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Thought for the Day: Woodrow Wilson, Supply-Sider?

(Steven Hayward)

It is not very often that I have anything favorable to say about Woodrow Wilson, arguably America’s worst president. But like the blind squirrel finding an acorn or a stopped clock being right twice a day, once in a while you find something unexpected.

In a message to Congress in 1919, Wilson wrote:

“The Congress might well consider whether the higher rates of income and profits tax can in peacetimes be effectively productive of revenue, and whether they may not, on the contrary, be destructive of business activity and productive of waste and inefficiency.  There is a point at which in peace times high rates of income and profits taxes destroy energy, remove the incentive to new enterprise, encourage extravagant expenditures and produce industrial stagnation with consequent unemployment and other attendant evils.”

Who knew that Wilson was a supply-sider? These days no progressive would be caught dead saying anything like this (even though Senator Joe Biden voted once to cut the capital gains tax rate in half, and also in favor of both of Ronald Reagan’s tax cut).

The Daily Chart: About Those Russia Sanctions

(Steven Hayward)

It is generally understood that economic sanctions are seldom very effective in stopping aggression or deterring bad behavior. Decades of sanctions haven’t slowed down Iran or North Korea, and our sanctions on Russia seem not to be delivering the crippling blow we were promised. But the foreign policy experts and planners love them anyway.

Bloomberg reports today:

Russia Did Most Oil Drilling in Decade Even as Sanctions Hit

Russian companies did the most drilling at their oil fields in more than a decade last year, with little sign that international sanctions or the departure of some major Western firms directly harmed so-called upstream operations. This helps to explain how the country’s oil production rebounded in the second half of 2022 even as further restrictions were imposed on its exports.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports:

Goldman says Russian oil sold for significantly more than quoted prices

Moscow’s trade partners have increasingly paid more for Russian crude than quoted prices suggest, Goldman Sachs said in a note, cushioning Russia from the impact of Western sanctions.

Yes, Russia has announced production cuts just last week, but this may be more a move to keep prices up than because of supply constraints. Guess how the Biden Administration is responding?

The Biden administration said on Monday it is selling 26 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a release that had been mandated by Congress in previous years.

VIP Live Tomorrow!

(John Hinderaker)

Tomorrow at 7 p.m. Central time (5 Pacific, 8 Eastern) we will do a VIP Live show. We will be talking about the events of the day, and also, I hope, making an exciting site announcement or two. If you are a VIP member, you will get an email with a link to a live address where you can watch the event and submit your own comments and questions. [NOTE: If you have a Comcast email address, you won’t get the email due to an issue between our email provider and Comcast. So just email us at and we will send you the link.]

If you are not already a VIP member, you can become one by clicking on the box in the upper right portion of our sidebar. Membership costs $4.80 per month or $48 per year, and gives you access to Power Line Live events, as well as other occasional benefits like videos of Steve’s lectures. You will eliminate most ads on our site. And, most important, by becoming a VIP you support our work.

The URL to become a VIP is now:

There will be much to discuss, and we will take questions on all topics and respond to comments by VIPs. So please do join us.

The attack on Steven Koonin

(Scott Johnson)

Reason has posted statistician Aaron Brown’s excellent column “The shameless attack on a climate change dissenter.” The “dissenter” is Steven F. Koonin, a University Professor at New York University with appointments in the Stern School of Business, the Tandon School of Engineering, and the Department of Physics. He served in the Energy Department under the Obama administration (“where his portfolio included the climate research program and energy technology strategy”) and is the author of Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters (2021). The linked publisher’s page for the book includes a five-minute clip excerpting the audiobook.

Reason has also produced a video version of Brown’s column by John Osterhoudt (below). It is worth your time. Readers may also want to check out Professor Koonin’s Mahattan Institute book talk with Mark Mills here.

Steve Hayward reviewed Professor Koonin’s book for the Winter 2021/2022 number of the Claremont Review of Books in “Who broke climate science?” I caught up with a Berkeley panel featuring Professor Koonin in “Koonin suffers Romps.”

I had completely forgotten about all of this. It strikes home anew in the context of the Biden administration’s climate change inanity/insanity, the generalized assault on intellectual inquiry, and the left’s ongoing war on speech (which is where the Reason column and video pick up the story).

Clapper’s claptrap

(Scott Johnson)

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is one of the Deep State 51 who lent his credibility to the open letter to the castigation of the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. According to Clapper et al., the emails reported by the Post “ha[ve] all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Given to Natasha Bertrand, the letter was published by Politico in conjunction with the story “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.”

The letter of the Deep State 51 came in handy for candidate Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. It provided ground for him to stand on when he condemned it as Russian disinformation. It also supported the suppression of the Post’s reporting by social media.

Indeed, the letter of the Deep State 51 seemed to be coordinated with the secret FBI campaign warning of a pending Russian intervention in the campaign. As any fool could see, the letter of the Deep State 51 was itself a deep state disinformation operation.

Clapper elaborated on the “disinformation” theme on CNN (video below). Glenn Greenwald accurately comments: “Every word in this October 17, 2020 interview with James Clapper on CNN by @ErinBurnett – every word – is false.” Politico’s Natasha Bertrand, by the way, has since moved on to CNN.

Every word in this October 17, 2020 interview with James Clapper on CNN by @ErinBurnett – every word – is false.

Even if they didn't know it then, they know it now. Yet CNN never once told its audience this was false or explained how they spread false claims before the election.

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 13, 2023

With House Republicans investigating, Clapper must hear footsteps. He now says Politico “deliberately distorted” the letter of the Deep State 51 flagging the Post’s reporting as “disinfo.” According to Clapper, Politico was guilty of “message distortion.”

That’s what Clapper told the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler for one of Kessler’s fabulous Fact Check columns. The Washington Free Beacon’s Ben Wilson reports on Kessler’s column in an accessible story here. The Free Beacon also devotes an excellent editorial to Clapper’s pathetic attempt to distance himself from the obvious import of the letter and to Kessler’s assistance in the attempt.

Miranda Devine is of course the New York Post columnist who contributed to the Post’s reporting the Biden laptop and wrote the book on it. She concisely nails Clapper’s current claptrap in two words.

Still lying. “There was message distortion,” James Clapper says of the election-rigging letter he signed claiming Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinfo. “Politico deliberately distorted what we said.” He didn’t say a word for 2 years. Now he’s scared

— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) February 13, 2023

The Biden docs, round 2

(Scott Johnson)

NBC News broke the story that a second set of classified documents were found in Joe Biden’s possession at an undisclosed location this past November. The NBC News story is here. The story has now been confirmed and reported roughly everywhere. Among the many accessible stories are those by the AP here and the Washington Post (via JWR) here. I cant’ get enough of it. Here are a few facetious notes on it.

• Every one of the stories is based on a single source: “a person familiar with the matter (NBC News and AP) or “a person familiar with the investigation” (the Washington Post) or similar. That person must have been incredibly busy yesterday. Who might he be?

• I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that the busy “person” is a member of President Biden’s “legal team.”

• When the first batch of classified documents was discovered, the media repeated in unison the exculpatory assurances of Biden’s lawyer. I posted the lawyer’s statement in Biden unclassified.” They repeated his assurances as the truth of the matter. The reporters of these stories are hacks and shills. You knew that, of course, but it bears repetition.

• According to that busy “person” who is the source of yesterday’s stories, the second batch of classified documents was discovered in early November around the same time as the first batch, yet the discovery of the second batch belies the lawyer’s statement.

• President Biden doesn’t know anything about either the first batch or the second batch. He did the right thing, even if he doesn’t know what the right thing is either.

• Biden doesn’t know anything about anything. That is, he knows nothing, We can all agree on that. It all comes as a great surprise to him.

• Unlike the classified documents seized from President Trump, the Biden documents do not threaten the national security of the United States or the possible destruction of the universe.

• The AP story betrays the AP’s possible impatience with toeing the Biden line: “The revelation that additional classified documents were uncovered by Biden’s attorneys came hours after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged questions about Biden’s handling of classified information and the West Wing’s management of the discovery.” Perhaps KJP tests the limits of the AP’s patience.

• The AP story bluntly observes regarding KJP: “[S]he refused to say when Biden himself had been briefed, whether there were any more classified documents potentially located at other unauthorized locations, and why the White House waited more than two months to reveal the discovery of the initial batch of documents, which were found Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections.”

• And yet the AP carries on in the accustomed style on behalf of President Biden: “There are significant differences between the Trump and Biden situations, including the gravity of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the Mar-a-Lago matter.”

• I guess that means the Biden matter could be “grave” if a grand jury investigated it. In other words, it’s not grave yet! A grand jury could investigate it. It is therefore at least theoretically grave.

• Let us sign off this morning with the wisdom of Joe Biden as dutifully elicited by his minions at 60 Minutes.

Jeff Beck, RIP

(Scott Johnson)

Guitarist Jeff Beck died on Tuesday at the age of 78. I learned of his death via Jim Farber’s New York Times obituary, which does a good job of covering Beck’s long career in music. The documentary Still On the Run — The Jeff Beck Story (2018) is also out there for viewing and (as I recall) explores his interest in building cars as well as making music.

He appeared with Jimmy Page in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966) before he arrived with the Jeff Beck Group on Truth (1968) and Beck-Ola (1969). That was some group, with Ronnie Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on keyboards, and Mickey Waller (Truth) or Tony Newman (Beck-Ola) on drums. Oh, yeah, and also vocalist extraordinaire (as the credits on Beck-Ola had it) Rod Stewart on the vocals.

Beck was a creative, restless, and sophisticated guitarist. He let his guitar do the howling on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Ain’t Superstitious.” It sounded like truth to me.

Truth also included “Beck’s Bolero.” I had no idea of the story behind this track until I read Farber’s obituary. Farber notes that this instrumental features Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar, Keith Moon on drums, John Paul Jones on bass, and Nicky Hopkins on piano.

I thought Beck-Ola was truth too. I thought the truth of “All Shook Up” was that raucous could be beautiful.

I couldn’t get enough of the truth of “Jailhouse Rock.”

Beck toured with Brian Wilson in 2013. On Twitter Wilson remembers their love of “Danny Boy.” Here is a taste. Not raucous could be beautiful too.

Driving home yesterday, I heard the Jeff Beck/Johnny Depp collaboration “This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr” on one of the SiriusXM channels. I wondered where the heck that came from. It turns out it comes from their 2022 album 18.

Farber’s obituary suggests the multifaceted nature of Beck’s career well beyond the limits of my knowledge. RIP.

More Documents In a Closet

(John Hinderaker)

President Biden suffered another embarrassment today when it turned out that there was a second batch of classified documents in a location that is so far undisclosed, but is different from the Penn office where the first classified documents were discovered. This is obviously embarrassing for the Democrats, given that they were hoping to indict Donald Trump for having classified documents in his Mar-a-Lago basement.

The White House’s response to these discoveries is laughable, given the vigor with which Biden has denounced Trump as “irresponsible” for possessing classified information. Today Peter Doocy cross-examined Karine Jean-Pierre on several topics, with the newly-found classified materials coming in the middle:

Poor Karine has nothing better to say than that Biden’s lawyers did the right thing after they found the illegally-purloined–if you believe the Democrats–files. Congratulations to the lawyers! But of course, that was never the question. The question is why Biden took classified documents away from the White House and left them in various locations for a period of years in the first place.

In reality, nothing about this story is a big deal. All presidents and vice-presidents take documents with them when they leave the White House. And over-classification is endemic in the executive branch. The most trivial documents are likely to be deemed confidential or secret. Even top secret documents, when they have been made public, generally seem pedestrian. I suppose that a high percentage of the pieces of paper that a president sees in the Oval Office are classified, so that, if he wants to take a few boxes home with him to work on his memoirs, they inevitably will include quite a few classified pieces of paper.

This is not very important, or at least it wasn’t when prior presidents did it. It is only because the Democrats saw an opportunity to attack Donald Trump–maybe put him in jail!–that the subject of ex-presidents (or in Biden’s case, an ex-vice president) possessing classified materials has even come up. What Trump did was trivial, and what Biden did was, as far as we know so far, also trivial. But it represents another exploding cigar in the Democrats’ endless efforts to destroy Trump, once and for all.

Reminder: Power Line University in One Hour!

(Steven Hayward)

Just your 6 pm Eastern time reminder that our next Power Line University class on The Federalist begins one hour from this posting (7 pm Eastern time). Lucretia has had some unavoidable scheduling problems crop up today and will be late for class, but I’ll be there to launch on time and carry on solo as long as possible.

If you’re able to join us live, use this Zoom link. BYOB.

The Daily Chart: Bloat for Blubberers

(Steven Hayward)

Administrative bloat on university campuses is a familiar story, but worth keeping a constant spotlight on it until some university trustees or state legislatures (in the case of public universities) decide to wise up and do something about it.

This first chart is more than a decade out of date, and surely the administrative cost numbers are much worse now. Especially when you see things like this Mark Perry chart about the University of Michigan, which is likely a template for most universities. (Notice when the big jump occurs.)

Thought for the Day: Hamilton on Biden’s Corruption

(Steven Hayward)

News item:

A government watchdog is demanding the US attorney probing Hunter Biden in Delaware investigate tens of millions in anonymous donations from China to the University of Pennsylvania, where an academic center is named for his father, President Biden.

The Ivy League college raked in a total of $54.6 million from 2014 through June 2019 in donations from China, including $23.1 million in anonymous gifts starting in 2016, according to public records.

Most of the anonymous donations came after the university announced in February 2017 that it would create the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

Which brings us to Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 22:

In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty. Hence it is that history furnishes us with so many mortifying examples of the prevalency of foreign corruption in republican governments.

Hamilton got Biden’s number in 1788.

For more on the Federalist, don’t forget to tune live to Power Line University today at 4 pm Pacific, at this Zoom link.

Loose Ends (201)

(Steven Hayward)

So all airline flights were grounded for several hours this morning because of software problems at the Federal Aviation Administration. Gosh, this might distract Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg from his all-important mission to remedy racist roads, and punishing Southwest Air Lines for their computer software problems. Southwest may be facing fines from the Dept. of Transportation, as well as reimbursing expenses for stranded passengers. Think anyone at the FAA will lose their job—or even be demoted—for this failure? Will the FAA reimburse any passengers stranded today? Heh.

I don’t expect today’s fiasco will help Mayor Pete’s 2024 presidential ambitions. Still, it is good to see the Department of Transportation has its priorities straight. From the latest DOT budget appropriation:

Also, the system that crashed is NOTAM, which used to mean “Notice to Airman” until the FAA got hold of Stanford’s banned words list:

So now the climatistas want to take away all of our gas appliances, starting with kitchen stoves and ranges. I only have one message: They can pry my Wolf gas range from my cold dead fingers (especially the middle one) wrapped around my high capacity assault spatula.

As usual, guess who won’t be giving up their gas cooktop:

UPDATE—Turns out they’re all a bunch of hypocrites (I know, hardly breaking news):

Scientific American continues is free-fall into becoming Wokerific American:

But when are they going to drop “American” from their title? Didn’t they get the Stanford language instructions?

Oh yeah, Stanford has withdrawn that silly document. This is what happens when universities get caught being willfully stupid. A couple of nice bits from the article:

“I’ve always been proud to be an Iranian American immigrant. But to follow Stanford’s new language standards, I would need to call myself an ‘Iranian U.S.-citizen person-who-immigrated.’ This seems awfully wrong,” CEO Hadi Partov wrote in a Twitter thread.

“Stanford University published a list of ‘harmful language’ they want to eliminate. Including words like ‘brave’ and phrases like ‘kill two birds with one stone.’ Tyrannical insanity,” YouTuber Iman Gadzhi tweeted. “And you still think going to college will make you smart and successful?”

More and more people are answer that last question with a resounding No (especially young men, who are officially targeted for disapprobation in higher education today). College enrollment in the U.S. fell by 650,000 people this year, even as population continues to grow.

Apparently USC’s School of Social Work didn’t get the Stanford announcement:

When is USC’s School of Social Work going to take the term “Work” out of the department’s formal title? Isn’t “work” another oppressive, white supremacist term?

Chaser—from a press release from Bentley University touting the expansion of their DEI programs:

According to LinkedIn, diversity and inclusion roles have increased 71% globally over the last five years, with median salaries ranging from $84,000 to $126,000. The racial justice movement has further accelerated demand, and industry experts predict continued exponential growth well into the future.

And things like the Stanford language guide and USC’s self-abasement is what we’re getting in return for all that money.

UPDATE from a knowledgeable reader about the first item here:

The FAA’s Notice to Airmen system started as a teletype thing way back in the 40s and 50s.  It was a way to make sure pilots knew about dangerous and different conditions on a short term basis.

The FAA has been dragging it along for years.  Bureaucrats and Ass Protectors have been steadily adding stupid stuff to the system that turns a couple of bullet point things you need to know into pages and pages of reading before you go fly.   Most of them are totally worthless waste of time.

It’s also not apparent whether the platforms the program is on are capable of the workload or it was hacked.

Applying Pelosi’s precedent

(Scott Johnson)

AP congressional reporter Farnoush Amiri report via Twitter (below) that Speaker Kevin McCarthy will follow through on his promise to remove Reps. Eric Swalwell (Intelligence), Adam Schiff (Intelligence), and Ilhan Omar (Foreign Affairs) from their committee assignments. Of the three, I think Schiff is the worst. He should be tarred and feathered and run out of town for abuse of his position as Intelligence Committee chairman to perpetuate the Russia hoax for grossly partisan purposes. He gives lying weasels a bad name.

McCARTHY confirms Swalwell, Schiff & Omar will be off committees they’d previously served: intel/foreign affairs.

“Swalwell can’t get a security clearance in the private sector. I’m not going to give him a government security clearance. Schiff has lied to the American public…”

— Farnoush Amiri (@FarnoushAmiri) January 10, 2023

Assuming McCarthy takes this action, he will cite the Pelosi precedent. See, for example, the comments of Majority Leader Steve Scalise in this ABC News story. When former Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed the appointment of two Republican appointees to the January 6 Committee, she pronounced that she wasn’t concerned about the precedent. “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision,” Pelosi said.

Omar’s response to her anticipated ouster follows the form I personally experienced when she was a lowly candidate for the Minnesota state legislature in August 2016 and I asked about her marriage to her brother:

“McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred — including threatening to strip me from my committee — does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with. It does nothing to address inflation, healthcare, or solve the climate crisis,” she said in a statement in November.

“What it does is gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans and anyone who shares my identity, and further divide us along racial and ethnic lines,” she said.

As we see, however, Omar has not been singled out by McCarthy. She is in good company, so to speak, crossing racial and ethnic lines.

Via Karl Salzman/Washington Free Beacon.

Biden explains

(Scott Johnson)

President Biden held a joint press conference yesterday with Prime Minister Trudeau and President López Obrador in Mexico City. The White House has posted the transcript here.

The press conference followed a meeting at the so-called Three Amigos Summit. I would prefer to think of them as the Three Egregios. They are egregiously destructive leaders. North America is in bad hands.

Following a reading of prepared statements by the Three Egregios, Biden stated that he was having trouble hearing before calling on AP reporter Colleen Long to ask the first question. She asked whether Biden could “explain how classified documents ended up in one of [his] offices” and whether “the public get — have been notified sooner[.]” Anticipating the question, Biden read from a prepared statement to respond.

Jonathan Turley relates in a New York Post column this morning that, according to reports, the clearly marked classified documents include those at the highly classified “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” (TS/SCI) level and include material related to Iran, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The short answer to the Long question is that Biden couldn’t explain and wouldn’t say anything about why the public had not been notified sooner. Every sentence in Biden’s statement is questionable in itself or raises more questions:

Well, let me get rid of the easy one first. People know I take classified documents and classified information seriously.

How do we know that? Maybe because he called out President Trump as “totally irresponsible” for doing what Biden did before we knew that Biden himself had done the same thing.

When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me — a secure office in the Capitol, when I — the four years after being Vice President, I was a professor at Penn.

What were Biden’s lawyers doing “clearing out [your] office at the University of Pennsylvania”? And by the way, what classes did Biden teach when he was “a professor at Penn” on a salary of $1,000,000 a year? Or was that just another Biden family business in which you took laundered money from a foreign government?

They found some documents in a box — you know, a locked cabinet, or at least a closet. And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box. And they did what they should have done: They immediately called the Archives — immediately called the Archives, turned them over to the Archives. And I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.

“At least a closet”! He was briefed about the “discovery” —

But I don’t know what’s in the documents. I’ve — my lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes — they’ve turned over the boxes to the Archives. And we’re cooperating fully — cooperating fully with the review, and — which I hope will be finished soon, and will be more detail at that time.

We look forward to that time.

Please see Alana Goodman’s Washington Free Beacon story revisiting China’s foreign contributions to the University of Pennsylvania. Goodman reports that foreign donations to the University of Pennsylvania more than tripled in the two years after the Penn Biden “think tank” opened, with most of the $61 million coming from China. Goodman links to her own 2021 Free Beacon story reporting on the Chinese donations to Penn.

Goodman has the money quote: “Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, dismissed the notion of any link between the Penn Biden Center and the foreign donations to UPenn, which surged after the think tank launched. ‘One hundred percent of the budget for the Penn Biden Center comes from university funds,’ he told the Free Beacon on Tuesday.”

A Vote On the Fair Tax

(John Hinderaker)

The Fair Tax has been a staple in conservative circles for quite a few years. It is a national sales tax that is intended to replace the income tax. There is much to be said for the Fair Tax: as a tax on consumption, it would encourage saving and investment. It is relatively easy to administer; nearly all states already have a sales tax. And it would allow us to do away with the IRS (or most of it anyway), and end the regime of government snooping into your financial affairs.

The problem with the Fair Tax is that, unlike the income tax, it is not progressive. The federal income tax has become so progressive that, in effect, upper income people pick up the tab for the rest of us. The large majority of Americans are free riders or, at best, reduced-fare riders. In my opinion, this is unfair and even immoral.

But most people like progressivity, for obvious reasons. The Fair Tax is probably regressive: poor and middle income people need to spend more of their incomes than high-income people, so they will pay a higher percentage of their incomes in sales taxes.

After years of kicking around conservative circles, the Fair Tax has suddenly become relevant: House Republicans are going to bring it on for a vote:

House Republicans voted last night to strip the IRS of most of the extra funding it received when the Democrats and Biden Administration rammed through the Inflation Reduction Act.
But that’s not all they’ve done. Now they’re also going to vote on a bill that, if passed, would both abolish the IRS completely and eliminate the much-hated income tax. They’d be doing so by voting on Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter’s “Fair Tax Act,” which replaces the federal income tax with a national consumption tax and gets rid of the IRS, which would be made unnecessary by getting rid of the federal income tax.

This is one of the concessions earned by the House members who held out on electing Kevin McCarthy as Speaker:

The vote on the sure-to-be controversial and unlikely-to-succeed bill is happening because of the deal that Rep. Kevin McCarthy, now Speaker of the House, struck with members of the House Freedom Caucus who otherwise would not have voted for him to become Speaker of the House.

The Fair Tax is by no means an unreasonable proposal. If it actually replaced the federal income tax, I think I would support it. European countries raise their national revenues largely through VAT taxes, which are essentially sales taxes. But the idea that Congress will eliminate the progressive income tax in favor of a probably-regressive sales tax is fanciful.

So, yeah, bring it on. But without a public relations campaign to drum up substantial support for the Fair Tax, it will be portrayed in the press an another Republican giveaway to the rich–notwithstanding that most rich people are Democrats–and it will fail.

Solar Energy Is Useless

(John Hinderaker)

Or perhaps one should say: utility scale solar energy is useless. In northern climates, like where I live, solar panels produce electricity around 18% of the time–not a lot of electricity, any electricity. The vast majority of the time, they are inert.

It’s not just that solar panels do nothing during the night, as Duke Energy recently reminded its customers following a series of blackouts. In the North, solar panels also cease to function when it snows. Which it does, a lot. Sometimes on days when you want to turn on your lights, watch television or operate an appliance.

This is typical: a vast sea of solar panels, completely worthless because they are covered with snow:

This is Eastside Sartell. Lots of energy produced today.

— SFuchs (@FUCHSIE1974) January 8, 2023

What is most telling is that no one bothers to shovel off the snow. Do you shovel your driveway? Yes, you need to. But utilities don’t clear snow off solar panels, as one utility executive recently admitted, because they produce so little electricity that paying to shovel them–most likely, paying high school kids–is not cost-effective. That is the ultimate proof of the futility of utility scale solar power.

The Climate Is In Great Shape

(John Hinderaker)

It doesn’t come as any surprise to regular Power Line readers that the politically and economically motivated climate hysteria with which we are constantly bombarded is false. This piece by Javier Vinós at Watts Up With That, titled “Good 2022 Climate News the MSM didn’t tell you,” does an excellent job of summing up the reality that is usually obscured.

As Vinos says, there has been mild warming during the last 40 years. But the rate of warming has been slowing down, not accelerating as the alarmists’ models predict:

[T]he good news that no one is telling us is that global warming is slowing down. The 15-year rate was very high from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, reaching 0.35 °C/decade. The average over the entire period of satellite records is 1.3 °C per century or 0.13 °C/decade, but the long-term trend has fallen from 1.6 °C/century to 1 °C/century today. The current cooling period is contributing to this decline in the long-term warming rate.

The “current cooling period” refers to the fact that mean global temperature has declined over the last seven years.

Vinos points out, as we have many times, that claims of increasingly severe weather are simply false:

He also makes a point that I don’t think is raised often enough:

[I]n a warmer world, the temperature gradient between the equator and the poles is smaller, reducing the amount of energy to be transported and the intensity of atmospheric circulation, so we should not expect warming to increase the frequency of extreme events, just as we should not expect the global precipitation level to decrease.

But the most important point is that the alarmists’ models are wrong. All of the predictions of doom that we see constantly are based not on observation–the actual facts of climate are benign–but rather on model predictions. But we know for a fact that the models are wrong. A model that is refuted by observation is a bad model. Period. It cannot be a basis for public policy:

[D]espite costing a fortune these models are useless. The 5th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) was already projecting greater warming for the period 2006-2022 than has been observed. To the dismay of climatologists (Voosen 2022), the changes introduced in the CMIP6 models cause much more warming to be projected, so they have decided that, instead of averaging all models as was done in CMIP5, only the coolest ones should be averaged. Even so, the deviation between models and reality becomes more unbearable with each passing year (Figure 4).

This is the key chart:

So we should celebrate the fact that 2022 was another good year for the Earth’s climate.

Live Podcast: PLU Lesson 3—Federalist 11-39, Tomorrow

(Steven Hayward)

Power Line University will be back live in class again tomorrow starting at 4 pm Pacific time (7 pm Eastern), carrying on our consideration of The Federalist. I’ll be the lead presenter this week, covering some very interesting things Hamilton and Madison have to say about several issues in Federalist 11 – 20, such as taxation, leaving Europe in the rear view mirror, what they meant by the “new science of politics,” and whether they were mistaken in some particulars about how our constitution would work in practice.

From there we’ll take a closer look at Federalist 23, and then, time permitting move through numbers 27, 28, 33, 37, and 39.

That should be enough for roughly one hour, and if you are able to join us live, use this Zoom link. We’ll try to take some comments and questions from participants. (Each week we get a little better at the technical side of Zoom webinars.) And if you miss it, we shall post it as a regular audio podcast and on YouTube later in the week.

Thought for the Day: The Party Switch

(Steven Hayward)

From Gerard Baker’s Wall Street Journal column today:

In not much more than a generation, virtually all the protagonists, values and identities of ideological competition have swapped places.

Not very long ago, college-educated professionals voted for Republicans in vast numbers, while blue-collar workers picked Democrats. Now a college degree is the most reliable indicator of Democratic preference; the proletariat is dependably Republican. Liberals used to be passionate defenders of free speech; now progressives seek to shut down dissent wherever they find it. The left once regarded domestic intelligence agencies as a threat to democracy and individual freedom; now they embrace them as essential weapons against their domestic adversaries, whom they accuse of “misinformation” and “sedition.” Democrats were traditionally suspicious of and hostile to big business. Now, on issue after issue—climate alarmism, “diversity,” the virtues of a borderless world—they are tightly aligned.

The Daily Chart: Sports by Race

(Steven Hayward)

My Sunday post on the ridiculous Scientific American headline about black men being exploited in NFL football—as if no white men ever get life-altering injuries on the playing field—brought up the question: just what is the “diversity” breakdown of major professional sports? Here it is:

Observations: I believe there may be no Jews in the NBA, and less than five Asians.

I have heard, but don’t know how to verify easily, that there hasn’t been a white starting cornerback in the NFL for nearly 30 years. I’m so old I can recall growing up with Nolan Cromwell of the Rams, Jake Scott of the Dolphins, etc. What explains this near-extinction?  (Meritocracy or competitive excellence are not acceptable answers!) And how come we don’t have quotas in the NFL to spread the injuries more broadly to non-black players?

Did Powell Just Throw the Climatistas Under the Bus?

(Steven Hayward)

There are a couple of noteworthy passages in Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech delivered earlier today over in Sweden about central bank independence, such as:

[W]e should “stick to our knitting” and not wander off to pursue perceived social benefits that are not tightly linked to our statutory goals and authorities. . . [W]ithout explicit congressional legislation, it would be inappropriate for us to use our monetary policy or supervisory tools to promote a greener economy or to achieve other climate-based goals. We are not, and will not be, a “climate policymaker.”

Maybe someone should pass the word down to the staff of the Fed, however, as the Fed has declared otherwise. Just last month, the Fed issued this statement:

The Federal Reserve Board on Friday invited public comment on proposed principles providing a high-level framework for the safe and sound management of exposures to climate-related financial risks for large banking organizations. Although all financial institutions, regardless of size, may have material exposures to climate-related financial risks, these principles are intended for the largest financial institutions, i.e., those with over $100 billion in total consolidated assets. The draft principles are intended to support efforts by large financial institutions to focus on key aspects of climate-related financial risk management.

We all know what happens after a federal agency issues “principles” or “guidelines”—they eventually harden into de facto enforceable regulations.

Here’s an idea: how about a Fed study of the climate impacts of runaway inflation?

Notes on the Twitter Files (13)

(Scott Johnson)

Elon Musk opened the Covid-related records of old (pre-Musk) Twitter to Alex Berenson. Berenson has posted a 29-part Twitter thread conveying his findings. The thread can be accessed here. I have embedded the first tweet in the thread below.

1/ For those of you who'd rather see the whole Gottlieb #TwitterFiles in a thread… here goes!

On August 27, 2021, Dr. Scott Gottlieb – a Pfizer director with over 550,000 Twitter followers – saw a tweet he didn’t like, a tweet that might hurt sales of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines.

— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) January 10, 2023

As usual, I had a hard time navigating the thread in order on Twitter itself. I’m sure it can be “very easily done,” as Bob Dylan puts it in “Highway 61 Revisited,” but not by accessing the pinned tweet number 1 below. I find “it” (two number 1’s and so on) confusing. Berenson unrolled his thread here via the Thread Reader app. Berenson has also seeded his Twitter account with unnumbered findings from his review of the files.

1/ My first #TwitterFiles report: how @scottgottliebmd – a top Pfizer board member – used the same Twitter lobbyist as the White House to suppress debate on Covid vaccines, INCLUDING FROM A FELLOW HEAD OF @US_FDA!

Thanks @elonmusk for opening these files.

— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) January 9, 2023

Berenson previewed his findings at his Unreported Truths site on Substack. The preview provides valuable background and observations.

8/ I went into detail about my involvement at the Twitter Files in a Substack article yesterday. I plan more reporting on the files in the weeks to come.

— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) January 10, 2023

Berenson then separately highlighted his findings regarding Scott Gottlieb in the Unreported Truths post “From the Twitter Files: Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb secretly pressed Twitter to hide posts challenging his company’s massively profitable Covid jabs.” The post simply provides the findings conveyed in his Twitter thread in more digestible form.

Tweet number 18 gives us another preview of coming attractions.

18/ I will have more to say about my own case and will be suing the White House, Slavitt, Gottlieb, and Pfizer shortly.

— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) January 10, 2023

Again, the thread is accessible in order here. My experience navigating Berenson’s thread reminded me of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s comedy Shlemiel the First, which I saw in its original production at the Yale Repertory Theater in 1974.

In the preview on his Substack site Berenson observed:

The mainstream media has downplayed or simply ignored Musk’s move, but it is hard to overstate how important it is – or how exceptional.

Big companies simply do not open their internal records for outsiders to pore over. Even in litigation, they place confidentiality protections on information they give to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

In contrast, Musk is making available an unprecedented trove of evidence about government and private efforts to suppress free speech on the most important global platform for journalism. Musk’s decision is not risk-free and has little or no appreciable benefit for him. Everyone – Democrat, Republican, or independent – should thank him for doing it.

I could not agree more. Berenson also observed:

The files so far have not turned up much evidence of FBI interest in censoring discussion around the coronavirus or the Covid vaccines.

The Department of Homeland Security, the public health bureaucracies, and the Biden Administration itself seem to have led that effort, which accelerated dramatically in early 2021, after the vaccines became widely available and Biden took over.

I urge interested readers to take in Berenson’s findings with your own eyes.

NOTE: Twitchy compiles responses posted to Twitter by Gottlieb here.

Biden unclassified

(Scott Johnson)

CBS News seems to have broken the story that Vice President Biden left office with classified documents in 2017. The New York Post follows up here. The Washington Post story here (behind the Post paywall) carries the bylines of four reporters.

All the stories on the related investigation cite the statement of Biden attorney Richard Sauber. I have tracked down the statement on Twitter (below). Sauber’s statement implicitly distinguishes this case from the Trump Mar-Lago case. Every one of the news stories follows Sauber, although the news stories make the distinctions explicit.

The Trump documents locked up at Mar-a-Lago of course warranted an FBI raid and represented an existential threat to the United States if not Mother Earth. CBS News helpfully adds that the documents removed by Biden “did not contain nuclear secrets” according to “[a] person familiar with the matter[.]” So there is that.

Statement from White House Counsel’s Office on cooperation with the National Archives:

— Ian Sams (@IanSams46) January 9, 2023

The classified documents are said to have been discovered in the Penn Biden Center on November 2. Now the story can be told, I guess.

The Trump matter has been assigned to a Special Counsel. The Biden matter has not been assigned to a Special Counsel. Rather, according to the CBS News story, Garland has directed Trump-appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch, Jr. to “review [the] documents.” That’s not much of an assignment.

Further into the story CBS News adds that Lausch is “to find out how the material marked classified ended up at the Penn Biden Center. The review is considered a preliminary step, and the attorney general will determine whether further investigation is necessary, including potentially appointing a special counsel.” We’re not holding our breath.

Here is the second paragraph of the Washington Post story:

The White House confirmed the ongoing inquiry and said it is cooperating with the Justice Department and quickly handed over the documents to the National Archives and Records Administration — the agency tasked with handling presidential records. Roughly 10 documents were found, said one person familiar with the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The discovery was first reported by CBS News.

Four Post reporters have their byline on the story. They are apparently unable to make “one person” agree with the pronoun “they” — unless “they” is the preferred pronoun of that “one person.”

There is much more of substance that could be said, but I will limit myself to this comment. I long for the day when President Biden leaves office for good with or without classified documents. He is doing incalculable damage to the country through his official acts right now. Unfortunately, CBS News and the Washington Post and the rest of the mainstream media are carrying his water.

STEVE adds: This story reminds me a bit of Reagan’s first election campaign for governor in 1966, when Pat Brown’s campaign released a copy of the deed to one of Reagan’s ranch properties that included an old racially discriminatory covenant (which had long since been ruled unenforceable by the federal courts). Reagan replied that it was in the “fine print” that no one ever reads, to which Brown blasted back, “Who wants a governor who doesn’t read the fine print of the law?” The media ran with it, of course.

Well guess what? A lawyer—who happened to be my father’s lawyer for many commercial transactions—looked into Pat Brown’s property deeds and found the exact same racially restrictive clauses. The media: never mind, move along. Nothing to see here.

El Paso goes Potemkin

(Scott Johnson)

Municipal authorities in El Paso did their best to protect Joe Biden from images of the disaster that has befallen their city thanks to the open border policies implemented by the Biden administration. It’s not that they didn’t want Biden to see what he has done. He knows perfectly well. They wanted to accommodate his desire to keep the underlying story under wraps from the media when they came to cover Biden’s stopover. He spent all of a couple hours at the port of entry. He walked along the border wall with CBP officers for the benefit of the media.

The border wall looked like it was doing what it was meant to do. What are we to make of that? Apparently nothing.

What a farce. The construction of fake villages by Grigory Potemkin to impress Empress Katherine comes to mind. As I say, however, the prettification of El Paso wasn’t for Biden’s benefit. It was to protect Biden. He didn’t need to be fooled (although he might have profited from Deroy Murdock’s briefing on the chaos he he has created).

Upon its announcement last week I wrote about Biden’s “parole” program. Biden presented it as a program to secure the border. I think it is intended to amplify and conceal the flow of illegal immigrants. Hey, now there’s an app for that. Again, what a farce.

Others such as Andrew McCarthy have in addition attacked the legality of the program. Byron York takes up both Biden’s El Paso visit and Biden’s “parole’ program while arguing that Biden has made things worse at the border. That’s what I’m saying.

Image courtesy of David Lunde.

Our “Extremists” vs. Theirs

(John Hinderaker)

Some on the left are contrasting the rebellion mounted by Matt Gaetz et al. with the quiescence shown by the “Squad” and other radical Democrats during the Pelosi regime. I don’t find the difference surprising, for two reasons: 1) the Democrats are a top-down party, and taking orders comes naturally to them; and 2) the Pelosi regime was so far left that I’m not sure what the Squad could have held out for.

Nevertheless, this thread by Glenn Greenwald deserves consideration. Maybe he has a point:

In 2020, House Progressives and the incredibly radical Squad had exactly the same opportunity as House conservatives had.

House conservatives defied Leadership to get major concessions to empower them and their agenda.

House progressives did what they were told and got nothing:

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 8, 2023

Month ago, @RepMTG used the leverage she had to make McCarthy acknowledge the power she had among their base and vow to respect it. Gaetz & Co. got real concessions that make the House way more democratic, with vital reforms like this. That's using power:

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 8, 2023

As long as the Squad and HPC have a small army of YouTube hosts and various pseudo-left writers to defend everything they do, most will remain captive to the Biden WH, Schumer and Jeffries. They're gone: pointless and empty partisans. Work with anyone serious about these reforms.

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 8, 2023

Do Americans Hate Deficits?

(John Hinderaker)

I believe that polling has long shown broad support for a balanced budget and for a balanced budget amendment at the federal level. (Most states already have such a requirement.) Rasmussen’s findings on Congress’s latest debtravangza are consistent with that history:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 76% of Likely U.S. Voters are concerned about the size of the U.S. national debt – now more than $31 trillion – including 53% who are Very Concerned. Only 21% are not concerned about the size of the debt.

Back in 2010 or 2011, we conducted the Power Line Prize contest for artistic productions on the peril posed by the national debt. Our $100,000 grand prize drew hundreds of offerings: videos, songs, paintings, screenplays, and more. Many of them were excellent, and as the top ten were unveiled one at a time, they drew millions of views across the internet. The contest was a great success, but it failed to have any impact on the national debt.

As to the $1.7 trillion “omnibus” inflation act passed by the lame duck Democrats in Congress:

Forty-five percent (45%) of voters approve of the new spending bill, including 24% who Strongly Approve. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove, including 37% who Strongly Disapprove of the spending bill.

Which implies that a considerable number who say they are concerned about the national debt nevertheless approved the omnibus bill. More:

Former President Donald Trump denounced the $1.7 trillion spending bill as a “monstrosity” and a “disaster for our country.”

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters agree with that description, including 45% who Strongly Agree. Thirty-two percent (32%) disagree, including 19% who Strongly Disagree.

Which means that some who say the Democrats’ bill was a “disaster for our country” nevertheless approved of it.

What I want to know is, how serious are people who tell pollsters they are concerned about our rapidly ballooning debt? Currently it stands at $31 trillion. At 4% interest, debt service on that amount will be around $1.24 trillion annually. That is 5 percent of our gross domestic product of $25 trillion. Total federal spending is about $5.8 trillion. As recently as 2000, total federal spending was $1.77 trillion.

