that barring new legislation only about 17% of all new U.S. cars will be electric by 2050, which translates to 13% of the total American car stock.

Left-wing governments are on a collision course with normal Americans. Governments want to force Americans to rely on wind and solar energy, but those sources can’t keep the lights on and are ruinously expensive. Similarly, governments want to force us all into electric vehicles, which are not as functional as gas-powered vehicles, despite being more expensive. And they are a net detriment to the environment. Lomborg is optimistic, perhaps more so than I am:

As consumers continue to vote with their wallets against electric cars, it is hard to imagine places like California continuing to demand that they can purchase only electric ones.

I don’t know; I can imagine it. Our masters seem to relish making our lives worse.

STEVE adds: Interested readers might like to take in my recent “Piercing the Electric Car Fantasy,” which goes into further detail on some of these problems with EVs.

“The Lamps Are Going Out All Over Europe”

(Steven Hayward)

Perhaps the most memorable comment at the outbreak of World War I—or at least the one quoted in every history book—came from the British foreign minister Sir Edward Grey: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

The first half of this statement suddenly applies again to Europe’s energy crisis that threatens a cold and dark winter ahead, and we’ll have to see if the lights of Europe come fully on again in the years to come. Simply put: Europe’s self-inflicted energy crisis is a lot worse than it looks.

European nations are scrambling to backstop consumers from having to pay electricity rates that could increase tenfold or more—if the electricity is available in sufficient quantity at all. What this means is massive government bailouts for energy suppliers. Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss plans to freeze consumer energy costs for two years, at a likely cost to the government of perhaps $200 billion, because utilities face bankruptcy if they can’t pass along higher fuel costs. The bill for continental Europe, and especially Germany, which may have to shutter even more of its heavy industry, is sure to be much higher—perhaps reaching $2 trillion over the coming year.

An energy-triggered financial crisis could begin even before the leaves turn and drop from the trees this fall. Bloomberg reported a few days ago that upside-down energy firms are facing up to $1.5 trillion in margin calls shortly:

European energy trading is being strained by margin calls of at least $1.5 trillion, putting pressure on governments to provide more liquidity buffers, according to Norway’s Equinor ASA.

Aside from fanning inflation, the biggest energy crisis in decades is sucking up capital to guarantee trades amid wild price swings. That’s pushing European Union officials to intervene to prevent energy markets from stalling, while governments across the region are stepping in to backstop struggling utilities. Finland has warned of a “Lehman Brothers” moment, with power companies facing sudden cash shortages.

We all remember how the last “Lehman Brothers moment” worked out.

Right now it doesn’t look like European governments are providing anywhere near enough credit backstop for their energy sector:

So far Germany has introduced Europe’s biggest scheme to backstop companies affected by the fallout of the war in Ukraine, setting aside 7 billion euros in loans to be made available to companies facing liquidity issues. German energy giant Uniper SE last week sought an extra 4 billion euros after fully using a 9 billion-euro existing facility, while Austria extended a 2 billion-euro credit to cover the trading positions of Vienna’s municipal power utility. . .

Among the emergency interventions being discussed by the EU are price caps in power and gas markets.

This is pretty close to the formula that plunged California into its persistent rolling blackouts back in 2000/2001, which culminated finally in emergency rate hikes (after rates had already more than doubled in some areas), and which culminated in the state’s two major utilities declaring bankruptcy. (And two years later California’s indecisive Governor Gray Davis was recalled largely over his incompetent handling of the crisis.)

Barron’s reports:

Natural-gas prices soared 30% at one point, and Goldman Sachs analysts projected that Europeans will see their monthly energy bills triple this winter to an average of 500 euros, or almost $500, per family at the peak.

When the worst of it hits, utility bills could account for 15% of European gross domestic product, crowding out other kinds of spending and investment. Goldman warns that the repercussions “will be even deeper than the 1970s oil crisis.”

Europe is now on the verge of recession, if not already in one, and the worst looks yet to come. Graham Secker, Morgan Stanley’s chief European equity strategist, expects an imminent recession in Europe. . .

The metals industry is facing a “life or death winter” after electricity and gas costs soared over 10 times last year’s levels, a group of chief executives wrote in a letter asking the European Parliament for emergency aid. The products they make sell for less than the cost of keeping the plant running, they argued. Half of the EU’s zinc and aluminum production has already been halted.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S. natural gas prices are at their highest in almost 15 years, having risen over the last two years from under $2/mln BTU to nearly $9 right now. Isn’t America self-sufficient in natural gas thanks to fracking, with abundant untapped reserves? Yes indeed, and there are a lot of complaints that one reason we are seeing this price spike is that we’re shipping a lot of gas to Europe to try to backfill the cutoff Russian supply. The reason for this is simple, and is exactly the same reason that premium beef producers in Iowa like to sell their steaks to New York City—a higher market price. Natural gas producers that have been under some pressure from low gas prices over the last decade are making a rational decision to supply markets where the commodity is more scarce. Already there are calls from the usual Democrat interventionists to restrict overseas sales of American gas (even as they also oppose fracking), because of course they will.

The cause of the European energy crisis is obvious—a combination of green energy fantasy alongside their willing dependence on Russian oil and gas to fill in the large gaps. President Trump criticized Germany’s energy policy in a speech to the UN a few years ago and suggested they cancel the Nordstream II pipeline from Russia (which Germany has now done), but the German UN delegation laughed at him. I doubt they are laughing now.

P.S. Notice below, by the way, that Europe’s energy cost volatility started long before the Ukrainian War, because the limits of the wind- and solar-heavy supply were starting to be reached:

Is 52 the Magic Number?

(John Hinderaker)

On Meet the Press this morning, Kamala Harris said that if the Democrats pick up two Senate seats in the midterms, they will abolish the filibuster, at least selectively. The two additional seats, plus Harris’s own tie-breaker, will be needed to offset the votes of Senators Manchin and Sinema so as to create a majority in favor of altering Senate rules:

Harris said, “In less than two months, we are looking at a midterm election in which so much is on the line. Take, for example, the issue of choice. The United States Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision just took away a constitutional right that had been recognized from the women of America from the people of America.”

That is a ridiculous characterization of the Dobbs decision, but it is the Democrats’ story and plenty of voters appear to be falling for it. Harris went on to specify the Women’s Health Protection Act, which has already passed the House, as the legislation the Democrats will break the filibuster to pass. That bill would pre-empt all state laws relating to abortion. It mandates legal abortions up to the point of viability, and thereafter, up to the moment of birth apparently, if the abortionist says that “continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

The other purpose for which the Democrats promise to do away with the filibuster is, in my mind, even more sinister:

Anchor Chuck Todd asked, “If the Democrats get 52 Senate seats or more [is the] legislative filibuster gone? Or just on this issue?”

Harris said, “The president has been clear on this issue and on another very important issue which is voting rights.”

In other words, the Democrats would pass their “voting rights” bill that renders illegal states’ attempts to improve election security, e.g. by requiring voter identification, as many states now do. In effect, the Democrats’ bill would institutionalize the easy path to voter fraud that they have labored long and hard to bring about.

