This really should be a Two Whisky Happy Hour this week as the whisky bar is short one bartender. John Yoo is overseas yet again to Italy for some nefarious purpose, so it’s just me and Lucretia slinging the 180-proof analysis of the Twitter revelations and other news headlines of the end of the week. But the main topic is following up on the mid-week conversation with Glenn Ellmers on “Hard Truths & Radical Possibilities,” which excited considerable discussion in the comment thread on Power Line.
It is tempting here to recur to Stan Evans’s First Law of Insufficient Paranoia, which holds that no matter how bad things look, it is usually the case that when you look more closely, things are even worse than you thought. My corollary is that things are going to get worse before they get worse, and in an amazing switcheroo, Lucretia is actually more optimistic than I am in the analysis of the fundamentals of our crisis. It a fit of foolish impetuosity, I tried to invoke the controversial German thinker Carl Schmitt to illustrate that behind the problems of the administrative state are the defects of the liberal tradition itself, but Lucretia wasn’t buying any of it.
To be continued next week, when we’ll take up John’s completely defective article in National Review about why Texas Governor Abbott is wrong to invoke state power to protect the southern border from federal neglect, which, we note for the moment, has drawn some heavy fire from some of our other friends.
We do end on a happy note, sharing a message from John from the Munich airport Friday morning, where he met by chance a European listener of our podcast—who knew?—and then I offer up some especially obscure exit music mostly to annoy Lucretia and mess with peoples’ heads. Though “See the deadly nightshade grow” seems like a fitting lyric for our grim topic.
So listen here, or with our wholesale whisky suppliers at Ricochet.
I can’t really vouch for this “fever” chart format, because I don’t have the raw data. But it kind of matches the regional differences in the use of “soda” and “pop” to describe fizzy carbonated soft drinks. And it makes some intuitive sense.
Joe Biden tried to make political hay out of the Kanye West/Donald Trump fiasco by denouncing Hitler.
I just want to make a few things clear:
The Holocaust happened.
Hitler was a demonic figure.
And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides.
Silence is complicity.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 2, 2022
How bold! Is Joe cutting-edge, or what?
Of course, if Biden actually wanted to do something courageous–something that might make a difference–he could denounce the anti-Semitism of Al Sharpton. Or Ilhan Omar. Or Rashida Tlaib. But he wouldn’t dream of doing that; those are powerful figures within the Democratic Party.
Is silence complicity? Not always, certainly. But in this case, leaders of the Democratic Party like Joe Biden are indeed complicit in the anti-Semitism that has long characterized key elements of their party.
This was the crazy-turned-to-eleven week when Alyssa Milano took pity on Sam Bankrupt-Fraud and tried to distract attention from his plight by picking a fight with Elon Musk, but over in the shadows Kanye [Ye] West said, “Hold my German beer: watch THIS!” I certainly hope over the weekend we hear from Bono, or some other leading celebrity, so we’ll know what to think. In the meantime, I hope some aspiring progressive screenwriter in Hollywood is working on a script about the polyamorous marriage that would result in the hyphenated throuple known as “Bankman-Fried-Milano-Thunberg.” Call the movie “Tail from the Crypto.” [I’ll show myself out.]
Headlines of the week:
And finally. . .
As Elon Musk promised, Twitter is releasing internal documents about how and why they suppressed information about Joe Biden’s corruption, as documented on his son’s laptop, in the last weeks of the 2020 campaign. Twitter apparently outsourced the task to liberal (but not crazy) commentator Matt Taibbi. You can follow Taibbi’s thread here.
I will have more to say when it is over, but here are some highlights as we go along.
The Biden campaign communicated directly with Twitter to get objectionable tweets censored:
Remarkably, Twitter locked out the account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany because she referred to the (accurate) New York Post story about the laptop. A Trump staffer complained disgustedly:
Twitter officials suppressed the news but couldn’t come up with a coherent rationale for doing so:
26. By this point “everyone knew this was fucked,” said one former employee, but the response was essentially to err on the side of… continuing to err. pic.twitter.com/2wJMFAUBoe
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022
It is notable how many Twitter employees questioned whether there was any basis for suppressing the news about Biden:
26. By this point “everyone knew this was fucked,” said one former employee, but the response was essentially to err on the side of… continuing to err. pic.twitter.com/2wJMFAUBoe
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022
One Democratic Congressman reached out to Twitter to express free speech-related concerns, but Twitter officials didn’t seem to get the point:
32.Khanna tries to reroute the conversation to the First Amendment, mention of which is generally hard to find in the files: pic.twitter.com/Tq6l7VMuQL
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022
A guy named Szabo from NetChoice weighed in, explaining to Twitter the desirability of more censorship:
36.Twitter files continued:
"THE FIRST AMENDMENT ISN’T ABSOLUTE”
Szabo’s letter contains chilling passages relaying Democratic lawmakers’ attitudes. They want “more” moderation, and as for the Bill of Rights, it's "not absolute" pic.twitter.com/cWdNYIprp8
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022
The thread continues. So far, I would say it tells us pretty much what we already knew. Liberal Twitter employees seized on a flimsy pretext to suppress a story that would hurt the Biden campaign in the closing days before the election. Taibbi comments that one striking feature is that the censorship was carried out without the involvement of Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, who later apologized for it. Perhaps the partisans at Twitter thought Dorsey may not be on board with their censorship.
It is also interesting to read the many replies by liberals who think that what Twitter did was A-OK. I they represent the majority of Democrats in believing that any information that helps Republicans or hurts Democrats should be suppressed.
The thread is ongoing, you can read it at the link. I will follow up later tonight or in the morning with any additional significant revelations.
Forbes has a report on how Chinese state media use TikTok to try to influence American elections. It dwarfs the piddling effort the Russians made several cycles ago:
TikTok accounts run by the propaganda arm of the Chinese government have accumulated millions of followers and tens of millions of views, many of them on videos editorializing about U.S. politics without clear disclosure that they were posted by a foreign government.
This is vastly beyond the nominal social media buy the Russians made in 2016.
The accounts are managed by MediaLinks TV, a registered foreign agent and Washington D.C.-based outpost of the main Chinese Communist Party television news outlet, China Central Television. The largest of them are @Pandaorama, which features cute videos about Chinese culture, @The…Optimist, which posts about sustainability, and @NewsTokss, which features coverage of U.S. national and international news.
So what does the Chinese Communist Party do with the millions of American TikTok users it has attracted? Mostly, it tries to swing elections toward the Democrats:
In the run-up to the 2022 elections, the @NewsTokss account criticized some candidates (mostly Republicans), and favored others (mostly Democrats). A video from July began with the caption “Cruz, Abbott Don’t Care About Us”; a video from October was captioned “Rubio Has Done Absolutely Nothing.” But @NewsTokss did not target only Republicans; another October video asked viewers whether they thought President Joe Biden’s promise to sign a bill codifying abortion rights was a “political manipulation tactic.” Nothing in these videos disclosed to viewers that they were being pushed by a foreign government.
The Forbes piece includes screen shots from these TikToks:
The Chinese also try to stir up hostility among Americans, mostly by repeating liberal talking points:
The most popular NewsTokss videos available on TikTok today largely focus on divisive U.S. social issues like guns, abortion and structural racism — all topics that were also used by Russian election meddlers seeking to divide Americans and weaken confidence in democratic institutions. These topics were also discussed by fake Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a China-based election influence operation earlier this year.
@NewsTokss posted six videos that day: four about mass shootings (one of which is captioned “A Uniquely American Plague”), and two about police officers killing an unarmed Black man.
This is a major news story. Or it would be, anyway, if the Democratic Party and (to repeat) America’s news outlets were not in the pocket of the Chinese Communist Party.
I know we have previously shared data on the sharp downward trend in climate-related deaths over the last century, which is exactly the opposite of what the climate hysterics and their stenographers in the media claim daily. I think we used this chart before:
Here’s a new look at the data worth passing along:
Meanwhile, you know the leading climate-related case of death is? Cold weather, especially when you can’t keep your house warm because of expensive (or intermittent) “green” energy. Here is The Economist magazine’s projection of elevated death rates in Europe this winter because of costly or rationed energy:
If you squint closely enough, you can detect Gavin Newsom edging ever so slightly to the right in preparation for running for president in 2024. (Pay no attention to his disavowal of a 2024 run the other day; he only ruled out challenging Biden. If Biden withdraws on his own, Newsom 2024 will be on!) He opposed a recent proposal to raise incomes taxes yet again on the top 1 percent of income earners in California. And he’s suddenly demanding California cities get tougher on homelessness. In fact if you look closely some liberal California cities—even Berkeley and Oakland—are clearing out some of the more conspicuous homeless encampments. They are doing this very quietly, so as not to upset progressives.
I wonder how Newsom is going to react to the news that the commission he set in motion to study whether California should pay reparations for slavery has reported in with a recommendation that all descendants of slaves in California should be granted $223,200 per person, at an estimated total cost of $569 billion. This at a time when California is suddenly facing a $25 billion budget deficit (though I predict it will double to $50 billion or more by next spring). I wonder how Newsom will distance himself from this recommendation. And how will California hispanics, Vietnamese refugees, and other minority groups feel about being made to pay for reparations for one single class of people who have faced racial hostility in America’s past? I can think of few things that will drive more hispanic voters to Republicans than this proposal.
And how much would this proposal cost if it went national? I’ll need to do some math, but an easy conservative guess is that it would cost several trillion dollars. That’s a winning platform for 2024! But just how would Newsom back away from a national reparations scheme if he embraces it in California?
I need to take an unpaid sick day or two to recover from the nasty flu virus that has descended upon me. I will survive. I hope to be back Saturday or Sunday. If not, I will be chalking up a few more unpaid sick days. More importantly, I hope to have something to say about the news of the day.
If it were Covid, perhaps I could attribute my brain fog to that, but it is not. It is some variant of the old-fashioned bug that I have succeeded in avoiding since 1972 or so. I am on the cutting edge of the “return” of the flu.
After flu became virtually non-existent during the COVID pandemic, according to health officials, the CDC revealed this week that almost 3,000 people have died in the U.S. from flu this season.https://t.co/B46MprGC6s
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) December 2, 2022
Emmanuel Macron is in Washington for a state visit. Everything is going well, truly it is. And we have an actual president in the White House. Sure we do.
And the permanent political class in this nation says nothing. We are so screwed. https://t.co/DfVHfOv2u3
— Tammy Bruce (@HeyTammyBruce) December 2, 2022
Lately there has been talk that the Democrats may nominate Biden for a second term after all. I don’t take it seriously. I think the real question is whether he can make it to 2024.
Ammo Grrrll takes note of UNPAYABLE DEBTS and UNSUNG HEROES. She writes:
Since last week’s column missed Thanksgiving by just a day, I believe it is still appropriate (and is always appropriate) to think about our many Unpayable Debts. Gratitude is out of favor; entitlement is The Current Thing, along with hatred for and disparagement of every single blessing we have inherited. But most of my readers do not care much for The Current Thing.
Although our topic is Unpayable Debts, I rush to assure all the sad, entitled kids, I’m not talking about your college loans, in which you squandered tens of thousands of dollars on a Degree in Nonbinary Anti-Imperialist Poetry. Those debts ARE eventually payable, you’d just prefer not to. Yeah, #MeToo. I feel the same way about my Home Owners’ Assn. dues AND my Arizona water bill. But nobody is offering to bribe me for my vote, so I just go ahead and pay my own bills as I have been doing for lo, these 60 years or so.
The first Unpayable Debt I incurred in utero. As I have mentioned in the past, my sainted late mother was in a pregnancy that turned life-threatening enough (toxemia that turned to full-blown eclampsia) that even way back in 1946 the doctor urged “terminating.” She declined; here I am. I doubt there has ever been a closer mother and daughter.
Another installment of the Unpayable Debt is owed the family who raised me. I was yanked prematurely into that sweet spot in American history when the Daddies and soon-to-be-Daddies returned from winning the Big War against various forms of fascism and started filling up the country with newborns. After all the horror the world had seen in the ’30s and ’40s, newborns were not considered a carbon footprint blight on Gaia, but rather a promissory note for a brighter future. Heck, they put our tiny carbon footprints in ink right on our Birth Certificates!
Growing up in my small-town, loving family, I also found myself in the most free, most prosperous nation on God’s green earth, a republic (if we can keep it), governed by a Constitution, Bill of Rights, and checks and balances. Talk about an Unpayable Debt! The best medical care that existed at the time! My God, Dr. Reinhardt came out to our house to give us exams and prescriptions or shots when we had flu or bronchitis. We got free education that actually taught students to read, write and “figger” without even a hint about the sex lives of any of our teachers, who by some statistical miracle, were ALL either men or women! What were the chances?
The reason America has remained The Shining City on the Hill to all and sundry brings us to our next Unpayable Debt and the reason for this column: the Unpayable Debt to our military veterans and especially to the ones who gave all. Every male in our families served, most in wartime. My paternal grandfather served in WWI. Joe’s Hungarian grandfather also fought in World War I, just on the other side. (His service, however, did not save him from Auschwitz.) Both of our fathers served in World War II.
Through this column Joe and I have met many kind, smart, tough patriots who served our country. I hate even to start naming names lest I leave someone out, but just a FEW of those people would include TonyP173, JimJ, Sgt. Dufus, Colonel Will, uffdaphil, MikeC, and Capt. JimW. (I will keep the list short so that if you were omitted, you are in good company with many others.)
In one column last summer, a new commenter (FIIGMO) noticed that we were in Prescott and offered right in the comments to spring for a beer at a famous local pizza place. Who could turn that down? We went and made some beautiful friends. You know that feeling when you meet a new person and INSTANTLY you know you are in the presence of Someone Special? Yeah, that. And he had brought his lovely brilliant wife, so that was multiplied by two.
Joe Shaffer III has degrees in Philosophy and History. He is a Vietnam veteran who served as a Medical Services Specialist in the United States Air Force. When I sang his praises to my aforementioned friend TonyP173, he immediately said, “A Medic? ALL soldiers LOVE medics.” After an illustrious career in the Honors Program at Northern AZ University, Mr. Shaffer currently volunteers in the Emergency Department at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System in Prescott, AZ. (Of course he does!)
His wife, Dr. Paula Kapp Greene, is Associate Professor Emeritus from NAU. She has both a Master’s and a Doctorate in Education from Vanderbilt University. But what she speaks of with the most sparkle is the fact that she is mother to both a decorated Navy EOD operator and a Naval Senior Intelligence Officer.
Almost immediately in our first pizza/beer meeting, Joe and Paula told us about the manuscript they had just completed that they hoped would become a book. It was about the men and women of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community of the United States Navy, which they describe in the opening Preface as “…operators and technicians who quietly undertake some of the most dangerous work performed by members of the American military.”
I thought perhaps it was some sort of little monograph. Boy, “wrong” does not begin to cover that assumption. Unsung, is a work of such exquisite, thorough and painstaking scholarship and compassion that it almost defies description. It is not a breezy novel that can be tossed off in a sitting and forgotten.
It is first a fascinating but short history of Navy EOD starting with a brief biography of Admiral Draper Kauffman, considered the “Father” of both NAVY EOD and Navy SEALS. But the heart and soul of the book are the dozens of in-depth interviews with the extraordinary men and women of the EOD, including the experiences of their families. You need to read these vignettes a few at a time and linger over the mind-boggling personal sacrifices – stories told in the participants’ own words. These men – and their families – will live in your head for some time to come. Some use their real names; pseudonyms are used in many cases for operational security because it’s a nasty world out there and we are currently a country without borders.
In the foreword to this remarkable book, Francis A. Morneau, RADM, U.S. Navy (ret) gifted us with a rare dose of pride and optimism in this fractious, depressing world. Let me quote him at some length:
If you believe that America is becoming soft and timid…think again. There are men who still believe in the strong moral values this country was founded upon and will fight for them under any circumstance. They have the rare combination of a commando’s physical toughness and a physicist’s intelligence and are willing to make enormous sacrifices both personally and professionally to protect their country…This book is an insight to their story. As an American, I will always view myself forever in their debt.
In a world of Participation Trophies, Safe Spaces, and Self-Esteem Boosting Workshops, it is altogether fitting that we pay tribute to people who are just plain BETTER than us. People whose boots we are not really worthy to shine. And not JUST because we wouldn’t be able to do a good enough job.
But here’s the remarkable thing: of the many vets I have been privileged to know, not a one thinks of HIMSELF or HERSELF as a hero. They all – often with choked voices and flowing tears – say the heroes are the ones who were severely wounded or didn’t come back.
So I hope I have convinced you to order this book off Amazon–UNSUNG: Quiet Voices of the US Navy’s EOD Warriors and Their Families. Use the search field drop down menu, select books, type in UNSUNG QUIET VOICES, and that will take you to the book. If not, search for it on Amazon via Google.
In the past, when you have rallied to order a new column compilation by me or the latest novel by Max Cossack, often several hundred have flown out the door. Let’s try to set a new record.
Please – even if you are not a superfan of Amazon – get over it long enough to order this important book. Trust me, it won’t affect Mr. Bezos one way or the other. Maybe order one for you and a few for Christmas gifts or to honor vets you know. It is not a bargain-priced book, but your purchase helps support two great non-profit organizations that provide assistance to the families of fallen EOD warriors. A full 50% of net sales will be split between these two organizations.
Next week, I already have a considerably more amusing column in the works, but just for today, I felt strongly that a temporary step outside the Humor Zone was called for, as one small installment on that Unpayable Debt. Needing multiple lifetimes to “pay it back”, all we can realistically do is pay it forward.
I didn’t pay close attention to the controversy over Kanye West’s apparently anti-Semitic comments of a few days ago. This was partly because I have zero interest in hip-hop music or in fashion, the fields in which West has had success, and mostly because he obviously is mentally ill. To the extent I have seen West’s political musings, they are utterly incoherent.
But the Left found West a convenient target because some of his political pronouncements have been favorable toward Donald Trump. Trump, as usual, played into the Democrats’ hands. He invited West to dinner at Mar-a-Lago, and West brought with him a guy named Fuentes with whom I am unacquainted, but who evidently is objectionable. That forced Trump to deny any knowledge of Fuentes while still trying to maintain his fragile alliance with the deeply disturbed Ye.
Now, West has torn it: in an interview with Alex Jones, of all people, he came out in support of Hitler. “I like Hitler.” “We gotta stop dissing the Nazis all the time.” The whole thing was bizarre, with West wearing a black stocking cap or the like over his face.
So liberals are having a field day, associating Ye with Donald Trump.
This sad story prompts several thoughts.
First, Kanye West has a long history of mental illness, in which he is now far gone. He needs help. Pretending that he is a significant political figure is absurd.
Second, Donald Trump’s judgment is, once again, terrible. He hitched himself to the wagon of an obviously unstable and irrational entertainer, I assume because it gave him some kind of trendy cachet. Also, probably, because West is–for some reason–rich. The cigar that has now blown up in Trump’s face was entirely foreseeable, and he has no one to blame but himself. Trump, whose daughter married a Jew, whose Jewish son-in-law was a key adviser when he was president, who has Jewish grandchildren, and who was likely the most pro-Israel president in our history, has allowed himself to be tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism. Presidential contenders need to be smart. Trump is not smart.
Third, and most important, let’s not forget where serious anti-Semitism comes from. It is left-wing Democrats like the members of the “Squad,” not Republicans, who are both anti-Semitic and viciously anti-Israel. The Democrats’ anti-Semitic history goes back a long way. Even today, they continue to confer kingmaker status on Al Sharpton, a notorious anti-Semite who is neither crazy nor irrelevant. Sharpton incited the Crown Heights riot, for which he has never apologized. Then there is Louis Farrakhan, who is finally out of favor with Democrats–officially, at least–but who has done orders of magnitude more to incite hatred against Jews than West.
Kanye West is just a poor, mentally ill man. I hope he gets appropriate treatment. But Donald Trump, by associating himself in a tone-deaf manner with the unreliable West, has allowed the Democrats to shift the burden of anti-Semitism from themselves, where it belongs, to Republicans. This is the kind of political incompetence that will doom Donald Trump to the dustbin of history.
The Daily Signal reports on a production of correspondence between Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, one of the most vicious members of the Democratic Party, and the IRS:
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., called for revoking a tax exemption for a conservative group for not masking up and socially distancing during the pandemic, insisted on a slew of investigations of other conservative groups, and pressed for the Internal Revenue Service to expand its reach.
In a letter dated Jan. 19, 2021, Whitehouse asked IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to revoke the tax-exempt status of Turning Point USA because the conservative organization held an event at then-President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club without masking and social distancing.
Putting aside the fact that masking and social distancing proved to be of little or no value, they have nothing to do with an organization’s tax-exempt status. If there is a violation of local health-related ordinances, it is up to local authorities to enforce them. The IRS has nothing to do with it.
“Tax-exempt status provides a substantial benefit to charitable organizations and reflects the federal government’s endorsement of an organization’s activities,” Whitehouse wrote to the IRS chief. “Organizations that knowingly put in danger minors entrusted to their care should not enjoy the benefits of tax-exempt status. Accordingly, I urge the IRS to review whether it should revoke Turning Point USA’s tax-exempt status.”
Whitehouse is not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but can he possibly be this ignorant? Tax exempt status does not “reflect the federal government’s endorsement of an organization’s activities.” The federal government is not in the business of endorsing the efforts of charitable organizations. In many instances, charitable organizations pursue diametrically opposed objectives, so that it would be more or less impossible to “endorse” the activities of both.
Taken as a whole, Whitehouse’s correspondence with the IRS “makes it very clear that a U.S. senator is attempting to essentially encourage the IRS to investigate his political opponents,” as Tom Jones of the American Accountability Foundation put it.
The good news is that the IRS seems to have resisted Whitehouse’s effort to bring the power of government down on conservatives. Thus, when Whitehouse and other Democrats wanted the IRS to collaborate with other agencies in seeking out violations of campaign finance laws by Republicans, the IRS commissioner refused:
Congress has not authorized the IRS to enforce campaign finance laws. In addition, Section 6103 of the Code strictly limits the IRS’s ability to share tax information with other federal agencies. Accordingly, the IRS cannot disclose any names or addresses of substantial contributors to other federal agencies for non-tax investigations, including campaign finance matters, except in very narrowly prescribed circumstances. Unauthorized disclosures may lead to civil and criminal liability.
That is reassuring. But I think everyone assumes that the Democrats’ desire to hire 87,000 new IRS agents is driven largely by their intention to hobble conservative nonprofits by tying then up in tax investigations.
From Stephen Hicks’ book, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault:
Any intellectual movement is defined by its fundamental philosophical premises. Those premises state what it takes to be real, what it is to be human, what is valuable, and how knowledge is acquired. That is, any intellectual movement has a metaphysics, a conception of human nature and values, and an epistemology. . .
Metaphysically, postmodernism is anti-realist, holding that it is impossible to speak meaningfully about an independent existing reality. Postmodernism substitutes instead a social-linguistic, constructionist account of reality. Epistemologically, having rejected the notion of an independently existing reality, postmodernism denies that reason or any other method is a means of acquiring objective knowledge of that reality. Having substituted social-linguistic constructs for that reality, postmodernism emphasizes the subjectivity, conventionality, and incommensurability of those constructions.
This is among the reasons why, whenever engaging the subject of postmodernism, I like to ask not only why are we having this conversation, but how are we having this conversation, if language itself lacks a basis in objective reality?
I gather there is some kind of supposedly significant metric football competition happening some godforsaken place that rhymes with gutter. And like the Olympics, this quadrennial spectacle is a huge money-loser for the host country or city. The chart below displays the costs and revenues, showing not only the soaring costs to host, but the shortfalls most of the time. But this chart omits one key variable—the amount of graft and bribes involved, which always benefit the political class and well-connected businesses. (Does anyone really believe the Russians turned a profit on the 2018 Cup?) So don’t expect any change any time soon. Almost as exciting as a tie score.
Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, creation of a new regime favoring free speech, and promise to account for the platform’s past censorship must be one of the most important stories in the country. The Biden administration has now announced that it is keeping an “eye on Twitter” in the wake of Musk’s purchase. They yearn for the old days when stories unfavorable to Biden were mercilessly barred from the platform.
When administration spokesman John Kirby turned up for a segment with Martha MacCallum (she/her/hers) yesterday on FOX News. MacCallum put the Twitter issues in the context of Apple’s reported accommodation of Chinese authorities in suppressing the current protests and grilled Kirby on the administration’s position. MacCallum grilled Kirby. If I understand what Kirby was saying with his reference to CFIUS — a big if, I’m not saying I do — Kirby raised a question concerning the legality of Musk’s ownership of Twitter based on Musk’s citizenship.
Musk has been a naturalized American citizen since 2002. The Biden administration is searching for a pretext to bring Musk to heel and stretching to create an issue where none should exist. If there is an eye to be kept, it should be kept on the Biden administration and its hostility to free speech.
This might be the hardest moment ever broadcast LIVE on Fox News as John Kirby attends his own flogging over Regime's explicit targeting of Twitter and @elonmusk while allowing Apple to trample Free Speech and collude with CCP
Just Watch This.
All the way to the end. pic.twitter.com/szDBof2CBb
— Danny De Urbina (@dannydeurbina) November 30, 2022
Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come” is a funny song. The Tom Jones video that I posted here over the weekend milks the humor by placing Jones’s performance at the party depicted in the song. I observed that the premise of the song is wide-eyed shock, but added that nothing is shocking anymore. The saga of Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Sam “Not the Man” Brinton tests the proposition.
Picking up the story from Alpha News editor Anthony Gockowski, the Daily Mail’s Paul Farrell adds a tabloid dimension in “EXCLUSIVE: Biden’s married, non-binary nuclear waste guru who stole woman’s $2,325 bag from airport hosted SPANKING seminar at kink conference just weeks later – under ‘NuclearNerd’ nickname that’s still in use on fetish hookup website.”
That’s the headline. The story adds that Brinton spoke in Los Angeles at a seminar titled “Spanking: From Calculus To Chemistry.” Farrell reports:
The seminar was held at Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles, where Brinton, 34, stayed on Friday and Saturday night. The event was titled: “LA Leather Getaway” and was sponsored by CLAW Corp., a national leather charity.
Brinton, who presented at the event under the pseudonym, NuclearNerd, has been teaching their “Physics of Kink” class at universities and community events “across the country for years,” according to their profile on CLAW’s website.
The bio goes on to say: “They have been active in the kink world since 2013, host monthly kink parties in their dungeon in Washington, DC, and estimate they have spanked over 2,000 cute butts.”
Brinton is listed in CLAW’s 2019 year book under the name Sir Sam Brinton where they taught a class on the “Newtonian physics of spanking.” They added: “Physics is a pivotal part of the kink experience. They were pictured at the event in 2021 as well.
Farrell also reports: “Since 2019, Brinton has been married to their husband, Kevin Rieck. The couple began dating in 2015.” The Daily Mail supplies the requisite photo of the happy couple.
Star Tribune reporter Paul Walsh repeatedly used the confusing “they/them/their” as Brinton’s chosen pronouns in his minimal story on the Brinton case. I’m not clear where Walsh picked up “their” preference. Though late to the story, adding nothing to it, and ignoring the Alpha News scoop, Walsh ostentatiously gets “their” pronoun “right” as a matter of what must be compliance with Star Tribune policy. Walsh clearly has the paper’s priorities in order.
By contrast, one senses that the Daily Mail is having tabloid fun with it as it explores “their” scholarship on the physics of kink takes up “their” family situation. Indeed, Farrell reverts to “he” elsewhere in his story.
I would only add this. Think — think of the rhymes with “kink.” I’m not sure about “spank,” but I am pretty sure Randy Newman could easily add a verse or two to “Mama Told Me Not To Come” if he were so inclined.
Democrats think the perennial battle over gun control has now swung in their favor. They are vowing to enact new gun control measures, allegedly in response to recent high-profile mass shooting incidents. Of course, we already have hundreds of statutes and regulations on the books relating to firearms. When someone engages in a mass shooting (or any shooting) he violates multiple statutes of the most serious kind.
An obvious question is, if the hundreds of statutes and regulations already in place didn’t stop the latest outrage, why would adding one more make a difference? In reality, we have plenty of laws that make it illegal to shoot someone, or to acquire or use firearms in various ways. Unfortunately, enforcement of those laws is generally pathetic. Which is why we see the same criminals committing one crime after another.
My colleague David Zimmer is a veteran of more than 30 years in the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and now is a Policy Fellow at American Experiment. David makes the case that our crime problem is largely the fault of an irresponsible criminal justice system. David’s examples come from Minnesota, but the fecklessness he documents is no doubt common to many states, including all blue states. This is from his post, titled “Gun crime offenders and our court system’s anemic response.” David did a deep dive into court records to produce what follows:
We should be able to agree that gun crime offenders belong at the top of our public safety concerns. Unfortunately, our liberal state criminal justice system has failed to hold gun offenders accountable.
This lack of accountability is revealed in the gun-related cases of three young men over the past 1 ½ years — Muhnee Bailey aka “Money,” 21 yrs old, and twin brothers Quantez and Cortez Ward, both 19 years old.
The timeline of activity is convoluted, not because it is particularly complicated, but because the three are prolific in their gun crime activity. Sadly, despite several opportunities to do so, the state district courts failed to detain these men, or hold them accountable for their serious crimes. The courts have no excuse for not connecting these dots and protecting law-abiding citizens from dangerous offenders such as these.
Timeline of Offenses Known:
On January 17, 2022, the Minneapolis Police received information that Muhnee and the Ward brothers were in a vehicle and all three had firearms. The police located the vehicle in North Minneapolis and attempted to stop it. Muhnee was driving, but instead of stopping he fled the police and ended up ramming a squad car head on. Muhnee and Quantez fled on foot before being arrested, while Cortez was arrested in the vehicle. Cortez and Quantez were each found to be in possession of handguns with extended magazines and “switches” that made them fully automatic “machine guns.” Muhnee was found to be in possession of a handgun with an extended magazine.
All three were booked into the Hennepin County Jail, and the cases were submitted to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Muhnee was charged with Felony Fleeing Police in a Motor Vehicle and Gross Misdemeanor Carrying a Pistol without a Permit.
Quantez was charged with Felony Possession of a Machine Gun and Gross Misdemeanor Carrying a Pistol without a Permit, and Misdemeanor Fleeing Police on Foot.
Cortez was charged with Felony Possession of a Machine Gun and Gross Misdemeanor Carrying a Pistol without a Permit.
On 1/19/22, the Wards were each afforded $50,000 bail and each posted bond. Quantez’s bail was set at the same level as his brother despite being previously adjudicated guilty of felony possession of a firearm as a juvenile.
On 1/20/22, Muhnee was afforded $60,000 bail and posted bond, despite being on conditional release from Ramsey County for being the driver in a drive-by shooting in 2021, whereby 20 rounds were fired at a house with several children playing in the yard.
On 4/12/22, while released on bail from the two previously discussed cases, Muhnee shot a man in St. Paul, and fled the area. The police began an investigation.
On 5/2/22, Cortez was sentenced by Judge Lamas after pleading guilty to possessing the machine gun seized in January. His sentence was just 120 days on electronic home monitoring, and two years’ probation. If he successfully completed probation his conviction would have been converted to a misdemeanor.
On 5/6/22, just four days after being sentenced to home monitoring, Cortez was pulled over with Quantez by the Maple Grove Police. A loaded pistol was seized during the stop. Hennepin County issued a probation violation warrant and Cortez. He went before Judge Quam on 5/10/22 and was released with no bail and continued conditions of remaining law aiding, not possessing guns, etc. It doesn’t appear Quantez faced any repercussions at all for this gun seizure.
On 5/13/22, Quantez was sentenced by Judge Lamas after pleading guilty to possessing the machine gun. He received the same 120 electronic home monitoring and three years’ probation that Cortez did, despite being previously adjudicated guilty of felony possession of a firearm as a juvenile, and despite having just violated conditions of his release with the Maple Grove seizure of a firearm. His conviction would also revert to a misdemeanor if he successfully completed two years’ probation.
5/17/22, St. Paul Police executed a search warrant on Muhnee’s residence and vehicle. They seized two handguns (one fully automatic), a drum magazine, and ammunition. Muhnee was arrested and charged in Ramsey County Court with possession of a machine gun, and 2nd degree assault for shooting the man in April. Muhnee was afforded $100,000 bail. On 5/20/22 he posted $100,000 bond and was released from the Ramsey Co. Jail. There is no record that Hennepin Co. took any action against his conditional release from the January weapon and fleeing case.
On 7/19/22, police executed another search warrant on the residence of Cortez and Quantez. Multiple firearms and ammunition were seized. In an interview with police, Quantez admitted being a member of a North Minneapolis street gang and to having committed at least five drive-by shootings as a member of the gang.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office subsequently charged Cortez and Quantez with federal firearms violations.
On 8/19/22 Muhnee was sentenced in Hennepin County District Court after pleading guilty to the 1/17/22 flee police and possession of a firearm. Judge Lamas sentenced him to supervised release for three years.
In October 2022, Cortez pled guilty in federal court to illegally possessing ammunition as a felon in connection with the 5/6/22 Maple Grove arrest.
In November 2022, Quantez pled guilty in federal court to illegally possessing a firearm as a felon related to the July seizure of firearms from his residence.
Both brothers are awaiting sentencing before Judge Schiltz. According to the Department of Justice, the average sentence for a felon in possession of firearms is 64 months in prison.
On 10/3/22, Muhnee pled guilty to the 2021 drive by shooting in Ramsey County District Court. As part of the plea, the Ramsey County Attorney dropped the 2nd degree assault case from the April 2022 shooting.
On 11/16/22, Judge Sheu sentenced Muhnee in Ramsey County District Court for the 2021 drive by shooting and the 5/17/22 possession of a machine gun to 365 days in the workhouse, stayed for two years, and three years supervised release.
Anyone who has bought into the narrative that we over-incarcerate should re-read the above timeline. Multiple courts had several opportunities to incapacitate these men through incarceration. The state district courts in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties failed each and every time. It is yet to be seen if the federal court holds the Wards accountable with actual prison time.
Sadly, there are far too many similar stories in Minnesota. At a time of elevated violence in our state, it is inexcusable for our court system to be failing us time after time. The entire criminal justice system — police, prosecutors, courts, corrections, and the Sentencing Guidelines Commission — should be coordinating to ensure all tools are being used to hold gun offenders accountable, through prolonged incarceration.
Until we do, those advocating for “gun control” can take a seat.
The European Union has committed to going “green.” This means they are closing reliable fossil fuel and nuclear plants, and betting on wind and solar to meet their energy needs. Liberals assure us that wind and solar will represent a cost savings. (Which, obviously, is why they need to be subsidized.) Also as part of its “green” agenda, Europeans are moving to replace internal combustion vehicles with electric vehicles, with the electricity to come from wind and solar.
But there’s a catch! The entire essence of an electric vehicle is its battery, but it turns out that you can’t produce car-sized batteries in Europe, because manufacturing batteries requires a lot of energy:
Volkswagen, the German carmaker that’s pledged to manufacture nothing but electric vehicles in Europe by 2035, now says it’s “practically unviable” to build the batteries they need domestically.
That’s according to Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schafer, who wrote on LinkedIn this week that “Unless we manage to reduce energy prices in Germany and Europe quickly and reliably, investments in energy-intensive production or new battery cell factories in Germany and the EU will be practically unviable.”
Why is energy so expensive in Europe? Because they are shutting down reliable power plants and spending vast amounts of money on wind and solar installations that produce little electricity. Which is a sort of reductio that exposes the folly of the whole “green” venture. If wind and solar were really cheap energy sources, as liberals insist, then it wouldn’t be prohibitively expensive to manufacture batteries for “green” cars.
Earlier today, we made this post by Francis Menton a “pick.” Francis has a book coming out on energy storage, which is the fatal flaw that inevitably will bring the whole “green” project crashing down. His post includes this, on the utter futility of solar energy, which is basically a toy, not a serious energy source:
[T]he typical electricity usage in the UK at this time of year is given by Homewood as 840 GWh, which would be 35 GWh for each hour of the day. The capacity of the solar generation facilities in the UK is given as 14 GW. That would mean, if the solar facilities produced at full capacity for the 24 hours, they would have produced some 336 GWh, or a full 40% of the UK’s usage for the day. But hey, it’s late November. The days are short, and the UK has lots of clouds. So how much did the solar facilities actually produce today? Here is the chart:
At around noon, the solar panels reached their peak of generation for the day at 1.33 GW — less than 4% of average usage. For the whole day, production from the solar panels was all of 5.46 GWh, or 0.65% of usage. The times of peak electricity demand are the early morning and evening. At those times the UK’s solar panels produced absolutely nothing. In fact, they produced nothing from midnight to 8 AM, and then from 4 PM on.
So how is the UK (or anywhere else) ever going to obtain a meaningful amount of its electricity in winter from solar panels?
It isn’t, obviously. The facts are brutal: the U.K. consumes around 840 GWh of electricity per day. Of that total, solar panels produced a pathetic 5.46 GWh, even though their “rated capacity” is 336GWh. When promoting wind and solar, liberals always talk about rated or nameplate capacity, when the actual productivity of any wind or solar installation is only a fraction–in this case a minuscule fraction–of its alleged capacity.
The “green” edifice is rapidly crumbling. We can only hope that it crumbles fast enough to save the liberal West from economic and social catastrophe.
John Adams, with advice germane to public education just now:
It should be your care, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them a habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.
Just as Joe Biden might put it!
Disclaimer: This Adams quote offered without the input or permission of Richard Samuelson.
These does seem to be a lot of circumstantial evidence that Twitter discriminated against conservatives before Musk took it over, and hopefully we’ll see some hard evidence emerge from Musk’s declared intent to release internal communications about, for example, the ban on news about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election. This chart does add to the view that Twitter had tilted the playing field:
I serve on the board of Alpha News and am proud of the work that this small outfit does to provide an alternate source of news in the Twin Cities. Editor Anthony Gockowski’s scrupulously detailed story on Sam “Not the Man” Brinton has struck a nerve. It has been featured on FOX News and covered across the pond.
On Twitter Bill Glahn has noted the impact of the story. In one tweet Bill cited the outlets that carried the story.
— Bill Glahn (@billglahn) November 30, 2022
At the same time, he noted the lack of local coverage in the Twin Cities. This despite the local angle to the story.
The local CBS affiliate in Cincinnati covered the story, but not the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis. https://t.co/hsOtdwKBzf
— Bill Glahn (@billglahn) November 29, 2022
Bill sardonically characterized the story as “more news than can be consumed locally.”
Producing more news than can be consumed locally. https://t.co/DA4lSGugIf
— Bill Glahn (@billglahn) November 29, 2022
When Bill tweeted out the New York Post story on Brinton, he made the generally applicable observation that “it’s a clown world, we’re just living in it.” That general observation has special application to the Minnesota media.