If Americans really care about deficit spending, do they show it at the polls? Not that I can remember. A lame duck Democrat Congress had no compunction about ramming through another $1.7 trillion in spending, which was backed by zero tax dollars and zero incremental production of goods and services. It was inflation, pure and simple. The Democrats must have understood this, but they evidently did not fear retribution at the polls. And I am afraid they are right.

If the new Republican majority in the House–assuming it manages to hold itself together–succeeds in tamping down deficit spending and slowing the growth of the debt, will it be rewarded in 2024? I hope so, but frankly I doubt it. When it comes to the deficit, voters’ actions speak louder than their words.

Now We Know What They Said

(Steven Hayward)

That was quite a dramatic scene on the House floor Friday night when Kevin McCarthy walked up the aisle and confronted Matt Gaetz. I’m not a good enough lip reader to know what passed between them, but fortunately we have the experts at Bad Lip Reading on the job, and they have decoded it for us:

Everything changes once you know what McCarthy and Gaetz were actually saying#118thCongress #KevinMcCarthy #MattGaetz

— Bad Lip Reading (@BadLipReading) January 8, 2023

More seriously, it does seem that you can make out McCarthy opening with a direct question to Gaetz: “What will it take for you to vote for me? Just say it.” But as Gaetz is seen from the side it is difficult to make him out, and McCarthy’s sequels aren’t easy to guess at either.

Tales from the Public Sector

(Steven Hayward)

Mass transit—the holy grail of urban progressivism (Quest for the Holy Rail, as I sometimes put it, or, A Desire Named Streetcar)—is struggling right now. The Wall Street Journal reports today:

Several of the nation’s largest urban mass-transit systems are at a crossroads, with ridership still depressed three years into the pandemic and federal aid running out. . .

The ridership shortfall is forcing transit authorities to question their decades-old funding models for public buses, subways and trains, which are based on a combination of rider fares and public money. On average, fares provided about a third of the operating income for transit systems nationwide in 2019, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

The story attributes most of the falloff in ridership to the COVID-induced shift from working on site. You have to get to the very end of the story to find the other important reason:

In a consumer survey conducted by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority this spring, roughly 60% of subway riders said they are riding less due to safety concerns. Major transit crimes were up 30% last year compared with 2021, according to police. . .

Lori Romeo, a lawyer who lives in Brooklyn and works in downtown Manhattan, said she rarely goes to her office anymore and takes an express bus instead of the subway when she does. “The homeless are sad, but the floridly psychotic and dangerous make going into Manhattan a challenging experience,” she said.

Meanwhile, you may have heard that we’re experiencing torrential rain out here in California right now. There’s a lot of local flooding and road closures where I am, but I have an ample supply of wine and whisky on hand. It is infuriating to see so much water running out into the ocean, when some of it (as much as 22 trillion gallons expected this week) could be captured for future use during our lengthy dry spells.

About that: most of the news coverage of the rain this week goes on for multiple paragraphs about you-know-what (c—— c—–), but the Wall Street Journal deigned to report a relevant fact:

California voters passed a $7.5 billion bond measure in 2012 to help build new storage facilities and make other water improvements. The state approved some of that money in 2018 to help build the Sites Reservoir, 75 miles northwest of Sacramento, which would hold enough runoff from wet years like this to meet the needs of roughly nine million people for a year. But the project has been mired in regulatory delays.

“Mired in regulatory delays” could be the motto for the entire United States these days.

Thought for the Day: University Fraud?

(Steven Hayward)

William Deresiewcz, reflecting on his experience teaching in Yale’s English department more than a decade ago:

At Yale, in an English department that was perennially ranked in the top ten, we were overjoyed if half our graduating students found positions. That’s right—half. Imagine running a medical school on this basis. A Christopher Newfield points out in Unmaking the Public University, that’s the kind of unemployment rate you’d expect to find among inner-city high school dropouts. And this was before the financial collapse. Since then, the market’s been a bloodbath—often only a handful of jobs in a given field, sometimes fewer, and, as always, hundreds of people competing for each.

In any other industry, you might think the Federal Trade Commission or some other body might investigate the institutions for fraud on the market. At the very least, maybe Congress should pass a law requiring all graduate programs to disclose to prospective applicants their placement rate for completed Ph.Ds.  That would be a fun thing to watch.

Mainstream Media Confesses Russia Hoax At Last

(Steven Hayward)

The Washington Post, today:

Russian trolls on Twitter had little influence on 2016 voters

Russian influence operations on Twitter in the 2016 presidential election reached relatively few users, most of whom were highly partisan Republicans, and the Russian accounts had no measurable impact in changing minds or influencing voter behavior, according to a study out this morning.

The study, which the New York University Center for Social Media and Politics helmed, explores the limits of what Russian disinformation and misinformation was able to achieve on one major social media platform in the 2016 elections.

“My personal sense coming out of this is that this got way overhyped,” Josh Tucker, one of the report’s authors who is also the co-director of the New York University center, told me about the meaningfulness of the Russian tweets.

“Now we’re looking back at data and we can see how concentrated this was in one small portion of the population, and how the fact that people who were being exposed to these were really, really likely to vote for Trump,” Tucker said. “And then we have this data to show we can’t find any relationship between being exposed to these tweets and people’s change in attitudes.”

It only took seven years, but I guess that’s quick work for our media these days. I sure we can expect an apology and correction from Hillary Clinton and the media any time now. . .


The Daily Chart: What Sanctions?

(Steven Hayward)

There’s long been reason to doubt that economic sanctions on rogue nations are effective means to restrain their behavior. Certainly our on-again, off-again sanctions on Iran haven’t had much effect on the regime. So the current sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine offer another good data point. We keep hearing the sanctions are hurting Putin and Russia. Well. . .

When Elvis met Nixon

(Scott Johnson)

I’m traveling this morning and unable to adhere to my schedule for Power Line. For readers who may be unfamiliar with it, I thought I would take the liberty of revisiting the story of Elvis’s 1970 White House visit in connection with our celebration of the anniversary of his birth yesterday.

Yesterday I focused on Elvis’s recorded work while acknowledging Peter Guralnick’s two-volume biography of Elvis — Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. Guralnick recounts the true story of the day in December 1970 when Elvis met Nixon in the White House. The story of the visit provides insight into Elvis’s patriotism as well as comic relief in the denouement of Elvis’s life.

I last extracted the story from Guralnick’s account when the film Elvis & Nixon was playing in theaters. The film was “based on a true story,” as they say. The film, however, played it strictly for laughs. This is my short rendition of the true story drawn from Peter Guralnick’s account together with links to the primary documents.

Elvis admired law enforcement officers and collected the badges of police departments he visited. In Los Angeles on a secret getaway from tensions at home in Memphis, Elvis became inflamed with the desire to be deputized by the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD). He inveigled his friend Jerry Schilling to join him on a quick trip to Washington. Bodyguard Sonny West would fly in from Memphis to meet them. Elvis asked Schilling to take out some cash for the trip; Elvis ended up giving it away to soldiers returning from service in Vietnam.

California Senator George Murphy was coincidentally on the flight from Los Angeles to Washington. Elvis sought out Murphy back in tourist to enlist his assistance. On the flight Elvis wrote out a letter to President Nixon (I’ve added paragraphing in the interest of readability):

Dear Mr. President

First I would like to introduce myself. I am Elvis Presley and admire you and Have Great Respect for your office. I talked to Vice President Agnew in Palm Springs a week ago and expressed my concern for our country. The Drug Culture, The Hippie Elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc do not consider me as their enemy or as they call it The Establishment. I call it America and I Love it.

Sir I can and will be of any Service that I can to help the country out. I have no concerns or motives other than helping the country out. So I wish not to be given a title or an appointed position, I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large, and I will help out by doing it my way through my communications with people of all ages. First and Foremost I am an entertainer but all I need is the Federal credentials.

I am on the Plane with Sen. George Murphy and We have been discussing the problems that our country is faced with. Sir I am Staying at the Washington hotel Room 505-506-507. I have 2 men who work with me by the name of Jerry Schilling and Sonny West. I am registered under the name of Jon Burrows. I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a Federal Agent.

I have done in depth study of Drug Abuse and Communist Brainwashing Techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing, where I can and will do the most good. I am Glad to help just so long as it is kept very Private. You can have your staff or whomever call me anytime today tonight or Tomorrow.

I was nominated the coming year one of America’s Ten Most outstanding young men. That will be in January 18 in my Home Town of Memphis Tenn. I am sending you the short autobiography about myself so you can better understand this approach. I would love to meet you just to say hello if you’re not to[o] busy.


Elvis Presley

Upon his arrival in Washington on the morning of December 21, Elvis dropped the letter off at the White House and went off to a meeting (arranged by Murphy) with the director of the BNDD to seek a badge. He instead met with BNDD deputy director John Finlator, who refused Elvis’s request for a badge. Back in the hotel room, however, Schilling received a call inviting Elvis to the White House for a meeting with the president.

Elvis’s letter had prompted internal deliberations over the wisdom of a presidential meeting. Dwight Chapin’s memo to Bob Haldeman summarizing Elvis’s request is a bit off. The second page of the memo has Chapin’s earnest advice and Haldeman’s somewhat more astute response. Chapin wrote: “[I]f the President wants to meet some bright young people outside of the Government, Presley might be a perfect one to start with.” Haldeman responded: “You must be kidding.” The meeting was nevertheless promptly approved and arranged. Elvis, Schilling, and West met up with White House aide Bud Krogh for Elvis’s 12:30 meeting with the president in the Oval Office.

Bud Krogh’s memo summarizes the meeting:

Presley indicated to the President in a very emotional manner that he was “on your side.” Presley kept repeating that he wanted to be helpful, that he wanted to restore some respect for the flag, which was being lost. He mentioned he was just a poor boy from Tennessee who had gotten a lot from his country, which in some way he wanted to repay.

Elvis thought he could be helpful to Nixon “in his drug drive” and Nixon expressed “his concern that Presley retain his credibility.” It was at this point that Elvis made his pitch for the BNDD badge. Nixon told Krogh that he would like Elvis to receive a badge. Krogh wrote in a subsequent account of the meeting:

Elvis was smiling triumphantly. “Thank you very much, sir. This means a lot to me.”…Elvis then moved up close to the President and, in a spontaneous gesture, put his left arm around him and hugged him.

Not done yet, Elvis asked the president if he would see his friends Schilling and West: “It would mean a lot to them and to me.” Schilling and West were ushered into the Oval Office. Nixon gave them the same tie clasps and cuff links with presidential seals that he had already given Elvis.

Elvis prompted Nixon: “You know, they’ve got wives too.” Elvis and Nixon then rummaged through Nixon’s desk for suitable presents for the wives.

The White House photographer took several photos to document the occasion. In the photo below West and Schilling have joined Elvis in the Oval Office with Nixon.


The storied photo below is the one with which we are all familiar. It is “one of the most popular photos at the National Archives.”


After lunch in the White House mess and a tour of the White House, Elvis was presented with the BNDD badge by Finlator at Krogh’s office. Finlator promised to send along additional credentials.

“Leaving the White House,” Guralnick writes, “Sonny and Jerry never stopped to ponder the many strange things that had occurred on this day. As far as they were concerned, there was one thing, and one thing only, responsible for whatever had happened to them, good or bad: they were with Elvis Presley.”

At least this chapter of the Elvis story had a happy ending.

Abbott to Biden: Do Your Job

(John Hinderaker)

Joe Biden is finally visiting the southern border–a small slice of it, anyway, in El Paso. The town has been frantically cleaned up, Potemkin-style, for the president’s appearance. But Texas Governor Greg Abbott isn’t fooled. Today he hand-delivered to Biden the letter that is embedded below.

Abbott’s letter calls on Biden to do his job. It chastises him for violating his constitutional duty to enforce the laws:

All of this is happening because you have violated your constitutional obligation to defend the States against invasion through faithful execution of federal laws.

Abbott contrasts Biden’s abysmal record with that of President Trump:

Under President Trump, the federal government achieved historically low levels of illegal immigration. Under your watch, by contrast, America is suffering the worst illegal immigration in the history of our country.

Governor Abbott wants Slow Joe to do his job. Specifically:

* You must comply with the many statutes mandating that various categories of aliens “shall” be detained, and end the practice of unlawfully paroling aliens en masse.

* You must stop sandbagging the implementation of the Remain-In-Mexico policy Title 42 expulsions, and fully enforce those measures as the federal courts have ordered you to do.

* You must aggressively prosecute illegal entry between ports of entry, and allow ICE to remove illegal immigrants in accordance with existing federal laws.

* You must immediately resume construction of the border wall in the State of Texas, using the billions of dollars Congress has appropriated for that purpose.

* You must designate the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.

Joe Biden is a scofflaw. Unfortunately, the entire Democratic Party supports him in his disregard for the law and for his constitutional obligations.

Here is Governor Abbott handing Biden the letter:

This is the letter:

House GOP Causing Panic on the Left

(Steven Hayward)

The media and the left were content to munch popcorn this week as House Republicans struggled to select a Speaker, but now that the deed is done largely on terms dictated by the so-called “Chaos Caucus” (I prefer Rebel Alliance), they are starting to wring their hands about how terrible this is. Which means they are worried. Which means the outcome is probably good. There is a disturbance in The Force.

Exhibit 1 is Joanne Freeman in the New York Times today. Freeman is a professor of American history at Yale, and as “mainstream” (meaning liberal) professors go, she isn’t half bad. (I’ve taken in a few of her lectures on the Open Yale Courses platform.) But she thinks the scene in the House right now is very bad. She has the case exactly backwards, though. Freeman writes that unlike the epic Speaker selection battles of the 19th century, this one “lacked a policy- and legislation-bound core. More than anything else, it was about power — a gap that reveals much about the state of the nation.”

It is precisely because the Rebel Alliance wants to have a greater voice in the “policy and legislative-bound” core of the House’s business that they demanded changes in the House rules that diminished the concentrated power in the Speaker. The unstated subtext of Freeman’s piece is that these “radical Republicans” might actually do something—something that she doesn’t approve. There’s another glaring irony of people like Freeman using the “radical Republican” label. The “radical Republicans” of the post-Civil War era were the ones who pursued genuine reconstruction and equal treatment for ex-slaves against the intransigent opposition of Democrats. So yeah—I guess that is just like today.

Or check out old reliable Dana Milbank at the Washington Post. He says McCarthy has empowered radical Republicans to destroy the House.

No doubt some took pleasure in the Republicans’ pain. But as a longtime reviewer of political theater, I found nothing enjoyable about this performance.

This is what happens when a political party, year after year, systematically destroys the norms and institutions of democracy. This is what happens when those expert at tearing things down are put in charge of governing. The dysfunction has been building over years of government shutdowns, debt-default showdowns and other fabricated crises, and now anti-government Republicans used their new majority to bring the House itself to a halt.

[McCarthy] is trying to save his own political ambitions by agreeing to institutionalize the chaos — not just for the next two years but for future congresses as well. . . He agreed to put rebels on the Rules Committee, giving them sway over what gets a vote on the House floor, and in key committee leadership posts. He agreed to unlimited amendments to spending bills, inviting two years of mayhem. He agreed to other changes that make future government shutdowns and a default on the national debt more likely, if not probable.

To paraphrase Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, I’m starting to like this deal better and better. All you need to do is use the palpable panic in the “respectable mainstream” as a litmus test.

Racialize Everything

(Steven Hayward)

The first rule of leftist politics today is racialize everything. Example 12,186:

Scientific American became a woke joke quite a while ago now. Remember this one from two years ago:

How about this for an alternative headline to the Hamlin story:

Latest NFL Contracts Highlight the Top 1% Income Status of Black Men in Football

Chaser—Good for Tony Dungy:


The Left’s War On Children

(John Hinderaker)

Liberals love to talk about children, but in many ways, their policies are devastating to the young. Education is near the top of the list: liberals run our public schools, and they are almost uniformly terrible. Schools are run for the benefit of teachers’ unions, administrators and diversity consultants. The kids are just disposable fodder.

Covid school shutdowns were a recent instance of liberal hostility toward children. They set Kevin Roche off:

Little Timmy [Walz’s inauguration] used the occasion to talk about those kids and how much he wants to help them and make Minnesota the best place to raise children. He is a lying piece of s*** in general but on this topic he is really outdoes himself in the prevarication rankings. Let us review what Little Timmy accomplished for children in his first term. Despite huge tax increases and even bigger educational spending increases, actual learning in Minnesota decreased, and decreased at a particularly rapid pace for minority children. The number of administrators doing nothing rose dramatically and the quality of teachers sank. This decline in learning accelerated during the epidemic when our imbecilic but devious Governor was paid off by the teachers’ unions to close schools for an extended period of time and substitute laughable “virtual learning”. He even went so far as to close playgrounds.

As a result of his actions, many minority children simply dropped out of school altogether and some unfortunately went into a life of crime, as we have a plague of carjackers and gangsters who should be in the classroom.

And yet, does Governor Walz regret his actions? No, he does not:

But more importantly from Little Timmy’s perspective, as a result he got lots of donations from the teachers’ unions, so he could spread lies about his opponent while outspending that opponent by a factor of ten to one. Other great accomplishments for our kids include the worst mental health crisis in the state’s history and rising drug and alcohol overdoses.
But on the bright side, from the Incompetent Blowhard’s perspective, is his forceful pushing of racist indoctrination and bullshit gender ideology to further confuse and dishearten our children, meaning that there is a good chance they become Democrat voters. Don’t think for one minute that Little Timmy doesn’t know exactly what he is doing. This isn’t some accident or misunderstanding. He sold our children for millions of dollars of campaign contributions and the chance to turn them into Democrat ideologues. For a few dollars each he is happy to ruin their lives.

Liberals sell out the young at every opportunity, and the worst offenders are teachers’ unions. In Minnesota, the teachers’ union, Education Minnesota, is far and away the state’s biggest political power. The union controls immense amounts of money, and more important, voters formerly saw the union as a force for good, representing students. That was completely misguided, of course, and my organization’s polling shows that the covid shutdowns opened the eyes of many parents, who now understand that Education Minnesota betrays their kids.

So we are launching a frontal attack on Education Minnesota. Until now, politicians have been afraid to cross the all-powerful teachers’ union. That needs to change: it is long past time to take on the malign power of the teachers’ unions. Our campaign uses billboards, social media, digital ads and email. This is what the billboards will look like. They go up tomorrow:

At, readers can get the facts about the teachers’ union’s longstanding obstruction of school reform, and sign a petition in favor of school choice. I particularly like this part of the web site’s litany:

FACT: Education Minnesota is the definition of “systemically racist” as they systemically block every attempt to close Minnesota’s achievement gap for students of color

The battle has been joined, and this time, both sides are fighting.

A Twitter Files footnote (6)

(Scott Johnson)

In following the multiple installments of the Twitter Files written by several hands, it is not easy to grasp the big picture. Lee Smith has formulated a sort of unified field theory of social media penetration by the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of the United States. He makes his case in the Tablet column “How the FBI hacked Twitter.” The Twitter Files themselves make for a part of the picture, but only a part.

Altering the metaphor, I would say that Lee pulls several threads from our recent past into his theory. He does not present the resulting case as a theory, but that is what it is. I find it helpful and persuasive. The issues raised could not be more important. I therefore want to bring it to the attention of interested readers who have followed the story so far.

Lee is of course the author of The Plot Against the President (2019) and The Permanent Coup (2020). He has been on this beat since the Obama administration and his hypothesis is based on knowledge of relevant facts.

Sunday morning coming down

(Scott Johnson)

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley in 1935. I wrote this post and compiled the videos below last year to note the occasion, but today is the day. I don’t want to let it go without another look back in this slightly revised form.

The Beatles turned me on to the music. It took me a long time to hear the music of Elvis Presley with ears attuned to its riches. Elvis was the man, even for the Beatles themselves. In addition to hitting a few highlights, I hope also to hit on a few less familiar tracks.

Am I wrong in thinking that immersing ourselves in his music can deepen our love of America? You can certainly hear America singing.

This is not a representative sample even of the highlights. The breadth and depth of Elvis’s catalog preclude it. I can only say that these are all recordings that have something to offer on their own terms and perhaps send you back to the body of his work. Forgive me for overlooking your own favorites, as I surely have. I haven’t even included all my own favorites. There is simply too much from which to choose and this is too long as it is.

First a bibliographic note. Like his music, the story of Elvis’s life is all-American. Peter Guralnick does it justice in the two-volume biography Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. Guralnick is a dogged researcher with a gift for narrative. He seems to get inside the heart of the lives he chronicles in his account. There are no villains in his telling of the story. His treatment of Colonel Parker in the first volume is a particularly good example. If you want the story in full, Guralnick’s books are the place to go. Guralnick filled out the story in Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, but the Elvis books are essential.

I have been a fan of Guralnick since reading Sweet Soul Music back in the ’80s. His work offers a wealth of riches. I went to see Guralnick speak to a small standing-room only audience at St. Paul’s now closed Hungry Mind Bookstore when he had completed the Elvis biographies and was embarking on his biography of Sam Cooke. He mentioned that he had recently read Dawn Powell’s autobiographical novel My Home Is Far Away and that he had tried to learn from it in terms of his approach to narrative.

RCA facilitated the efforts of latecomers to Elvis’s artistry by bundling Elvis’s principal popular work into three beautifully presented boxed sets organized by decade, with separate sets devoted to his gospel and film work. I found the boxed sets revelatory. Perhaps most surprising to me is the magnitude of Elvis’s accomplishment continuing into the ’70’s, represented in the third of the three boxed sets.

Here is a modest selection of great Elvis numbers accompanied by my own brief comments. The selection is purely for illustrative purposes. The first five derive from Elvis’s initial recordings for Sun Records with Scotty Moore and Bill Black and with Sam Phillips at the controls. They are available separately on Sunrise, collecting all his Sun recordings.

“That’s All Right.” Elvis, Scotty and Bill discover the heart of the Cosmic American Music at the junction of blues, country, and rock.

“Good Rockin’ Tonight.” Proving that the discovery was no accident, Elvis digs a little deeper into the motherlode.

“Baby, Let’s Play House.” Pleading, naughty, fun. This is still 1955, right? Is this legal? Elvis’s mom declared the song one of her favorites of Elvis’s to date — what a lady! John Lennon listened carefully and copped a few lines for his “Run For Your Life” on the Beatles’ beautiful Rubber Soul album.

“Mystery Train.” Elvis transformed the slow 1953 Junior Parker blues number into a stunning blend of blues and country. This was Elvis’s last Sun single; it peaked at number 11 on the Billboard country chart. Colin Escott writes that it “marked Elvis Presley’s elevation to greatness.”

“Trying To Get To You.” Mixing the sacred and the profane, the song touched Elvis’s deepest feelings of yearning and fulfillment. Elvis responds with a blistering performance.

Elvis revisited the song in the stunning performance captured live for his Singer (sewing machine) comeback special in 1968.

“Heartbreak Hotel.”. This great track was Elvis’s first recording on RCA. Bill Black and Scotty Moore back Elvis on bass and guitar, along with Chet Atkins on lead guitar and Floyd Cramer on piano. It was a huge hit on just about all the pop charts.

“Crying In the Chapel.” Elvis had deep religious feeling. Guralnick writes that Elvis wanted to seize on his early success to share his love of the gospel music that meant so much to him. Indeed, he sang and recorded gospel music throughout his career. Here he takes the lilting Sonny Til and the Orioles doo-wop number and turns it into a moving personal meditation. It became a surprise number one hit in 1965 when RCA lifted it from Elvis’s 1960 gospel album and released it as a single.

“Reconsider Baby.” I first heard this on the RCA album Elvis Blue, the long out-of-print RCA compilation of Elvis’s blues recordings on blue vinyl. Elvis brings an almost shocking intensity to the Lowell Fulson blues number. It originally appeared on Elvis Is Back! (1960) — from the Army, that is.

“It’s Now or Never.” It was Elvis’s idea to have an English version worked up for the Italian original on which “It’s Now or Never” was based. The single was a huge hit. As I recall from reading Guralnick, Elvis refused to use overdubs to get his vocal right. He thought that would be cheating. Double checking the facts via Wikipedia, I see I’m not the only one who found the song inspirational: “Barry White credited this song as his inspiration for changing his life and becoming a singer following his release from prison.”

“Little Sister.” Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, “Little Sister” was one of the hits on the double A side single with “Marie’s the Name (Of His Latest Flame)” in 1961. The Beatles must have been listening over in the United Kingdom, where it reached number 1.

“Tomorrow Is A Long Time.” In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970’s, Bob Dylan pronounced this his favorite cover of one of his songs — and it’s one of Dylan’s best. Elvis follows Odetta’s arrangement. Formerly buried on the Spinout soundtrack album.

“Suspicious Minds.” When Elvis reclaimed his career from Hollywood and the Colonel following the 1968 Singer Special, he headed to American Sound Studio and producer Chips Moman in Memphis. Elvis poured himself into this song that Moman knew Elvis could turn into a hit. In the event, it was one of Elvis’s last number one hits.

“Kentucky Rain.” I can’t leave this one out. By Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard, the single made it to number 16 on the Billboard chart. The song is over the top in its sentimentality, but Elvis makes it real. The production is simply great.

“Stranger In My Own Home Town.” I think Elvis’s sessions in Memphis following the Singer Special were the most productive of his career. Elvis was at the top of his form. He was feeling the music. The material, the arrangements, the musicians were all excellent. You can hear how into it Elvis is as he vamps and growls behind the beat on this fantastic Percy Mayfield number.

“Long Black Limousine.” Also from the sessions at American in Memphis, this elicited something special from Elvis. Did he hear a portent of doom? As in “Reconsider Baby,” the feeling he brings to it is almost shocking.

“Only the Strong Survive.” Written by Jerry Butler, this song is just so beautiful in its own way. Elvis was catching up with the strands of popular music he had neglected in the course of his career in Hollywood. I have to think that the speaking intro referring to the singer’s mother grabbed Elvis.

“American Trilogy.” From Elvis’s groundbreaking 1973 Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite live show. God, guts and glory. This is it. Mickey Newbury put the medley together.

“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” I’m afraid I’m shortchanging the 70’s in this retrospective. They make up five magnificent compact discs in the RCA compilation. Elvis toured nearly constantly until the end. I love the songs that became set pieces in his shows. This is one.

“Twenty Days and Twenty Nights.” Overproduced, but Elvis was still delivering.

“Funny How Time Slips Away.” This Willie Nelson classic is just right.

“Never Been to Spain.” RCA included the live recording of the song written by Hoyt Axton on Walk A Mile In My Shoes, the 70’s compilation. I think it became a staple of his live shows.

“You Gave Me a Mountain.” RCA also included the live recording of this number on Walk a Mile in My Shoes. Guralnick points out somewhere in the biography that Elvis resonated to what I had thought of as cornball songs and made something of them. “Don’t Cry Daddy” from the Memphis sessions is one example. “Kentucky Rain” is over the top in its own way too. So is this Marty Robbins song, which seems like a good place to sign off this morning.

Duke Energy Apologizes

(John Hinderaker)

Duke Energy customers in North and South Carolina experienced rolling blackouts over Christmas. Duke is appropriately contrite, but its explanation of its own failure is revealing:

Duke Energy executives repeatedly apologized and owned up to the situation that caused thousands in North and South Carolina to be without power during a bitter cold snap leading up to the Christmas holiday weekend. The admissions came during a hearing Tuesday before the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

According to testimony before the NCUC, high winds had already left 300,000 without power during the day of Dec. 23 before a severe cold snap later that night and into Dec. 24.

The linked story does not explain why high winds left 300,000 people without power. This may be a failure of wind turbines, as they must be shut down if the wind blows too hard.

“I want to express how sorry we are for what our customers experienced,” said Julie Janson, executive vice president, and CEO, of Duke Energy Carolinas. “Winter storm Elliott was an extremely powerful event with a unique confluence of high winds, extreme temperature drops, and other conditions that forced us to curtail power as a last resort.

“Curtailing power” means imposing rolling blackouts on Duke’s customers. A rolling blackout is when a utility intentionally cuts power to a particular area in order to prevent the entire grid from collapsing.

“The power that we purchased did not show up, therefore, we were confronted with the hard truth that our energy [capacity] would soon be eclipsed by our [demand],” stated Bowman.

The purchased power didn’t show up because nearby states were experiencing the same conditions. This is entirely predictable.

Duke Energy’s “nuclear fleet” was reliable during the storm, according to Preston Gillespie, Duke Energy’s executive vice president and chief generation officer.

Well, yes. It would be.

Duke Energy’s “nuclear fleet” was reliable, but solar generation was unable to meet peak demand because it occurred before sunrise.

Imagine that! It’s always coldest before the dawn, or something like that. The uselessness of solar energy is blindingly obvious, but utilities are happy to invest billions in solar panels and reap guaranteed profits at the expense of their customers.

Rolling blackouts are starting to become common, and they will only increase as long as our country continues its insane commitment to unreliable “green” energy.

In Re: Speaker McCarthy—Dissents & Concurrences

(Steven Hayward)

I’ll ask readers to indulge a roundabout introduction, as I think it useful for setting up such a rare occasion as a substantial disagreement with what Brother John has written here about the McCarthy Question.

It has become a frustrating and annoying practice of the Supreme Court to issue decisions whose summary begins as follows (in this case, Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU in 1989):

“BLACKMUN, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts III-A, IV, and V, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, STEVENS, and O’CONNOR, JJ., joined, an opinion with respect to Parts I and II, in which STEVENS and O’CONNOR, JJ., joined, an opinion with respect to Part III-B, in which STEVENS, J., joined, an opinion with respect to Part VII, in which O’CONNOR, J., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part VI. O’CONNOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in Part II of which BRENNAN and STEVENS, JJ., joined.. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which MARSHALL and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and WHITE and SCALIA, JJ., joined.”

So if you ask just where the hell does that jumble leave us, the answer is, Yes.

My conclusions about the protracted drama of Kevin McCarthy’s slog to the Speaker’s gavel have some of this convoluted character when laid side-by-side with John’s views, with which I agree in part and dissent in part.

So I will emulate the Supreme Court by stating the main judgment about the case before getting to the important subsidiary distinctions: the 20 House Republicans (the “chaos caucus,” the “Rebel Alliance,” the “renegades”?) were largely correct with most of their demands, and right in their general disposition about what needs to be done in the House. I do not think it was a clown show, even if some individual members did beclown themselves.

Let’s clear out the mistakes first. Some members (Gaetz and Boebert mostly) made it about McCarthy personally. This is fine, but they should have said so more directly. I share some doubts about McCarthy’s political probity, but if it’s personal then why “negotiate” with someone you don’t trust and won’t vote for no matter what? A lot of the posturing appeared to be in bad faith.

A close and related second aspect, though, is that the demands the Rebel Alliance made were pitched in such as way as to seem primarily as an attack on McCarthy, rather than an attack on the defects of the House of Representatives as it has come to operate in recent decades, with too much power concentrated in the Office of the Speaker.  I’m sure McCarthy, or any aspiring Speaker, would prefer to have the concentrated power that has accrued to the Speaker’s office in recent decades. As such, the Rebel Alliance made a mistake in not prefacing their sensible demands with the headline that these issues aren’t about McCarthy, but reversing the degradation of the House as a truly deliberative and representative body. In other words, they’d have been better off if they had said, clearly and repeatedly, “This isn’t about Kevin McCarthy; this is about restoring the proper functions of the House that Democrats have undermined and too many previous GOP Speakers have not reversed when they had the chance. We’ll demand these changes of the next Speaker no matter who he or she is.” The fact that there was no serious or credible alternative candidate (sorry—Andy Biggs wasn’t) was a big detriment to their case.

Some of the demands, like term limits (Rep. Norman’s pet demand), make little political sense. But the demands for the ability to offer amendments on the floor to spending bills, and even allowing a motion to vacate the chair from only a single member (very high risk with a close House) represent a restoration of the way the House operated before the administrative state made it attractive to Democrats to concentrate power in the Speaker’s office, especially about budgetary matters. And thus the demands for greater representation on the Rules Committee by members of the Freedom Caucus (half of whom supported McCarthy throughout remember) are also positive steps. The real disappointment here is not that 20 House Republicans “embarrassed” the GOP by these protracted votes, but that so few House Republicans joined up for this program. But also significant is that when McCarthy did finally yield to their demands, most of the Rebel Alliance fell into line behind him immediately, leaving only a tiny rump that dislikes McCarthy personally. While the spectacle may have been unedifying (though only time will tell if it leaves a lasting impression), I think this was their finest hour.

It is worth observing that one of the milestones in the transformation of the House into a cheering section or mule-boy for the administrative state was the election of 1974, when the very left Democrat “Watergate babies” overturned decades of House rules to empower the left. It’s long past time for a counter-revolution from Republicans. Gingrich made some salutary changes to the House in 1995, but didn’t go nearly far enough, and arguably went the wrong direction in some cases. Maybe we needed what I’ll provisionally call the “Trump babies” to make enough of a fuss to make some real change to how the House works.

And don’t overlook the potential delayed-fuse bomb this may set off among Democrats down the road. Recall that the progressive caucus in the House (AOC, etc) held hostage Biden’s infrastructure bill, which had passed the Senate easily, to demand passage of the giant Green New Deal. They may well regret relenting now that they’ve seen the kind of concessions a determined minority in the caucus can get. Next time Democrats have a House majority, watch for AOC and friends to embrace the model the GOP Rebel Alliance has just set. Their demands will be crazy of course, but that in itself is helpfully clarifying in American politics.

Finally (for now—there’s a lot more to say about this whole matter), one of the ironies of the American political system is that one thing the Speaker of the House doesn’t really do is speak. Our House Speaker ought to more like the Speaker in the House of Commons in Britain: someone who operates the day-to-day procedure. The legislative business should be conducted by the majority leader and party policy committees. Let McCarthy enjoy his Speaker’s chair. Let the rest of the caucus get on with the trench warfare necessary to win some battles.

DeSantis Marches On

(John Hinderaker)

Governor Ron DeSantis had a busy day yesterday. He followed through on last year’s legislation that ended the Disney Corporation’s unique self-governing status through the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The Orlando Sentinel reports:

A notice published on Osceola County’s website on Friday states that lawmakers will take up legislation “increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency” of the district, which gives Disney quasi-government control over its theme park properties in Florida.
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” said Taryn Fenske, a DeSantis spokeswoman. “Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes. Imposing a state-controlled board will also ensure that Orange County cannot use this issue as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents.”

Disney’s arrangement with Florida was unusual, to say the least. But DeSantis’s and the Florida legislature’s actions also reflect growing concern over questionable ties between government and big business.

More interesting still was DeSantis’s move to remake the New College of Florida. The New College is part of the Florida state system; it is designated as an “honors” college but has a tiny enrollment of a little over 800 undergraduates. DeSantis wants to shake things up:

Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed conservative activist Christopher Rufo and five others to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees in his continuing move to eliminate “political ideology” from public higher education.

Putting Rufo on the board is sheer genius.

In a statement Friday, DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske said New College has been “completely captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning.”

“Starting today, the ship is turning around,” DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin continued. “New College of Florida, under the Governor’s new appointees, will be refocused on its founding mission of providing a world-class quality education with an exceptional focus on the classics.”

In addition to Rufo, DeSantis appointed Emory professor Mark Bauerlein, our friend Charles Kesler of Claremont-McKenna, Florida lawyer Debra Jenks, Jason “Eddie” Speir, co-founder of Inspiration Academy, and Matthew Spalding, dean of Hillsdale College’s Graduate School of Government.

This is great:

“It is our hope that New College of Florida will become Florida’s classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South,” DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier said in a statement.

Of course, New College is public and Hillsdale is a private college that accepts no government money, so you can only push the analogy so far. But we get the drift.

And all of this came only a couple of days after DeSantis directed Florida’s state colleges and universities to compile lists of programs and activities relating to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Critical Race Theory in advance of the 2023 Legislative Session. Which prompted much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the Left.

When events in Washington get too depressing, turning our attention to Florida always cheers us up.

A Twitter Files footnote (5)

(Scott Johnson)

RealClearPolitics reporter Paul Sperry was suspended from Twitter a few months Adam Schiff sought his banning as a result of his entirely accurate reporting for RCP. We learned of Schiff’s behind-the-scenes efforts in part 12 of the Twitter Files per Matt Taibbi.

Now Sperry explains and responds in the fantastic New York Post column “How Democrat Adam Schiff abused his power to demand I be kicked off Twitter simply due to a personal vendetta.” We all know that the competition is stiff, but I declare Schiff to be the biggest liar and lout in Congress — and that by a wide margin, as Sperry proceeds to make out (“This is the real spreader of falsehoods”)

Read the whole thing here.

All is proceeding as foreseen

(Scott Johnson)

In my facetious new year’s predictions I foresaw that Kevin McCarthy would find a way to win election as Speaker of the House in January. I added that by February he would begin to wonder why he wanted the job so badly. I’m thinking he began the wondering last week, so might have missed on that one.

I did not foresee that a fight might break out over the Speaker election. The New York Post reports that Alabama’s Rep. Mike Rogers had to be restrained from going after Matt Gaetz when Gaetz voted “present” on the fourteenth ballot. That’s the sprit! More on Rogers here. Gaetz was restrained by Rep. Richard Hudson. More on Hudson here.

As the election proceedings continued I couldn’t get enough of Matt Gaetz. Through those 15 ballots that ultimately delivered the Speakership to McCarthy with a last-minute assist from Gaetz, I wondered whom Gaetz might nominate next. Why not Gaetz himself? Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for me, Matt Gaetz.

I did foresee that evidence of President Biden’s age-related physical and mental decline would continue to mount. The evidence permeated Biden’s January 5 remarks on his “parole program” to stem facilitate and conceal illegal immigration. He barely comprehends the text he is reading: “That’s not just human smuggling at the border. We’re focused on cracking down on drug smuggling, which is a serious and deadly promise — or, excuse me, a pro- — problem. And I made a promise we would try this.”

I did not foresee that Biden would pretend to address the national security crisis he has created in the dissolution of our southern border. George Fishman explains what that’s all about in the New York Post column “Biden tries to pull the old end run with his latest immigration plan.” Fishman explores the history and legal issues in the parole program before making this definitive point:

Biden’s parole scheme conveys huge benefits to him. If aliens enter the United States on parole, they won’t be apprehended and won’t be counted in the Biden administration’s now massive border numbers. In fact, Biden will be able to crow about bringing the border under “control,” simply by pretending the border doesn’t exist….

With much more pretending and blaming to come in 2023.

The Week in Pictures: Speechless Edition

(Steven Hayward)

If Congress doesn’t have a Speaker, does that make it speechless? . I’m starting to see more and more upsides to this whole scene. Maybe we should elect Charlie McCarthy to be speaker. How could y0u tell the difference between Kevin McCarthy and Charlie McCarthy anyway? As I like to say, gridlock is the next best thing to having constitutional government, and a shutdown of the House is almost as good as a government shutdown. Best idea yet: Trump for Speaker! [Late update: Looks like he made it after all.]

But it looks like we have this after all.

For real Trekkies only. . .


Always good advice.

Headlines of the week:



Speaking of the royal family. . .


How could I have missed this gem when it came out on vinyl?

And finally. . .

Clown Show Coming to an End? [Updated]

(John Hinderaker)

The fiasco in the House of Representatives may be drawing to a close, as 14 of the 21 Republicans who collaborated with Democrats to prevent the organization of a Republican House have now come to their senses. Only a few more need to wake up, and Republicans can start carrying out the duties for which they were elected.

How much damage have the tiny minority of sellouts done? Quite a bit, I think. Democrats have been ridiculing the GOP non-stop for the last week, and the party’s inability to organize the House has lent credibility to one of the chief criticisms of Republicans: they are fine as back-bench bomb throwers, but they can’t govern. If you haven’t noticed, today’s GOP does not stand high with most voters, and this week’s clown show obviously hasn’t helped.

The longer-range question is whether the power of the Speaker has been impaired. I consoled myself regarding the GOP’s narrow House win in November with the reflection that in the House, unlike the Senate, it doesn’t much matter how big a majority you have. Under the House’s rules, the Speaker is in charge. Nothing comes up for a vote without his or her approval. This is why the Democrats were able to govern the House effectively in recent years, even though they, too, had a slim majority. So, I thought, be the majority large or small, Republicans control the House.

But in order to win over the egomaniacal 19 (or 20, whatever it turned out to be), Kevin McCarthy had to make a number of concessions. They are summarized here.