I don’t understand how the Senate’s filibuster rule works. Can the majority party suspend the rule at will for any particular bill, while leaving it in place for everything else? Evidently that is what Harris has in mind. But it seems obvious that if one party or the other begins suspending the filibuster in that way, it won’t be long before the rule is gone altogether. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of opinion, but I don’t think there is any doubt that in the long run, abolishing the filibuster would be to the advantage of Republicans. For the foreseeable future, the GOP will be the majority party in most states. It is only through lousy candidate selection, and political ineptitude generally, that Republicans have failed to control that body consistently in recent years.

For now, these questions are academic, as I don’t think there is any serious chance of the Democrats gaining two seats in the upcoming elections. But in the longer term, the handwriting is on the wall for the filibuster.

The supremacy of Albania, cont’d

(Scott Johnson)

Albania has announced another cyberattack by the Iranian regime, this time on one of its border systems. The AP reports the story here. The AP story quotes a statement released by Albania’s Interior Ministry as well as Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Twitter feed.

As I understand the translation of Rama’s tweet below, the system is back up and running: “The systems of the border points have been in operation since this morning. Beyond the heavy feeling that penetration into these systems creates, just like when they enter a house and steal, the fact is that the aggression has not achieved the goal at all, no trickle or leak.” It sounds like their border controls are in better shape than our own.

Sistemet e pikave kufitare janë në punë qysh prej mëngjesit të sotëm.Përtej ndjesisë së rëndë që krijon penetrimi në këto sisteme, njësoj si kur të hyjnë në shtëpi e të vjedhin,fakti është se agresioni nuk ia ka arritur asfare qëllimit,asnjë zhudkje a rrjedhje serioze të dhënash!

— Edi Rama (@ediramaal) September 11, 2022

Blueprint for malarkey

(Scott Johnson)

On Friday the White House released “the Biden-Harris economic blueprint” a/k/a “the President’s Economic Blueprint” (press release here, 58-page document here). It’s a “blueprint” with “five pillars” that have done so much for us already and promise to do more and worse in the future.

Performing the work that our native media fact-check workers refuse to do, James Bovard assesses the veracity of claims made in the “blueprint.” He introduces his column:

The latest Biden victory lap is the administration’s most shameless strutting of 2022. The White House Friday issued a 58-page Biden-Harris Economic Blueprint that claims to have performed more miracles than accompanied the Sermon on the Mount.

Biden is still trying to take credit for job growth that happened only because of the end of lockdowns. In fact, his “success” is really a failure — as fewer people are working now than before COVID.

It’s just one of the many whoppers packed into this ridiculous piece of propaganda[.]

He doesn’t exactly require the strength of Samson to pull the pillars down. Here is one of Bovard’s examples:

CLAIM: “The Administration has taken critical steps forward in…improving our immigration system.”

FACT: The administration has effectively opened the southern borders, enabling millions of illegal immigrants to enter the nation and begin collecting federal benefits. Biden and most of the nation’s media have ignored the resulting chaos in Texas, Arizona and other states.

Bovard’s column runs under the mocking headline: “Biden’s economic victory lap is 58 pages of malarkey.”

A day to be proud

(Scott Johnson)

I first wrote about Rick Rescorla in 2003 after finishing James Stewart’s Heart of a Soldier, the book based on Stewart’s New Yorker article “The real heroes are dead.” (“The real heroes are dead” is what Rescorla would say in response to recognition of his heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam.) It’s a good book that touches on profound themes in a thought-provoking way: life and death, love and friendship, heroism and sacrifice, destiny and fate, man’s search for meaning, all fall within the book’s compass.

Rescorla was a British native who moved to the United States to join the Army and fight the Communists in Vietnam. Rescorla was inspired to move to the United States in part by his friendship with Dan Hill. Their friendship is the one constant theme of the book. Hill and Rescorla had become friends in Rhodesia; they consciously modeled themselves on the characters of Peachy and Dravot in Kipling’s story “The Man Who Would Be King.” Later they both served as officers in Vietnam, where in 1965 Rescorla saw harrowing combat in the Ia Drang Valley.

In April 2001, thanks to Hill’s efforts, Rescorla was inducted into the Army’s Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame for his service in Vietnam. The famous photo at the left (taken by UPI reporter Joe Galloway) depicts Rescorla in action in the Ia Drang Valley It is moving to read of the officers who sought Rescorla out to shake his hand and have him autograph their copies of We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, in which Rescorla plays a key role.

Rescorla died a hero’s death saving his charges at Morgan Stanley in the south tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Rescorla was head of security for the company; he directed the evacuation in which he had long drilled the company’s WTC employees. He knew that a terrorist attack on the WTC was coming and he knew what had happened as soon as the building was hit. His message was one of resolve. Using a bullhorn, he shepherded his charges into the tower’s one usable fire escape and exhorted them that it was “a day to be proud to be an American.”

The book closes with the words of Hill, the man who remained Rescorla’s best friend until his death. His haunting words pay tribute to Rescorla:

One of my life’s biggest regrets is that I couldn’t have been with Rick at the moment of his great challenge and crisis of his life. Then again, maybe it was so destined, because if I didn’t survive, there would be nobody left to tell the story.

Kipling wrote that “all men should count with you, but none too much.” I failed there. Rick counted as the world to me.

Somebody cautioned that if a person or thing means the world to you, and you lose that person or thing, then you have lost the world. I lost the world when Rick died.

First posted 9/11/2005.

UPDATE 9/11/2011: The San Francisco Opera debuted Heart of a Soldier, an opera composed by Christopher Theofanidis to a libretto by Donna DiNovelli, based on Stewart’s book. Cori Ellison provided a preview in the New York Times article “Opera recalls a hero’s life, love and song.”

The Daily Mail recounted Rescorla’s story in an article full of good photos.

One final note. You may want to take the time to check out the 10-minute American Veterans Center video on Rescorla (below).

Dartmouth’s 9/11

(Scott Johnson)

Following 9/11 the New York Times ran Portraits of Grief profiling many of those lost in the 9/11 attacks. The Times attributes authorship of these artful profiles collectively to Kirk Johnson, N.R. Kleinfeld, David Barstow, Barbara Stewart, Jane Gross, Neela Banerjee, Constance L. Hays, Lynette Holloway, Janny Scott and Somini Sengupta.

We can’t capture the magnitude of the loss, or the meaning of who and what we lost, but the Times’s focus on individuals made a contribution to our understanding. Taking just one small slice, I wanted to retrieve from the series the Times’s portraits of Dartmouth alumni who were murdered on 9/11. With the death of each of these men, a world was lost. We remember:

Juan P. Cisneros ’99

Juan Cisneros never intended to spend the rest of his life in New York. He would work as a bond trader until he could pay off his college loans and put away money for his parents. Then, said his girlfriend, Stephanie Albert, they planned to move out West. They would go to graduate school and become professors. He would teach history, she would teach English.