It's a clown world, we're just living in it. https://t.co/LzJCSsGT8R
— Bill Glahn (@billglahn) November 29, 2022
The Star Tribune got around to the story last night. Reporter Paul Walsh’s story recites the allegations of the criminal complaint while adding nothing to it. Walsh does not mention Anthony Gockowski or credit Alpha News for breaking the story. Compare and contrast Walsh’s story with Gockowski’s. One senses that Walsh did not have his heart in it.
I take it that Walsh is complying with Brinton’s choice of pronouns here: “Brinton checked into a downtown St. Paul hotel later that day and had the woman’s luggage. On Sept. 18, they checked the stolen luggage on a flight back to Washington, D.C.” And here: “An MSP police officer called Brinton on the same day of the flight from Europe and asked about the theft. They at first denied knowing anything about it, then acknowledged taking the suitcase but denied that clothes for another person were inside.”
Lest we think that this is some kind of mistake or oversight, Walsh repeats the routine in the story’s concluding paragraph: “Brinton called the officer back and apologized for not being honest and recalled being tired and thinking the luggage was theirs. Brinton recounted opening the suitcase at the St. Paul hotel and getting nervous about being thought of as a thief. The clothes were left in the hotel dresser, they said.” It must be Star Tribune policy. So you can see that the Star Tribune has its priorities in order.
I say this. Now that the Star Tribune has “covered” the story it is okay for other local news outlets to mention it.
UPDATE: Anthony follows up on the story’s local angle today in “Biden’s genderfluid ‘nuclear nerd’ was in town for conference when he stole luggage.”
Complementing this year’s Center of the American Experiment Golden Turkey Award to the Feeding our Future fraud, the center has released Bill Glahn’s 20-minute video summarizing the story so far (below). Bill is the indefatigable chronicler of the fraud’s highways and byways. He shot the video before the first wave of informations and indictments in the case were handed up on September 19, but I concur with Bill’s assessment that the video offers a good overview of the biggest Covid fraud uncovered to date in these United States. We’re number 1!
The massive Feeding Our Future fraud lies at the intersection of federal largesse, state government nonfeasance, immigration, race, and politics in Minnesota. My favorite byway in the scandal is the appearance of Ilhan Omar enforcer Guhaad Hashi. I wrote about Hashi several times on Power Line before his indictment in this case. With a little help from one of my Somali friends, for example, we posted Hashi’s mug shot here back in 2019. Without knowing who he was, New York Times reporter David Farenthold featured Hashi in his story on the fraud this past March.
I lifted the thumbnail photo of Hashi on the homepage from Facebook. Hashi’s s image instructs Somalis to keep quiet about Omar. That’s the spirit! That’s the spirit, I should say, that extends to the Minnesota media and that has made us number 1.
Western nations’ commitment to “net zero” CO2 emissions is one of the greatest follies in world history. It is not just the fossil fuel industries that are under attack by liberals–although that would be bad enough, since it is fossil fuels that have created the modern world. They are the reason we are not going around in donkey carts. But it gets worse: agriculture is in the crosshairs, too.
We have seen it in Sri Lanka, where the government mandated “organic” farming and as a result, the Prime Minister’s residence was stormed by a mob and he was forced to flee the country. We have seen it in Canada and in the Netherlands, where the government is making war on that country’s highly successful ag industry. In fact, the Netherlands is second only to the U.S. in the value of food exports. But not for long: its government is moving to shut down farms.
The Dutch government is planning to buy and close down up to 3,000 farms near environmentally sensitive areas to be in compliance with EU environmental rules.
The government will conduct a “compulsory purchase” of large nitrogen emitters as part of a voluntary, one-time offer, announced Nitrogen Minister Christianne van der Wal….
The fact that the Netherlands has a “Nitrogen Minister” is a sign of how far off the rails liberals have gone. And oh, by the way, I will hazard a wild guess that the “Nitrogen Minister” is not a chemist or any sort of scientist.
In response to the decision, Executive Director of Consumers’ Research Will Hild told the Daily Caller “The Netherland’s war on farmers to pursue their ESG agenda serves as a stark warning. Americans should be vigilant against efforts by both governments and big Wall Street firms like BlackRock pushing these same dangerous ‘net zero’ carbon emissions targets here in the US. It is difficult to overstate the recklessness of undermining farmers during the greatest global food crisis in decades.
The international war on agriculture, which focuses mostly on the use of synthetic fertilizers, without which the productivity of modern agriculture is impossible, and on animal husbandry, is of course driving up the cost of food world-wide. If the war on agriculture continues, residents of wealthy countries will be impoverished by higher food prices while many residents of poor countries will starve.
Of course, liberals think there is an alternative: we should all eat insects instead of meat. Does that sound crazy? Well, it is. But nevertheless, that is their endgame. Just imagine how many CO2 emissions we would save if we didn’t use many millions of acres, augmented with synthetic fertilizers, to grow field corn for cows, pigs and other animals to consume! Not to mention the emissions for which the animals themselves are responsible.
Eating bugs is the liberals’ plan, to which I can only respond: you go first.
But that isn’t how liberals behave, is it? When the time comes, they will have special stores to which only those with high social credit scores can be admitted. They will eat meat, while you eat crickets.
Meanwhile, a rare voice of sanity asks, is there any reason to think that destroying the industries that made the modern world what it is will actually “save the planet” by staving off global warming? To which the answer is, No, there isn’t. Apart from the fact that the “science” of global warming is so deeply flawed that it is really a cult, not a science, fossil fuels–the best energy source that we have on planet Earth–will continue to be produced and used by countries that decline to drink the environmentalists’ Kool-Aid.
Thus we see headlines like this: UAE Plans $150 Billion Spending Spree To Boost Oil Output To 5MM Barrels By 2027.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., also known as Adnoc, will invest $150 billion in the five years through 2027, it said in a statement Monday. That’s an increase on the previous spending plan of $127 billion over five years that was announced a year ago.
The spending spree will try to raise crude output capacity to 5 million barrels a day by 2027, earlier than the previous target of 2030 and comes at a time when Saudi oil giant Aramco is also planning to expand its output by 12 million by 2027.
It would be nice if that $150 billion were being invested in the U.S. to produce American oil and gas, but that won’t happen under the brain-dead Biden administration.
So far, “green” hysteria has been mostly talk and wasted money. The reality is that Western countries rely almost not at all on expensive, inefficient and unreliable wind and solar energy to power their economies. But the Left expects that to change. If it does, the international balance of power will shift rapidly. Standards of living in formerly-rich countries like the U.S. and most of Western Europe will rapidly decline, while, in relative terms, countries like Russia, China and Iran that continue to exploit far more reliable, efficient and affordable fossil fuels will come to dominate economically. To me, this seems like a dystopian outcome, but Western liberals are trying hard to bring it about.
Glenn Ellmers has done it again, with a new provocation that “the constitutional republic created by our founders no longer exists.” His article posted at American Greatness, “Hard Truths and Radical Possibilities,” backs up this startling proposition with five very stark supporting arguments, starting with the fact that elections no longer suffice to control our government (even if they are fair and above reproach). Elections are now a mere nuisance—barely a speed bump—for the administrative state that is determined to rule us regardless of the opinions of the American people. Neither political competence in the ordinary sense nor “normal politics” are sufficient to remedy the crisis we are in:
Our current woke oligarchy becomes more fanatical every month, yet instead of getting weaker or provoking a popular backlash, it seems to grow ever stronger. In part, this is because the elites have maintained a semblance of institutional normalcy. No matter how extreme its policies—COVID lockdowns, chemical or surgical castration of children, open borders—the ruling class carries on with a kind of constitutional kabuki theater. Citizens (or rather “people”) vote, Congress meets and passes “laws,” the president pontificates and signs documents. It is largely just a performance; it certainly doesn’t resemble government functioning as the founders intended. But it looks close enough to the real thing to persuade many people that the situation, if not perfect, is at least tolerable. There is just enough veneer of Our Democracy to keep most citizens from acting on their dissatisfactions and justified fears.
Lucretia joins Steve in walking through Glenn’s arguments, including a couple of even more radical arguments not included in the original article. Are we in fact approaching a revolutionary moment? Much food for thought here.
For thematic exit music, I dropped in “Don’t Misunderstand Me” from the brief-lived Rossington Collins Band of the 1980s.
So listen here, or stub out your smoking material and wander over to our hosts at Ricochet.
From the late Kenneth Minogue’s very fine Politics: A Very Short Introduction (highly recommended):
“In our time,” Thomas Mann remarked, “the destiny of man presents its meaning in political terms.” This is certainly true for a lot of bores in universities who believe that one cannot enjoy a poem or conduct a love affair without at the same time making a political statement. At a common-sense level, this view is no less foolish than the sub-Freudian opinion that everything we do is a sexual revelation. . .
Common sense is the point. In politics things are real, and propositions are (more or less) true or false. People bleed and die. Politics, with difficulty, sustains the common world in which we may talk to each other, and philosophers who dissolve experience into perspectives, horizons, sensa, values, dominations, cultures, and the rest will destroy that common world. Politics is the activity by which the framework of human life is sustained; it is not life itself. The skeptical philosopher, the moral relativist, the rancorous academic social critic, the religious visionary, and the artistic seer have their place in our civilization, but their intrusion into politics has not been happy, especially during the last two centuries. Experience shows that politics, for all its capacity order many ways of life, needs to keep its distance from these adventures. Yet the activity of politics is human life at a stretch, full of heroism and duplicity. To understand it is to know how varied it can be, at this time and that place.
Comment: Thomas Mann was a political child, if not an idiot much of the time. But that’s for another day.
I recall that back in the 1980s, when all the certified “experts” said that Japan would overtake America as the world’s largest economy by 2010, Japanese investors were buying American farmland (also urban real estate such as Rockefeller Center and marquee properties like the golf course at Pebble Beach—later sold back at steep losses). Now I hear that the Chinese are buying a lot of farmland. I don’t know what the actual statistics may be, but prices are certainly spiking.
I am somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, returning home after ten days in England. It was our first trip overseas since pre-Covid. We spent five nights in London, two in the Cotswolds, one in Oxford, and a final night in London before heading home. Here are a few observations, for whatever interest they might have.
* Everything is back to normal. Flights are normal, restaurants and bars are bustling, and almost no one is wearing a mask. Covid seems like a bad dream from which we have awakened.
* On our first morning in London, we set out from the Carlton Club, where we were staying, to walk through St. James’s Park to Buckingham Palace. As I wrote here, we were stopped by barricades and police officers. We listened to a band play right next to us and watched marching and mounted soldiers go by in both directions, until the official procession began. Royal carriages passed by, carrying King Charles and Queen
Consort Camilla, and then Prince William and Princess Kate, along with lesser dignitaries like the President of South Africa. After I did my post, I heard from a Power Line reader who was standing in the crowd just 50 yards away from us. It’s a small world!
* This is a great time of year to be in Europe. If you are gone over Thanksgiving, you don’t miss a lot of time from work. And it is the Christmas season. Christmas is more publicly embraced in the United Kingdom than in the U.S. I took this video from the steps of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, looking out on the Christmas Market there:
You see many references to Christmas, few or none to “holidays.” The streets are decorated, and private businesses join in enthusiastically. Like the Ritz:
Last night we had dinner at Scott’s, a seafood restaurant in Mayfair. This is what the entrance looked like:
* One morning I went down to breakfast at the Carlton Club, traditional home of the
…and saw a familiar face at the next table. I thought, is that Mark Steyn? He looked up and said, “John?” I said, “Mark?” Sure enough. He was in town shooting his television show on Great Britain News. He can do the show from his home in the U.S., but sometimes travels to London to film it there. We chatted for a while.
My wife and I had invited two young friends from Minnesota, who happened to be in London at the same time, to join us for dinner at Carlton that evening, after which we repaired to the club’s Harold MacMillan bar. Mark joined us there after filming his show. We stayed in the bar until it closed and then moved to the Margaret Thatcher Lounge, where we stayed up later than we have in a long time.
Steyn is as entertaining a companion as you would expect. I am not sure he would approve of this characterization, but he is a nice guy, gentle and a little shy. I watch virtually no television, but will have to check out Mark’s show, which I am sure is great. How to do that? GB News has an app where you can watch live that works on the iPhone, the iPad and Apple TV. Or you can watch after the fact on YouTube. This is yesterday’s show:
* Driving in the English countryside is mostly fun. Driving on the left isn’t difficult in itself, in part because you are sitting on the right side of the car and thus are in the middle of the road. So driving on the left feels natural. But there are other challenges: ridiculously narrow streets, curbs where the shoulder should be, and so on. I don’t mind the roundabouts, which are proliferating in the U.S. as well. You just have to remember to go left instead of right. But occasionally they have *pretend* roundabouts—a place where roads coming from four or five directions converge on a broad open area, in the midst of which there is a painted roundabout symbol. I have yet to figure out how to navigate those. In one instance on this vacation, I just took a hard left and came back from a different direction, which worked well. There is always a sense of accomplishment, and relief, when I return the rental car, undented.
* The Cotswolds are beautiful and historic. Unfortunately, everyone knows that, and they are crowded even off-season. In towns like Stow-On-the-Wold, where we paid a fun visit, the principal problem is parking:
So it is nice to stay in a smaller village like Lower Slaughter. If you are planning on being in that part of the world, we recommend The Slaughters Manor House.
* Newspapers are full of concern about the coming winter and Britain’s ability to heat itself. I think those concerns are justified, but we never heard a word about the energy crisis. The heat was on wherever we went. As I noted here, the Brits’ main concern was the World Cup, not shivering through the winter.
* The cashless society is upon us. Decades ago, when I first traveled to England, buying American Express Travelers Cheques was part of the ritual. Who was the actor who played policemen and did their TV ads? “If lost or stolen…” In more recent years, even after credit cards became internationally ubiquitous, one of the first things we would do was get some local currency.
Not this time. Every single expense was paid with a Visa card. Everywhere we went, whether a restaurant, a hotel, or a cab, we were presented with a little machine over which I would lay a credit card and, voila! we were done. In ten days, we never spent a penny in cash, with one exception: I did spend the two five-pound notes that I had been carrying in my billfold since our last, pre-Covid visit.
* Tipping has been more or less abolished in the U.K. Hallelujah! Every restaurant or bar bill we paid included a service charge that varied between 12.5% and 14.5%. There seemed to be no expectation, and generally no opportunity, to pay more. The only exception we encountered was in cabs, where the credit card format included an opportunity to add a small tip. I hope this trend comes to the U.S. soon.
* We passed through Oxford coming and going, but didn’t wind up spending much time in the city. There was an exhibit at the Ashmolean Museum that my wife wanted to see, and we spent considerable time there. But that museum, like others, is angst-ridden over the provenance of its collection—a residue of the colonial era. I personally have no problem with colonialism, especially of the British variety. It was a huge net benefit to humanity.
Otherwise, Oxford lacked appeal. It has the drawbacks of a city without the benefits. Political correctness is stifling: Oxford has banned Ubers, so you have to take a cab. But you can’t get a cab. After returning our rental car, we waited at the Enterprise office for over an hour waiting for a cab that was supposed to arrive in ten minutes. And we are told that Oxford is weirdly oppressive in other ways that are more or less reminiscent of Xi’s China. Overall, I found that my opinion of universities has fallen so low in recent years that I no longer enjoy the atmosphere of a university town. Sad.
Not being able to travel abroad in a normal fashion for two years was infuriating—although, compared with the damage we inflicted on our young people, it was a relatively minor effect of covid hysteria. It is great that normal life has now resumed. We must never allow the authoritarians to shut us down again.
The artist formerly known as Kanye West is a deranged anti-Semite. My reference to his mental health issues cuts him some slack, but he spews the anti-Semitism straight. See, for example, Elliot Kaufman’s December Commentary essay “O Ye of Little Faith: The Anti-Semitism of Kanye West.”
I took note of West’s deranged anti-Semitism when Tucker Carlson presented him as a sage and vouched for his soundness of mine. I wrote about Kanye and Tucker in “Anti-Semitism for Ye — but not for me.” I thought attention must be paid.
It wasn’t long before Dave Chappelle took up Kanye’s cause and demonstrated how it was to be done. I could feel the animus in Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live routine. Maybe you have to be Jewish. I wrote at some length about Chappelle’s routine in “Persecution and the art of Dave Chappelle, part 2.”
Chappelle isn’t crazy. He’s crazy like a fox. I thought attention must be paid.
I’m done with President Trump, but I wish he would have been paying attention. Last week he hosted Kanye, Kanye presidential campaign manager Milo Yiannopoulous, and “white nationalist” anti-Semite Nick Fuentes for dinner at Mar-a -Lago. I first read about their dinner here at Breitbart. Trump told Breitbart that he didn’t know Fuentes before Kanye showed up with him. It was a “guess who’s coming to dinner” situation. However, he knows Kanye.
Kanye is a cancer. He and his friends and supporters spread the cancer of anti-Semitism. It is long past time for those who hang out with him to get a clue.
Elon Musk seeks to recast Twitter as a free speech platform. He is an important player in the struggle to resist the impositions of the authorities and their supporters in social media. I am following Musk’s updates on Twitter.
Perhaps most notably, Musk gives us a preview of coming attractions in the tweet below. Let it be. Buried in the Twitter Files is the saga of Hunter Biden’s laptop — i.e., the suppression of the New York Post’s reporting in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself. The public deserves to know what really happened …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
Musk’s resistance to the regime of suppression leaves him standing alone in his part of the business world. Apple and Google killed Parler by removing its app. What next? We will have to keep an eye on this development.
Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
Middle East Forum’s Gregg Roman sent out this message last night in advance of Giving Tuesday today. Whether or not you are considering giving to your alma mater today, the message is of interest. I am posting it below without its numerous links. Roman writes:
The Middle East Forum keeps a close watch on North American universities, seeking to end anti-Western, anti-Israel, and pro-Islamist biases. That keeps us very busy.
Giving Tuesday, is an important fundraising day for nonprofits, including universities. So we thought you should know the following:
• Princeton – Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist, is Tehran’s man in America. He even attended the funeral of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2020.
• Oberlin College – Our exclusive reporting on Professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati has prompted a congressional inquiry into “Mahallati’s current association with and open loyalty to the Iranian regime.”
• Harvard, New York University, Princeton and UCLA – These institutions are affiliated with the American Institute of Iranian Studies, which has connections to the upper echelon of the Tehran regime.
• Georgetown – Home to the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, founded by a 2005 gift from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. It has since served as a propaganda arm for Wahhabi Islam, a radical, fundamentalist sect.
• Brown University – Beshara Doumani, director of its Center for Middle East Studies, is taking a two-year leave of absence to become president of Birzeit University on the West Bank, informally known as Terrorist University for producing generations of suicide bombers and other jihadis.
For further information, the Forum’s Campus Watch maintains lists for Professors to Avoid, Israel-Boycott Supporters, and Israel-Boycott Opponents, as well as a Survey of Institutions. On the bright side, we also maintain a list of Recommended Professors.
If you make end-of-year donations, please consider the Middle East Forum (donation page here).
Alpha News editor Anthony Gockowski reports: “Controversial energy official charged with stealing woman’s luggage at MSP.” Subhead: “The MIT grad went viral earlier this year when he announced his new role as the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the U.S. Department of Energy.” The story opens:
Sam Brinton, one of the first “openly genderfluid individuals in federal government leadership,” was charged with felony theft last month after allegedly stealing a woman’s luggage at MSP Airport.
The MIT grad went viral earlier this year when he announced his new role as the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the U.S. Department of Energy.
“As one of if not the very first openly genderfluid individuals in federal government leadership, I was welcomed with open arms into the Department of Energy all the way up to the Secretary whom I shared the stage with in a Pride month celebration panel just today,” Brinton wrote on Twitter at the time.
He said he is not a Biden appointee but instead was hired as a career employee in the Senior Executive Service. Brinton accepted the job in February and began in June, according to media reports.
Anthony’s long and detailed story concludes: “Alpha News attempted to contact Brinton via email but received an automatic reply saying he is on leave and unable to access his email. The Department of Energy declined to comment. Brinton’s attorneys did not respond to multiple requests for comment.”
This story is an Alpha News scoop. Interest in the story is intense. Indeed, it is going viral. Please check out the whole bizarre thing here.
I gather that was quite the press conference held by US Men’s National Soccer Team coach Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams in Doha today before the team’s with Iran tomorrow. The state-approved reporter from Iran had what he thought was an important point or two to make while the regime back home is slaughtering innocents and repressing citizens. Soccer isn’t my sport but I would like to say Tyler Adams is the man. What an impressive performance.
Tyler Adams handles this deeply disrespectful tirade from an Iranian journalist very well-
And ask anyone who has spent real time in the region- many middle eastern countries like Iran have *deeply racist* attitudes and policies
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) November 28, 2022
Grant Wahl calls it “one of the most surreal press conferences I have ever attended.”
Here are some of the questions USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams faced from Iranian state-affiliated media in a surreal press conference ahead of USA-Iran. Story: https://t.co/hKHppDw3VR pic.twitter.com/uDoHQcCNLP
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 28, 2022
From Salvatore Babones writing in The Quadrant in Australia:
Simply put: no one likes Kamala Harris. No one even feels bad for not liking her. Her boss doesn’t like her; her aides don’t like her; even her Irish terrier doesn’t like her. Harris featured it (no one knows the sex) in a single 2018 Facebook post for National Puppy Day, calling the one-year-old her “office dog”, which implies that she never actually took it home. Now presumably five years old (and hopefully still alive), the dog was never seen or heard from again.
This unpopular but well-connected puppy-hater from San Francisco is the candidate whom the Democratic Party has anointed to “make history” as the first female President of the United States. Yes, President. Not only will Harris make history as the first female President; she will make double-history as the first female President of Colour.
Read the whole thing; it’s delicious. And bookmark The Quadrant; it’s a great publication.
From Mark Perry, the latest SAT scores by race. No wonder elite colleges are racing to get rid of the SAT, LSAT, and other aptitude tests (which the higher education establishment initially invented), and are turning on the idea of meritocracy itself.
The woke diversicrats at the University of Massachusetts Boston have issued drafts of a new “mission statement” and “vision statement” for the campus (because why just limit yourself to a mission statement when you can have a vision statement too). They are as follows:
Mission statement draft:
As an academic community of global and local citizens, we are committed to becoming an anti-racist and health-promoting institution that honors and uplifts the cultural wealth of our students. We intend to engage reciprocally in equitable practices and partnerships with the communities we serve. We support various and diverse forms of knowledge production that enrich the lives of all communities, especially those historically undervalued and underserved. We are a public urban university dedicated to teaching, learning, and research rooted in equity, environmental sustainability, social and racial justice, innovation, and expansive notions of excellence.
Vision statement draft:
We aspire to become an anti-racist and health-promoting public research institution where:
Diversity, equity, shared governance, and expansive notions of excellence are core institutional values.
Wellness and an ethic of care are embedded throughout our campus culture and all policies and practices.
We invest in a resource-rich learning environment to support the development and success of students of plural identities and from diverse socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
Climate, environmental, and racial justice align with sustainable economic and planning decisions with local and global effects.
Community engaged scholarship, service, and reciprocity are embedded in University practices that promote the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the communities we serve
We hold ourselves and each other accountable to ensure these values drive all decision-making in research, pedagogical innovations, resource allocation, and the development of policies and practices.
Pretty standard college campus fare these days. Except for once a portion of the faculty, based chiefly in the sciences, is fighting back. An “Open Letter” against these draft statements is circulating. Worth reading the whole thing, but here are the relevant highlights:
We are faculty of the College of Science and Mathematics, and we are writing to you to express our extensive concerns about the first public draft of the Mission Statement and Vision Statement that was recently presented to the faculty. . .
We believe this document is deeply flawed in content, direction, and representation. Moreover, we believe that the absence of significant changes to this draft would bring serious damage to the College of Science and Mathematics, to the reputation of UMass Boston as a beacon of knowledge and education, and to the demographically and ideologically diverse group of students we serve – particularly those who see education as a means to rise socio-economically. . .
Under no circumstances can political or ideological activism be the primary purpose of a public university. . . It is important to emphasize that the fundamental role of the public university can neither be political nor ideological activism. In part, this is due to the illegality of compelled speech in public institutions and our legally binding commitment to academic freedom as outlined in the so-called “red book” on academic personnel policy. Additionally, ideological activism cannot be a central goal of the university because at times it will conflict with education and research. The search for truth can never be subjugated to social or ideological beliefs. [Emphasis in original.]
The UMass science faculty is not content to let the matter rest with these general statements of principle. They go on to pose several interrogatories:
We raise these points about the purpose of the public university because we believe the current drafts of the mission and vision statements radically depart from these fundamental tenets, and instead promote a chilling environment for the pursuit of truth. This is most evident in the Vision Statement which discusses diversity, equity, expansive notions of excellence, wellness, an ethic of care, plural identities, climate justice, environmental justice, and racial justice, and then states that “We hold ourselves and each other accountable to ensure these values drive all decision-making in research, pedagogical innovations, resource allocation, and the development of policies and practices.” That is, these values – which have very distinct ideological interpretations – must drive the direction of every researcher and department on campus, and as a community of scholars we will hold people accountable when their research does not actively promote these values.
If your research on quantum computing is not perceived as promoting climate, environmental, or racial justice – will you be held accountable and your resources re-allocated?
If your department makes the data-informed decision to support the use of standardized tests as a measurement of student learning or preparation, but the campus views this as being opposed to wellness, an ethic of care, equity, or an expansive notion of excellence, will your department be held accountable and its resources re-allocated?
Another point, no less important, is that although UMass Boston is a research university, the word research is only mentioned briefly towards the end of the draft of the Mission Statement. Such diminutive support for knowledge creation seems to strongly indicate its reduced value on this campus.
Chaser—a brand new book offering from Duke University Press:
Some good news perhaps:
The tight labor market is prompting more employers to eliminate one of the biggest requirements for many higher-paying jobs: the need for a college degree.
Companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Delta Air Lines Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have reduced educational requirements for certain positions and shifted hiring to focus more on skills and experience. Maryland this year cut college-degree requirements for many state jobs—leading to a surge in hiring—and incoming Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro campaigned on a similar initiative.
The AP hasn’t gotten around to correcting its headline over the story reporting the word of the year according to Merriam-Webster. At the moment the headline reads: “What headline? ‘Gaslighting’ Merriam-Webster’s word of 2022.” That “What headline?” can’t be right, can it? This must be the AP’s “Mush from the wimp” moment.
Speaking of mush from the wimp, I give the Biden administration credit for the rise of “gaslighting” to prominence in 2022. However, you will find nary a hint of the administration’s possible contribution to its popularity in the AP story. I pride myself in not having used the word so far in 2022. It has become a mind-numbing cliché. I can’t afford to lose the brain cells.
The same applies to “double down,” now amplified into “triple down.” The Biden administration has tripled down on gaslighting in 2022. What next? You be the judge. My long-standing motto is Don’t double down on clichés!
I will take an early stab at predicting 2023’s word of the year. I predict it will be “receipts,” with the generalized meaning of “evidence.” Haven’t gone there so far and don’t intend to go there any time soon.
If he’s writing his own material and running his own Twitter feed, I infer that Elon Musk has an excellent sense of humor. It must help him keep things in perspective. I take it, for example, that he understands his critics quite well. He doesn’t want to drive them off Twitter. He will take them on in his own way. He resists their efforts to continue the censorship regime they supported on old Twitter. New Twitter is favorably disposed to freedom. All of this can be seen along with a glimpse into his work habits (time: 3:48 a.m.) in the tweets below.
There is no excuse for my lack of coasters
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
The big stories of the past few days share a theme in common:
• Protests of China’s insane Covid regime have broken out around China. I followed them on Twitter over the weekend (as in the tweet below, for example).
People of Beijing are protesting near Sitong Bridge, shouting: “We want freedom, we want freedom!” pic.twitter.com/O12i58jVjr
— Xiyue Wang (@XiyueWang9) November 28, 2022
• However, traditional news outlets with reporters in China have their uses in this context. The Reuters story is datelined Shanghai/Beijing: “China tightens security after rare protests against COVID curbs.” With a story under three bylines and the assistance of three contributors, datelined Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reports “Chinese Protests Spread Over Government’s Covid Restrictions.” The AP story is datelined Beijing and seems lost in a cloud of government edicts: “China affirms zero-COVID stance, eases rules after protests.” The New York Post editors add “Fury over China’s insane, endless COVID lockdowns exposes the idiocy of President Xi.”
• Those are some evil sumbitches running the show in China. They seek to perfect a form of totalitarian rule that can be extrapolated straight out of 1984. See Kai Strittmatter’s chilling pre-Covid book We Have Been Harmonized
Life in China’s Surveillance State.
• Protests continue in Iran as well. Twitter has also been helpful to those seeking to follow them.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) November 28, 2022
• Jason Brodsky’s Twitter is useful on the Iran protests. I found the tweet below on his feed. The regime blames protests on the United States. (What, not “the Zionist regime”?) Compare the bravery of these artists with those of our own hacks and fakers.
A group of Iranian actors and artists have taken a stance agains mandatory hijab rules by publishing a video in which women remove their headscarves. Other artists have already been arrested over similar acts of defiance. #مهسا_امینی #Mahsa_Amini pic.twitter.com/zxo9x6CMnh
— Khosro Kalbasi Isfahani (@KhosroKalbasi) November 27, 2022
• Covid comes from Wuhan, China, and has proved instrumental in spreading the techniques of social control around the world, even as “the science” cited in their support has crumbled. See, for example, Joel Zinberg’s timely City Journal column “End the Vaccine Mandates.” As the subhead aptly puts it, “The time has come for the Biden administration to follow the science.” I’m not into predictions, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen.
• Elon Musk’s new Twitter remains a huge story. It remains a huge story precisely because of its resistance of censorship as a defining principle. Miranda Devine gets to the heart of the matter in the New York Post column “The left throws a tantrum as Elon Musk reverses censorship on Twitter.” [UPDATE: See also David Strom’s Hot Air post “The Musky smell of hysterical people.”]
• Freedom is the theme.
As I commented previously, the political figure secretly most disappointed that the GOP red wave didn’t occur in the mid-term is Gavin Newsom. If a red wave had taken out Michigan’s Wretched Witmer, Minnesota’s Tim Walz, Colorado’s Jared Polis, or New York’s Kathy Hochul, Newsom could point to his landslide re-election in California as evidence that he’s the strongest person to run for president in 2024 in place of the decrepit Joe Biden, not to mention Kamala Harris, who Newsom privately despises by all accounts. But with Biden getting a new lease on life, and some early buzz about Witmer and Polis as a possible candidates, Newsom has lost ground as a presumptive front-runner.
That’s only the beginning of his problems just now. A year ago, California enjoyed a near $100 billion budget surplus—a combination of lavish federal COVID aid and the continuing prosperity of high tech. This has all changed virtually overnight. Suddenly California is looking at a $25 billion budget deficit (likely to double or triple by next spring if past experience is any guide), the result of the stock market swoon and a suddenly struggling tech sector. California is extraordinarily dependent on high income earners—and capital gains tax revenue from IPOs and stock options—for its income tax revenue. Every time the stock market slumps and the capital gains and stock option machine stumbles, California’s fiscal picture darkens quickly. It happened in 2001-2003, again in 2009, and again just now.
Today the Wall Street Journal reports that Gov. Newsom is threatening to withhold $1 billion in funds for California cities, most of them run by Democrats, for the purpose of reducing homelessness. The story reports that Newsom is unhappy that the cities requesting the funds have submitted plans that would reduce homelessness in their jurisdictions by . . . 2 percent. Even Newsom can see that $1 billion for a mere 2 percent reduction in homelessness is unserious. From the article:
Many mayors were also rankled when Mr. Newsom told the Los Angeles Times he froze the homelessness funds because local leaders needed to “deliver damn results,” adding that he would be willing to play “mayor of California” if they didn’t.
How to tell Newsom is running for president without saying he’s running for president? Statements like this.
But the story buried the lede in some respects. This:
The number of homeless people in California has grown roughly 15% since 2019, even as Mr. Newsom oversaw the largest increase in funding for homeless programs in the state’s history. California has dedicated some $15 billion toward the issue since the start of the pandemic.
Simple question: with money like this, who thinks any local government in California actually wants to reduce homelessness? If spending $15 billion increases homelessness by 15 percent, imagine how much more homelessness we could have if we only spend $30 billion? Unfortunately, California doesn’t have it to spend just now.
Being in England during the World Cup is interesting. It is a relatively minor sports event in the U.S., but, obviously, not here. A couple of days ago I pulled into a gas station in the Cotswolds to gas up our rental car. I pumped the gas and went inside the station to pay. There was a middle-aged guy at the cash register; he looked at the American Experiment quarter-zip I was wearing…
…and read, “American Experiment. Are you from America?” I said I was. He thumped the counter and said “Respect!” I had no idea what he was talking about but it was clearly a friendly gesture, so I responded, “Thanks!” And he did it again: thumped the counter and said “Respect!” I nodded in what I hoped was a sufficiently friendly manner and started out the door.
Then I realized what was going on. The United States soccer team, a long-shot underdog, had played the English team to a 0-0 draw the day before in what everyone regarded as a spirited performance. He was saying that the American team had won his respect.
It’s funny how excited people can get over a sporting event that ends 0-0. English fans in Qatar were disappointed with their team’s showing and booed when the game was over. This caused all-time English great Wayne Rooney to write an op-ed in London’s Sunday Times:
“I know England fans expect a lot, but sometimes in our football culture we can be stubborn about recognising the qualities of the opposition,” Rooney wrote in his Sunday Times column.
“This is definitely true when it comes to football in the USA. It is better than most people in England think. The standard of American players and American coaching is high and increasing in quality all the time.
“The USA are a good side with a good manager and they play with an exceptional energy which can make them difficult opponents for any team. Not to accept that is simply English prejudice. If England had just drawn with Denmark, fans would not be booing, would they?”
Evidently not. It is an interesting perspective on sports culture in another country, but the reaction of the guy I ran into, who respected a team that fought hard, is universal.
A new covid vaccine booster has been released, and the authorities say we all should get it. But what evidence is there that the new vaccine is effective? A neurosurgeon with whom we have corresponded on covid matters writes:
I wanted to bring to your attention a new CDC/MMWR study regarding the updated “bivalent” boosters, released by the CDC on Tuesday (accessible here).
I think it would be of great interest to your readers, as a follow up to your Dr. Jha post.
This study is notable because it is the first “real world” study on the efficacy of bivalent boosters. Recall that this update was approved by the FDA and CDC with little real world data (relying only on its effect on mice and the antibody response of a few hundred people). Ironically, this study was also posted at almost the same time Dr. Jha was making his public comments: “We can prevent every COVID death in America if everyone gets their updated booster.”
This CDC study actually found very modest real-world protection against symptomatic infection. In fact, in almost all subgroups, the vaccine efficacy was less than 50% two months after the booster dose, when it should be at its peak effectiveness. For comparison, this efficacy is similar (at best) to the original monovalent booster it replaced, despite being specifically formulated and updated for the current Omicron strains. Even worse, the efficacy for older age groups (65+) is much lower, around 30%. So for the age group that may need the most protection it fares the least effective. And this is only after two months. If this bivalent booster wanes like its predecessor, it will trend even lower in the coming months.
The study did not look at more severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. As that has been the main talking point of Dr. Jha’s “experts” — that the vaccine prevents severe outcomes rather than symptomatic illness or transmission — his comments are not exactly refuted by this study. But still, on a relative basis, the updated booster would be expected to do far better in preventing symptomatic infection if it is also going to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, or death.
Of course, the authors of this study provide guidance through “rose colored” glasses, stating this marginal result actually offers “significant additional protection” and that “[a]ll persons should stay up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including bivalent booster doses, if it has been ≥2 months since their last monovalent vaccine dose (1).” This is the only paragraph the media have picked up, neglecting the details.
This booster underwent expedited review by the FDA and CDC and gained near unanimous support in the FDA and CDC committees for approval despite no real-world effectiveness data. Consequently, it is being mandated by a number of universities and institutions that mistake their guidance for rigorous scientific review. We can only hope that the new GOP Congress will investigate the new FDA and CDC process, which have appeared to replace usual scientific rigor with selected “experts’ opinion.”.
I would only add that while, as our correspondent says, this study–the only real-world data relied on by CDC–can’t entirely refute the claim that the new booster provides significant benefit with regard to severe infection, it can’t support that claim either, since the issue wasn’t even addressed.
Singer/songwriter/composer Randy Newman celebrates his seventy-ninth birthday tomorrow. I can only say that he has written some of my favorite songs of love and loss. They have naturally attracted brilliant interpreters. I’ll take the songs of feeling and leave the political satire behind. I want to take the occasion to look back on a small slice of his work this morning.
We first heard “I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore” on the Jerry Butler single (1964). Newman would have been 20 or 21 when he wrote this offbeat song of betrayal and loss. Butler conveys the pain.
Well, I want to hear it again. A few years later Dusty Springfield picked up on it for Dusty in Memphis (1969). Shelby Lynne recorded the fantastic Just a Little Lovin‘ (2008) as a tribute to Springfield and covered “I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore.” Let’s give it one more spin.
I first noticed Randy Newman as the songwriter of “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” on Judy Collins’s In My Life (1966). It’s been covered by a lot of artists. If Newman was still coming into his own, this song left me wanting to hear more.
I think “Guilty” is a worthy descendant of Johnny Mercer’s “One For My Baby (and One More For the Road).” Newman is from a distinguished musical family and must be saturated in the great American songbook. Bonnie Raitt brings out the feeling in a song of loss and desolation. She recorded “Guilty” for her album Takin’ My Time (1973). This is a beautiful song beautifully interpreted. It is the reason I wanted to take note of Newman today.
With “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield” Newman either found the intersection of arson and desire or a powerful metaphor. If the lyrics are underwritten, Etta James supplies whatever is missing in her memorable take with Lowell George backing her on guitar. This is from James’s album Come a Little Closer (1974).
“You Can Leave Your Hat On” is a witty song of desire. Joe Cocker retrieved it from Newman’s Sail Away (1972).
Harry Nilsson loved Newman’s work. He recorded an album’s worth of Newman songs on Nilsson Sings Newman (1970) with Newman backing him on piano. “I’ll Be Home” is from that set. It’s an unironic love song.
Newman recorded “Louisiana 1927” on Good Old Boys (1974). It’s an inspired song and Marcia Ball performed an inspired version of it on Let Me Play With Your Poodle (1997).
“Baltimore” seems to me a dark and compelling song. The Norwegian group El Cuero performs it live with Norwegian singer/songwriter Elvira Nikolaisen in the video below. The song first appeared on Newman’s Little Criminals (1977).
Newman recorded “Mama Told Me Not To Come” for 12 Songs (1970) with all-star instrumental backing. The premise of the song is wide-eyed shock. Nothing is shocking anymore, but it’s still a good song.
After Three Dog Night, what forgiveness? It might not be possible to hear the song with fresh ears. The Tom Jones and Stereophonics version below follows Three Dog Night. The video provides comic relief.
Newman included “Losing You” on Harps and Angels (2008). He talked about the source of the song before performing it in this video. English singer/songwriter Jamie Cullum interprets the song below. Mama didn’t tell us not to come for this. This is why we came.