How significant are they? Most are minor, and some are good ideas. Perhaps the most damaging to the Speaker’s authority is the agreement that a single House member can call for a vote of no confidence in the Speaker. (Of course, this applies only to Republicans. Democrats aren’t that dumb.) I don’t know how much impact this change will have: hopefully not much, since the current threshold apparently is five votes. But it is one more instance of how Republicans continually lose the political battle to Democrats because we don’t know how to fight effectively.

Let’s hope that by Monday, House Republicans will be able to get to work. And let’s hope that the caucus’s tiny minority of egomaniacs hasn’t done permanent damage, and will not collaborate with Democrats in the future. And as far as I am concerned, the sooner they are run out of the party the better.

UPDATE: It is coming down to the wire. Far-leftist Sheila Jackson Lee is on camera, schmoozing her ally Matt Gaetz, trying to keep him on the Democrats’ team. Leftist Dean Phillips, meanwhile, is on television advancing the Dems’ talking points. Gaetz and his tiny handful of egomaniacs have betrayed the conservative movement, but their moment in the sun is coming to an end. I hope. Tune in tomorrow.

A-Rod In the Arctic

(John Hinderaker)

Well, not the Arctic, exactly. Minnesota. Alex Rodriguez is now a part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, regarded by many as the most godforsaken franchise in professional sports. Maybe A-Rod can change that. In any event, he now spends time in Minnesota and apparently owns a home here. So when we got a foot of snow earlier this week, he had to deal with it. Allegedly. He posted this on Instagram:

Axios expressed skepticism, citing Minnesotans who are hard to fool when it comes to shoveling snow:

Yes, but: That’s a very large driveway, A-Rod can definitely afford snow removal and the sticker is still on the shovel.

Good point!

* Plus, are those tire tracks?

Um, yeah. They are. This was a tough snowfall even for mechanized shovelers: a snow plow got stuck in my driveway.

The response: Many of his own followers were skeptical, including his former nemesis Johnny Damon, who wrote, “Video or I ain’t buying it.”

* A-Rod replied: “ha ok!! Video coming your way!! Miss you my guy!!!”

What he did: Though A-Rod delivered with a 15-second follow-up video showing him shoveling, many still doubted his abilities.

By the numbers: Axios Twin Cities carried out a poll on Instagram. As of 10am on Thursday, 94%, or 705 voters, said he didn’t do it.

* “That’s called cleaning up after a snowblower went through,” follower Teresa F. added.

* “The video reminds me of my younger brother in the 70’s trying to look like he is helping shovel . . . NOT,” one Axios reader wrote in an e-mail.

That driveway would take about a week to shovel. I’m pretty certain A-Rod didn’t do it. To be fair, though, he might have been kidding. I just hope he sticks around Minnesota long enough to do something about the Wolves.

Podcast: The 3WHH on the Last Pope, the Next Speaker, and Hobbes

(Steven Hayward)

We recorded a day early this week because I have to travel (supposedly—the airlines are not cooperating—again). Only the 3WHH bartenders could possibly draw the connecting thread between the subjects of the passing of Pope Benedict XVI, the drama over the next Speaker of the House, and Thomas Hobbes. But with the help of a little fine whisky, we’re up to the job!

Lucretia and I give the Protestant John Yoo a tutorial (the first of two this episode) on why Benedict may have been the most serious theologian ever to serve as Pope. It might be summarized in two words—”Regensberg Address“—but there is much more to that story, including the lingering mystery of why Benedict abdicated the papacy ten years ago.

From there our spirits—both the distilled and mental kind—kicked in hard for our discussion of the intramural Republican struggle to elect a new Speaker of the House. Let’s just say Lucretia would prefer Charlie McCarthy to Kevin McCarthy and leave it at that.

This episode ends with Lucretia and I giving John his second tutorial, this time on Thomas Hobbes. John has recklessly agreed to a “great books” segment on Hobbes for Prager University, but as usual provokes significant disagreement among the 3WHH bartenders.

And because of this last segment, our exit music is “Am I Very Wrong?” (answer: when it comes to Hobbes—Yes!), by musical combo whose name shall not be mentioned here:

Am I very wrongTo hide behind the glare of an open minded stareAm I very wrongTo wander in the fear of a never ending lieAm I very wrongTo try to close my ears to the sound they play so loudAm I very wrongThe happiness machine is trying hard to sing my song

So listen here, or make a social contract with the Leviathan known as Ricochet.

The Daily Chart: Millennium Doom

(Steven Hayward)

It is usually safe to dismiss millennialism, that is, apocalyptic doomism like Paul Ehrlich, who is back in the news. There may be an exception to millennial dismissalism: the millennials.

The standard political axiom is that every generation becomes—and votes—more conservative as it ages. As Churchill is reported to have said (but maybe didn’t), anyone who is not a socialist at 20 has ho heart, and anyone who is not a conservative at 40 has no brains. Sure enough, even the baby boomers of the radical 1960s became more conservative as they aged.

But millennials haven’t got the message. In fact it appears millennials are moving further left as they get older:

And millennial women appear to be significantly more left than men:

Yet another reason to repeal the 19th Amendment.

Bordering on nullity

(Scott Johnson)

President Biden let it be known first thing yesterday morning that he would visit El Paso this coming Sunday. The visit is notable for two reasons. First, it’s a rare weekend when Biden will not be on vacation. He has spent 40 percent of his term in office so far on vacation. At age 80, the guy needs his r & r.

Second, for “El Paso” read “the border.” For the first time in his political life Biden will visit the border. This can mean only one thing. Biden is preparing to announce his candidacy for a second term in office.

This raises the question whether he will be fit for a second term. We can answer that question definitively in the negative insofar as he is not fit for his present term. Moreover, his faculties are declining. He’s not getting shaper with age.

On Biden’s first day in office as president he undid approximately everything President Trump had done to achieve control of our border. During his campaign for the Democratic nomination he made it clear that he would open the border and he has made good on his promise.

Biden has dissolved our southern border. The official statistics reflect 4,000,000 illegal crossings in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. The first of those two years set a record that was broken by the second of the years. Nearly 5,000,000 illegal aliens have entered the United States since Biden took office.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has repeatedly assured us that the border is secure. He has established himself as the Baghdad Bob of the Biden administration. He ought to be run out of town on a rail, but it should be noted that he has faithfully executed administration policy.

Biden followed up word of his weekend trip to El Paso with a late morning speech pretending that he will do something to stem the tide of illegal immigration. The White House has posted the transcript of his remarks here. The AP account of his remarks is here.

As usual, Biden stood before a teleprompter in the Roosevelt Room and struggled to read the text as it scrolled before him. Biden opened his remarks by blaming Republicans for the crisis that Mayorkas has declared not to exist. Further into his remarks Biden announced “one significant step we’re taking[.]” He observed: “Over the summer, we saw a huge spike in the number of Venezuelans traveling through — through Mexico and attempting to enter the United States without going through our legal processes. They res- — we responded by using and ensuring that there are two safe and lawful ways for someone leaving the country to come to America. And that was one of the reasons you — you were proposing.” I found the meaning not entirely clear.

He then described the administration’s response to the flood of Venezuelans:

First, if they’re seeking asylum, they can use an app on their cell phone called CBP One — O-N-E — CBP One — O-N-E. That’s to spell it out, not the number “1.” To schedule an appointment at a port of entry and make their asylum claim there without crossing the border unlawfully and have a decision determined by an asylum officer, do they qualify.

Second, in October, we worked with the Mexican government to launch a new parole program. There’s another program called the — you all know it, but the public may not — called the “parole program” that immediately showed results by reducing the number of people crossing the border unlawfully. The way this parole program works: One must have a lawful sponsor here in the United States who agrees to sponsor you to get here.

Then, that person has to go — undergo rigorous background checks and apply from outside the United States and not cross the border illegally in the meantime.

If they apply and their application is approved, they can use the same app, the CBP One app, to present at a port of entry and be able to work in the United States legally for two years. That’s the process.

But if their application is denied or if they attempt to cross into the United States unlawfully, they will be returned back to Mexico and will not be eligible for this program after that.

Biden’s plan to “stiffen enforcement,” as he put it, is to extend this program to those seeking emigration from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti. “We anticipate this action is going to substantially reduce the number of people attempting — attempting to cross our southwest border without going through a legal process.”

And that’s not all: “In fact, today I’m announcing that Mexico has agreed to allow up to re- — to return up to 30,000 persons per month who try, get caught, and get sent back from those four countries who are apprehended while attempting to unlawfully cross the border — the southwest border.”

For some reason 30,000 is the magic number. Biden’s plan provides that the United States will accept 30,000 immigrants per month from the four nations for two years and offer the ability to work legally, as long as they meet the conditions set forth. By my calculation, that will increase legal immigration by 360,000 per year. Even the AP story pauses to note that this is “a huge number.”

In the news stories I don’t find anyone in the world of immigration enforcement seconding Biden’s plan. What are the prospects that it will cut the flow of illegal immigrants rather than exacerbate the problem?

This is ludicrous:

Most people would much rather stay in the country they are if they can feed their families, be safe, send their kids to school, and have opportunity.

It’s not like people — you’ve heard me say it before: It’s not like people are sitting around a table in — somewhere in Central America and saying, “I got a great idea. Let’s sell everything we have. Let’s give it to a coyote, a smuggler. They’ll take us on a harrowing journey for thousands of miles to get to the United States, then we’re going to illegally cross the border. They’re going to drop us in a desert. And we’re — in a place where we don’t speak the language. Won’t that be fun?” I’m not being facetious.

Note the correction of his reference to “President Harris” as he continued:

Well, [Vice] President Harris led this effort — led this effort to make things better in the countries from which they are leaving. And thanks to her leadership, she’s been able to generate more than $3.2 billion from the private sector to create jobs and opportunities in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to help people stay in their own countries — home countries where it’ll be safer and they have some opportunities.

By contrast with the reference to “President Harris,” the White House has let this stand uncorrected in the transcript: “[S]ince August of last year, Customs and Border Patrol have seized more than 20,000 pounds of deadly fentanyl. That’s enough to kill — kill as many as 1,000 people in this country. Twenty thousand pounds of fentanyl. It’s a killer. It’s a flat killer.” It’s a killer, indeed, when you demonstrate that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I should add that Biden’s “plan” was decried by the advocates of illegal immigration, although it seems to me highly likely to exacerbate the crisis that it allegedly addresses. There is no app for that hitch in the fix, or “fix.”

Thoughts from the ammo line

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll is sure about it: YOU BET IT’S WEIRD! She writes:

So a young Japanese man has fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a Collie. He spent the equivalent of $13,000 for a life-size Collie costume. In it, he can walk on all fours and be led on a leash. Seriously. If the poor kid liked being on a leash, instead of shelling out the $13,000, he could have just married a leftist feminist. Sometimes, those Mean Girls even come with a nice designer handbag in which to store your dangly bits.

Have you ever been around one of these tyrants to see how they speak to and treat the sad men in their lives? It’s mortifying. Joe and I knew one who became the ex-wife of a friend of ours. Joe can be a Merry Prankster and he delighted in torturing her when we were together by asking me to make him a sammich. Actual steam would come out of her ears…especially when he sent it back to have the crusts cut off. Good times, good times.

Anyway, the Japanese guy said in an interview that he was afraid of telling his friends and relatives about the Collie caper lest they find him “weird.” Weirdness is not much prized in Japan. A popular saying, as I understand it, is The nail that sticks up is the one that gets pounded down. Turning yourself into a dog is definitely one big flippin’ up-stickin’ nail.

It really was a very nice Collie costume, judging by the pictures. But, yes, it’s weird, kid! Own it! If it ISN’T “weird” to walk as a dog on a leash then why do we even have the WORD “weird”? Walking upright was not just a boon for chiropractors, but a YUGE step forward for humanity. You can look it up! Why not cut off your opposable thumbs while you’re at it?

One thing we know for sure is that unless you’re a sled dog or a shepherd, earning a living as a dog is problematic. (I would pay good money to watch one of these loons pull a sled…hopefully, with Lizzo and all The View gals on board.)

I know when I wore Golden Retriever costume to my job as a secretary at IBM in 1967 that the right-wing, election-denying “cano-phobes” claimed it was not only weird but interfered mightily with my typing skills. Oh, sure, I could increase the speed with four paws. But the ACCURACY fell off to a dismaying degree!! “Susan, do you expect us to send this out?”: “Deeeee#33333%*rrrr Siiiiirrrrrr: Qe#ttttttt? BLiyvvvv!”

“I told you Susan is my dead name. Call me, Duke.”

And talk about sexual harassment! They felt they could just pet me without even asking, even with my obvious Working Dog sign. I resigned to pursue an alternate path as a waitress, but people were very upset when their BLT had slobber on it from being carried in my mouth. Tips were terrible!

I am shocked to discover just how COMMON the desire to live life as an animal is among young men who would have profited much from a stint in the Marine Corps. During a major shooting war. Is it fleeing from the horrific responsibility of working, let alone supporting a wife and children? Is it mass psychosis? Is it just a race to the bottom?

Apparently, there is a pretty major trend with people wanting to be a “furry.” (See? They even have a cutesie name for the phenomenon.) The Japanese guy can be called “Lassie” to his heart’s content. In the series they were all called Lassie, even the boy dogs, though it must have involved some righteous “tucking.” He can probably pay someone to use a pooper-scooper as he strolls about. Eventually, perhaps he can learn to fetch a stick or rescue Timmy, a cute but cretinous child who falls down the well with some regularity.

So I am as tolerant as the next person, Boy Howdy! But, I just don’t want to be forced to pretend that there is anything “normal” about this. I have enough on my plate pretending that men can have babies and tampons are necessary in the men’s room.

I know one woman who has had a LOT of surgery to turn herself into “Barbie.”. That is at LEAST as weird as being a doggie. I consider Barbie herself and her silly Dream House to be “ultra-weird,” but that’s probably just me. I think she’s a multi-gazillion dollar franchise, so it’s possible my opinion could be an outlier for those assigned as female.

Ah, for a return to the comforting conformity of the 1950’s whwn you hardly had to do anything out of the ordinary to be considered “eccentric”! Go read an old TV Guide for a description of a typical sitcom plotline: “Harold grows a mustache!” Hilarity ensues. That wacky Harold! What WILL he do next?

One Andy Griffith show I remember to this day had Andy being invited to THREE different meals in one day and – are you sitting down? – at every one he was served Spaghetti with Oregano! Yes, oregano, a spice so exotic it was worth a special mention. Sheesh. Mama had, maybe, 12 spices of suitable Midwestern blandness – ginger, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg. No saffron or Turmeric — but one of them for dang sure was oregano.

Remember in college that kid who desperately wanted to stand out from the crowd? He wasn’t good-looking enough, or smart enough, or athletic enough, or funny enough or even kind enough to get noticed. So he took to smoking Gauloise cigarettes and wearing a beret? Now, AT MINIMUM, he would have to declare himself a non-binary vegan with blue hair and Comanche ancestry, who has ADHD, bulimia or at least hypoglycemia, which had a moment a couple of decades ago in hypochondriac circles.

So weirdness has been steadily ratcheting upwards. Yeah, I know. Us Geezer-Americans can look at old photos of our bell bottoms and flip hairdos and leisure suits and disco dresses and maybe be a little embarrassed to point fingers. But we never had “Bell Bottom Story Hour for Toddlers.”

I see Rachel Levine, Woman of the Year/Admiral of the Fleet, Sam “Samsonite” Brinton, and a host of others and I just want to say, “Oh, fellas, quit trying so hard. You aren’t cool. You aren’t even INTERESTING. It’s all just unserious, puerile, and silly. You will be remembered, not for the mythical “courage” everyone is always going on about, but for being ridiculous. And that’s your BEST option. Wait until this generation of mutilated children wakes up from its fever dream fad and discovers that their cowardly parents, lunatic teachers, and greedy doctors encouraged them to submit to permanent chemical and surgical castration. There’s going to be a heckuva butcher’s bill to pay. And I can say with my head held high: “I didn’t do it. I opposed it at every turn.”

Extreme Weather Events Declining

(John Hinderaker)

Some years ago, environmental alarmists decided to hedge their bets by talking about “climate change” rather than “global warming.” These days, any inconvenient weather event is chalked up to “climate change.” If a tornado hits Florida, it’s climate change. If rain spoils your picnic, it’s climate change.

But are severe weather events actually increasing? No, they are not:

[D]ata for all year 2022 tropical storms shows that global wide, storms were at their lowest strength levels in the last 42 years (since 1981) as shown by the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy reflecting the combined frequency, intensity and duration of all storms) data below from Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science which tracks NOAA’s National Hurricane Center tropical storm data.

Similar charts at the link show no increase in hurricane activity by hemisphere, etc.

This chart by Dr. Roger Pielke covers the broader range of “Global Weather and Climate Disasters.” Again, the trend is downward:

Tornadoes, like hurricanes, are trending downward:

Most of our reporters–ignorant, mendacious, or both–routinely recite as fact that the number of extreme weather events is rising, due to climate change. It simply isn’t true.

Loose Ends (200)

(Steven Hayward)

Someone apparently got to Biden’s teleprompter again, with the predictable result:

BIDEN: "I’ll paraphrase the phrase of my old neighborhood: The rest of the countries, the world is not a patch in our jeans, if we do what we wanna do, we need to do."

— (@townhallcom) January 4, 2023

Or maybe he’s self-consciously trying to make Kamala look good by comparison.

And while we’re doing video, this latest offering from somebody called HiResTV (this ensemble includes our favorite, J.P Sears) is worthy (4 minutes):

If I was Prince William, I’d beat up on my little (half) brother, too:

Prince Harry details physical attack by brother William in new book

In his highly anticipated autobiography, Spare, Prince Harry recounts what he says was a physical attack by his brother, William, now Prince of Wales, as their relationship fell apart over the younger prince’s marriage to the actor Meghan Markle.

Describing a confrontation at his London home in 2019, Harry says William called Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”, which Harry calls a “parrot[ing of] the press narrative” about his American wife.

Seems to me that “truth as a defense” should work for Prince William in any legal proceeding.


Did Prince Harry’s nasty older brother force him to wear a Nazi uniform?

Instead of optionally wearing a marginally funny Nazi outfit to a costume party in the 2000s, back when nobody really cared about poor taste, Prince Harry was dragged kicking and screaming by Wehrmacht William and Kristallnacht Kate to the naughty shop against his will.

Another faker, busted:

Kay LeClaire, non-binary art collective boss, accused of faking Native American heritage

The co-owner of a queer Indigenous artists’ collective in Wisconsin is facing accusations of being white after claiming to hold Native American heritage, according to a report.

Kay LeClaire, who identifies as non-binary, allegedly faked their indigenous heritage and used the front to make money, according to a local outlet.

LeClaire was accused in an online forum of actually being white after claiming since 2017 they were of Metis, Oneida, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Cuban and Jewish heritage, Madison 365 reported on Tuesday.

LeClaire, also a founding member of the collective and emerging leader in the Madison Indigenous arts community, earned artist stipends, a paid residency at the University of Wisconsin, speaking gigs, and art exhibitions with the help of their Native American claim.

If BIPOCs are an oppressed class, why do so many people fake identifying as such?

Thought for the Day, from America’s Shadow President

(Steven Hayward)

America’s shadow president, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, gave his second inaugural address in Tallahassee yesterday that bears all the hallmarks of an announcement speech for a presidential campaign. Some excerpts:

These last few years have witnessed a great test of governing philosophies as many jurisdictions pursued a much different path than we have pursued here in the state of Florida.

The policies pursued by these states have sparked a mass exodus of productive Americans from these jurisdictions – with Florida serving as the most desired destination, a promised land of sanity.

Many of these cities and states have embraced faddish ideology at the expense of enduring principles. They have harmed public safety by coddling criminals and attacking law enforcement. They have imposed unreasonable burdens on taxpayers to finance unfathomable levels of public spending.

They have harmed education by subordinating the interests of students and parents to partisan interest groups. They have imposed medical authoritarianism in the guise of pandemic mandates and restrictions that lack a scientific basis.

This bizarre, but prevalent, ideology that permeates these policy measures purports to act in the name of justice for the marginalized, but it frowns upon American institutions, it rejects merit and achievement, and it advocates identity essentialism. We reject this woke ideology. We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy! We will not allow reality, facts, and truth to become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob.

Florida is where woke goes to die! . . .

Now Florida’s success has been made more difficult by the floundering federal establishment in Washington, D.C.

The federal government has gone on an inflationary spending binge that has left our nation weaker and our citizens poorer, it has enacted pandemic restrictions and mandates – based more on ideology and politics than on sound science – and this has eroded freedom and stunted commerce.

It has recklessly facilitated open borders: making a mockery of the rule of law, allowing massive amounts of narcotics to infest our states, importing criminal aliens, and green lighting the flow of millions of illegal aliens into our country, burdening communities and taxpayers throughout the land.

It has imposed an energy policy that has crippled our nation’s domestic production, causing energy to cost more for our citizens and eroding our nation’s energy security, and, in the process, our national security.

It wields its authority through a sprawling, unaccountable and out-of-touch bureaucracy that does not act on behalf of us, but instead looms over us and imposes its will upon us.

Read the whole thing at the link above.

The Daily Chart: Ehrlich Licked

(Steven Hayward)

For some reason Paul Ehrlich persists no matter how many times he is refuted. So why not one more time:

Looks like the biggest drop off in famine occurred right after Ehrlich published The Population Bomb. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc? (Is it true in Canada they say, “Post hockey, ergo propter hockey?”)

Podcast: PLU Lesson 2: Federalist #10

(Steven Hayward)

Yesterday we held our second class session of Power Line University, this time taking up the famous Federalist #10, drawing out key points of James Madison’s views on how an “extended republic”—long thought impossible—was a solution for the perpetual defects and eventual failures of republican governments. His views on equality and property come in for special attention.

If you want to see the text slides, you can take it in on this YouTube link.

But if you want to listen in traditional podcast form, listen here, or slide over to your desk at Ricochet University.

The Impasse in the House

(Steven Hayward)

Unless I am mistaken about the order of things, the impasse over selecting the next Speaker of the House will end very soon for a simple reason: since no members can be officially sworn in until there is a Speaker, it means none of them can draw a paycheck. That will tend to concentrate the mind of many House members.

I am not as averse to the current general scene as many commentators. In fact I think there is something useful and healthy to disrupting business as usual in Congress—sort of like the effect Trump had. As I put it on Twitter, not having a functioning House of Representatives is almost as good as a government shutdown.

It is less clear the renegades have played their hand well, however. Demanding a vote on term limits, for example, is a futile gesture. Even if it did pass the Senate, the Supreme Court has already ruled against statutory term limits, and is unlikely to change its mind. A balanced budget amendment likewise seems a nonstarter. And the demand that a “vacating the chair” vote can be triggered by a single member is especially  ill-advised. With such a narrow majority, Republicans need a strong Speaker, not a weak one who could be removed in a fluke if just a handful of Republican House members miss their flights to DC one day, and voila—you’ll have Speaker Hakeem Jeffries. And ditto for requiring a two-thirds vote for rules changes (as I understand it—or does this just mean inside the GOP House caucus? The news reports are unclear on this). It seems more likely that the real motivation of the renegades is simply to prevent McCarthy from becoming Speaker, and puffing up their own public profiles. When Marjorie Taylor-Greene (who is supporting McCarthy) is the voice of moderation and compromise, you know we’re in a strange new world.

A better tactic would be to demand the next Speaker allow votes on specific riders to appropriations that force the Biden Administration to roll back its war on domestic energy production, and similar things. These have a better chance of success even in the Democratic senate. We’ll be discussing this at some length in the next episode of the 3WHH podcast.

Meanwhile, the memeosphere is having a field day:

And nobody is having more fun than the Babylon Bee:

The Twitter Files so far

(Scott Johnson)

I have followed the Twitter Files as posted by Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, Bari Weiss, and David Zweig in a series of Notes on the Twitter Files. Taibbi has now posted a set of capsule summaries of each of the 12 installments posted on Twitter so far at his TK News site on Substack. It is posted here in accessible form. Most of Taibbi’s posts at TK News are behind a paywall. This one is not.

In an italicized note at the conclusion of his summaries Taibbi promises the post will be kept open and updated “as needed.” I take that to mean that Taibbi will add capsule summaries for future Twitter Files installments. Elon Musk — proprietor of the New Twitter and the man without whom we would know none of this — has teased the next installment. It will take up Anthony Fauci.

In my estimation the Twitter Files is the most important story out there along with the dissolution of our southern border by the Biden administration. As I say, we owe the Twitter Files to Elon Musk. Without him we would be left to our own devices with inferences, speculation and rumor. Thanks to him we have “the ocular proof.” If the revelations are not shocking, that is only because we have all tumbled to “the coup we never knew” (as Victor Davis Hanson puts it today) over the past five years.

In their original form the Twitter Files are difficult to follow. I have struggled to find a way to convey the substance of each installment upon release. Taibbi’s summaries are particularly useful in this respect. Although there is no substitute for taking them in with your own eyes, Taibbi’s capsule summaries make a contribution to our understanding.

As I have have stated a time or two in my notes on them, Twitter itself is not conducive to long-form journalism. We would still be well served by an overview in a narrative format including thesis statements, topic sentences, and illustrative exhibits — the conventions of long-form journalism.

It is unfortunate for more reasons than one that the mainstream media have averted their eyes from the Twitter Files. It reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s characterization of the press as the hypocritical Victorian gentleman. Over the years, however, the metaphorical gentleman has been transformed into a monster. Someone like the New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright could perform a real service here.

At this point it makes sense to step back and take a look at the big picture. As I see it, the big picture that has emerged from the 12 installments of the Twitter Files so far is this. Old Twitter made itself an adjunct of federal government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies to suppress stories that conflicted with their line. Twitter’s suppression of the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden laptop presents as the leading case, but it is only illustrative of Old Twitter’s modus operandi.

Part 12 of the Twitter Files incidentally takes up Rep. Adam Schiff’s efforts to suppress the work of RealClearPolitics reporter Paul Sperry. The New York Post’s Bruce Golding spoke with Sperry about his later suspension from Twitter in this story (“Schiff’s chief of staff, Patrick Boland, didn’t immediately return requests for comment”).

Twitter’s service as an adjunct of the state was covert. Twitter didn’t say and we didn’t know. Indeed, it denied it. It held itself out as an independent platform for free speech.

The Twitter Files illuminate the growth and nature of Twitter’s servile relationship with the government in telling detail. The agencies that participated in this program of suppression need to be called to account. Something needs to be done.

I assume that Musk has taken appropriate action to terminate Old Twitter’s modus operandi. If we had a working press, we might have more clarity on that point and related details as well.

Crackpot Leftism In Minnesota

(John Hinderaker)

Hennepin County, Minnesota, includes the City of Minneapolis and generally two tiers of suburbs. In recent years it has swung radically to the left–it is, after all, Ilhan Omar territory. An indication of how far out of whack politics are in this area is the election in November of Mary Moriarty as Hennepin County Attornety.

Alpha News covers Moriarty’s swearing in ceremony, which was yesterday. Did Moriarty place her had on the Bible? No. The Constitution, perhaps? No.

The new attorney of Hennepin County, Mary Moriarty, took her oath of office Tuesday with her hand placed on a copy of a graphic novel about the late congressman John Lewis.

Photos from the swearing-in ceremony show Moriarty with her hand on a copy of “March,” which she described as a “graphic novel trilogy about Congress Member John Lewis and his courageous fight for voting rights.”

Lewis is remembered more recently for lying about Tea Party members bombarding him with racial epithets, which never happened. I don’t know whether that disreputable episode is covered in the “graphic novel”–comic book, I think that means–but I doubt it.

The natural inference that Moriarty is a crackpot leftist is unfortunately true:

A former chief public defender, Moriarty promoted “restorative justice programs” on the campaign trail as an “alternative to incarceration” and “traditional prosecution.”

“Research and data show that non-restorative models of punishment do not prevent recidivism, do not repair families, and cause harm to a community. Incarceration, sometimes a year or more after a crime is committed, disconnects the punishment from the impact of a crime on a victim,” she says on her campaign website.

“Incarceration disconnects the person who committed violence from their community and makes reintegration extremely difficult,” the website adds. “Mary’s office will seek to provide an alternative to traditional prosecution through restorative justice as an option for victims.”

She also opposes the cash bail system, which is “not helping to make our community safer.”

In other words, she will make the soft-on-crime approach that has turned Hennepin County into a haven for crime even worse. But it looks like she will need a new staff to do it:

According to Fox 9, 14 senior employees in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said they plan to leave when Moriarty takes over.

The exodus from Minnesota continues to accelerate.

Reminder: PLU Back in Class This Afternoon

(Steven Hayward)

This is your friendly reminder of this afternoon’s second formal class session for Power Line University, where Lucretia and I will cover Federalist Papers 10 – 20. I’ll have some contemporary applications for some of the teachings of “Publius,” but we’ll also consider some instance of where Hamilton—gasp!—might have been wrong!

Class goes off at 4 pm Pacific time, and is intended to last one hour. The class will be posted in podcast form tomorrow or Friday, and also on YouTube. If you are ablde to join us today,  just click on this Zoom link at 4 pm.

Seriously Washington?

(Steven Hayward)

No, this headline is not a reference to the chaos in the House of Representatives.

Rather it refers to the latest disgrace of the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins. The “Washington Football Team,” as it has been known the last three seasons, decided to become “The Commanders,” which, Richard Samuelson points out, is quite fitting for the age of the administrative state in Washington, which prefers to govern by commands rather than democratic deliberation. Is it merely a coincidence that the administrative state really took off when the Washington Senators—named for “the world’s greatest deliberative body”—left town in the late 1960s and changed its name?

Anyway, the Commanders have come up with a mascot. You have to see it, not to believe it:

At first I thought this is a parody, but no, it’s real! Actually perhaps it is the perfect mascot for a city of pigs at the trough whose only competency is pork barrel spending. A swamp rat would be better still.

Yes, I know, this is supposed to be a reference to the famous Redskins offensive line of 30 years ago, known as “the hogs,” but how many current fans have a vivid memory of that? In any case, I don’t think the Commanders thought this through. Just like most Washington DC diktats.

The Daily Chart: China In the Greenhouse, But Not the Doghouse

(Steven Hayward)

The Times of London reports that the official climatistas are mad at Britain for opening its first new coal plant in decades to help alleviate it current energy crisis:

UN climate chief aims dig at Britain over coalmine

The UN’s new climate change chief has issued a thinly veiled criticism of the British government’s decision to approve its first coalmine in decades after calling for an end to the polluting fuel at international climate talks.

Yet somehow the new UN chief climatista is silent about this:

And this, showing China’s share of global GHG emissions is greater than the next seven nations combined:

Podcast: Scott Atlas on our COVID Folly

(Steven Hayward)

The response to COVID is arguably the single greatest public policy mistake in American history, which in turn became a global catastrophe since so many other nations followed the United States with foolish lockdowns, school closures, and other authoritarian measures that were ineffective and heedless of adverse tradeoffs.

Dr. Scott Atlas of Stanford’s Hoover Institution has been vilified for his dissent from the party line on COVID, most fully explained in his book, A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying AmericaIn our conversation here, Dr. Atlas reviews the failure to consider the tradeoffs of our COVID policy, which stems ultimately from a perverse and even dangerous groupthink by our “public health” establishment.

Our conversation turns to the wider issues this episode raises, such as the authoritarian censorship and the nature of the administrative state. Dr. Atlas notes that in his frequent recent travels around the world, he is repeatedly asked: “What is wrong with America right now?”

Dr. Atlas isn’t content merely to criticize our COVID response. He has co-founded the Global Liberty Institute, which will go beyond the standard advocacy for sound policy and attempt to promote accountability for the kind of policy failure we see in COVID and other ruinous areas. Among other things, as Dr, Atlas wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently, “We also need to hold universities accountable for failing to ensure academic freedom while raking in massive amounts of taxpayer money.”

Listen here, or wander over to the had psych ward known as Ricochet.

The World Economic Forum, the Speaker Battle, and Crime

(John Hinderaker)

Along with occasionally guest hosting national radio shows, I do a lot of guest spots on local radio. I have weekly spots on two groups of radio stations in Minnesota and North Dakota with terrific hosts Scott Hennen and Al Travis. I also frequently appear on Howie Carr’s show out of Boston (also Grace Curley’s show in Boston), Seth Leibsohn’s show in Phoenix, and the morning drive time talk show on The Answer in Chicago hosted by Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson.

Yesterday I was on Dan’s show, talking about the World Economic Forum’s global education initiative, the current fiasco in the House of Representatives, and the root cause of crime.

It was an interesting conversation, and The Answer posted it to YouTube. Please do check it out:

Thought for the Day: Hamilton on the House Battle

(Steven Hayward)

What would Alexander Hamilton make of the chaos among Republicans in the House right now? Maybe this passage of Hamilton from Federalist 15 provides a clue:

A spirit of faction, which is apt to mingle its poison in the deliberations of all bodies of men, will often hurry the persons, of whom they are composed, into improprieties and excesses, for which they would blush in a private capacity.

A Dark Horse Candidate Emerges

(John Hinderaker)

A new candidate has emerged in the race to succeed Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Scott Walker (the real one, I take it) has the news:

In a situation as sad as the one unfolding in D.C., we may as well try to find a little humor.

Notes on the Twitter Files (12)

(Scott Johnson)

In the twelfth of the Twitter Files threads Matt Taibbi documents the central of the FBI. Students of James Joyce’s Ulysses may think of it as the Omphalos Ultimatum.

The thread consists of 40 tweets that can be accessed via the first (below). The thread is unrolled here in the Thread Reader app.

1.THREAD: The Twitter Files
Twitter and the FBI “Belly Button”

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

The State Department got into the act that Taibbi sketched in part 11. February, 2020, as COVID broke out, the Global Engagement Center – a fledgling analytic/intelligence arms of the State Department – went to the media with a report called, “Russian Disinformation Apparatus Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Concerns.”

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

You have to see this with your own eyes. This is your government at work. Twitter didn’t want the government calling them out. They wanted a chance to do the government’s work before the press put them to it.

5.State also flagged accounts that retweeted news that Twitter banned the popular U.S. ZeroHedge, claiming the episode “led to another flurry of disinformation narratives.” ZH had done reports speculating that the virus had lab origin.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Suffice it to say that Twitter wanted to please its political masters. They were concerned about “a conspiracy so immense.” Joe McCarthy’s hour had come around at last. However, Twitter was concerned about the political risk involved in executing demands from political actors. Twitter preferred to work directly with the FBI and DHS. They wanted to form a “circle of trust.”

11.The GEC report appeared based on DHS data circulated earlier that week, and included accounts that followed “two or more” Chinese diplomatic accounts. They reportedly ended up with a list “nearly 250,000” names long, and included Canadian officials and a CNN account:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Elvis was still in the building. The FBI would be the government’s omphalos — but would remain connected to Twitter via an umbilical cord. I seriously doubt that “belly button” is an apt metaphor.

24.They eventually settled on an industry call via Signal. In an impressive display of operational security, Chan circulated private numbers of each company’s chief moderation officer in a Word Doc marked “Signal Phone Numbers,” subject-lined, “List of Numbers.”

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

As I say, you have to see it with your own eyes.

26.Requests arrived and were escalated from all over: from Treasury, the NSA, virtually every state, the HHS, from the FBI and DHS, and more:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Even the lying hack Adam Schiff sought to get in on the act. He singled out Paul Sperry of RealClearPolitics. What an honor! Paul Sperry, our hats off to you.

28.“WE DON’T DO THIS” Even Twitter declined to honor Schiff’s request at the time. Sperry was later suspended, however.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Twitter was accommodating government requests in bulk. It apparently took Elon Musk to cut the cord!

37.“I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR WORK LOAD”: Requests poured in from FBI offices all over the country, day after day, hour after hour: If Twitter didn’t act quickly, questions came: “Was action taken?” “Any movement?”

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

If you have been following along so far, please take in this thread in its entirety.

Notes on the Twitter Files (11)

(Scott Johnson)

Matt Taibbi posted two more Twitter Files threads yesterday afternoon. They are the eleventh and twelfth such threads posted by the journalists to whom Elon Musk has opened the files of old Twitter. Taibbi has taken the lead in documenting The eleventh thread includes 33 tweets that can be accessed via the first (below).

1.THREAD: The Twitter Files
How Twitter Let the Intelligence Community In

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, Twitter was pressured to do something about Russia! Russia! Russia! Twitter was unable to find a Russia problem in its world, but they had to answer to Senator Mark Warner.

7.Receiving these meager results, a furious Senator Mark Warner of Virginia – ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee – held an immediate press conference to denounce Twitter’s report as “frankly inadequate on every level.”

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Twitter got down to the business of pleasing Democrats disappointed by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

12.The “Russia Task Force” started mainly with data shared from counterparts at Facebook, centered around accounts supposedly tied to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA). But the search for Russian perfidy was a dud:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Try as they might, Twitter couldn’t find the desired culprits. It’s almost funny.

14.OCT 18 2017: “First round of RU investigation… 15 high risk accounts, 3 of which have connections with Russia, although 2 are RT.”

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Hey, they found themselves in a public relations crisis.

18.The failure of the “Russia task force” to produce “material” worsened the company’s PR crisis.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

Twitter went back to work to please its political masters. They found a modus operandi that worked like a Pavlovian mechanism. The future is now.


This cycle – threatened legislation, wedded to scare headlines pushed by congressional/intel sources, followed by Twitter caving to moderation asks – would later be formalized in partnerships with federal law enforcement.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023

As always, I encourage interested readers to scroll through the whole thing with your own eyes.

The humiliation of Kevin McCarthy

(Scott Johnson)

The humiliation of Kevin McCarthy as he stands for Speaker of the House represents the humiliation of the Republican Party. It is humiliation wrought by a fringe that is greatly enjoying its attention. If you have any doubt of the humiliation, consider the ecstatic mainstream media coverage of the show. They love it. What accounts for their joy? I think I have a pretty good fix on it.

If that doesn’t give you a clue, take in the look on the face of Democrat Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Why is this man smiling? This is Hakeem’s dream. He may not even have to wait until 2024 to make his next move up the ladder.

The fringe makes up a small minority in the Republican conference. No one told me arithmetic would be involved, but by my calculation it is something like 10 percent of the conference.

The ability of the fringe to create the current foofaraw derives from the Republicans’ narrow majority. Say this about the fringe. It is doing its best to make sure Republicans won’t suffer that difficulty in the next Congress, when they will be returned to the minority.

The fringe has brought a petty personal quality to their cause. What exactly do they want? Not McCarthy. They want someone else, who also happens to support McCarthy. Let the members of the fringe put their cards on the table where we can all see them.

What exactly are the unmet demands of the fringe? For some reason they haven’t made them public. I think they have something to do with being accorded powers and privileges they would not be accorded under regular order or the normal course of events.

It appears that Republicans need a strong Speaker — a Speaker a la Pelosi. The fringe is making sure that Republicans won’t have a strong Speaker. That too serves their purposes. A strong Speaker would put them in their place.

The Republican fringe makes the Pelosi era look like the good old days before an electoral force such as Lauren Boebert became a power player. It won’t be long before the Pelosi era is consigned to the mists of ancient history — maybe next week. In the meantime the new Republican majority looks like a clown show.

If and when McCarthy stands down, one of McCarthy’s supporters will be elected Speaker in the event that Hakeems’s dream hasn’t already come true. The fringe will declare victory and they will have won one. It will be “a famous victory” of the kind memorialized in the poem by Robert Southey.

Strap in for a Wild Ride

(Steven Hayward)

I have no idea how the impasse in the House is going to end, but wild rumors and speculation are the coin of the realm right now.  On social media there is great fascination over a short clip showing Matt Gaetz speaking with her worship Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What were they talking about? The folks at Bad Lip Reading have figured it out (click on the second video here):

What they were saying — trust me, I do this professionally.

— Bad Lip Reading (@BadLipReading) January 4, 2023

The Good, and the Bad and Ugly

(John Hinderaker)

First, the bad and ugly: the House adjourned today with no speaker for the first time in a century. Nineteen Republican spoilers have prevented Kevin McCarthy from taking the gavel. Reportedly, some of the dissident Republicans have told McCarthy that they don’t mind if far-left Democrat Hakeem Jeffries becomes Speaker.