Mr. Cisneros, 24, who lived in Manhattan, was gentle and patient. He loved running and reading. “You’re going to do what?” Ms. Albert asked him, incredulous, when he told her he was taking a job at Cantor Fitzgerald. His parents had immigrated from Guatemala when he was 6. He went to Dartmouth College, volunteered as a Big Brother and fell in love with Ms. Albert.

One Saturday afternoon two months ago, they found themselves in New Jersey, having offered to help a friend set up for her husband’s 40th birthday party. Alone in a room with a view of Manhattan, they began dancing. They were joking, teasing, making grand plans for how they would celebrate each other’s 40th when the time came.

“Thrilled with the present, excited about the future,” Ms. Albert remembered sadly. “And it absolutely takes my breath away that we won’t even be able to spend our 25th birthdays together.”

Christopher Colasanti ’90

One phrase in a book on grieving that someone gave her after her husband, Christopher Colasanti, was killed in the World Trade Center attack has stayed with Kelly Colasanti: “The best way to know God is to love many things.”

Kelly and her two daughters went to Liberty State Park, where a memorial wall has been set up for victims, and she wrote, “Chris loved many things. We love you. We miss you. You’re with us.”

It is a small tribute to the love of her life, to the end of what friends and neighbors often cited as the perfect family. Here are some of the moments and familiar details that stick in her mind: Christopher grew up in South Orange, N.J. and met Kelly in high school. They went to the prom together. He graduated from Dartmouth and became a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. The young family lived in Hoboken. The night before the attack, Mr. Colasanti gave their girls, Cara and Lauren, their baths. Then he showed Cara his baseball card collection. “We’ll be a strong family, the three of us,” Kelly said. “We have to live this way because he was so great. We can’t let it not be great here because it was so great.”

Kevin P. Connors (Tuck) ’73

Whether it was climbing a mountain, playing charades or challenging his four brothers and his sister to a game of Monopoly, Kevin Connors would not be defeated. At work, there was the thrill of picking the next big investment for clients of Euro Brokers, where he was a vice president. At home, the simplest of family gatherings became thrill-seeking adventures. Children would be pitted against adults, and Mr. Connors, 55, would side with the team he thought had the best chance of winning.

“My brother was a voracious fan of winning at all things,” said Sheila Connors LeDuc. “He once bought a boat to sail around the world. When it sank off the coast of South America, he beat the ocean by not drowning.”

And when planes struck the World Trade Center, Mrs. LeDuc was certain that her brother would survive once more. Slowly, she has had to accept another probability. “This was bigger than the boat going down,” she said. “I just hope he is at peace and that those of us who mourn him can come to the same peace.”

Kevin R. Crotty ’80

The ladies behind the counter at a bakery in Summit, N.J. used to look forward to Saturday mornings when Kevin R. Crotty would show up with his three children. With wild candy-store looks in their eyes, Megan, 7, Kyle, 5, and Sean, 2, would load up on cookies and chocolate and glazed doughnuts and doughnut holes.

But it has been more than a month since Mr. Crotty took his children to the bakery. Mr. Crotty, 43, worked as a bond trader at Sandler O’Neill & Partners on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center. Besides the bakery, he could be seen taking the children to soccer practice and dance lessons.

“I’ve been very open with them about it,” said his widow, Lori Crotty. “The more I talk about it, the more comfortable they are. Sean is having a hard time, but it’s going to take time.”

Joseph Flounders ’77

Every weekday, Joseph Walkden Flounders arose at 3:30 a.m. at his home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He drove to Harrison, N.J., then took a train so he could be at his desk by 8:30 a.m. on the 84th floor of 2 World Trade Center, where he was a money-market broker at Euro Brokers.

“The house was his sanctuary,” said his wife of 21 years, Patricia. They had slaved away, renovating it ever since they moved there three years ago from Brooklyn Heights, after her health problems spurred him “to find a better quality of life for both of us,” she said. “We’d been working on the house three years, and three days before he died, we finished it.”

The memorial service for Mr. Flounders, 46, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Church in Manhattan, where he had worshiped, his wife said. “The reception will follow at Fraunces Tavern, because they, too, were once bombed, and we thought it would be appropriate to have it there, since they suffered, as well.”

Jeffrey E. LeVeen ’68

See them there, those five adult children at the Dave Matthews Band concert? The ones huddled together, mortified? And note that blissful, aging teenager next to them, about 55 actually, in khaki pants and Docksiders, blue eyes blazing as he jumps up and down, bellowing his request: “`Proudest Monkey’! `Proudest Monkey’!”

By day, Jeff LeVeen of Plandome, N.Y., was a chieftain in the financial world, a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, an Ivy Leaguer and the owner of two well-appointed homes and a golf handicap of 3. By night, he was a rock groupie who attended nearly a dozen Dave Matthews concerts a year.

You allowed a father like that his nuttiness. He plunked down and listened to Phish because one son asked him to. He negotiated with his wife, Christine, about discipline, pleading for leniency. He swept up his bucketful of kids to take them fishing, clothes shopping, to N.B.A. games.

He kept his privileged background and considerable achievements to himself, but boasted like crazy about the children. A happy man with a year-round tan, he would sing, “Now I am the proudest monkey you’ve ever seen!”

Thomas F. Theurkauf, Jr. (Tuck) ’81

The head of the sunfish was attached to one side of the hook. The other side of the lure was embedded in Thomas Theurkauf Jr.’s hand. His son Henry, 9, frantically rowed the boat to shore, making a few erratic circles. Mr. Theurkauf waved his hand wildly, trying to shake the fish and hook from his hand.

Mr. Theurkauf’s wife, Robin, severed the fish head and rushed him to the hospital. “They successfully treated Tom,” his brother Bill said at a recent memorial service. “The fish didn’t make it.”

But, oh, how Mr. Theurkauf loved to tell that tale of the one that would not go away.

As an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, which had offices on the 89th floor of 2 World Trade Center, Mr. Theurkauf gave countless television and newspaper interviews. This year The Wall Street Journal named him the top banking analyst in the country. But his family and friends remember the less serious side. “He loved to make his friends and family laugh,” Bill Theurkauf said. “And was more than willing to laugh at himself.”

First posted 9/11/2006.

UPDATE 9/11/2011: Courtesy of a reminder from Joe Asch ’79 and the reporting of Charles Gardner and the staff of the Daily Dartmouth, we also remember:

Richard “Woody” Woodwell ’79

Richard Herron Woodwell ‘79 was destined for business success from an early age. As a sixth grader growing up in the Pennsylvania town of Ligonier, Woodwell — who was an avid coin collector — would often trade coins with the elderly owner of a local jewelry shop.

For Woodwell, known to his friends as “Woody,” a childhood hobby would eventually lead to a lifelong career in investment banking, in which he worked as an equities trader for the New York firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Woodwell, who served as Senior Vice President in the company’s trading department, was stationed on the 89th floor of World Trade Center Tower Two when the second hijacked jet struck the building.