• I didn’t think any other politician (except perhaps John Fetterman) could make Joe Biden sound like a MENSA member, but behold Canada’s Justin Trudeau, at a recent parliamentary hearing: “Using protests to demand changes to public policy is something that I think is worrisome”
• Guess what’s racist now? Fossils.
A forensic anthropologist unmasks insidious interpretations of fossil finds.
. . . The delays in recognizing how racism damages and paralyses science remind us how much stamina is required to become anti-racist. White privilege and presumed superiority in all matters of importance have been the norm for so long that it has become a fundamental construct of Western societies. To counter this deeply embedded narrative . . . requires courage, especially when you have been a beneficiary of these prejudicial practices. To recognize, expose and call out the racism in science is not easy, particularly in the hallowed halls of academia.
Gosh, I never pondered how much courage it must take to denounce racism on a college campus these days. Who knew.
Chaser—the only places/things where we haven’t detected racism are the places we haven’t been to yet, but the scientific community is ready!
[B]ecause some subset of these and other questions considered by those in his field are going to have societal implications, they are also going to lead to some amount of activism.
Rooted in DEI ideology and an anti-colonialist framework, much of this activism is carried out in the popular press among well-credentialed academics who emphasize the supposed need to rethink the language of their fields and make vocal exhortations to decolonize space.
“[S]pace exploration is…an extension of our imperial and colonial histories,” said science historian and U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory fellow Rebecca Charbonneau in an August 2022 interview with Scientific American.
Time to nuke academia from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Ripley-Hicks 2024!
• Good to see team USA didn’t run up the score in its metric football match with England yesterday.
Instapundit reminds us of The Simpson’s take on the subject:
Elon Musk’s effort to turn Twitter into a free speech platform has encountered angry resistance from the Left. The EU has demanded that he expand censorship, liberals have insisted that “hate speech” has proliferated since his takeover, and so on. As Scott noted earlier, members of Twitter’s “Trust and Safety Council,” who may or may not be out of a job, have denounced Twitter’s incipient libertarianism.
At the same time, liberals have sneered when Musk has acknowledged some need for content moderation, as though that somehow negated his commitment to free speech. There is a lot of fuzzy thinking going on here. Liberals talk about the “safety” of the platform, which makes little sense unless they are claiming that it may cause your cell phone to explode, causing personal injury. Musk, on the other hand, has at times described himself as a free speech absolutist. I am an absolutist, too, if you start with an understanding of what “speech” means.
I don’t think the issue of content moderation on a social media platform is particularly hard to resolve. First of all, on reflection anyone–including more-or-less absolutists like Musk and me–will agree that some content moderation is necessary. Bots should be banned, child pornography should not be permitted, users should not be allowed to conspire to commit terrorist acts.
Such content moderation can easily be reconciled with Musk’s commitment to free speech. I drafted a statute that was introduced, but not passed, in the last session of Minnesota’s legislature. It applied to a defined range of social media platforms, and banned discrimination in content moderation. Platforms could moderate content to their hearts’ content, but in doing so, they were prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion or political orientation.
The tech giants purported to be outraged by my proposal. They (Twitter, Facebook et al.) hired three industry groups to appear at a committee hearing to testify against it. They claimed that my bill would make it impossible to block child pornography or terrorist plots. Really? I asked. Please explain why you need to engage in race discrimination to prevent child pornography on your platform. They were unable to do so, of course. Their position was absurd.
One good thing about the anti-discrimination approach is that it is consistent with various degrees of content moderation. For example, a platform might want to enforce a minimum level of good taste. Thus, it might delete content featuring the severed head of Barack Obama, or use of the hashtag #RapeMichelle. Fine. But then, it would also have to ban content featuring the severed head of Donald Trump and the hashtag #RapeMelania, both of which were A-OK with Liberal Twitter.
If I were Elon Musk, I would announce whatever content moderation standards he wants to apply to Twitter. I would then add that those standards would be applied in a way that does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or political orientation, and I would hire employees who would effectuate that commitment. Liberals would weep and gnash their teeth, but they would be unable to articulate a plausible objection to such a policy. As I know from experience.
The advice if free, Elon. If you take it, it will be the best bargain anyone offers you today.
UPDATE: A couple of additional thoughts. One might wonder whether banning “political orientation” discrimination is broad enough language, given that many of our most divisive controversies–e.g., the appropriateness of carving up children–may be seen as social, rather than political. Actually, “political orientation” was my shorthand, but the bill as drafted says “viewpoint,” which covers any sort of controversy or subject.
Second, neither my post nor my bill refers to “misinformation” or “disinformation.” Twitter, like the rest of the internet, is full of misinformation. The most notorious disinformation campaign of recent times was the Russia collusion hoax, which was all over Twitter, and perhaps still is. But sorting out the true from the false on a platform like Twitter is a hopeless endeavor, and identifying misinformation and disinformation can only be left to debate among users. I take it that this is largely what Musk means when he says he is in favor of free speech. It certainly is what the Founders had in mind.
Television news anchors at local affiliates all over the country appear to be on the same page regurgitating the shibboleths of the day. The video below is something of a work of art that can serve as a companion to the one we featured in “The playbook on the laptop” and “Let the credits roll.”
Watch. The. Video. pic.twitter.com/MgXj1ba4ee
— Aaron Kheriaty, MD (@akheriaty) November 26, 2022
Dr. Kheriaty is a psychiatrist and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. When he wrote the First Things article “Dying of despair” in 2017, he was associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Medical Ethics Program at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine. Then something happened. I take it that he is not on the same page with the news anchors.
One year ago today, @UCIrvineSOM placed me on unpaid suspension after I challenged the UC vaccine mandate in federal court. They fired me the following month. Today I published this book. https://t.co/rEQWW23oGN pic.twitter.com/PaTMcOAqDb
— Aaron Kheriaty, MD (@akheriaty) November 1, 2022
Dr. Kheriaty’s book is excerpted in the American Mind column here. The column is also accessible via the Tweet below.
Aaron Kheriaty: "States as instruments of world-spanning corporations, which operate like fiefdoms, is an apt definition of corporatism—the melding of state and corporate power—which coincides perfectly with Mussolini’s original definition of fascism." https://t.co/G1SIFaXCJn
— The American Mind (@theammind) November 21, 2022
The Associated Press is one of the anchors of the garbage media in its newsprint form. The garbage manifests in a wide variety of aspects. See, for example, its story “Musk says granting amnesty to suspended Twitter accounts.” The headline is a bit difficult to decipher and the “reporter” who wrote it is not identified. The story, however, is datelined San Francisco. Perhaps that is all ye need to know.
The story is saturated with hostility to new Twitter, as I call it. The AP is, shall we say, unhappy that Musk is undoing the work of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Members of the Trust and Safety Council are also unhappy with new Twitter. Despite the patent hostility of the story to Musk and to new Twitter, the AP has tweeted out the story (below). The tweet draws on the story’s opening paragraph to provide an unintentionally hilariously variation on the “experts say” ventriloquism (as Steve Hayward calls it) that gives away the story’s tilt.
New Twitter owner Elon Musk said he is granting "amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation. https://t.co/aZ0NyUP7Fp
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 24, 2022
Here is the opening paragraph:
“New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday that he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The troublesome Mr. Musk noticed and counterpunched while posing a good question about the identity of these “online safety experts.”
But you have piqued my curiosity … who are these “online experts” you speak of?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2022
The AP decries the shape of things on Twitter with a minimal glimpse of specifics. Read on and it becomes clear: those “online safety experts” are members of old Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Is this some kind of a joke?
Reinstating banned accounts could mean bringing back the “worst offenders” including neo-Nazi trolls, people who maliciously posted intimate images of people without their consent and other accounts that repeatedly violated Twitter’s rules against hate speech, cyberstalking or harassment, said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Virginia.
“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said Citron, who is also vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and sits on Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, a group of outside advisers who haven’t met since Musk took over. “It’s crazy because the whole point of the permanent suspension is because these people were so bad they were bad for the business.”
Citron said an “amnesty” plan goes against years of work — supported by then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — to build a platform for healthy online discourse that wouldn’t drive away average users fearful of being harassed. In most cases, Twitter only permanently suspended accounts that didn’t respond to other restrictions, such as temporary suspensions or restricted posts.
“So many people actually learn from suspensions and don’t re-violate,” Citron said. “You have to get pretty bad to get a permanent suspension.”
Another member of the Trust and Safety Council, Alex Holmes, said he is still awaiting feedback on the status of the council, which is due to meet in mid-December.
“With this latest decision, I can’t see this sitting right with the council or indeed what is left of the policy team, whose job it is to create effective policies that keep the platform safe,” Holmes said.
In the month since Musk took over Twitter, groups that monitor the platform for racist, anti-Semitic and other toxic speech say it’s been on the rise on the world’s de facto public square. That has included a surge in racist abuse of World Cup soccer players that Twitter is allegedly failing to act on.
The anonymous reporter goes deep on the rot at new Twitter:
The uptick in harmful content is in large part due to the disorder following Musk’s decision to lay off half the company’s 7,500-person workforce, fire top executives, and then institute a series of ultimatums that prompted hundreds more to quit. Also let go were an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation. Among those resigning over a lack of faith in Musk’s willingness to keep Twitter from devolving into a chaos of uncontrolled speech were Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth.
Major advertisers have also abandoned the platform.
On Oct. 28, the day after he took control, Musk tweeted that there would be no “major content decisions or account reinstatements” until Twitter formed a “content moderation council” with diverse viewpoints that would consider the cases.
On Tuesday, he said he was reneging on that promise because he’d agreed to it at the insistence of “a large coalition of political-social activists groups” who later ”broke the deal” by urging that advertisers at least temporarily stop giving Twitter their business.
A day earlier, Twitter reinstated the personal account of far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, which was banned in January for violating the platform’s COVID misinformation policies.
And that’s not all:
Musk, meanwhile, has been getting increasingly chummy on Twitter with right-wing figures. Before this month’s U.S. midterm elections he urged “independent-minded” people to vote Republican.
Say it ain’t so! Experts say that the source of the AP’s patent animus against new Twitter can be found in this paragraph.
Forget the usual post-Thanksgiving turkey tryptophan hangover: what we have unfolding right now is a full-fledged cryptophan stupor overtaking the pretensions of Silicon Valley and its progressive cheerleaders. The collapse of FTX is more than just another spectacular case of corporate fraud and speculation rum amok, but is connected to some key aspects of progressivism today, though few of the media accounts of the scene are taking note of this. I’ll explain elsewhere in due course. Meanwhile, pictures and memes await pairing with your leftovers, and back to the Musk-Twitter-Trump drama!
Headlines of the week:
And finally. . .
Posted a day ahead of the usual schedule, this special Thanksgiving long weekend edition with John Yoo sitting in the rotating host chair finds the 3WHH bartenders sharing some wine, whisky and food pairings from the big meal. I supplemented the usual fare with popovers, washed down with some 2015 Trump Meritage red, expecting that it was likely past its prime, and although it had indeed lost its fruit, the depth and complexity surprised nonetheless, suggesting perhaps some staying power. Make of that what you will.
We also reflected further on our recent expedition to Italy, offer some final post-mortems on the mid-term election aimed at debunking popular media themes about what explains the unexpected result, and why the FTX scandal illustrates some aspects of contemporary liberalism that the breathless media accounts are missing.
Finally, we explore the meaning and significance of the decision of several elite law schools to discontinue participating in the rankings games of U.S. News and World Report, with considerably disagreement among us about the whole business of academic rankings.
You know what to do now: listen here, or roll with your leftovers over to the host kitchen at Ricochet.
P.S. Listeners with exceptional music knowledge may recognize the cover of a classic Thanksgiving-themed song used as our exit bumper music this week.
P.S. (2). Some listeners have requested the text of the Kamalaism that concludes this episode, so here it is:
And the way that I think about it is, you know, like relay racing. You know, you race and someone passes the baton and then — right? So, that’s what life is. It’s basically a relay race.
And so, the people who are heroes, whichever gender they are, they ran their part of the race and then they passed us a baton. And the question is: What will we do with the time we carry the baton? Which means there’s no time to get tired. Come on. Right? (Laughter.)
This breakdown of how members of the two political parties regard individual industries is revealing of how deep our ideological divisions run. Some areas of division are not surprising (media, higher education, entertainment, oil & gas), but. . . trucking? Manufacturing? (Also, somewhat curious that Democrats are only half as negative about tobacco as Republicans. . .)
Bonus chart: this division on industry-group campaign contributions is not surprising, but also revealing:
Douglas Murray has kicked off a podcast series entitled Uncancelled History with author Jonathan Horn. (I prefer to spell uncanceled with one “l,” American style.) Horn is a former White House speechwriter whose first book — The Man Who Would Not Be Washington (2015) — was a biography of Robert E. Lee. He is also the author, most recently, of Washington’s End (2020), about the man who was Washington.
Murray’s interview takes up the question of Lee and begins with the recent controversies over the statues depicting him. I think if you begin watching the video you are likely to continue to the end.
On the day before Thanksgiving the fallacious Dr. Fauci was put under oath for a deposition. Dr. Fauci was deposed in the lawsuit brought by Missouri and Louisiana against the federal government for colluding with Big Tech social media companies to suppress free speech bearing on the epidemic. Fauci was of course the General Buck Turgidson of the epidemic: “Gentlemen, gentlemen, we can’t have free speech — this is the United States of America.”
John took note of one strand of Dr. Fauci’s testimony here yesterday. Another strand addressed masks. I swear, they mean to bring them back along with vaccination mandates. They will not give up. On the mask folly, see (among other things) Jeffrey Anderson’s Claremont Review of Books essay “The masking of America.”
saving lives to be bothered by such trivialities, but he’s certain that they show masks work.
Also, he made the court reporter wear a mask because she was sniffling, even though she said it was allergies. “The last thing in the world I want is to get covid.”
That’s verbatim. 2/2
— Jenin Younes (@Leftylockdowns1) November 24, 2022
I wrote about Matt Ofalea’s brilliant four-and-a-half minute video below in “The playbook on the laptop.” The video compiles clips — mostly of news anchors and reporters — opining on air with mind-numbing certainty and Hive-like unanimity that the New York Post’s reportage on Hunter Biden’s laptop was “a lie,” “altered or fake,” “pure distractions,” and of course, “RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION.” I have posted the video once again below.
As a work of art, the video can stand alone. However, it was originally commissioned to accompany Matt Taibbi’s post “The Media Campaign to Protect Joe Biden Passes the Point of Absurdity.” In part Taibbi’s purpose was to shame a “herd of craven media stenographers,” but they are shameless. Taibbi revisited the video last week in “YouTube Censors Reality, Boosts Disinformation: Part 1.”
I thought the video lacked only a scroll of “credits.” Who are these shameless cretins? Thanks to reader Michael Cavino, who has put together the tentative list below, I can now ask you to imagine the names rolling at the end of the video in order of appearance (and reappearance) along with their affiliations at the time of their appearance on air:
Anthony Mason (CBS News)
Wolf Blitzer (CNN) and Rep. Adam Schiff
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (MSNBC)
Andrea Mitchell (NBC News)
Tiffany Cross (MSNBC)
Lesley Stahl (CBS News)
Christiane Amanpour (PBS and CNN)
Brian Stelter (CNN)
Terence Samuels (NPR)
Anand Giridharadas (MSNBC)
Christiane Amanpour (PBS and CNN)
Nick Schifrin (PBS)
Andrea Mitchell (NBC News)
Ken Dilanian (NBC News)
Brian Stelter (CNN)
Ken Dilanian (NBC News)
John Heilman (MSNBC)
Ben Rhodes (former Obama administration)
Jason Johnson (MSNBC)
Joe Scarborough (MSNBC)
Tiffany Cross (MSNBC)
James Clapper (CNN)
Evan Perez (CNN)
Nicole Wallace (MSNBC)
Ken Dilanian (NBC News)
Ben Rhodes (former Obama administration)
David Corn (Mother Jones)
John Brennan (former Obama administration, MSNBC)
Anthony Mason (CBS News) with Hunter Biden
Jeremy Bash (MSNBC)
Ken Dilanian (NBC News)
Erin Burnett (CNN)
Jen Psaki (former Biden administration)
Michael Smerconish (CNN)
Norah O’Donnell (CBS News)
Nick Schifrin (PBS)
Gloria Borger (CNN)
Traci Smith (CBS News)
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (MSNBC)
Kasie Hunt (MSNBC)
Joe Scarborough (MSNBC)
Wajhat Ali (New York Times)
Ken Dilanian (NBC News)
Alex Marquardt (CNN)
Wolf Blitzer (CNN)
Mika Brezenski (MSNBC)
Brian Stelter (CNN)
Brianna Keiler (CNN)
Erin Burnett (CNN)
Yasmin Vossoughian (MSNBC)
Frank Figliuzzi (MSNBC)
Mika Brzezinski (MSNBC)
Ken Dilanian (NBC News)
Please send corrections or additions to us at email@example.com.
Ammo Grrrll finds MOVIE CLICHES COME TO LIFE. She writes:
I have never been a fan of horror movies. The few I have seen have either been horrific enough to give me nightmares for weeks or so silly and unrealistic as to put me to sleep. But even more than that, I have a visceral reaction to people, especially women, behaving stupidly. And that is a major feature of horror films. (That is also why I don’t watch The View.)
In countless horror films there is a scary house that has scary music on a loop at all hours of the day and night. A creaky noise is heard and the lights go out. Before the frightened occupant lie at least two options. One: run out the front door to your vehicle, lock it, drive away as fast as you can. Ideally, do NOT flood the car when you start it and, if possible, have a weapon in the console and another in an appendix holster. With, you know, those eight rounds per bullet that our totally unimpaired President was talking about. That is, as I said, Option One.
Option Two: go into the basement (or into the attic if you are in a silly non-basement state like Arizona…) all alone with one stubby, flickering candle. Preferably also wearing a long clingy nightgown that makes it difficult to fight or run.
How does this relate to real life? Well, the recent election showed that a man I have long admired – President Donald J. Trump – decided to go with Metaphorical Option B in a horrific election.
Option A: He’s a smart and clever guy. He could help craft brilliant ads that would translate to pretty much any Republican candidate, talking about love for America, its energy dominance just a couple of years ago with accompanying low gas prices. Opposition to child mutilation. Closing the southern border. Inflation. Support for the police. Against crime. He could part with a few million pesos in his vast War Chest to buy ad space.
OR, Option B, three days before said tough election, he could diss potential running mates and primary competitors alike, taking childish shots at the man who turned Florida red, and even threatening to “tell stuff about him that even his wife doesn’t know.” Classy! And after the dispiriting election, dissing several more people in a long, rambling, Ted Kaczynski-style single-spaced screed on Truth Social.
Oookay, he chose Option B. Stipulating that my own Dad did not drink, defending Trump for 6 years, I feel a little like the adult child of an alcoholic who has spent a lifetime offering excuses for Dad. I still have enormous admiration and gratitude for the man and I will still vote for him if he is the nominee. Especially against Biden, whose highlight reel of yelled and whispered gaffes should be a feature film by then, roughly the length of Dancing With Wolves AND Gone With the Wind. But c’mon, Man! I fear President Trump may have damaged himself beyond repair. It makes me sad because it was all so unnecessary. Again I repeat, lest I be misunderstood: DJT is exponentially better than most Republicans and ANY Democrat. And I will vote accordingly.
It’s not only horror films that show the actors making ridiculous and unlikely decisions. Those plotlines infest “thriller” and “suspense” movies as well. For some reason, women also figure prominently in these bad decisions. Let’s say there are terrorists with AK47s on the front lawn. The husband, a good guy rogue CIA agent, whispers, “We need to RUN out the back door, across the patio and into the car I have cleverly stashed on the next street over for just such an emergency. Be quiet, follow me, and RUN.”
And the woman, maybe a plucky girlfriend but usually the annoying wife, chooses that moment to say: “We need to talk.” And Susan, the irritated viewer, yells at the TV, “No, you need to run. If you survive, you can then discuss whether or not you need to ‘work on’ your relationship. For now, you need to work on your sprinting skills.”
Perhaps the silliest of these situations occurred in the popular series 24 about Jack Bauer. Our dearest conservative friends were devoted to this series and even held regular social events to watch it together. Joe and I watched part of one season and were not fans.
Jack Bauer’s daughter was a certifiable idiot, routinely calling him on his cellphone during important covert missions to tell him the equivalent of picking up a quart of milk on his way home after being tortured. In one ongoing plotline, a serial killer was IN THE HOUSE and the daughter just barely slipped away from him but then – no, I’m not making this up – she ran back for her hair dryer, an item that can be purchased for under $10 at any Walmart. That was the last episode I watched before I was tempted to root FOR the terrorists.
For reasons that I cannot fathom, and in fact which hurt my feelings, this “Failure to Immediately Obey the Husband In Case of Danger” is a major fear of famous novelist Max Cossack, to whom I have been married for 392 years in dog years. He is convinced that in some existential emergency I WILL NOT LISTEN to him! That I will want to argue, debate and possibly discuss why he does not make the bed carefully so that the sheet does not hang below the bedspread like its slip is showing.
Just because when we were very young and riding the El, he begged me not to make any eye contact with other riders, and I not only smiled and chatted them up, but invited some of them home for dinner? Just because in New Orleans I felt it was rude not to follow a group of scamming street yutes at night down a blind alley? What was this urban guy to do with a small-town naif bred to be friendly to all?
One more movie cliché — the one that Max Cossack perhaps hates the most. An actor is surprised by events and says – say it with me, now – “WHAT THE…?” He never gets the chance to finish with “heck” or any stronger word because either some alien has emerged from his stomach or the girl he thought was a friend turned out to be a Russian hit woman and has just plunged a fake umbrella into his heart.
As much as Max hates “What the…?” it’s often all we can think of to say looking at the evening news. The cultural assaults are relentless and shocking. Here, is a “family-friendly” drag show for the kiddies that involves a dildo ring toss event. Which raises the obvious question, “Unless you are talking about the Manson Family, what would it take for something NOT to qualify as ‘family friendly’?”
Here, a father is dragged off from a School Board Meeting by the local gendarmes because he had an issue with his daughter being assaulted by a thug in a dress. There, a kindergarten teacher tells TikTok that every single child in her class wants to transition to a different gender. And then the obese, blue-haired charmer claims there are more genders than Obama’s 57 states.
In almost every horror movie at some point the hapless woman victim realizes that the Evil is not distant. It is, in fact, COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!
I will submit to you that a lot of the Evil abroad in the land today is not only coming from inside the House but also the Senate. In the last few days, I have read many articles by prominent “Republicans” who want me and my ilk gone from the Party forever. We are potentially spoiling their grift. Hey, guys, Remember the Whigs. And you think you can EVER win another election without us MAGAs? Suddenly, it becomes crystal clear that several of them have no interest at all in winning! They like things just the way they are.
Remember the good old days, when the most obvious difference between conservatives and liberals was that conservatives objected to wasteful government spending? Now we live in a world where wastefulness is one of liberals’ better qualities.
Still, it should make us angry. More than ever, government at all levels is cavalier with taxpayers’ money, viewing it not only as their own, but primarily as a means of buying votes. Moreover, states can’t print money, so if we want reasonable state taxes, a necessary condition is spending restraint.
This is why, several years ago, American Experiment inaugurated the Golden Turkey Award. Following in the footsteps of William Proxmire’s Golden Fleece, it exposes absurd waste in Minnesota’s government spending. Each year, readers and our own staff nominate four contenders for the Prize. The winner is determined by a vote driven by email and social media.
This year we had some remarkable nominees: our state government paid children to play outdoors; it spent tens of thousands of dollars promoting folk remedies for covid like burning sage and eating sauerkraut; and it paid random citizens stipends of $6,000–e.g. a stripper who was paid to continue stripping.
But if you have been following the Feeding Our Future scandal, it can come as no surprise that the Minnesota Department of Education was voted this year’s Golden Turkey. I presented the award to the Department of Education at their headquarters on a cold, windy afternoon. Here is the video of the presentation, which I hope you will find amusing:
One more thing: we presented the award at 3:30 in the afternoon. It says on the front of the building that it is open until 4:30 every weekday afternoon, but when we were there, the place was deserted. The Department of Education building was dark, and there was not a single car in the vast parking lot, other than ours. Is no one working at the Department of Education? Frankly, that might be an improvement. But at the very least, it suggests another area where the State of Minnesota could save money: the Department of Education’s budget.
I am skeptical of the data for this chart but if it is accurate at all, I’d clearly prefer to have my turkey fest in the southeastern states, because mac & cheese, which need no justification. Though I admit being tempted by Alaska’s unique choice. (I wonder, do Alaskan Thanksgiving diners use ranked-choice to decide their sides?)
As we noted earlier, Anthony Fauci was deposed yesterday in the First Amendment lawsuit brought by the states of Missouri and Louisiana. There is no transcript of the deposition, but the lawyers have tweeted about what Fauci said, and Legal Insurrection has the news:
The deposition of Anthony Fauci took place today in the lawsuit commenced by Louisiana and Missouri, alleging that numerous Biden administration officials colluded with and directed big tech and social media giants to censor dissenting scientific and medical voices with regard to Covid.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who attended the deposition, tweeted that Fauci had a lack of memory.
Wow! It was amazing to spend 7 hours with Dr. Fauci. The man who single-handedly wrecked the U.S. economy based upon "the science." Only to discover that he can't recall practically anything dealing with his Covid response!
— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) November 23, 2022
I am reminded of Richard Nixon, who during the Watergate travail counseled one of his aides to testify that he couldn’t remember anything. That way, Nixon explained, they can never go after you for perjury. The extent to which a witness can get away with amnesiac testimony depends largely on whether enough documents have been produced to pin him down. In this case, my impression is that the government’s production has been skimpy.
To me, this is the most interesting item:
Jenin Younes, an attorney from the New Civil Liberties Alliance, representing the physicians and scientist who were attacked after signing The Great Barrington Declaration, was present, and observed:
One of my favorite quotes from Fauci’s deposition today: “I have a very busy day job running a six billion dollar institute. I don’t have time to worry about things like the Great Barrington Declaration.”
— Jenin Younes (@Leftylockdowns1) November 23, 2022
The Great Barrington Declaration was ultimately signed by thousands of doctors and scientists. It challenged the covid shutdown policies that were recommended by Fauci and implemented by governments at the federal and state levels:
Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.
The signers of the Declaration argued against indiscriminate shutdowns and instead endorsed a policy they called Focused Protection. At this point, it is blindingly obvious that they were right.
But Anthony Fauci says he didn’t have time to evaluate the merits of the Great Barrington Declaration–that is to say, he didn’t have time to determine whether the policies he confidently imposed on the rest of us were actually justified. He was too busy “running a six billion dollar institute.” Some of us have been saying for a long time that Fauci isn’t a scientist, he is a bureaucrat. In yesterday’s testimony, he confirmed it.
I just finished a five-week Zoom class with retired Dartmouth English Professor James Heffernan. Professor Heffernan is the author, most recently, of the forthcoming Politics and Literature at the Dawn of World War II. Under Professor Heffernan’s guidance, we read the last five chapters of James Joyce’s Ulysses. It was the third installment of the three courses in which Professor Heffernan has taken students through the novel under the auspices of Dartmouth’s Osher (adult education) program.
Looking around online for something Joyce said about the novel, I came across Benjamin Heineman’s assessment of the novel 50 years after his first reading. And there is Professor Heffernan:
I urge that people read the first Ulysses I rediscovered, the deeply humanistic novel which is bursting with the enormous variety of life. I do have to say that my re-introduction to the novel was aided by 24 recorded lectures—simply entitled “Joyce’s Ulysses”—delivered by James A.W. Heffernan, emeritus professor of English at Dartmouth (and available from The Teaching Company). Heffernan focuses primarily on the character and psychology of Stephen, Bloom and Molly but the lectures provide a guide through the chapters of the book and relate them to the Homeric myth and put them in context of other recurrent themes (e.g. Irish Nationalism). Perhaps that reading of the “first” Ulysses will provide a stimulus to explore the almost infinite dimensions of the second, literary one.
At least two of the last five chapters of Ulysses are absurdly difficult. The novel’s ending is ambiguous. For me, however, the novel had a happy ending, and not just because of the concluding chapter giving us Molly Bloom’s stream of consciousness at the end of her husband’s long day’s journey. I finished it.
Molly’s husband is Leopold Bloom, the hero of the novel. He makes his living selling newspaper advertising. He is a decent if troubled man who has yet to recover from the death of his son, Rudy, ten years earlier. The novel’s penultimate chapter gives us Bloom’s nightly thoughts immediately before he falls asleep. His last thought each evening is:
Of some one sole unique advertisement to cause passers to stop in wonder, a poster novelty, with all extraneous accretions excluded, reduced to its simplest and most efficient terms not exceeding the span of casual vision and congruous with the velocity of modern life.
He falls asleep, in other words, meditating on the ultimate advertisement. The ultimate advertisement would necessarily be one “congruous with the velocity of modern life.” It must not require much thought to absorb. Bloom seems to anticipate a world whose attention span has been deformed by social media.
Ulysses itself is not “congruous with the velocity of modern life.” It is too difficult. It takes too much time to read and too much study to master. It reminded me that we need to slow down to savor the objects of our love (including the books we love). As time slows down for us on this magnificent American holiday, that is my thought of the day.
Ranked choice voting may not have “the primal eldest curse upon’t,” but it nevertheless “smells to heaven.” Case in point: Alaska’s ranked choice voting scheme has now delivered Democrat Mary Peltola to represent this Republican state in the House of Representatives. Living with it, Kim Strassel called it out as “the hell that is Alaska’s election system” in her lucid October 27 Wall Street Journal column “The ‘ranked choice’ scam.” See also Brendan Patrick Purdy’s Law & Liberty essay “The Flaws of Ranked Choice.”
In a second test of the gag reflex, we learn that Lisa Murkowski defeated Kelly Tschibaka in the contest for the Senate seat that was on the ballot. I fought the gag and the gag won. Murkowski’s triumph is only fitting. Anticipating that she might have a hard time winning a head-to-head contest, Murkowski herself seems to have helped foist the jerry-rigged scheme on Alaska. See my August 20 post “Murky in Alaska” (drawing on the work of Project Veritas).
As noted yesterday in Loose Ends, the Washington Post thinks the most salient thing about Thanksgiving is its climate footprint, because that’s how cultists always think about everything. As a famous Twitter account holder might say, “Sad!” So let’s have some enjoyable fun with the day.
And finally. . . a twofer for today:
Paul A. Rahe holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College and is one of the country’s most distinguished scholars of history and politics. In view of his study of Republics Ancient and Modern, Professor Rahe is the academy’s foremost authority on the history of republics. Although his subsequent work on Soft Despotism was not far from his Thanksgiving reflections when he wrote this column for us in 2009, at the dawn of the Obama era, neither was his older work on republics. Posted here annually on Thanksgiving since 2009, it bears directly on the socialist temptation that confronts us yet:
On Thanksgiving, it is customary that Americans recall to mind the experience of the Pilgrim Fathers. We have much to learn from the history of the Plymouth Plantation. For, in their first year in the New World, the Pilgrims conducted an experiment in social engineering akin to what is now contemplated; and, after an abortive attempt at cultivating the land in common, their leaders reflected on the results in a manner that Americans today should find instructive.
William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony, reports that, at that time, he and his advisers considered “how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery.” And “after much debate of things,” he then adds, they chose to abandon communal property, deciding that “they should set corn every man for his own particular” and assign “to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end.”
The results, he tells us, were gratifying in the extreme, “for it made all hands very industrious” and “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Even “the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”
Moreover, he observes, “the experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years . . . amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times . . . that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing.” In practice, America’s first socialist experiment “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”
In practice, “the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.”
Naturally enough, quarrels ensued. “If it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men,” Bradford notes, “yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And [it] would have been worse if they had been men of another condition” less given to the fear of God. “Let none object,” he concludes, that “this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”
The moral is perfectly clear. Self-interest cannot be expunged. Where there is private property and its possession and acquisition are protected and treated with respect, self-interest and jealousy can be deployed against laziness and the desire for that which is not one’s own, and there tends to be plenty as a consequence.
But where one takes from those who join talent with industry to provide for those lacking either or both, where the fruits of one man’s labor are appropriated to benefit another who is less productive, self-interest reinforces laziness, jealousy engenders covetousness, and these combine in a bitter stew to produce both conflict and dearth.
Matt Ofalea compiled the four-and-a-half minute video below for Matt Taibbi this past March. Taibbi revisits the video in his TK News/Substack post “YouTube Censors Reality, Boosts Disinformation: Part 1.” Subhead: “YouTube censored this site for accuracy, yet new news today underscores that they continue to hype fake news.” As Taibbi tells the story in his post: “[Orfalea] did an exceptional job back in March in the video [below], compiling clips of people who went on air and with absolute certainty proclaimed the laptop ‘a lie,’ ‘altered or fake,’ ‘pure distractions,’ and of course, ‘RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION.’”
Taibbi revisits the video above partially in connection with the CBS News story on which we have been hammering. Two years after the fact, CBS News has declared the Hunter Biden laptop to be what the New York Post reported it to be. Orfalea’s masterly video compilation is illustrative of the Democrat/Deep State/Garbage Media alliance we and others have observed many times before, but the video is a work of art.
The video lacks only a scroll of credits. As we enter what will be for some a long holiday weekend, I would like to invite readers to identify all the talking heads appearing in the video and send the list to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps we can give credit where credit is due. They turned in a remarkable performance.
Taibbi links to his November 18 post “‘Election Denial’ for Me, But Not for Thee: YouTube Censors TK-Produced Videos, Again, Despite Factual Accuracy.” Subhead: “Matt Orfalea didn’t lie, alter clips, or remove key context. He made edits faithful to reality and just got a strike for it. Welcome to post-Trump America, where truth is a censorable offense.” David Strom takes up Taibbi’s larger points in the excellent Hot Air post “YouTube: purveyor of disinformation.” Please check these posts out as well.
Resuming our coverage of the Twitter death watch, I can report that Twitter is still up and running and that the new owner seems to think there is life in the old bird yet.
World Cup traffic hit almost 20,000 tweets per second today! Great work by Twitter team managing record usage.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022
Assuming that Musk is writing his own material, I think he reveals a fine-tuned sense of humor on his Twitter feed. He also knows when to stand back and let the evidence facts speak for themselves. Here he affords us a glimpse of t-shirts found in a closet at Twitter headquarters — new Twitter versus old Twitter. I find the laconic exercise in show-and-tell hilarious in its own way. RedState’s Nick Arama comments here and Hot Air’s John Sexton comments here, but the commentary in this case tends toward gilding the lilly.
Found in closet at Twitter HQ fr pic.twitter.com/3xSI3KvvHk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022
One of my favorite journals these days is The European Conservative, edited by the intrepid Alvino-Mario Fantini out of Vienna. Printed on heavy stock paper, its articles are adorned with fabulous reproductions of classic art, making it the kind of journal you’d happily put out on your coffee table alongside your gallery books from the Met or wherever.
Back in September I wrote here about how the magazine was dropped from the W.H. Smith newsstands in Britain because someone complained about a cartoon that appeared in the summer issue. Here’s the offending cartoon:
Happy to report that W.H Smith relented, and The European Conservative is back on its newsstands. (You can also find The European Conservative at Barnes and Noble newsstands in the U.S.)
Mario, a born networker (and Dartmouth College alum), has done an incredible job of finding often obscure conservative thinkers scattered throughout Europe and translating their work into English. I caught up with him in person in Vienna a couple weeks ago on my way through town from Budapest to Milan, and we recorded this podcast in a Vienna cafe because it seemed the most authentic. (You could almost imagine Wittgenstein and Hayek—who were cousins!—talking together over coffee in the opposite corner.) We start by looking at some of the often significant differences between American and European varieties of conservatism, and proceed from there.
The fall issue, currently in the mail to subscribers (but not too late to receive if you subscribe now!), offers a useful editorial note which I have taken the liberty of excerpting here:
This journal—and the loose association in which is was conceived: the Vanenburg Society—has always sought to explore and explain the various traditions of ‘respectable conservatism’ in Europe and around the world. We have always seen our task as fundamentally scholarly and instructive, and thus have never shied away from contentious thinkers (or publications) simply because others tell us to. We appreciate and will defend different kinds of conservatism—particularly when they celebrate the classical and Christian humanism that forms the core of our ailing civilization.
Not a bad operating statement.
You know what to do now: listen here, or wander over to your favorite Ricochet cafe:
So Buffalo received—check notes—seven feet of lake effect snow last weekend? And it is not even Thanksgiving yet? The northeast has been hoping and praying for a mild winter because energy costs have soared to appease the climate cult, and as this charts shows, areas dependent on old-fashioned heating oil are facing and expensive winter indeed. If only there was a cheap supply of natural gas nearby. . .
Kevin Roche emailed this morning:
This “gentleman,” Dr. Jha, is the new dunce in charge of the federal CV-19 response. He said today that the vaccines would literally prevent every death.
Dr. Jha: "We can prevent every covid death in America" if everyone gets their updated booster. pic.twitter.com/5yRP2w8y4L
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 22, 2022
For months in Minnesota, over 70% of all events–infections, hospitalizations and deaths–have been in the vaxed or vaxed and boosted. Deaths in particular are heavily concentrated in the boosted, which is partly an age effect. But it is either complete ignorance or just flat out lying to say what he said. It is amazing to me that almost three years in these guys still think they can get away with this crap.
Kevin has more at Healthy Skeptic.
A friend directed me to a Substack piece by Bad Cattitude titled “the public health czar has completely lost the plot.” He quotes Dr. Jha:
The real leaders of American medicine are out there telling you that you need to go get a vaccine. You can decide to trust America’s physicians or you can trust some random dude on Twitter.
About which Cattitude comments:
truly, trusting just about any “random dude on twitter” would likely serve anyone better than the advice of brown university’s greatest embarrassment, current biden admin covid czar ashish jha.
and the actual experts have been calling this out for ages.
He also offers these memes, which comment on the debasement of our scientific community during the age of covid:
Speaking of being banned from social media, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford was a co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, and has proved to be right regarding just about everything relating to covid. But being prematurely right is dangerous. Dr. Bhattacharya said that his life became a “living hell” after he dissented from the dogmas announced by Anthony Fauci. He got no support from Stanford and concluded that “academic freedom is dead.”
They systematically tried to make it seem like everyone agreed with their ideas about COVID policy, when in fact there was deep disagreement among scientists and epidemiologists about the right strategy. That’s why we wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, to tell the public that there was this disagreement. There was another alternate policy available.
And, speaking of the execrable Dr. Fauci, when it comes to questions about the origin of covid–an origin for which Fauci himself may be in part responsible–he still has no answers. As reporters learned who attended his farewell press conference:
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s final White House press briefing descended into a near-shouting match Tuesday as he declined to comment on what he’s done to investigate the origins of COVID-19.