I don’t want to believe that, but there are some conservatives who are only comfortable as outsiders and who shun responsibility. One of the knocks on Republicans is that we can’t govern. Sadly, today’s fiasco suggests that the criticism may be valid. It seems obvious that House Republicans should elect their leader–McCarthy–as Speaker, and start governing. But some, apparently, prefer making headlines and currying favor with the party’s least responsible elements, even if the result is a fiasco.

I have no idea where the potential disaster in the House will end up–I assume with McCarthy’s election, after the party has suffered more embarrassment–but let’s move on to the good.

Ron DeSantis was inaugurated today for his second term as Florida’s governor. The video of the occasion below is courtesy of Breitbart. DeSantis begins speaking at around 14:20 and finishes at around 31 minutes.

No one has described DeSantis as a great orator, but he was highly effective today. This is because of his content, not his style: his record as Governor of Florida is tremendous. Today DeSantis did a good job of hitting some of the highlights. But he is no technocrat. Today’s speech was heartfelt and at times impassioned. DeSantis repeatedly threw down the gauntlet, contrasting the Free State of Florida with the sclerotic liberalism that prevails in Washington and in some other, less successful states.

And DeSantis doesn’t shy away from the controversial issues. On the contrary: I think his biggest ovation came when he said, “We will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence.” Florida is, as he says proudly, “where woke goes to die.”

While DeSantis is not noted as an orator, he delivered today’s speech strongly and smoothly. He was not just reading it off the teleprompter, but knew the speech and has mastered its themes. If I were a Democrat, I would be frightened by the contrast between DeSantis’s strength and competence and Joe Biden’s senescence.

Here is the inauguration ceremony:

We can hope that what we saw in Washington today was the Republican Party’s past. What we saw in Florida was its future.

Bidenfreude is Back

(Steven Hayward)

Biden is apparently an English or Irish name, but it certainly lends itself to its own adaptation of the German term schadenfreude, meaning “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.”

In this adapted usage, Bidenfreude refers not only to the agony of being Joe Biden, which ought to be misfortune enough, but also to the predicament of the Democratic Party, which is likely stuck with backing him for re-election in 2024 when he will be 82 years old.  Before the mid-term election, when most everyone expected Democrats to get slaughtered at the ballot box, there was an obvious battlespace-preparation campaign taking shape to blame Biden for the Democrats’ loss. But when Democrats’ surprise midterm result put the wind back into Biden’s sails.

But it seems the “dump-Biden” campaign is regrouping, and starting to employ the usual techniques of “ventriloquist journalism” to revive the cause. Behold The Hill, which “reports” that there are “lingering questions” about Biden’s ability to run again. Questions from whom? By whomever the reporter can flog a quote from. And it’s pretty clear the Democrat-Media Complex is terrified of Ron DeSantis:

Biden also enters the new year with lingering questions over his age and his overall political strength — most notably whether he can defeat a different Republican in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he is the GOP nominee in 2024. . .

Cristina Antelo, a Democratic strategist who runs Ferox Strategies, said Biden’s age remains a concern among Democratic voters, despite a string of legislative accomplishments by Democrats under Biden — and his party’s midterm performance.

Biden, 80, would finish a second term at the age of 86. . . polls give credence to Democratic fears about Biden’s age. A recent USA Today-Suffolk University poll found that 50 percent of Americans want a president between 51 and 65 years old, while 25 percent want a president 35 to 50 years old. Only 8 percent said they wanted a president who is between the ages of 66 and 80.

The Hill has company. The reliably left Michael Tomasky frets in the New York Review of Books:

The biggest question hanging over Biden remains his age. On November 20, the president turned eighty. This means he’ll be approaching eighty-two at election time 2024; if he runs and wins, he would finish his second term having just turned eighty-six. It would take a rare man who in his mid-eighties could handle the rigors of the presidency, particularly at such a tense moment in history. . .

In some circles such talk is deemed ageist, but these questions are fair to raise.

Takeaway: Bidenfreude is back on, baby! The template for the media drum circle has been set.

Clueless Liberal of the Day

(Steven Hayward)

I usually eschew making predictions—especially about the future—but one prediction for 2023 I can confidently make is that liberals will continue being idiots, most especially about their new religion: c****** c*****.

Some people think this letter to the Washington Post is a Sokal-style hoax, but how could you tell? I’m going to treat it as genuine; after all, the Post did.

Dear Margo: I have a suggestion for how you can do your part. . .

Good to see 2023 get off to a rousing start! Now I’m off to the beach for my annual noontime polar bear swim. . .

One of the all time worst political liars

(Scott Johnson)

Peggy “High” Noonan devotes her weekly Wall Street Journal column to the case of Rep.-elect George Santos. Noonan might have gone into a trance and produced it via automatic writing. On second thought, she probably didn’t need to go into a trance to produce it, but I’ll stick with the automatic writing part. She gives us the predictable screed in “Why George Santos’s lies matter.” She advises the GOP: “They can’t afford to keep him. He is a bridge too far. He is an embarrassment.” The Journal turns over a lot of editorial page real estate to Noonan on a weekly basis for this kind of wisdom.

Francis Menton takes a slightly different angle at his aptly named Manhattan Contrarian site. Beginning where Noonan begins, Menton moves on to consider “a bunch [of political liars] I think are worse. The funny thing about these, though, is that not a single Democrat seems to care about them. All involve current officeholders, who are not subject to any widespread demands that they resign. Let’s consider.”

Menton cites Ilhan Omar as Exhibit A, though he gets the year of her election to Congress wrong. She was elected to succeed Keith Ellison — another champion liar — in 2018 (Menton says it was 2016). Anticipating Omar’s election to the Minnesota state legislature in the fall of 2016, I summarized the circumstantial evidence of Omar’s misconduct in the City Journal column “The curious case of Ilhan Omar.” Writing for Power Line over the past 20 years I’ve got a lot of things wrong, but Omar’s curious case is one thing I’ve gotten right. I revisited it last week in this context in “The Santos clause & an addendum.”

Menton proceeds to consider Senators Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren as well as President Biden. He titles his column “One of the all time worst political liars” and concludes: “[T]the remarkable thing is the extent to which the media protect and cover for conduct of Democrats that is far more egregious than what Santos has done, including criminal conduct in the case of our current President. In case you were wondering, the title of this post refers to Biden, not Santos.”

Noonan versus Menton on George Santos — I think Menton’s take is the one that belongs in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Freedom speaks

(Scott Johnson)

The Middle East Forum has posted an interview with Enes Kanter Freedom. This is the MEF introduction:

Raised in Turkey, star basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom, recently of the Boston Celtics, began to call out human rights violations by Turkey’s President Recep Tayep Erdoğan in 2013. Not long after, Freedom’s Turkish passport was canceled, his name placed on an Interpol list, and his father imprisoned in Turkey. In 2017, Freedom was the subject of two kidnap attempts by the Turkish government, in Indonesia and Romania. Freedom will recount his life story, his efforts as a prominent public figure to counter oppressive dictatorships, and the price he has paid for taking this stand.

I thought it was worth the time to hear Freedom speak.

Sunday morning coming down

(Scott Johnson)

I had wanted to see vocalist extraordinaire Tracy Nelson sing since I was a college freshman, and I came close. Having bought tickets to see her perform with her group Mother Earth in Boston, I waited patiently in the theater for her to take the stage. Some time after the appointed hour, Tracy came out to announce that the band’s instruments hadn’t made it from San Francisco. I was incredibly disappointed, as I have had time to recall over the decades since then. Seeing her perform live became a bucket list item for me.

I finally got a chance to see Tracy at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in January 2018. I caught Tracy in mid-flight in the photo at right that I snapped from our table.

The show was worth waiting for. Tracy was backed by an excellent three-piece band (the Bel-Airs) that opened for her. The two brothers at the heart of the band reminded me of the Louvin Brothers, but they seemed to get along. The Louvin Brothers famously did not.

Tracy turned 78 last week. I thought we might take the occasion of her birthday to look back briefly and kick off the new year on a high note.

Tracy has fashioned herself as a blues singer, though she is equally adept in rock, country, soul, rhythm and blues, and gospel. I can’t believe her voice was ever more powerful or expressive than it is now. Sitting about six feet from her, I found the effect an emotional experience. She is something like a force of nature.

The Dakota provided this brief summary of her background:

Nelson’s education began in the early 1960s when, while growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, she immersed herself in the R&B she heard beamed into her bedroom from Nashville’s WLAC-AM. As an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, she combined her musical passions singing blues and folk at coffeehouses and R&B at frat parties as one of three singers fronting a band (including keyboardist Ben Sidran) called the Fabulous Imitations. A short time later, Tracy moved to San Francisco and, in the midst of that era’s psychedelic explosion, formed Mother Earth, a group that was named after the fatalistic Memphis Slim song (which she sang at his 1988 funeral). Mother Earth the group, true to its origin more grounded than freaky, was nonetheless a major attraction at the Fillmore, where they shared stages with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon.

Nelson continued to record throughout the ’70s as a solo artist on various labels. In 1974, she garnered her first Grammy nomination for “After the Fire Is Gone,” a hit duet with Willie Nelson. She continues to tour and record, making music that is as deeply felt as anything she has recorded in her exceptional career; she is a soul survivor.

Deep Are the Roots has long been out of print, but the whole thing has been uploaded to YouTube. She recorded it on Prestige in Chicago. Among the numbers that has stayed stuck in my mind is “Grieving Hearted Blues.” That is Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica.

Mother Earth’s debut album was Living With the Animals (1968). She hadn’t yet emerged as the leader of the band, but “Down So Low” — her own composition — made me wonder why.

Michael Bloomfield sat in on guitar for Tracy’s rendition of “Mother Earth.”

One of Tracy’s idols is the New Orleans soul singer Irma Thomas. Together with Marcia Ball, Tracy recorded the Grammy-nominated collection Sing It! (1998) with Irma Thomas as a sort of dream come true. With Mother Earth long before that Tracy took the Irma Thomas ballad “Ruler of My Heart” (written by the great Allen Toussaint) and turned it into something like a personal anthem. This is from the Mother Earth album Satisfied.

My favorite Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth album is the gospel flavored Bring Me Home. It’s hard to pick a single highlight from that album. Just to change the tempo up a little bit, let’s go with the Eric Kaz number “Temptation Took Control of Me And I Fell.” There is a life lesson in there. This one is a genuine Sunday morning song and more. Please don’t pass this one by.

The self-titled Mother Earth was released in 1972, toward the end of the band’s run on Warner Bros. I don’t understand why they never had a hit. “I Want To Lay Down Beside You” (written by Tim Drummond) gives us the other end of Tracy’s dynamic range.

Mother Earth never enjoyed the success they deserved. The band broke up and Tracy moved on to a solo career. Her duet with Willie Nelson on “After the Fire Is Gone” reached number 17 on the country charts. This is not a Sunday morning song.

I want to give you a glimpse of her in performance. Tracy performed “Walk Away” on the Lonesome Pine Specials in 1987. The song was written by Oliver Sain. She recorded it on her Come See About Me album (1980).

As I say, Sing It! brought Tracy together with Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball. This is the title track.

Moving into the current century, Tracy recorded Live From Cell Block D (2003). The video below gives Tracy rescuing the old Bessie Smith song “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair” from the archives. When we saw her at the Dakota, Tracy introduced the song as a study in personal responsibility.

Back in the days of her work with Mother Earth Tracy cut a country album in Nashville with the town’s great session musicians. My favorite cut on the expanded compact disc version of the album and one of my favorite of her recordings, period, is the Hank Williams classic “You Win Again.” It was originally released on the Mother Earth album Make a Joyful Noise.

Here is a terrific 2013 interview with Tracy. Here is her site. She is still working. If you get a chance to see her, I hope you won’t miss it. She is special.

Environmentalists Are Killing People

(John Hinderaker)

Cold weather is hazardous to your health. In modern times, citizens of developed countries have neutralized the dangers of winter with affordable heating. But those days may be coming to an end. At Real Clear Energy, Vijay Jayaraj writes: “Winter’s Risks Increased By Irrational Energy Policies.” See original for links:

Being a species born in the tropics, humans are prone to greater morbidity and mortality in winter. People exposed to cold conditions have a “higher risk of stroke, respiratory infection and other injuries” due to reduced strength and dexterity in low temperatures. Whether the threat is a flu infection or a fall, the risk is generally greater in the more challenging environment of cold weather.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Death rates in winter months have been eight to 12% higher than in non-winter months.” It adds that “even moderately cold days can increase the risk of death for many people.”
The heating of homes and other buildings is what reduces winter risks.

But the ability of people to heat their homes, even in the most advanced economies, is threatened by irrational energy policies:

[I]t is unsurprising that a high cost of gas and electricity leads people in developed economies to cut back on winter heating. In New Zealand, fuel poverty is reported to be a contributing factor to the country’s high rate of excess winter mortality and hospitalizations. According to a European Parliament report, “In 2020, about 36 million Europeans were unable to keep their homes adequately warm.”
The UK’s National Health Service, the second largest publicly funded healthcare system in the world, has issued a stark warning about increasing energy prices.

“The country is facing a humanitarian crisis,” NHS‘s confederation chief executive said. “Many people could face the awful choice between skipping meals to heat their homes and having to live in cold, damp and very unpleasant conditions. This in turn could lead to outbreaks of illness and sickness around the country and widen health inequalities, worsen children’s life chances and leave an indelible scar on local communities.”

In the U.S., a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “a lower heating price reduces winter mortality, driven mostly by cardiovascular and respiratory causes.”

Expensive energy equals more sickness and death. And this is totally avoidable. Responsibility lies with the anti-human environmental movement:

[T]he current heating crisis is a direct consequence of “green” policies that have pushed up the price of energy in developed economies. An irrational insistence to transition to wind and solar has increased prices and reduced reliability of energy supplies. Blackouts like ones experienced by millions over the Christmas weekend are a serious threat to lives.

But human life and well-being are not valued by the Left. It is up to the rest of us to try to stave off the human disaster that “green” energy threatens.

An Actual Threat to Our Democracy

(John Hinderaker)

The ever-crazier California legislature has passed a law that, as the Wall Street Journal’s editors describe it:

…creates a state council to dictate wages, working conditions and benefits, among other things, for fast-food workers who aren’t unionized. The law is intended to coerce fast-food franchises to surrender to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Can that possibly be constitutional? I don’t know, but it any event it is a terrible idea:

…the state council could issue edicts such as raising the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $22 a hour.

Which will accelerate the shift from employees to kiosks and robots in fast food restaurants. But some Californians are fighting back:

Save Local Restaurants has filed a referendum petition with more than one million signatures, which far exceeds the 623,212 required to qualify for the November 2024 ballot. Under the state constitution, a law is required to be put on hold once a referendum petition with enough signatures is filed.

This is where the threat to Our Democracy™ comes in:

But Democratic state officials say the law will take effect on Jan. 1 until all the signatures are verified, which could take months.

Months? That sounds optimistic.

California voters amended their constitution in 1911 to reserve “to the people the power to pass judgment upon the acts of the legislature, and to prevent objectionable measures from taking effect.” Once a referendum is filed, “no such act or section or part of such act shall go into effect until and unless approved by a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon.”

That sounds clear.

Never in the state’s 111-year history of referenda has a law been allowed to “temporarily” take effect once a referendum petition has been filed. As the lawsuit notes, the state’s position “would be unworkable from a practical perspective, putting Californians in the untenable position of having to guess when, and for how long, a law may or may not be in effect.”

This Democratic gambit carries far-reaching implications for other referendum drives, including one to overturn a recently enacted law that would ban new oil and gas wells in a large portion of the state. Democrats could deliberately pass bills late in the legislative calendar in order to limit their opponents’ ability to stop them from taking effect.

Maybe the courts will intervene. Yesterday, a California judge issued an order barring enforcement of the statute until a hearing can be held.

This controversy is one instance among many of liberals’ growing contempt for the rule of law. They sense, I think, that totalitarian power is within their grasp, and they don’t intend to let anyone or anything stand in their way.

Podcast: The 3WHH Celebrates New Years

(Steven Hayward)

John didn’t invite us!

John Yoo serves as lead bartender for this gala new year’s eve edition of the Three Whisky Happy Hour, though he was nearly deposed for arriving late and then taunting us with pics of his Korean new year’s feast (see nearby).

To ring out 2022 and look ahead to 2023, we cover some new whisky choices (which in John’s case included some very old port by special exception found in the emanations and penumbras of the 3WHH common law), correct the mispronunciations of “Islay,” and give a tutorial of sorts on how to extract old and fragile corks from wine or brandy bottles. (Hint: don’t use a traditional corkscrew by itself. . .)

Lucretia got a head start on the whisky, and thus had her feisty-meter turned up to eleven as we reviewed the Supreme Court’s manhandling (can you say “manhandling” at Stanford?) of Title 42, and from there we finally get to the traditional new year’s eve task of nominating our picks for the most important news story or event of the year, which prompted new arguments (shocker!), and then our favorite reading over the past year. Naturally I brought up a book by an obscure German author (Volker Weidermann’s Dreamers: When the Writers Took Power)  which elicited the usual contempt from Lucretia, while John merely noshed another Korean pork rib.

Finally, we ended up with an argument about Hamilton, Madison, and our perspective on The Federalist. Turns out John is jonesing to crash Power Line University! Money quote from that exchange: “You know Lucretia, oleomargarine pairs perfectly with kale.” Happy new year!

So listen here, or don your party hat and catch an Uber over to party central at Ricochet.

The Trump tax returns

(Scott Johnson)

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released six years of former President Trump’s tax returns yesterday. Politico has posted them here. When the New York Times followed up with an emailed notice that it had published “Key Takeaways From Trump’s Tax Returns” with a “running list of insights” by three reporters, I took a look at their findings.

Carter Page was under intrusive federal surveillance by the national security establishment for at least two years with no effect other than the groundless violation of his privacy. My thought was that Page must be the cleanest man in America (and that the FBI should pay a big price for what it did to him). Something of the same thought occurs to me about the Trump tax returns as filtered through the consciousness of the three Times reporters.

“Insight” number 1: Trump made no charitable contributions in 2020: “The tax documents released Friday show that Mr. Trump reported charitable donations totaling nearly $1.9 million in 2017 and just over $500,000 in both 2018 and 2019.” Why might he have skimped in 2020? “[A]s the pandemic recession swiftly descended, Mr. Trump reported heavy business losses and no federal tax liability.” Maybe that had something to with it.

“Insight” number 2: In a bad year for business, Trump didn’t take a full refund. Need we say more? The Times reporters do, but not much.

“Insight’ number 3: His own tax law may have cost him: Need we say more? In this case, I would say that Trump appears to have done what he thought was best for the country without regard to the impact on him, but that’s not what the Times reporters say.

“Insight” number 4: Fred Trump is a silent actor in the returns: I put this in the category of “big whoop.”

“Insight” number 5: A new tax firm got involved in 2020: I take this as a sign of the price that professionals representing Trump were paying for the business. Otherwise, I put this in the category of “big whoop.”

“Insight” number 6: Republicans are threatening retaliation: This doesn’t provide any “insight” into Trump or his taxes. In my accounting, however, it’s the good news.

The AP has a longer story on what is to be found in the returns. The AP has eight reporters — count ’em — on the story. With all those reporters the AP digs up a NYU tax professor for quotes including “The return doesn’t say, ‘Guess what? I’m committing fraud,’ but there are red flags” and “There’s fishy looking stuff here.” How did the Times miss this guy?

The AP story also digs up a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center who comments: “Trump seems to be creating huge losses that are suspicious or questionable under current law.” Is that the best you’ve got? No, it is not. The Urban-Brookings man also serves up this gem: “To me, Trump’s business operations were phenomenally unsuccessful and I struggle to figure out how much of it is attributable to Trump’s unluckiness as a businessman and how much of it is attributable to Trump’s inflation.” Struggle on, brother!

The Week in Pictures: Happy New Year Edition

(Steven Hayward)

Well, another year in the can. I can’t say it was an especially great year. But who said the holidays are over? We have the third anniversary of January 6 coming up next week—the new high holy day of the First Church of Secular Liberalism. It is threatening to displace Kwanza as the favorite holy week of the left. Wakanda forever! Or something. I’ll need to check Twitter.

Headlines of the week:

I think I’ve posted this before, but it’s a classic. . .

And finally. . . happy new year:

How Extreme Can You Get?

(John Hinderaker)

Benjamin Netanyahu is back as Prime Minister of Israel, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the world’s liberal press is wonderful to behold. Legal Insurrection reports (see original for links):

Hearing the news of Netanyahu’s return, the mainstream media had a big hissy fit over his choice of right-wing coalitions partners. In an attempt to discredit the incoming Netanyahu-led coalition, it has repeatedly been described in the media as the “most right-wing government in country’s history” comprising of “Jewish ultranationalist and religious parties.”

“Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition will likely test ties with the United States and Europe, amid fears that it will undermine the country’s democracy and stability,” The New York Times hoped.
“Far-right Israeli government sworn in amid surge of resistance,” The Washington Post reported. Netanyahu was “launching a divisive chapter of national politics that pits newly influential ultrareligious, ultranationalist leaders against an opposition that warns democracy is in peril,” the newspaper lamented.

Just as in the U.S., “democracy” is in peril whenever the *wrong* candidate wins an election. It is only “democracy” if liberals always win.

Germany’s state-run TV Tagesschau covered the developments in the Jewish State with the headline: “The New Government That Also Causes Fear.”

“The Israeli parliament has confirmed the new, ultra-right government of long-time Prime
Minister Netanyahu. The opposition is greatly worried,” the German state news outlet sobbed.

The opposition is “greatly worried”? Not as worried as I am when the Democrats win. Meanwhile, what does the Biden administration have to say?

The Biden White House appears to shares media’s hostility and is set to take an adversarial stance towards Israel’s next government.

“President Joe Biden and his aides have a plan for how to deal with the far-right, anti-Palestinian tilt of the incoming Israeli government: make it all about Benjamin Netanyahu,” the Politico reported December 20. “The Biden administration will hold the presumptive Israeli prime minister personally responsible for the actions of his more extreme cabinet members, especially if they lead to policies that endanger a future Palestinian state (…),” the news outlet noted.

“Make it all about Benjamin Netanyahu”? That has a familiar ring: it’s sort of like how the Democrats try to make everything in the U.S. about Donald Trump.

So what exactly does this new, “extreme right wing” government propose to do?

Speaking to the Knesset plenum before the vote of confidence, Netanyahu presented three top priorities for his new government: stopping Iran’s nuclear program, developing state infrastructure — with an emphasis on connecting the so-called periphery to the center of the country — and restoring internal security and governance.

How extreme can you get? Basically, the liberal press and the Biden administration oppose any Israeli government that seriously tried to defend its people. Why that is true is an interesting question.

Worst Article of the Year: Dead Last at The Bulwark

(Steven Hayward)

The end of the year is often time for “best of the year” and “worst of the year” lists, but most “best of” lists are merely catalogues of one’s preferences and favorite moments, which is fine.

But it’s another case with “worst of the year” lists, and by far the worst article of the year appearing in a supposedly conservative media outlet is Jonathan Last’s October article in The Bulwark, “Roger Scruton and the Fascists Who Love Him.” I had this article on my read-to-comment-later pile when it came out, but then I went away on my long European excursion and fell behind on the pile.

I have tried to maintain cordial relations with my old Weekly Standard friends who have gone on to their successor media outlets, especially The Bulwark. I’ve even placed an article or two there. I have acknowledged the reasonable case at the core of The Bulwark’s outlook that Donald Trump and the broader populist current he galvanized have exerted some negative forces in the Republican Party, though my own balance sheet concludes that Trump was much more sinned-against than sinning, and think the populist turn among conservatives is long overdue and largely healthy. (By the way, someone who thought this a long time ago was . . . Irving Kristol. See below.*)

But it became clear a while ago now that the “Never Trump” disposition has become fanatical to the point that Bulwarkers and others in the same camp have gone nuts, throwing every conservative principle over the side simply because Trump embraced them. But Last—tempting to call him “the Last Man”—really scraped bottom with his clubfooted treatment of Scruton. Much of Last’s article consists of classic “ventriloquist journalism,” citing in a faux-questioning way an article by Alan Elrod (I’ve never heard of him either) in Arc Digital, most of which doesn’t deserve the dignity of a response.

Last fully associates himself with Elrod’s condemnation of the existence of, among other things, two Scruton Cafes in Budapest (both of which I have visited). Some Last excerpts with commentary:

Would Scruton be horrified by all of this? By having his name affixed to a self-consciously revanchist coffeeshop by an aspiring authoritarian? By having fifth-rank, self-proclaimed “anti-liberal” intellectuals acting as if they are the champions of his legacy?

As I said: Scruton was the real deal in terms of intellectual horsepower and he was, by all accounts, a good egg. So it’s nice to think so.

First, Last really shouldn’t be throwing around characterizations of “fifth-rank” intellectuals. Last doesn’t have the intellectual chops to carry Scruton’s jock strap. Full stop.

Facsists, apparently. Well, their shirts are black, so sure.

Second, would Scruton be “horrified” at these tributes to his thought and influence? Well let’s see: Sir Roger’s widow, Sophie, has enthusiastically supported the Scruton project in Hungary, making substantial donations of some of Roger’s most treasured memorabilia and a good portion of his personal library to the two cafes and to Matthew Corvinus Collegium. You’d think a “reporter” like Last might have tried to contact Sophie Scruton to ask her. I suspect she has a better handle on what would “horrify” Roger than Last.

Last implicitly admits he has little familiarity with Scruton’s rich body of work—more than 60 books in addition to countless popular articles (and even a BBC documentary on aesthetics), but somehow feels justified in this summary judgment:

. . . reading Scruton’s critique of liberalism from the safety of, say, 1995, with communism vanquished, liberalism ascendant, and Europe beginning to heal from an 80-year-old wound is one thing.

Stop right here—with the phrase “from the safety of, say, 1995, with communism vanquished. . .” The “safety of 1995” is an amazingly crass and clueless thing to say, given than in the mid- to late-1980s few Western intellectuals were more active than Scruton behind the Iron Curtain championing the liberal tradition. Scruton not only smuggled books into Eastern Europe, but helped run a samizdat-style underground “university” at great personal risk. He was arrested more than once. (He also played in a rock band in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere as a cover of sorts.)

There’s a reason why Scruton is so popular in Eastern Europe today. We should be so lucky as to have a figure capable of inspiring such deep interest among young conservatives. Incidentally, one of Elrod’s slurs is that the Scruton Cafes are spots “for ex-pats” to congregate. That wasn’t my perception on the days I lingered for several hours over coffee or beer working away on my computer: they were a hotbed of traffic by Hungarians of all descriptions.

To continue with the Last Man:

Reading Scruton’s critique of liberalism today, with right-wing illiberalism on the march both at home and abroad, is quite another.

Scruton’s argument in many of his essays and books amounted to a deep critique of liberalism as mistaken about human beings, about society, about politics. That critique was especially valuable when it could be read as a friendly corrective to liberalism’s errors, excesses, and contradictions. But today, with liberalism under threat, it comes across more like an indictment of liberalism—an indictment that has apparently been taken up as a foundational text by fascists.

Where to begin with such a fatuous passage? I’ll limit myself only to the irony that in his last decade Scruton confessed to having been too tough on Margaret Thatcher’s “market-liberalism” back in the 1980s, and his revised judgment was that she was better than he thought. In other words, if anything Scruton’s attachment to liberalism rightly understood deepened in recent years, and I never heard him—or read him anywhere—thinking that Hungary or any other eastern European nation was lurching into ill-liberalism. (For what it’s worth, I once had a long but entirely congenial argument over dinner with Roger about Leo Strauss, whom he did not care for. He wasn’t hostile or dismissive, but explained his disagreement with Strauss’s critique of liberalism, and some of Strauss’s esoteric methodology. The irony here abounds if you let it sink in for a minute.)

Second, when did the Bulwarkians become such lazy historicists? In addition to the passage quoted above, Last adds: “We’re all products of our place and time. In Scruton’s place and time, it did seem like liberalism was ascendant and that its overreach and failings needed conservative correction.” (Emphasis added.) Good grief.

The most dismaying thing at work here is to see how Trump Derangement Syndrome has become a parasite in the decayed neoconservative mind, needing new hosts to attach for survival. And hence the need to demonize Orban and Hungary. All of which leads to a final observation. About ten years back Last wrote an excellent book on demographics, entitled What To Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster. Lo and behold, here’s the epigraph for one of the later chapters in Last’s book:Who? WHO? 

I’ll treat Orban Derangement Syndrome at a later time. (Among other things, I hope to take up the extended but insufficient critique of Claire Berlinski, whom I generally adore). But for the moment I find it the epitome of a lack of self-awareness, if not hypocrisy, for people who voted for Joe Biden to talk about Orban’s corruption, or still more Orban’s direct influence on Hungarian media (the FBI and Twitter anyone?), or his direct support for Matthew Corvinus Collegium. This, in a country where our mass media and colleges are fully partisan adjuncts of one political party. This is insulting to the intelligence. An old line from Ray Bradbury comes to mind: “Every simile that would have made a sub-moron’s mouth twitch – gone!” Pretty much describes the content of The Bulwark on days when they let the term “fascism” start their Pavlovian reflexes twitching.


* P.S.—This passage is one reason why I think if Irving Kristol were still with us, on the whole he’d have approved of Trump, as does his great friend still happily with us, Norman Podhoretz:

What is going on is something very strange and without precedent. To put it simply: The common sense—not the passion, but the common sense—of the American people has been outraged, over the past 20 years, by the persistent un-wisdom of their elected and appointed officials…To the degree that we are witnessing a crisis in our democratic institutions, it is a crisis of our disoriented elites, not of a blindly impassioned populace…This new populism is no kind of blind rebellion against good constitutional government. It is rather an effort to bring our governing elites to their senses. That is why so many people—and I include myself among them—who would ordinarily worry about a populist upsurge find themselves so sympathetic to this new populism.

From Irving Kristol,“The New Populism: Not To Worry,” The Public Interest, 1985!

Chaser #2:

Thought for the Day: Bethell and Sobran on the Leftist “Hive”

(Steven Hayward)

The American Spectator has posted up a tribute to the late Tom Bethell, one of the great conservative journalists in Washington in the 1970s and 1980s, and in this excerpt recalls how Bethell popularized Joe Sobran’s analysis of the left’s hive mentality—more useful than ever today:

Left-wing individuals and organizations have disguised their agenda by adopting a new system of communication, one in which the crude old formulas such as “state ownership of the means of production” never appear. Joe Sobran, the National Review editor and columnist, has likened the contemporary system of socialist communication to a beehive. Bees in a hive don’t “talk” to one another, but they do have an effective system of communication, and they all work toward a common goal, different bees performing different functions. “There is no need to posit an overarching conspiracy,” Sobran wrote recently. “The world collectivist movement goes forward. None of its constituent parts — Communist, socialist, liberal — runs the whole thing; they don’t even consciously cooperate, for the most part.” But they manage never to sting one another.

The Daily Chart: A Few New Nukes

(Steven Hayward)

Here’s a table of new nuclear power plants that have recently opened or are scheduled to start up in 2023. The U.S. finally makes the list (maybe—fingers crossed). I’ll see if I can get a table of the countries where “new nuclear plants” is a negative number, like Germany, the UK, and Belgium).

Podcast: Michael Anton Picks Up the Gauntlet

(Steven Hayward)

And yet another bonus holiday episode for everyone to savor before the college football bowl games arrive. . .

“Human rights do not exist,” claims an anonymous dissident conservative writer, but when he (at least we’re going to identify the author as a “he”—heh) added some animadversions about our pal Michael Anton, the fight was on! Anton has responded at length to this provocation with a true tour de force over at American Greatness, entitled “Natural Right and the Traditional Reproach.” I do encourage interested readers to take in the whole thing, as it is a succinct tour through the history and philosophical tradition of natural right, especially as it matches up to our desperate scene today.

Of course, denying natural right is a capital offense for our Lucretia, so she joins us for our spirited discussion of this subject, in which I play devil’s advocate and press some difficulties with Michael’s position and analysis. We also take in Paul Gottfried’s polite response to Michael, which left us more puzzled than anything.

We did have a couple of minor technical problems while we were recording that dropped Michael’s sound for a few seconds, which led to a couple of very abrupt jump cuts, but we smoothed it out as best we could. We suspect there are sequels to this argument ahead.  Stay tuned.

Listen here, or grab your own mace or sword, mount your steed, and gallop in formation over to the castle of Ricochet.

A Twitter Files preview (2)

(Scott Johnson)

Matt Taibbi has reviewed additional sets of Twitter Files and will post threads summarizing his findings just in time to disrupt my holiday weekend. At his TK News site on Substack, he previews his findings with a focus on the government-related issues that have been the subject of my interest.

He anticipates that “the broader picture will eventually describe a company that was directly or indirectly blamed for allowing Donald Trump to get elected, and whose subjugation and takeover by a furious combination of politicians, enforcement officials, and media then became a priority as soon as Trump took office.” He sketches out the findings of his next threads:

These next few pieces are the result of looking at two discrete data sets, one ranging from mid-2017 to early 2018, and the other spanning from roughly March 2020 through the present. In the first piece focused on that late 2017 period, you see how Washington politicians learned that Twitter could be trained quickly to cooperate and cede control over its moderation process through a combination of threatened legislation and bad press.

In the second, you see how the cycle of threats and bad media that first emerged in 2017 became institutionalized, to the point where a long list of government enforcement agencies essentially got to operate Twitter as an involuntary contractor, heading into the 2020 election. Requests for moderation were funneled mainly through the FBI, the self-described “belly button” of the federal government (not a joke, an agent really calls it that).

From what we have seen so far that is beautifully said. Whole thing here.

A look ahead to 2023

(Scott Johnson)

I’m not entirely sure who said prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future. It has been variously attributed to Nobel laureate Niels Bohr, to Yogi Berra, and others. I am drawn to the formulation of George Eliot’s narrator in Middlemarch: “Among all forms of mistake, prophecy is the most gratuitous.” To make mistakes is human. Why make them needlessly? They are to be avoided to the extent possible, or to the extent consistent with living the good life.

Well, we look to the year ahead for fun in a Laughter Is the Best Medicine sort of way. As I look into my crystal ball for 2023, I see (with a decreasing level of certainty):

• Evidence of President Biden’s age-related physical and mental decline will continue to mount.

• By mid-year the Democrats’ media adjunct will be calling for Biden’s likeness to be chiseled into Mount Rushmore.

• The Biden administration will frustrate the efforts of House Republicans to investigate the Biden family corruption and other such issues of public interest. The Biden administration will defy House subpoenas, secure in the knowledge that they cannot be enforced without an Attorney General willing to enforce the law.

• Kevin McCarthy will find a way to win election as Speaker of the House in January. By February, however, he will begin to wonder why he wanted the job so badly.

• George Santos will take office on January 3 but resign later this year.

• Doubts concerning the reliability of the government’s economic statistics will mount through the year. We will increasingly look to alternatives generated by non-government actors.

• Inflation will persist. Unemployment will increase. The economy will drift into recession if it is not there already. The media will salute each trend as a sign of good times and an omen of better yet to come.

• The Obamas will continue to enjoy their ascent to the plutocracy while finding new reasons to seethe over the unfairness of it all.

• Dianne Feinstein will resign from office and Adam Schiff will be appointed to replace her. Before they move on, Schiff will counsel Santos on the importance of public officials speaking the truth.

Inflation was said by the sages of the Biden administration to be “transitory.” They said it in unison, more or less in the mode that synchronized swimmers bring to their sport. That prediction nevertheless proved in short order to be a belly flop.

I quoted George Eliot’s Middlemarch narrator above. Here is yet another permanent truth formulated by Eliot’s narrator that may serve as an appropriate accompaniment of my predictions: “That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.”

Thoughts from the ammo line

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll pauses at year-end to log NON-FATAL STUPIDITIES (A Partial List…). She writes:

My dear friend TonyP173 once told me in a phone conversation that in a moment of supreme gratitude to the Almighty, he had toted up some six or seven times when he SHOULD HAVE died and did not including, but not limited to, in Vietnam.

At least dying in battle confers some measure of heroism and meaning. Joe and I have accumulated quite a list of near-misses and every last one of them mind-numbingly stupid – and our own dang faults!

I have previously mentioned my taking the rowboat out on Lake Ida in Alexandria, Minnesota at about age 13 with both a windstorm and thunderstorm predicted. And then, in a rare happenstance for the Weather Service, that prediction came true, in spades. I was with a hysterical girl cousin. Oh, I don’t mean in the sense of regaling me with jokes while we fought for our lives. Not THAT kind of “hysterical,” the OTHER kind, where she had lost it to the point that she couldn’t even bail water out of the boat while I rowed. The screaming, however, definitely incentivized me to continue rowing if only to get shuck of it. The gale-force winds drowned out most of her caterwauling and within what felt like a few short weeks we made it back to the dock.

Consequence: wet clothes, blistered hands, off boat privileges, and an extremely angry father.

Then there was the time when young marrieds, Susan and Joe, about age 22, were making breakfast in their modest St. Paul apartment. We had what was called a “European” kitchen in the Real Estate ad, and we finally settled on either “Latvia” or “Albania” as the European country the ad had in mind.

All I remember is that there was only one outlet and the fridge was also plugged into it. I wanted to unplug the coffeepot and plug in the “two-seater” toaster, but the coffeepot plug was stuck. Joe was then a young man who had taken an IQ test for a job application and scored so high that he was deemed UNFIT for the job! “I’m sorry, but our experience is that people who are THIS smart do not get along well with others.” (And that might partly explain where we are today as a country…particularly at its highest reaches.)

However, on that day, at least 70 points of his IQ had deserted him. My guess would be because he was overly anxious to get the toast. All our friends and relatives have learned: Do NOT get between Joe and his meal at feeding time.

Anyhow, he dug a metal spoon into the outlet to “free” the plug and, after a loud sound that really did resemble the “ZAP!” they use in comic books, discovered that he was holding just the handle of the spoon! Oh, did I explain that he was barefoot and there was some water on the floor? And YOU thought he had “naturally-curly” hair…

He was fine, Baruch Hashem (praise God), and more’s the pity, had just missed claiming a patent on the world’s first primitive Defibrillation Machine. I should have yelled “CLEAR!”

Because we did not own a vehicle for the first seven years of our marriage, I could cite a couple of hitch-hiking adventures that almost went very wrong. Thankfully, they only involved creepy guys and not actual psychotics. It was the freewheelin’ 60s, but it was still dumb to do it. The two times that real danger was averted it was a choice between hitch-hiking and freezing to death in Minneapolis. Did I mention it was still dumb?

Weather seems to be my nemesis, in general. Like most Minnesotans, I have had several Blizzard Encounters of the Slip-Slidey Kind, one where I was getting off my night job after an ice storm and quickly realized I had less control of my car than if some fiend had been operating a remote control for it. Some kind strangers in a house near Como Park took me in until the temps hit over 34 degrees and the noon sun melted enough ice that I could finally get home. We exchanged Christmas cards for many years!

In another terrifying incident in a blizzard, I was with my three-year-old in the car, driving from Rockville to Alexandria for my mother’s birthday party. After leaving the road at least three times, I pulled off the road at a gas station in Sauk Centre, weeping, and had my Daddy come and get me! His pal rode along in his car so that he could drive Daddy’s car back while he drove mine. That’s what Daddies do. A 30-year-old is still “his little girl.”

But rain has been just as bad as snow. Once I was a Good Samaritan (that’ll learn ya), taking someone home from a meeting in St. Cloud when a major gullywasher was predicted. Had I gone straight home, I would have made it just in time. But I got caught right in the middle of a blinding rainstorm. The wipers could no way keep up and I got disoriented. When it let up just a little bit, I realized that the “white center line” I had been trying to follow was actually the line on the left hand side of the road and I had been driving in the oncoming lane for several miles. Just think of all the columns you guys would have missed! YIKES!

In my moronic youth, I had driven impaired on three or four occasions, always employing the clever strategies that drunks use to avoid detection, like driving 14 miles an hour.

On one memorable occasion, my bestie girlfriend from childhood and I were in Maui and had just had a beautiful meal at a fancy French restaurant in Olowaulu. She had driven TO the restaurant. But we were convinced by the gorgeous waiter to have 3, count ‘em 3, kir royales (a champagne cocktail) with dinner and then 3, count ‘em, 3, after-dinner coffee drinks with rum and whipped cream. The bill 40 years ago ran to $200 with a math-impaired, drunk-generous tip. Upon hearing this tale, my hippie brother-in-law memorably declared: “Boy, I remember when, if you had $200, you could quit your job!”