He embarked on his career in investment banking immediately following graduation, initially working as a floor broker for Dean Witter at the Pacific Options Exchange in San Francisco. He married his wife Linda Preston in 1988, and soon afterward moved to Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J. Friends and family members remember a man devoted to his job and family in equal measure.

“He was dedicated to his work but not wrapped up in it,” wife Linda Woodwell said, telling how Woody coached soccer teams for two of their three young children, and often took the family on skiing vacations, in addition to spending summers on Cape Cod at their family’s house in Hyannisport.

While at Dartmouth, Woodwell excelled academically and was widely admired by his classmates. According to ’79 class president William Mitchell, Woody’s popularity was due to his adventurous and confident nature, and his sheer enthusiasm for life and friends.

Late one night at Dartmouth Woodwell was asked to make a run to the William Tally House, a 24-hour eating establishment located at the bus station in White River Junction. Such “Tally Rallies,” as they were known, were not uncommon, though Woody added the novel twist of driving clothed only in boxer shorts.

After skillfully explaining his predicament to police during a pullover on the interstate, Woodwell arrived at the Tally House only to be stopped by a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy. Undeterred, he donned a girl’s sweater conveniently found in the back of his car, placed two golf club covers on his feet, and successfully reentered the store.

“It obviously took a tremendous amount of casual confidence, and that’s why he was beloved by his classmates,” Mitchell said.

Woodwell remained a loyal alumnus of the College after graduation, visiting campus as recently as 1999, when he and his family returned to Dartmouth for his 20th reunion.

“He loved Dartmouth and the people he met there,” Saer said. “There was always a special place in his heart for Hanover and especially the people he came across.”

He was also dedicated to his preparatory school, Avon Old Farms, at which his wife Linda has established a scholarship fund in his name. “I would say he was one of our most outstanding alumni,” said Susan Evans of the Avon alumni office. “He was the glue for his class.”

Evans’ husband, Peter, delivered the eulogy at Woody’s memorial service last month.

Over 400 people attended the service, held Sept. 22 in Saddle River, N.J., including nearly 50 alumni from his Dartmouth class.

“It was just unbelievable coming back from his memorial service … it filled the entire church,” J.K. Woodwell said. “He had a network of friends from all over the country.”

John Saer summed up Woody’s attitude towards life. “I think of him as a friend in the truest sense of the word, as someone who is always there for you and who is eternally optimistic. His love of life made him someone who affected a lot of people very positively.”

“He was a terrific person: kind, gentle and so giving,” his wife Linda said. “He was easygoing, happy and just loved life … it’s too hard to think that he’s no longer here.”

Woodwell is survived by his wife, Linda, and his three young children, Richard Jr., 11; Margaret, 8; and Eleanor, 4; as well as his brother J.K. Woodwell III and sister Pamela Woodwell Geerdes.

Loose Ends (182)

(Steven Hayward)

Such a lot going on right now: another racism hoax, dubious baseball rules changes, the collapse of Western Civilization . . . in other words, the usual. Time for a quick roundup.

Oberlin College is finally going to pay up the $36 million it owes to Gibson’s Bakery. There isn’t the slightest hint of an apology from Oberlin in their statement announcing that they have decided to honor a jury’s verdict and several appellate court decisions against them. From the NY Times story:

In a statement, Oberlin said that “this matter has been painful for everyone.” It added, “We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community.”

The college acknowledged that the size of the judgment, which includes damages and interest, was “significant.” But it said that “with careful financial planning,” including insurance, it could be paid “without impacting our academic and student experience.” Oberlin has a robust endowment of nearly $1 billion.

“Painful for everyone”? But not to worry, our “careful financial planning” means it won’t hurt the operations of the college; it’s just another cost of doing business. Clearly this wasn’t painful enough to Oberlin; too bad the judgment wasn’t for $136 million. Maybe next time.

I know I have mentioned the European Conservative several times on the 3WHH podcast. It’s an elegant publication, printed on glossy hard stock paper, featuring lots of great art, and with a lot of art and music reviews, as well as political commentary (and even on occasional piece from me, such as in the issue I am holding in the nearby photo). The New Criterion is the only U.S. publication comparable to it. Do consider subscribing.

Well guess what, mom? W.H. Smith, the major newsstand of Britain and much of Europe, has banned the European Conservative from its sales racks. The National Catholic Register reports:

Alexi Kaye Campbell, a Greek-British playwright, and his civil partner Dominic Cooke, an English director and writer, took to Twitter and Instagram on Aug. 19 to highlight three aspects of the journal they found objectionable.

The first concerned an interview with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the second a description of “Pride” Month as “an opportunity to publicly parade some of the more dissolute aspects of human experience,” and the third an editorial cartoon showing a child vomiting a rainbow (the symbol of the LGBT lobby) after school.

They then urged friends to pressure WHSmith to immediately remove the publication, which the retailer duly did, without informing The European Conservative directly.

W.H. Smith is a publicly traded company, and if you’d like to send them a note about their shameful cowardice, their contact email is:, or

Don’t miss the Harvard Crimson‘s interview with Harvey Mansfield, who recently turned 90 and is still teaching at Harvard. Sample:

A recent survey in the Crimson found that 80 percent of surveyed faculty identify as liberal. Do you see that ideological imbalance as an issue on campus?

Mansfield: Yes, it’s a terrific issue. It’s an issue which is not accepted as an issue by most of my colleagues and by the university, generally. They don’t think it’s a problem that Harvard is mocked by half the country for the things which it does gratuitously, to provoke them. The Harvard Commencement is something like the Democratic National Convention. And that’s a hell of a way to run a university, to maintain its impartiality and its devotion to veritas, to truth, just to go out of your way to provoke people who happen to have different politics, instead of inviting them to come and even just give a talk. How can that be in Harvard’s interest?

As to hiring, I don’t think a conservative has been hired in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in the last decade. And it’s probably been going on longer than that. Maybe there’s one or two, but if so, they stay hidden. Because if you’re conservative and want to get on with your colleagues, you have to indulge in self-censorship, and I think a number of students do that as well. But I can’t get my colleagues to think of this as a problem.

Speaking of our East German universities:

Almost 40 Percent of College Students Feel Uncomfortable Sharing a Controversial Opinion in Class

On Wednesday, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) released its annual College Free Speech Rankings. The rankings are derived from a survey of almost 45,000 college students at over 200 universities in the United States. The survey has been conducted since 2020, collecting a wide range of information about the campus political climate at a swath of universities. . .

According to the survey results released by FIRE, both discomfort in expression and outright censoriousness of unpopular viewpoints continue to be common problems on American college campuses.

Sixty-four percent of students were worried a misunderstanding of something they say or do could damage their reputation. Forty-eight percent reported that they would be “very uncomfortable” or “somewhat uncomfortable” expressing their views on a controversial political topic to other students in a public space on campus. Thirty-eight percent expressed that they would be uncomfortable doing so during an in-class discussion. And rates of discomfort are comparable across racial categories: 32 percent of black respondents, 39 percent of white respondents, and 37 percent of Hispanic respondents felt that wariness about expressing themselves in class. More than 40 percent of Asian and American Indian students reported discomfort.