“What have you done to personally investigate the origins of COVID?” Daily Caller reporter Diana Glebova attempted to ask Fauci, who has been a fixture at coronavirus briefings since March 2020.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who was moderating Fauci’s farewell Q&A, halted the briefing to reprimand Glebova — opening the floor for even more reporters to clamor for Fauci to answer the question.
The briefing room then erupted at as journalists from other news outlets, including Al Jazeera and The Post, put in their own requests for Fauci to answer. Other reporters said the interruption was disrespectful, arguing that final briefings are usually emotionally sensitive forums.
“Can we get an answer?” Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett chimed in.
“We need an answer, Dr. Fauci, on the COVID origins,” The Post said to Fauci. “Why are we still funding the EcoHealth Alliance, Dr. Fauci? Why are they getting millions of more dollars?”
“You need to call on people from across the room. She has a valid question. She’s asking about the origins of COVID and Dr. Fauci is the best person to answer,” added Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba.
Reporters from outlets like the Daily Caller, the New York Post, al Jazeera and Today News Africa are onto Fauci and his minions, but most “mainstream” outlets are still sticking to their story–that is, sticking to the misinformation that the Biden administration continues to peddle.
UPDATE: One more thing. I don’t hold out much hope for Congressional investigations, but a good lawyer interrogating Dr. Fauci under oath could uncover a lot. It may be about to happen:
The judge in Missouri v. Biden granted Plaintiffs' request to depose Dr. Fauci. The deposition will take place tomorrow, and we will be asking questions about his role in censoring the Great Barrington Declaration, its authors, & others who criticized his approach to Covid.
— Jenin Younes (@Leftylockdowns1) November 22, 2022
I believe Missouri’s lawyers will let us know what Fauci has to say in response to their questions.
• Some questions about the whole FTX implosion. There is likely to be a new rush for Congress to enact some kind of regulation of the crypto world. But maybe we should look first to see what existing laws and regulations either failed or were flouted. After the Enron, Worldcom, and other corporate catastrophes back around 2001, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, imposing strict new regulations on accounting and corporate financial disclosure. Did Sarbanes-Oxley have any effect on FTX, or were the strictures of SarbOx simply skirted by locating in the Bahamas?
Next, after the financial crash of 2008, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank bill, intended in part to make sure banking institutions and other fiduciary investment vehicles managed risk more carefully. Same question: did Dodd-Frank have any effect on FTX?
• Another shooting at a gay nightclub, and the left rushed to blame it on the right, having learned nothing from blaming Sarah Palin after a mentally disturbed person shot Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords back in 2011. Lo and behold, the court filing for the suspect, Anderson Aldrich:
• So the cost of the traditional thanksgiving dinner is up something like 20 percent over a year ago, but what does the Washington Post think is the most newsworthy aspect of Thanksgiving this year? Bet you didn’t see this coming:
I suggest giving thanks this year that you don’t subscribe to the Washington Post, who might singlehandedly be responsible for a turkey shortage since they clearly hire so many of them.
• Heads up: special Thanksgiving Day Midweek in Pictures coming tomorrow.
I feel obligated to note that President Biden has extended the “pause” on student loan repayments pending resolution of the administration’s petition to the Supreme Court for relief allowing implementation of its lawless loan forgiveness plan. The “pause” reminds me of the title of Arlo Guthrie’s “The Pause of Mr. Claus” and it’s certainly in the spirit of the song.
We have learned the government’s multifarious uses of “emergency” the hard way. We don’t need any reminders, but they persist in administering them good and hard. We can be sure there are more to come.
“I’m completely confident my plan is legal,” Biden said in a video on Tuesday announcing the student loan repayment pause. Duly noted, but the claim of legality is ill-founded. It is a bad joke. That’s one reason why they have scrambled to revise the contours of the program to strip potential plaintiffs of standing.
In the windmills of his mind, Biden’s claim of certainty may be true. The claim of legality deserves to be ranked up there with Biden’s claims that he had finished in the top half of his law school class, that he had attended law school on a full academic scholarship, that he had been named the outstanding student in the political science department as an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, and that he had graduated from Delaware with three undergraduate degrees.
I'm confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 22, 2022
NOTE: The “pause” reads as follows: “The student loan payment pause is extended until the U.S. Department of Education is permitted to implement the debt relief program or the litigation is resolved. Payments will restart 60 days later. If the debt relief program has not been implemented and the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, 2023 — payments will resume 60 days after that. We will notify borrowers before payments restart.”
It is difficult to credit the portentous tone and ludicrous gravity of the CBS New story by Catherine Herridge “confirming” the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s laptop and contents. It comes more than two years after the New York Post’s reportage breaking the story and the deep state operation that suppressed it. It seems a tad late and a mite superfluous.
CBS News might have deepened our understanding of the story instead of embarrassing itself. Why not follow up with requests for comments from CBS’s own Lesley Stahl? Or from the deep state operatives who successfully disparaged and suppressed the story? Or from the editors of Politico, who treated the deep state operation with a straight face as breaking news? Or, better yet, why not give the thing a postmodern twist and bring back Dan Rather to assess the performance of CBS News on the story?
Elon Musk’s New Twitter has reinstated Babylon Bee to the platform. The Bee rises to the occasion with a well-aimed round of derision.
CBS News Officially Confirms That Lincoln Has Been Shot https://t.co/O04pm9mSc1
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) November 22, 2022
2024 is a long way off, and much may happen between now and then. For one thing, Donald Trump may have been indicted and may have served some kind of sentence by then. But putting such possible drama aside, I have seen commentators suggest that Trump could be hard to beat. Even if he only draws, say, 35% of the vote in the early primaries, he could win them if the rest of the vote is split numerous ways. And his momentum could be unstoppable by the time the alternatives are reduced a single opponent.
That is not an impossible scenario, but I don’t think it will happen that way. Consider the Iowa caucuses, which are in the first phase of the process. The New York Post reports on a survey of likely Iowa caucus goers:
Iowa Republicans are turning away from former President Donald Trump in favor of rising star Ron DeSantis, according to a new survey.
A poll released Monday by Neighborhood Research and Media indicated that 32% of likely caucus-goers would make the 44-year-old Florida governor their first choice. Another 30% said their top pick would be the 76-year-old former president.
That is very close, obviously, but the trend is bad for Trump:
The result represents a 23-point swing in the poll from June, when Trump led DeSantis by 38% to 17% — and a 46-point swing from November of last year, when the 45th president led 56% to 12%.
“With support barely half what it was a year ago in a time when DeSantis’s vote has nearly tripled, Trump becomes a severe underdog in the race,” Rick Shaftan of Neighborhood Research and Media wrote in his analysis.
It is also notable that, while 30% of respondents say they are undecided, no other candidate got more than 3% of responses.
I think the trend away from Trump and toward DeSantis and others will continue over the next year, even if Trump is not indicted. It is quite possible that by the time the 2024 nomination process begins in earnest, he could be a spent force.
For all of my life it seems there has always been a “new right” in view. “New right” has been used since the 1950s at least, and the “new right” of the 1970s looks distinctly old today. The new “new right” today is, as frequently mentioned here, “national conservatism.” Hence worth taking in the summary overview of my old boss Christopher DeMuth, writing in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend:
Today we are in a new era of conservative discontent. The national conservatives are at the ramparts against the new status quo of woke progressivism in government, the military, business, education, culture and media. Many of them are also dismissive of the conservatism of Buckley & Co. and Ronald Reagan and their legacy of journals, think tanks and policy doctrines that became a settled Washington establishment by the 2000s and 2010s.
In their view, that establishment was complicit in progressivism’s political ascent. American conservatism became unduly attached to libertarian individualism, unfettered markets and free trade as ends in themselves—which helped set the stage for anything-goes cultural corruption, the decline of community, family and religion, and the rise of global corporations and institutions that decimated the American heartland.
Read the whole thing if you have a WSJ subscription.
Yes, I’m finally back, not exactly tanned, rested, and ready, because jet lag, a run-in last night with an exceptionally moronic TSA crew at San Francisco (where for some mindless reason you have to clear security again before catching a connecting flight), and also because this is a great time of year to visit Europe as its ancient cities look much more interesting in late fall light, but that means you don’t get much sun tan. In any case, I am dispatching a relief expedition to Scott at the Alamo before the firewall is breached.
Lots to catch up on, starting with a podcast I hope to have produced and ready this afternoon with Alvino-Mario Fantini, editor in chief of The European Conservative, recorded in a Viennese cafe, because where else would you have a such a conversation?
A few loose ends from the travelogue. First, three observations about Florence:
• OSHA would shut down the entire town. They would never allow stairs like this, at the top of the Duomo:
Speaking of the Duomo:
• Where are all the rooftop solar panels? Oh that’s right—this city is devoted to beauty and rejects ugliness.
• All those naked Greek and Roman guys in all the classic sculptures (David, etc): they obviously did at least 100 crunches daily, and never skipped leg day at the gym.
A few odds and ends, starting with me at the tomb of Nick at the Basilica de Santa Croce (Dante’s tomb is nearby), wearing a Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars polo shirt with esoteric meaning on purpose, as Stag’s Leap founder Warren Winiarski wrote the chapter on Machiavelli for the first edition of the indispensable Strauss-Cropsey History of Political Philosophy reader, before he quit graduate school and went into wine making, and later winning the famous “Judgment in Paris” wine competition in 1976.
At the University of Milan: So this is either some kind of Italian take on the shot put, or Marvel’s next superhero, “COVIDman.”
My point was so important I had to raise my arm to block the camera, but the person seated across from me is Nicolo Zanon, vice president of Italy’s Constitutional Court, but more importantly known as “the Scalia of Italy.” I am hoping to publish Judge Zanon’s fabulous keynote lecture at our conference here on Power Line in due course. (“Lucretia” seated immediately to his left.)
Finally, just when you think Europe is finished, you run across something like this—a paper placemat, of all things, in a Florence bistro I stumbled into randomly. The waiter was especially proud of its English-language message, and happy that an American approved of it:
Advocates of wind and solar energy have argued that the cost of those energy sources would decline over time as they are more widely adopted. That never made any sense, and it has not proved true. In fact, the cost of both wind and solar energy is destined to continue rising sharply as the massive quantities of materials they require become more expensive as a result of increasing demand, driven by ill-advised (the politest adjective I can think of) government mandates and subsidies.
In fact, the cost of electricity generated by wind and solar is already skyrocketing. My colleague Isaac Orr reproduced this chart at American Experiment. It shows the average cost of wind and solar energy as contracted for in Power Purchase Agreements with utilities from 2019 through early 2022. It should be noted that these are subsidized prices, not the full cost if you include the portion that is paid by taxpayers:
The average cost of electricity generated by wind turbines has almost doubled in three years, and yet governments continue their irrational policies that can only drive the cost of power higher. The one thing that could make the situation catastrophically worse is if governments imposed drastic new demand on the electric power grid by making us all drive electric vehicles. But no, they could never be that stupid. Could they?
I do plan on commenting on the news later today, but this is pure tourism. My wife and I walked toward Buckingham Palace this morning, but found the Mall blocked and an expectant crowd lined up. Which reminded us that the South African head of state is in town for meetings with royals and politicians. So we stood and watched for a while.
First a band marched toward us from the Palace, then turned right in front of us. If you have never witnessed the pageantry that accompanies a state visit in the U.K., these videos might be fun to see:
The band played and soldiers occasionally marched by as we waited for the main event. The band seemed partial to American music; here, Shenandoah, which might seem a bit ironic in view of the occasion:
This is the theme to one of the classic cowboy TV series, or possibly a movie. But which one?
We started walking toward the Arch and wound up in the best location to see the royal procession. King Charles and Camilla were in the first coach, along with the South African, Cyril Ramaphosa. Prince William and Princess Kate were in the second carriage:
It was a beautiful morning for enjoying pageantry of a sort I’m not sure you can see anywhere else. Then it was on to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.
News commentary to follow before long!
I admire the bravery and support the cause of the Iranian players competing in the FIFA World Cup competition in Doha, Qatar. The AP reports: “Iran’s players didn’t sing their national anthem and didn’t celebrate their goals.” Their silence speaks. The players are putting themselves on the line for a cause that is a matter of life, death, and basic human rights back home. It’s not exactly akin to taking a self-indulgent knee on behalf of the 1619 lie.
Semafor Flagship’s Tom Chivers adds that the team’s “fans booed the music as well, and Iranian TV cut away from the players’ faces. Iran’s captain Ehsan Hajsafi said earlier that the players ‘support and sympathize with’ families grieving for loved ones killed by state crackdowns against the demonstrations.” Hajsafi’s protest went beyond silence.
There are limits to the art of protest for the teams from Europe: “They were playing England, whose captain — along with other European team captains — ditched plans to wear a rainbow armband to support LGBT rights after FIFA warned that it would lead to a yellow card.”
England defeated Iran 6-2. The AP adds this footnote: “Iran media blames humiliating World Cup loss on protests.”
The Times of Israel has Ash Obel reporting from the competition. He sought out Iranians to interview for his long story and found another approach to the art of protest: “Two Iranians from Tehran who operate a travel agency told me that while it was difficult for them to comment, change in Iran was needed. When asked what kind of change, one of them mimed stroking an imaginary long beard, a subtle reference to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameini and the Shiite clerics who control their country.”
I was curious how the New York Post would cover the “confirmation” yesterday of its two-year old reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Steven Nelson’s story supplies what might be an air quote in the headline: “CBS ‘confirms’ Hunter Biden laptop is real 769 days after Post broke story.” Nelson does a good job, but there is so much more to be said.
Nelson apparently reserves the derision that should be directed at CBS News to Post columnist Miranda Devine. Devine of course covered the Biden laptop story for the Post, experienced the suppression of the story in the immediate aftermath of publication, and wrote a book about the story well before CBS News got around to “confirming” it. CBS News might want to ask Devine for comment.
CBS News might also want to ask its own Lesley Stahl for comment. See my October 2020 post “This is 60 Minutes.”
Or it might want to ask the deep state 51 brought to us by Politico and former intelligence officials for comment. They were instrumental to the suppression of the story.
Or it might want to ask President Biden for comment. He reiterated the bald lie of the deep state 51 in debate with President Trump.
In the meantime Devine refers us to Sohrab Ahmari’s American Conservative column “Hunter Biden’s laptop is still real.”
Great @SohrabAhmari: Hunter Biden's Laptop Is Still Real. The Russian disinfo lie “was not the idle speculation of a few ex-spooks. It [justified] in real time… the most chilling episode of state-directed private-sector censorship in U.S. history” https://t.co/ZFr5nDIgys
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) November 22, 2022
I have a comment of my own. My comment is that this is a complete and utter disgrace — now capped by the portentous “confirmation” of CBS News.
The Washington Free Beacon’s Chuck Ross reports that Michael Bloomberg rendered an apology last week at his conference in Singapore:
Michael Bloomberg, who leads the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board, apologized to attendees of his annual economic forum after former British prime minister Boris Johnson called the Chinese government a “coercive autocracy.”
Bloomberg on Thursday said that Johnson’s remarks were “his thoughts and his thoughts alone” and were not cleared with him personally. “Some may have been insulted or offended last night by parts of the speaker’s remarks referencing certain countries and their duly elected leaders,” the former New York City mayor told the crowd at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore. “To those of you who were upset and concerned by what the speaker said, you have my apologies.” Johnson had referred to China and Russia as “two former communist tyrannies in which power has once again been concentrated in the hands of a single ruler” in a blistering speech to an audience that included China’s vice president and Chinese business leaders.
Johnson must have given an interesting speech. If any reader has access to a text, please send it to us at email@example.com.
The UK’s Guardian has more on the speech here. The Guardian posits that the location of the speech in Singapore made Johnson’s words toxic.
Bloomberg himself has previously spoken up in defense of China’s form of government. Ross and other reporters reasonably imply that Bloomberg’s apology was directed to Johnson’s remarks insofar as China was concerned.
Can Russia’s form of government be frankly described in Singapore? Bloomberg’s reference to “certain countries” appears to extend the terms of his apology to Russia as well as China. No Russians attended the conference. Bloomberg must have wanted to mollify those concerned about the sensibilities of Xi Jinping, especially if Chinese officials were in attendance.
Let it be said. The Chinese form of government is tyrannical and Xi Jinping is a tyrant.
Bloomberg’s apology has attracted attention to Johnson’s remarks. Some explanation would be of interest. Chuck Ross himself offers this: “Bloomberg has long defended the Chinese government…” Unfortunately, as you might have guessed, despite Bloomberg’s official position with the Defense Innovation Board: “The White House did not respond to a request for comment.”
Reuters adds that Bloomberg himself invited Johnson to speak at his conference and provides the unsurprising declination: “A spokesman for Bloomberg LP, which includes Bloomberg News and where Michael Bloomberg is the CEO, declined to comment to Reuters.”
I learned from reading Power Line yesterday that John is on vacation in London. Like Steve, he is pursuing other interests in Europe. I am holding down the fort and reminded of then Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s statement at the press conference he held when President Reagan was shot in 1981:
Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president, and the secretary of state in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the vice president and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.
Steve Hayward tells what transpired behind the scenes in chapter 4 of The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980-1989, published in 2009 and still in print. Steve writes: “Despite all the seeming chaos, Al Haig himself was the only person in the situation room confused about the chain of authority.”
Before long, Reagan sought Haig’s resignation. As Steve tells the story in chapter 6, Reagan wanted a Secretary of State more in tune with his policies than Haig was. “Strange to the end,” Steve writes, “Haig showed Reagan an envelope with his resignation letter but did not hand it over. He didn’t need to. Reagan promptly announced Haig’s resignation and in the same statement named George Shultz as his replacement[.]”
Gentlemen, I am not in control here. I am merely trying to hold your interest until Steve and John return to duty.
From Joseph Schumpeter’s classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy—a healthy reminder in the age of so-called “ESG” capitalism:
There are no doubt some things available to the modern workman that Louis XIV himself would have delighted to have yet was unable to have—modern dentistry for instance. On the whole, however, a budget on that level had little that really mattered to gain from capitalist achievement. Even speed of traveling may be assumed to have been a minor consideration for so very dignified as gentleman. Electric lighting is no great boon to anyone who has money enough to but a sufficient number of candles and to pay servants to attend to them. It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabrics, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement doe snot typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.
If Schumpeter were alive today, I suspect he’d include crypto-currency as a perversion of capitalism, since generating cheaper NFTs and other intangibles for the masses doesn’t appear to be the primary product of things like FTX.
Everyone knows China has become the trade powerhouse in the world, but this before-and-after comparison of how fully China has displaced the United States as the world’s leading trading partner over the last 20 years is still sobering. (Go Finland!)
I learn via Twitter that CBS News has a big announcement. It has retained digital forensic analyst Mark Lanterman to authenticate the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. This just in, as they say in the business: CBS News reports that the contents are what they purport to be!
Clay Travis comments that this breaking news comes “[t]wo years after anyone with a functional brain realized the Hunter Biden laptop was 100% real.” In this case would I amend that to say “only two years.”
This all must come as a great shock to anyone who gets his “news” from CBS News. No one involved in delivering the “news” here seems to have any idea how absurd he or she sounds.
Two years after anyone with a functional brain realized the Hunter Biden laptop was 100% real @CBSNews has finally gotten around to reporting the Hunter Biden laptop is 100% real. pic.twitter.com/zbOnJaaiEi
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) November 21, 2022
Governments at both the federal and state levels tell us we are in the midst of a transition from internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles. For a number of reasons, I don’t believe that is true, regardless of the level of bribery and coercion that governments bring to bear. I think the whole project will crash and burn, after doing enormous damage in the meantime. But the Wall Street Journal sheds light on how corrupt the EV project now is:
The transition to electric vehicles might not kill traditional auto makers after all—as long as they qualify for Washington’s flagship subsidy program.
At an investor day Thursday, General Motors laid bare the economics of its technological shift. The bad news: GM estimated that its operating margins on EVs would still only be in the low to mid-single digits at the end of 2025. That calculation includes sales of regulatory credits for greenhouse-gas emissions, but excludes new tax credits that President Biden signed into law in August as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
GM also said its capital expenditures would rise to between $11 billion and $13 billion a year through 2025, from $9 billion to $10 billion this year, as it brings forward EV investments. Such numbers play into investors’ fears that Detroit is on a hugely expensive road to a technology that expensive battery metals will make less profitable for years to come.
The good news: GM expects the Inflation Reduction Act to add between $3,500 to $5,500 per vehicle in profit—a transformative 5 to 7 percentage points in margin. Suddenly, EVs could be as profitable as conventional equivalents.
There is no real market for electric vehicles, at least not one of any magnitude. It is all about subsidies and mandates.
Consumers have understandably focused on the new $7,500 tax credit for their EV purchases available from next year, which comes with many more strings attached than the one it replaces. Notably, half of it will depend on manufacturers’ sourcing EV materials from outside of China, which will take time for anyone to meet.
Among their many other vices, EVs hand control over this important business segment to the Communist Chinese Party, something that our government doesn’t mind much–if it did, it wouldn’t subsidize Chinese materials to the tune of $3,750 per vehicle. And more:
But consumer tax credits are only one piece of the pie. A tax credit for business EV purchases of up to $7,500 isn’t subject to the same conditions…
I.e., the full $7,500 tax credit is available for vehicles made with Chinese materials. We are talking about the battery here, not the body or powertrain.
…which may explain why GM said it would focus first on fleet sales when it launches its electric version of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck next year. And then there are huge tax credits for battery production: $35 million for every gigawatt-hour of cells, and a further $10 million to package those cells into modules.
This whole sordid business is hopelessly corrupt, and it is antithetical to America’s economic and strategic interests. Nevertheless, it appears that EV mania will march on until it becomes obvious that the entire project is impossible.
The bien pensants (hereinafter “bp“) are afflicted with heartburn resulting from Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. The heartburn is thus a good sign. Ditto with what seems to me wishful thinking regarding Twitter’s impending demise. One can’t miss the intense desire among the bp for Musk to fail. I hope he makes a go of it.
The bp devoutly resist a social media platform whose limits they don’t control. I prefer to have it controlled by an entrepreneur who seeks to err in favor of free speech.
One can feel the heartburn in the virtuous emissions of CBS regarding its departure from Twitter to mull it over. RedState’s Nick Arama recounts the deliberations here. Musk himself took note of CBS’s return in a tweet that has the added advantage of hilarity.
Our love will never die pic.twitter.com/y5SldfAAt0
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 21, 2022
Musk’s new Twitter has reinstated President Trump. He’s not interested, but the door is open. Twitter has reinstated Babylon Bee. [UPDATE: I meant to add: It has reinstated Kanye West.] It has reinstated Project Veritas, yet the video below is marked “potentially sensitive” for some reason. I’m not sure why.
Thank you @ElonMusk for reinstating the Project Veritas Twitter account and for standing up for real investigative journalism ⁰⁰Stay tuned for an exclusive on this account 11/29 – A brave whistleblower inside the federal government is going on the record about child trafficking pic.twitter.com/wJotKQBiKM
— Project Veritas (@Project_Veritas) November 21, 2022
Spirits are running high. Light-heavyweight kickboxing champion Andrew Tate shares my point of view. Perhaps this too should be marked “potentially sensitive.”
I’ve decided to fly to the failed state of California, walk into twitter HQ and tell @elonmusk he’s a legend.
On my way. pic.twitter.com/oivzdTh8NA
— Andrew Tate (@Cobratate) November 21, 2022
It’s not easy and it’s not simple. Andrew Stuttaford considers some of the complications in the NRO Corner post “Twitter: Controlling the Content.”
“Global warming” was decried as the cause of the apocalypse until relatively recently. Now it is “climate change,” apparently because the data refused to comply. The UN’s latest “climate change” jamboree was convened in Sharm el-Sheikh last week and produced what I thought was a widely heralded agreement to transfer funds from productive countries to unproductive countries. This is of course to ward off the apocalypse. Where is the Jonathan Swift who will subject these people to the ridicule they so richly deserve?
Semafor is the newest of the sites to which I subscribe to keep up with the orthodoxies of the day. I take it as a good sign that Semafor’s Tom Chivers reports in its Flagship edition this morning: “COP27 reaches bad-tempered end.” That’s the headline. Woo hoo!
Chivers reports (bolding in original):
The COP27 conference agreed that rich nations will pay poorer ones compensation for the damage caused by climate change. That was seen as a breakthrough, but many nations were left frustrated by the lack of progress on cutting carbon emissions. The summit came close to collapse after host Egypt refused to allow discussion of phasing out fossil fuels, and European Union ministers threatened to walk out. More fights await: Not least over whether China, now the biggest greenhouse gas emitter, contributes to the fund.
I guess it’s a good news/bad news situation. I have to say, however, I see Egypt with what the New York Times would call “strange new respect.”
It takes 218 seats to claim a the majority in the House of Representatives, which is itself an entirely majoritarian institution. It’s no fun to be in the minority in the House, as Democrats are about to be reminded.
It appears that the prospective Republican majority in the House will max out at 221 or 222 members. We are still awaiting results in three California races. RCP still shows Lauren Boebert’s race in Colorado as undecided, but Boebert’s opponent has conceded. I think it’s fair to calculate that Republicans stand at 219 as of this morning.
Josh Kraushaar has posted a useful summary of House seats flipped by Democratic and Republican candidates in “America’s frozen midterms.” Kraushaar identifies 18 seats that have flipped from Democrat to Republican and 8 vice versa.
Nine of the 18 Republican flips are located in three states. As has been noted since what we used quaintly to think of as election day, four of the 18 Republican flips are in New York. (Three are in Florida, two in Arizona.) Considering the prominence of New York flips in the equation, one can’t help but be struck by how tenuous the new Republican majority is.
In the entire Midwest we find only three Republican flips — one each in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Both of Iowa’s Senate seats and all four of Iowa’s House seats are held by Republicans. From my perch in the Twin Cities, Iowa is looking pretty, pretty good.
I was intrigued by the Republican flip in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District. Incumbent Democrat Ron Kind announced his retirement from the seat representing “this increasingly conservative rural district,” as the New York Times described it. Kind puts me in mind of Hamlet’s tortured description of his murderous uncle and new stepfather — “a little more than kin and less than kind” — or at least the “less than kind” part.
Republican Rep.-elect Derrick Van Orden narrowly defeated Democrat Brad Pfaff to take the seat held by Kind. The Times describes Van Orden as “a retired Republican Navy SEAL who rallied at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.” The Times phrase “rallied at the Capitol” is ambiguous. In this case it means that Van Orden attended Trump’s January 6 rally (as did New York Third District Rep-elect George Santos). It doesn’t mean he entered the Capitol or rioted inside it.
I have been mostly AWOL for the last couple of days. This is only partly due to depression over the midterms, and mostly due to the fact that I am on vacation. Like Steve, I am currently in Europe, London to be exact. Unlike Steve, I won’t be recording any podcasts or attending any operas. But I will try to post occasionally.
This is a great time to be in the U.K. Christmas decorations are up, and the season’s spirit is in the air. Europeans in general make more of Christmas than we do in the U.S. And tourist traffic is way down. On the other hand, rain is in the forecast for nearly every day we will be in the U.K., so there’s that.
I’ve got a couple of posts planned for later in the day, but for now just a photo: Piccadilly near sundown.
At the Republican Jewish Coalition’s meeting in Las Vegas yesterday, incoming Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced that he intends to kick Ilhan Omar off the House Foreign Relations Committee:
“We watch anti-Semitism grow, not just on our campuses, but we watched it grow In the halls of Congress,” McCarthy said….
“I promised you last year that as speaker she will no longer be on Foreign Affairs, and I’m keeping that promise,” he added, to cheers from the crowd, video posted to his Twitter shows.
Last year, I promised that when I became Speaker, I would remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks.
I'm keeping that promise. pic.twitter.com/04blBx3neD
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 19, 2022
Never let it be said that the GOP’s narrow takeover of the House will do no good.
UPDATE: I see that I was a day late. This morning, McCarthy added to the list:
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on this week’s broadcast of FNC’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that he would keep his promise to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) from committees if elected Speaker of the House.
McCarthy said, “Yes, I will. I’ll keep that promise. One thing I have said from the very beginning is Eric Swalwell cannot get a security clearance in the public sector. Why would we ever give him a security clearance and the secrets to America?
Harsh, but fair.
So I will not allow him to be on Intel. You have Adam Schiff, who lied to the American public time and again. We will not allow him to be on the Intel committee either.
President Biden turns 80 today. We wish him a happy birthday.
I should like to think that 80 is not too old to be president, but Biden gives evidence in every public appearance that it is, at least in his case. His handlers sought to conceal his decline by keeping him in the basement during the 2020 presidential campaign. In office, his handlers have sought to conceal his decline by a variety of stratagems. Lest he get lost in a fog during public appearances, for example, his handlers provide him with cards specifying step-by-step instructions in capital letters. And yet he still gets lost in a fog during public appearances. The cards can only do so much.
The Daily Mail notes Biden’s milestone birthday here. The Daily Mail observes matter-of-factly: “President Joe Biden is about to become the first ever octogenarian US president.” There is a reason for that. Some say the rent is too damn high. I say the man is too damn old. In connection with the G20 conference in Bali last week, Arthur Herman observes infirmity in Biden’s China policy.
Biden has aged poorly. Next to him, the 82-year-old Nancy Pelosi exudes mental acuity. Biden looks like he is out of it much of the time. However, both Biden and Pelosi can testify to the wonders of plastic surgery and dermatological treatments. Someone should count the ways.
Contemplating the prospect of Kamala Harris or any of the other Democratic wannabes, one can’t help but conclude that the trouble with Biden is not his age, but rather the malignancy and idiocy of the policies he has introduced and promoted since his first day in office. He has inflicted great damage on the United States every day since his ascension to the presidency. That is the main thing, along with the corruptions of the Biden family business.
Biden’s mental unfitness is secondary to the unfitness of the policies that have become the controlling orthodoxy of the Democratic Party. Slow Joe needs to move on, but any likely Democratic successor will continue on the same path.
One can only hope that the big news out of COP-27 in Sharm el-Sheikh is yet another cop-out on “climate change.” The big news seems to rank up there with news of Trump’s return to Twitter. Is it equally vacuous? Politico boils the news down to three paragraphs:
Governments from around the world agreed to have wealthy countries help pay vulnerable nations for the damage they’re suffering from climate change, a deal that overcomes decades of U.S. and European resistance.
The agreement, reached at the end of a 14-day U.N. climate summit on the Red Sea and announced to loud applause in the room, pushed the hardest decisions off until at least late 2023.
Those include the exact mix of government and private financing that would go into the climate-damage fund, as well as U.S. and European demands that China and other middle-income countries contribute as well.
Among the accessible news stories, CNN’s gives a hint of the farcical madness that Jonathan Swift mocks in Book III of Gulliver’s Travels: “The complete COP27 agreement, of which the fund is a part, also reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a key demand from a number of countries.” As many have observed, the “climate change” orthodoxy has the earmarks of a religion. The mad scientists of Laputa have nothing on the men of COP27.
CNN adds this important caveat: “The final text also made no mention of phasing out fossil-fuels, including oil and gas.” Can we get a commitment from the prospective Speaker of the House of Representatives, whoever he may be, that not one penny of our taxpayer dollars will fund this fantasy? The Daily Mail has more here.
The UN has posted the so-called Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan along with many other documents related to the conference. It is one of the documents accessible via the UN press release posted here or via this page. I trust that Steve Hayward will tell us what it all means when he returns to duty this week.
Every one of the several news services to which I subscribe email updates reported last night: Trump returns to Twitter! Elon Musk had been conducting his own Twitter poll on the subject — I think his purpose was facetious, but nobody seems to grok Musk’s sense of humor. The vote was close. At one point Musk suggested that bots were voting — again, I doubt we are to take the poll at face value. Musk’s announcement is below.
The people have spoken.
Trump will be reinstated.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei. https://t.co/jmkhFuyfkv
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2022
Trump’s return to Twitter is heralded like MacArthur’s return to the Philippines, yet the news stories are full of anxiety. Jack P. seems to be getting into the spirit of the thing a la Musk.
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) November 20, 2022
In any event, just to take one example of the media treatment of this historic event, the AP leads its Editor’s Selections this morning with the story “Musk restores Trump’s Twitter account after online poll.” Since his expulsion from Twitter in days of yore, Trump has founded his own social media company. He has been active on its platform. Will Trump actually return to Twitter? That seems to me the question of the moment. The AP story leaves us hanging:
Shortly afterward Trump’s account, which had earlier appeared as suspended, reappeared on the platform complete with his former tweets, more than 59,000 of them. His followers were gone, at least initially, but he quickly began regaining them. There were no new tweets from the account as of late Saturday, however.
Trump himself addressed the issue in remarks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas yesterday. The AP quotes him:
“I hear we’re getting a big vote to also go back on Twitter. I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it,” Trump said. “It may make it, it may not make it,” he added, apparently referring to Twitter’s recent internal upheavals.
Trump too is on the Twitter death watch.
Jesse Colin Young turns 81 this Tuesday. I wrote up this installment of my Sunday Morning series a year ago in honor of his 80th birthday. Listening to Albert O hosting Highway 61 Revisited on WUMB yesterday, I was alerted to his birthday this week. It vaguely reminded me that I had put something together for him and went looking for it on our search engine. I want to give it another spin in slightly rewritten form this morning. If you remember it from last year, or have no interest, as Yeats put it in another context: “Horseman, pass by.”
I interviewed Jesse by email after seeing him perform with his Celtic Mambo lineup at Rossi’s Blue Star Room in Minneapolis in 2006. I posted the interview in “Aloha, Jesse.” I quote from the interview below but forgot to note that last year.
You may have heard of Jesse as the founding member of the Youngbloods or as a solo artist. I love his work. It has meant a lot to me for a long time. It triggers a kaleidoscope of memories and feelings. I want to salute him briefly and post videos of some of his work this morning.
Jesse struggled over many years with a devastating case of Lyme Disease that went undiagnosed until he found his symptoms described in a book about it. Antibiotic treatment has helped him overcome sufficiently to resume his career. If you’ve seen him since 2017, you’ve probably heard him talk about it. He wants to shine a light on the disease.
Jesse came up in the Greenwich Village folk scene. He released two obscure albums as a folk artist. Soul of a City Boy (1964) was his first. “You Gotta Fix It” was one of six originals on the album.
Jesse recorded Young Blood on Mercury in 1965. The title pointed the way to the future. “Trouble In Mind” is from that album and features the unmistakable sound of John Sebastian on harmonica.
Jesse founded the Youngbloods in 1967 with Jerry Corbitt on guitar, Lowell “Banana” Levinger on keyboards, and Joe Bauer on drums. As I say, Jesse had come up through the folk scene and already had two solo albums to his credit by the time the he formed the group. Guitar is his first love. To make the group work, however, Jesse moved from guitar to bass.
The Youngbloods’ self-titled debut album (produced by Felix Pappalardi) included the top 10 hit “Get Together,” written by Chet Powers. (Powers played with Quicksilver Messenger Service and also wrote under the names Dino Valenti and Jesse Oris Farrow.) As Jesse told me in 2006, “The Youngbloods were one of the house bands at the Cafe Au Go Go [in Greenwich Village] and I heard the song at an open mike there. Buzzy Linhart sang it and I fell in love with it and took it into rehearsal with the YBs the next day. There was no way we could not record it ’cause I was crazy about it.”
Released as a single in 1967, the song became a huge hit two years later. The National Conference of Christians and Jews adopted it as the soundtrack to a public service advertisement promoting national unity in 1969. The song had been recorded by others before it became a hit for the Youngbloods in 1969; it was Jesse’s passionate vocal that made this version of the song click. The NCCJ ad brought the recording to the attention of the country and struck a nerve. Jesse’s vocal grabbed our attention. He’s still playing the song 50 years later and still whispering “Listen!”
Earth Music was the Youngbloods’ follow-up album. Their first two albums are both full of good songs. I don’t think RCA had any idea how to promote the group. “All My Dreams Blue” was one of the two songs Jesse wrote for the album.
Jesse adapted “Sugar Babe” from one of the field recordings made by John and Alan Lomax. I don’t think it ever sounded this good before or since.
I first heard the Youngbloods playing on the college circuit in the spring of 1970. By this time they had released Elephant Mountain (their third album, produced by Charlie Daniels). The album kicks off with Jesse’s “Darkness, Darkness.”
At the other end of the spiritual polarity is Jesse’s “Sunlight,” the fourth track on the album. This is easily one of my favorites of all time. How was this not a hit?
Elephant Mountain represented the Youngbloods at their peak. The album is full of beautiful tracks. They noodled around on a few cuts, but it is an almost perfect album. They recorded several more good records, including Good and Dusty and High on a Ridge Top, both reflecting Jesse’s love of folk, blues, country, and rock. If it was downhill (pun intended) from Elephant Mountain, it was a pleasant descent. Below, for example, is Jesse’s cover of Taj Mahal’s “She Caught the Katy (and Left Me a Mule To Ride).”
Jesse went on to a fruitful solo career in which he has recorded many albums backed by excellent musicians. My favorite of these is Song For Juli. The title track is for his daughter. How many beautiful melodies does he stuff into this one? I think he loved the girl.
Jesse thought he had found heaven at his ridgetop home in northern California. He lost it in the 1995 fire that broke out in Point Reyes National Seashore. Before the fire, he paid tribute to it in “Ridgetop.”
Jesse attended Phillips Academy on scholarship. His love of the guitar brought him into conflict with the authorities at school, however, and he was expelled during his senior year. You can hear his intelligence, his love of wordplay, and his love of rhyme at work in “Miss Hesitation” as he adapted “Hesitation Blues” to his own uses.
When we saw Jesse in Minneapolis in 2018 he talked about his struggle with Lyme Disease. He said that he had stopped touring and thought he had retired. Then he went to his son’s graduation from Berklee College of Music and heard his son’s band of classmates play. He was inspired to team up and take them on the road. This is the aggregation we saw at the Dakota (Tristan Young on bass, Donnie Hogue on drums, JennHwan Wong on keyboard, Jack Sheehan on sax, Aleif Hamdan on electric guitar, and Virginia Garcia-Alves and Sally Rose backing Jesse on vocals). The video below shows them live at Daryl’s House in 2017 playing Jesse’s medley of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me.”
Jesse’s cover of “T-Bone Shuffle” first turned up on Song For Juli. He gave it a spirited workout with his son’s band as well. I remember the keyboard, the sax, and the lead guitar wailing on this song when we saw him in Minneapolis.
Check out Jesse’s site here. Let’s sign off with the 2021 video of Jesse’s cover of Van Morrison’s “These Dreams of You.”
Commenting on the midterms, I relied on Robert Cahaly’s Trafalgar polls to moderate my native pessimism. As I noted in “Trafalgar in retrospect,” I’m still kicking myself for that and for having advertised his polls to readers. What does Cahaly himself say? He spoke with New York Intelligencer’s Benjamin Hart this week for this interview. As I read the interview, he sounds grouchy and defensive, but I understand this much: “We’re working up a statement, what we’re going to put out.”