But I believed I was okay because Carol, a sensible, smart physician, was driving. Carol stood up shakily and said, “Uh, Susie, you better take the keys.” Uh-Oh. Seeing double, driving along steep cliffs in the dark, somehow we made it home to our condo where I promptly passed out. I have never driven drunk since. Indeed, I rarely drink at all any more. Figured I’d already had my “pass.”

Finally, and as I said above, this is only a partial list, I will end with this. Once when I was driving back from Alexandria to the Twin Cities, I got to the 694 East highway by Maple Grove and found myself following a battered pickup truck with a poorly secured mattress perched jauntily on its end in the truck bed. “That does not look safe,” I said to myself, as I blended into the next lane and scurried past it JUST as the mattress flew out of the bed and landed precisely where I had been. Brakes squealed, people drove around wildly, but by a miracle nobody crashed. I was shaking so badly that I had to pull off at the Krispie Crème.

Why Free Speech Is Important

(John Hinderaker)

We have just lived through a respiratory virus epidemic and many are wondering, Why did our government and the social media platforms block any intelligent discussion of the virus that was making its way around the globe?

In an ideal world, doctors would communicate freely about treatments for a new disease that they have tried, and how, and under what circumstances, those treatments have succeeded or failed. This is called the scientific method.

But the scientific method has not prevailed over the last few years. Instead, the public square has been dominated by government-dictated dogma that often turned out to be wrong. The result was that many people died needlessly, while a far larger number–young people, for the most part–had their lives blighted by irrational government action.

So what do the data actually show about the covid epidemic, and about the means that have been taken to combat it?

First, some have argued that anti-covid vaccines have caused serious health problems. Some have even claimed that the vaccines are part of a plan to reduce the Earth’s population to “sustainable” levels. But there is no evidence for this. The most current data on the vaccines’ safety is here. The linked study addresses people over 65, those most at risk. Kevin Roche comments:

Somewhat surprisingly, there were no safety signals in regard to the Moderna or J & J vax, surprising only because the Moderna vax is a higher dose than Pfizer and the J & J vax has had more reports of issues. The Pfizer vax initially had a signal, meaning there appeared to be more than the background rate of events, for pulmonary embolism, heart attack and two clotting issues, although the excess rate was small. On adjustment for the seasonal variation and other factors, only the pulmonary embolism event remained statistically significant, and at a low level. In addition, the Pfizer vax had a much greater use among nursing home residents and this was not adjusted for which may explain the pulmonary embolism finding. Other confounding factors also not were included. There was no time clustering of events in the windows immediately following the vax date. (Vax Article)

Here is the clear bottom line, for the elderly, this very, very large study shows only one potential safety signal, which likely would be eliminated on further analysis. So don’t pay any attention to the safety bullshit on the internet.

And then we have the question of how covid should be treated. A variety of treatments emerged while the covid virus was raging. They included Hydroxychloroquine and others, like Ivermectin. Liberals denounced Ivermectin as a “horse dewormer,” even though it had been approved by the FDA for human use. It turns out that “Ivermectin Is Safe and Effective.”

In a meta-analysis of 63 studies of ivermectin versus COVID-19 in humans, 100% of these have shown positive results. Studies were from all continents except Antarctica. Considered individually, 29 of those studies were found to be statistically significant regarding use of ivermectin alone. Over the 63 studies in meta-analysis, pooled effects showed 69% improvement in early treatment, and prophylactic use showed 86% improvement. Of those studies in the meta-analysis that were peer-reviewed, overall improvement in early treatment was found to be 70% (64% in randomized controlled trials), and 86% of those in which ivermectin was used prophylactically showed improvement (84% in randomized controlled trials).

Mortality from COVID-19 over all time periods of delay in treatment was 76% improved over controls (69% in randomized controlled trials), whereas mortality was improved 84% in early treatment of COVID-19 (82% in randomized controlled trials). Forty studies were excluded from the meta-analysis for complicating factors or insufficient detail reported, and these also showed 100% positive results.

It is estimated that the likelihood of an ineffective treatment showing such positive results as the above results in the 63 studies in the meta-analysis to date is exceedingly small. That probability is estimated to be one in one trillion.

But the Biden administration, the FBI, and the liberal social media behemoths viciously suppressed online discussion of all of these issues. How threatening is the covid virus, actually? Do the vaccines work? Do the vaccines cause serious side effects? What treatments are available, and how effective are they? Does hydroxychloroquine work? Does Ivermectin work? What else might work?

Openly debating these issues and bringing forth new data to shed light on them is the essence of the scientific method. But science was suppressed by America’s Left, which effectively shut down debate on the most vital issues relating to the covid epidemic. This is a lesson that we never should forget. There is a reason why free speech is important: if you want to get the right answer to a question, the best approach is to open it wide and let competing views fight it out.

People have known this for thousands of years, and this ancient wisdom is enshrined in our Constitution. Yet entrenched interests are always opposed to free speech. The critical value of freedom needs to be rediscovered in each generation.

Why No One Trusts the CDC

(John Hinderaker)

The Centers for Disease Control is one of a number of formerly-respected federal agencies that now have fallen into disrepute. CDC has become a tool of the Left in general, and the Democratic Party in particular, and it seems that the people who run the Centers are more interested in political activism than in disease control.

Thus CDC’s latest initiative: a self-assessment tool for “LGBTQ Inclusivity in Schools.” (Via Breitbart.) The document is addressed to teachers, administrators and others involved in education. It conforms perfectly to far-Left dogmas on sex, as reflected in these definitions:

I don’t want to go off on a digression here, but in fact “gender” is just a slightly more genteel word for “sex.” There are two sexes and two genders–same thing–defined by X and Y chromosomes. That is biological and linguistic fact. But the Left has cleverly tried to separate gender from sex and create a new, ideologically-driven definition of gender. But in fact, the definition of gender that the CDC and other leftists propagate actually corresponds to the English words “masculine” and “feminine.” There are, indeed, men who have some feminine characteristics, and women who have some masculine characteristics. Maybe we all do, I don’t know. But this long-recognized fact is no excuse for trashing the science of biology.

To continue: the CDC document is, of course, nothing but happy talk about gender confusion. The goal for educators, per the CDC, is to be an “ally” of “queer” youth:

The whole thing is illustrated with “queer” images–their word, not mine.

The content of the “self-assessment” is exactly what you would expect. Here are a few examples, there is much more at the link:

It seems fair to say that in the CDC’s view, if you aren’t grooming, you aren’t teaching. No wonder public faith in institutions like the CDC has plummeted to new lows. For the October issue of Thinking Minnesota, we polled Minnesotans’ confidence in various institutions. That confidence is dropping across the board, but this finding stood out:

After two years of the COVID epidemic, Minnesotans have lost confidence in the public health establishment. Only 36 percent expressed confidence in America’s public health establishment, while 62 percent said they have little or no confidence. That is a brutal result for a group of purported experts who have been in the spotlight since 2020.

It is easy to understand why few Americans trust the Centers for Disease Control. They have perverted their mission away from disease control, into the realm of crazed left-wing gender politics. It is hard to foresee circumstances that will allow the public’s faith in this agency to be restored.

Podcast: PLU Lesson One—The Federalist, Nos 1 – 9

(Steven Hayward)

Lucretia and I held the first “classroom” for PLU (Power Line University) yesterday, with 110 people ultimately tuning in live for our first formal session on The Federalist Papers. We had a couple of technical difficulties—for some reason we kept failing to get the Chat window working right—and we had some hiccups admitting some live questions and comments from viewers, but we hope to have these ironed out for our next session which will likely be mid-week next week. Anyway, here is the podcast version for those of you who weren’t able to join us live.

Our first session got off to a bit of a slow start—like the Federalist Papers themselves—with a look at numbers 1 – 9. (We had planned to include the famous Federalist 10 in this first session, but are putting it off to the next session.) The first few papers review at length the case against the disunity of the infant nation if the Constitution was not ratified and the United States split into three or four regional confederacies—not unlike some of the talk we hear today about a second civil war, or a breakup between red and blue states. The point is: the themes and analysis of the Federalist remain highly relevant to today.

Things really get hopping with Hamilton’s high-spirited Federalist 9, which is where we had to break off for the day.

Theodore Ian, our youngest participant.

Our tag line for this podcast series is “Never let college get in the way of your education,” and we’re glad to see that our live audience had a wide age span, starting with our youngest viewer, Theodore Ian (age four months), who is clearly enthralled by our scintillating commentary—proof that it is never too early to get the kids started on a sound education in the Right PrinciplesTM.  

We did share some slides of the text we were considering, and read aloud most of the passages, but not all of them, so if you want to see the session, including the text slides instead of just listening to it in your car or on a walk, you can see the session on YouTube here. (Another thing we will try to arrange going forward is sharing the Power Point slide decks in these podcast links.)

Stay tuned for announcements of the schedule for future PLU seminars, likely the middle of next week.

So listen here, or slip in to the back of the lecture hall over at our hosts at Ricochet.

Thought for the Day: Churchill on “Expert” Rule

(Steven Hayward)

Churchill, writing in 1901 with advice clearly relevant for 2022:

Nothing would be more fatal than for the government of States to get into the hands of the experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge: and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows only what hurts is a safer guide, than any vigorous direction of a specialised character. Why should you assume that all except doctors, engineers etc., are drones or worse? 

To manage men, to explain difficult things to simple people, to reconcile opposite interests, to weigh the evidence of disputing experts, to deal with the clamorous emergency of the hour; are not these things in themselves worth the consideration and labour of a lifetime? If the Ruler is to be an expert in anything he should be an expert in everything; and that is plainly impossible. Wherefore I say from the dominion of all specialists (particularly military specialists) good Lord deliver us.

Hat tip: Richard Langworth.

The Daily Chart: Is the Job Market Cooling?

(Steven Hayward)

The stock market is having a robust rally today, apparently in part because of a somewhat bad unemployment report (filings were up last week), which traders think means the Federal Reserve will take their boot of its neck and relax on interest rate hikes. Only on Wall Street is bad news good news. But longer term it appears job openings—a key boast of the Bidenistas—have been steadily declining for months. Recession ahead?

The Santos clause & an addendum

(Scott Johnson)

I detect Seth Lipsky’s characteristic prose and train of thought in the New York Sun editorial “Yes, Virginia–There Is a Santos Clause.” Seth’s hand in the editorial makes sense: he is the editor of the Sun.

The subject of the editorial is the post-election discovery that Rep.-elect George Santos is not who he said he was. The subhead summarizes the gist of the editorial: “All the falsehoods George Santos is accused of are small beer compared to the truth of his campaign — which is that the voters in his district decided to bring in a Republican to replace a Democrat.” Seth unveils the Santos clause toward the end of the editorial: “[Congress] can’t refuse to seat an elected candidate on the basis of lies he told — or even, for that matter, truths — or whether Brazil thinks he kited checks [as may be the case with Santos].”

It is interesting to see the hysteria whipped up by the media in response to the exposure of Santos’s fabrications. So far, he has only been exposed as a liar. As Seth argues, he will be in good company if and when he is able to take office, though I wouldn’t want to put much credence in his oath.

Seth’s editorial is a model of contrarian thinking and is even right as far as it goes, as contrarian thinking frequently is. Jim Geraghty compares and contrasts Santos with President Biden and raises the possibility of criminal wrongdoing on Santos’s part in his NRO column.

The hysteria reminds me of the media atmosphere around Ilhan Omar following our 2016 reporting on her interesting marital history and then current marriage to her brother rather than the man she held out as her husband and father of her children. At that time Omar was only on her way to election to the Minnesota state legislature, but we could see she was on her way to intergalactic superstar status. Indeed, that is the status the Star Tribune was according her when she knocked off 22-term incumbent Phyllis Kahn in the DFL primary. The media hysteria of August 2016 was instantly tamped down by the August 22, 2016 letter from United States Attorney Andrew Luger to a criminal defense attorney representing Omar stating that she was not under investigation by his office. I wrote about it in “The Luger letter in context.”

In the 2018 election cycle Omar was running to succeed Keith Ellison in Congress. Elected to Congress in 2006, Ellison has suppressed his active leadership of the Nation of Islam in the Twin Cities with almost laughable audacity. He demonstrably lied about it when we raised it in 2006. See my Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman” and the companion Power Line post “Keith Ellison for dummies.” That’s the audacity. That’s the audacious part. If Twin Cities political reporters ever bothered to read his memoir, they would see that he simply omitted it while portraying himself as a critic of the NOI. That’s the laughable part.

Omar of course won election to Congress as Ellison’s successor in 2018. Three years after we had reported Omar’s interesting marital history, the Star Tribune took a serious look at the evidence in a 3,000-word story. Try as they might, reporters Patrick Coolican and Stephen Montemayor could not unearth a single fact suggesting that Omar was not married to her brother (from 2009-2017). All the evidence they found suggested that she was and, of course, the marriage would have been for dishonest purposes.

There is not much new under the sun in the way of misconduct by members of the House. With Omar we have something new under the sun.

I’m sure there are some deeper lessons to draw, but this is what occurs to me. It helps to be a Democrat, it helps to be a member of one or two preferred minority groups, and it helps to have the authorities on your side. Then you might be able to ride out the storm. That is my addendum to what Seth terms the Santos clause.

A Twitter Files footnote (4)

(Scott Johnson)

Adam Goldman was one of the national security establishment’s go-to reporters for promotion of the Russia hoax. Indeed, Goldman “was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for national reporting on Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.” That’s the way the Times puts it. Those of us who don’t only get our news from the Times now know that it was the FBI more than any foreign government that meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Today Goldman channels the FBI’s response to the exposure of its role in the Twitter Files. With Alan Feuer, Goldman gives us the “Republicans pounce” variations in “Republicans Step Up Attacks on F.B.I. as It Investigates Trump.”

How bad is it? The story is so bad it has been picked up by the Star Tribune, which of course has yet to inform its readers of the Twitter Files revelations. Goldman and Feuer refer indirectly to the Twitter Files in their mention of one prong of the suspended FBI whistleblowers’ letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and a long report issued by Republican House Judiciary Committee staff:

A majority of the attacks laid out in the Suspendables’ letter to Mr. Wray, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, echoed those by the Judiciary Committee. The panel’s report also condemned the bureau for using counterterrorism tactics to investigate conservative parents at school board meetings — an allegation that seemed to have come from a mischaracterization of the F.B.I.’s plan to track threats of violence against school board officials.

The report further accused the agency of “helping Big Tech to censor Americans’ political speech” — a claim that misrepresented the way the F.B.I. has sought for years to curb online disinformation, especially when it comes from foreign actors. Long before the House report or the letter to Mr. Wray was released, Mr. Trump and his allies in Congress and the news media were already targeting federal law enforcement officers and demonizing those who scrutinized the former president.

Pity the poor readers who get their news from the Times and the Star Tribune. What is that bit about Big Tech censorship all about? Goldman and Feuer simply proceed directly to the FBI’s line while sparing readers any account of the underlying facts or evidence that elicited it from the FBI. Goldman and Feuer simply mainline the FBI drivel.

I documented the Star Tribune’s noncoverage of the Twitter Files earlier this week in part 2 of my footnotes. The Star Tribune’s publication and promotion of the Goldman/Feuer Times story fills out the picture nicely.

Donald Trump's supporters — among them, Republicans poised to take over the House next month — have stepped up their attacks on the FBI, seeking to undermine the bureau just as it has assumed the lead in an array of investigations of Trump.

— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) December 28, 2022

Reminder: Power Line in the Classroom at 7 pm (EST) Today

(Steven Hayward)

Reminder that we’re less than two hours away from Power Line University’s first live webinar on The Federalist, today looking at the first ten (but most especially Number 10).

It’s open to all comers: Use this Zoom link to listen and participate.

There will be no homework, assignment, exams, or term papers. Drinking during class is not only permitted; it is encouraged.

Needless to say, we shall not be observing Stanford University’s list of banned words.

Thought for the Day: Pope Benedict at Regensburg

(Steven Hayward)

As of this writing—early Wednesday afternoon—news reports out of the Vatican indicate that 95-year-old Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI is gravely ill. Perhaps I’ll have more to say about Benedict later, but in my mind he has even greater theological and philosophical depth than John Paul II, and that’s saying something.

His 2006 address at Regensburg ought to be considered one of the most significant intellectual moments of the last generation—on par with Solzhenitsyn’s commencement address at Harvard in 1978. Like Solzhenitsyn’s address, Benedict’s Regensburg address raised hackles among the “enlightened” (and also among Muslims). Here’s the conclusion of this challenging and profound lecture:

In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought – to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: “It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being – but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss”. The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

Root Cause of the Crime Problem

(John Hinderaker)

I wrote on Christmas Eve about the murder that took place at the Mall of America. An update: the five gang members who were involved in the crime celebrated at a White Castle and were arrested the next day.

It turns out that at least one of those arrested was a veteran of the criminal justice system who was under court “supervision” at the time of the murder. David Zimmer dug into the records and recounts the story:

Deandre Depratto, 18, is one of five people in custody for the shooting death of Johntae Hudson, 19. The murder happened inside Nordstrom at the Mall of America during one of the mall’s busiest shopping days.
A review of state court records reveals troubling information that has become all too common — Depratto was under court and correctional control at the time of the murder. The reason? A few months before the MOA murder, Depratto had fled police in a stolen car that had been carjacked at gunpoint just blocks from his mother’s house days earlier. The details of the case and the impotent response from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and Hennepin County District Court follow.

On July 31, 2022, just a few blocks from Depratto’s mother’s house in north Minneapolis, a woman was sitting in a car when two men approached. One put a gun to her neck and ordered her out. The men then forcibly took the car and fled the scene. The carjacking was reported to police and the car was entered into the stolen vehicle database.

On August 5, 2022, a state trooper spotted the stolen vehicle going over 90 mph on I-94 in St. Paul — Depratto was the driver and two others were with him. The trooper attempted to stop the vehicle, but it continued on at 90+ MPH until another trooper was able to disable it with a device that deflates the tires. Despite deflated tires, Depratto continued to try and evade the police until he lost control and slammed into a cement abutment. Depratto then attempted to change seats with one of the other occupants.

On August 8, 2022, the Ramsey County Attorney filed a delinquency petition against Depratto, who was a few months shy of his 18th birthday. Depratto was charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and Fleeing Police in a Motor Vehicle. The case was immediately transferred to Hennepin County, due to Depratto’s residency there.

On August 9, 2022, Hennepin County immediately dismissed the Fleeing Charge (no reason documented in court records) and set a hearing date for the Possession of a Stolen Vehicle. There is no mention of attempts to connect or rule out Depratto’s involvement in the carjacking.

On September 12, Hennepin County District Court Judge Hatcher accepted Depratto’s guilty plea to possessing the stolen vehicle and advised Depratto that his punishment was a stayed adjudication of guilt pending for 180 days, during which time he was to pay restitution as determined by Hennepin County Community Corrections.

Judge Hatcher ordered that if Depratto did not pay the restitution in the 180 days, the restitution would turn to a judgment against him, and his case would be dismissed.

Community Corrections determined the restitution that Depratto should pay was the amount of insurance deductible the victim had to pay — $500. As of 12/27/22, per court records, Depratto has not paid a cent of the absurdly low restitution.

Despite Community Corrections receiving “return to sender” correspondence back from Depratto’s residence, there has been no attempt to punish Depratto for failing to abide by his probation conditions.

The criminal justice system failed us, failed Johntae Hudson, failed the thousands of shoppers put on lockdown at MOA, failed the businesses that will be impacted by the sensed lack of safety at MOA, and ultimately failed Depratto, by teaching him there are no consequences to his actions.

So now he is involved in a murder. As more facts come out, we will learn that most or all of the gang members involved in the Mall of America altercation and shooting had extensive contact with Minnesota’s criminal justice system, mostly as juveniles. The lesson they were taught by those experiences is that in a liberal state like Minnesota, crime is not taken seriously and is not seriously punished. That is the root cause of the Nordstrom murder and of Minnesota’s spiraling crime rate.

The Daily Chart: China’s Dependence?

(Steven Hayward)

It is conventional wisdom that we and the rest of the world are overdependent on China, especially for tech goods, but in fact it may be the case that in one crucial area—semiconductors—China is more dependent on the rest of us. Supposedly China’s attempt to midwife its own domestic semiconductor capacity has not gone well.

Nazi Germany and the Jews

(Scott Johnson)

Whoopi Goldberg is in the news again — here and here, for example. Ignorance and malice can be mitigated, but stupidity is something with which you are stuck. Ms. Goldberg is the bearer of a toxic combination. Her thoughts on the Jewish people are a case in point. Something does not compute.

When I was a teenager I read every paperback book I came across on the Holocaust. Among the books that come to mind this morning are Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account, by Miklós Nyiszli, for example, as well as I Cannot Forgive (as it was titled in England, where I bought it), by Rudolf Vrba, and Night, by Elie Wiesel. As an adult I read the histories by Lucy Davidowicz, Raul Hilberg, and Yehuda Bauer.

After watching the series A French Village, I returned to the subject this year with the two-volume history Nazi Germany and the Jews, by Saul Friedländer. Volume 1 has the subtitle The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939. Volume 2, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, is titled The Years of Extermination. It has the subtitle Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945. The two volumes are abridged in Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1933-1945.

Friedländer’s are the best books I have read on the subject. He takes a panoramic view and exudes the virtues of humane learning. I want to take the liberty of recommending them to readers who may find them of interest.

Born in Prague in 1932, Friedländer is himself a survivor. His parents found refuge for him in a Catholic boarding school in occupied France. When his parents tried to flee to Switzerland, they were apprehended and sent to Auschwitz, where they perished. Friedländer tells his own story in When Memory Comes.

Friedländer begins in chapter 1 of Volume 1 with the expulsion of Jews from the arts. “As peripheral as it may seem in hindsight,” Friedländer writes, “the cultural domain was the first from which Jews (and ‘leftists’) were massively expelled.” A few pages later, after discussing Thomas Mann, who was himself married to a Jew, Friedländer adds: “Apart from a few courageous individuals such as Ricarda Huch, there was no countervailing force in that domain — or, for that matter, in any other.”

I find Friedländer to be a narrative historian of great power. The terrible details accumulate.

There are many videos of Friedländer available on YouTube. In the excellent two-minute video below he conveys the sense of his approach to the subject.

A Twitter Files footnote

(Scott Johnson)

George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley comments on the drivel released by the FBI last week in response to the Twitter Files:

It is not clear what is more chilling — the menacing role played by the FBI in Twitter’s censorship program, or its mendacious response to the disclosure of that role. The FBI has issued a series of “nothing-to-see-here” statements regarding the Twitter Files.

In its latest statement, the FBI insists it did not command Twitter to take any specific action when flagging accounts to be censored. Of course, it didn’t have to threaten the company — because we now have an effective state media by consent rather than coercion. Moreover, an FBI warning tends to concentrate the minds of most people without the need for a specific threat.

Finally, the files show that the FBI paid Twitter millions as part of this censorship system — a windfall favorably reported to Baker before he was fired from Twitter by Musk.

Responding to the disclosures and criticism, an FBI spokesperson declared: “The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”

Arguably, “working every day to protect the American public” need not include censoring the public to protect it from errant or misleading ideas….

* * * * *

After Watergate, there was bipartisan support for reforming the FBI and intelligence agencies. Today, that cacophony of voices has been replaced by crickets, as much of the media imposes another effective blackout on coverage of the Twitter Files. This media silence suggests that the FBI found the “sweet spot” on censorship, supporting the views of the political and media establishment.

As for the rest of us, the FBI now declares us to be part of a disinformation danger which it is committed to stamping out — “conspiracy theorists” misleading the public simply by criticizing the bureau.

Professor Turley’s Hill column is “When the FBI attacks its critics as ‘conspiracy theorists,’ it’s time to reform the bureau.” I should like to think that “reform” is in this case a euphemism for something more severe. In any event, he reiterated and elaborated on his column in this FOX News interview (the accompanying transcript is slightly off).

Netanyahu’s statesmanship

(Scott Johnson)

Once and future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bibi: My Story was published in mid-October. Mosaic’s Jonathan Silver has just posted the last of Netanyahu’s series of book-plugging podcasts with American hosts here on Stitcher and elsewhere on other platforms.

Recorded on December 22, this one is slightly different from the rest:

Rather than focus on his early life as depicted in the memoir, or on the current international and domestic challenges and controversies that face him as he returns to office, this interview focuses on the process of political decision-making and how Netanyahu sees it. The discussion zeroes in on three consequential choices Netanyahu made during his career: his decision to liberalize the Israeli economy as finance minister in the early 2000s; his decision to speak in front of the U.S. Congress in opposition to the Iran deal in 2015; and his decision to undertake, and then to publicize, a massive 2018 Mossad operation that resulted in the seizure of a half-ton of records, notes, and plans documenting Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

This one, I hope it is not too pretentious to say, focuses on Netanyahu’s statesmanship. I thought some readers might find it of interest. The podcast is relatively short and the time seems to fly.

Podcast: Sci-Fi-Palooza—Star Trek vs. “Woke Trek”

(Steven Hayward)

Who knew that John Yoo is a total science fiction geek?! I’m going to have to go back and scour his law review article footnotes to see if I can detect esoteric references to Sci-Fi classics, with which, it turns out, he has thoroughly familiarity.

Ken Green channeling Jayne Cobb.

Some time last year I did a podcast on science fiction with my old AEI writing partner Ken Green (who turned up for this episode with his Jayne Cobb cap!), and John Yoo immediately filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of Podcast Appeals. Today we performed the remedy: a podcast in which we kicked around most of the fundamental SciFi geek questions: Star Trek versus Star Wars (we were unanimous on this verdict); Star Trek: The Original Series versus all of the sequels that Ken lumps under the heading, “Woke Trek.” But wait a minute! The original series had a latent wokeness to it, though it was more sophisticated than what has come since. How to tell the difference? I argue that Captain Kirk was a true statesman, while Piccard was a UN bureaucrat.

From there we offer observations on good science fiction, though with an interesting spectrum of opinion about Firefly, the Alien franchise, Dr. Who, The Expanse, and other science fiction of note from recent decades, including some truly obscure programming, such as Blake’s 7.

So break out some of your best Romulan ale, and send along suggestions for how we can follow up on our proposal to do MST3K-style sequels in which we beat down on truly fictional science films like Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” I am reserving the Tom Servo slot!

So listen here, or have Scotty beam you over to our hosts at Ricochet.

The 15-Minute City

(John Hinderaker)

I spent a little time in Oxford during my recent vacation, and a day or two later Mark Steyn told me that the City of Oxford had adopted an ordinance that penalizes driving more than 15 minutes from your home. This seemed hard to believe, but in fact, it is true.

First of all, the “15-Minute City” is a movement of sorts, promoted by the usual suspects, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum. This cheery little diagram was produced by the WEF. Next time they have a Davos conclave, they should ban anyone from attending who lives more than 15 miles away:

The idea is to make you drive less. For the climate, of course.

Oxford has indeed adopted an ordinance that tries to force residents into 15-minute enclaves. Climate Depot has the story:

Vision News, November 30th

Oxfordshire County Council yesterday approved plans to lock residents into one of six zones to ‘save the planet’ from global warming. The latest stage in the ’15 minute city’ agenda is to place electronic gates on key roads in and out of the city, confining residents to their own neighbourhoods.

Under the new scheme if residents want to leave their zone they will need permission from the Council who gets to decide who is worthy of freedom and who isn’t. Under the new scheme residents will be allowed to leave their zone a maximum of 100 days per year, but in order to even gain this every resident will have to register their car details with the council who will then track their movements via smart cameras round the city.

Every resident will be required to register their car with the County Council who will then monitor how many times they leave their district via number plate recognition cameras.

If an Oxford resident drives out of his neighborhood more than 100 times per year, he will be fined 70 pounds.

There is much more at the Climate Depot link. You might expect that Oxford, as a university town, would be low-IQ. But the disease is spreading:

[T]he 15 minute city is not just Oxford, but turning up in Brisbane, Melbourne, Barcelona, Paris, Portland and Buenos Aires. It’s everywhere.

With links to all of the above cities. The Left has unleashed war on our freedoms across a broad front. But for some reason, most people haven’t yet figured this out.

The Enemy Within

(John Hinderaker)

Who is America’s biggest enemy? It is a sign of our current polarization that many think our greatest enemy is not Russia or China, but our fellow Americans. Rasmussen asked the question, with six multiple choice answers:

Asked to identify America’s greatest enemy, nearly 40% of voters don’t choose a foreign power, but instead name domestic political parties

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 25% of Likely U.S. voters believe that China is America’s biggest enemy as 2022 draws to a close, while 20% think Russia is the biggest enemy. However, 22% say Democrats are the nation’s biggest enemy and 17% name Republicans – dwarfing such hostile powers as North Korea (5%) and Iran (2%).

This isn’t entirely new; in fact, in 2020 it was worse:

Two years ago, 24% thought Biden voters were America’s biggest enemy, while 22% regarded Trump voters as the biggest enemy.

This is a sad situation, but I can understand it. In my opinion, the greatest threat to my children’s future is not Russia, China, Iran or North Korea, but the Democratic Party. Currently, Russia is trying to starve Ukraine of fossil fuels and destroy its agriculture. That is also what the Democrats are trying to do to the United States. So I get it. Just don’t ask me to explain why 17 percent say Republicans are the biggest threat.

Uncancelled history: George Washington

(Scott Johnson)

In the new (sixth) episode of Uncancelled History with Douglas Murray, Allen Guelzo joins Douglas Murray to discuss George Washington. If Washington is canceled (in the American spelling), should Washington, D.C. be canceled? Okay, maybe that’s not a persuasive consideration, but should the first president be canceled? This slightly more than hour long conversation seems to me to wind its way toward a compelling conclusion: “Subtract Washington from the equation and you do not have this thing we call the United States of America. You just don’t.” Surely that’s what it’s all about.

Thought for the Day: John Jay on Opportunism and War

(Steven Hayward)

John Jay, Federalist #4:

It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.

Just a hunch, but I doubt Putin has ever read The Federalist.

The Daily Chart: Climate Indoctrination

(Steven Hayward)

It is surely the case that our kids are being taught climaggedon relentlessly in school, but it appears that the indoctrination may be much worse overseas, if such is possible.

Announcement: Power Line University Webinar Tomorrow

(Steven Hayward)

Following up on our dry run at Power Line University last week (not too late to go back and take it in if you missed it), tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4 pm Pacific/7 pm Eastern, we’ll be doing our first class session on The Federalist in webinar format, which means you’ll be able to watch live and send in questions and comments. We’ll be covering Federalist numbers 1 – 10, with heaviest emphasis on Number 10 naturally. We’ll aim for just one hour, but you never know. . .

Not to worry if you can’t make it; we’ll post the episode as a podcast at some point a few days later (we have a very crowded podcast lineup this week).

If you are able to join us, use this Zoom link.

You can look up The Federalist online here if you want to follow along with the text, though we’ll show some excerpts on the screen.

A Twitter Files footnote

(Scott Johnson)

I think the ongoing story of the Twitter Files reported by Matt Taibbi et al. as a result of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is the most important story out there. The dissolution of our southern border by the Biden administration ranks up there with it. The stories share something in common. Both have received similar treatment by the mainstream media. That would be the silent treatment.

Take the Star Tribune — please. Or take it as an example. The Star Tribune faithfully reflects the priorities of the mainstream media. Star Tribune editors don’t want to be thought eccentric. They are mostly happy to stick with the dogfood served up for the dogs by the syndicated news services, although have also added a few moronic contributions of their own.

Running a search on “Twitter” (keyed for Relevance) by means of the Star Tribune engine brings up the following stories at the top. The stories beneath these continue in this vein. Down at the bottom of the first search page you will find the November 22 Star Tribune editorial “Musk should learn: Twitter’s not a game.” The Star Tribune should learn: The news is not propaganda.

Scrolling through the stories on the second search page turns up a few local contributions, such as Burl Gilyard’s “General Mills pauses its advertising on Twitter.” The hunt for bad angles on New Twitter continues, as in the November 19 editorial cartoon below. I think this falls under the category of wishful thinking, although Musk’s media enemies are doing everything in their power to make it happen.

Running a search on “Twitter” (keyed alternatively for Newest) turns up an array of random stories having nothing to do with Twitter. So far as I can tell, the Star Tribune has not covered the Twitter Files story.

Musk himself extracts the apt Twitter Files headline news in the concise comment captured in the video below.

Elon Musk: “To be totally frank, almost every conspiracy theory that people had about Twitter turned out to be true.”

— Michael P Senger (@MichaelPSenger) December 26, 2022

Notes on the Twitter Files (10)

(Scott Johnson)

David Zweig posted a tenth set of Twitter Files in a 41-part thread yesterday. This set is addressed to Twitter’s moderation of Covid issues. Zweig summarized his findings in the first of his 41 tweets.



– By censoring info that was true but inconvenient to U.S. govt. policy
– By discrediting doctors and other experts who disagreed
– By suppressing ordinary users, including some sharing the CDC’s *own data*

— David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022

In his concluding Tweet Zweig announced that he has posted an expanded version of the thread at The Free Press, Bari Weiss’s new site. Zweig’s expanded column version of the thread is published as “How Twitter rigged the the Covid debate.” Weiss introduced the column with this comment:

David has spent three years reporting on Covid—specifically the underlying science, or lack thereof, behind many of our nation’s policies. For years he had noticed and criticized a bias not only in the mainstream media’s coverage of the pandemic, but also in the way it was presented on platforms like Twitter. We couldn’t think of anyone better to tackle this story.

In this case the Twitter thread is relatively short, easily accessible, and accompanied by a column in conventional form illustrated with key tweets. Once again, I urge interested readers to take the material in with your own eyes.

None of Zweig’s revelations comes as a surprise. The work flies under the banner of misinformation/disinformation. Going back to the annus horribilis of 2020, Twitter acted as an arm of American political and public health authorities. Dr. Fauci, he was the science, so to speak. Jumping ahead to the Biden era, Zweig’s column strikes a familiar note:

When the Biden administration took over, its agenda for the American people can be summed up as: Be very afraid of Covid and do exactly what we say to stay safe.

In July 2021, then-U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a 22-page advisory concerning what the World Health Organization referred to as an “infodemic,” and called on social media platforms to do more to shut down “misformation.”

“We are asking them to step up,” Murthy said. “We can’t wait longer for them to take aggressive action.”

That’s the message the White House had already taken directly to Twitter executives in private channels. One of the Biden administration’s first meeting requests was about Covid, with a focus on “anti-vaxxer accounts,” according to a meeting summary by Lauren Culbertson, Twitter’s Head of U.S. Public Policy.

Alex Berenson had to go:

By the summer of 2021, the day after Murthy’s memo, Biden announced publicly that social media companies were “killing people” by allowing misinformation about vaccines. Just hours later, Twitter locked Berenson out of his account, and then permanently suspended him the next month. Berenson sued Twitter. He ultimately settled with the company, and is now back on the platform. As part of the lawsuit, Twitter was compelled to provide certain internal communications. They revealed that the White House had directly met with Twitter employees and pressured them to take action on Berenson.

The summary of meetings by Culbertson, emailed to colleagues in December 2022, adds new evidence of the White House’s pressure campaign, and illustrates how it tried to directly influence what content was allowed on Twitter.

It wasn’t just Berenson. Harvard epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff had to be suppressed. Dr. Andrew Bostrom had to be suppressed. Opinions out of line with the political and public health authorities had to be suppressed.

The work of suppression was conducted by crude bots, Twitter staff, and a Philippine customer service desk (my description, not Zweig’s). Here we have a moment of laughter is the best medicine — better than the medicine delivered by the authorities, anyway. Referring to the Philippine contractors, Zweig writes:

They were given decision trees to aid in their process, but tasking non-experts to adjudicate tweets on complex topics like myocarditis and mask efficacy data was destined for a significant error rate. The notion that remote workers, sitting in distant cube farms, were going to police medical information to this granular degree is absurd on its face.

We can identify. Hey, we’ve all been there.

Let us pause here for a good example.

25. A tweet by @KelleyKga, a self-proclaimed public health fact checker, with 18K followers, was flagged as “Misleading,” and replies and likes disabled, even though it displayed the CDC’s *own data.*

— David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022

27. Tellingly, the tweet by @KelleyKga that was labeled “Misleading” was a reply to a tweet that contained actual misinformation.

Covid has never been the leading cause of death from disease in children. Yet that tweet remains on the platform, and without a “misleading” label.

— David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022

Here we have a cameo by former FBI general counsel/Twitter deputy general counsel Jim Baker, responding to President Trump’s tweet counseling against fear of Covid.

35. Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of Trust & Safety, had to explain that optimism wasn’t misinformation.

— David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022

Toward the end of his thread Zweig poses the critical question.

39. What might this pandemic and its aftermath have looked like if there had been a more open debate on Twitter and other social media platforms—not to mention the mainstream press—about the origins of Covid, about lockdowns, about the true risks of Covid in kids, and much more?

— David Zweig (@davidzweig) December 26, 2022

Zweig concludes his column with these thoughts:

Throughout the pandemic, Twitter repeatedly propped up the official government line that prioritizing mitigation over other concerns was the best approach to the pandemic. Information that challenged that view—for example, that pointed out the low risk children faced from the virus, or that raised questions about vaccine safety or effectiveness—was subject to moderation and suppression.

This isn’t simply the story of the power of Big Tech or of the legacy press to shape our debate—though it is most certainly that.

In the end it is equally the story of children across the country who were prevented from attending school, especially kids from underprivileged backgrounds who are now miles behind their more well-off peers in math and English. It’s the story of the people who died alone. It’s the story of the small businesses that shuttered. It’s even the story of the perpetually-masked 20-year-olds in the heart of San Francisco for whom there has never been a return to normal.

If Twitter had allowed the kind of open forum for debate that it claimed to believe in, could any of this have turned out differently?

As we figured out long ago, it’s not about science. It’s not about public health. It’s all about control.

Thought for the Day: It’s Later Than You Think

(Steven Hayward)

There is a lot of pessimism about the status and future of “Our DemocracyTM,” especially from liberals but also from some conservatives. Consider this representative sample:

The blame for our failure and disillusionment must fall on our idiot institutions. People seem somehow, in relation to the future, to be divided into two categories—the “optimists” and the “pessimists.” The pessimists think that civilization is going to the dogs. The optimists say that, whether it is or not, we must keep up hope, and that “life somehow goes on.” “Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?” someone asks, as though he were asking: “Are you bullish or bearish about the market?” The only answer can be that, if we have as little control over our institutions as an outsider has over the fluctuations of the market, then we are all lost. We mold our institutions and are molded by them. We are the hammer and anvil. Civilization today is a death dance because of the accumulated weight of idiot institutions. Our task is the heroic one of changing and directing those institutions so that their weight will support us, instead of crushing us.

Actually this quotation is from liberal commentator Max Lerner’s 1939 book It’s Later Than You Think: The Need for a Militant Democracy. The title and mood sound just like what you hear today from the leftist bedwetters in full cry about the “threat to democracy” from Trump, populism, nationalism. etc.

Some things never change. It’s always “later than you think” for a certain cast of mind.

Two observations: Our institutions are more robust than the reformers think.

Second: why should we expect better outcomes from institutions “reformed” along leftist lines? The very question answers itself.

Never Apologize?

(John Hinderaker)

In general, political apologies are worse than useless. The Left can never be appeased, and an apology just leads to more demands, often of a financial nature. But the case of Belgium tests that principle: Why Belgium Won’t Apologize For Its Savagery In Congo:

Belgium’s king has vetoed an apology for his country’s savage colonial past in central Africa, raising the ghost of his ancestor Leopold II whose reign of terror in the Belgian Congo claimed millions of lives.

Leopold, the great, great-uncle of the present king, Philippe, ran the “Congo Free State” as his personal fiefdom between 1885 and 1908, during which at least ten million Congolese people, more than half the population, either died or were killed.

In my opinion, European colonialism was, on balance, a good thing for humanity. It advanced the cause of civilization around the globe. British colonialism, while imperfect, represented the best of the phenomenon. Belgian colonialism, on the other hand, was the worst. Nevertheless, an apology is not in the offing:

After two years of national soul-searching and a special parliamentary committee set up to examine how the country can find reconciliation with former colonies in the territories of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda Belgium has hit an impasse.