In other words, large portions of every student demographic thinks the campus climate is stifling. Good job, higher ed!

Further action this day

(Scott Johnson)

I noted in “The supremacy of Albania” that President Biden’s national security team had vowed to “take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a U.S. ally and set a troubling precedent for cyberspace.” The “troubling precedent” was Iran’s massive cyberattack on Albania government systems as spelled out in Prime Minister Rama’s statement.

Yesterday the United States Treasury announced what I take to be the administration’s “further action”:

[Treasury] is designating Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and its Minister of Intelligence [Esmail Khatib] for engaging in cyber-enabled activities against the United States and its allies. Since at least 2007, the MOIS and its cyber actor proxies have conducted malicious cyber operations targeting a range of government and private-sector organizations around the world and across various critical infrastructure sectors. In July 2022, cyber threat actors assessed to be sponsored by the Government of Iran and MOIS disrupted Albanian government computer systems, forcing the government to suspend online public services for its citizens.

The Treasury press release explains the consequences:

As a result of today’s designation, all property and interests in property of the designated targets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. Additionally, any entities that are owned 50 percent or more by one or more designated persons are also blocked. All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt. These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

In addition, non-U.S. persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts or facilitates a significant transaction for or on behalf of the persons designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent or payable-through account sanctions.

In last night’s story on the sanctions, the Wall Street Journal drily reports: “Efforts to reach MOIS and Mr. Khatib weren’t successful.”

The highly targeted nature of the sanctions is problematic insofar as the Iranian regime is the source of the problem and is itself a criminal, terrorist, and genocidal operation.

Manchin’s Wimpy deal evolves

(Scott Johnson)

Senator Joe Manchin struck his tax, climate, and spending gusher deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer playing the part of Wimpy. Schumer got his hamburger on the promise that he would pay Manchin in the currency of “permitting reform” next Tuesday. Will Tuesday ever come? We took a look in “The art of the deal, Wimpy style.”

Now the Associated Press takes a detailed look in “Manchin’s big energy deal draws pushback from many Dems” by Kevin Freking. The whole thing is Freking crazy (“To win over skeptics, some Democrats are stressing that Manchin’s proposal to streamline environmental reviews for energy infrastructure projects would be good for renewable energy, too”). It is a maddening hodgepodge of stupidity on a downward spiral:

A summary of the proposed legislation has been circulating among Senate Democrats in recent days and was obtained by The Associated Press. It states that the package being developed is key to meeting climate goals by developing interstate transmission lines that will transport electricity from Midwestern wind farms, for example, to major East Coast cities.

“Unfortunately, today these higher voltage, longer lines across multiple jurisdictions are not getting built,” the summary said.

The summary states that about 20 large transmission projects are ready to move forward with some federal support.

“Reforms to address permitting, siting and cost allocation concerns are key to building these projects,” the document says.

In interviews, key Democratic senators stressed a similar message, calling the energy proposal complementary to the massive climate package that passed last month.

“Right now, there’s just too much delay in solar and wind and geothermal, so I want at every possible opportunity to speed up permitting for renewables,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

I would like to say “Goodbye, Manchin Tuesday,” but Manchin Tuesday may come. Schumer may deliver something to let him declare victory. Yet Manchin looks like a fool. Wimpy’s deal is an old cartoon joke. In the words of the Rolling Stones song, “Ain’t life unkind?”

Report this

(Scott Johnson)

We have followed the fate of law enforcement in Minneapolis since the death of Saint George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. We have also followed the related media coverage, which has amplified and confused the multifarious racial issues. As the Minneapolis Police Department has contracted to the size of a shrunken head — a shrunken head capable of scaring no one — we have repeatedly asked who in his right mind would go to work for it. Among the inhibitions is the relentlessly stupid coverage afforded by the Star Tribune.

Departmental manpower is so inadequate at present that the department limited its response to nonemergency calls at one point this week. I know because the heroic reporter behind CrimeWatchMpls covered it. I’m not sure the news made it into the Star Tribune.

Holding all non-priority calls city wide.

Means, if you're not bleeding and dying, cops aren't coming to your issue.


— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) September 9, 2022

Like other big cities misruled for generations by Democrats, Minneapolis has descended to something like the Hobbesian state of nature. Minneapolis isn’t even that big. Indeed, its 2020 population is down about 100,000 from 1950. But put that to one side.

Today’s Star Tribune features the story “After three overnight shootings in Minneapolis, community members want plan for peace.” Subhead: “Three separate shootings left two dead and seven injured Thursday night and early Friday.” We have a crisis of crime and chaos.

A related story reports “Task force urges Minneapolis to be more aggressive against violent crime.” (“The city has solved just 38% of homicides and 12% of carjackings, according to a new report.”) What won’t they think of next?

Speaking of “reports,” let us recall the Star Tribune story on the pending Minnesota Department of Human Rights charge against the department. The MDHR charge alleges illegally discriminatory policing based on race over a period of 10 years. Under its current story on overnight shootings, the Star Tribune links to its April 28 story on what it persistently calls the MDHR “report” on the Minneapolis Police Department. This is the April story: “In communities of color, scathing report on Minneapolis police is no surprise.” The story opens:

Marcia Howard’s voice cracked with emotion as she reflected on how it felt to finally see in print what many people of color had been saying for decades — that the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a pattern of illegal racial discrimination.

Ever since the Minnesota Department of Human Rights released a damning report Wednesday finding that city police had engaged in racist practices over the last decade, she’s heard “a whole lot of ‘I told you so’s.'”

“Each and every one of those 72 pages is an indictment of the Minneapolis Police Department and the city of Minneapolis for allowing these people to do this to the citizens of this city,” said Howard, who has been a lead protester at George Floyd Square. “What person in their right mind and in the right spirit could read that report and think that we should continue in the way that we have?”

She added: “It has roiled our community. It is what we’ve been talking about nonstop.”

I bet that’s not what they’re talking about today. They’re talking about yesterday’s shootings and demanding a “plan for peace,” in the words of the headline over the story.

In any event, the 72-page “report” is not a “report.” It is the MDHR charge against the Minneapolis Police Department. It is posted online here. To be sure, it is packaged in the form of a “report,” but it is nothing more than a charge by a third-rate state agency that I believe remains unresolved as of this date.

Municipal authorities can’t wait to sell out the police department. There is no appetite anywhere among the authorities to mount a defense of the Minneapolis police, but they are having a hard time surrendering. They can’t quite figure out the facts underlying the charge.

I filed Data Practices Act requests with the MDHR seeking the underlying documents. They claimed an exemption, but they owe the documents to the city if the case isn’t settled. I also filed a Data Practices Act request with the city. The city attorney produced its correspondence with MDHR below pleading for the underlying facts to substantiate the charge. I have lost track of the progress of the case against the department, but the correspondence reflects MDHR’s failure to produce the facts in response to the city’s request.