Jeffrey Anderson previewed the midterms in the November American Greatness column posted here. He professes himself surprised by the results and looks back at what happened in the City Journal column “The Election, By the Numbers.” As former director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the Department of Justice from 2017 to 2021, he can crunch the numbers. He asks what happened and responds:
A pair of numbers leaps out of the exit polling: 32 percent of voters said that they cast their House vote to “oppose” President Joe Biden, while 28 percent said they cast their House vote to “oppose” former President Donald Trump. In other words, for every eight votes cast against Biden, all but one was negated by a vote cast against Trump. This is surely unprecedented in a midterm election. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a previous midterm in which almost as many people voted against the loser of the previous presidential contest as voted against the winner. How many people, for example, bothered to vote against Richard Nixon in 1962, Jimmy Carter in 1982, George H. W. Bush in 1994, or even Hillary Clinton in 2018?
Of course, it didn’t help Republicans that the leading establishment faces of their party are even less popular with voters than Trump….
He has more to say, all of which I found worthwhile.
I take it from Elon Musk’s Twitter feed that he has the engineering help needed to keep the site up and running. These must be some of the “hard-core” employees who have signed up for continuing duty under their new taskmaster.
Just leaving Twitter HQ code review pic.twitter.com/pYcXRTJm14
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 19, 2022
The new taskmaster has imposed a new regime. I take it that he is unintimidated by the politicians unhappy with the movement of Twitter under his direction toward a platform favorable to free speech.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
With the whole world watching the new Twitter taskmaster also appears to have retained his sense of humor. Perhaps I am reading too much into these communiqués. At least they have the advantage of entertainment value.
Really, I know I shouldn’t celebrate the spectacular crash of FTX, but just how many Theranoses, Solyndras, Madoffs, and other liberal pipe-dream companies need to implode before people recognize that woke capitalism is ruinous? (I note, in passing, that it sounds like a lot of the big layoffs just announced by tech companies are coming from their HR departments. Maybe our tech overlords have had enough of the wokism pervasive in corporate HR these days.)
Headlines of the week:
And finally. . .
Scott noted earlier that Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to torment Donald Trump. Garland said, I assume with a straight face:
It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.
Indisputably! Right. Smith will be returning to Washington from The Hague, where he is “chief prosecutor for the special court.” That will be good training for his role as the Democratic Party’s agent in destroying Donald Trump. The Democrats have been planning on indicting Trump for a long time, and appointing a special counsel is part of their plan. It allows them to wash their hands of the investigation, pretending that impartial justice is simply taking its course.
For the record, Smith’s charge includes both the events of January 6, 2021, and the innocuous documents that Trump stashed in his Mar-a-Lago basement.
While obviously an act of political cynicism, the significance of this appointment should not be underestimated. I assume that Smith will be able to bring criminal charges against Trump in Washington, D.C., and it is almost a foregone conclusion that Trump will be convicted (of whatever the charges may be) by a hyperpartisan D.C. jury. In 2024, will Trump be the Republican nominee for president, or will he be trying to fight off a prison sentence? Or both?
Meanwhile, Republicans have trumpeted their intention to investigate the Biden family.
After winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans said on Thursday that investigating President Joe Biden and his family’s business dealings will be their top oversight priority when they formally take power next year.
To their credit, Republicans have made it clear that they are investigating Joe Biden, not Hunter Biden. So while the Democrats are investigating and prosecuting Donald Trump, the Republicans will be investigating (but not impeaching) Joe Biden. I am not sanguine about how this will turn out.
While the ability of a special counsel to wreak havoc is well established, Congressional investigations tend to fizzle out. For one thing, Congressmen usually are not very good at it. For another, Congressional committees lack adequate investigatory powers and, for reasons I have never understood, are reluctant to use the powers they do have. Thus, instead of subpoenaing documents, Congressional committees request them. The responding party, usually a government agency, responds by producing whatever selected documents it deems advantageous to itself.
Or else the responding party ignores the committee entirely, like Eric Holder. Republicans who ignore Congressional committees, like Steve Bannon, might go to jail. Democrats who ignore Congressional committees, like Eric Holder, go on to multi-million dollar a year jobs in the establishment.
So I expect the dueling investigations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden to be a mismatch. The Trump investigation will likely result in an indictment and criminal conviction. The Biden investigation will tell us what we already know, and its findings will be a deep secret unless you read Power Line, InstaPundit, Breitbart, and other conservative news sources. Most news outlets will parrot the Democrat line that Biden’s corruption is a “long-debunked conspiracy theory.” It is all about poor, drug-addled–but now reformed!–Hunter Biden. And did you know that Joe’s other son died in Iraq?
Call me a pessimist, but that is how I see it playing out.
This comes from Britain, not the U.S., but the similarities to the U.S. are obvious:
According to a study from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), over a fifth of all children have been “missing” from schoolrooms since the government began implementing lockdown measures. The report found that 2 million of the nation’s nine million students are not attending class regularly.
The figure includes 1.67 million kids who were deemed “persistently absent” by the Department for Education (DfE) during the second term of 2021, representing an 82 per cent increase over 2020.
No doubt we have millions of “missing” kids in the U.S., as well. Across the country, when schools went remote something like 30% of students–more in some schools–checked out. They never logged on, never completed an assignment, never took a test. How many of those kids have come back, or ever will come back, to school? Lockdowns in general were a disastrous policy, but closing down the schools was probably the worst of all.
Home schooling seems to be unusual in the U.K.:
The CSJ went on to state that there has been an “alarming” 34 per cent increase in students being educated at home, with 81,000 home schooled children.
That represents only 4% of the two million who are “not attending class regularly.” So the issue isn’t a trend toward home schooling, the problem is a large number of students who have simply dropped out. The price of this devastation of kids’ education, borne most heavily by the least privileged, will be paid for a generation in the U.S., as well as in Britain.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a Special Counsel in the ongoing Trump criminal investigations undertaken by the Department. Garland appointed Jack Smith Special Counsel. The DoJ has posted Garland’s statement here. Garland discusses Smith’s background in his statement, but Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney provide more details in their story on his appointment.
This is the operative portion of Garland’s statement:
Based on recent developments, including the former President’s announcement that he is a candidate for President in the next election, and the sitting President’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a Special Counsel.
Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.
The Special Counsel will conduct parts of the first investigation I just mentioned: the investigation into whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or with the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about January 6.
This does not include prosecutions that are currently pending in the District of Columbia, or future investigations and prosecutions of individuals for offenses committed while they were physically present on the Capitol grounds on January 6. Those investigations and prosecutions will remain under the authority of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
The Special Counsel will also conduct the investigation involving classified documents and other presidential records, as well as the possible obstruction of that investigation.
It strikes me that this is an unfortunate development from just about every point of view. I would like to defer further comment on this development for a later time, or let my Power Line colleagues take it away.
Watching the implosion of FTX—the darling company of woke capitalism, “effective altruism,” and the ESG investing crowd whose founder, the ridiculous Sam Bankman-Fried, was second largest donor to the Democratic Party this year, naturally—calls back to mind what Milton Friedman wrote about the first version of this leftist fad, which back in 962 was called “corporate social responsibility.”
Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their shareholders as possible. This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a social responsibility other than making maximum profits for stockholders, how are they to know what it is? Can self-selected private individuals decide what the social interest is?
Maybe the news of massive layoffs at at leading Silicon Valley tech companies is good news for the Republican Party. Herewith:
I’m posting this episode a day ahead of regular schedule as a couple of news items discussed in our mid-week taping have already been overtaken by events. . .
Your Three Whisky Happy Hour bartenders wandered to Milan this week where we recorded a rare in-person episode, and since we met in Italy, naturally we taste-tested Austrian single-malt whisky, described on the label as “dark” and “peated.” You’ll have to listen to find out the complete verdict, though one hint is that we don’t think we’ll be rushing to import any Waldvietler whisky any time soon. (The Negronis we had at the bar were fabulous, I am happy to say. Turns out there no Italian whisky.)
Our delegation at the opera
What, you ask, were we doing in Milan? Believe it or not, there is a critical mass of conservatives in Italy these days wanting to step up their game, and they invited us over for a conference and to spend some time with students at the University of Milan school of law, where the students were excellent, and the several of the faculty are—how to put it?—rather more sound than a lot of faculty you might find at most American law schools.
We took in plenty of cultural attractions while we were there, including the opera at La Scala, and artwork at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, which boasts significant holdings of Leonardo da Vinci’s writings, but also the original, full-sized sketch Raphael used to plan out his “School of Athens,” which Steve argues is the greatest single piece of artwork expressing the greatness of Western Civilization. John and Steve held an impromptu debate about it on site at the museum (Lucretia overslept from jet lag and missed it), and naturally this debate spilled over to the first topic of discussion for this episode of the podcast, since there is much to be corrected about the simplistic interpretations of Plato and Aristotle depicted at the center of the masterpiece. (But Steve’s theory of why the painting can also be construed as an allegory for the feud between East Coast and West Coast Straussians was left on the cutting room floor. You can thank us later.)
Raphael’s planning sketch in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
The School of Athens as it appears in the Vatican.
From there we go on to try to figure out what we can from afar about the election results, who should lead Republicans in the next Congress (Lucretia, you won’t be surprised to hear, is not keen on keeping the current leadership—she seems to have something against GOP figures whose names begin “McC—“), and ending with a rousing argument about Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to call up the national guard to patrol and enforce the southern border.
A sound note: because were recording in old Europe (the University of Milan campus is in some classic old-style brick buildings built centuries ago), we were in a room with very high ceilings, and as such our sound is rather “boomy.” One of these days maybe we’ll able to afford a mobile recording studio or something.
John Yoo holding forth at the bar.
Receiving my official “Friend of Milan” pin from the local potentates.
The Federalist Society’s Dean Reuter and I showing off our Friend of Milan pins while Lucretia glares at somebody who said something wrong, and is about to release the Kraken.
Speaking of which, Lucretia found her favorite new Milan shopping outlet:
You know what to do now—listen here, or select your favorite opera and enjoy a reverie with our hosts at Ricochet.
P.S. For some reason, I was unable to convince either John or Lucretia (or anyone else sadly) to come with me to take in Steve Hackett, who by coincidence (if coincidence it be) was playing “Foxtrot at 50” at a theater right next to our hotel.
The Iranian regime is one of the world’s most truly evil, yet it is treated with kid gloves. Most recently, this November 16 Reuters story caught my attention. Michael Holden reports from London:
Iran’s intelligence services have made at least 10 attempts to kidnap or even kill British nationals or individuals based in the United Kingdom regarded by Tehran as a threat, the head of Britain’s domestic spy agency said on Wednesday.
Ken McCallum, Director General of the Security Service known as MI5, said while Tehran was using violence to silence critics at home, its “aggressive intelligence services” were also projecting a threat to Britain directly.
What is to be done? Probably something more than this: “Last week, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he had summoned Tehran’s most senior diplomat over alleged threats by Iranian security forces to journalists in Britain.”
We can only salute the brave protesters who have taken to the streets in Iran since “the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the morality police,” as Reuters drily puts it.
Protesters were at work again yesterday. The video below depicts the torching of the “Khomeini House Museum, once the home of the Islamic Republic’s founder and first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,” according to the related Jerusalem Post story. The museum was set on fire by protesters last night per the video shared by Iran International. Responding to the video on Twitter, one cynical observer commented: “I wonder what sort of merch they sold in the gift shop….” The Jerusalem Post adds: “Shortly after the arson attack against the site, according to a video originally published by 1500 Tasvir, protesters set fire to the Shia Seminary of Qom” (video is embedded in the linked story).
The Khomeini house museum, which was originally the house of the father of the Islamic Republic’s founder, was set on fire on Thursday evening. pic.twitter.com/eRGhYhqn6b
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) November 18, 2022
A celebratory glee is descending on mainstream media outlets retailing the impending death of Twitter. The theme is that Elon Musk is killing it since he took it over. The AP reports, for example, under the byline of three reporters: “More Twitter workers flee after Musk’s ‘hardcore’ ultimatum.” The New York Post has a good story here. The glee is also manifested on Twitter itself by some of its users.
One has to turn to Twitter to find Musk’s response.
The best people are staying, so I’m not super worried
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
Musk has retained his sense of humor as Twitter’s impending death is celebrated. In the tweet below one may detect a certain mockery.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
Let that sink in …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
File this one under Laughter Is the Best Medicine.
How do you make a small fortune in social media?
Start out with a large one.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
I can only say that I hope the gloating of Musk’s new critics is unwarranted. Musk has more than one advantage over these new critics. He is both smarter and better informed than they are. It helps that he doesn’t get his news from the mainstream media. See Nick Arama’s RedState post “WATCH: Hilariously Bad Take as Leftist Host Attacks Elon Over Ligma, Johnson.”
Ammo Grrrll advises LET’S GET A GRIP! She writes:
Long-married people may theologically be “one,” but as any Marriage Counselor will tell you, they are also two extremely separate individuals. Since famous novelist, Max Cossack and I are both hard-core political junkies, we have been discussing the latest election more or less non-stop for a week.
Though I am the Columnist of Record and hence will be writing in the first person, the thoughts herein are really a distillation of our thoughts, in this case most provided by my husband, most especially the research. In Comedy World it is a cardinal sin not to give creative credit where it is due, so this is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime joint column. Here are those thoughts.
Conservatives pride themselves on their devotion to reason. Yet what I am seeing from too many conservatives is not only hysteria but also a lot of pathetic and shamefully ungrateful blame-shifting.
I’ve never been a fan of hysteria. Well, maybe that one time that the Roseville Baker’s Square was out of Sour Cream Raisin Pie, but who could blame me? Certainly not the doughnut-loving cops on the SWAT Team that was eventually called. Haha, I kid. In the analysis of any situation, my favorite place to start is with the facts. I believe that Ronald Reagan once accidentally said “facts are stupid things.” He had meant to quote John Adams that “facts are stubborn things.” They are. And in analyzing the results of the 2022 midterm elections, the facts – though hardly cause for celebration — do not justify the level of hysteria.
As of November 10, Republican House candidates had won 50,113,534 votes, or 52.3 percent of the vote; Democrats had won 44,251,768, or 46.2 percent. (Updated mileage varies slightly.)
Famous novelist Max Cossack not only did the research but the math – you didn’t think it was me, did you? — and tells me that Republicans led by 6.1 percent, which is better than their average in those pre-election national polls, the source of the “red wave” prediction. The RealClearPolitics average had Republicans up by 2.5 percent.
If the 6 percent advantage holds in the 2024 presidential election, the 52.3 percent to 46.2 percent outcome should be a dream outcome landslide for the Republican candidate. Which would be only my sixth win in my pitiful Presidential election record. Maybe I was less devastated than many people because I have been so used to losing. And yet the sun rose in the East and Life went on…
Because I was an idiot left-wing Democrat voter during the GOOD Republican years (two Nixon wins, two Reagan wins, and Bush the Elder’s win) and have chosen NOW – the Very Bad Democrat Socialist Obama years – to be a Conservative, I have always been “running against the wind,” to quote Bob Seger. And voting against the “win.”
So despite the finger-pointing and gnashing of teeth, the voters came through. In fact, they did much better than expected. The Republican Party’s failure to translate this whopping 6 percent advantage into decisive control of the House is the responsibility of the people who ran the Republican congressional campaigns. If anyone’s to blame, they are. They blew it. And abandoned Arizona to throw money at Murkowski.
Those who point to Trump are using the failure as a pretext to dump on him and in some cases, to paper over their own failures. Some have always loathed Trump and were just waiting for this chance to work up a mob. Some of them need to look in their own states and come up with ways to do as well as Republicans do in Florida.
Hey, Trump critics, I know that many of you – especially our Power Line hosts — have toiled valiantly in the Republican vineyards for many decades. But for others just hatin’ on Trump, how many doors did you knock on? How much money did you donate? How many rallies the size of Trump’s did you organize?
If there is an important lesson here, it is “put not your faith in princes” that you can then rip limb from limb if they fail to do it all alone. Going forward, we are going to need all hands on deck. And a lot less sniping when everything doesn’t work out perfectly. The circular firing squad gets tedious. Especially when the Democrats walk in lockstep like North Korean soldiers in a parade on Kim Il Sung’s birthday.
The Florida result shows that the dreaded “locust” effect didn’t happen there. The voters who fled New York did not by and large bring their destructive progressive politics with them. Instead, they voted Republican. Heck, the Jewish voters (slow learners for generally smart people…) have voted 33 percent Republican this election! Okay, sure, 67 percent remain entrenched in idiocy, but if we could break away 33 percent of the Democrats’ African-American voting bloc, we would win every election.
I am a MAGA Grrrll on the ISSUES. I am a great admirer of Donald Trump, but not, as frequently accused in diatribes, any kind of “cult worshiper” of the man. I am mystified and appalled by his recent bizarre shots at DeSantis.
But my GRATITUDE to him knows no bounds. Without Donald Trump, may I just remind us all, we would be in the middle innings of the Hillary-Kaine double-header, with three more ultra-leftist members of the Supreme Court — amost certainly chosen for Youth and Equity rather than devotion to the Constitution. So we dodged that bullet thanks to the all-too-human phenom who is Donald J. Trump.
Circling back to the original topic of whether or not hysteria at this point is either justified or helpful, after a mere week, we finally have eked out a teeny tiny, teeny tiny majority in the House. How fun to see our Speaker sitting behind Biden during the State of the Union Address. Maybe he can wiggle his ears and roll his eyes and tear something up at the end in the grand Pelosi tradition.
Oh, one more glass of lemonade from the lemons – since Biden doesn’t believe it was a repudiation election and he intends to change nothing, it will probably be tougher for the few remaining sane Democrats to dislodge him in 2024 and pry Dr. Jill’s hands off the White House door. Various people have suggested – not at all in jest – that Fetterman could be his running mate in 2024. Suits me. Two white guys with room temperature IQs (and by that I mean an uninsulated room with the heat off in Minnesota). One has age-related dementia and the other brain damage from a stroke – so there’s your Diversity right there.
And still 40 percent of the electorate would belly up to the ballot box to pull that lever. Therein lies the fundamental problem. If the Founding Fathers had had any idea how shallow the gene pool would become, they might have said, “Screw it, this may not be worth all our blood and treasure after all. Let’s just switch to coffee and stay with the Crown.”
Has Nancy Pelosi really been the Democrats’ House leader for only 20 years? It feels longer than that. As disappointing as this year’s election was, the fact that we no longer will be exposed to Ms. Pelosi is a big plus. And her successor will likely be an out radical, as opposed to a camouflaged radical. So that could be helpful.
Others will offer more nuanced political commentary, but to me it seems that Nancy leaves a dual legacy. First, she pioneered the tactic of drafting 1,000-page bills in secret and voting on them 24 hours later. Remarkably, no one in the liberal commentariat had any problem with this. It will be interesting to see whether the Republicans now do the same thing. If they do, it will be a scandal.
Second, Pelosi is a stock trader of genius. She has brought insider trading to a whole new level, generating a nine-figure net worth. And evidently it is entirely legal if you are the Speaker of the House.
So goodbye, Nancy. And good riddance.
Remember the hysteria over the classified documents that Donald Trump had in his basement at Mar-a-Lago? Remember the claim that the fugitive boxes contained “nuclear secrets” that Trump supposedly might sell to foreign adversaries? That was one of the dumbest theories of recent times, which is saying a lot. But now that the midterms are safely behind us, the Biden administration is leaking a different message: never mind.
As usual, the administration’s scrivener is the Washington Post, which quotes “people familiar with the matter” and “people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.” It turns out that there was nothing of significance in those boxes after all:
Federal agents and prosecutors have come to believe former president Donald Trump’s motive for allegedly taking and keeping classified documents was largely his ego and a desire to hold on to the materials as trophies or mementos, according to people familiar with the matter.
Imagine that! Holding on to mementos! I’m sure no prior president has done that.
That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession, these people said. FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said.
And, needless to say, no “nuclear secrets.” The Democrats lie continually, and when their lies have served their purpose they quietly move on, without apology or any sort of accountability.
Students of ancient history may recall that FBI Director Christopher Wray wriggled away from the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing this past August 4 when he claimed he had a flight to catch. It turned out that the flight was on the Gulfstream jet dedicated to the Director’s use and he was headed off on vacation. Senator Josh Hawley followed up on Wray’s wriggle today at a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee (video clip below, whole thing here).
Wray is a liar without conscience — even on the relatively trivial matter with respect to which Hawley grilled him. The plane was not going anywhere without him. He therefore didn’t have to leave the previous hearing to catch it. It was waiting for him. That’s the great thing about having a plane dedicated to your use. What a liar.
Wray also stated at the previous hearing that duty beckoned. He had to be off on “other business.” That too was false. What a pathetic liar.
In the course of Hawley’s questioning today, after acknowledging that the “other business” was personal vacation, Wray claimed that it was a meeting with Senator Grassley in Iowa the following week. What a lying buffoon.
Query whether this guy is legally obligated to tell the truth in these oversight hearings. I believe the answer is affirmative, but you can’t tell from Wray’s wriggles or from DHS Secretary Mayorkas’s mendacity (Mayorkas also testified before the committee today). We have a crisis of testimonial mendacity by high government officials.
And all this lying is separate and apart from the public relations applicable to the FBI’s principal business at headquarters in Washington. You can watch Wray wriggle on such business big time in response to Senator Johnson’s round of questions at about 1:05 of the full video linked above.
It is way past time for the FBI to be disassembled. Wray is a walking advertisement for the proposition. This is an amazing demonstration all by itself in six minutes flat.
"Please tell me that's not accurate…"
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 17, 2022
So we’re supposed to make the transition to an all-electric future, with our homes, cars and factories all powered by “renewable” sources, and stored in batteries for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Never mind the “nameplate” capacity factors for wind and solar—have any of the “green energy” advocates done some elementary math on how much more lithium we’ll need to scale up batteries? Here’s one estimate:
Kendall Witmer is a Democratic political operative who describes herself as “comms director” for Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s re-election campaign. This is a photo of Witmer (center) with Walz, from Witmer’s Twitter feed:
This is how Witmer celebrated her client’s re-election win. Her tweet is directed at Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Matt Birk, former All-Pro football player for the Minnesota Vikings:
I’ll have something more coherent at some point but EAT SHIT MATT BIRK
Us women like having careers AND abortion rights just fine #mngov
— Kendall Witmer (@kswitmer) November 9, 2022
The tweet has gotten quite a bit of notice locally–a radio host asked me about it on his show this morning–but it hasn’t been deleted. It is one instance among many of the virulent hatred that has consumed the Democratic Party.
Ryan Girdusky appeared for an interview on a segment of the Clay and Buck radio talk show yesterday. The interview is posted here at the show’s site. I had never heard of Girdusky and can’t vouch for him. These were Girdusky’s opening points:
[T]here was no youthquake. The media has had this narrative coming out that there was this giant army of young Gen Z people voting Democrat — didn’t happen at all. They did vote Democrat, but they came out at a smaller level than they did in 2018, and they actually voted more Republican. The data shows it. Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, they are the ones who analyze the youth vote every year. They said it. David Shor, the brilliant liberal data analyst, looked at all the counties where young voting was down, all of them, didn’t happen whatsoever.
Secondly, abortion, major, major, major driver for independents and people who disliked Biden but didn’t hate Biden. So people who had a slight unfavorability were driven towards Democrats for two reasons: Abortion and denying the 2020 election — really, really, really drove them away in very strong numbers. And you can see it in the issue of Arizona.
In Arizona, there were nine statewide candidates, five of them Republicans won or are winning. Currently four lost. The four that lost all around the election was stolen. The five that won did not talk about the election being stolen. That was a major, major indicator. And that’s probably why Trump yesterday during his hourlong announcement, didn’t mention the election being stolen whatsoever.
A lot of people were also motivated to vote against Trump. More were motivated to vote against Trump than were motivated to vote against Biden, which is very, very, very unusual. And that’s why independents, while Republicans have larger turnout numbers, Republicans really did a good job turning out to win the popular vote, but it was swaying against a swing against independents and people who only lean Republican that really had a big effect.
Whole thing here. I was not familiar with Girdusky but found his comments of interest if true. I can’t find the Tisch Center research supporting his point about the youth vote. (I found current Tisch Center analysis of the youth vote in the midterms here and here, but nothing to support the longitudinal point Girdusky makes.)
New York Intelligencer has posted an interview with David Shor here that makes Girdusky’s point. The whole thing is worth reading. Shor comments on the youth vote:
If you look at county-level data, the single strongest predictor of how much turnout dropped from 2018 to 2022 was the proportion of voters that were under the age of 35. In other words, turnout in America’s oldest counties surged while turnout in America’s youngest counties declined. It’s just hard to square the idea of a surge in youth turnout with administrative early-vote data, county-level data, and exit polling all showing that the electorate was substantially more Republican than in 2020.
At his National Populist Newsletter (on Substack) Girdusky describes himself as an author, podcast host, political consultant, and journalist, but access to the post that intrigued Clay and Buck requires a subscription.
China president for life Xi Jinping dressed down Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for leaking the contents of their informal conversation at the G-20 meeting in Bali. He instructs Trudeau not to behave in this manner — “otherwise the results would be hard to tell.”
What did Trudeau leak? According to a Canadian official with whom the Wall Street Journal spoke for its story on the encounter, “the pair [spoke] informally on Tuesday when Mr. Trudeau raised ‘serious concerns’ about interference activities in Canada that Ottawa alleges China has orchestrated. The prime minister had highlighted that concern publicly before the G-20. Some details of that Tuesday meeting were reported by Canadian media outlets traveling with the prime minister.” The video below accompanies the Journal story and is useful for the subtitles. It also all over Twitter (here, for example).
The Journal story includes this background:
The Wall Street Journal last month published a lengthy account of China-Canada-U.S. negotiations that in 2021 produced a prisoner swap that freed the Chinese executive and the Canadians. Among its revelations was how China had frozen out Canadian diplomats, though Mr. Trudeau managed to briefly speak with Mr. Xi at a G-20 meeting in 2019 after passing him a note. The story was based on interviews with current and former U.S., Canadian and Chinese officials, plus others and extensive documentation.
The story concludes on this Orwellian note:
On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau’s account appeared to be unsearchable on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. While Mr. Trudeau’s Weibo account wasn’t deleted, search results for his verified social media handle came up empty. Searches of Mr. Trudeau’s last name in Chinese came back scattered with only posts shared by approved news sources and no posts from ordinary users were visible.
You have to wish what was once known as the free world were represented by statesman up to the task of dealing with China.
When Dr. Oz narrowly won the Pennsylvania Republican primary — by fewer than 1,000 votes — I lamented the result in “Oz versus Fetterman.” I blamed Trump for an endorsement that, given the closeness of the race, must have pushed Oz over the top. I thought former Trump Treasury Under Secretary David McCormick, Oz’s opponent in the primary, made for a far better candidate against John Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s general election.
In last week’s post-election story exploring the impact of the midterm results on Trump, Maggie Haberman reported in the New York Times: “[A]t his home in Florida, Mr. Trump was privately spreading blame, including to Sean Hannity and the casino mogul Steve Wynn, for his endorsement of Mehmet Oz, the defeated Pennsylvania Senate candidate. He included his wife, Melania, among those he complained had offered poor advice, according to several people familiar with the discussions.”
Haberman put it this way on Twitter.
Trump is indeed furious this morning, particularly about Mehmet Oz, and is blaming everyone who advised him to back Oz — including his wife, describing it as not her best decision, according to people close to him.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 9, 2022
Worth remembering that Trump is a grown man who endorsed Oz over the objection of some of the people closest to him, and instead went beyond just endorsing and attacked Dave McCormick from the stage at a rally.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 9, 2022
Haberman appears to have good sources in Trump’s world, including Trump. I would say I don’t know why that is except that Haberman elsewhere quotes Trump commenting about her to aides during one of her interviews with him: “I love being with her, she’s like my psychiatrist.”
Trump took up the subject of Dr. Oz and disputed Haberman’s story on his Truth Social platform:
There is a Fake Story being promulgated by third rate reporter Maggie Hagaman of the Failing New York Times, that I am blaming our great former First Lady, Melania, and Sean Hannity, that I was angry with their pushing me to Endorse Dr. Oz. First of all Oz is a wonderful guy who really worked hard and was a very good candidate, but he WAS LONG IN THE RACE before I ever Endorsed him, they had NOTHING to do with it, he was not a ‘denier’ (his mistake!), & I was not at all ANGRY. Fake News!
He’s not responsible for Oz — Oz was in the race before Trump’s endorsement. For some reason he claims no credit for the impact of his endorsement in this case. And Oz was a good candidate, except perhaps for his failure to push 2020 election issues. It all makes for interesting reading as we contemplate the rise of John Fetterman, not to mention the presidential campaign to come.
As we anticipated this morning, the AP has just called Republican Rep. Mike Garcia’s tough race for reelection against Christy Smith in California’s Twenty-Seventh Congressional District. The AP has called the race for Garcia (in a “Democratic-leaning district,” as the AP puts it.) Yesterday the LA Times noted that Smith has been complaining of the lock of party support on Twitter. Garcia’s election flips the House by pushing the Republicans into the majority. Let the resistance begin.
One of the more laughable left-wing themes is the claim that Europe’s energy shortage will hasten a transition to wind and solar energy. Actually, the opposite is happening: when you are in danger of freezing to death, you don’t go shopping for windmills that produce hardly any electricity, less than half the time. “Green” energy is a luxury of the rich who have plenty of energy to spare.
In Germany, the wind industry is crashing:
Wind energy is supposed to step in and play a key role in supplying Germany with energy as other sources get cut off. But that too is not going to plan.
The German government aims to solve the country’s massive energy woes by doubling wind energy output over the next decade or so, but wind parks just aren’t getting built and orders are “collapsing sharply”, falling by “more than a third in the third quarter” at Siemens Gamesa year-on-year.
Blackout News cites “incalculable record raw material prices and supply chain problems” and a lack of profitability. Companies like Nordex are closing plants in Germany and moving production offshore to places like China.
The unplanned lack of wind energy expansion in combination with the massive supply stop of Russian natural gas is acting to further compound the German government’s problems as it struggles to keep the country supplied with energy while it suicidally pushes for the electrification of transportation and the closure of nuclear and coal power plants.
“Siemens Gamesa made a loss of almost one billion euros in the past fiscal year and sales fell by four percent,” according to Blackout News. “Vestas has already made a loss of just under one billion euros, compared with a profit of 135 million euros a year earlier.”
Shockingly, “it is becoming increasingly difficult to find financiers willing to invest in wind turbines.” Which of course would not be the case if wind were a viable means of keeping Germany heated and its lights on.
Then we have Africa. Greenies assure us that wind and solar are cheaper than oil, gas and nuclear. Of course, we know that isn’t true: if it were, there would be no need for mandates and subsidies to coerce use of these inefficient and unreliable sources of energy. Africans may live in underdeveloped countries, but they aren’t stupid:
If renewables are the cheapest form of energy, why is Africa making a dash for gas, with greens in developed nations scrambling to organise climate finance to persuade Africans to build renewables instead?
The question of whether Africa should be allowed to exploit its gas reserves, estimated at more than 17.56 trillion cubic meters (620 trillion cubic feet) in 2021, has been much discussed at the latest UN climate change summit, COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Former US vice president Al Gore used his speech at the opening session to urge an end to all fossil fuel investment globally, including in Africa. But Macky Sall, the president of Senegal and chairperson of the African Union, argued at the same event that Africa needs space in Earth’s dwindling carbon budget to use its resources for development.
Of course he did! No one who has a choice opts for expensive and intermittent energy.
Absurdities like this make it completely obvious claims renewables are cheap are nonsense. Otherwise there would be no need for COP conferences, government funded grid upgrades, renewable energy target certificates, and other renewable energy initiatives.
If renewables were the cheapest form of energy, there would be no talk of exploiting untapped gas reserves. People in Africa and elsewhere would be flocking to embrace renewables of their own free will.
But of course, not being stupid, they don’t do anything of the sort. Anyone can see that cheap, reliable energy is better than expensive, intermittent energy. Anyone but a fool, or, in other words, a “green.”
Target Corporation reported its third quarter results today. The report wasn’t good, in large part because Target stores are being robbed left and right:
Target stores are getting looted, and it’s taking a huge bite out of profits.
The discount retailer told reporters on a call to discuss its third quarter earnings results that inventory shrinkage — or the disappearance of merchandise — has reduced its gross profit margin by $400 million so far in 2022 compared to 2021.
Target said that it expected “shrinkage” to amount to more than $600 million for the full year. What is going on?
A Target spokesperson told Yahoo Finance via email after the call the shrinkage was mostly specifically attributed to “organized retail crime.”
Organized retail crime is when dozens of criminals descend on a store and loot it. Store employees are almost always told not to interfere, and police rarely do anything. In California, theft has been more or less legalized up to $950. It is a misdemeanor, which means it is rarely prosecuted. Major retail chains have closed their operations in San Francisco, among other cities, because they were helpless against teams of organized looters.
Looters don’t consume the stolen property themselves, they sell it on Amazon or other services. This is why it is “organized retail crime.” More from the same link:
Organized retail crime is not just a Target issue as it has impacted other big name retailers such as Best Buy and Rite-Aid. From Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer earlier this year:
Why are people stealing these days? That’s a tough one.
Because they always get away with it? Because our culture relentlessly mocks old-fashioned virtues like, not being a thief?
To some degree it’s a reflection of our times. Simply put, America’s social contract is straining. Until recently we’ve been able to lay out goods—often in mammoth, big box stores with only a handful of employees. When our social contract is strong—i.e people are getting a fair shake—it’s a model that works.
Oh, please. Many billions of dollars in “organized retail crime” because people aren’t getting a “fair shake”? What absurdity.
Now it seems more people are stealing instead.
Yes. How much are they stealing? For the nine months ending October 29, Target reported net earnings of $1.9 billion. That means that 21 percent of Target’s profit was stolen by brazen thieves, due to a lack of law enforcement and cultural decline.*
I am not sure why companies like Target–and, to be fair, every other major retailer–is willing to stand for this. My guess is that they find the issue of “organized retail crime” to be racially sensitive, and, being thoroughly woke, they would rather not talk about it, or do anything about it. Other than quietly abandon communities. And I suppose they rationalize that the cost of organized theft will ultimately borne by the rest of us–shoppers who don’t steal–in the form of higher prices.
This is another sign of a great sickness in our society that, for some reason, we seem helpless to deal with.
* The numbers are a little unclear. Target described the $400 million as an increase over 2021, and organized retail theft was going strong in 2021, too. So the total amount lost presumably is considerably greater than that.
** On further review, the $400 million was a reduction in gross profit, while the $1.9 billion was net. So you would need a more detailed look at the data to calculate the percentage of profit lost to theft. It is, in any event, an enormous amount of money.
Leo Strauss with some thoughts on tolerance:
Absolute tolerance is altogether impossible; the allegedly absolute tolerance turns into ferocious hatred of those who have stated clearly and most forcefully that there are unchangeable standards founded in the nature of man and the nature of things.
Yup, that’s pretty much the score of things right now.
P.S. I’m still overseas until next week, but the Three Whisky Happy Hour team is assembled and ready to record a special Negroni episode later today. Full report, and field podcast interviews, to come. A few scenes from this long European tour:
John Yoo looking thoughtfully out the window before dinner, wondering what the hell he’s going to say on the next podcast.
Is there a partisan divide over electric cars? Turns out there is:
This should not greatly surprise anyone though. Just as Republicans are more economically literate than Democrats, they are also more energy literate, too.
We noted the hilarious saga of hoaxers “Rahul Ligma” and “Daniel Johnson” in “Who is Rahul Ligma?” CNBC all but shed tears over the ordeal of Ligma and Johnson when it reported their termination from Twitter in the immediate aftermath of Elon Musk’s takeover of the company.
It takes a big man to admit a mistake. Musk has now taken to Twitter to acknowledge that firing Ligma and Johnson “was truly one of my biggest mistakes” and announce that he has rectified it. Musk’s announcement may warrant or require some translation. Loosely translated, I think it means that he hasn’t made many truly big mistakes.
Important to admit when I’m wrong & firing them was truly one of my biggest mistakes
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 15, 2022
An outlet called Decision Desk HQ has called two races bringing the GOP total in the House of Representatives to 219. Who is Decision Desk HQ and why are they calling these races?
RedState’s Mr. Bonchie (Republican Kevin Kiley in California’s Third CD) and Hot Air’s John Sexton (Republican Mike Garcia in California’s Twenty-Seventh CD) have followed DDHQ on these calls. Kiley’s putative victory would take the GOP to a majority of 218 in the House. Garcia’s would bring the majority to 219.
As of this moment, however, DDHQ is alone in its calls. The AP remains stuck at 217. Facts are better than dreams. I strive to adhere to the reality principle. Only 56 percent of the ballots have been counted in Kiley’s race. By contrast, some 72 percent of the votes have been counted in Garcia’s race and his opponent seems to think she has lost.
John McCormack takes my approach — the conservative approach — in looking at the outstanding races in this post at NRO’s Corner. After accounting for the races above and a few others, McCormack concludes (links omitted):
Republicans appear likely to hold at least 220 seats. “Right now, Republicans would be on track to win 221 seats if the latest trends continued, though several of these races remain so close that they could easily go the other way,” Nate Cohn reports at the New York Times. After the 2020 election, Democrats held a 222-seat majority — the narrowest majority since the 2000 election when Republicans controlled 221 seats.
The first headache is the lack of clarity regarding the outcome of the 2022 election a week after what we used to think of as election day. The headaches to come will follow from the narrow majority with which Republicans would have to work in the next Congress.
This could be huge news: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has summoned the National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to repel the invasion of Texas from its southern border. Abbott invokes the Invasion Clauses of the U.S. and Texas Constitutions:
I invoked the Invasion Clauses of the U.S. & Texas Constitutions to fully authorize Texas to take unprecedented measures to defend our state against an invasion.
I'm using that constitutional authority, & other authorization & Executive Orders to keep our state & country safe: pic.twitter.com/2Jt5HEMgp5
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 15, 2022
Some notable points:
* Texas will build its own border wall.
* I love the reference to gun boats.
* Abbott contemplates entering into one or more compacts with other states to deal with the invasion.
* He also intends to “enter into agreements with foreign powers to enhance border security.”
I believe by the “Invasion Clause” of the U.S. Constitution, Abbott means Section 4 of Article IV, which provides:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
Article IV of the Texas Constitution bestows powers on the governor of that state. Article IV, Section 7 provides:
GOVERNOR AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF MILITARY FORCES. He shall be commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State, except when they are called into actual service of the United States. He shall have power to call forth the militia to execute the laws of the State, to suppress insurrections, and to repel invasions.
At first look, I think Abbott is on solid ground under the Texas Constitution. I assume the relevance of the U.S. Constitution is that the federal government has breached its duty to protect Texas against invasion.
I think Abbott’s long-overdue move has the potential to generate a crisis of federalism. Immigration is constitutionally regulated by the federal government, but the federal government has not only failed to enforce its own laws, it has deliberately encouraged the violation of those laws on a massive scale. States like Texas have been left holding the bag. When the federal government abdicates its constitutional duties, and actively tries to undermine the constitutional framework, does a state have the right to step in? One would think so, but the Biden administration no doubt disagrees.