Talks broke down this week after Wouter De Vriendt, the chairman of the committee, broke his silence to complain that an apology was a “red line” for the country’s monarchy, which still plays a significant constitutional role.

Why not apologize? One might think that there is much for which Belgium should be sorry, even though Congolese self-rule has arguably proved to be no better, or worse. The answer is simple: an apology, of no value in itself, is demanded as a step toward inevitable reparations:

De Standaard newspaper reported that the king had “discreetly” told Alexander De Croo, the prime minister, last month that apologies and, above all, reparations, were out of the question.

The king’s concern is not misplaced:

On the other side of the argument, Socialist and Green French-speaking parties, the Walloons, demanded a full apology and the payment of reparations to compensate Congo, Burundi and Rwanda.
On the other side of the family, Princess Marie-Esméralda, the king’s half-aunt, supports an apology and argues “our final task will be to talk about reparations”.

Neither the Belgian government nor its royal family has been shy about expressing regret for the excesses of Belgian colonialism under King Leopold:

King Philippe used his first visit to Congo in June to offer his “profoundest regrets” for the brutality of colonial rule but carefully held back from expressing formal apology in a country where anger remains over atrocities that began with his ancestor Leopold.

He expressed “my deepest regret for those wounds of the past” and acknowledged “unjustifiable” actions and “wrongdoing and humiliation” but refused to go further.

After pressure from the palace, liberal and conservative MPs would not go beyond his expression of “deepest regret”, citing fears of legal consequences and the need to “keep the door closed” to reparations.

So in the end, as so often in human affairs, the issue is mostly about money. For what it is worth, I see no reason for Belgium to write checks to the rulers of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. Those countries face enormous problems, none of which are the fault of Belgium. The idea that cash payments to their governments would make those countries better places is fanciful. So, while Belgian colonialism perhaps represents the acid test, the principle that one should never apologize to leftists remains a sound one.

Blackouts Today, Blackouts Tomorrow, Blackouts Forever!

(John Hinderaker)

The Tennessee Valley Authority was one of the success stories of the New Deal, or at least, so it was long believed. But that was when they could keep the lights on. Now, Tennessee is experiencing rolling blackouts. Clay Travis is appropriately appalled, as Tennessee–one of our better-run states, in general–slips toward third-world status:

Nashville’s mayor is asking the @titans to postpone kickoff to conserve energy. What kind of banana land republic has our national energy policy become that this could ever be possible.

— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 24, 2022

Via InstaPundit.

It isn’t just Tennessee. Bill Glahn reports:

Many residents of the eastern United States received an unwelcome Christmas gift this year: rolling blackouts during cold weather.

I received this email on Christmas Eve from Appalachian Power Company, which serves about one million customers in western Virginia, West Virginia, and eastern Tennessee.

The email references PJM, the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland power grid, which actually serves a swatch of America stretching from northern Illinois to eastern North Carolina.

Customers in the region appear to have dodged rolling blackouts, but customers further south were not so lucky. Around 550,000 customers were subject to blackouts in North Carolina on Christmas Eve, although that figure had dropped to around 2,000 on Christmas Day. From a local news report:

The company said the rolling blackouts were “temporary outages that were taken to protect Duke Energy customers from more extended outages during extreme temps across much of the eastern U.S.”

But, many customers were upset when outages lasted for hours.

Nor is that all: the Midwestern and Mid-Southern states served by the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO) are at serious risk of blackouts over the coming winter:

Grid monitors warn that the electricity system that serves Minnesota and 14 other states, the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), is at a high risk of blackouts, and this threat will get worse over the next five years because coal, nuclear, and natural gas generation exit the system faster than replacement resources are connecting.

Why, after many decades of grid stability and reliable energy, are we suddenly talking about blackouts? The answer is obvious. Across America, reliable coal and nuclear power plants are being retired, and supposedly replaced by “green” wind and solar energy. This is frankly absurd, because an intermittent energy source that works less than half the time (wind) or rarely (solar) can’t possibly replace reliable, 24/7 electricity, no matter how many billions we spend.

Kevin Roche makes the point with MISO data from a recent week. Kevin’s focus is Minnesota, where the data would look even worse. But this is for all of MISO, including the southern states:

A few takeaways:

* Solar power is utterly and completely worthless.

* Wind turbines can indeed produce electricity. The problem is you never know when. Also, they generally produce the least electricity when we need it the most, like at night and when it is cold out. The problem can’t be overcome no matter how many billions we spend on wind turbines, because if the wind isn’t blowing, it isn’t blowing.

* Despite all of the hoopla about “green” energy, the reality is that coal and natural gas–fossil fuels–keep our lights on and heat our homes. And nuclear can do so as well, if we start building plants instead of shutting them down. The rest is BS.

There is no doubt about the fact that conservatives are winning–have already won–the energy argument. The question is how many lives will be lost, how badly we will all be inconvenienced, and how many trillions of dollars will be wasted, before voters finally rise up and demand a reliable, first-world energy system like the one their parents enjoyed.

Loose Ends (199)

(Steven Hayward)

• Always hard to keep up with the shifting standards of the left. To wit:

The left: Churchill is a racist, imperialist, colonialist warmonger who must be cancelled!

Also the left (last week): Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the Churchill of our time, who must be celebrated!

I’m confused.

What’s going on with the electricity grid? I don’t mean all the “green energy” nonsense that is slowly crippling the grid; rather, there seems to be relative silence about what appears to be potentially a growing campaign of sabotage of the grid.

Back in 2013 a sniper attack (reportedly with a 50-cal gun) took out a major substation south of San Jose, raising alarms that it might have been some kind of “dry run” for terrorism. Some authorities downplayed the attack. “The F.B.I. at this time does not believe it is related to terrorism, based on the initial assessment of the investigation,” Peter Lee, an agency spokesman in San Francisco, told the New York Times. Other officials were less reassuring: “Jon B. Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time of the San Jose attack, said Wednesday in an interview, ‘I believe this was, in essence, terrorism,’ adding that the attack was carried out by “a group of individuals who were intent upon disrupting parts of the grid.”

Well, it has happened again, this time up in the Seattle-Tacoma area:

Attacks on three electrical substations affect thousands – investigation underway

Three power substations in East Pierce County operated by Tacoma Public Utilities and Puget Sound Energy were attacked and vandalized early Sunday, resulting in power outages affecting thousands of customers. The affected area was centered in Graham.

The attacks were preceded by a warning from federal law enforcement citing a possible threat to the local electrical grid, according to a statement from TPU. The utility did not describe the specific nature of the attack, apart from saying it occurred early Sunday morning. According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s office, unknown individuals broke into the two substations and vandalized equipment.

All three incidents were described as burglaries. . .

Burglaries? Ohhh—kay. But ZeroHedge reports:

In the first eight months of the year, there were 106 attacks on the electrical grid, the highest number ever recorded in a single year.

This starts to sound like possible eco-terrorism. After all, throwing paint at artworks in museums, and gluing yourself to the wall, doesn’t stop greenhouse gas emissions. Blowing of the electricity grid just might.

So are doctors going to start prescribing books? Will the pharmaceutical industry figure out a pill we can take?

People who read live longer than those who don’t, Yale researchers say

Bookworms rejoice! A new study in the journal Social Science and Medicine just discovered that people who read books live longer than people who don’t.

Researchers at Yale University asked 3,635 participants over 50 years-old about their reading habits. . .  Over the course of the study, the researchers consistently found that both groups of readers lived longer than the non-readers.

I’m going to live forever. Refresher:

The Daily Chart: Masks Forever?

(Steven Hayward)

Various “public health” authorities are openly jonesing for re-instituting a mask mandate, and the CDC continues to insist that masks are an essential protection against COVID, and probably voting Republican or owning a gun, too. One of the CDC’s key pieces of evidence was its own study of over 500 counties where the school districts observed the mask mandates and had lower rates of COVID infections. Here’s the chart the CDC produced:

Well guess what? A closer look controverts this finding. In a peer-reviewed study published recently in the Journal of Infection, two researchers replicated the CDC findings, but then reviewed a wider data set of more than 1,800 counties, over a longer time horizon, and found a lower rate of COVID infections than the masked-up counties. Here’s the revised chart:

Read the whole thing (the full article is not paywalled, is short, and relatively readable), but here’s the key part if you’re short of time:

The association between school mask mandates and cases did not persist in the extended sample. . . By the end of the ninth week after reopening average daily pediatric case rates in counties without mask mandates were 15.8 per 100,000 while counties with mandates averaged 18.3 per 100,000; the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.12).

The admission that there is a low statistical difference between the two methodologies at the very least means the effectiveness of masks has been hugely overstated. This study is unlikely to slow up the masks-uber-alles mentality of “public health” officials who in most cases are not doctors, but instead have advanced degrees in “health care administration.”

Hat tip: Justin Hart.

VDH: On the FBI’s drivel

(Scott Johnson)

Victor Davis Hanson comments on the FBI statement responding to the Twitter Files last week:

The FBI on Wednesday finally broke its silence and responded to the revelations on Twitter of close ties between the bureau and the social media giant—ties that included efforts to suppress information and censor political speech.

“The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries,” the bureau said in a statement. “As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers. The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”

Almost all of the FBI communique is untrue, except the phrase about the bureau’s “engagements which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries.”

Whole thing here.

I have not been able to find the FBI statement on its own site. I have found it only as quoted by news organizations such as in the linked New York Post story above and the FOX News video clip below.

🚨BREAKING: The FBI responds to @elonmusk releasing the Twitter files:

"It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency."

— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 21, 2022

JOHN adds: I wrote about the FBI’s statement here.

Jack Clifford: Lake v. Hobbs, the ruling

(Scott Johnson)

I invited Arizona attorney Jack Clifford to finish up his reporting for us on Kari Lake’s election trial with a comment on the judge’s Christmas Eve decision dismissing Lake’s lawsuit. The AP story on it is here. Jack writes:

I write to share my final thoughts on the Lake v. Hobbs litigation. As always, these thoughts are my own and are not written on behalf of any client or my firm.

At this point, everyone interested in the story has heard that Judge Peter A. Thompson ruled in favor of the defendants on all counts on December 24 2022. A copy of the opinion is here 4531 (

The court permitted two counts from the original ten in the Complaint to proceed to Trial: 1) the claim that ballot-on-demand (“BOD”) printer malfunctions experienced on Election Day were caused intentionally and that these malfunctions resulted in a changed outcome (Complaint Count II); and 2) the claim that Maricopa County violated its own election procedures manual (“EPM”) as to chain of custody procedures in such a way as to result in a changed election outcome (Complaint Count IV).

After laying out the “clear and convincing” burden of proof Lake needed to carry, the court summarized and evaluated the witnesses and evidence Lake presented. The court looked to Arizona case law going back to 1898, before we became a state in 1912, for the proposition “it is . . . unwise to lay down any rule by which the certainty and accuracy of an election may be jeopardized by the reliance upon any proof affecting such results that is not of the most clear and conclusive character.” (See opinion for the citations.)

The “clear and convincing” burden of proof is a much higher burden of proof than the “preponderance of the evidence” used in most civil cases, but much lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard normally applied in criminal cases. Most folks consider the preponderance of evidence standard to be 51 percent likely, or simply “more likely than not.” The “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard is closer to 98% or 99% likely, or just plain way, way more likely than not likely. The “clear and convincing” standard is in between. I do not know that saying you must prove something to be 75 percent more likely than not is correct in order to meet that burden, but you get the idea.

What difference does it make? Lots of difference. Here’s how. Much of Lake’s case was hearsay. Ms. Honey relied on what another person said in an affidavit about ballots being added to the stream of ballots by Runbeck employees without a chain of custody for them and in violation of law. She did not see this happen with her own eyes. Defense counsel was unable to cross examine the person who allegedly saw the deed take place.

Freshman law students will tell you those statements were not made in person inside the courtroom, were not subject to cross examination at trial, and are hearsay on their face. In general, hearsay statements are not admissible in a trial. The law of evidence favors testimony limited to what witnesses saw or experienced themselves and not what somebody else told them.

Hearsay can be admitted as evidence at trial if an exception to the hearsay rule of exclusion applies. In a case tried to a judge, the judge can admit such statements but should give those statements only the weight the judge feels they deserve. In a trial where the plaintiff must meet or exceed the “clear and convincing” standard of proof, hearsay statements, no matter how sexy or juicy, may not get the job done.

Ms. Honey also relied on a voicemail by someone named Betty or Betsy (I am not sure which) to the effect that chain of custody documents for the not quite 300,000 early ballots placed in drop boxes on election day could not be located and produced before the trial. A stronger case might have been made if Betty came to court to speak in person. That did not happen.

Ms. Honey seemed to concede such “election day drop off” chain of custody documents may exist, but she had not seen them yet. In a civil case that goes to trial a year or more after it is filed, a party who is unable to find and produce relevant documents before trial may suffer an inference that no such documents actually exist. In this case, tried just six weeks after the election, no such inference was made.

A similar analysis may be applied to the testimony of Robert Baris. He took a survey he deemed an exit poll. He also repeated what voters told him directly. Surveys or polls compile what others say and offer an analysis of the total results. None of the voters who responded to Baris’s poll were in the courtroom or were subject to cross examination.

These days, surveys are often admitted into evidence in civil cases based on an exception to the hearsay rule, but the weight given them is almost always an issue. The trier of fact (the judge or jury) can usually ignore the results if he or they want to. They can give the survey great and persuasive weight, little weight, or none at all.

If they think the survey was seriously flawed, or the survey taker exhibited prejudice or bias, or was not sufficiently skilled in his craft, or the like, such polling evidence likely will not carry the day, even in a civil case. That is why the Defense was so energetic in attacking Baris with the rating given him by FiveThirtyEight and having Dr. Mayer besmirch Baris’s reputation.

In the end, the court in was unwilling to substitute Baris’s opinion for the voters’ take on the issue. The court said:

But election contests are decided by votes, not by polling responses, and the Court has found no authority suggesting that exit polling ought to be used in this manner. Given that exit polling is done after a vote has been cast – the weight of authority seems to be contrary to this proposition.

If Lake’s burden was merely a preponderance of the evidence, Baris’s testimony might have carried the day. But that is not this case.

The court said this: “Indeed, to the extent that a range of outcomes was suggested by Mr. Baris, he suggested that – with his expected turnout increase on Election Day of 25,000-40,000 votes the [final] outcome could be between a 2,000-vote margin for Hobbs to a 4,000-vote margin for Plaintiff [Lake].” If Baris’s work did not show clearly and convincingly that Lake would have won in every possible way you looked at it, it likely did not get over the high bar set by Arizona law.

Maybe this example illustrates the point. Not long before I started my legal career just over 40 years ago, surveys similar to exit polls were regularly excluded from evidence in trademark cases because courts thought they were rank hearsay. Gradually, courts began to admit them in the 1970’s and 1980’s when the “give survey evidence only the weight it deserves” approach began to take hold. The fact that Baris testified that his approach included a “range” of outcomes and his work saw a scenario where Hobbs won anyway was important. At least that is my take on the question.

Kari Lake has promised to appeal.

Merry Christmas!

(John Hinderaker)

Merry Christmas to all of our Christian readers and friends. We hope you are enjoying the holiday. Ours is highlighted by the presence of grandchildren, who motivated us to get our tree decorated:

This Nativity scene has been put up every year since 1954 or 1955. Someday I suppose I will pass it on to one of our kids. When we were young, my older brother and I used to inundate the scene with needles from our tree, thinking that made it more realistic:

Enjoy the holiday!

Guess What: Electricity Isn’t Free

(Steven Hayward)

One of my favorite indicators of ignorance are the people who buy personalized license plates, or affix stickers, for their electric cars that say “Emission Free.” Even if you ignore the enormous environmental impacts associated with manufacturing an electric car (which are significantly higher than a gasoline-powered car), if you live in a state that generates a lot of its electricity from coal, you are essentially driving a coal-powered car.

The next most ignorant view is that at least you don’t have to buy expensive gasoline! People seem to forget that electricity isn’t free, from whatever source. It seems Europe is waking up to this:

BERLIN—Rocketing electricity prices are increasing the cost of driving electric vehicles in Europe, in some cases making them more expensive to run than gas-powered models—a change that could threaten the continent’s electric transition. . .

Coming just as some governments are removing subsidies for EV buyers, this change could slow down EV sales, threaten the region’s greenhouse-gas emission targets, and make it hard for European car makers to recoup the high costs of their electric transition. . .

At the pricing peak, drivers of Tesla’s Model 3, the most efficient all-electric vehicle in the Environment Protection Agency’s fuel guide in the midsize-vehicle category, would pay €18.46 at a Tesla supercharger station in Europe for a charge sufficient to drive 100 miles.

By comparison, drivers in Germany would pay €18.31 for gasoline to drive the same distance in a Honda Civic 4-door, the equivalent combustion-engine model in the EPA’s ranking.


There is no relief in sight for EV users. In Germany, power prices have risen by a third from €0.33 per kWh in the first half of this year, according to Germany’s federal statistics office, and some power companies have announced prices will increase to more than €0.50 per kWh in January.

That price range is three- to -four-times higher than the average cost of electricity in the U.S. Still want to copy Germany’s energy policy?

Notes on the Twitter Files (9)

(Scott Johnson)

Matt Taibbi delivered part 9 of the Twitter Files as a Christmas Eve special last night. Part 9 is an important contribution to the series. I think readers can access the thread beginning with the tweet below, although I can only pull up the first 30 tweets at this point.

1.THREAD: The Twitter Files

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

When I read the thread last night, it was rendered in reverse, running from numbers 51 (at the top) through 2 (at the bottom). I can’t say I understand how it works or what is going on. I can’t even be sure it has 51 parts (as I found the thread last night and as I see it given on Taibbi’s Substack site, linked below). I find them running through number 56 this morning. I can only say I’m doing the best I can and urge you to review it with your own eyes. It is worth your time.

I found the Twitter format a particularly difficult way to go on this thread. Take it in here via the Thread Reader App, or here as posted by Taibbi at his TK News site on Substack.

At his Substack site Taibbi calls his post of the part 9 thread “The spies who loved Twitter.” He sums it up in the subhead of his post “What we’ve learned so far.” The subhead obviates the need for my usual notes: “The bottom line? Federal law enforcement asserted primacy over all media distribution, a situation normally only found in tinpot regimes.”

The CIA is identified as the “OGA” (Other Government Organization or Other Government Agency) that is involved with “helping” Twitter moderate its platform. The CIA emerges as a prominent player in this respect. Still, it wasn’t the only one. It was only one of the many agencies from the government to “help” Twitter.

Here are a few tweets that caught my attention in the 56-part thread — beginning with Taibbi’s response to the drivel issued by the FBI last week.

3.They must think us unambitious, if our “sole aim” is to discredit the FBI. After all, a whole range of government agencies discredit themselves in the #TwitterFiles. Why stop with one?

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

5.The operation is far bigger than the reported 80 members of the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), which also facilitates requests from a wide array of smaller actors – from local cops to media to state governments.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

6.Twitter had so much contact with so many agencies that executives lost track. Is today the DOD, and tomorrow the FBI? Is it the weekly call, or the monthly meeting? It was dizzying.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

17. These included Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, even Pinterest, and many others. Industry players also held regular meetings without government.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

27.“They have some folks in the Baltimore field office and at HQ that are just doing keyword searches for violations. This is probably the 10th request I have dealt with in the last 5 days,” remarked Cardille.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

The conclusion of Taibbi’s thread (the conclusion, I think) is particularly important.

56.The CIA has yet to comment on the nature of its relationship to tech companies like Twitter. Twitter had no input into anything I did or wrote. The searches were carried out by third parties, so what I saw could be limited.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

Just to make it a little more complicated, Taibbi’s Twitter account includes additional notes and comments on his numbered thread.

It was so obvious the FBI was assigning personnel specifically to look for Twitter term-of-service violations — an effort funded by taxes, instead of fighting crime — that two of the company’s top lawyers wondered what the hell was going on:

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 25, 2022

Here is one more.

Here a top Twitter staffer admitted the government’s “aggressive” demands for validation of foreign influence theories could no longer be resisted: “Our window” on independence is closing, he said.

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 24, 2022

Sunday morning coming down

(Scott Johnson)

This is my slightly revised and expanded edition of secular pop songs that seize on Christmas in one way or another for their own artistic purposes. Here they are in chronological order of release along with notes that might help place them.

Noel Paul Stookey (Paul of Peter, Paul & Mary) adapted and arranged “A’Soalin” with Elena Mezzetti and Tracy Batteast including Christmas references – using “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” as a counter-melody and lyric. See notes on the song here. This is from the 1963 Peter, Paul and Mary album Moving.

In the video below Johnny and Edgar Winter perform the Charles Brown number “Please Come Home For Christmas” (1966). It was originally issued as a single b/w “Santa Don’t Pass Me By” by Jimmy Donley on the Meaux Sound Memories label (the Donley recording is also accessible on YouTube, but pass it by). The Winter brothers’ recording is included on Johnny’s album Livin’ In the Blues, a compilation that must predate the fame he achieved with his first work on Columbia in 1969. The Winters brothers’ version of “Please Come Home For Christmas” portends a deeply soulful celebration of the holiday.

Elvis brought his love of the blues to his performance of Charles Brown’s “Merry Christmas Baby.” Brown had worked up the song as a member of Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers in 1947. Elvis’s version originally appeared in 1971 as a holiday single (edited down to 3:15) and in its full five-minute plus glory on Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas. I first heard it on the revelatory 1983 album Elvis Blue (on blue vinyl). It’s a slightly profane Christmas, but a wonderful world, indeed. Elvis’s shout out to “James” is to guitarist James Burton. The work of David Briggs on piano is also noteworthy. For more, see “Merry Christmas Baby” on Elvis Today.

Just to let you know where she’s going, Joni Mitchell opens “River” with “Jingle Bells” transposed to to a minor key. The song captures a feeling of desolation that belies the joy of the holiday in a way that many of us have felt around this time of the year. The song tacitly contrasts its own expression of sorrow with the seasonal “songs of joy and peace.” Originally appearing as track 8 on Joni’s aptly named album Blue (1971), the song has nevertheless become an improbable Christmas classic in its own right, with hundreds of covers.

Leon Russell recorded “Slipping Into Christmas” as a single b/w “Christmas in Chicago” (1972). It never made it to an album. I don’t know why. By my lights, this is a grabber.

The Everly Brothers broke up in July 1973, but not before recording The Stories We Could Tell (produced by Paul Rothchild). It is full of gems. Don Everly’s “I’m Tired of Singing My Songs In Las Vegas” even portends their split. Written by Dennis Linde, “Christmas Eve Can Kill You” was one of the stories they could tell.

We know now that Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne” (1980) was plucked from Fogelberg’s own life. Fogelberg’s old girlfriend waited until Fogelberg’s death to talk publicly about their chance reunion. The year was 1975. The scene was a convenience store in Peoria. The day was Christmas Eve. The snow was falling. Sam Anderson sings the song’s praises in this 2016 New York Times Magazine column. One more note: That’s the late Michael Brecker on the poignant sax solo at the end of the song.

Daryl Hall and John Oates released Home For Christmas in 2006. It’s full of good songs. Hall wrote the title track with Greg Biek and band member Tom “T-Bone” Wolk in the Bahamas. (Wolk died in 2010 at age 58.) The live version below includes guest star Shelby Lynne on a 2012 edition of Live From Daryl’s House. I think it fits right in here. By the way, Shelby Lynne is the sister of the equally talented Allison Moorer. Allison tells their (horrifying) family story in the 2019 memoir Blood and a related compact disc of the same title (reviewed here).

Mel Tormé and Bob Wells wrote “The Christmas Song” in 1945 on a sultry day in southern California. Wells had written the first verse. Tormé found it on the piano after he let himself in to Wells’s San Fernando Valley home for a songwriting session. When Wells turned up in tennis shorts and shirt (still looking hot, as Tormé tells it), Tormé asked him about “the little poem.” Wells told him, “It was so damn hot today, I thought I’d write something to cool myself off. All I could think of was Christmas and cold weather.” Forty-five minutes later they had produced the classic Christmas song. They promptly offered it to Nat “King” Cole; Cole fell in love with it on first listen. Because of his busy schedule, however, Cole didn’t get around to recording it until 1946.

That’s the story as we have all heard it. Telling this story in his memoir It Wasn’t All Velvet, however, Tormé adds “a humorous footnote.” Cole had recorded the last line of the bridge as “To see if reindeers really know how to fly.” After the first pressings of Cole’s recording had turned the song into a hit, Tormé and Wells pointed out Cole’s error to him: “Nat, a true gentleman and a dogged perfectionist, stewed over this mistake, and at the end of another recording session of his, with the same-size orchestra at hand, he rerecorded our song, properly singing ‘reindeer'” (in the version we all know).

Now that is an inspirational story in more ways than one, yet the song has become such a cliché that I wondered whether it might be possible to listen to it with pleasure again. I think the answer is yes, as Paul McCartney demonstrated with a little help from friends including John Pizzarelli. This recording derives from the 2012 various artists’ collection Holidays Rule.

“If We Make It Through December” initially appeared as the single pulled from Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present (1973) and then, a few months later, on Merle’s album of the same name. Combining desperation with guarded optimism, like so many of Merle’s songs, it too seems plucked from life: “Wanted Christmas to be right for daddy’s girls.” Suzy Bogguss included the song on her disc Lucky (2014), devoted entirely to songs by Haggard. I love Suzy’s version of the song on the disc and as performed live in the video below. Just in time for this year’s edition, Doug Jeffrey has a terrific tribute to Haggard in the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books.

Best wishes to all our readers celebrating today.

A Christmas Murder at the Mall

(John Hinderaker)

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Nordstrom store at the Mall of America, which is not far from where I live, to buy my wife a Christmas present. A few hours later, there was a murder in that store:

A shooting inside the Nordstrom department store at the Mall of America on Friday night left a 19-year-old man dead, according to Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges.

Hodges said during a late-night news conference that the shooting involved an altercation between two groups of young men…

Presumably the “groups of young men” were rival gangs.

…and that the individuals involved fled the scene immediately after the shooting, which occurred about 7:50 p.m. on the eve of Christmas weekend.

The chief finds the situation inexplicable:

“We had 16 officers working today in the mall. Sixteen cops,” Hodges said. “And they still decide to do this. I’m at a loss.”

I will hazard a wild guess: all of the youths who were involved in the gang altercation already have considerable experience with Minnesota’s criminal justice system, mostly as juveniles. They took away a lesson from those experiences: in Minnesota, crime is not punished severely, and often, as with the George Floyd riots, it seems to be condoned.

This particular crime will be punished, in part because of its commercial ramifications:

An innocent bystander’s coat sleeve was grazed by a stray bullet, but the person was uninjured, Hodges said.

It is one thing if gangbangers shoot one another–it has happened before at the Mall–but if they start hitting random shoppers, there will be serious consequences.

Yesterday’s shooting got some national attention, in part because some New York Giant football players, in town to play the Vikings, were at the Mall during the incident:

Giants radio play-by-play announcer Bob Papa and some Giants players escaped a Mall of America shooting on Friday night in Bloomington, Minn. No players were believed to be in the vicinity of the shooting.
A 19-year-old man was killed during the shooting, according to police, and the mall was locked down for more than an hour. The Giants are staying in a hotel adjacent to the massive mall complex.

When the incident occurred, Jerry Meade, the Giants’ vice president of security, and the team’s security group sent out an alert to let people know there was an incident in the mall and to stay in the hotel or shelter in place. For those already in the mall, they were asked to text Meade their location so those individuals could be found and retrieved by Giants security personnel, with assistance from the Bloomington Police Department, once it was safe to do so.

One of these days, New Yorkers will conclude that Minnesota is a dangerous place to visit.

Podcast: The 3WHH Celebrates Stanford’s Christmas List

(Steven Hayward)

As you may have heard, Stanford “University” embarrassed itself this week by issuing a list of 160 words or phrases that you shouldn’t use because they are not sufficiently “inclusive” or sensitive, including even “trigger warning,” because, Stanford helpfully explained, “The phrase can cause stress about what’s to follow. Additionally, one can never know what may or may not trigger a particular person.” And although “American” is among the terms Stanford disapproves (which prompted me to break precedent and quaff Maker’s Mark instead of Scotch whisky, because damnit), strangely the phrase “Merry Christmas” does not appear on the list of “Harmful Language.” Must be an oversight, or perhaps Stanford’s geniuses are among those ignoramuses who deny that Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

You could hardly ask for a more entertaining Christmas gift than Stanford’s list. We thought to make the list a drinking game for this episode, in which we take a shot every time each of us used one of the terms from the list, but we quickly realized that we’d all be passed out within five minutes.  Of the 160 terms or phrases on the Stanford list, your 3WHH bartenders managed to use 108, (several of them multiple times), which we expect will get us banned from campus henceforth.

This politically incorrect vocabulary came in handy for reviewing the insanity of the omnibus budget bill and Mitch McConnell’s role in its passage, and the release at last of the J-6 Committee report, which, at 800 pages, is going to require a lot of whisky and milk and cookies in the morn to get through.

Cheers, and merry Christmas. We’ll be back with one more episode before New Year’s next weekend, and we’ll aim to use the remaining 52 words from the Stanford list that we overlooked this week. To invoke John McClain, “Welcome to the party, pal!”

So check off the list of banned words here, or take the Nakatomi elevator up to the Ricochet lounge.


A Twitter Files preview

(Scott Johnson)

Explaining the disruption of his professional routine, Matt Taibbi explains: “The reason for all this of course is the Twitter Files story.” Responding to the FBI’s drivel, Taibbi adds this preview to what we have seen so far:

This last week saw the FBI describe Lee Fang, Michael Shellenberger and me as “conspiracy theorists” whose “sole aim” is to discredit the agency. That statement will look ironic soon, as we spent much of this week learning about other agencies and organizations that can now also be discredited thanks to these files. Selfishly I may release some of that information in the morning, to be done with it so I can be fully-present Dad on the actual holiday.

A group of us spent the last weeks reading thousands of documents. For me a lot of that time was spent learning how Twitter functioned, specifically its relationships with government. How weird is modern-day America? Not long ago, CIA veterans tell me, the information above the “tearline” of a U.S. government intelligence cable would include the station of origin and any other CIA offices copied on the report.

I spent much of today looking at exactly similar documents, seemingly written by the same people, except the “offices” copied at the top of their reports weren’t other agency stations, but Twitter’s Silicon Valley colleagues: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, even Wikipedia. It turns out these are the new principal intelligence outposts of the American empire. A subplot is these companies seem not to have had much choice in being made key parts of a global surveillance and information control apparatus, although evidence suggests their Quislingian executives were mostly all thrilled to be absorbed. Details on those “Other Government Agencies” soon, probably tomorrow.

At least we have something to look forward to.

Rescuing America’s heroes

(Scott Johnson)

We have posted three episodes of Douglas Murray’s Uncancelled History series — on Thomas Jefferson, with Bowdoin College’s Professor Jean Yarbrough, on Abraham Lincoln, with Andrew Ferguson, and on Winston Churchill, with Andrew Roberts.

What a pass of ignorance and malice we have come to that a rescue mission is necessary. That was my comment on the Lincoln episode, but it applies generally to the series. On Thursday Murray himself presented the premise of the series in his New York Post column “We must rescue America’s heroes from those who tear them down.” Murray channels my thoughts exactly. Referring to the likes of the 1619 Project, he writes:

What is worst is that they have done this to our nation’s heroes. Every single one of them.

So earlier this year I decided to try to make my own small effort at hitting back. I do not have the resources of the New York Times at my disposal, but I got a team of the best young technicians and researchers and put together a list of the American figures who have been most maligned in recent years. I am sorry to say the initial list was very long. It would have been easier to create a list of American heroes who had not been lied about in recent years.

But in the end we decided to focus on the absolutely central figures. The Founding Fathers, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and more. Throughout the course of this year I have been sitting down with some of America’s — and the world’s — leading historians to fill in the gap of ignorance that has been deliberately inserted into American society.

We called it “Uncancelled History” and you can listen to it on all podcast channels and watch each hour-long episode for free on YouTube among other places. I hope it will be a great learning resource. I am very proud of the results.

Here Murray turns to the Jefferson and Lincoln episodes:

For instance speaking to the great Jefferson scholar Jean Yarborough, she told me things about Jefferson that I doubt one in a million Americans know. For instance we have been told for 30 years that Jefferson took sexual advantage of his inherited slave, Sally Hemings. The evidence was said to be conclusive.

Not so, says Yarborough, who sat on the commission that looked into the DNA evidence in the 1990s. As she showed, one of the most base claims against Jefferson would be chucked out if it had ever come into a court of law. The reputation of this most extraordinary man has been completely unfairly maligned. And even Monticello — which is meant to preserve the great man’s legacy — has gone along with such calumnies.

Historian after historian came up with similar nuggets of truth. But what struck me most was something that came up when I asked each historian why this is happening now. Why would anyone want to attack all of our heroes? Why would they want to wage war on these of all people? The answer was given by the Lincoln scholar I spoke with, Andrew Fergusson. Loving Lincoln, he said, is a way of loving America. And so hating on Lincoln is a way of hating on America.

I am afraid that even George Washington needs to be uncancelled. James Freeman reminded us of the anniversary of Washington victorious 1783 retirement from the Army yesterday in a moving Wall Street Journal Best of the Web column. Freeman draws on Thomas Fleming’s 2007 Journal column “Washington’s gift” for the scene of Washington’s address to Congress in convened in Annapolis:

Washington drew a speech from his coat pocket and unfolded it with trembling hands. “Mr. President,” he began in a low, strained voice. “The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I now have the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.”

Washington went on to express his gratitude for the support of “my countrymen” and the “army in general.” This reference to his soldiers ignited feelings so intense, he had to grip the speech with both hands to keep it steady. He continued: “I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them [Congress] to his holy keeping.”

For a long moment, Washington could not say another word. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The words touched a vein of religious faith in his inmost soul, born of battlefield experiences that had convinced him of the existence of a caring God who had protected him and his country again and again during the war. Without this faith he might never have been able to endure the frustrations and rage he had experienced in the previous eight months.

Freeman interjects: “Next Washington presented the great and enduring gift to America, as Fleming noted” before returning to Fleming’s account:

Washington then drew from his coat a parchment copy of his appointment as commander in chief. “Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action and bidding farewell to this august body under whom I have long acted, I here offer my commission and take leave of all the employments of public life.” Stepping forward, he handed the document to Mifflin.

This was—is—the most important moment in American history.

The man who could have dispersed this feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his soldiers rewards worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power. By this visible, incontrovertible act, Washington did more to affirm America’s government of the people than a thousand declarations by legislatures and treatises by philosophers.

In Fleming’s telling Jefferson appears at this point:

Thomas Jefferson, author of the greatest of these declarations, witnessed this drama as a delegate from Virginia. Intuitively, he understood its historic dimension. “The moderation. . . . of a single character,” he later wrote, “probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.”

Murray concludes his column: “I think this country is an extraordinary place. If I didn’t then (like millions of others) I would never have made my way here. But America is amazing not by accident, but by design. It is time we understood that design, and paid due reverence to the designers themselves. Because we have not just something — but everything — to be thankful to them for.”

CORRECTION: Scrolling down a little further on the results for Uncancelled History in our search engine, I see I omitted the first episode we posted — on Robert E Lee, with Jonathan Horn.

The Week in Pictures: Merry Christmas Edition

(Steven Hayward)

The first and foremost question for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day planning is when are you scheduling the obligatory viewing of Die Hard, whose status as a Christmas movie was settled at the Council of Nicea in 325. But guess what? Sharp-eyed ecumenical theologians have now decreed that Die Hard is also a Hanukkah movie! Welcome to the party pal!

Headlines of the week:

This is parody, just to be clear. Or is it?

For John Carpenter fans. . .

I very much want to believe this is true.

And finally. . . a bonus Christmas ornament:

Discrimination at Stanford, Then and Now

(John Hinderaker)

Stanford has issued a 75-page report on its discrimination against Jews in the 1950s. The report resulted in an apology for its past practices by University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

In a terrific Minding the Campus article, John Rosenberg, who writes at Discriminations, asks how much things at Stanford have really changed:

Someone should ask him why he believes the policy of restricting the number of Jews was wrong. Does he really believe in the principle that administrators in the 1950s violated, that all applicants should be treated “paying no attention” to race, ethnicity, or religion? That, of course, would seem to be impossible, since Stanford has long practiced affirmative action, i.e., raising and lowering the standard of admissions by race and ethnicity in order to promote diversity, not unlike the “balance” President Sterling and Rixford Snyder sought in the 1950s.

Stanford’s current undergraduate student body is 25% Asian and only 28% white (the most “underrepresented” group there). … Stanford is on record again and again defending preferential treatment in admissions (its brief in the Harvard/University of North Carolina case now before the Supreme Court is here), and it appears to practice what it preaches by taking race and ethnicity into account. Again, if it is fine to deny admission to some Asian and white applicants who would have been admitted had Stanford “paid no attention” to their race or ethnicity, what exactly was “wrong” with Stanford’s old practice of restricting the number of Jews? What principle did it violate that is not also violated by today’s practice?

The recent Stanford report is impressive, but it is not without blind spots. The most glaring is its failure to acknowledge that its policy of restricting Jews is more than similar to the racially and ethnically discriminatory policies of Stanford and similar institutions today; it is virtually identical. The old descriptions and defenses—creating “balance,” judging each candidate individually, denying quotas—are still very much in use. In fact, Rixford Snyder, Frederic Glover, and Wallace Sterling should be recognized as creating Stanford’s first affirmative action program—preferential treatment for non-Jewish applicants.

I wonder, too, to what extent Stanford is still discriminating against Jews. They are white, aren’t they?

Rosenberg points out that in the 1950s, Stanford’s administration lied–they claimed they weren’t discriminating against Jews, that they had no quotas, and all applicants were treated equally. Now, Stanford’s discrimination is out and proud, with “diversity” policies allocating places by race:

Again, President Tessier-Lavigne, what exactly was wrong with Stanford’s then-stated policy of “paying no attention” to such things as race or religion and your predecessor Wallace Sterling’s violation of it? His violation, in fact, reveals his recognition of the power of colorblind non-discrimination; he did not want Stanford to be seen violating it. Today’s Stanford and its peers, however, not only violate that principle in practice but have rejected the principle as well.

In that respect, things have gone downhill since the 1950s.

Rosenberg’s piece, at the link, contains much more that is of interest.

STEVE adds—Stanford is having a really bad week:

‘Stanford Hates Fun’: Students Revolt After Tree Mascot Suspension

For nearly 50 years, students at Stanford University have risen to the challenge of playing the Tree, the popular, unofficial school mascot.

In its long, storied history, the Tree, which dons a towering leafy costume, has been sidelined for public drunkenness and ejected from a basketball game for rowdiness. The mascot has survived kidnapping and imprisonment by students from rival schools.

During the Oct. 22 homecoming weekend football game, the 44th Stanford Tree got axed.

The Other Blue State

(John Hinderaker)

Everyone knows that people are abandoning blue states like California and New York and moving to red states like Florida and Texas. The same phenomenon is at work in smaller states–on a reduced scale, but the pattern is consistent.

Take my home state, Minnesota. For the last seven years, my organization has been documenting the net outflow of residents, and especially taxpayers, from the state. This year, that net outmigration has reached a new high (or low). John Phelan reports:

New Census Bureau data show that our state smashed [2021’s] record in 2022. From mid-2021 to mid-2022, 19,400 Minnesota residents left for other states, by far the highest number in at least three decades.

As Figure 1 shows, until 2001 Minnesota received more residents from other states each year than it lost to them. Since then, in all except two years, 2017 and 2018, our state has seen more residents leave than have chosen to come here from elsewhere in the United States. The loss of residents seen in 2021 and 2022 is not a new phenomenon, but the pace of exit is quickening: Minnesotans are fleeing the state in larger numbers.

This chart tells the story:

This chart shows the numbers for all 50 states. The pattern is blindingly obvious:

Of course, high taxes largely explain the blue state exodus, as Phelan has documented many times. But they aren’t the whole story. Blue states are also beset with crime and homelessness, and they tend to have more oppressive, authoritarian governments, a fact that became evident during covid. Minnesota joins larger blue states like California and New York in having high taxes, high crime, visible homelessness–but only during the warmer months!–and oppressive government. The results are not hard to predict.

The Daily Chart: Long COVID Labor Market?