City of Minneapolis MPD cor… by Scott Johnson

The Week in Pictures: God Save the Queen Edition

(Steven Hayward)

So it’s King Charles III now. We’ll see how this goes, but it is amazing that the guy is taking the throne at an age when most men have started into retirement. Whatever happened to boy kings, etc? In any case, I hope His Majesty sticks with architecture. Speaking of mad kings, Charles in still several years younger than our doddering old fool of a head of state.

This week in tablecloth fashion: she’s either running again, or hiding the Lindberg baby.

I have an idea. . .

Headlines of the week:

Gosh. . . sounds like every college faculty in America, so what’s the problem?

I’m sorry, this is a deep fake.


And finally. . .

If You’re Going to San Francisco…

(John Hinderaker)

No, stop! Don’t even think about going to San Francisco. The place is a disaster area, possibly as bad as Portland. If you think that is impossible, check out this photo essay in the Daily Mail. The story is about the city’s new “soft touch” approach to drug addiction and homelessness. “Nobody’s going to jail,” city officials say.

No, they’re going straight to the morgue. San Francisco has seen nearly 1,700 fatal fentanyl overdoses so far in 2022. The text is depressing, but the message is really in the dozens of photographs that accompany it. Addicts openly shooting up; homeless encampments on the streets; filth everywhere. Here are just a couple:

A number of our cities are fast becoming unlivable dystopias. So far, there is little sign that municipal authorities in places like San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Minneapolis have the will, let alone the ability, to turn their cities around.

More Scenes from Our East German Universities

(Steven Hayward)

It was a given that the media would not like Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss, given her clear Thatcherite disposition. But I hadn’t expected the New York Times to beclown themselves with this self-own headline:

Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has recruited cabinet members from diverse backgrounds, though her inner circle retains a hard Conservative edge.

So in other words, sort of like a college faculty. Or the editorial board of the New York Times. Not much ideological diversity there, either.

How come we never see a sentence like this:

America’s new president, Joe Biden, has recruited cabinet members from diverse backgrounds, though his inner circle retains a hard Progressive edge.

Of course not, because only conservatives need to pay attention to ideological diversity. A monochromatic ideological university department or editorial page is just the natural order of things for Progressives who believe that have a monopoly on the truth, or at the very least are agents for “the side of History.”  If you suggest that universities (or newsrooms) ought to have some ideological or political diversity, you get shouted down.

Case in point: an article this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education by a professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Michigan that you really have to read, not to believe it:

Colleges Must Stop Trying to Appease the Right; Republicans say professors are the enemy. They’re right — we are.

The article is long—of course it is—and complains about the resources deployed to respond to a complaint by a student against a professor who had tweeted out something mean about Republicans. Fair enough, though I don’t ever recall anyone lamenting the resources a college expends every time someone yells “racism!”

But then the author finally gets to the point: to hell with Republicans:

In light of the Republican Party’s longstanding contempt for knowledge and expertise — be it in the context of history, public health, climate change, or ecology — the question is why colleges so far had escaped its venom relatively unscathed (if you disregard the systematic defunding of public institutions that plunged a generation of college kids into deep debt that cannot be discharged).

College football is surely part of the answer, but I suspect the real reason is this: Despite the common narrative to the contrary, colleges are not, in fact, left-wing institutions.

I’ll pause here so you can pick yourself off the floor from laughing. Because it gets better!

This is a moment of considerable peril. There is an entire complex of organizations, like the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, dedicated to creating the impression that the most pressing threats to free speech and academic freedom originate on the campus left.

Okay, you’re on the floor again. Sorry, I can’t help it when leftist professors are working for Powerline for free. Finally:

When J.D. Vance says that “professors are the enemy,” he is correct. He is our enemy, and we must be his. I welcome his hatred. As a modest start, I suggest that we no longer respond to Republicans who complain about professorial tweets with anything other than a short form letter.

I propose a compromise: how about the same short form letter for every campus claim of racism, too. Deal?

Podcast: The 3WHH, God Save the Queen

(Steven Hayward)

With John Yoo sitting in the host chair this week, we decided to post this episode a day early partly on account of travel schedules (John and I are headed for the NatCon conference in Miami over the weekend), and partly because of the breaking news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Also because it turns out that the favorite whisky of King Charles III is reportedly Laphroaig 15, which counts as a point in favor of Team Steve in the Great Whisky Wars, even though none of us are sure Charles is going to be a very good king. (For one thing, he’s a nitwit climatista.)

The same can’t be said, happily, for the king’s new first minister, Liz Truss, who is making liberal heads explode with some of her cabinet appointments (three cheers for Jacob Rees-Mogg!) and declared intent to end Britain’s ban on fracking, which is long overdue. She even suggests expanded production of oil and gas from the North Sea. Combined with her intent to cut taxes, she sounds like she just might be the second coming of Margaret Thatcher.

From there our attention turns to domestic matters, including the appointment of the special master for the ongoing saga of the Great Mar-a-Lago Raid, a look at the highly fluid senate races in a few places, and what ought to be the lessons of California’s ongoing energy madness.

So listen here, or put on your bowler hat and process over to our royal hosts at Ricochet.

The supremacy of Albania

(Scott Johnson)

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama severed diplomatic relations with Iran and gave the Iranian mission 24 hours to get out. When mission personnel had vacated the premises in Tirana, he sent in counterintelligence officers to scour the premises and ascertain what might be learned.

Rama’s moves were prompted by an Iranian cyberattack on government digital services and web sites in July. The AP story quotes the video statement issued by Rama:

Rama said an investigation determined that the cyberattack wasn’t carried out by individuals or independent groups, calling it “state aggression.”

“The deep investigation put at our disposal undeniable evidence that the cyberattack against our country was orchestrated and sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran which had involved four groups for the attack on Albania[.]”

Rama’s video statement is posted here in English.

The cyberattack was the virtual equivalent of an act of war. Also quoting from Rama’s statement, the BBC notes Rama’s attribution of the hackers’ goal as “the destruction of the digital infrastructure of the government of the Republic of Albania, as well as the theft of data and electronic communications of governments systems[.]” Oh, and by the way: “[T]he Albanian government said the hackers’ methods was identical to attacks last year in other NATO countries, including Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Belgium.”

The AP story notes the apparent rationale supporting the Iranian attack: “Albania, a NATO member since 2009, shelters about 3,000 Iranian MEK dissidents who live at Ashraf 3 camp in Manez, which is 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Tirana.” (The BBC story has more on the MEK factor in the attack.) Good for Albania.

The American cybersecurity firm Mandiant was one of the organizations assisting in the investigation of the attack. “This is possibly the strongest public response to a cyberattack we have ever seen,” Mandiant vice president of intelligence John Hultquist said following Albania’s announcement. Again, good for Albania.

Seth Frantzman’s Jerusalem Post column explores the Iranian modus operandi and the impunity with which it has operated. NSC spokesman — former DNC staffer — Adrienne Watson issued a statement on the cyberattack that the White House has posted here. Watson vows: “The United States will take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a U.S. ally and set a troubling precedent for cyberspace.” Believe it when we see it, but not until then.