Can a state enter into an agreement with a foreign government? I don’t know. The concept seems extraordinary. No doubt legal scholars will enlighten us.
We have been on a collision course between ever-expanding but incompetently applied federal power on one hand, and the interests and powers of sovereign states like Texas and Florida on the other hand, for a while now. Fundamental issues of federalism like those posed by Abbott’s orders need to be resolved. I hope they are resolved in favor of the states. As I have written before, given the bitterly divided condition of our populace, the alternative to a renewed commitment to federalism may be disunion.
Perhaps Governor Abbott’s declaration will turn out to be a historic step toward restoring the Founders’ constitutional vision.
[Update] A friend whom I won’t identify but who may be known to you as the In___ Pun__ answers my question:
States are forbidden from making treaties with other nations (or each other) by Article I Section 10.
When I was a kid growing up in Watertown, South Dakota, we had a Carnegie Library. It was an imposing stone building, and I spent many happy hours there. The library was a haven of peace and quiet, as it was manned by middle-aged librarians who would shush anyone who started to talk.
One thing we did not have was drag queens. I don’t know what would have happened if a drag queen had shown up and started hanging out with the kids, but it would not have ended well.
Weirdly, for reasons I cannot fathom, the concept of a “drag queen story hour” has gained currency. Someone apparently thinks it is a great idea for drag queens to be stationed in libraries, reading to children. To me, it seems like the product of a random bad idea generator. Happily, that appears to be the majority view.
The popularity of “Drag Queen Story Hour” doesn’t include the parents of school-age children, who overwhelmingly oppose the phenomenon in which men dressed as women perform for children.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 60% of American Adults consider “Drag Queen Story Hour” not appropriate for children, including 44% who say it’s Not At All Appropriate. Only 29% think “Drag Queen Story Hour” is appropriate for children, including 11% who consider it Very Appropriate. Another 10% are not sure. …
Among those who are parents or [grandparents] of school-age children, a majority (51%) believe “Drag Queen Story Hour” is Not At All Appropriate for children.
I do wonder about that 29%, though.
The “severe” sanctions the West (supposedly) imposed on Russia were supposed to be “crippling” to the Russian economy. Joe Biden promised us, after all. But after an initial swoon, the Russian Ruble has rebounded, and concerning Russian exports, well. . .
John Sexton updates five House races that were called yesterday for the GOP here at Hot Air. The AP story here includes quick takes on a few close California House races that hang in the balance. By the end of the day the GOP total stood at 217, one away from a majority. Democrats stand at 205.
Two of the five GOP wins (David Schweikert and Juan Ciscomani) reflected close races in Arizona congressional districts. What, did the Dems forget to cheat there? One was in New York (Brandon Williams) and two were in California (Ken Calvert and Michelle Steel).
The GOP is on the verge of claiming a majority, but it is not a done deal yet. Prospective Speaker Kevin McCarthy will have a tiny majority to work with, at best. Let the infighting begin.
We are awash in a wave of anti-Semitic hatred and violence that is coursing through the black community and elsewhere. I heard it in the troubled musings of Kanye West and wrote about in “Anti-Semitism for Ye — but not for me.” The December Commentary features Elliot Kaufman’s deep backgrounder “O Ye of Little Faith: The Anti-Semitism of Kanye West.”
Over the weekend comedian Dave Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live and performed the opening monologue. He devoted the first half of his monologue to Kanye West and Kyrie Irving. Video of Chappelle’s monologue is embedded in this New York Post story on it.
I wrote about Chappelle’s monologue briefly here on Sunday morning. Jonathan Tobin now turns to Chappelle in his JNS column “Dave Chappelle and normalizing black antisemitism.”
Chappelle’s own point of view was expressed ironically in comic form, and he may be a genius at it, but you don’t have to be a genius to understand what he was saying. He started with a prepared statement. “I denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms and stand with my friends in the Jewish community,” Chappelle said. “And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time.” You fake it.
Chappelle’s apology may have applied to his own routine as well, but it made me wonder. What do decent people say when confronted with anti-Semitic musings of celebrities, cultural icons, and others? Don McLean sent us a statement early on that sounded like the formula that Chappelle was mocking (let me be clear: I appreciated it):
Lately a flood of antisemitic invective has been triggered by the ranting of a stupid attention-seeking fool we all know. I want to say I stand with my Jewish friends and I stand with the state of Israel. When this kind of thing happens we should realize why the state of Israel must be respected and protected.
I lived off and on in Israel from 1978 to 1982 and grew to love the country and the people. Living there changed my life forever.
By contrast, Tucker Carlson presented West as a sage on Tucker Carlson Tonight and hasn’t returned to the subject since. Candace Owens spoke up for West. It seems to me that a decent non-Jew with a soapbox — someone like Carlson, or Owens, or Don McLean — can call West out and observe the harms perpetrated right now by anti-Semitic canards. Owens, by the way, was back yesterday.
Jordan Peterson once said “if it persecutes the jester, it’s probably a tyrant”.
Pay attention to who, if anyone, calls for @DaveChappelle to be cancelled after his monologue last night.
It was layered and hilarious.
Comedy is a protected space in a free society.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) November 13, 2022
Chappelle’s routine is of course wrapped in comic irony, but it’s not that layered. There are certain things you can’t say, he explained, such as sentences beginning with “the Jews.” That is not too complicated (or funny, for that matter). Moreover, according to Chappelle’s own observations, “the Jews” control Hollywood. You don’t have to pierce through too many layers to extract that nugget.
Chappelle comes to Kanye’s defense. According to Chappelle, West should not be held to account for the harms that have befallen the Jews through the ages. Blacks are not responsible for the Holocaust. “I know the Jewish people have been through terrible things all over the world, but you can’t blame that on black Americans,” said Chappelle. “You just can’t.” If you don’t understand how that excuses Kanye’s contribution to the current epidemic of anti-Semitism in the black community and elsewhere, well, the excuse must be hidden in one of those layers.
I don’t call for Kanye and his supporters such as Chappelle to be canceled. I call for them to get a clue and for influential non-Jews such as Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens to speak up. Elliot Kaufman is Jewish. Jonathan Tobin is Jewish. I am Jewish. My question is what decent gentiles have to say.
I started this brief series featuring modern folk artists with recollections of the late Red House Records president Bob Feldman. Bob alternated hosting KFAI’s old Sunday morning Urban Folk with Marian Moore. Bob’s theme song for his shows was John Gorka’s “The Gypsy Life.” Bob always played the whole thing. I think he heard in it the story of the artists he loved from their point of view. I must have listened to it more than a hundred times over the years the show was on the air and never tired of it. On the contrary, I looked forward to it.
Bob released Gorka’s first album on Red House before he moved on to Windham Hill and then recruited him back to Red House five albums later. He moved to Minnesota from the East Coast and lives in a small town on the St. Croix River. I see he has a show coming up this Saturday evening at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. I may have to take my life in my hands and check it out. In any event, Steve Hayward should be back in the United States some time soon. Although I have a long list of artists I haven’t yet gotten around to yet, I am winding up this series today with “The Gypsy Life” and thoughts of Bob Feldman. The late Nanci Griffith took the harmony part on the recording.
It all started with Holocaust deniers. That phrase has a clear meaning: it refers to someone who denies that the Holocaust took place.
But liberals saw potential in the locution, an opportunity to disqualify their opponents without actually making an argument. Thus, they started labeling people as “climate deniers.” What does that mean? Someone who denies that we have a climate? There is no such person. Someone who denies that our climate changes? There is no such person. No: a “climate denier” is anyone who questions any of a long list of theories that liberals string together to justify devastating our standard of living for no good reason.
But, hey: they are “deniers,” just like Holocaust deniers, so all argument is at an end.
Liberals must have thought that strategy worked, because now we have “election deniers.” Again, one asks, what is an election denier? Someone who denies that we have elections? No. An election denier is anyone who worries that our elections might not be entirely on the up-and-up. Someone other than a Democrat, of course. Democrats have denied the legitimacy of every Republican president since George H.W. Bush, and many other elections besides. Cf. Stacey Abrams. But that’s different.
Of course, it is a fact that our elections are not always on the up-and-up, as the Democrats themselves have often alleged. But if a Republican makes that observation, he is a “denier” like the Iranian mullahs.
Does the Democrats’ crude strategy work? I don’t think so. Despite the Dems’ propaganda blizzard, Americans remain concerned about the integrity of our elections. Rasmussen’s most recent survey documents the point:
Most voters believe cheating may have influenced this year’s elections, and think voting by mail makes it easier to cheat.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. voters believe it is likely that the outcome of some elections this year will be affected by cheating, including 30% who say it’s Very Likely. Forty percent don’t think election outcomes this year are likely to be affected by cheating, including 18% who say it’s Not At All Likely. …
…Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters believe it’s more important to make sure there is no cheating in elections, while 41% think it’s more important to make it easier for everybody to vote.
So if you are an “election denier,” you are part of the majority. Poll after poll has shown that Americans of both parties want honest elections. Something like 70% to 75% of Americans want voter ID requirements, which the Democrats have desperately tried to make illegal. That makes me wonder: who is the real “election denier”? The person who wants honest, verified elections, or the person who wants to open the door to wholesale fraud?
The day is coming–rather soon, I think–when the current mania for drugging adolescents and carving up their bodies will be viewed with horror as one of the great crimes of our century. The costs of the “trans” fad have already become evident, to the point where the New York Times wants to position itself somewhere in the middle.
The Times story is headlined: “They Paused Puberty, but Is There a Cost?” Good question! The subhed: “Puberty blockers can ease transgender youths’ anguish and buy time to weigh options. But concerns are growing about long-term physical effects and other consequences.”
Here is one paragraph from the long article:
In a 2020 paper, 31 psychologists, neuroscientists and hormone experts from around the world urged more study of the effects of blockers on the brain. “If the brain is expecting to receive those hormones at a certain time and doesn’t, what happens?” said Dr. Sheri Berenbaum, head of a gender research lab at Penn State, and one of the authors of the paper. “We don’t know.”
In one sense, puberty blockers are the least of it. We certainly do know what happens when doctors slice off a boy’s penis or scrape away a teenage girl’s breasts and mangle her genitals. Do we have any idea what the long-term psychological and physical consequences of these surgeries will be? I think so, actually.
Ann Althouse quoted from, and linked to, the Times story, and welcomed comments. They are generally hostile, to put it mildly, to the “trans” fad and the Times’s belated second thoughts. A friend comments:
Unbelievable. And the mealy-mouthed Times diction is priceless. It’s got “growing numbers”, “experts” “data” “research”…and my favorite, “concerns” “are growing”…their concerns have concerns they are so concerned…and in “growing numbers”…
He also excerpted some of the many comments:
D.D. Driver said…
The concerns are “growing.” No one had concerns right out of the gate? We needed to send young, otherwise healthy human guinea pigs through an experiment to see if it helps before we had “concerns” (which are growing, btw).
11/14/22, 10:33 AM
Transgenderism is a mental disorder. Pretending it isn’t especially in a child is monstrous. Doctors who perform these “treatments” on minors are on the Mengele spectrum.
11/14/22, 10:45 AM
Fred Drinkwater said…
My blood pressure just sprayed out of my ears. I don’t believe in Hell, but some folks are going there regardless.
11/14/22, 11:01 AM
I guess we’ve reached the peak for “minor gender-affirming care”. When the NYT is pushing back, you know things have hit a tipping point.
11/14/22, 11:04 AM
It would be a start if we didn’t call it “gender affirming care”. The treatment doesn’t affirm their gender. It changes it.
11/14/22, 2:11 PM
The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said…
“But concerns are growing about long-term physical effects and other consequences.”
No shit? I don’t even need to read the excerpt. Idiocy so manifest, expertise so corrupted by ideology, that gales of laughter are the only response.
11/14/22, 11:05 AM
It’s bad and should be illegal except in very, very rare cases where something other than gender confusion is at issue.
That this even needs to be debated is evidence that our culture has gone insane.
11/14/22, 11:05 AM
Pianoman @11:04: “…When the New York Times is pushing back…”. Yes. But rather than being “pushback” that aims directly to check or reverse this evil, I think it is mostly CYA so the NYT can later claim that it was not aiding and abetting the evil, not 100% and loudly, anyway. Possibly also the purpose is battlespace prep: the NYT can see an approaching tsunami of public horror and revulsion, and wants to frame the fight in the least-bad terms.
Pass the popcorn.
A small number of people are making a great deal of money from the “trans” fad at the expense of troubled children. Liberals in general, and the Democratic Party and the New York Times in particular, have been their enablers. A reckoning is coming–and, as I said, sooner rather than later.
Americans’ standard of living has been hammered by inflation the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. There has been lots of happy talk from the administration, but no one thinks prices are going down any time soon. What, then, is going to happen?
My colleague John Phelan offers an answer: prices should be rather stable for a while, unless the federal government embarks on a fresh money-printing spree:
[O]ur current inflationary problems are the result of the Federal Reserve printing trillions of dollars in a short space of time which it used to buy government and private sector financial assets when COVID-19 hit so as to keep the prices of those assets up and the cost of borrowing down.
Figure 2 illustrates this. It shows a sharp rise in the rate of growth of the Monetary Base.
A technical discussion follows. The chart shows in graphic form the extraordinary expansion of the money supply that the Fed engineered in 2020 and 2021:
John then documented the relationship between the expansion of money supply and the CPI:
M2 is the money supply measure more closely tied to inflation as measured by changes in the CPI. As the amount of money increases relative to the goods and services available for it to be spent on, the prices of those goods and services is bid up: inflation.
But this process takes some time. How long? The peak annual rate of M2 growth was 26.9% in February 2021. The peak annual rate of CPI growth was 9.0% in June 2022, sixteen months later. If we push the data for M2 growth forward sixteen months so that the peaks match, as we do in Figure 2, we see another close fit. Inflation, as measured by the CPI, has been driven by expansion of the money supply, as measured by M2.
This is simple, but rather brilliant, as the fit is just about perfect if you posit a 16-month lag:
The conclusion: the current bout of inflation is winding down:
The relationships above give us a good basis to speculate on where inflation might be headed. The answer is ‘down’, and, perhaps, reasonably sharply. The rate of M2 growth is now back where it was before the pandemic. If this drives CPI growth, as the data suggest, then we can expect inflation to return to its pre-COVID-19 rate over the next sixteen months or so.
Let’s hope the Fed and the new Congress don’t screw it up.
It is tempting in light of the dismal election result to recur to H.L. Mencken’s famous dismissal of democracy as “the theory that the common people know what they want—and deserve to get it good and hard.” (Find several of his other greatest hits on democracy and elections here.)
Perhaps it might be better to recur to a more profound reflection on the state of conservative principles in the midst of our current democratic confusion from Albert Jack Nock’s classic essay “The Remnant,” first printed in The Atlantic in 1936 when Nock despaired of the popularity of the New Deal. Worth reading the whole thing, but here are a couple short morsels:
As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, labouring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either. . .
Everyone with a message nowadays is . . . eager to take it to the masses. His first, last and only thought is of mass-acceptance and mass-approval. His great care is to put his doctrine in such shape as will capture the masses’ attention and interest. This attitude towards the masses is so exclusive, so devout, that one is reminded of the troglodytic monster described by Plato, and the assiduous crowd at the entrance to its cave, trying obsequiously to placate it and win its favour, trying to interpret its inarticulate noises, trying to find out what it wants, and eagerly offering it all sorts of things that they think might strike its fancy.
The main trouble with all this is its reaction upon the mission itself. It necessitates an opportunist sophistication of one’s doctrine, which profoundly alters its character and reduces it to a mere placebo. If, say, you are a preacher, you wish to attract as large a congregation as you can, which means an appeal to the masses; and this, in turn, means adapting the terms of your message to the order of intellect and character that the masses exhibit. If you are an educator, say with a college on your hands, you wish to get as many students as possible, and you whittle down your requirements accordingly. If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples; if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires, the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins. Meanwhile, the Remnant, aware of this adulteration and of the desires that prompt it, turn their backs on the prophet and will have nothing to do with him or his message.
The more we look at the election result last week the more perplexing it becomes. What the two longitudinal charts below show is that a president at 44 percent (at best) approval rating and inflation at (“officially”) 8 percent should lose—at a minimum—10 House seats. If the Dem losses are kept to about 10 this election will be seen as one of the greatest anomalies in election history. (Of course, the fact that Republican candidates outpolled Democratic candidates by more than 5 million votes makes the whole scene more confusing and curious still.)
Dan Senor has just posted a one-hour podcast with once and future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (below). The interview is occasioned by the publication of Netanyahu’s memoir Bibi: My Story. They also take up Netanyahu’s prescient A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations (2000).
Senor is the knowledgeable co-author of Start-Up Nation and the interview takes up the subject of Senor’s book while ranging beyond the bounds of Netanyahu’s memoir in interesting and newsworthy ways. Jewish Insider previewed the podcast here before the podcast was posted this morning. As always in the case of Netanyahu, one can listen and learn.
Tom Bevan is president of RealClearPolitics and a real clear observer of the American political scene. He has posted a thread on the results of the midterm elections on Twitter. There is a lot to chew over here. I submit it to interested readers at the bottom of this post.
Tom tactfully observes that Republicans “will gain only a handful of House seats…” He leaves open the question whether Republicans will pick up a majority and position themselves to slow down the destructive effects of Biden administration policies on the well-being of the United States. Politico’s Steven Shepard observes that there are 10 seats still in doubt and both parties have a shot. Shepard’s story is “Control of the House remains on a knife’s edge. Here’s how it could break.”
Over the weekend, we visited blue wave city with the 10 most recently called House races flopping for Democrats. Before serving up a breakdown of the up-for-grab races, Shepard notes that the battle for the House will be resolved on 10 seats that are “in doubt[.]” Shepard finds “six with Republicans leading, and four where Democrats are ahead — both parties still have a shot, though the GOP is still favored.”
UPDATE: Following my early morning post above, RedState’s Mr. Bonchie commented on the state of play in “Republicans Mercifully, Finally Get Some Good News Regarding the 2022 Election.” I found it a useful addition to the mix.
despite the fact three of those races took place in states that were razor close in 2020 (GA, AZ, and NV) – and despite the fact Biden's approval rating was in the low 40s in all of them.
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) November 13, 2022
Another factor: Biden's disapproval #s were soft. Of the roughly 10% of voters who 'somewhat disapproved' of Biden, WI was the only battleground state where they voted in favor of the GOP…. pic.twitter.com/7Khoslq9eC
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) November 13, 2022
One last nugget: On avg, Dems voted 3 pts more along partisan lines in battleground Senate races than GOP. Made a difference in GA, AZ, and NV….. pic.twitter.com/lrKIPyK4BU
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) November 13, 2022
Obviously, all of this speaks to GOP candidate quality being a factor in some Senate races. But that still doesn't explain GOP underperformance in the House. /end
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) November 13, 2022
Richard and Linda Thompson came out of the English folk movement. Richard made his name in Fairport Convention and then moved on to record a series of six classic albums with his wife, Linda Thompson. Richard’s Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice, 1967-1975, was published last year and is now out in paperback. He continues as a solo artist — he has a United States tour starting next month — and their son, Teddy Thompson, carries on the family business.
The Thompsons’ marriage was collapsing in the course of the recording of Shoot Out the Lights in late 1981. By the time the album was released, their marriage was over. Circumstances made the recording a challenge, but the resulting album is recognized as a classic. “Wall of Death” is the album’s concluding number.
The NATO alliance seems stronger in light of events in Ukraine and Russia. But economic competition and security may be something else. The Telegraph headlines: “Europe has picked a side in the new Cold War – China.”
In the new Cold War economy, trade will be restricted, technology fenced off, and intellectual property fiercely protected. Manufacturing capabilities will be built up, and supply chains brought closer to home to ensure resilience whatever happens.
That is going on here in the U.S. I hope it is, anyway.
As relations between the West and China deteriorate sharply, every developed economy will have to pick a side. And it is already becoming clear which one the major powers of Europe – and the European Union itself – have chosen. China.
Over the last few weeks, we have seen example after example of major industrial and commercial ties with China deepening.
Renault is partnering with Geely, presumably with the blessing of President Emmanuel Macron. Chinese investors are buying up a port in Hamburg, a crucial piece of infrastructure. And Chinese companies have announced three major new battery factories in Europe, the key industrial technology of the next decade.
More at the link, including this:
There may be lots of talk about creating a European battery industry, but in reality all the major investments right now are Chinese-owned.
[A]lmost no opportunity is ever wasted to inflame a trade war with the US, while [the EU] steadily builds up its trading and investment relationship with China.
Maybe that assessment is too pessimistic. But a global game of musical chairs is underway, and China’s control over the large majority of key strategic materials could give it the upper hand, especially if the U.S. continues its insane policy of squandering its advantage in fossil fuels.
Obviously, the midterms were bitterly disappointing. I moderated a panel on the election yesterday at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend. I began by saying that in view of the midterm results, we had changed the title of the panel from “What Happened?” as shown in the agenda, to “What the Hell Happened?” Nevertheless, the Sun continues to rise and conservatives will continue to fight, so we may as well look for rays of hope. Here are a few.
Gridlock in Washington. Assuming Republicans narrowly take the House–which looks like a good bet on paper, although it will require some exceptions to the rule that Democrats always win when it takes a week to count the ballots–it will be a marked improvement. The Democrats’ likely increased edge in the Senate means little, while a Republican House, assuming its members stick together–another big assumption–can block most of the Democrats’ craziness for the next two years. A Republican House (assuming we get one), while falling short of what we expected, is a major step forward.
Republicans drew many more votes than Democrats. When the counting stops, there will be somewhere around 4 million to 5 million more votes cast for Republican candidates than for Democratic candidates. That fact is of course immaterial to the composition of the House and the Senate, but it is highly relevant to assessing the strength of the conservative movement and the salience of conservative issues.
Republicans won every age group over 30. Of course, we got clobbered among young people. But at least we know where we need to concentrate our efforts. In 2020, Democrats focused on enabling mail-in voting on account of covid. That worked well for them. But mostly overlooked was the fact that more or less shutting down the colleges and universities hampered the Democrats’ efforts in those venues. This year, they were back to their old tricks. They carried out massive voter registration drives among students and organized buses, often with pizza and sometimes with beer, to take them to the polls to vote Democrat.
Republicans made substantial gains with minorities. This year the GOP won around 40% of the Hispanic vote (with a lot of variation among geographies and specific demographic groups) and 13-14% of the black vote. Asians, another diverse group, are also moving toward the GOP, with around 40% voting Republican this year. Those numbers represent significant gains, but we still have a lot of upside.
The Democrats can’t get men to vote for them. The gender gap continues to favor Republicans, as the GOP won male voters by 14 points, while the Dems carried women by only 6 points. Now we need to get more men to vote.
The Democrats can’t rely on abortion forever. Can they? I think it is fair to say that Dobbs, while correct, cost Republicans the election. States where abortion initiatives were on the ballot went especially badly for the GOP; if there was an exception, I don’t know what it was. But the reality is that Democrats, not Republicans, hold extreme views on abortion. The official Democratic position stops barely short of infanticide, if it stops short at all. A simple rule like the one that generally prevails in Western Europe, or the Mississippi statute at issue in Dobbs, i.e. abortion on demand up to a specific point like 15 weeks, but difficult thereafter, would command broad support in all but the bluest or reddest states. Hopefully the issue will sort itself out, state by state, over the next couple of cycles and become secondary as it was pre-Dobbs.
Goodbye, Trump. Donald Trump is being widely blamed for blowing the midterms, not without reason. He backed weak candidates in Pennsylvania and Georgia. Dr. Oz never would have won the primary without Trump’s support, and I assume Herschel Walker, who ran far behind Governor Brian Kemp, whom Trump detests, will lose the Georgia runoff. Further, Trump’s inserting himself into the news during the last stage of the campaign played into the Democrats’ hands by enabling their absurd claim that the election was, somehow, all about Trump. If Power Line’s poll is any indication, and I think it is, only a small minority of activist Republicans want Trump to be the party’s nominee in 2024. I think his appeal will continue to fade as time goes by. Trump did his country, and to a lesser extent his party, a lot of good. But at this point he is a serious liability, and I am hopeful that the midterms decisively broke his grip on the GOP.
In my view, the strangest thing about the midterm election is how rigidly it preserved the status quo. At a time when something like 70% of voters say we are on the wrong track, and explosive issues like crime, the cost of living and illegal immigration are roiling the electorate, voters nevertheless turned out for incumbents. I believe only one incumbent, the Governor of Nevada, was defeated in a state-wide race.
Are voters really that attached to the status quo? Maybe, but I think the better explanation is that we continue to be a bitterly divided, 50/50 country. It is like trench warfare in World War I: party loyalty is so strong, and power so evenly divided, that even the worst inflation in decades, millions of illegal immigrants and spiraling crime can move the line only a yard or two.
So we conservatives should get over our disappointment and rededicate ourselves to the long struggle that is yet to come.
Dave Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live last night. In his opening monologue, Chappelle held at painful length that “the Jews” control the world but that this can only be said out loud ironically — because, you know, “the Jews.” It was an unsubtle performance that might be funny if you are on board with that particular “point of view.” Then it might be hilarious.
I caught up with video of Chappelle’s monologue embedded in Katherine Donlevy’s New York Post story that is tabbed as “Comic takes aim at Kanye West, Kyrie Irving on ‘SNL,’ but ignores his own controversy” in today’s Post Morning Report email and in its index of Chappelle stories. Donlevy reports: “Chappelle not only took aim West but Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving over anti-Semitic statements in recent weeks.” That take on Chappelle’s monologue is utterly clueless.
Everyone knows Kanye is nuts. Chappelle posits himself as a teller of difficult truths. It's worse.
— Adam Feldman (@FeldmanAdam) November 13, 2022
The Arizona and Nevada Senate races have been called for Democratic incumbents Mark Kelly and Catherine Cortez Masto, respectively. With only the Georgia Senate runoff election outstanding, the Democrats appear to have maintained their 50-seat majority in the Senate (with Vice President Harris breaking ties). Democrats can enhance their majority to 51-49 with a victory in the Georgia runoff or maintain the status quo with a loss. The AP’s story on the latest developments is “Democrats keep Senate majority as GOP push falters in Nevada.”
It seems to me characteristic of a wave election for the prevailing party to win these close races. With the important exception of Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, that is what we have here to some extent at the Senate level. All hail Senator Johnson. Let us hear from him on how he did it and what is to be done. I’m sure our friend Jon Justice will take it up with “our adopted Senator from Wisconsin” in one of his regular appearances on Jon’s KTLK morning show. [UPDATE: In the meantime, see Evita Duffy’s Federalist column “Ron Johnson’s Victory Shows Republicans Don’t Have To Sacrifice Bravery To Win Swing States.”]
The result in the House has not yet been determined. Steven Shepard’s Politico story “The path to 218: Why Democrats aren’t out of the race for the House yet” is helpful to get a sense of the state of play.
At the moment Republicans stand at 211 seats (+7) and Democrats at 204 (-7) with 218 needed for a majority. Democrats are not out of it yet. Too many of the races with outcomes yet to be determined are located in California. Republicans should be sweating it out. RCP has House races posted here. The screenshot below — gray represents undecided — is taken from the RealClearPolitics home page as of early Sunday morning.
In its summary of the generic national House vote RCP has Democrats at 47,290,997 (46.7 percent) and Republicans at 52,084,763 (51.4 percent), again as of early Sunday morning. My tentative comment about a blue wave in the Senate races does not apply to the House. I think this prediction/projection is worth a look.
— Nathaniel Rakich (@baseballot) November 12, 2022
More from the Heritage Foundation’s Kevin Roberts.
This failure must spark serious changes in Republican leadership—and their DC-centric, consultant-driven non-strategy. Having spent the last few days with everyday conservatives at @Heritage’s annual mtg the base is on the brink of walking away forever. https://t.co/dVnupNuyZh
— Kevin Roberts (@KevinRobertsTX) November 12, 2022
I only want to add this note. Our election system has evolved into a farce and a disgrace. Something needs to be done, but nothing will be done so long as it suits the interest of Democrats. As of now, Republicans need to learn how to get in the game, let alone play it.
I’m winding down this brief series featuring modern folk music over the next few days. Bob Dylan is the tutelary spirt. For those following along I want to post the live version of Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells,” the title track from Baez’s 1995 double album. On this track Baez is joined by Ireland’s Mary Black. The harmony is beautiful on this cover of a Sunday morning song, Dylan style. In Chronicles: Volume 1 Dylan writes: “We cut this song [produced by Daniel Lanois for Oh Mercy] exactly as I found it…”
Climate alarmism is not based on observation, it is based on predictions generated by climate models. This article by computer modeler Greg Chapman at Watts Up With That is a good primer on why those models are inherently unreliable, and in fact have been shown to be wrong:
The purpose of this article is to explain to the non-expert, how climate models work, rather than a focus on the issues underlying the actual climate science, since the models are the primary ‘evidence’ used by those claiming a climate crisis. The first problem, of course, is no model forecast is evidence of anything. It’s just a forecast, so it’s important to understand how the forecasts are made, the assumptions behind them and their reliability.
You really need to read the whole thing, but this is a summary of the chief points:
* Climate models can’t be validated on initiatialisation due to lack of data and a chaotic initial state.
* Model resolutions are too low to represent many climate factors.
* Many of the forcing factors are parameterised as they can’t be calculated by the models.
* Uncertainties in the parameterisation process mean that there is no unique solution to the history matching.
* Numerical dispersion beyond the history matching phase results in a large divergence in the models.
* The IPCC refuses to discard models that don’t match the observed data in the prediction phase – which is almost all of them.
We now have enough years of temperature data, and enough experience with climate models, to know for sure that the models are wrong. A model that makes wrong predictions about the future has been falsified and is useless. This chart tells the story:
The next chart is one I hadn’t seen before. It represents the output of a model that does not use CO2 forcing as a factor in matching climate history:
[A]nalytic (as opposed to numeric) models have achieved matches without CO2 forcing. These are models, based purely on historic climate cycles that identify the harmonics using a mathematical technique of signal analysis, which deconstructs long and short term natural cycles of different periods and amplitudes without considering changes in CO2 concentration.
In Figure 6, a comparison is made between the IPCC predictions and a prediction from just one analytic harmonic model that doesn’t depend on CO2 warming. A match to history can be achieved through harmonic analysis and provides a much more conservative prediction that correctly forecasts the current pause in temperature increase, unlike the IPCC models. The purpose of this example isn’t to claim that this model is more accurate, it’s just another model, but to dispel the myth that there is no way history can be explained without anthropogenic CO2 forcing and to show that it’s possible to explain the changes in temperature with natural variation as the predominant driver.
The whole thing is worth your attention.
Joe Biden is narrowly correct that inflation is a global phenomenon at present, and in fact is running higher in Europe than in the U.S. However, what this really means is that central bankers everywhere—and especially in the EU—have been as irresponsible and clueless as our Federal Reserve, and also just as profligate in government spending. The cure is the same in both places. Batten down the hatches.
I am still kicking myself for having credited the Trafalgar polls of Minnesota and other states in the runup to this week’s midterm elections. I think we should account for our errors. I apologized to readers in “After last night” and I reiterate it here. I think we should acknowledge our errors and account for them. My mistake in this case was attributable to my understanding of Trafalgar’s recent record of accuracy.
My conclusion is that, as a famous man is said to have put it, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. I think that might be condensed in this case to the proposition that nobody knows anything.
In any event, the tweet below is the first in a thread looking at Trafalgar’s performance. At least on Twitter, where I have been following him, Trafalgar’s Robert Cahaly has rested on his right to remain silent since this past Tuesday.
How did Trafalgar do in 2022? Using their last poll released for each Senate race, they overestimated Republicans by 7.5% on average across 13 states.
— Logan Phillips (@LoganR2WH) November 12, 2022
JOHN adds: I am spending the weekend at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend in Phoenix. This morning I moderated a panel on the midterm elections that included Robert Cahaly as a panelist. He talked about various states where polls, including his, were either on or off the mark, and some of the reasons why. While I am sure he is not happy with Tuesday’s results, I don’t think he will be absent from discourse about the election and what it means.
We interrupt our brief series on modern folk music to bring you “Brian Wilson” by former Barenaked Ladies front man Steven Page. Page is touring in his trio with guitarist Craig Northey and celloist Kevin Fox. They made their first American stop before a packed house last night at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis. I snapped the photo of Page from Table 150, right in front of him, but too close to get a wide shot of the trio.
Page plays acoustic guitar and piano. The instrumental and vocal backing seemed to me improbably beautiful. The songs, one after another, were great. Page is a literate and witty songwriter with what seems to me perfect pop songcraft. The two-hour show had no lulls or lowlights. The pace was torrid. Page was in top form.
Their instruments traveled from Canada by truck and got snowed in somewhere along the way. They had to play on instruments borrowed or rented hours before the show. Page was funny talking about it. I would never have known if he hadn’t said anything about it.
They dressed in matching blue suits. It’s a look I haven’t seen in a long time. It seemed to me something of a throwback. They looked like professionals.
The trio kicked off the show with “It’s All Been Done,” “New Shore,” “Jane,” “Alternate Girlfriend,” “Golden Age,” “Gravity,” “Good Boy,” and “Linda Ronstadt in the 70s.” I think “Brian Wilson” (below) was the last number before the encores. The tour continues with stops in Madison, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and a few other stops noted here.
We stuck around after the show and ended up chatting with Kevin Fox, as did a few other members of the audience. He could not have been nicer. We wanted to let him know how much we enjoyed the show. He wanted to let us know how much he enjoys playing with Page.
Like Brian Wilson, Page has been troubled by a demon or two in the course of his career. Indeed, I can hear it in his tribute to Wilson. I wanted to give interested readers an idea of what the trio sounds like. Page himself sounded in better voice last night than he does in the video below, but this gives you a fair idea of what he has on offer with the trio.
The problem with big waves is that sometimes they hit a sandbar or a rip tide. Or election day falls between sets. But cheer up: John Fetterman is now the face of the Democratic Party, and could there be any more fun prospect that an Oval Office meeting between Bobba Fetterx and Slow Joe Biden? And just think how awesome the photo ops with The Squad are going to be.
Headlines of the week:
And finally. . .
A disproportionate number of the comments on our recent posts critical of Trump’s role in the mid-term election, and his responses in the last few days, have disagreed sharply with us. So I think it is time to hear from a wider cross-section of our readership—from the 99 percent of our readers who seldom or never comment here, on the question. Not a long poll—just two short questions. (Be sure to click on the “Vote” button at the bottom of each question window after you have ticked your option.)Take Our Poll Take Our Poll
Some smart aleck wag at the Daily Caller has decided this midterm was the “McRib” election, saying “Democracy is like the McRib: It comes and goes mysteriously every two years or so and it is confusing. And, like politicians, once the McRib is reintroduced with a big ad campaign, you remember months later why you didn’t like it in the first place.”
Needless to say, with lingering threats by McDonald’s to terminate the McRib, John Yoo can’t take this lying down, so he takes the chair in this week’s 3WHH episode as we deconstruct how the GOP’s high election expectations got deconstructed, while I introduce the gang to a peaty, single-malt Austrian whisky (yes you read that right) I discovered over in Vienna.
One problem is obvious: the election isn’t over, though you’d think “early voting” (which appears increasingly to be vote-rigging) would mean we could get results faster, not slower.
We have a spirited discussion about candidate quality, whether Dr. Oz would have won Pennsylvania if there hadn’t already been 600,000 early votes cast before the Oz-Fetterman debate, whether the Republican silence about the Democrats’ attacks on abortion after Dobbs was a major failing, and what changes ought to be made to our election system. Oh, and what’s up with Trump? He appears to be having a meltdown.
Finally, we review with John the sudden federal district court ruling out Thursday that struck down Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, and whether it will hold up on appeal.
You know what to do now: listen here, or drop your browser over at the dropbox to Ricochet.
Last week we noted that European inflation is running higher than U.S. inflation, and today news out of London that the British economy is officially in recession. It also appears that recession is already under way in continental Europe, at least in their all-important manufacturing sector, which is swooning toward 2009 and COVID shutdown levels. This may be more on account of the insane energy policies and incipient shortages, but inflation and rising interest rates surely don’t help.
I’m not sure what President Trump is thinking with his latest salvo, this one against Glenn Younkin. Youngkin is of course another recently elected and appealing Republican governor.
This is what I’m thinking. It’s more or less the same thing I was thinking when he held his rally and watched ensuing events at his leisure on January 6. He doesn’t have any family, friends, or worthy advisers whom he listens to. I can’t believe anyone in that category would counsel him to stay on the destructive (and self-destructive) path that he is on.
Trump now attacking Glenn Youngkin .. pic.twitter.com/eEEPcAMplX
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) November 11, 2022
I developed a healthy respect for attorney John A. “Jack” Clifford many years ago when we represented adverse parties in an intellectual property dispute. Jack is of counsel with Merchant & Gould. P.C. He sends us this first-hand report under the heading WHAT IS WRONG WITH MARICOPA COUNTY? PLENTY AND IT’S COMPLICATED. The AP’s latest story on the doings in Arizona is here. Jack writes:
I hope you are well. I write from Maricopa County, Arizona, where I have lived, worked and voted since 2014. I write as an individual and not on behalf of any client or my law firm.
First, Maricopa county is huge. The entire state of Arizona has only 10 or 11 counties, compared to a similar-sized Minnesota with 87 counties. You can drive an hour at 70 miles an hour in about any direction to get to the county line, or so it seems. For reasons that are not clear (I think convenience is the excuse), any registered voter can cast an in-person vote anywhere in the county. That sounds great until you realize that because of local school boards, water boards, and other local issues on the ballot this time not all voters have the same ballot.
My school district is only one of about 10 in the Phoenix metro area. More rural areas have their own, too. With school bond referenda in each district, we had something like 64 different ballots in use in the 2020 election in Maricopa county. I have not seen the number for 2022, but you get the idea. The authorities deal with this by printing ballots on site after a voter identifies himself. The plan is to print the right ballot for that voter and send him off to fill in the bubbles as they wish.
The ballots are intended to have registration marks on them to allow the scanner to tell which form is being scanned, and tallied accordingly. I don’t know if you run a printer at your home, but I can tell you I have lots of hiccups and frustration from my little print shop on my desk. Did the polling place use the right paper, the right ink, or give the voter a pen that bleeds through and can be seen from on the other side? What level of QC is going on there? Some voters reported that the felt tip pen they were given bled through. What else could go wrong? I used a ballpoint pen myself.
Anyway, trouble ensued again this year. I think we made the system too complicated to run smoothly. Of course, we made things worse by reducing the number of polling places after a year when we had small turnout and a bunch of bureaucrats saw a chance to save money. Add a layer of CoVid-excused changes and we are certainly now off to the turtle races this year. I suspect the IT guys told them, sure this should work. We got this. What is your experience with a technology fix to make your life easier?