(Steven Hayward)

The official unemployment rate remains very low, despite increasing signs of an impending recession such as the inverted yield curve. But the labor force participation rate (especially among men) has not recovered from pre-COVID levels, as seen in the figure below from a new edition of Nick Eberstadt’s Men Without Work. Have we ever had a recession begin under conditions of a low labor force participation rate? I don’t know, but this seems like a possibly ominous wild card in the current economic cycle.

Jack Clifford: Lake v. Hobbs, day 2

(Scott Johnson)

Attorney John A. “Jack” Clifford is of counsel with Merchant & Gould. P.C. He has lived, worked, and voted in Maricopa County, Arizona since 2014. He sends us this report on the Lake v. Hobbs trial that concluded yesterday. The AP’s story on the second day of trial is here. Jack’s day 1 report is here. This is Jack’s day 2 report:

As before my comments are my own personal observations and are not made on behalf of any client or my law firm.

• The rubber met the road Thursday in the Kari Lake v. Katie Hobbs trial. Richard D. Baris (i.e., Rich Baris, a/k/a “The People’s Pundit”) conducts polling for Big Data Poll. He conducted exit polling by contacting likely voters and having them agree to report to him how they voted. Voters would report at the time they completed their ballot if they voted by mail or after they voted if they voted in person.

• He located, screened and agreed with registered voters who said they were going to vote in advance of election day. He testified that 93 percent of those who agreed to participate completed his poll if they voted with an early ballot, but only 72 percent of those who agreed to participate in his poll did so if they planned to vote in person on election day.

• He characterized the difference in participation between the groups as vastly more than he saw in other such polls.

• Based on that “participation drop” of 21 percent, where a typical difference between early voters and day of voting respondents would be only 5 percent or so, he concluded that many in-person voting participants simply did not vote as planned on election day.

• He opined that they did not vote because of the problems at the polls. Based on this he concluded that 32.7 percent of the in-person voters in Maricopa County experienced an issue on election day at the polls that kept them from voting.

• He calculated the number of such “disenfranchised voters” and the way he anticipated those voters would vote. He put the number of such voters in the range of 15,000 to 29,000 likely Republican votes lost.

• He opined that the issues on election day “definitely impacted the outcome [of the election] and [were] substantial enough to change the leader board and the outcome.” He also said “the amount of the impact [of the problems] would have changed the outcome and the overall winner. I have no doubt.”

• Baris dressed like a mortician, in a black suit with a deep maroon tie. He spoke without his report before him and recalled numerous facts and statistics about his work from memory. Some of his answers were complicated and he had a habit of answering before the question from counsel was finished. That annoyed the judge and the court reporter. He used lots of survey and consumer research jargon.

• Based on my years of experience doing numerous consumer surveys for use in trademark litigation, I believe I understood what Baris was saying and how he did his work. I also know that two survey experts can evaluate the same question and come to opposite results. It seemed that none of the lawyers in the room were greatly familiar with the survey process or the jargon used. That made his testimony somewhat difficult to follow.

• He testified that because he took a “hands on” approach with those who participated in his research, he had a good idea what they were thinking and that outside factors like press coverage of candidates were baked into his results. He testified that some participants told him they did not vote in person as planned because of “the problems.”

• Cross examination of Baris consisted of establishing that his company was not well regarded by others in his industry, that polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight graded Big Data Poll with an F, and that the firm was not a member of any trade associations in the industry.

• Baris responded that it was more important to be right than popular and that he did not see the value in paying dues to an organization or joining a clique in the industry.

• Counsel attempted to mount a series of nitpicking attacks on Baris’s data and his conclusions. Arguing with an expert about his work is difficult because the lawyer is on the expert’s turf and he is usually able to explain and justify why he did what they did. I thought Baris held up well, even though he is clearly was not an establishment pollster. Of course, so many establishment pollsters have been so wrong it was clear to all that change in the polling industry is overdue. Plaintiff rested her case after this witness.

• The defense called Kenneth Mayer, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Political Science. He testified by video and looked professional in a suit, white shirt and red tie with a wall of books behind him on a shelf. He had testified in several other cases, for both plaintiffs and defendants, and on behalf of Republicans and Democrats. He spoke clearly and came off as authoritative and confident.

• His testimony amounted to a broadside on the work and testimony of Baris.

• Mayer, who once asked that he be addressed as “Dr. Mayer, please,” did not perform any original research for his testimony. He simply looked at and accepted data provided by Maricopa County about the election, looked at the original complaint filed in the case and the affidavits attached to it, and looked at Baris’s report. He also watched the trial testimony.

• He said he was an expert on wait times during elections. He concluded “there was no evidence that a large number of voters were unable to vote [in person on election day] because of issues with tabulators” and that “disenfranchisement of a substantial number of voters did not happen.” He accepted the wait times reported by Maricopa County and did nothing to verify them. He shrugged them off as normal wait times.

• Mayer’s criticism of Baris’s report and conclusions was absolute. Several of his answers seemed to me to show that he did not actually understand what Baris did, or what is essentially standard procedure in conducting polling research. Mayer did not say he was an expert on exit polling. His forte was wait times. For me, that undercut his testimony significantly.

• Mayer does not conduct polling himself but feels confident criticizing others who do. He said that, based on the F rating given by FiveThirtyEight to Big Data Poll, the reputation of Big Data Poll was unfavorable. This came off as a smear based on someone else’s opinion rather than a valid criticism of Baris’s work during this election.

• Mayer assumed that because a voter is registered as a Republican or a Democrat means the voter will vote that way this time. The issue is how the voter would vote on this election day, not the voter’s affiliation. Baris understood that distinction and it seemed to me that Mayer did not. Barris tried to track that and Mayer did not.

• Mayer criticized Baris for making predictions about nonvoters (such as those who were disenfranchised) based on how actual voters voted. He said that should not be done. Baris actually explained that he didn’t do that.

• Cross examination of Mayer consisted of showing that his report was prefaced with a generalized criticism of Donald Trump and the claims Trump made about the 2020 election. He used words like “baseless” for Trump’s allegations about 2020 in an attempt to tar Lake’s allegations in 2022 with the same brush. For me this did a good job of showing Dr. Mayer’s bias for the court to consider.

• Mayer admitted that the votes cast in person on election day broke in favor of Lake at about 70 percent or more.

• Overall, I score this battle of the experts as slightly in favor of Baris. I appreciate those who do original voter research to those who sit back and criticize the work of others. That is my bias.

• Defendants then called Rey Valenzuela, the Maricopa County Director of Election Services and Early voting. He seemed to be in charge of the early voting process. He made a good impression and was calm and confident.

• He talked about “ballot packets” that consist of a marked ballot inside a green envelope that contains a unique ID number and a signature of the voter on a sworn affidavit printed on the envelop. All of that is the early voting ballot packet.

• He testified things went well in this election for his part of the process. Little of what he spoke about seemed to dispute Plaintiff’s case.

• He proved in spades that what should be a simple process of gathering ballot packets and creating a chain of custody for early voters was, in fact, complicated and convoluted. He said that small batches of ballot packets placed in drop boxes were counted by the county and chain of custody documents completed by the county before those packets were given to Runbeck. Bigger batches were handled differently, but why and how was not explained.

• Apparently early ballots returned by mail go through another process in which trays full of them are weighed so postage can be charged and then given to Runbeck without being counted by the county first. Defendants’ counsel seemed to have some difficulty having him explain all the steps. They were so complex that several times the witness had to stop, step back, and explain the process more slowly. Inadvertently, this testimony was slightly helpful to Ms. Lake. We have a process here for conducting our elections, but in my opinion it could only have been designed by a large committee of politicians.

• Next, Mr. Jarrett was recalled after testifying on day 1. Jarrett was in charge of same day voting and is a Co-Director of Election Services for the County. He seemed to come back to attack Mr. Parihk’s testimony about the 19-inch ballot printed on 20-inch paper. He also talked about the chain of custody for what turned out to be about 294,000 early ballots dropped off in drop boxes or at the polls on election day. These were all considered early votes and processing them took several days.

• He testified that these ballots (more correctly ballot packets) are not counted to see how many there are until after they are given to Runbeck, the county’s contractor. Runbeck first scans the green packet envelopes to create pdf images of the signatures on the outside, then weighs them and counts the number of the packets.

• Nobody at the county counts these envelopes until after they are given to Runback. All the county does at this stage is watch Runbeck operate its machinery. He said that was the process. He said chapter 9 of the County’s election manual did not require that the county count the packets or complete chain of custody documentation for them before giving them to Runbeck.

• He admitted on day 2 that the County knew of three locations where printer settings were changed on election day to the “shrink to fit” setting. He never mentioned that yesterday.

• He testified that printer heat settings were also changed in the field in an attempt to fix the errors that were reported. The problem was that registration marks on the ballots were faint or speckled so the ballots would not scan at the polling place. He gave a long list of excuses for all the problems seen on election day.

• He seemed a bit defensive and, although he admitted to many problems on election day, he seemed to shrug them all off since most of the problems were eventually fixed and most of the ballots were eventually counted, even if duplicating the ballots was required first.

• He gave a long explanation concerning how many polling places were operating on election day. Those locations with wait times of up to 90 or 120 minutes were likely within two miles of another location that might have wait times of only a few minutes.

• He explained that his team had educated voters to use the county web site to find voting locations and view wait times at each of them when deciding where to cast their vote. He seemed to be blaming voters who walked off the voting line because it was taking too long. Such voters should have used the county web site to find a shorter line somewhere else.

• Ryan Macias was then called. His appearance reminded me of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, with the same facial hair and hair gel. He is experienced as a consultant and government employee in something that sounded like “election security, voting system testing and certification, administrative technology and security procedures.” He is sort of an omnibus expert.

• He had been asked by defendant Hobbs to be an unpaid election observer for the Arizona 2022 primary election in August. He disputed Mr. Parihk’s testimony and said he saw no errors sufficient to cause a different election outcome.

• He also testified he saw nothing to indicate intentional interference with the election. He seemed to guess that there were many possible reasons for the 19-inch ballot on 20-inch paper issue.

• He also opined that the chain of custody procedures used for early ballots were suitable, and that disqualifying a large number of such ballots because of an “administrative issue with chain of custody documentation” would disenfranchise a large number of voters. He was against that.

• On cross examination, a PowerPoint deck from Macias’s own website was shown to him. His own work discussed the serious risks and harms to elections from a broken chain of custody. To me, this brief cross examination was textbook and blew a serious hole in the smooth sailing boat that was his direct examination.

• Overall, I did not see Macias as helpful to defendants mostly because he was so completely impeached with his own words on cross. The defendants’ attempt to rehabilitate him with questions on redirect was weak.

• The court then moved on to closing statements.

• At the outset plaintiff’s counsel made a strong point — Ms. Lake needed only a few more than 17,000 more votes to win and that was only .06% of the vote total. Mr. Baris showed that between 15,000 and 29,000 likely Republican votes were impacted by the problems at the polls.

• Counsel quoted the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in Teigan v. Wisconsin Elections Commission. I thought that was fairly effective.

• The plaintiff’s closing theme asserted that the defendants’ excuses did not make sense while the plaintiff’s case does. For example, plaintiff’s expert found 19-inch ballots on 20-inch paper at all six voting locations he inspected with the limited ballot review. The county had only admitted to three locations where the “shrink-to-fit” setting was used.

• Defense counsel argued in closing that “the Plaintiff’s case was hearsay” and that the voters have spoken in favor of Ms. Hobbs. Counsel said that Mr. Baris plucked numbers from thin air and there was no basis to conclude what non-voters would do based on what actual voters had done.

• He argued that Baris’s commonsense approach lacked any merit and that he engaged in sleight of hand with his math.

• Mr. Parihk was attacked as associated with the Stop the Steal effort.

• One of defendants’ lawyers seemed to lose control over his emotions during his brief closing. It seemed like a rant about the ethics of plaintiff’s lawyers for bringing the case in the first instance rather than a summation of the evidence and testimony presented over the last two days. I thought that hit a low note for them.

• An allegation was made that all the problems with the process and the “mishaps by machine” were caused by Lake’s supporters being told to wait until election day to vote. This was a theme of the defense — that the problems were not the fault of the election officials, but rather were the fault of Republican voters themselves.

• Referring to Lake’s campaign, counsel argued “the plaintiff’s case was not evidence of a botched election, it was evidence of a botched campaign.”

• He concluded with a challenge to the judge to stop election disputes here and now by denying plaintiff’s claim amounting to nothing nothing more than sour grapes and conspiracy theories.

• Here is a portion of attorney Thomas P. Liddy’s closing suggesting how he felt about having to defend the election process in Maricopa County, where he serves as Civil Division Chief in the Office of the Maricopa County Attorney.

Unbelievable. The amount of contempt this Hobbs attorney has for Voters is almost as gross as the contempt she has for them. WATCH ⤵

— Kari Lake (@KariLake) December 22, 2022

• Scott adds this editorial note: “Conspiracy theory” seems to be the aspersion of the day. Let it be noted for students of ancient history that Liddy is the son of Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy.

• In his brief rebuttal plaintiff’s counsel argued that defendants’ blaming the problems on Republicans deciding to vote on election day was “atrocious.”

• He added that Mr. Baris can be believed since he actually spoke to voters and was not hired merely to look at the election by plaintiff after the fact.

• The court took the matter under advisement. Judge Thompson said he would issue a ruling forthwith, but needed to go over everything carefully so the parties should not expect a decision that day. He looked to me a bit like Atlas with the weight of the world on his shoulders as he stood up to leave the courtroom.

Thoughts from the ammo line

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll notes a few HIDEOUS DISAPPOINTMENTS. She writes:

Baruch Hashem (praise God) I have been an enormously lucky person in my long life, blessed with health, love and awesome friends. Since being yanked prematurely into this world some 3 months early, I have achieved almost everything I ever set out to accomplish. The first goal of “Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive” took some doing. However, most of my goals after that were pretty modest, so meeting those goals is not really saying too much.

“Read three books a week all summer and write a couple book reports to have in hand as needed.” Check! “Bake brownies.” Check! Not exactly “Learn to separate Siamese Twins…” Most importantly, I won the heart of the eccentric and very cute young man I “set my cap for.” (Isn’t THAT a quaint little phrase?)

But into even the luckiest life some rain must fall. A really big disappointment was when I applied to be an AFS Foreign Student my junior year of high school. Seventy kids applied and some committee narrowed it down to 15. To my shock and delight, I was still in the running. Another committee whittled that to The Final Four. I was still in. Holy Cow! Had Sweden specified they were hoping for a nerd? It was determined at that point, to avoid any local bias, to send the four applications and essays to the AFS Office in New York City. One day, an announcement came over the school loudspeaker congratulating the finalist on winning. That person was not me.

I had let my hopes get way too high, and the fall was pretty steep. Not for nothing is one of my favorite songs Merle Haggard’s “I’m Always On A Mountain When I Fall”… I do remember being worried that I would start crying IN SCHOOL (“Please, God, NO!”) and told the School Nurse I felt unwell and went home. Where I cried my eyes out for some time.

But I rallied by suppertime, lest Daddy tell me to stop crying or “he would give me something to cry ABOUT.” When I went to college two years later and was homesick for four excruciating months, I realized that Sweden would have had to send me home early in disgrace because I would have been too lonesome without my family. Sometimes things DO work out for the best even when you think your heart will break.

Perhaps my earliest disappointment, yet a valuable lesson, occurred at age 3 when I was first introduced to Cotton Candy at the Brookings (South Dakota) County Fair. Cotton Candy looked sooo amazing – all fluffy and pink and huge and on a stick. I HAD to have it!

My poor parents – Daddy a Pharmacy student on the G.I. Bill bringin’ down a quick $80/a month — somehow found the nickel to spring for this treat. And I took one big bite, which promptly turned into a half tsp of sickeningly sweet, melted sugar in my mouth, and (I’m told) burst into tears. I have no memory of that, but it sounds like me!

It was as though The Universe had whispered oh so gently: “Ah, remember this, Grasshopper: some things that look really attractive and too good to be true, are just a fizzle. Or in the case of a crypto-crook or a Madoff who made off with your life savings, a life-altering disaster!”

Speaking of making off with things, when I saw the story about Sam Brinton, luggage thief and former nuclear watchdog – who often literally dresses up like a dog — I could not help but smile at the thought of his inadvertently stealing MY luggage. Talk about a hideous disappointment! The only upside would have possibly been that he could have convinced the Court it was all a terrible mistake: “Honestly, Your Honor, would ANYBODY in their right mind have taken THIS STUFF on purpose???”

Okay, first of all, the suitcase itself is a really early vintage small cheap rollerboard that stores nicely in the overhead compartment, so it has rarely appeared on the luggage carousel. And not without reason. It is quite the embarrassment. For one thing, there is a round splotch about the size of a half dollar on it where our male cat sprayed on it before I could grab it away. That was about 35 years ago, so the smell is almost gone now.

Typically, once Mr. Brinton (they, them, The Defendant), opened his purloined treasure, he would have found 3 pairs of jeans that fit someone .2 of an inch shy of five feet. And t-shirts that say things like “Homeland Security, Prescott, Arizona” with a picture of several burly rifle-bearing men on horseback, not a single one wearing lipstick (neither the men nor the horses.) And another one might show a bullseye target with the X in the middle destroyed by 3 discrete raggedy holes in a tight group and the saying, “I shoot like a girl.” There would probably also be a tie-dyed sweatshirt that says “Alexandria, Minnesota”. Represent!

For dress-up there could be a long-sleeved Western style shirt with snaps and RUGER running down one arm in bright red. Socks. Unremarkable undergarments. Two pairs of slip-on Skechers. A notebook marked “Ideas for columns,” most pages blank and a few with notes like “dentist, 1958” with no idea what on God’s green earth that means. A Sudoku book of puzzles most filled out nicely, a couple with somewhat disturbing deep, angry ink scratches through them, from when I got to the very last row and discovered two 8s in the same box.

No makeup – a lipstick and eyebrow pencil in my equally-prized fanny pack. No jewelry except the rings and silver earrings I always wear. No designer dresses or high heels.

A fact: that same suitcase with most of the same contents with the addition of one Little Black Dress and low heels and a leather jacket went on a 10-day trip to Israel and Paris. Beat THAT, ladies! When I used to travel many times a month to perform, I would see women with four suitcases for a long weekend in San Diego.

But back to the theme of bitter disappointments. I was a rabid Minnesota Twins fan when they moved the franchise to Minnesota in 1961. I doubt our family ever missed a game – on the radio or, if we were lucky, on television. We went in person to perhaps two games a year, occupying the nosebleed seats and taking in a school-shopping trip to Dayton’s basement the next day. We all had our favorite players – me: Zoilo Versalles and Camilo Pascual. Mother: Lenny Green and Earl Battey. Daddy: Bob Allison and Jim Lemon. EVERYBODY loved Hammerin’ Harmon Killebrew. Though I probably can’t remember YOUR name on command, I still can tell you the numbers of all that first team.

So here comes 1965, I’m in college and the Twins are already in the World Series! The first thing I noticed was the fact that the national announcers were not the hopelessly pro-Twin “homers” that our announcers were. I once heard one of our guys declare that Jose Valdevioso, an uninspiring backup shortstop, had lost a ground ball “in the sun.”

Long story short, due to the completely unfair pitching advantage of Koufax and Drysdale, the Twins fought valiantly and took it to game seven, but they lost Game 7 2-0. It was a brutal disappointment. But much later I learned a couple of humorous things. Sandy Koufax was a Jew who famously sat out Game One on Yom Kippur. (Very sensitive scheduling, Major League Baseball!) Drysdale started and got knocked around pretty good as the Twins took the opener 8-2. In the postgame news conference, a reporter jokingly said to Dodger manager Walter Alston, “I bet you wish Drysdale was Jewish, too.”

Of course, the way these stories morph, I originally heard it that Drysdale said it himself when Alston took him out of the game. That’s funnier, so I’m going with that! Comics prize “funny” over “true” every day of the week. Just ask my beleaguered editor.

Merry Christmas and Chappy Chanukah, everybody!

Was January 6 Pelosi’s Fault?

(John Hinderaker)

I haven’t paid much attention to the January 6, 2021, demonstration in Washington because it was not one of the 50 worst U.S. riots in the 12 months that bracketed it. It wasn’t even the most destructive riot, or the second most destructive, in Washington during that time.

If you want to see a destructive riot, come to Minneapolis. But none of the Minneapolis rioters were arrested, held in solitary confinement for a year or more, and ultimately tried and sentenced for…not actually being violent. Because their riot was approved by the Democratic Party.

What was really notable about the January 6 event was not that a few hundred partisans (plus an unknown number of FBI agents) were sufficiently exercised about the election to besiege the Capitol. What was notable was the astonishing failure of security that let them in. At one entrance, Capitol guards opened the doors and apparently welcomed a large number of protesters, who entered the building, staying between the velvet rope lines, taking selfies. I think that is how most of the protesters who entered the Capitol got there. At least one criminal defendant has been acquitted on the ground that he had every reason to believe he was being invited into the building as a tourist.

None of the protesters was armed, so in the end, the only person who was killed–lies of the New York Times and Joe Biden notwithstanding–was Ashli Babbitt.

Now, House Republicans have issued a report on the real scandal of January 6: the inexplicable absence of Capitol security. I haven’t had time to read the report; those who have should weigh in via comments. The Daily Wire has a summary and comments on the report:

[F]ailures include Pelosi and Democrat leadership being closely involved in security decisions, which excluded Republican lawmakers from key meetings and conversations related to House security. The report further noted that Democratic leadership showed widespread concern about “optics” over the early deployment of protecting the grounds with the U.S. National Guard.

It has long been reported that President Trump pleaded with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to beef up security in advance of the January 6 demonstration, but Bowser refused to do so. Bowser was in charge of D.C. law enforcement, Pelosi in charge of Capitol security.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the riot, told The Washington Post that the House speaker’s authorities turned down requests for preemptive deployment of the National Guard six times before January 6.

Sund also reportedly testified that then-House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said “optics” were the reason for not sending in the National Guard.

On February 9, 2022, Pelosi reportedly said she has “no power over the Capitol Police.”

“This is false,” the report reads. “Documents provided by the House Sergeant at Arms show how [Irving] carried out his duties in clear deference to the Speaker, her staff, and other Democratic staff.

More at the link. Was the January 6 photo op–there was almost no actual violence, other than the shooting of Ashli Babbitt–caused by incompetence on the part of the Democratic officials who were responsible for Capitol security? Or did they foresee the political advantage that could be gained by characterizing the protest as an “insurrection”? We likely will never know.

The FBI Says: Pound Sand

(John Hinderaker)

Is the FBI chastened now that it has been exposed as a rogue agency that, on behalf of the Democratic Party, intervened in the 2020 election by suppressing news–that it knew to be true–that was damaging to Joe Biden? Not a bit of it. The Bureau gave a statement to the New York Post yesterday:

“The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter show nothing more than examples of our traditional, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, which involve numerous companies over multiple sectors and industries,” the FBI told The Post in a statement in response to the latest jaw-dropping revelations from the “Twitter Files.”

“As evidenced in the correspondence,” the bureau went on, “the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers.

“The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public,” the statement concluded. “It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”

In other words: screw you, peasants. Perhaps most outrageous is the reference to “conspiracy theorists and others.” You mean the FBI’s now-proven collaboration with social media platforms to suppress news about Joe Biden’s corruption? That conspiracy? And what is the “misinformation”? The emails between the Bureau and Twitter that have now been made public? Those emails certainly contained misinformation–the FBI’s intimation that Hunter’s laptop was somehow a Russian plant–but their disclosure is hardly misinformation. It is long-overdue truth.

The Bureau’s arrogant response to exposure of the Twitter files is more evidence that it needs to be torn down, from top to bottom, and either thoroughly reformed with new personnel or replaced entirely.

Podcast: Introducing “Power Line University”

(Steven Hayward)

An action shot from a seminar.

I get a steady stream of emails from readers and listeners who want to know if any of my or Lucretia’s college courses are webcast or otherwise available online, and unfortunately the answer is No, partly for legal reasons but also for some technical reasons (streaming live classes is not as easy as it might seem, and the recording quality is often poor). But we have for the longest time been thinking about offering some of our class content on Power Line in an organized fashion, and so with this episode, we are pleased to inaugurate a new feature, “Power Line University.”

The first PLU course will be devoted to the Federalist Papers, or, as we like to call it, “the owner’s manual for the Constitution.” For this first trial episode, Lucretia and I decided that each of us would share three favorite passages from The Federalist, and explain why these passages in particular are significant or relevant to our current moment. (If you want to follow along at home on this first episode, the passages we selected are from Federalist #s 1, 10, 43, 31, 55, and 57.)

We haven’t decided yet how many episodes our Federalist course will be—probably five or six— but our intention is that future episodes, starting next week, will be done in webinar style on Zoom, so you can tune in live to our virtual “classroom” and pose questions or comments. Eventually we may try to offer some seminars in Zoom meeting format (though likely limited to VIP subscribers for security reasons), where participants will get to appear on camera, speak live and discuss the issues with other participants, and so forth. And if you can’t make the webinars or live classes, they’ll still be available in podcast form.

We have lots of ideas for future short courses, such as going over the Constitution itself, the Presidency, Lincoln, classical political philosophy perhaps—but above all we’d like to hear from listeners: please send along your ideas and suggestions (and questions on the topics we are covering) in the comment thread or directly by email. I will be doing a special series on science policy with Ken Green, who has just completed a terrific book on the defects of scientific models (such as the ones behind the COVID panic) starting some time in February.

The good news is, no “diversity” statements will be required for participation, and in fact we’re going to make a Bingo card out of the Stanford “Banned Words list” for each session. We won’t have any tests or term paper assignments, though ridicule from Lucretia is not ruled out! (Actually this is all just a plot to get her back in the classroom, since her university has seen fit to punish her by making her an administrator.)

And so, on to the classroom. . .  Listen here, or wander over to the main lecture hall at Ricochet.

Thought for the Day: About Those Confederate Monuments

(Steven Hayward)

As background for an essay I’m currently writing about southern politics, I had reason to dip into William Alexander Percy’s (Walker Percy’s uncle) classic 1941 memoir, Lanterns on the Levee. It is one of the great books about the post Civil War South, and it confounds just about every dominant narrative about the South then and now. This passage reads with special poignancy and irony today:

You will find in any Southern town a statue in memory of the Confederate dead, erected by the Daughters of something or other, and made, the townsfolk will respectfully tell you, in Italy. It is always the same: a sort of shaft or truncated obelisk, after the manner of the Washington Monument, on top of which stands a little man with a big hat holding a gun. If you are a Southerner you will not feel inclined to laugh at these efforts, so lacking in either beauty or character, to preserve the memory of their gallant and ill-advised forebears. I think the dash, endurance, and devotion of the Confederate soldier have not been greatly exaggerated in song and story: they do not deserve these chromos in stone. Sentiment driveling into sentimentality, poverty, and, I fear, lack of taste are responsible for them, but they are the only monuments which are dreadful from the point of view of aesthetics, craftsmanship, and conception that escape being ridiculous. They are too pathetic for that. Perhaps a thousand years from now the spade of some archeologist will find only these as relic of and clues to the vanished civilization we call ours. How tragically and comically erroneous his deductions will be!

Only it didn’t take a thousand years for our cultural “archeologists” to light upon these statues and be tragically and comically wrong about everything.

UPDATE: As I feared, reading comprehension among many of the commenters on this post is seriously deficient, or perhaps it’s just ignorance. Percy is one of the most celebrated figures of southern agrarian conservatives. Lots of you seem not to have been arrested, as a careful reader would, by the central sentence of this excerpt: “I think the dash, endurance, and devotion of the Confederate soldier have not been greatly exaggerated in song and story. . .” And thus too many commentators here have the meaning of Percy’s comment exactly backwards. Roger Scruton would have got it. I suppose it would be too much to suggest people read the whole of Percy’s famous book before making hasty judgments.

The Daily Chart: The Shocking EU Energy Subsidies

(Steven Hayward)

More signs that energy realism is coming back into fashion: I’m so old I can remember when we were well along with phasing out coal. But lo and behold 2022 is going to turn out to see the highest use of coal ever, for the simple reason that Europe’s self-inflicted energy crisis has made it necessary to rush back into coal in a big way.

Today the Wall Street Journal reports:

Coal, No Longer Shunned, Keeps Europe’s Lights on Through Frigid Weather

Europe passed its first winter test without Russian energy, keeping the lights on through this month’s cold blast. The secret to its success: burning more coal than it has in years.

Consuming large amounts of coal represents a difficult choice for European nations that had promised to ditch the carbon-intensive fuel to contain climate change. Russia’s cut to natural-gas supplies after invading Ukraine and outages at French nuclear plants have spurred the revival. European demand is one reason why the world is on track for record coal consumption in 2022, the International Energy Agency said this month.

I especially love this droll (but accurate) part of the article:

The effects of war have turbocharged coal’s comeback. But a flaw in Europe’s approach to the transition toward renewable sources of energy has also played a role.

The continent has invested in wind and solar energy while closing dozens of coal-fired power plants over the past decade. When it is cloudy or the wind is low, and demand is high, Europe doesn’t have the capacity to maintain electricity supplies from clean sources.


The second part of this story, however, is that soaring energy prices are causing European governments to subsidize energy bills for its citizens. Having massively subsidized “green” energy for 20 years that can’t ramp up to fill the gap of lost Russian oil and gas, the subsidies now required to backstop the population are truly massive. Germany is going to spend 7.7% of GDP providing subsidies for its hard-pressed consumers and industry. “Energy revolution” indeed.

This cannot continue. Which is why coal is likely here to stay, and Germany isn’t going to make its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets.


Jack Clifford: Lake v. Hobbs, day 1

(Scott Johnson)

Attorney John A. “Jack” Clifford is of counsel with Merchant & Gould. P.C. I developed a healthy respect for Jack many years ago when we represented adverse parties in an intellectual property dispute. He sends us this report on the Lake v. Hobbs et al. trial that opened yesterday. The AP’s story on the first day of trial is here. Jack reports that this is what he learned watching day one of the trial:

I write as an individual and not on behalf of any client or my employer. What follows are my personal observations of the witnesses and the overall situation in bullet point format:

• Ms. Lake lost the November 2022 general election for Arizona governor to our sitting Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, by about 17,000 votes. There is litigation in the Superior Court in Maricopa County contesting the outcome on a number of grounds, two of which were granted a two-day mini-trial before Judge Peter A. Thompson, sitting in Mesa, Arizona. The first day of testimony took place yesterday, December 21.

• Ms. Lake has a problem known to lawyers as needing to prove a case within a case. In addition to showing that serious problems occurred, she must also show that a different outcome would have resulted but for the problems. It is a heavy burden, as any malpractice attorney will tell you.

• There was significant motion practice before this mini-trial. The docket for the case is here at Civil Court Case Information – Case History (

• Early witnesses yesterday were Maricopa county employees Stephen Richer from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and Robert Jarrett the Maricopa County Director of Elections. Both, as expected, testified that everything was carefully and professionally run during the 2022 general election. Richer wore a T-shirt and testified from Panama City, Florida via video. He was on vacation there. Jarrett appeared in person and wore a suit.

• Jarrett testified that because of the large number of local elections for school boards and other local decisions on the card last month, there were 12,000 different “ballot styles” in use in Maricopa County last month. I found that number of variations unbelievable and just asking for problems flowing from the complexity.

• Because registered voters can vote anywhere in the county, same day voting generally requires ballots be printed “on demand” for voters after they identify themselves at the polling place. Registration marks on each printed ballot allow the scanner to know which style of ballot is being scanned and tabulate the votes accordingly.

• Jarrett testified that although the ballots were printed on 20-inch paper, and only a 20-inch ballot format was permitted by the software used this time, some prior elections used a 19-inch ballot format. He added that 70 different voting centers (out of 223) required that computer technicians be sent to the polling place on election day to change settings on either the computers that spooled the print jobs, or the printers, or something else on the on-demand printing system.

• Surprisingly, Jarrett did not mention printer toner problems. He denied that wait times were longer than seen in other elections, or that the Republican party asking its base to vote in person on election day caused a spike in the number of voters the same day voting system could not handle. I did not think the testimony of these two witnesses was all that helpful to Ms. Lake.

• Clay Parikh was called as an expert on cyber security and to say what he saw while inspecting the limited number of paper ballots the judge allowed to be examined. He has years of experience on ballot security issues. He works now at Northrup-Grumman. He looked the part and dropped lots of jargon during his testimony, like “standard logic and accuracy testing,” “ghost printing” and the like. He was the subject of a motion filed by the defendants to exclude him and that motion was denied.

• He claimed 20 years of experience that seemed to me to make him highly qualified. He seemed to be the ultimate computer geek. His intensity level was about an 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

• He was allowed to inspect a small number of ballots on December 20. He testified that of 113 specific ballots he examined, 19 of them had a 19-inch ballot image printed on 20-inch paper. He also said that he examined 15 original ballots that had been “duplicated” and that 14 of those were 19-inch images on 20-inch paper.

• He testified that the Dominion ballot scanners used here will reject a ballot with a 19-inch image printed on 20-inch paper when fed into a scanner by the voter. He also said that a ballot with a 19-inch image printed on 20-inch paper will not scan at the central scanning location either.

• You will recall that voters were allowed to place their unscannable ballots into “drawer 3” to be scanned later “downtown.” Apparently, those “19-inch image on 20-inch paper” ballots were sent to be “duplicated” in the proper format through a process of copying the marks from the original ballot onto another ballot in the right format so it might be scanned and counted. Such duplication is the process for any ballot that is torn, has coffee stains on it, or for some other reason can’t or won’t scan.

• Thousands of ballots (one report last month put the number at well over 15,000) were placed into drawer 3 and many of those needed to be duplicated. That explains part of why it takes so long to decide elections in Arizona. I take it the process for duplication is done by hand with a Republican and a Democrat doing the transfer of marks from the original to the duplicate ballots.

• Parikh said both the original and the duplicate were to have serial numbers affixed to them so they could be later cross checked if needed. He said that the county said it could take up to a week to find the matching duplicates of the small number of original ballots he examined.

• On cross-examination, Parikh seemed unwilling to admit that once duplicated in the proper 20-inch image on 20-inch paper format the voter’s decisions were scanned and apparently counted. That seemed unnecessarily argumentative to me, but then again proving a series of errors that did not materially change the outcome of the election fails the case within a case standard.

• It also came out that Parikh was being paid and his travel expenses covered by a group associated with the “My Pillow Guy,” Mike Lindell.

• Overall, I felt he did a good job explaining what seemed innexplainable, namely why so many ballots could not be scanned at the polling place. He did not talk about toner issues or ballots that had registration marks printed in such a way that they could not be read by the scanners. He talked about the way the system was set up to require that only the 20-inch format could be printed, and he suggested that somebody somehow overrode those systems to print a ballot in the wrong format. He said doing so would not be a mistake.

• He left me with the feeling that he had a great deal more to say but was constrained by the limited scope of the questioning. He did not say what I was thinking — that somehow the settings were never changed from the last time the system was used to run an election where the 19-inch format was used. I am not a technical computer guy.

• After lunch almost 30 minutes of trial time was lost to confusion about who to call as the next witness, whether that person was on the witness list, and the like. Plaintiff actually called two witnesses, neither of whom made it to the witness box. I was embarrassed for the lawyers involved in that fiasco. In a jury case that would have been a low point, for sure. The judge seemed more than patient with the delay.

• Heather Honey, a consultant and trainer on open-source investigations and a person who has experience on chain of custody issues testified about several things. She looked at the documents relating to how many ballots were removed from ballot drop boxes each day. She examined the rather detailed documents establishing a chain of custody for such ballots up until the day before the election.

• She testified those prior to election day drop box chain of custody documents were suitable, were completed correctly and were “fine.” She said that although the drop boxes were operational on election day, the county had so far been unable to produce any documents relating to how many ballots were removed from any of the drop boxes on election day.

• I understood her to say that a large number of ballots were placed into drop boxes on election day, and those had no chain of custody documentation the county had been able to find so far. Such documents are required by the county’s election procedures. Arizona law allows ballots to be dropped into a drop box on election day. She said that without a suitable chain of custody for every ballot, it was impossible to determine if any ballots were added to, or removed from, the ballot stream. She asked what was the point of having a chain of custody required for only some, but not all of the ballots.

• She also talked about employees of a contractor named Runbeck Election Services being allowed to drop their own ballots and those of family members into the ballot stream, without any chain of custody at all for those ballots. She testified that she relied on the personal observation of another witness that observed at least 50 ballots from Runbeck staff placed into the ballot stream as a perk of working there.

• She testified that Arizona law requires all ballots to enter the stream in only one of a number of specified ways and Runbeck employees inserting their own ballots, or those of family members, was not one of them. She said such ballots would be “invalid” under the law, but there was no way of determining which ballots those were or how many total ballots came in through that loophole.

• Her testimony boiled down to the proposition that the county did a poor job of maintaining a suitable chain of custody for all the ballots even though doing so was required by Arizona law. This means some unknown number of counted ballots inserted by Runbeck staff were invalid.

• In a cringeworthy moment she said the county did a much better job on chain of custody in 2022 than they had done in the 2020 presidential election. Boy, things must have been really bad then.

• She also pointed out that the county had farmed out to Runbeck much of the work other places do on their own, thus complicating the chain of custody. I thought she was composed and held up well to cross examination. The thrust of the cross examination was to point out she had no evidence that any of the misdeeds were done with malice or bad intention, or were sufficient by themselves in size to change the outcome of the election.

• Robert Betancourt, 34, a temporary tech support employee hired to work a month before and during the election testified about the technical issues he observed with printers and the fixes he and others on his team used to address them. He wore an ill-fitting suit and a shirt and tie. The fact he wore the knot on his tie about three inches below his unbuttoned collar rubbed me wrong, but hey, he was tech guy, not a lawyer.

• He introduced into evidence a long group of text message generated by his team attesting to the problems they saw in the field on election day and the fixes they came up with for them on the fly. He spoke about shaking toner cartridges in printers and cleaning connection wires to improve the quality of the on-demand printed ballots. He said those fixes cured many but not all of the printing problems.

• He did not talk about registration marks too faint to be scanned or say anything about 19-inch formats on a 20-inch ballot. He said he had no knowledge that any of the problems were intentionally caused or had by themselves changed the outcome of the election. He was puzzled by that question as he said he was merely a part-time employee. I took that to mean he was not a big picture guy. He did say many voting places he visited that day had long lines and that he worked until about 10:00 PM that day.

• Attorney Mark Sonnenklar has 26 years of law practice and was a roving attorney on election day. He was part of the Republican Election Integrity Project. He visited 10 voting locations and supervised a team of 10 others who collectively visited 115 of the 223 voting locations.

• He testified: “It was pandemonium out there.”

• How that proved that Kari Lake would have won if there were no problems was not clear to me.

• He said six of the ten voting locations he visited that day had tabulation problems, which I took to mean completed ballots would not scan. He was unable to say exactly why that was the case. He said that those on the team he supervised saw voters leave the line to get in without voting as wait times exceeded 80 minutes to get checked in.

• For reasons I could not fathom, defense counsel cross examined him about ballot harvesting and that seemed to open the door to plaintiff asking about it although it had not previously come up. In fact, much of his cross examination seemed to be asking a lawyer argumentative questions and them objecting when the witness gives an argumentative answer. The hour was drawing late, and nobody seemed amused by that.

Today the defense has its turn at the plate.

High in the Upper Valley

(Scott Johnson)

A friend forwards Valley News columnist Jim Kenyon’s report from the frontiers of social equity in Vermont. High times have come in legal form to Vermont. Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board began issuing licenses for cannabis retail stores (a/k/a “recreational dispensaries”) on October 1. Kenyon celebrates the license awarded Miriam Wood to open a store in Hartford, Vermont, up the road a few miles from White River Junction:

Wood, who is Black, is among five “social equity” applicants statewide to receive the cannabis board’s approval. (Overall, the board has approved 29 applications.)

Under the groundbreaking legislation, Black and Hispanic retail shop owners don’t pay the annual $10,000 licensing fee for the first year. They pay discounted fees until their fifth year in business.

“Left-leaning state and city leaders nationwide have embraced social equity marijuana licensing programs, which aim to make amends for decades of aggressive policing of low-income, minority people and help them thrive in the multibillion-dollar legal pot industry,” Pew Charitable Trusts reported last year.