In the meantime, the government of Israel has released the Director of the Mossad’s readout of his meetings with Biden administration officials in Washington (below).

Readout from Director of #Israel's Mossad's meetings in Washington this week: "During the meetings, the Director of the Mossad presented sensitive intelligence materials, and emphasized that Israel will not be able to stand idly by while #Iran continues to deceive the world."

— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) September 8, 2022

Man(chin) down

(Scott Johnson)

Yesterday we noted how West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has played the fool for the Democrats’ tax, climate, and spending bonanza in the absurdly named Inflation Reduction Act. You can’t help but get the feeling that the Democrats are conducting a social science experiment. They are testing voters to ascertain if they’re paying attention.

West Virginia voters appear to be paying attention. Drawing on a recent Triton poll, RedState’s Mr. Bonchie declares “Manchin’s political career appears to be over.” The poll shows Manchin losing to any of three possible opponents. Unfortunately, Manchin’s Senate seat isn’t up until 2024.

The Triton poll is reported here by the Parkersburg News & Sentinel. I take the poll results as expressing disapproval of Manchin. Indeed, the News & Sentinel leads with the poll’s finding of disapproval:

A new poll released Wednesday by Jackson County radio station WMOV 1360 AM and Oregon-based Triton Polling and Research found that U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is vulnerable after his support for the Inflation Reduction Act.

According to the poll, 66.1% of the 762 respondents had an unfavorable impression of Manchin, D-W.Va. Only 26.3% had a favorable impression of Manchin with just 3.8% unsure and 3.6% with no opinion either way.

Although Manchin isn’t up for reelection this time around, it is heartening to know that West Virginia voters are paying attention — and aren’t buying “The art of the deal, Wimpy style.”

A word from Rousseau

(Scott Johnson)

Collin Anderson reports at the Washington Free Beacon that, in his capacity as President Biden’s climate prince, “John Kerry Has Flown More Than 180,000 Miles, Emitting 9.5 Million Pounds of Carbon.” Although Kerry’s air travel supposedly endangers the future of humanity, Kerry is in the air to save the world from the “existential crisis” of climate change caused by carbon emissions. Collin cruelly quotes Kerry: “If you offset your carbon, it’s the only choice for somebody like me, who is traveling the world to win this battle.” You know the thing, as they say, and if not, Collin provides a translation.

Reading the first few pages of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile, or On Education in Allan Bloom’s translation this week, I came across this description of the progressive saviors of humanity such as M. Kerry: “Distrust those cosmopolitans who go to great length in their books to discover duties they do not deign to fulfill around them. A philosopher loves the Tartars so as to be spared having to love his neighbors.” Charles Dickens captured something of the same phenomenon with his depiction of “telescopic philanthropy” in Bleak House, but Rousseau’s concise exposition is the best I have seen. “Distrust” is, shall we say, le mot juste.

Thoughts from the ammo line

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll takes note: NOT MY WORLD ANY MORE. She writes:

You begin to get a hint that the World thinks you are nearing the end of your tenure here when your mail consists largely of Hearing Aid ads, Walk-In Tubs and Cremation literature. It’s startling when you feel much younger and more alive than that. So a certain percentage of people apparently believe it’s time for you to move on, but the real shocker is when you begin to wonder if they aren’t right.

I suppose everyone who lives long enough experiences that moment when it becomes clear that it’s not their world anymore. Sometimes, it’s really BIG things – like your senescent, creepy, lying, corrupt Pedo-dent calling YOU – a righteous, elderly Jewish woman who has never done a single totalitarian or discriminatory thing in her entire very long life! — a “semi-Fascist.”

Why is the weasel word “semi” attached? It seems to me from a cursory glance at the historical record that being a “Fascist” is one of those “all-in” or “not at all” kinds of categories, like either being pregnant or not. But every single member of Team Biden is a blithering idiot – not a “semi-idiot” — so we have to make allowances. And the Team is led by a man who can’t remember for five seconds whether or not he has shaken hands with a person or how to get offstage without Dr. Mommy taking him by the hand. Who saw THIS coming?

His Mop-Top Kewpie Doll spokescretin explained that what Team Biden means by dangerous Ultra MAGA people is “if you don’t agree with the majority on any given issue, then you are an ‘extremist.’” That’s a direct quote, amigos. Sigh. In fact, “ten thousand million” sighs. Hey, you serfs, never for a moment forget that these people are our betters when most of them aren’t qualified to ask, “Would you like to see that shoe in taupe or black?”

I do not enjoy being called vile names. The last time a bitter hag called me a “Deplorable” (a terrible type of person she claimed hangs out in a basket, of all places…) and accused me of every bad thing on the “Ist List” – “racist,” “sexist,” you know the thing – I responded thusly in my third compilation book entitled Ammo Grrrll Returns Fire. I rarely quote myself, but I think this bears repeating:

“Hillary, you basket case of incompetence, lies, and incompetent lying; you burping Tupperware container of influence peddling, fee gouging and charity fraud; you rasping, coughing, plus-size pants suit of prevarication; you muffin-top of mendacity; you boring bin of dingbattery who sold a quarter of our uranium to Putin; you pathetic, insecure woman whose major claim to historic import is being born with female genitalia: SHUT UP!”

Fellow Deplorables may remember with unbridled joy that SHE LOST. And the name-calling was probably a significant part of the reason. It was one of the highlights of my life, right up there with the 1987 and 1991 Minnesota Twins’ World Series wins, my solo concert at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and the birth of my child and marriage to my beloved, not necessarily in that order.

So, as I said, sometimes your clue that you are no longer able to cope with the world as it is currently ordered is huge and readily apparent.

And then sometimes it’s something as small as an app that doesn’t work. The latter issue arose last Monday afternoon. The previous Wednesday I had made a reservation at a slightly upscale Prescott restaurant for four guests for 7:00 p.m. (the earliest reservation they had because of the long holiday weekend). I had invited my guests. All well and good. And then came the “ding” on my crummy primitive cellphone indicating a text. It was an app from the restaurant asking me to “confirm” my reservation.

Silly me! I thought my word was my reservation, but I realize these are wacky times and I’m told that people don’t even bother to RSVP to wedding invitations anymore – they either show up with a couple of extra uninvited guests for the $180/plate sit-down dinner. Or don’t show up at all when the wedding hosts have to pay for them anyway. Okay. I get it.

Just by the by, we always found at Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis where I headlined for seven years that our “no shows” almost exactly equaled our walk-ins and we didn’t bother to REconfirm our reservations. It all worked out. Nobody had cellphones or apps yet, praise the Lord. An attractive woman with a big book and a pencil worked the reservations operation. Most weekends we had 300 people at each show, a sell-out.

One of my favorite cartoons some time ago showed a dowdy couple of late, late middle age showing up to dinner and saying to a snotty-looking maître d’: “Do we LOOK like we made our reservations online?”