When some ballots refused to go through the scanners, some voters were told just to go to a different polling place and try again. Once they got to the new place they were told that since they had checked in and received a ballot at the prior location they would not be given another ballot. Makes sense, but not if your first ballot was trashed. Which brings me to “drawer 3.”
Apparently some of the unscannable ballots were placed into a “secure lock box” where the authorities essentially said we intend to scan these somewhere else at a time to be determined. Since the ballot would not scan where it was filled in, who believes it will scan downtown? Hand tally anyone?
Don’t forget that our Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, has ultimate supervisory responsibility for running a “free and fair” election, but is herself running for governor and is locked in a very tight battle with none other than Kari Lake. Apparently, the appearance of impropriety is the standard they use there. Plus, the SOS’s office has been closed for two years due to Covid, and the team was working from home via Zoom. Seems unlikely to me all those printers and scanners were checked out via Zoom.
I made a great screenshot of the vote tallies from the SOS’s office this [i.e., yesterday] morning. Katie’s picture is in the upper left corner as SOS, and her picture is also lower down on the same page next to her vote tally. At least it is not the exact same image. Does not seem kosher to me somehow. The optics are bad.
She did not recuse herself or step down. Maybe she needs the paycheck. She campaigned saying she was an Uber driver and needed the money to support her family. OK.
Are these new problems? Not really, they all happened in 2020, but were mostly swept under the rug as anyone who “saw something and then said something” was tied to the whipping post.
So here we are. My wife and I are on the “permanent mail in ballot list” and get our ballots about a month before each election in the mail. That is allowed here and is very common. I receive ballots for our kids at my house even through they have moved away. What could go wrong there?
Anyway, my wife and I then have to figure out when and where to return our ballots. Do we chance the US Mail? Do we take it to a random unsecured drop box?
You can return them anywhere in the county. If you turn them in too early, you risk a media source reporting “heavy early ballots coming in from Republican areas.” We turned them in at city hall, in a room where early in-person voting was taking place. We put them in the box the poll worker told us to. I hope it was not “drawer 3.” About three days later I received a text that said my ballot had been “signature verified and scanned.” Hopefully that means what it says.
Stay tuned. The “big guys” running things say they expect to have 95 percent of the ballots counted by the close of business on Friday. Will they honestly report what they show, or age them over the weekend?
Late last night Jack updated his report:
The county has about 17,000 “drawer 3” ballots to deal with as of about 7:00 p.m. Thursday. They are now lowering expectations to say that “maybe sometime next week” they will have only a few ballots left to count in Maricopa county. If you watch the online webcam of the counting, it appears to be proceeding in very slow motion.
I also want to clarify that if one votes in person in his hometown the ballot you are given is likely preprinted on suitable paper. The on-demand printed ballots are usually for those voting far from home but still in the county, or for those voting in a polling place that runs out of preprinted ballots.
Before founding the Byrds with Gene Clark and David Crosby, Roger McGuinn was a folk nut. He returned to his first love in music with Roger McGuinn’s Folk Den, where he posts new recordings of old songs monthly. McGuinn celebrated the 27th anniversary of his Folk Den here this month. He did the honors with “Shady Grove.” No one told me arithmetic would be required, but I believe that means he has posted some 324 songs at the Folk Den.
If you grew up in the American folk tradition, you undoubtedly know “Dink’s Song.” It’s the genuine article. In the video below, McGuinn plays it on his acoustic 12-string with Josh White Jr. singing on harmony. McGuinn posted this recording here at his Folk Den in March 2000 along with a related excerpt of John Lomax’s account of the first recording of the song from “his remarkable book Adventures Of A Ballad Hunter, published by MacMillan in 1947[.]” Lomax’s “remarkable book” was restored to print in 2017 by the University of Texas Press.
Ammo Grrrll has a few thoughts ABOUT LAST TUESDAY…She writes:
Good night, everybody. John Fetterman has won in Pennsylvania. And the voting machines and ballot printers did not “work” in Arizona, although I think they worked exactly the way they were intended. A judge ruled against allowing the polls to be open for three more hours or for hand-counting the ballots. Awesome. And the person responsible for the mess was herself running for a higher office. Suh-weet! That kind of sums up where we are as a country in 2022. Our anticipated tsunami obviously did not materialize.
Decades of wretched miseducation in the government schools have done the electorate no favors. Biden himself — a toxic, corrupt, senile, prevaricating, girl-sniffing Tarbaby of disaster — was urged to stay the heck away from anyone who hoped to have a snowball’s chance in Hades of victory. The polls were all breaking our way right up until they didn’t. Were the polls manipulated to make us overconfident? Who knows? In the prophetic and inspiring words of Hillary Rodham Clinton: “What difference does it make?”
I hate to appropriate a Carter-era word, but I feel a heavy sense of “malaise” out there. A sense that we are being asked to clean the Augean Stables with just a whisk broom. Democrats had no choice except to run on a toxic stew of over-the-top fear-mongering and platitudes. They could hardly run on either their openly anti-American, racist, treasury-draining bribery programs or any “accomplishments.”
So it was all hair-on-fire rhetoric all the time. Popular ads here in Arizona featured three unattractive people with their alleged names and “Lifelong Republican” underneath their visages. The narrative went: “I’m a lifelong Republican but I’m voting for Katie Hobbs because Kari Lake is just too EXTREME. Her Extreme Extremism means she will end Social Security, — a good trick for a state governor! — ban all abortions AND birth control and bring back chastity belts and those bonnets from The Handmaid’s Tale.” Then there would be three women of varying degrees of color looking very sad as the voiceover shrieks, “Our RIGHTS!! Our Rights to ‘Reproductive Freedom’ have been taken away!!!”
True, the right to kill your baby has been around for 50 years now, with plenty of time to get accustomed to it. The original Roe v. Wade was meant for the first three months with the next three months for medical reasons and banned after that. But it has ratcheted ever upward. Before the Dobbs decision, you could dispose of your baby up until the labor pains were three minutes apart and for ANY reason.
It’s awful when a RIGHT you were used to just gets snatched away after only half a century and 50 million dead babies. You know what else was a right prized by many? The right to own human beings as chattel property! For 250 years, give or take, slave-owning was a RIGHT, goshdarnit! And in January of 1863, that right was taken away by the “racist” Republican Abraham Lincoln! Boohoohoo.
The Democrats were really upset, Boy Howdy, just like they are now with the unfettered right to kill babies possibly getting modified a bit when it’s thrown back to the states! Here’s an idea ‘bout how to preserve “the right to control [your] own bodies,” ladies. Why not, I don’t know, control your own bodies? Or at least the ACCESS to your own bodies. Maybe refrain from unprotected sex with anybody you don’t want to make a baby with? Especially strangers?
I am virulently opposed to the right to own slaves. And I feel exactly the same about the right to kill babies. Oh, and just by the by, up until October of 1913, it was also a RIGHT not to pay Federal income taxes. Yeah, I’m still upset about it, often shrieking into the sky like the unhinged loon in the popular meme.
I thought for sure that our quality of life was on the ballot and would be decisive: The right to secure borders; the right to be safe in our homes and vehicles. The right to ride inside a subway car – and not on the third rail. The right to afford groceries and gas for your car. The right not to have illustrated how-to fellatio manuals foisted on kindergartners. But apparently too many Americans are just fine with all that.
I thought we had reached maximum insanity and the country would demand a reboot. A friend in Southern Indiana – Southern Indiana! – had a kid whose classroom was forced to include a litter box because a demented child “identified” as a cat.
With Veterans Day today – God Bless every one of our vets — Americans realized that between abandoning Afghanistan, raiding the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and being unable to fill recruitment quotas for any branch but the Marines, the U.S. is no way prepared to fight anyone except possibly soccer hooligans in the UK.
The Milleys and other woke brass have hauled out another stupid platitude – that “the military should look like America.” No. It absolutely should NOT “look like America.” The military is not just another woke corporation. It is a fighting force.
America has tens of millions of unfit fatties and geezers. We do not have unfit fatties or geezers in the military, at least not in the ranks. The U.S. military should be made up of smart, tough, fit, strong, young, competent warriors of any color and either of the two sexes that can pass every single rigorous test and make the grade. If you cannot qualify physically, then you can’t be a Ranger or a Seal. Period. “Equity” don’t go ‘round here.
These warriors should be able to read maps and operate sophisticated equipment. They should be able to improvise, adapt, and overcome. In other words, they should be not me. In fact, the un-me!
True, America LOOKS like me – old, short, overweight, lost without glasses, sometimes forgetful, technologically as left behind as our equipment in Afghanistan – but the military should look the OPPOSITE of me. Seriously, it won’t hurt my feelings at all. And most definitely it should not include men in dresses who have joined up for the free sex change operation. Seriously, has the leadership gone daft?
We need to clear out the asylum, one corrupt lunatic at a time. Tuesday was a very small and disappointing start. It was not the decisive turn toward sanity for which we had hoped. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (To which my five-year-old responded, “If I had to go 1000 miles, I would take a plane.” Point taken.) There is much more work to be done. We’re demoralized now, but we really have no choice. It’s continue fighting or just give up and “love Big Brother.” We have two years to read up on Valley Forge and find the courage to emulate it.
Earlier this afternoon, Donald Trump sent out this email to his supporters:
NewsCorp, which is Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and the no longer great New York Post (bring back Col!), is all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious, an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations, who didn’t have to close up his State, but did, unlike other Republican Governors, whose overall numbers for a Republican, were just average—middle of the pack—including COVID, and who has the advantage of SUNSHINE, where people from badly run States up North would go no matter who the Governor was, just like I did!
Ron came to me in desperate shape in 2017—he was politically dead, losing in a landslide to a very good Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam, who was loaded up with cash and great poll numbers. Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse him, he could win. I didn’t know Adam so I said, “Let’s give it a shot, Ron.” When I Endorsed him, it was as though, to use a bad term, a nuclear weapon went off. Years later, they were the exact words that Adam Putnam used in describing Ron’s Endorsement. He said, “I went from having it made, with no competition, to immediately getting absolutely clobbered after your Endorsement.” I then got Ron by the “Star” of the Democrat Party, Andrew Gillum (who was later revealed to be a “Crack Head”), by having two massive Rallies with tens of thousands of people at each one. I also fixed his campaign, which had completely fallen apart. I was all in for Ron, and he beat Gillum, but after the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen…
And now, Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games! The Fake News asks him if he’s going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, “I’m only focused on the Governor’s race, I’m not looking into the future.” Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer.
This is just like 2015 and 2016, a Media Assault (Collusion!), when Fox News fought me to the end until I won, and then they couldn’t have been nicer or more supportive. The Wall Street Journal loved Low Energy Jeb Bush, and a succession of other people as they rapidly disappeared from sight, finally falling in line with me after I easily knocked them out, one by one. We’re in exactly the same position now. They will keep coming after us, MAGA, but ultimately, we will win. Put America First and, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
This would be an embarrassment coming from a twelve-year-old. Time to get Trump off the stage before he does further damage to our party and our country.
A couple days ago I posted this chart showing the partisan split by education, which liberals like to talk about—see, Republicans are stupid and Democrats are smart, because we went to kollege! Especially people with advanced degrees in gender studies and such:
Well have a look at the NBC News exit poll from Florida, which shows Ron DeSantis got a majority of advanced-degree holders:
Chaser, from Michael Barone:
DeSantis carried 62 of 67 counties and won 16% from black people. He carried Hispanics 52%-45%. He carried majority-Hispanic Miami-Dade County 55%-44% — the first Republican governor to win there since Jeb Bush in 2002. He also carried heavily Jewish Palm Beach County, the first Republican governor to win there since 1986. He carried majority-Hispanic Osceola County, which includes part of Disney World, 53%-46%.
DeSantis won majorities from women, as well as men, from all age groups, from all income groups, and from every religious group except Jews (he got only 42%) and those with no religion (only 40%). Overall, the DeSantis victory looks like the model for the durable national Republican majority that neither George W. Bush nor Trump was able to deliver.
Glad to see Joel Kotkin—a former progressive—thinks as I do about the longer-term effect of the mid-term, writing at UnHerd:
For all their cautious optimism yesterday, a mild Midterms victory may prove the last thing the Democrats need. If they had performed as predicted, the Democrats and their media adjuncts would now be busily dissecting their defeat. But what has to be considered a lost Republican opportunity — gaining little in a country where lifespans are now dropping — also means that the Democrats will be slower to address their weaknesses, and may be forced to accept the unpopular Joe Bidenas their leader in 2024.
With no sign of a Republican resurgence, the Democrats will likely be lulled into thinking that Biden’s polarising agenda is a vote-winner . . . When Democrats performed poorly in the past, they were forced to rethink their politics. After Walter Mondale suffered a landslide defeat to Reagan in 1984, the Democratic Leadership Council was set up to steer the ship towards the centre — and ultimately supported both a young Bill Clinton and, to an extent, Biden himself. In turn, the DLC was inspired by the moderate Coalition for a Democratic Majority, founded after Nixon’s trouncing of McGovern in 1972. Today, however, it’s hard to say that now is the time for a new political vision when virtually all the high-profile blue state Democrats won, sometimes by wider than expected margins.
So, rather than using the next two years to regroup and craft a political programme that could win the next election, the Democrats now appear stuck with a weak leader who appears unfit to deal with the global challenges that will define America in the coming decade. Internally, too, the Democrats look increasingly unstable. A stronger-than-expected Midterms performance doesn’t mask the fact that the progressives remain a dominant faction in the party — with an associated agenda that, outside of deep blue-college towns and core cities, commands remarkably low levels of support, as Barack Obama and others have warned.
I have been following Jon Ralston’s postelection Twitter updates on the outstanding votes and related results in Nevada’s Senate race. In my morning-after comments on the midterms, I assumed that Blake Masters would lose in Arizona and hoped that Adam Laxalt would pull it out in Nevada. Ralston is hostile to Laxalt and pulling for incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, but he is an expert on Nevada politics. Take his analysis as you will.
If her margin decreases from 65-30 to 60-30, for instance, she would still in decisively.
If it is 60-35, same.
If it's 55-30, same.
If it's 55-35, same.
She wins in all those models.
Good night to all. See you for more math tomorrow!
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) November 10, 2022
Below are the most recent comments Laxalt has posted on Twitter.
Last night went exactly as we anticipated. We added 3K from the rurals and more are coming. She added some Clark County mail. We expect the remaining mail universe to fall well below the percentage she needs to catch us. No status change.
— Adam Paul Laxalt (@AdamLaxalt) November 10, 2022
If Laxalt and Masters both lose, the Georgia runoff will give Democrats the opportunity to push their margin in the Senate to 51-49. They would remain in control regardless of the outcome. It would only afford Republicans the opportunity to maintain the debilitating status quo in the Senate.
UPDATE: After I wrote this morning Laxalt tweeted out his own Nevada update.
Clark County Clerk just reported there are just over 50K ballots left. This number includes Election Day drop off. We know there are rural and Washoe votes to be counted. Assuming these two at least offset, then Cortez Masto needs 63.5% to catch us. We remain very confident.
— Adam Paul Laxalt (@AdamLaxalt) November 10, 2022
In a perfect coda to the midterm elections, MSNBC is touting Senator-elect John Fetterman — his doctor said he was better, man — to run for president. It is an ingenious attempt to build a seamless transition from President Biden to the Democratic future. Fetterman should indeed be the face of the Democratic Party, or at least its neck.
The future beckons. The possibilities are limitless. Unfortunately, we have plenty of time to think about it while the votes are counted in Arizona, California, Alaska and other backwaters of these United States. It occurs to me this morning that giving Fetterman his own show on MSNBC would be far more fitting.
The televised mental institution of MSNBC is floating John Fetterman as a presidential candidate.
The clown emoji doesn’t quite do this justice but it’s all I got….
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) November 10, 2022
JOHN adds: To be fair, I am not sure Fetterman is less competent than Joe Biden.
Following up on Tuesday’s midterm elections President Biden held a press conference yesterday. Speaking in the style to which we have become accustomed in his dotage, he took a victory lap. The White House has posted the transcript here.
The transcript reflects the usual lies, absurdities, and approximation (“obsessant,” “Biden is being apop- — apoc- –acop- — Biden is being extremist”). He’s going to keep on keeping on.
One of the questions sought Biden’s “thinking” on a possible “compromise” to resolve Russian’s war on Ukraine. Here we see Biden’s mind falling into an old man’s time warp:
Q But what kind of compromise do you have in mind?
THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t have any in mind. You have asked the question whether or not, if I recall — whether or not — what would happen if, in fact, after the — this — I think the context is that whether or not they’re pulling back from Fallujah. And the — I mean, from the —
THE PRESIDENT: Kherson. The — the city of Kherson. And they’re coming back across the river to the eastern side of the river — the Russian forces. And I said what’s going to happen is they’re going to both lick their wounds, decide whether — what they’re going to do over the winter, and decide whether or not they’re going to compromise.
The transcript makes for painful reading in more ways than one.
On a personal note, the transcript reminds me of the terrible stroke my father had when I was home from college on Christmas break in 1970. Over my spring break, after he had finally been released from the hospital, I took him down to the Mayo Clinic for an evaluation. On the way back he told me about the questions he had been asked in one part of the process. He recounted that one question asked who was president and he had responded, “President Johnson.” He added: “I had to explain to them I would have made that mistake even when I was well.” I don’t think that explanation applies to the Biden time warp.
I have rethought this brief series in light of the downbeat events of this week. Rather than cancel it, I thought I might try to keep it in tune with the times. The first song that came to mind was Phil Ochs’s “No More Songs” from his bitter, ironically titled Greatest Hits (1970). It is the concluding track on the last studio album released before he ended his life in 1976. But no, we are not going to go there. Maybe tomorrow.
Today we turn to the late great Richie Havens with the aptly titled “There’s a Hole In the Future.” This track was released as a single and included on Stonehenge (1970). Richie wrote this number and it’s still sounding good to me more than 50 years later.
A consensus is emerging among Republicans that it is time for Donald Trump to get off the stage and stop damaging his party and his country. It is reflected in tomorrow’s New York Post cover:
In the same paper, John Podhoretz, never a Trump fan, writes: “Here’s how Donald Trump sabotaged the Republican midterms.” Trump’s record is bleak.
Liberal fundraisers actually put money behind Trump-endorsed candidates in GOP primaries all over the place to help them prevail so that Democrats could face them in the general election. It was transparently cynical and an abuse of our political process. But it worked like gangbusters.
As Kevin Robillard of the Huffington Post noted on Wednesday afternoon, when a Michigan Democrat named Hilary Scholten was finally declared the winner of her House seat against a raving lunatic named John Gibbs: “With this race call, every single Republican who won their primary with help from Democratic meddling has lost in the general election.”
The Democrats played Trump like a violin, and he joined in enthusiastically because his megalomania blinded him to political reality. He is a loser.
Earlier this evening I was on the Bolt Report with Andrew Bolt on Australia’s Sky News. Offline, Andrew asked what I thought about his view that Donald Trump contributed greatly to the Republicans’ midterm failure. He knew my answer because he had already read this post. Our on-air conversation was mostly about how Trump has become a liability to the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
Trump is toast. He has a few fanatical followers, most of whom were never reliable Republicans or even consistent voters. They can go down with his ship if they want to. But the rest of us need to look ahead and begin the process of choosing a vastly better candidate in 2024. That will be a low bar.
Yesterday’s election results were bad across the U.S., and in Minnesota they were horrific. But there was one positive: the performance of conservative school board candidates.
The teachers’ union, Education Minnesota, has largely run our state for decades. Among other things, in most school districts the union has more or less appointed members of the school board *against* whom the union negotiates teachers’ contracts, a corrupt arrangement. My organization has been working for some years to counteract the teachers’ union’s monopoly power over our public schools.
Earlier this year, we established the Minnesota Parents Alliance, a 501(c)(4) organization, to identify good school board candidates across the state of Minnesota, to train them with regard both to winning elections and to serving effectively on school boards, to endorse them, and, in selected instances, to provide limited financial support.
For an organization that has been in existence for less than a year, the Minnesota Parents Alliance had a huge impact on school board elections. This press release sums up MPA’s first-year results:
[S]chool board candidates backed by the upstart Minnesota Parents Alliance had a very good election night. Forty-nine candidates running with the official MPA endorsement won election to the school board last night, a tremendous accomplishment for an organization that was founded just nine months ago. Dozens of other candidates who received support from MPA such as campaign training, technical assistance, and educational resources also cruised to victory. In fact, 22 out of 38 candidates who attended one of the MPA campaign schools won their elections. Several more winning candidates throughout greater Minnesota benefitted from online access to MPA training sessions and support.
More importantly, the Minnesota Parents Alliance won seats in 15 of the 19 school districts where they devoted campaign resources such as digital advertising. Those districts include:
“Parent-backed candidates cut through all of the noise in this election and won support from voters because they talked about the important issues — academic achievement, equality and parental rights,” said Cristine Trooien, Executive Director of the Minnesota Parents Alliance.
The MPA’s voter guide, which turned out to be highly influential, is here. The MPA’s influence will only grow in future elections, and there will be a solid core of pro-parent school board members across the state to fight wokeness, racism, anti-Americanism and low academic standards. We are not all the way there yet, by any means. But conservatives’ strong showing in school board elections this year holds out hope for the future.
UPDATE: Chris Rufo notes Minnesota parents’ impressive performance in an otherwise lackluster year:
Conservatives dominated local school board elections last night. In Minnesota, conservative activists won 49 seats in 15 of 19 targeted districts.
Local elections matter. Get organized. pic.twitter.com/qOcpbKmgRZ
— Christopher F. Rufo (@realchrisrufo) November 10, 2022
Minnesota Public Radio, obviously not friendly to our cause, has a lengthy piece on conservative success in contesting school board elections. The most interesting aspect of MPR’s article comes at the end, where the president of Education Minnesota comments bitterly:
“This has been a difficult and divisive election season for school boards, and the misinformation coming down from the big money MAGA groups…
This is truly hilarious. The only “big money MAGA group” that played a role in school board elections was the Minnesota Parents Alliance, whose budget is perhaps one one-ten thousandth of Education Minnesota’s. Probably less. And of course, playing on Donald Trump’s disgrace, liberals characterize anyone they don’t like as “MAGA.”
…worked as intended in many places,” said Education Minnesota president Denise Specht.
Just wait, Denise. Just wait. Next year will be better for parents, and worse for the teachers’ union.
With crime and urban disorder at the “top of mind” these days, we should recall that we once knew what worked: “broken windows” policing. And since the left attacked broken windows policing by distorting it, it is worth recalling a key portion of the James Q. Wilson/George Kelling argument:
And an important virtue of enforcing the rules against “minor” offenses like jumping the turnstile, peeing on the street, or carrying an open container of alcohol is that it’s easy to visually verify who is and isn’t following the rules. If someone isn’t following the rules, police officers can stop them and search them, and if they’re carrying an illegal gun, they can arrest them. Without this kind of low-level stop, the only way to get illegal guns off the street is by stopping people at random—which realistically means racial profiling. That is bad. People have a very legitimate interest in not being stopped and frisked merely for belonging to a particular demographic group. Where progressives have gone too far is in extending this consideration to people who are in fact committing crimes, when those are exactly the people you want to stop.
The left stubbornly sticks to the view that blacks are uniquely vulnerable to police violence, but Mark Perry looks at the data (the reason he uses 2019 data is that the last year we have complete FBI data available right now):
Just kidding. Out of the range of possible outcomes, what we saw last night was about as bad as it could be. The GOP’s failure to make progress stunned everyone, not least the Democrats.
* Fantasy vs. Reality. It turns out that there are a great many voters who don’t care much about what traditionally have been considered decisive issues: inflation, crime, illegal immigration, lousy schools, etc. Many millions of Democrats, confronted with these facts, didn’t conclude that they should consider voting for someone else. Rather, they seem to have thought, My team is in trouble! All the more reason why I need to support my team. This was an election in which, to an extraordinary degree, issues were subordinated to party loyalty.
* Abortion. While Dobbs was plainly right as a matter of constitutional law, Justice Alito and his colleagues probably cost Republicans control of Congress. I thought the Democrats were wasting their money when they spent countless millions over the summer, pounding Republicans on abortion. The conventional wisdom, which I shared, was that the issue would likely help to drive turnout, but wouldn’t win over any undecided or middle of the road voters. But driving turnout was decisive: liberals trooped to the polls, while in many areas Republican turnout was not what it should have been.
* Donald Trump. I thought the Democrats’ endless yammering about “our democracy” and “fascism” was incredibly stupid, born of desperation, and would be ignored by voters. I was partly right: those themes were stupid, and they were born of desperation. But it turned out that they were not ineffective. To cite just one example, a young woman I know posted a photo of herself at the polls on Instagram, with the text, “I’m voting against fascism.”
Contrary to what you might assume, she isn’t an idiot. “Our democracy” and “fascism” were code for Donald Trump. At this point, Trump is a giant anvil around the neck of the Republican Party. In many areas, likely most, he is absolute poison. To be associated with Trump is to lose. Pretty much everything he has done in the last two years has been not just ill-advised but massively destructive to the Republican Party and to the United States. He has teased a “big announcement” in the next few days. I hope he announces that he is moving to Bulgaria.
An off-year election is normally a referendum on the president, which is why the out-party nearly always gains. When the Democrats tried to make this year’s election a referendum on Donald Trump, I thought they were crazy. Trump is not an office-holder, nor was he on the ballot. How could that possibly work? Well, it did work, and Trump, with his inimitable bad judgment, collaborated fully with the Democrats in putting himself front and center, with disastrous results.
The major exception to last night’s gloom was Florida, where Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio both won crushing victories. Why was that? At least part of the explanation is that Florida was one state where the Democrats couldn’t pretend Trump was on the ballot. Ron DeSantis was on the ballot.
* Polls. We Republicans have gotten used to the idea that polls generally underpredict Republican performance. When liberal pollsters started reporting more favorable numbers for Republicans in the days leading up the election, it looked like the usual script was being followed. But this year, if anything the polls may have understated Democratic support, not Republican. What–to cite just one instance–happened to the 26-point swing among suburban women toward the GOP, which led Steve to dub this the “Desperate Housewives Election?” They were desperate, all right–desperate to vote in favor of abortion and against Donald Trump. But how could so many polls be so wrong?
I have no idea why this happened, but I know that it wasn’t just the major public polls that were off-target. I was privy to private poll data here in Minnesota, and it showed far greater support for Republican legislative candidates than actually turned out at the polls. Why? I don’t know. I speculate that a number of Trump voters who are not consistent voters and are lightly attached to the Republican Party didn’t show up. On the other hand, liberals who thought they were voting in favor of abortion and against Donald Trump turned out massively.
Trafalgar was one pollster that had a relatively good record in recent cycles, and Robert Cahaly, who runs Trafalgar, was convinced that his poll, which tried to sample hard-to-reach conservatives, understated Republican support. That turned out to be wrong. On Saturday, I am moderating a panel on the election at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend in Phoenix. Cahaly is a member of my panel, and I will ask him what he thinks happened. The answer should be interesting.
There is much more that could be said, but I will leave it there for now.
There is no way to sugarcoat this pitiful Republican showing. What went wrong?
For much of this year I had in the back of my mind the possibility that this mid-term could be a rerun of the 1978 midterm, when Republicans also underperformed in a very favorable political climate. Between Jimmy Carter’s sagging approval, rising inflation, and the flood tide of the tax revolt in the wake of Proposition 13 in California in the spring, Republicans should have done very well. The House Republican Leader at the time, John Rhodes, predicted a “massive” Republican sweep in the election—perhaps a gain of up to 50 House seats. In fact, Rhodes said, he would be disappointed if GOP gains were only 25 to 30 seats.
Yet Republicans gained only 12 House seats and three Senate seats in 1978 (bringing them to only 159 in the House, and just 41 in the Senate). “The ineptness of this party has almost no parallel in history,” Henry Fairlie gloated in The New Republic. “The Democratic party is still without any real opposition.” Political scientist Nelson Polsby said the midterm election left Republicans no more than “halfway back to where they have to get to be even minimally competitive.” Michael Barone was more specific in his diagnosis: “There can only be one reason for the Republicans’ relatively poor showing in House races: they simply do not have enough good candidates.” But Barone predicted that this would begin to change in the 1980s, as the shadow of the Nixon years receded.
The parallels are obvious. Nixon’s shadow was long gone by 1980, but Trump’s shadow is still very much with us. In fact Trump’s late campaigning may have backfired on Republicans, and he is the biggest loser yesterday, which may not be a bad thing. Candidate quality matters after all (as it did in several winnable Senate races in 2010 that the GOP threw away). Some of the GOP losers were quite worthy, like Tiffany Smiley in Washington (though also a first-timer on the ballot). But others were clearly not, such as Dr. Oz.
The big winner yesterday is clearly Ron DeSantis, and therein lies a tale. How come DeSantis and other Florida Republicans romped to victory, while Republicans struggled most everywhere else? Maybe the fact that DeSantis has a strong record to run on, and moreover is always on the attack, helped. What was the general Republican issue message this year for the House? I know the House GOP put forward some kind of new “Contract with America,” but did you ever hear about it? It was a mistake to think you can win by just not being the other guy. Anyway, I had put the over/under line for a winning presidential run DeSantis’s margin of victory at 15 percent, and he won by 20.
But the scene isn’t entirely bleak. We remember what happened two years after that dismal 1978 midterm. And while Joe Biden has to be reckoned a big winner yesterday, it means in due course that the big loser was . . . the Democratic Party. The “Dump Joe” campaign is going to be put back in the deep freeze, and Biden is more likely to run again because of this election result. And if Biden chooses not to run again on his own because of age or some other cause, Democrats are likely stuck with Kamala, because anyone who challenges Kamala will infuriate the identity-politics base of the Democratic Party.
I can guarantee you that there are many old-line Democrats who secretly hoped Democrats would get crushed, so they could ease Biden out and clean out the crazy progressives who have hijacked the party. Instead Democrats are certain to take their relative success as evidence that there is nothing wrong with their message or their policies. Let them persist in this view. In the meantime, lots more gridlock ahead, but as Stan Evans liked to say, gridlock is the next best thing to having constitutional government.
Meanwhile, I’m putting away my surfboard.
I offer just a few comments — ranging from personal self-evaluation to national results to the local Minnesota scene — on the fiasco this time. Here are my thoughts more or less in the order they occur to me with the results of a few races still in doubt:
• I was pessimistic as usual, but I prefer to think of my pessimism as the higher realism.
• I expected the worst and hoped for the best, but I had no ken that the elections could have played out as poorly for Republicans as they have.
• I regret having served up optimistic “tea leaves” over the past week. I was deluded. I was misled most of all by the polls served up by Robert Cahaly’s Trafalgar Group. They were not reliable indicators of what was to come. I think Cahaly was in good company in his errors, but I thought his recent record distinguished him from the pack. He has reverted to the professional polling norm, if not worse. I would like to know why.
• What happened to the red wave? It was buried in an open grave. It began and ended in Florida. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a great night romping over Charlie Crist, an opponent who has distinguished himself by losing statewide races as a Republican, an independent, and a Democrat. Andrew Stiles gives him his due in the Free Beacon column “Charlie Crist Defends Historic Triple Crown Title.”
• I may be mistaken, but I don’t think Donald Trump is the cure for what ails the Republican Party.
• By far the biggest disappointment last night was John Fetterman’s victory in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Oz’s defeat was overdetermined. I thought he had an uphill battle from the outset selling himself as a Pennsylvanian. I commented at the time “I do not love thee, Dr Oz.” A friend of mine working on the Oz campaign went ballistic when I raised the point with him the week Oz won the primary, but I wasn’t completely off. Oz’s success in the Republican primary — a race he won by fewer than a thousand votes — can fairly be attributed to President Trump’s endorsement. See point 4 above.
• Fetterman is a monumental fraud whose lying extended to his purported personal physician.
• Fetterman presents himself as someone who will fight for “everyone who’s been knocked down.” He’s fighting for you and me. Woo hoo!
• Republicans didn’t win a single sleeper Senate race. They weren’t even close. Don Bolduc, Joe O’Dea, and Tiffany Smiley went down to defeat by wide margins in New Hampshire, Colorado, and Washington, respectively.
• It took the intervention of big bucks supplied by Cocaine Mitch to raise up J.D. Vance after the Ohio Republican primary. Yet President Trump chooses to aim his rhetorical guns on Cocaine Mitch. I believe Trump himself kept his financial powder dry in Ohio.
• Assuming Adam Laxalt wins his race in Nevada, Ron Johnson his in Wisconsin, and Blake Masters loses in Arizona, I think Herschel Walker would need to win a runoff with Raphael Warnock in order for Republicans to take a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Keep hope alive! I wonder what the odds are.
• Republicans may come away with a slim majority in the House. It’s not nothing, but it is far short of their own expectation and beyond the Democrats’ wildest dreams. Prospective Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave brief remarks claiming victory overnight. His remarks were most notable for their dispirited nature.
• Each of the four Republican candidates vying for constitutional offices on a statewide basis went down to defeat in Minnesota. Governor Tim Walz handily defeated Dr. Scott Jensen. Even Attorney General Keith Ellison — I rate him the man most unfit for his office in the USA — eked out a narrow win over a decent opponent in a race that has officially yet to be called. My guess is that Democrats will hold legislative majorities in both the senate (where they had a one-vote minority) and the house, although we await final results in too many races to be sure.
• Minnesota Democrats had a huge financial advantage in the election. Now they have a huge budget surplus to play with in the next legislative session. The Democrats have a functioning party and a strong metro area base. The Republicans have no party organization and a smaller rural base.
• Walz represented a slightly conservative, mostly rural area in Congress before running for governor. He has abandoned even the pretense of moderation to peddle every jot and tittle of the current left-wing manias.
• If you’ve been watching television or listening to the radio in Minnesota over the past few months, you will have heard that Republicans are too extreme for Minnesota. Minnesota Democrats convey an ardent belief in abortion that is a tad over the top given the fact that the “right” is not in issue here.
• A concluding personal note. I try to write on the elections at least as much as an analyst as a cheerleader. Despite my best efforts, I found that the easiest person to fool was me. I tried to resist wishful thinking and keep in mind Churchill’s admonition: “Facts are better than dreams.”
NOTE: I have slightly corrected this since I originally posted it with the intent of getting the arithmetic on the current balance in the Minnesota senate and the prospective balance in the United States Senate right. I got up overnight at 3:00 a.m. to write this. I was not operating on all cylinders.
Patty Griffin is a modern folk artist with a loyal following. I saw her play to a full house at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul back in 2007. Someone up in the balcony shouted out for Griffin to play “Rain” after every number. We were all praying for “Rain.” When Griffin played it for her encore, she looked up into the balcony. It is a song that suits my mood in the wake of the midterm electoral fiasco. Rather than suspend this brief song of the day series, I thought it might make sense to let Griffin have her say this morning.
As we wait for election results to begin coming in, this is a good time for a final set of predictions. Scott has said more than once that he is, by temperament, a pessimist. I balance that by being, for the most part, a hopeless optimist. You will see that reflected in my election forecast.
U.S. Senate: GOP finishes the night with 55 senators.
U.S. House: GOP picks up a net 30 seats.
I think it is a foregone conclusion that Republicans will control both the House and the Senate in January, the only question being their margin of victory.
In my home state of Minnesota, I expect Republicans to net two additional Senate seats to solidify their control of that body. The GOP will pick up between 15 and 18 House seats, easily taking control of that chamber.
The main Congressional race is in my own district, where Republican Tyler Kistner will oust incumbent Democrat Angie Craig.
In Minnesota’s constitutional races, Jim Schultz will send Attorney General Keith Ellison into retirement. Ryan Wilson will beat the Democratic incumbent for state Auditor. The Secretary of State race will be close, but most observers think the Democratic incumbent has the edge.
The great unknown is the governor race. It, too, will be close, likely razor-thin, but I am picking Republican Scott Jensen to narrowly defeat incumbent Tim Walz, if only because Walz’s record is so terrible, on so many fronts, that it is hard to imagine him being re-elected. Also, if Republicans do as well as I think they well in legislative races, it will take a remarkable amount of ticket-splitting for Walz to win.
I actually bet on Jensen a month or two ago on one of the election prediction sites, when the odds against him were 9 to 1. So if he wins, I get $1,000–a very small return compared to the immense benefit that will accrue to Minnesota from a Jensen victory.
Now, a few specific races in other states:
* Never fear, poor John Fetterman will not be going to Washington.
* Tiffany Smiley will beat Patty Murray in Washington.
* Lee Zeldin will be elected Governor of New York.
* Tudor Dixon will come agonizingly close to being elected Governor of Michigan, but will fall short.
* Kari Lake will absolutely trash Katie Hobbs in the Arizona governor race, and will bring Blake Masters across the finish line with her.
Finally, if you enjoy watching Kari Lake as much as I do, this is fun:
Kari Lake to reporter:
"I’m going to do two terms. I’m going to be your worst frickin' nightmare for eight years, and we will reform the media as well. We are going to make you guys into journalists again. So, get ready. It’s going to be a fun eight years." pic.twitter.com/ZgxVLchf7G
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 8, 2022
UPDATE: Well, that didn’t go the way I expected! What a horrible night. I will try to assess the carnage in the morning and will have more to say tomorrow. For now, just this: if there is a silver lining, it may be that we have seen the last of Donald J. Trump.
I got the Mathias Corvinus Collegium election night watch party off to a rousing start with a keynote talk about the American political landscape and the history of mid-term elections. It was standing room only—more than 200 highly motivated conservative students in the crowd—in the spacious and brightly designed Scruton Cafe that anchors the main MCC campus. Great food and drink after, but it’s getting late here and I need to turn in for the night.
In the meantime, when vote counts start happening in a few hours, I’d stick with Henry Olsen’s Twitter feed, which will be much better race-by-race source than any of the TV news channels.
But also at 9 pm eastern (6 pm Pacific), John Yoo and Lucretia will be doing a live recording of the Three Whisky Happy Hour hosted by Ricochet (since I will be asleep at that hour and can’t do it myself). You need to be a Ricochet member to tune in live and pose questions and comments to John and Lucretia. If you’re not a Ricochet member it is cheap to join (there are even free trial subscription options). I’ll post the audio here first thing tomorrow morning, but it may be overtaken by the actual vote counts.
Anyway, some scenes from the evening here:
With mid-term election day tomorrow, how about we take in the reflections of Calvin Coolidge, who was most definitely not silent (which is why the left tried to make that name stick—they didn’t want you to hear him):
While we await the first election returns later on today, here’s a look at the largest individual campaign donors for this cycle at least through the last reporting period, courtesy of Visual Capitalist. (To make sense of Soros’s $129 million donation, we’d need to see to whom Democracy Pac II passed along the money.)
Chaser: Turns out Republican big donors outweigh Soros and his pals:
We noted President Biden’s commitment in remarks this past Friday to shut down coal-fired plants in “Dark night of the coal.” KJP immediately issued a written statement asserting in relevant part: “The President’s remarks yesterday have been twisted to suggest a meaning that was not intended; he regrets it if anyone hearing these remarks took offense.”