Vermont officials make no apologies — and they shouldn’t — for giving Wood and other minority business owners a leg up.

Kenyon needs no license to retail the usual slop supporting claims of racism based on statistical disparities — see my series “Deep secrets of racial profiling” — so he continues to mainline it in this vein, so to speak:

“It’s been well-documented that the war on drugs and the prohibition of marijuana has disproportionately impacted people of color, nationally, and in Vermont,” Nellie Marvel, spokeswoman for the cannabis board, said in a phone interview.

An American Civil Liberties Union state-by-state analysis showed that due to racial profiling and bias in marijuana enforcement, Black people were 6.1 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates, in Vermont. Only five states had higher arrest rates.

Thus the racially discriminatory assessment of license fees. Assuming you are partaking of the substance at issue, it all makes perfect sense.

What’s Happening With the Job Numbers?

(John Hinderaker)

I wrote here about the fact that the federal government seems to have cranked out absurdly optimistic job numbers just in time to give the Democrats a boost in the midterms. But that isn’t the only puzzle in current job data. It turns out that America’s employment situation is a bit of a mystery. I asked my colleague John Phelan to explain what is going on. This is his response.

In the first two quarters of 2022 the economy of the United States shrank. Under previous administrations a recession would have been declared instantly, but not this time. How could there be a recession, some argued, when employment was booming?

These estimates of the number of new jobs in the United States come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Establishment survey. As Business Insider explained in 2014:

…data for the Establishment is collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, which incorporates the payroll records of some 144,000 non-farm establishments and government agencies, covering workers at some 554,000 individual worksites. In addition to determining the number of people employed at the surveyed locations as of the payroll period including the 12th of each month, the BLS collects data on the number of hours worked, earnings and the industries in which individuals are employed at the surveyed organizations.

These data do, indeed, show sustained increases in the number of new jobs in the economy: increases in every month since December 2020, 263,000 in November 2022 alone, or 3.8 million new jobs since January.

But when the BLS puts out its Employment Situation report each month, it provides another estimate from the Household survey of the number of people actually employed. This, as Business Insider explained:

…is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, which surveys some 60,000 American households during the week of the 12th of each month as part of its Current Population Survey (CPS). In addition to determining the employment status of the individuals in each surveyed household, which it classifies as employed, unemployed or not in the civilian labor force, the Census collects data on their demographic profiles, including race, Hispanic origin, age, sex, et cetera.

The BLS explains:

The numerous conceptual and methodological differences between the household and establishment surveys result in important distinctions in the employment estimates derived from the surveys. Among these are:

– The household survey includes agricultural workers, self-employed workers whose businesses are unincorporated, unpaid family workers, and private household workers among the employed. These groups are excluded from the establishment survey.

– The household survey includes people on unpaid leave among the employed. The establishment survey does not.

– The household survey is limited to workers 16 years of age and older. The establishment survey is not limited by age.

– The household survey has no duplication of individuals, because individuals are counted only once, even if they hold more than one job. In the establishment survey, employees working at more than one job and thus appearing on more than one payroll are counted separately for each appearance.

Which is ‘better’? On points 1 and 4 the Household survey would seem to be a better measure. On points 2 and 3 the Establishment survey would seem to have the edge. Either way, to put it in simple terms, the Establishment survey measures the number of jobs while the Household survey measures the number of people employed.

And when we look at the data on people employed from the Household survey a very different picture emerges. The number of Americans employed has actually fallen in four of the last ten months (and both of the last two) and there were 1.3 million more Americans employed in November than there were in January (you can see the same pattern in the state level data, as in my home state, Minnesota, for example).

These are both surveys with different methodologies measuring different things so we shouldn’t be surprised that the two don’t match exactly. But when they diverge so substantially, we must ask why.

But what if there is no discrepancy, or, at least, it is much smaller? Yesterday, John wrote about a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve which found that:

…the employment changes from March through June 2022 were significantly different in 33 states and the District of Columbia compared with current state estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Current Employment Statistics (CES).

In the aggregate, 10,500 net new jobs were added during the period rather than the 1,121,500 jobs estimated by the sum of the states; the U.S. CES estimated net growth of 1,047,000 jobs for the period.

The Establishment survey – the job numbers – are just wrong, in other words.

We should note that, over the period the CES (jobs) was reporting a gain of 1.0 million new jobs, the CPS (people employed) was reporting a fall in the number of Americans employed of 347,000. If the Philadelphia Fed is correct, there is still a discrepancy, but a much smaller one, which could be explained by more people holding multiple jobs to make ends meet – hardly a ringing economic endorsement.

So why might the jobs numbers be so wrong? One can never rule out sheer incompetence where government agencies are involved. But Zerohedge – who deserves a hat tip for his work on this subject – hints at something darker:

As an aside, it appears this is not the first time the “apolitical” Bureau of Labor Statistics has pulled such a bizarre divergence off: it happened right before Obama’s reelection:

And then again: right before Hillary’s “100% guaranteed election (because one wouldn’t want a soft economy to adversely impact her re-election odds).

I do not like to impugn people’s motives. Suffice it to say that when you hear blockbuster jobs numbers, ask yourself how many more people are actually employed.

Podcast: Carpe Diem!, with Mark Perry

(Steven Hayward)

Mark Perry

What do you do when you wake up and see the news story of how the University of North Carolina is once again violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with a scholarship that specifically excludes white students from eligibility? Your first thought is that you need to call Mark Perry, except he’s already on the job! Perry, professor emeritus of economics and finance at the University of Michigan/Flint, filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, and within a day UNC had rescinded its exclusion of whites from scholarship eligibility.

Mark Perry has made a speciality of this kind of citizen-driven civil rights enforcement (which is explicitly allowed in civil rights statutes), having filed hundreds of similar formal civil rights complaints, most of which meet with success. In this conversation we review how he took up this cottage industry, along with broader work he is doing tracking the explosive growth of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” bureaucracies in higher education.

And since Mark is an economist, we conclude with an exploration into the high inflation that erupted *unexpectedly* (except to us) after several decades of low inflation.  I try out my field hypothesis of why it has happened now, to which Mark agrees.

Everyone should follow Mark’s website, Carpe Diem, and also on Twitter.

Listen here, or diem your own carpe over to our hosts at Ricochet.

Thought for the Day: What Would Coolidge Say?

(Steven Hayward)

The left promoted the idea that Calvin Coolidge should be thought of as “Silent Cal” because they hoped you wouldn’t notice that this thoughtful man had a deep understanding and critique of progressivism. And hence with the current scene in which big tech and big government (especially the FBI) are joined together to suppress dissent from the left’s party line, worth recalling this comment of Coolidge:

When we contemplate the enormous power, autocratic and uncontrolled, which would have been created by joining the authority of government with the influence of business, we can better appreciate the wisdom of the fathers in their wise dispensation which made Washington the political center of the country and left New York to develop into its business center. They wrought mightily for freedom.

And progressivism wrought mightily to erase this separation.

The Daily Chart: Russian Oil and Gas

(Steven Hayward)

The European Union has started its embargo on shipping Russian oil and gas, along with an attempt to impose a price cap. Early signs show it is having an effect:

Since the European Union imposed its seaborne crude sanctions, Russian oil exports have tumbled by more than half, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In the week that ended December 16, which marked the first full week after the ban set in, total volumes coming out of Russia fell by 1.86 million barrels a day, or 54%, to about 1.6 million. The four-week average also dropped to a new low for 2022. Signs also pointed to a a shortage of ship owners who were willing to transport Russian oil from an export facility in Asia.

Will this persist? There may be reasons to doubt it. Earlier this week Nature magazine offered up these charts showing overall Russian oil exports up sharply from a year ago, even though European oil imports have been cut. It appears developing nations (India? China?) are happy to increase their imports Russian oil, especially at a discount.

Meanwhile, Europe is attempting to meet its natural gas needs from LNG imports, but appears still to be short of the amount it needs:

Money Talks, In Spanish

(John Hinderaker)

A political reality in today’s world is that the Left has vastly more money than the Right. That is certainly a problem, but the more important question is how each side deploys its resources. We have just emerged from an election cycle in which vast amounts of money were spent on both sides, in most cases inefficiently if not entirely fruitlessly.

Some years ago, Glenn Reynolds proposed that the Koch brothers–major funders of conservative politicians and causes at that time–should, instead of supporting politicians, buy up all of the women’s magazines and tilt them to the right. That was a great idea. It would have had a lot more impact than pouring more millions into the coffers of GOP consultants.

The Left doesn’t have to buy up newspapers or magazines because it already controls virtually all of them. But give them credit, liberals do understand where real power comes from. Thus, we see this headline: Radio stars criticize George Soros-backed move to ‘silence conservative Hispanic voices’. The Left is concerned about Hispanics’ swing toward conservatism, so they are doing something about it:

In June, the Soros-backed Latino Media Network bought Mambí — a mainstay of Miami’s hardline anti-Communist Cuban exile community for decades — and 17 other Spanish-language radio stations from TelevisaUnivision in an estimated $60 million deal.

Peanuts, in today’s terms.

The newly-formed network is run by two former Democratic operatives, Stephanie Valencia and Jess Morales Rocketto, who worked on Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns. Valencia also worked in the Obama White House.

So the political intention is obvious. Where did the money come from?

Lakestar Finance, an investment firm tied to Soros Fund Management, is the key backer but there are other individual investors including actress Eva Longoria.

The deal is going forward:

Last month the FCC formally approved the deal, clearing the way to turn Radio Mambí and the other stations into a new progressive network. Altogether, the sale includes 18 stations, among them 10 AMs and eight FMs in the biggest US markets. Cities included are Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, McAllen, Fresno Chicago, Las Vegas and WADO-NY, the Spanish-language home of the New York Yankees.

Though the sale infuriated some Republican lawmakers, their protests weren’t enough to shut down the sale.

There is much more in the linked news story. Conservative radio personalities are vowing to compete with the new, far-left network:

“What breaks my heart is that Radio Mambí, which has always been an icon of freedom, is now in the hands of the enemy,” [former host Lourdes] Ubieta said.

She and two other Radio Mambí hosts, Dania Alexandrino and Nelson Rubio, all of whom quit over the new management, are now at Americano Radio in Miami, which bills itself as the nation’s first conservative Spanish network.

Let’s hope this foray by the Left into radio won’t fare any better than it did in the Air America days. But the fundamental point is that election campaigns should not be top priority. Control the culture, and the elections will take care of themselves. And, in that regard, the women’s magazines still would be a good place to start.

Dynamics of the omnibus

(Scott Johnson)

Seeking to provide a perspective other that might contribute to an understanding of the massive omnibus spending bill Congress is about to pass, I asked a knowledgeable source about the dynamics underlying Republican support for it. This is what I understand to be the Republican case for the bill on the Senate side. I pass it on for the sake of those trying to gain some perspective on what we have here.

The source attributed Republican support primarily to the bill’s setting defense spending at the level of the National Defense Authorization Act while keeping domestic spending at Biden’s budget request — with the addendum that, under budgetary rules, it’s actually a little better than that. Under the applicable rules, spending for veterans counts under domestic spending. All that is deemed to be good on its own terms and also to begin to break the habit of Democrats insisting on equivalent increases each year for defense and domestic spending.

Republicans also believe they secured some small wins — a fentanyl scheduling bill, an antitrust bill targeting Chinese malfeasance, and the TikTok ban — but of course had some small losses too. Republicans believe they kept out the worst bills, such as authorization of marijuana banking, promoting the journalism cartel, and so on. There was no shortage of bad ideas.

On a comparative basis, Republicans believe this is actually one of the cleaner omnibus bills of its kind in the Senate. Because Democrats wanted it more than Republicans did, they had to give in on spending and policy riders. Most Republican senators feared that wouldn’t be the case in 60 days insofar as a sizable number of Republican representatives have never voted for any spending bill and one wouldn’t expect them to start now. Thus, Kevin McCarthy would have been forced to go to Democrats for votes and they would have demanded ransom in the form of higher domestic spending or more liberal policy riders.

That was the dynamic in 2015, even though Boehner had just been ejected over this kind of thing: Ryan had to give away the store to get Democrat votes. And the disarray over McCarthy’s election itself did nothing to assuage those concerns. Accordingly, even though counterintuitive with a new GOP House majority arriving, the thinking is that this bill is more to the right (or less bad) than a bill would have been in 60 days.

It is conceded that this is not pretty or desirable, but under the circumstances, possibly the best outcome that could have been hoped for. And if the House can’t pass spending bills for the next fiscal year, this will lock in the higher defense number and lower domestic number for the rest of Biden’s term.

Many senators — even appropriators — are fed up with this continued cycle. There is some hope for forcing a change early next year rather than waiting for Senators to throw up their hands up in disgust yet again.

Thrown under the omnibus

(Scott Johnson)

What are we to make of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that is speeding its way through Congress? If you check out FOX News every once in while, or keep up with Bill Melugin’s Twitter feed, you may have heard that we have something worse than a crisis at our southern border. Here is one “surprise” that we were probably not meant to find buried in the bill any time before passage. It is meant to be omitted even from decent summaries of the bill such as this one by CNN. This is sick, sick, sick.

On Page 753 of the 4,155-page “omnibus” spending bill is a short but damning provision—DHS gets $1.9 billion dollars for “border management”, BUT they are explicitly prohibited from using it for border security.🧵

— Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) December 20, 2022

A cancer on the presidency

(Scott Johnson)

I am particularly interested on the reverberations of the Twitter Files in the pages of the New York Post, whose reporting on the Biden family corruption was suppressed in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Today Post columnist Michael Goodwin has a mostly understated column that gets rolling toward the end:

So what if the FBI violated the First Amendment rights of ordinary Americans? So what if the bureau was part of a conspiracy with intelligence officials to label the Biden laptop disinformation when it knew otherwise?

Generations of fair journalists, seeing themselves as patriots first, would have grabbed this huge, complicated story with both hands. Today, the evidence of FBI interference in an election is met with a media shrug because a shared objective was achieved: removing Trump.

Finally, consider this possibility. Because it has had the laptop and who knows what other sources and information, the FBI has known all along that Joe Biden is a corrupt president who is compromised in his dealings with China and America’s other adversaries.

If true, there are two implications.

We have in Biden, as John Dean famously said about Nixon, “a cancer on the presidency.”

We also have an FBI that has returned to the ethos of J. Edgar Hoover. He kept his job for nearly five decades by keeping files of dirt on presidents, senators, members of Congress, the media and many prominent private citizens, such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Goodwin’s column is “The naked truth on the Hunter Biden laptop.”

Notes on the Twitter Files (8)

(Scott Johnson)

Lee Fang has made a previously unannounced appearance as chronicler of the Twitter Files. He posted part 8 here yesterday. Who is Lee Fang and what is he doing here? This is the beginning of Fang’s thread with the subject heading and topic sentence.


*How Twitter Quietly Aided the Pentagon’s Covert Online PsyOp Campaign*

Despite promises to shut down covert state-run propaganda networks, Twitter docs show that the social media giant directly assisted the U.S. military’s influence operations.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

Old Twitter made itself a secret collaborator with the government in more ways than one. Fang adds the CENTCOM/military dimension. That is what I get out of Fang’s thread. He also reports his findings in conventional style for The Intercept in this column. Fang concludes his thread with the tweets below.

21. Here is my reported piece w/more detail. I was given access to Twitter for a few days. I signed/agreed to nothing, Twitter had no input into anything I did or wrote. The searches were carried out by a Twitter attorney, so what I saw could be limited.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 20, 2022

I may be missing something, but I would note that at least this operation was not aimed at citizens of the United States, undermined enemies of the United States, did not suppress the speech of disfavored participants to serve partisan interests, and had no bearing on our elections. Fang himself does not draw such distinctions, but they seem basic to me given what we have seen so far.

A footnote to that crazy Vikings game

(Scott Johnson)

Asked what was said inside the Vikings locker room at halftime when they were down 33-0 to the lowly Colts, quarterback Kirk Cousins reported the words of all-pro cornerback Patrick Peterson: “All we need is five touchdowns.” Cousins said he wondered if Peterson was being sarcastic — until he looked at him. “When I looked at him, he was serious,” Cousins said. “I think his point was, ‘We’re not going to let them score anymore, so if you can get five touchdowns, that will be good enough.'”

The video in the tweet below adds a footnote to Peterson’s half-time lucubrations. It gives you the calls of the Vikings’ entertaining play-by-play man Paul Allen with the up-close perspective of the team on the field during the game and in the locker room after the game. It catches offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw on the sideline during the game: “Hey, we ain’t givin’ up.” It catches nose tackle Harrison Phillips commenting concisely to a teammate on the field after the game: “Grind if I ever had one.” The best has to be Patrick Peterson’s I-told-you-so as he grabs Cousins in the locker room after the game: “What’d I say at halftime? Five touchdowns — that’s all we need, baby.”

The #Vikings released an 8-minute video of the biggest comeback in NFL history from the field level with sideline reactions and audio from the team. Worth a watch.

From down 33-0, an all-time

— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 20, 2022

Judges Demand Voter Fraud

(John Hinderaker)

In 2018, North Carolina’s legislature passed a law to require voter ID in elections. Left-wing activists challenged the statute, which has overwhelming public support, and last Friday, a lame-duck North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the law. At the same time, in a separate case, the Court invalidated the Republican legislature’s redistricting plan. For now, let’s focus on voter ID:

Both rulings were 4-3 decisions, purely along party lines with all the court’s Democrats in the majority and all the Republicans dissenting.
In the voter ID ruling, the Democratic justices noted that Republicans had rushed to pass the law during a lame-duck session, after Democrats had taken away some of their power in the 2018 midterms. In a press release Friday, House Speaker Tim Moore said now it’s the Supreme Court doing the same thing, with the parties reversed.

The 4-3 majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court expedited hearing of these cases so they could be decided by Democrats. As of January, the Court will have a 5-2 Republican majority.

Why would a voter ID requirement, which polls indicate is supported by around 70% of Americans, including large majorities of minorities, be illegal?

[Justice] Earls wrote that “even though the General Assembly had reason to know that African-American voters would be disproportionately affected by (the law), it still chose to pass a law that required the specific IDs African-American voters disproportionately lack.” A dissent from the court’s Republican justices, however, argues that “there is no evidence that (the law) was passed with race in mind, let alone a racially discriminatory intent.”

Basically, it is an article of faith among Democrats that if you try to prevent voter fraud, you are discriminating against African-Americans. Liberals apparently believe that blacks commit a lot of voter fraud. I don’t know about that, but evidently a lot of Democrats do commit voter fraud, or else why would Democratic politicians and judges be so viciously hostile to any effort to promote ballot integrity?

This story will have a happy ending, courtesy of voters who want honest elections:

The rulings came at the last minute for the voting rights activists who won the cases, since in January the court will switch to a Republican majority. GOP judges swept all of this year’s statewide midterm elections.


Republicans, who hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature, vowed to pass another — perhaps even stricter — voter ID law in response to the court’s ruling.

Let’s hope they follow through.

Sorry About Those Jobs

(John Hinderaker)

Joe Biden’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over a million jobs were created in the second quarter, a heartening statistic that no doubt helped the Democrats in November. But now, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve says that those million jobs were almost entirely fictitious:

The Biden administration vastly overstated its estimate that employers created more than 1 million jobs in the second quarter of this year, claiming historic job growth when in fact hiring had stalled, according to a new estimate.

Job growth was “essentially flat” in the second quarter with only 10,500 jobs added, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said.

Could the Bureau of Labor Statistics be a politicized agency, faking numbers to help the Democratic Party? Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have believed it, but given what we know about the FBI and the CIA, it is easy to believe that the BLS, which I suspect is staffed overwhelmingly by Democrats, may be corruptible. Republicans are not amused by today’s news:

Republicans are accusing the administration of lying about the employment data in an election year and are demanding answers.
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida called the development “outrageous.”

“Wrong by a million jobs,” Mr. Scott tweeted Friday. “@JoeBiden’s admin has been lying to the American people about our economy to prop up his failed agenda & I won’t stand for it. I’m requesting an immediate meeting with the head of @BLS_gov. WE NEED ANSWERS NOW!”

President Biden had boasted about the second-quarter job numbers in the heat of the midterm election campaign, using the BLS report as proof that the nation wasn’t headed for a recession.

“In the second quarter of this year, we created more jobs than in any quarter under any of my predecessors in the nearly 40 years before the pandemic,” Mr. Biden said on July 8.

One of the problems with perverting the federal bureaucracy, as the Democrats have done, is that pretty much everyone loses faith in the integrity of government. At this point, there is no reason to assume that government numbers are accurate and unfudged. We have been lied to, too many times.

It is sad, but that is where we find ourselves. Trust has been destroyed.

Thought for the Day: Stefan Zweig on Nietzsche—or America?

(Steven Hayward)

One of the most incendiary lines of Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind was that the America of the late 1980s was “a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic.” Today we might well drop the Disney characterization and just go straight to Weimar America (though Disney may be complicit in that story).

Bloom’s comment came back to mind when delving into Stefan Zweig’s slim 1925 book on Nietzsche. (Apropos of not much, my last conversation with Herbert Meyer in 2019, shortly before the tragic bicycle accident that ended his life, was about our mutual interest in Zweig.) Here’s some of Zweig’s commentary on Nietzsche’s desolation and solitude that were so essential to Nietzsche’s thought (can anyone imagine Nietzsche participating in a standard academic panel discussion?):

What makes this desolation so harrowing and ghastly, so truly grotesque, is that this glacier, this desert of solitude occurred at the heart of an Americanized Germany of some seventy million inhabitants, in the rattling and whirring of telegraphs and trains, of cries and tumult, at the center of a morbidly prurient culture which every year launches forty thousand volumes into the world, that every day searches around a thousand different problems in a hundred universities, that every day stages tragedies in hundreds of theaters, and yet knows nothing, divines nothing and senses nothing of the great drama of the spirit unfolding right in their midst.

The phrase “Americanized Germany” is interesting, and also ironic. As Bloom pointed out (following Leo Strauss), today we live in a “Germanized America.” Extend your own parallels (and remedies) from here.

Loose Ends (198)

(Steven Hayward)

Seriously—who at the New York Times thought this layout for their crossword puzzle on the first day of Hanukkah (or any day for that matter) was a good idea:

You’d expect a “we’re sorry for the harm and hurt we have caused” with this image, but the Times is insisting that this is a “standard design.” NB: Clue 58 Across is “Boxcars.” Nice going Times.

Gee—who could have seen this coming?

Afghanistan: Taliban closes universities to women

The Taliban have announced the closure of universities for women in Afghanistan, according to a letter by the higher education minister. The minister says the move is until further notice. It is expected to take effect immediately.

It further restricts women’s access to formal education, as they were already excluded from secondary schooling. . . In November, the authorities banned women from parks in the capital Kabul, claiming Islamic laws were not being followed there.

I was told mass shootings only happened in America:

5 people killed in a ‘horrendous’ condo shooting in Canada, police say

Five people were killed in a shooting at a condominium in a Toronto suburb Sunday night, police said, a “terrible” crime that came amid Canada’s efforts to tighten its gun control laws.

I was told mass shootings only happen in America:

Rare gunfight kills six, including two police officers, in rural Australia

SYDNEY, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Six people, including two police officers, were killed in a gunfight at a remote property in Australia’s Queensland state, authorities said on Tuesday, after police visited a home there to investigate a missing person report.

When four officers arrived about 4:30 p.m. on Monday at the property in Wieambilla, about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, two armed people opened fire and killed two of them, police said, without identifying the suspects.

I thought Australia had confiscated all guns. . . Oh, wait: maybe the liberal narrative isn’t true.

I have previously declaimed that hatred of the Catholic Church is a central principle or impulse of today’s left, and the reasons behind this can also explain rising anti-Semitism on the left. Hence this story from the Wall Street Journal is of interest:

U.S. Catholic Priests Are Increasingly Conservative as Faithful Grow More Liberal

American Catholic priests are becoming more conservative, even as their flocks are becoming more liberal.

U.S. Catholic bishops elected conservative leaders last month, continuing to resist a push from Pope Francis to put social issues such as climate change and poverty on par with the bishops’ declared priority of opposing abortion.

The U.S. hierarchy’s orientation reflects the wider trend of an American clergy with values at odds with those of an increasingly liberal laity and a pope who has encouraged the questioning of once-taboo subjects and leniency on some teachings of sexual morality. . .

Research on Catholic clergy by the Austin Institute has found that younger Catholic priests and priests ordained in more recent years tend to be noticeably more conservative than older priests on a host of issues, including politics, theology and moral teaching. The Survey of American Catholic Priests has found that since the 1980s, successive cohorts of priests have grown more conservative, according to a 2021 summary report.

The Daily Chart: College Faculty Political Skew

(Steven Hayward)

Thomas Sowell likes to ask, “Next time a university administrator brags about their commitment to ‘diversity,’ ask how many Republicans they have in their sociology department.” It is hardly news that college faculties skew left, but sociologist Lee Jussim (who has attracted his own cancelation mob at Rutgers) brings to our attention just how out of whack the ratio is, department by department, based on the survey work of Mitchell Langbert and Sean Stevens of Brooklyn College:

Welcome to Stanford Kindergarten

(Steven Hayward)

Perhaps you’ve seen the story on the Wall Street Journal editorial page today (or in some other outlet where it is booming this morning) about Stanford University’s “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative,” which reads like a parody of our idiotic woke university culture today. But no—Stanford employed a task force that worked for months to advocate that no one on campus use the word “American” because “This term often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas. . .”

It gets worse from there. The Journal highlights and comments aptly:

“Gangbusters” is banned because the index says it “invokes the notion of police action against ‘gangs’ in a positive light, which may have racial undertones.” Not to beat a dead horse (a phrase that the index says “normalizes violence against animals”), but you used to have to get a graduate degree in the humanities to write something that stupid.

Stanford has blocked access to the document from its website out of sheer embarrassment (not very “inclusive” of them to keep this helpful language guide out of sight), but copies were captured and are available. I’ve posted it on Scribd here. But as Stanford warns in boldface, “This website contains language that is offensive or harmful. Please engage with this website at your own pace.” Can’t believe we haven’t adopted this warning for Power Line years ago.

Question for Stanford: when can we expect the document to be made public again? If the answer is that it won’t be, the next question is when they are going to stop the stupid process that led to this?

As spectacularly stupid as this story is, the Journal arguably buried the lede, which is this sentence appearing near the end: “For 16,937 students, Stanford lists 2,288 faculty and 15,750 administrative staff.” [Emphasis added.] Stanford would improve immeasurably if they fired half their administrative staff randomly.

P.S. Yes—we’re going to make it our mission in this week’s podcast to use as many of the terms on Stanford’s list as possible.

UPDATE—Charles Lipson is ON IT:

The World According to “Yellowstone”

(Steven Hayward)

We’ve been meaning to devote an episode of the 3WHH podcast to a consideration of “Yellowstone,” which has been a monster hit on streaming TV the last few years. One problem is that I am two seasons behind, as is my typical TV viewing practice. At some point we’ll all get caught up and try it. The fact that the New York Times and other typical media morons have run puzzled stories about why the show is popular with conservatives makes it suitable fodder. (Besides, Beth Dutton is Lucretia’s spirit animal and role model, needless to say.)

How to describe it? The Godfather as reimagined by John Wayne? Not really, but beyond the family aspect of the show, a careful viewer will pick up here and there some specific conservative themes. This is not a coincidence. I happen to know that executive producer and showrunner Taylor Sheridan has kicked around certain story ideas and details with knowledgeable friends of mine in Montana who can close down a bar for a week about the defects of federal land policy and the perfidy of environmentalists.

In the current season, which to repeat I have not yet seen, John Dutton has contrived to become governor of Montana, and in the scene below, starting at around the 28-second mark, heads in to meet with his “policy advisers.” It is a microcosm of the administrative state in action. Watch through to the very satisfying climax at the 3:05 mark (and skip the rest of the video).

Hard to believe Hollywood has allowed this through. Meanwhile, in a case of life imitating art, we see this:

Wind energy company pleads guilty after at least 150 eagles killed in U.S.

BILLINGS, Mont. — A subsidiary of one of the largest U.S. providers of renewable energy pleaded guilty to criminal charges and was ordered to pay over $8 million in fines and restitution after at least 150 eagles were killed at its wind farms in eight states, federal prosecutors said.

NextEra Energy subsidiary ESI Energy was also sentenced to five years probation after being charged with three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act during a court appearance in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The charges arose from the deaths of nine eagles at three wind farms in Wyoming and New Mexico.

In addition to those deaths, the company acknowledged the deaths of golden and bald eagles at 50 wind farms affiliated with ESI and NextEra since 2012, prosecutors said. Birds were killed in eight states: Wyoming, California, New Mexico, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois.

I like to call wind farms “Cuisinarts in the sky.”

Uncancelled History: Winston Churchill

(Scott Johnson)

The producers of Uncancelled History with Douglas Murray have just posted episode 5 on Winston Churchill. Whose brain would you want Murray to pick on Churchill? Luckily for us they thought to call on Andrew Roberts and luckily for us Roberts answered the call. Roberts is of course the prominent historian and prolific author of the one-volume bio Churchill: Walking With Destiny and related books.

Murray and Roberts discuss the soldier, writer and prime minister in detail, leaving nothing off limits, as the précis has it. I agree with the commenter who pronounces: “This Uncancelled History series must never end.” It is doubtful that we shall be quite that lucky, but we are lucky to have this.

Bibi feels our pain

(Scott Johnson)

Once and future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no fans at the New York Times. That is old news. The Times’s antipathy to Netanyahu combines malice and stupidity, but malice certainly accounts for most of it. Netanyahu is a patriotic pro-freedom conservative. The Times hates him with the same malice it applies to prominent American conservatives with similar views.

Now the Times is on Netanyahu’s case as he seeks to form a new government. The Times applies its old malice to new circumstances, but the song remains the same. Those of us who reciprocate the Times’s malice can enjoy Netanyahu’s response.

While the NYT continues to delegitimize the one true democracy in the Middle East and America’s best ally in the region, I will continue to ignore its ill-founded advice and instead focus on building a stronger and more prosperous country,

— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) December 18, 2022

For old times’ sake, here is the 2007 photo tour host Fern Oppenheim snapped of our group with Netanyahu in his Tel Aviv office. Wherever Fern knocked in Israel, the door opened. Andrew Breitbart and Larry Solov are pictured at the left. Larry dated the conception of Breitbart News to our trip in this 2015 column.

Via JNS.

The Post on the Twitter Files

(Scott Johnson)

Through the Twitter Files we have learned in some detail how the FBI and the intelligence community conspired to suppress the New York Post’s October 2020 reporting on the Biden family corruption. Jesse O’Neill reports on the latest revelations in the New York Post story “FBI pressured Twitter, sent trove of docs hours before Post broke Hunter laptop story.” The Post also runs the valuable companion editorial “Evidence shows FBI, Biden campaign and Twitter worked together to suppress Hunter story.” For those seeking to understand this incredibly important story the Post editors provide useful background in the editorial. The editors write:

Members of the intelligence community, and censors at Twitter, stress that they just didn’t know the Hunter Biden laptop was real, so they erred on the side of caution. “It has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” the infamous letter from 50 former officials said.

Now we know that was a lie.

The FBI already had Hunter’s laptop — it was handed over to them by the owner of a Delaware repair shop, the same man who would provide it to The Post nearly a year later.

It’s also increasingly obvious that the FBI had a heads up that the information was about to be published.

The Twitter Files show how Yoel Roth, the platform’s head of trust and safety, was briefed by the FBI about possible “misinformation,” and that Hunter’s name was specifically brought up.

The latest bombshell, released Monday by journalist Michael Shellenberger, shows an intriguing timeline:

* The Post calls Hunter Biden’s lawyer for comment the day before publication.

* The lawyer calls John Paul Mac Isaac, the computer repairman. Side note, for all those who accused The Post of not doing due diligence on the laptop: We never provided the lawyer with Mac Isaac’s name. Told that we had Hunter’s laptop, he knew which repair shop to call, which provided another level of confirmation. Also: Hunter and the Biden campaign never denied the laptop was his, they just disparaged how we got it.

* A little more than two hours after the lawyer’s phone call to Mac Isaac, “FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sends 10 documents to Twitter’s then-Head of Site Integrity, Yoel Roth, through Teleporter, a one-way communications channel from the FBI to Twitter,” Shellenberger writes. What’s in those documents? We don’t know, but …

* The Post publishes the first Hunter Biden story the next day, and Twitter moves almost immediately to ban us.

It’s impossible to believe that Chan and other officials in the FBI — not to mention the still-well-connected former intelligence operatives who signed that letter — didn’t know that Hunter Biden’s files were already in the wild. And that they knew they weren’t “hacked” or made up.

Knowing that eventually the information would leak, “experts” spent months prepping for how to suppress it. Shellenberger notes that in September 2020, a month before The Post broke the news, Roth “participated in an Aspen Institute ‘tabletop exercise’ on a potential ‘Hack-and-Dump’ operation.” The “example” they came up with? Hunter Biden! They outlined a fake scenario where Burisma documents were leaked online outlining payments to the former vice president’s son.

So, of course, when legitimate news about Hunter Biden did break, Roth was ready to doubt everything.

What the Twitter Files show is not caution, but a coordinated effort between the Biden campaign and the FBI to cast aspersions and limit the reach of a story damaging to Joe Biden.

Republicans have promised an investigation when they take control of the House, and we welcome more transparency. Our suggestion for first witnesses? Chan and Roth. What was in those 10 files? What did Chan already know about the Hunter Biden laptop? And what did he tell Twitter?

Perhaps then the rest of the press will decide that collusion between the FBI, a political campaign and a social media company is worthy of coverage.

Mao’s party never ends

(Scott Johnson)

Frank Dikötter is the author of The People’s Trilogy (“a series of books that document the impact of communism on the lives of ordinary people in China on the basis of new archival material”) and, most recently, China After Mao. He has served as Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong since 2006 — “one wonders for how much longer,” Tunku Varadarajan added in his Wall Street Journal review of China After Mao.

In the podcast below Hoover Institution research fellow Michael Auslin interviewed Dikötter in connection with his new book (“and how the West misunderstands the Party’s nature, and why the idea of a liberalizing China has always been a chimera”). Dikötter himself is a senior fellow at Hoover. His Hoover profile is posted here. The podcast gives me the occasion to introduce Dikötter and to bring his books to the attention of interested readers.

NOTE: Dikötter posts two People’s Trilogy reviews by my wonderful teacher Jonathan Mirsky here and here. Jonathan reviewed Dikötter’s third People’s Trilogy book for the UK’s Spectator here.

Video: The Twelve Steps to Serfdom

(Steven Hayward)

In the introduction to Saturday’s weekly photo and meme gallery I noodled with a proposed opening for a rewrite of the 12 Days of Christmas, with Musk in the “true love gave to me” role. Turns out someone has gone the distance—the Crypto Couple on YouTube offer “The 12 Steps to Serfdom,” and most of these ring right on the nose (3:35 long):

Thought for the Day: The Importance of Last Stands

(Steven Hayward)

My podcast conversation last week with Michael Walsh didn’t allow time for consideration of his book Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost, but at length I recalled part of Leo Strauss’s critique of Edmund Burke in Natural Right and History, which remains a point of contention on the 3WHH between me and Lucretia.  Anyway, Strauss on this point:

[Burke] regarded it as possible that the victory of the French Revolution might have been decreed by Providence. In accordance with his “secularized” understanding of Providence, he drew from this conclusion that “if the system of Europe, taking in laws, manners, religion, and politics” is doomed, “they, who persist in opposing this mighty current in human affairs . . . will not be resolute and firm, but perverse and obstinate.” Burke comes close to suggesting that to oppose a thoroughly evil current in human affairs is perverse if that current is sufficiently powerful; he is oblivious of the nobility of the last-ditch resistance. He does not consider that, in a way which no man can foresee, resistance in a forlorn position to the enemies of mankind, “going down with guns blazing and flags flying,” may contribute greatly toward keeping awake the recollection of the immense loss sustained by mankind, may inspire and strengthen the desire and the hope for its recovery, and may become a beacon for those who humbly carry on the works of humanity in a seemingly endless valley of darkness and destruction. He does not consider this because he is too certain that man can know whether a cause lost now is lost forever or that man can understand sufficiently the meaning of a providential dispensation as distinguished from the moral law.

I’m not sure this reading of Burke is correct, but the larger exhortation that fighting on against great odds or even eventual defeat is necessary and worthy in a larger sense is useful to all conservatives just now.

Climax of a Farce

(John Hinderaker)

It was a foregone conclusion that Nancy Pelosi’s absurd “January 6 Committee” would recommend to the Department of Justice that it bring criminal charges against Donald Trump. That was always the point. For the record, the committee’s referral includes obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government–whatever that means–and inciting or assisting an insurrection.

It is common for Congressional committees to send such referrals to the Justice Department. Usually little or no publicity attends these actions, and usually DOJ ignores the referrals. In this case, I think it sadly probable that our corrupt Attorney General, Merrick Garland, will proceed to indict Trump. I assume that he has long been a party to this plan.

I don’t have much to say about the proposed charges. Maybe we will discuss them in detail as they take more tangible shape. For now, I will just note that there was no insurrection. The Democrats’ hysterical mischaracterization of a demonstration to which not a single person thought to bring a firearm as an “insurrection” has always been the lie at the heart of the January 6 farce. And the fact that Donald Trump sought legal means to challenge initial vote counts is not blameworthy, let alone criminal. Just ask Al Gore.

Assuming that Garland is in on the plot and proceeds to indict Trump, there is a strong probability that he will be convicted of something. Presumably the prosecution will be venued in Washington, D.C., where Trump is deeply unpopular. A trial, if there is one, will take place in a lynch mob atmosphere analogous to the one in which Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder here in Minnesota. Some people take seriously the idea that Trump could be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. I think that in 2024, he is more likely to be in prison, or fighting an unjust conviction on appeal.

There is nothing about this story that can be understood outside the context of the unprecedented and uniquely malicious hatred that the Democratic Party and, more broadly, the American establishment, has harbored toward Trump since he emerged as a political figure. The “January 6 Committee,” and the criminal prosecution that likely will ensue, represent a bleak chapter in our country’s history.

Top Gun, Indeed

(John Hinderaker)

Check out this short video that Tom Cruise made to promote his two most recent films, Top Gun: Maverick and the current Mission Impossible, and to thank movie fans for their business:

A special message from the set of #MissionImpossible @MissionFilm

— Tom Cruise (@TomCruise) December 18, 2022

Say what you will about the man, he’s got guts.

Notes on the Twitter Files (7)

(Scott Johnson)

Michael Shellenberger has just posted another multipart thread on the Twitter Files here — part 7 of the Twitter Files project. This may be the most important of the threads published so far.

• As Techno Fog puts it: “[T]his release provides more details on the relationship between Twitter and the FBI, the suppression and removal of the Hunter Biden story from Twitter the FBI’s desire for Twitter to confirm a “foreign interference” narrative that didn’t exist, and how the FBI sought user location information for tweets that weren’t remotely criminal.”

• Shellenberger includes a backgrounder by Peter Schweizer on what the suppression of the New York Post’s Biden laptop/Biden corruption stories in advance of the 2020 presidential election.

11. First, it's important to understand that Hunter Biden earned *tens of millions* of dollars in contracts with foreign businesses, including ones linked to China's government, for which Hunter offered no real work.
Here's an overview by investigative journalist @peterschweizer

— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 19, 2022

• The FBI set out to suppress the Post’s Biden reporting on the basis of approximately nothing.

14. Were the FBI warnings of a Russian hack-and-leak operation relating to Hunter Biden based on *any* new intel?

No, they weren't

“Through our investigations, we did not see any similar competing intrusions to what had happened in 2016,” admitted FBI agent Elvis Chan in Nov.

— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 19, 2022

• More here.

24. Recently, Yoel Roth told @karaswisher that he had been primed to think about the Russian hacking group APT28 before news of the Hunter Biden laptop came out.

When it did, Roth said, "It set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack-and-leap campaign alarm bells."

— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 19, 2022

• Former FBI General Counsel and then current Twitter deputy general counsel James Baker was the key to the FBI’s suppression operation.

33. Then, on Sept 15, 2020 the FBI’s Laura Dehmlow, who heads up the Foreign Influence Task Force, and Elvis Chan, request to give a classified briefing for Jim Baker, without any other Twitter staff