Anyway, as resistant to technology as I am, I thought, “What could go wrong?” I hit the app and up came a record of my name (spelled wrong, but no matter) and my 7:00 reservation for 4. When they asked, “Would you like to confirm your reservation?” I hit “Yes,” because that was still within my skillset and patience level. Then came the question, “Are you SURE you wish to cancel your reservation?” Oh, for Pete’s sake. I clicked off the site, and tried again to hit the app. It informed me that “you have already answered this question.”

I tried calling the restaurant to speak to a HUMAN BEING, but of course, that is no longer an option in any Customer Service encounter unless they are in India and under the illusion that they speak English. Hey, I give them mad props for being considerably better at MY language than I am at theirs. But it’s still a challenge to figure out what they are saying. Anyhow, the reservation app gave me 7 other options, one of which was to reserve a party room for 14 people or more. I hit “3” which was allegedly for “reservations.” With a sinking heart and rising blood pressure I heard, “That is an invalid extension.” Okay. You’ve beat me. I give up.

Joe was just on his way out the door to jog and I implored him to stop in at the restaurant to sort things out. Even in his jogging clothes and mirth-making sunbonnet with a chin strap, he can be a severe and imposing presence, so I sincerely hope there are no unfortunate difficulties. (UPDATE: as the Power Line boys say – Joe said it’s all fine and the restaurant is not overly thrilled with the app either. Yay!)

Yes, yes, yes, “Boomer,” I know cellphones are the greatest things since fire and the wheel, but for probably about 20 years now I have found them mostly soul-deadening impediments to human contact, not even to mention a hazard on the highway. My favorite bumper sticker I first saw in Oklahoma said, “Honk if you love Jesus. Text if you want to meet Him.” (A prominent member of the St. Paul Jewish community was killed instantly when his little Audi sportscar left the road while he was on his cellphone. A thousand people came to the funeral.)

Back in the day, I would go to mail off my performing contracts or my electric bill (Northern States Power’s jingle was “electricity is penny cheap from NSP to you.” Haha. That’s definitely been shelved…). It was a friendly little East St. Paul Post Office and the personnel were uniformly courteous and just chatty enough. There would be a line of 10-15 people, and we would also chat amongst ourselves. Generally, you got to the head of the line in under 15 minutes, sometimes in 5.

Then came cellphones. The first time I noticed them, a young man could not either be alone with his thoughts for 10 minutes or converse with his neighbors in line and instead called a friend who was watching a very loud basketball game which the young man put on speakerphone so the rest of us could neither think nor converse. Time after time, I have observed whole families out to a family dinner in a restaurant, each member of which was on his, her, or xer cellphone, texting, looking at scores, paying no attention to any other member of the family. It always makes me sad.

Why, in MY day, whippersnappers, on the three occasions a year when we dined out, my sister pouted because she wanted to be left home with her friends, my brother was almost touching her to annoy her and my Mother was loudly computing how much cheaper she could have made the meal for at home. You know – good healthy, NORMAL FAMILY interaction!

Student Loan Forgiveness As Class Warfare

(Steven Hayward)

It used to be that “class war” meant the Marxist scheme of seeing the plutocrats against the working class, though the idea of class conflict is as old as Plato at least. Anyhow, it was a staple of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

But somehow the left’s class war has transformed in such as way that today’s class war on the left is determined to transfer income from the working class to the upper class—but not just any upper class, but a segment of the upper class, or potential upper class (college graduates), that votes Democrat.

So take in this ad from the good folks at American Action Network and ponder that once upon a time Democrats could have run this ad against Republicans:

The cognitive aspect of the leftist class war against the working class was never better expressed than by this Onion video that I posted several years back, but which deserves recycling:

Corruption In the Public Schools

(John Hinderaker)

What is going on in our public schools is horrifying, in several ways. Most fundamental is that the quality of education is abysmal. It is hard to see how our children are going to compete with the Chinese, or anyone else, given the pathetic level of instruction, especially in math, the sciences, and history.

Meanwhile, our schools focus relentlessly on political leftism and bizarre sexual theories. This book, Gender Queer, is featured in the library of Patrick Henry High School in St. Paul Minnesota, and no doubt many other public schools. It is a graphic novel in both senses of the word, with masturbation, oral sex and who knows what else on display:

The book below is available at school libraries.

Minneapolis Public Schools, Patrick Henry School library link:

— Clarity (@covid_clarity) September 8, 2022

The book apparently is intended to encourage homosexual behavior. I can’t explain why any sane person would think this is a good idea.

With this kind of thing going on, you might assume there is controversy swirling around Patrick Henry High School. And you would be right. Only it isn’t about the promotion of sexual deviance. Rather, the school is in the process of changing its name, because Revolutionary War hero Patrick Henry didn’t live up to the high moral standards of Gender Queer.

I am a lifelong optimist, but it is hard to be optimistic about the future of a country whose public schools are so terrible.

Impeach Biden?

(John Hinderaker)

Everyone thinks Republicans will win control of the House in November, despite possible shifts in the Democrats’ favor in recent weeks. If the GOP does take control, an obvious question is: will Joe Biden be impeached? Should he be?

On those questions, Rasmussen reports poll numbers that seem remarkable, based on a survey of 1,000 likely voters:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 52% of Likely U.S. voters support the impeachment of Biden, including 38% who Strongly Support it. Forty-two percent (42%) are opposed to impeaching Biden, including 30% who Strongly Oppose it.
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republican voters, 32% of Democrats and 50% of voters not affiliated with either major party at least somewhat support Biden’s impeachment.

This was the question Rasmussen asked: “Some Republicans in Congress have endorsed articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden, citing his immigration policy and his failure in Afghanistan, among other reasons. Do you support or oppose impeaching President Biden?” Of Rasmussen’s findings, perhaps the most extraordinary is that 32% of Democrats at least somewhat support impeaching Biden.

I think grounds to impeach Biden clearly exist. Most notably, he has violated the Constitution’s Take Care Clause and his oath of office by erasing our country’s southern border and encouraging mass lawlessness there. But the prudential question remains: should Republicans impeach Biden, given that there are constitutionally sound grounds for doing so?

I think not. Impeachment is a political act, and in my judgment the political calculus weighs against it. In the first place, there is no chance of conviction in the Senate, so impeachment would be, in that sense, futile. The purpose presumably would be to embarrass Biden, to highlight his failures, to turn him into a lame duck. But Biden is already such a pathetic figure, a lame duck from the moment he took office, that any such political gain would likely be minimal. And the Democrats have so cheapened impeachment, by their absurd use of the weapon against Donald Trump–twice!–that I don’t think much ignominy now attaches to it. It is seen as an exercise of raw political power, and as such, is unimpressive.

Further, I am of the generation that was scarred by the Republicans’ impeachment of Bill Clinton. Republicans thought they were doing the right thing, but they paid a heavy price. Most voters were happy with the Reagan/Clinton economy, didn’t care about Clinton’s sexual exploits, and saw impeachment as a vindictive act unrelated to their interests.

To be sure, Joe Biden’s brazen flouting of the Constitution and his oath of office are far more serious, as impeachable offenses, than anything Clinton did. But the fundamental point is the same. If Republicans take the House and expeditiously proceed to an