Speaking of twisted, I want to add KJP’s remarks at yesterday’s White House press briefing (transcript here). An enterprising reporter asked a question following up on the statement: “We don’t often get a very lengthy Saturday statement from you clarifying the President’s remarks from the day prior. Can you walk through what the genesis of that was and whether or not you guys thought that, perhaps, it would be politically problematic had those statements been allowed to stand?”
KJP’s answer is a classic. It combines the deceit and stupidity in the service of a bad cause that have become hallmarks of the Biden administration.
Jean-Pierre on the White House walking back Biden's comments about shutting down coal plants: "It was loud and hard to hear, I think, or maybe not, exactly what was being said." pic.twitter.com/oRHGYWNPex
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) November 7, 2022
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has a handy if partial compilation of what I refer to above as deceit and stupidity in the service of a bad cause:
Think of the absolute assertions by the Biden administration and their media flunkies: The border is secure. Covid vaccines prevent infection. There is no CRT in high schools. The lab-leak theory and Hunter Biden’s corruption were disinformation. There is no medical debate about fast-track, affirmation-only, sex changes for minors. Inflation is caused by corporate greed. Women in college always tell the truth; and men always lie. A president can forgive student loans by fiat. Debt doesn’t matter. A woman can have a penis. The people who attack Asian-Americans are all white supremacists. The idea of individual merit is racist.
Whole thing here.
So here it is. I’m down with the prediction that the GOP will net 26-35 House seats, and at least two in the Senate. Henry Olsen, a guest last week on our podcast, is out with his final predictions at the Washington Post. For those who aren’t subscribers, here are a couple highlights of his bullish predictions:
Inflation, crime, progressive attempts at overreach and a general sense that President Biden is not up to the job will likely deliver a surprisingly large victory to Republicans. I predict the GOP will win the national popular vote by about 5.5 points, likely gaining between 31 and 40 House seats in the process. I also expect it will retake control of the Senate, gaining two to four seats.
He’s even more optimistic than I am, which is rare. In any case, Henry looks beyond this election to speculate whether we have reached a turning point, and are perhaps on the cusp of finally ending the stalemate between the two parties that has ruled the scene for roughly the last 30 years:
But the GOP’s victory could also represent a chance for the United States to finally end its political quagmire. Republicans will gain support in almost every voter demographic, but they will make especially large inroads among Hispanics and middle-income suburbanites. These voters are not yet Republicans, but they increasingly recognize they are not modern Democrats.
If the GOP plays its cards right and avoids base-pleasing partisan overreach, it could finally break our country’s stalemate. The White working class’s abandonment of Democrats in the 2010 midterms foreshadowed its movement into the GOP as Donald Trump broke Republican orthodoxy. A similar unorthodox move in 2024 could turn the tables on the Democrats, creating the foundation for a long-term Republican resurgence.
Meanwhile, a few charts to reflect on the underlying dynamics between the two parties at the present time. (I’m using these for my talk about American politics in Budapest tonight.)
Now we start to understand why college faculty political registration and campaign contributions are 95 percent Democrat.
Bob Dylan seems to have written “When the Ship Comes In” after a hotel clerk insulted him for his shabby attire. So Joan Baez told Anthony Scaduto for his influential Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography (1972). Last year the University of Minnesota Press published transcripts of Scaduto’s interviews for the bio in The Dylan Tapes: Friends, Players, and Lovers Talkin’ Early Bob Dylan (2021).
Most recently, Clinton Heylin refers to the story without attribution in The Double Life of Bob Dylan: “A Restless Hungry Feeling” (1941-1966) (2021). I first read of the incident in Janet Maslin’s smart essay on Dylan for the 1980 edition of The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (and, she adds, “he composed the song in a single evening at that”).
Anyone can have a fight with a hotel clerk. It takes a genius to generalize the feeling and turn it into a song of apocalyptic rage. It seems to me a fitting song for election day 2022. It certainly suits my attitude. Ladies and gentlemen, Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan.
Britain’s “conservative” administration led by Rishi Sunak has opened the door to paying “climate reparations” to poor countries:
Britain has opened the door to paying climate change reparations to developing countries by supporting talks on the issue at the Cop27 summit.
On Sunday, at the meeting in Egypt, UK negotiators backed a last-minute agreement to address “loss and damage” payments to countries badly affected by climate-related disasters.
Climate-related disasters have existed from the beginning of time. “Reparations” are based on the assumption that “climate change” has made such disasters worse for poor countries, which is not true. But science has no role here; we are in the realm of politics and propaganda.
The good news is that the contemplated reparations are cheap:
Rishi Sunak will appear at the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, where he will pledge £65.5 million for green technology in developing countries.
That is peanuts, of course. But I doubt that it will stop there. Once you concede a principle, you have to live with the implications of your concession.
Sadly, the Conservatives’ leadership seems to be entirely on the “green” train:
Boris Johnson will also deliver a speech warning against the “naysayers” who threaten Net Zero targets.
“Net zero” is a horrible idea that will vastly degrade the quality of life for pretty much all human beings. Politicians throw around these phrases without having any understanding of the relevant sciences, or of the implications of their commitments.
Pakistan is leading a push by developing countries including Bangladesh and the Maldives for compensation from richer countries responsible for most of the world’s pollution.
That isn’t true, actually. Pollution occurs mainly in poor areas, like socialist countries. Prosperity is the best antidote to pollution, as experience has shown. It is mostly the poorer areas of the world that pollute. For example, one of the world’s most significant environmental issues is the vast amount of plastic that flows into the oceans. Nearly all of that plastic–from memory, 90%–comes from seven rivers in Africa and Asia.
The reality is that poorer countries are polluting the Earth, to the detriment of the rest of us. It might make sense to give them some money to help clean up their pollution, but pumping dollars into “green” climate projects will do nothing to address actual pollution, and will only make the situation worse.
UPDATE: It turns out that China has emitted more CO2 in the last years than the U.K. has since the Industrial Revolution:
China has emitted more carbon dioxide over the past eight years than the UK has since the start of the Industrial Revolution, figures have shown.
Between 1750 and 2020, the UK emitted 78 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, compared with China’s emissions of 80 billion tonnes since 2013.
Of course, no one is asking for reparations from China. Can the Western powers really be dumb enough to fall for this scam? I don’t know. They might be.
No doubt you have heard the joke: what did socialists use for lighting before candles? Electricity. But it is literal fact if you live in the socialist paradise of Cuba:
The communist Castro regime in Cuba aired a new set of propaganda pieces through its media apparatus this week claiming Cuban citizens are “content” with daily power blackouts and offering tips to make the most out of the three hours of electricity that they receive per day.
Can you live on three hours of electricity a day? Sure, if you are poor enough. And of course, no one in Cuba is driving a Tesla.
As reported by the Spain-based website Diario De Cuba on Friday and the outlet Cibercuba on Thursday, the regime aired interviews of Cuban women on Tuesday through its television channel, Canal Caribe. In the interviews, Cuban women offered tips to make the most out of the roughly three hours of power that Cuban citizens are receiving per day as part of the regime’s electrical authority to share the power blackouts in an “equitable way.”
Under socialism you don’t have any electricity, but you have all the “equity” you can stand. Excuses, too. The Castro regime will give you all kinds of reasons why it isn’t their fault.
Still, we shouldn’t mock the Cubans. If we continue down the reckless path of “green” energy that works both intermittently and inadequately, we too will get to the point where we can’t keep the lights on. And we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
“[T]he depressing but undeniable fact [is] that the gravest danger to our republican government is that too many idiots vote. . .
“Such idiots, to be sure, range across the political spectrum, and are of all colors, creeds, nations of origin and, yes, political orientations. Yet in America today, only one of the dominant parties—guess which one—is actually dependent on the idiot vote for its very survival. Ignoramuses are the Democrats’ core constituency. Can’t name your congressman or a single Supreme Court justice? Have vaguely heard of Gettysburg, but can’t quite place the war? Get your idea of news from People and Us or Comedy Central? You’re a single-issue voter and the single issue is more-more-more and who-cares-how-it -gets-paid-for? The Dems not only want you to vote, they will hunt you down, fill out the registration form for you and show up on election day and drag you to the polls. And if you can’t make it, they’ll send someone else and say you did. And all the while, proudly cast themselves as defenders of democracy, because the right to vote is, you know, like sacrosanct.”
—Harry Stein, The Idiot Vote: The Democrats’ Core Constituency
And if you think Stein exaggerates, take in this example of idiocy:
I guess Clarence Thomas is white now.
It is not news that the Republicans’ share of black and Hispanic votes is rising, but the latest Wall Street Journal poll has some recent numbers:
About 17% of Black voters said they would pick a Republican candidate for Congress over a Democrat in Journal polls both in late October and in August. That is a substantially larger share than the 8% of Black voters who voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 and the 8% who backed GOP candidates in 2018 House races, as recorded by AP VoteCast, a large survey of voters who participated in those elections.
As more blacks come out as Republican voters, that percentage is sure to increase, as Democratic policies offer nothing to voters of any race whose major concerns are the cost of living and crime.
Among Latino voters, Democrats held a lead of 5 percentage points over Republicans in the choice of a congressional candidate in the Journal’s October survey, a narrower advantage than the Democrats’ 11-point lead in August.
That is a sharp drop in Democratic support in a short time, but what is really remarkable is the shift since 2018 and 2020:
Latino voters in 2020 favored President Biden over Mr. Trump by 28 percentage points and Democratic candidates in 2018 House races by 31 points, VoteCast found.
So, from 28-point and 31-point leads, down to 5. And falling. If those numbers are even remotely close, there are major areas of the country where the Democrats will struggle to win anything.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that one reason Illinois’s public sector costs so much is the high number of overpaid “civil servants,” many of whom are, as Churchill once put it, “no longer civil, and no longer servants.” These Illinois employees cost, according to the Journal, about $17 billion: “Many states offer high salaries to public employees, but Illinois state workers are the second highest-paid government workers in the country when adjusted for cost of living, according to Wirepoints. The Land of Lincoln beats California, New Jersey and New York on the metric. This is one reason Illinois voters pay the second highest property tax rates.”
Even more startling his how fast their numbers have grown:
Illinois voters, vote accordingly.
The Washington Examiner expands on the video clip below in “Biden promises ‘no more drilling’ two days before crucial midterm elections.” Who ya gonna believe, Biden then or now? I go with neither, but that is a result of my intense antipathy to the man. He says anything to anybody unmodulated by what he said yesterday. One or the other of his contradictory statements probably obtains.
On Twitter Matt Whitlock anticipates KJP’s forthcoming explication of Biden’s remarks today: “The President’s words have been twisted, he loves drilling. It’s actually the Republicans who are hurting drilling by opposing the Inflation Reduction Act, which gave a tax credit to the [lawyers of] drill companies to buy electric cars to make it to work on time.”
Biden has long insisted he's no obstacle to expanded oil drilling. "This idea they don’t have oil to drill & to bring up," he said on June 21, "is simply not true”
But just now, Biden told a crowd, "No more drilling. There is no more drilling! I haven't formed any new drilling" pic.twitter.com/3kLbXrXGco
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) November 7, 2022
On Friday NBC’s Today show reported a story bearing on the assault on Paul Pelosi. Within a few hours the network deep-sixed the story with the comment that “it did not meet NBC News reporting standards.” We posted the memory-holed story via Twitter and noted NBC’s retraction here.
How did the story fail NBC News reporting standards? They didn’t say.
The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi spoke to “people at the network.” He mocks anyone who reiterated the story despite NBC’s mysterious “retraction.” Farhi’s story ran under the headline “NBC retracts erroneous Paul Pelosi story that fueled conspiracy theories.” Subhead: “People at the network said the ‘Today’ show report was based on ‘unreliable’ information from a source who was unnamed in the story.”
Note that Farhi’s sources (assuming they are plural as he says) remain unnamed in his story:
NBC News reporter Miguel Almaguer had what seemed like a scoop on Friday about an intruder’s attack last week on Paul Pelosi. The curious new details he presented on the “Today” show quickly went viral on right-wing sites and social media accounts.
One problem: Much of Almaguer’s account was inaccurate, based on flawed information provided by a source who was unnamed in the report, according to people at the network. Those people said Almaguer was incorrect when he reported that the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave police no indication he was in danger when he answered the door. In fact, San Francisco police have said that Pelosi was struggling with the intruder, David DePape, when they first saw him.
But before NBC News’s hasty removal of the video from its website — accompanied by a vague note that the story “did not meet NBC News reporting standards” — it spawned a sinister new narrative.
Farhi does not even provide a reason for leaving sources (“people at the network”) unnamed. Because of the sensitivity of the matter? Because they were not authorized to address it? Because they didn’t want to embarrass a colleague? Because they have to protect their phony baloney jobs? Because of national security considerations? (Just kidding.)
Yesterday I started posting a song a day in the vein of modern folk while Steve Hayward is over in Europe. Let us take a detour to check in with one of the British groups that was inspired by Bob Dylan and the Byrds to explore their folk tradition.
Fairport Convention has existed in one iteration or another since 1967. Liege and Lief (1969) was their fourth album. The Liege and Lief edition of the band included both guitarist/singer/songwriter Richard Thompson and vocalist Sandy Denny.
Denny was an incredibly talented and troubled artist who died at the age of 31. “Come All Ye” is credited to Denny and Fairport bassist Ashley Hutchings. It is a rousing song of great beauty (lyrics here). It makes an invitation that is hard to decline.
Roll the tape back to early March of 2020, when the Democratic establishment closed ranks around Joe Biden after he had performed miserably in all of the early primaries. They managed to put Biden over the top in the South Carolina primary, and conveniently persuaded several competitors in the field to drop out and endorse him. The motive for this was transparent: it appeared that Bernie Sanders might run away with the Democratic nomination, and Bernie was a sure loser to Trump, COVID or no COVID.
And good ol’ Joe, he was as familiar as an old shoe, and above all a moderate, who promised to be less divisive than the Bad Orange Man.
But what we got was the Bernie Sanders Administration after all. Biden handed over policy wholly to the progressives who are hollowing out the Democratic Party. If Biden was merely the senile doddering fool so evident every time he opens his mouth it would be one thing, but he insists on rank demagoguery as often as possible.
At this point what social scientists call “pattern recognition”—an updated version of Occam’s Razor—is kicking in. We’ve now had three Democratic presidents in a row— stretching back to Clinton in 1992, then Obama in 2008, and Biden in 2020—who all campaigned as moderates, but lurched sharply left once in office. In other words, Democratic presidential candidates lie to us, over and over again, and then voters issue a restraining order at the first opportunity. It’s as though voters need reminding every other decade how bad Democrats in power can be. “Swing voters,” wise up.
Here’s how the Democrat-leaning Andrew Sullivan describes the scene in his latest Substack entry:
I hoped in 2020 that after a clear but modest win, with simultaneous gains for the GOP in the House and a fluke tie in the Senate, Biden would grasp a chance to capture the sane middle, isolating the far right. After the horror of January 6, the opportunity beckoned ever more directly.
And yet Biden instantly threw it away. In return for centrists’ and moderates’ support, Biden effectively told us to get lost. He championed the entire far-left agenda: the biggest expansion in government since LBJ; a massive stimulus that, in a period of supply constraints, fueled durable inflation; a second welfare stimulus was also planned — which would have made inflation even worse; record rates of mass migration, and no end in sight; a policy of almost no legal restrictions on abortion (with public funding as well!); the replacement of biological sex with postmodern “genders”; the imposition of critical race theory in high schools and critical queer theory in kindergarten; an attack on welfare reform; “equity” hiring across the federal government; plans to regulate media “disinformation”; fast-track sex-changes for minors; next-to-no due process in college sex-harassment proceedings; and on and on it went. Even the policy most popular with the center — the infrastructure bill — was instantly conditioned on an attempt to massively expand the welfare state. What on earth in this agenda was there for anyone in the center?
There’s also this nice little bit:
David Brooks wrote this morning:
Over the past few years, the Democrats have made heroic efforts to win back working-class voters and white as well as Black and Hispanic voters who have drifted rightward.
What planet is he living on?
One other stray tidbit. Colin Cowherd is a very popular sports analyst on YouTube, but on politics he says he leans to the left. Nonetheless he tweets this out, congruent with my “desperate housewives election” theme:
On Friday, Republican House Judiciary Committee staff released a report titled “FBI WHISTLEBLOWERS: WHAT THEIR DISCLOSURES INDICATE ABOUT THE POLITICIZATION OF THE FBI AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.”
The report is 50 pages long, but it also includes an appendix of approximately 1,000 pages consisting of letters Judiciary Committee members have written to DOJ and the FBI, requesting information that, I take it, has rarely if ever been forthcoming. The report’s contents will not be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. Its executive summary lays out these points:
• The FBI is artificially inflating statistics about domestic violent extremism in the nation. Whistleblowers have described how FBI leadership is pressuring line agents to reclassify cases as domestic violent extremism even if the matter does not meet the criteria. They also explained how the FBI is misrepresenting the scale of domestic violent extremism nationwide by categorizing January 6th-related investigations as organic cases stemming from local field offices, instead of all related to one single incident. In both ways, the FBI is fueling the Biden Administration’s narrative that domestic violent extremism is the biggest threat to our nation.
• The FBI is abusing its counterterrorism authorities to investigate parents who spoke at school board meetings. Whistleblowers disclosed how, shortly after the National School Boards Association urged President Biden to use the Patriot Act against American parents, the FBI Counterterrorism Division set up a special “threat tag” to track school board-related cases. Whistleblowers provided evidence of how the FBI opened investigations into one mom for allegedly telling a local school board “we are coming for you” and a dad simply because he “rails against the government” and “has a lot of guns.”
• The FBI has abused its foreign intelligence authorities to spy on American citizens, including people associated with the campaign of President Trump in 2016. These facts have been documented in Inspector General reports and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions, but there is little indication the FBI has changed—or is willing to change—course.
• The FBI is clearing the Bureau of employees who dissent from its woke, leftist agenda. The FBI is actively seeking to “purge” FBI employees holding conservative views—or, in President Biden’s view, those who are a “threat to American democracy”1— because they hold conservative views. The FBI has even taken retaliatory actions against at least one whistleblower who has spoken out.
• Whistleblowers have explained how the FBI’s “political meddling” “is dragging the criminal side [of the Bureau] down” as resources are “pulled away” from real law- enforcement duties. As a prime example, one whistleblower described how he was “told that child sexual abuse material investigations were no longer an FBI priority and should be referred to local law enforcement agencies” so that he could work a Washington-directed politically charged case instead. Such a mis-prioritization is not only a dereliction of duty, but it is a grave disservice to the victims of crimes that do not advance the FBI’s political agenda.
The FBI’s role in the Russia collusion hoax is, by itself, ground for radical reform of the Bureau. The recent revelation that the FBI offered Christopher Steele a $1 million bribe if he could come up with dirt on Donald Trump is the icing on the cake. A government agency this corrupt cannot be allowed to exist in anything like its present form.
I assume that we need a federal investigative agency of some kind. I don’t know what the legitimate contours of such an agency would be. But when Republicans take control of the House and the Senate in January, reform of the FBI, and the Department of Justice, should be high on their agenda.
Hard on the heels of Elon Musk’s laying off half the staff of Twitter comes news of layoffs at Meta (Facebook):
The layoffs are expected to affect many thousands of employees and an announcement is planned to come as soon as Wednesday, according to the people. Meta reported more than 87,000 employees at the end of September. Company officials already told employees to cancel nonessential travel beginning this week, the people said.
The planned layoffs would be the first broad head-count reductions to occur in the company’s 18-year history. While smaller on a percentage basis than the cuts at Twitter Inc. this past week, which hit about half of that company’s staff, the number of Meta employees expected to lose their jobs could be the largest to date at a major technology corporation in a year that has seen a tech-industry retrenchment.
Meta’s stock has fallen more than 70% this year.
In recent years, vastly too much wealth has been concentrated in companies whose contributions are, frankly, trivial. When we add the commitment of nearly all the tech companies to leftist politics, we can only be glad to see them struggling. The best case scenario would be for billions in investment dollars to flow out of companies like Meta and into oil and gas companies.
Yes indeed I am presently en route to Europe for a number of meetings in several different undisclosed locations to plot and scheme against the left, though my podcast co-conspirators John Yoo and Lucretia and I will surface briefly for a podcast recorded on location in Milan early next week.
I do have one public event, however. I know Power Line has a handful of readers in Budapest, because one or two of you turned up for my Danube Institute lecture in July of last year. This Tuesday evening, November 8, I’ll be giving the keynote address about the American electoral scene at an evening program of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium, starting at 6:15 pm. It will held at one of the MCC Cafe Scruton locations at Tas Vezér utca 3-7, Budapest 1113, and is open to the public.
My opening remarks will be followed by two panels, and then casual conversation into the late evening local time, even though the vote in the U.S. will only be a little more than halfway done at that point:
18.30 – 19.15 1. Panel: Turnaround in the Senate?
How would the US political situation change if there were a turnaround in the Senate? What happens if it does not?
Moderator: Zoltán Koskovics (Center for Fundamental Rights, Geopolitical Expert)
19.15 – 19. 30 Live Zoom call from the USA
19.30 – 20.30 2. Panel: International Influence on the Midterms
What international events had a decisive influence on the United States?
Moderator: Imre Andrikó (MCC, student)
20.30 – 23.00 Informal discussion, refreshments
Do please come if you’re in the neighborhood.
President Biden said Friday during a speech in California on the CHIPS Act that coal plants cost too much money and that his administration will “be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar.”
Biden said he recently visited “the site of the largest old coal plant in America” in Massachusetts, which cost “too much money.”
“No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it, even if they have all the coal guaranteed for the rest of their existence of the plant. So it’s going to become a wind generation,” Biden said.
Joe Manchin has revealed himself as the kind of fool who would take Wimpy up on his offer to be paid on Tuesday for a hamburger today. He’s simpy. Senator Manchin called out Biden for saying out loud again what Biden has said many times before. Where was Manchin?
KJP has now “clarified” Biden’s statement. According to KJP, Biden didn’t mean anything by it, which is great to hear. Manchin didn’t mean anything by his shocked (a la Casablanca‘s Captain Renault) condemnation either.
Via Herb Scribner/Axios (with quotes and links).
Brain-damaged Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate brought in the big guns, if I may use that term, to whip up turnout in their strongholds yesterday. When I say Fetterman is brain-damaged, that is a statement of fact. When I say “big guns,” that is a metaphor. The flags behind Fetterman fell as he introduced his biggest gun. Some choose to see the perfect timing of the flags falling as a metaphor. You be the judge.
Right when Fetterman introduces Obama as a "sedition free" president, all the American flags fall over. You can't even make this stuff up. pic.twitter.com/4p9lRpHXQq
— Alex Rosen (@iFightForKids) November 5, 2022
See if you can follow Fetterman’s train of thought in the clip below.
Does any candidate have as broad an appeal as @JohnFetterman? If you're in favor of abortion, he runs on Roe v Wade. If you're against abortion, he celebrates the demise of Roe v Wade. There's something for everybody. pic.twitter.com/VJvEye8fsG
— jimtreacher.substack.com (@jtLOL) November 6, 2022
Forgive me for reiterating my five lines of doggerel for Fetterman:
A candidate named John Fetterman
Told us he was better, man.
So said his doctor’s letter, man.
Can he even knit a sweater, man?
He looks like a bedwetter, man.
I stand by my observations.
I’ve been serving up tea leaves in advance of the midterm elections this week. I am not an optimist by nature, prepared to be disappointed, do not believe in predictions, and hope only to be a fair broker of the most reliable polls and information I can find. I take my motto from George Eliot’s narrator in Middlemarch: “Among all forms of mistake, prophecy is the most gratuitous.” However, I can predict with some certainty that I will shut this series down no later than tomorrow.
In his New York Post column today Michael Goodwin foresees a red wave washing up the shores of New York. He draws on communications from friends and acquaintances, although he hedges his bet a little. In her Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column today Salena Zito finds Dr. Oz connecting with Pennsylvania voters. I can only say let it be.
Below we have a glimpse of early votes cast in Nevada. This is a bona fide tea leaf. I read to be consistent with hope and change, to borrow the mind-numbing slogan. This tea leaf can be read to foretell the defeat of incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and the election of Republican former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
NEVADA EARLY VOTING COMPARISON
Democrats: 38.3% (D+198 votes)
Democrats: 40.4% (D+45,461)
Net Swing: +45,263 towards the GOP from 2020. That's +11,667 votes MORE than Biden's NV 2020 margin
Data from @WinWithJMC
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) November 6, 2022
I think Steve Hayward is off to Europe. He says it’s for work, not play, and he’ll be contributing as he can along his way. In the meantime, he has scheduled a number of posts to be published over the next week.
Steve’s departure made me think it might make sense to post a song of the day while he is in Europe. When he was off to Scotland on vacation I took up the Minnesota music scene as my theme. This time around I thought I might try modern American and British folks artists.
I was a fervent fan of KFAI’s Sunday morning Urban Folk show hosted on alternate weeks by the late Bob Feldman and the living Marian Moore. Bob ran Red House Records. Marian is a woman of many parts who produced Women Who Cook concerts and, when Bob Feldman died, a musical tribute to him at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Bob Dylan was of course the tutelary spirit of the show. I learned a lot listening to Urban Folk over the years.
I ran into Bob Feldman occasionally around town. He struck me as a sweet man. You could really hear it when he co-hosted the show with his then young son Ari, but I heard it whenever I spoke with him as well. I looked up to him as someone who had managed to merge his vocation with his avocation. He loved the music. I am thinking about him as I write this morning.
On one occasion when I was between jobs in 1997 I ran into Bob as he was hosting the folk artist Lucy Kaplansky for lunch in St. Paul. As we entered the restaurant I greeted Bob and let Lucy know I was a fan. I think she was in town performing, but the occasion for lunch must have been the release of Lucy’s Flesh and Bone on Red House. I ran over to Hungry Mind Bookstore next door to buy a copy and asked her to autograph it for me. Pulling the CD down from the shelf this morning, I recall that I apologized to her for inserting myself into her lunch with Bob. She signed it: “To Scott — You’re welcome to interrupt my lunch any time.”
Lucy’s cover of “Return of the Grievous Angel” is my favorite track on Flesh and Bone, but it is not available on YouTube. Lucy’s “Ten Year Night” is the title track off a subsequent CD on Red House. The song is a passionate tribute to her husband. I thought it might start a few engines running this morning.
I hosted the Dennis Prager radio show yesterday. It was a fun three hours, with a great guest lineup. The conversation focused mostly on the upcoming election, with Senator Tom Cotton, Dr. Scott Jensen, candidate for Governor of Minnesota, radio hosts Howie Carr and Seth Leibsohn, and Steve Hayward, all focused mostly on the election. I spent the last hour with reporter Liz Collin of Alpha News, talking about her new book on the George Floyd fiasco, which impacted her personally.
Like all the radio shows, Dennis Prager has gone video. So if you go here, you can watch me in the studio as well as listen to the program. For what that is worth. To be fair, Liz Collin was an in-studio guest, and no doubt improved the visuals.
The show got off to a slightly rugged start, as–due to a technical glitch–we didn’t get Senator Cotton on the air until well into the first segment, and then his phone dropped early in the second segment. Hey–that is live radio! If you watch the video, you can see me tap dancing while listening to producers in my ear and trying to figure out what to do next. From then on, though, everything went smoothly.
And the show was really good. All of the guests were terrific, and if you stay with it, you will learn things about the George Floyd case that you probably didn’t know.
Go here to watch.
Polls are looking grim for the Democrats, but here is an indication that the reality will be even grimmer:
Two-thirds of independent voters believe friends and family are afraid to say who they will actually vote for in the midterm elections, a Convention of States Action/Trafalgar Group survey released exclusively to Breitbart News on Thursday revealed.
The survey found two-thirds of independents, 66.3 percent, expressing the belief that their friends and family members are “afraid to express their views about who they will vote for in the 2022 midterm elections.” The majority of Republican voters, 51.4 percent, said the same.
No one is afraid to tell pollsters and others that they intend to vote for Democrats, so this suggests that the independent turnout will be even more pro-GOP than the polls now indicate. I have been saying for a while that this year’s elections will be a GOP tsunami, and at this point pretty much all signs point in that direction.
RCP’s rankings place Emerson College 6th out of 23 multi-state pollsters in accuracy over the past three election cycles. (The rankings are the work of RCP’s Polling Accountability Project.) Emerson trails Trafalgar, which comes in 5th on RCP’s rankings. I have relied on Trafalgar’s work in reading the tea leaves based on what I believe to be an impressive record.
In any event, below is a summary of Emerson’s final polling in four marquee Senate races. Emerson has more here (Arizona), here (Pennsylvania), here (Nevada), and here (Wisconsin). Not all of the results are outside the margin of error or of cheating, but they appear to be trending in favor of Republicans.
FINAL POLLING By Emerson College
(R) Blake Masters 48.1%
(D) Mark Kelly 47.7%
(R) Mehmet Oz 48%
(D) John Fetterman 47%
(R) Adam Laxalt 51%
(D) Catherine Cortez Masto 46%
(R) Ron Johnson 51%
(D) Mandela Barnes 46%https://t.co/8iuF9vmj0M
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) November 4, 2022
The New Hampshire Senate race has not been advertised as one of this year’s marquee races. Incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan is nevertheless in a close contest with retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc. The new Daily Wire/Trafalgar poll of the race ran from 10/30-11/1 and included 1242 likely voters. This Trafalgar poll follows on the St. Anselm College Survey Center Poll that I took a look at here earlier this week. Trafalgar has posted the results of its New Hampshire poll here. The Daily Wire reports on the results here.
Trafalgar’s results show Bolduc leading within the poll’s 2.9 percent margin of error. According to Trafalgar, Bolduc stands at 47 percent and Hassan at 45.7 percent. With Hassan that far under 50 percent, Bolduc might be in position to win this race. However, the libertarian candidate complicates the picture. Trafalgar puts him at 4 percent. Only 3.2 percent of respondents were undecided. The Daily Wire story quotes Trafalgar’s Robert Cahaly: “[T]he undecideds are still very anti-Biden.”
Just to round out the picture, however, Emerson’s final survey of the race (10/30-11/1) suggests otherwise: “The final Emerson College Polling survey finds 49% of voters support Senator Maggie Hassan for re-election while 45% support Republican Donald Bolduc. Three percent are undecided. With undecided voters’ support accounted for, Hassan and Bolduc gained one point each, to 50% and 46%.”
— Robert C. Cahaly (@RobertCahaly) November 3, 2022
With John Yoo in the host chair this week, the Three Whisky Happy Hour bartenders are feeling very happy indeed, and enjoy some four-finger pours of mostly American whisky ahead of Tuesday’s midterm election, which Lucretia and I think is going to be a wave of tsunami proportions. In addition to reviewing the still-volatile findings of the latest polls, we offer ranges of GOP pickups in the House and Senate (you’ll just have to listen to mark them down for post-election grading), we call some specific races, highlight a couple of sleeper races, and prepare the ground for next week’s episode, which will be roughly on the topic, “Just what are you going to do with the Holy Grail now that you’ve got it?”
We do invite reader feedback in the comments on two things: give us your own predictions for GOP gains in the House and Senate, and we’ll salute the most accurate predictions in our next episode; second, let us know if you’re up for a special election-night edition of the podcast, which we might try to do live on Zoom depending on various factors (especially my state of consciousness, as I will be overseas in Eastern Europe on election night).
Now, it is not true that the “Apolitical Blues” are “the best blues of all,” but we’ll go with that Little Feat classic again as topical exit music for this episode. And if the election goes as we think, exit music for the next episode will indeed be “Surfin’ USA.”
Listen here, or send a mule over to the podcast dropbox at Ricochet.
Our friend Tom Klingenstein is chairman of the Claremont Institute and author of the Minding the Campus column “Ban pornography in Maine schools.” I believe Tom has had a hand in the creation of the companion video posted here that is to air on Maine television tomorrow.
A commenter on Tom’s MTC column sounds an alarm for parents with kids in public schools around the United States:
These books likely are in every school library in the country. In Virginia where I live, the school board, school administrators, and school librarians have pointed to the American Library Association to defend their book selection policies.
Many think that the ALA is a neutral organization that uses clear standards of literary merit to select the books that receive awards and that they recommend to readers. But a deeper dive will show that this is not true.
The ALA claims 54,000 members. This year less than 10% of the membership elected a “Marxist lesbian” as its president. The vote was 5410 for her and well over 4622 for her opposition. It is clear that a radical minority has co-opted the ALA much as other institutions have been co-opted. Is it any wonder then that an ALA president who advocates the “queering” of school libraries would support, with her radical allies, the adoption of library materials that advocate for materials that could not be shown in a movie theater to anyone under 18.
I obtained an MLS in 1972 and have many years of experience as a librarian.
Steve Hayward linked to Tom’s column in “What are the pollsters missing?” Maine voters can let their voices be heard on Tuesday. As Steve noted, former Maine Governor Paul LePage “is making the radical and often shockingly graphic gender-denying books in school libraries and curricula a central issue in his comeback race against Mills. Mills is trying to affect a pose of neutrality on the issue, but voters by now know which party supports this kind of radical propaganda as well as the destructive COVID school shutdowns.”
NBC News anchor Miguel Almaguer reported that Paul Pelosi reacted in an unusual way to the arrival of police officers after calling 911 in the incident that President Biden led his closing argument with this week. A few hours after the story aired yesterday morning on Today, however, NBC deep-sixed it with this editor’s statement: “The piece should not have aired because it did not meet NBC News reporting standards.” NRO’s Ari Blaff adds this: “NBC did not respond when asked why the segment was retracted.”
Thanks to New Twitter, the story remains available. Is there any doubt that Old Twitter would have killed it? In any event, NewBuster’s Curtis Houck is one of several who have taken advantage of the Musk Dispensation (below).
Here's the Paul Pelosi report from NBC's 'Today' show that's been scrubbed from their Twitter & site.
In it, Miguel Almaguer alleged police didn't know what was happening upon arrived & Paul didn't "declare an emergency," instead walked toward the suspect, away from police (1/2) pic.twitter.com/nWUyZdn75x
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) November 4, 2022
What’s going on here? I think NBC News owes the public an explanation of how the story failed its standards.
As matters stand now, this incident reminds me of the classic scene in Dr. Strangelove in which Colonel “Bat” Guano shoots up a Coke machine at the behest of Group Captain Lionel Mandrake to get change for a long-distance call to the president. If events don’t pan out as alleged, Guano warns Mandrake, “You’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.” In this case some executive at NBC warned someone at NBC News, “You’re gonna have to answer to the President of the United States.”
This weekend arrives amidst several countdowns: a countdown to midterm election day; a countdown to Twitter layoffs; a countdown to John Fetterwoman coming out against late-term fracking; a countdown to ending Daylight Saving Time—another product of progressive social engineering, remember. On the other hand, this is every conservative’s favorite weekend of the year: we literally get to set the clock back! And this year, do it again 48 hours later in the election booth (or at least to listen to the left’s telling of it). Where’s my longboard big wave surfboard wax?
I hesitate to propose a caption contest for this:
Headlines of the week:
And finally. . . the West Virginia University women’s rifle team:
The GOP is on the brink, I think, of an epic sweep of the 2022 midterm elections. I expect both the House and the Senate to be in Republican hands in January. So, is there a fly in the ointment? There is indeed: Donald Trump is preparing to announce for the 2024 presidential nomination:
Former President Donald Trump plans to formally announce his long-teased third run for the White House later this month, two sources told The Post Friday.
One source added that Nov. 14, the Monday after the midterm elections, is the likely date the 45th president will launch his bid. Another source said an announcement would come sometime this month, but they had not heard of a specific date being set.
The potential announcement date, six days after Republicans are expected to post big gains in the House and Senate, was first reported by Axios, which cited three sources familiar with the “sensitive discussions.”
We have been expecting this, of course. At every stage, Trump has acted like someone about to jump into the 2024 presidential race. Still, while it may not be surprising, this news–if it is news–should be distressing to conservatives, and can only gladden the hearts of liberals.
I have often said that Trump was a very good president–our best, rather easily, since Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, though, that isn’t the end of the story. He has both said and, less often, done, a lot of stupid things. He now carries this legacy of mistakes behind him like a ball and chain. Of course the Democrats’ attacks on Trump are mostly unfair when they are not fabricated. But there is a reason why half of America’s voters won’t even consider voting for Trump in 2024. I think it is safe to say that no successful candidate has ever begun with that sort of handicap.
The Democrats are lying in wait, hoping Republicans are dumb enough to nominate Trump. They are even planning a special counsel to investigate Trump full-time if he runs in 2024:
The Justice Department is reportedly discussing the possibility of appointing a special counsel to oversee active federal investigations related to former President Donald Trump if he decides to launch a 2024 campaign.
Trump is being probed by the DOJ over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and for his alleged mishandling of top secret documents stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate. …
These investigations are mostly rubbish. Yet, unfortunately, Trump did make serious mistakes both in connection with the January 6 demonstration, for which I criticized him at the time, and with regard to his sloppy handling of classified files post-presidency, which may technically have risen to the level of a crime.
DOJ officials are debating whether appointing a special counsel would protect the Justice Department from claims that the Biden administration is going after his top political rival, sources told CNN.
Just what we need! A presidential candidate who begins the race dogged by a special counsel and in serious danger of being indicted by political opponents. I mostly sympathize with Trump regarding the Democrats’ insane attacks against him, but the stakes are too high for Republicans not to be rational. We have a number of terrific candidates who do not suffer from Trump’s disabilities, and are at least as conservative as he is.
Beyond Trump’s fatal flaws, basic considerations apply. Voters want to look forward, not back. This is why political parties don’t nominate the guy who lost last time. It didn’t work for Adlai Stevenson–although, in that case, the Democrats at least had the excuse that their candidate was a sacrificial lamb–and it won’t work for Donald Trump. And no one wants another 80+ year old president. The presidency is a hard job, and requires a great deal of vigor.
The pathetic Joe Biden has reminded everyone of the peril of a mentally failing president. But if Donald Trump were to be elected in 2024, he would be older at the beginning of his term than Joe Biden was at the beginning of his. Does anyone seriously think the American people will vote for another geriatric administration? Joe Biden will not, of course, be the Democrats’ nominee. They will go with someone much younger, as they did with Bill Clinton in 1992.
The conservative movement likely will take a major step forward with this year’s elections. We ought to be able to extend our gains in 2024. We have several excellent presidential candidates, while the Democrats have none. There is only one way we can throw away our advantage: by nominating an elderly man who is already discredited in the eyes of at least half of American voters, and who through his own blunders has laid himself open to endless legal investigation and harassment. I think that nearly any Republican can win the presidency in 2024, with one exception. I think Donald Trump would lose.
Let’s not be stupid.
Elon Musk is said to be laying off half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees. This doesn’t come as a surprise: Twitter’s head count seems absurdly high, and expenses will need to be cut to have any hope of generating a profit commensurate with Musk’s purchase price.
But Elon says there is more to it than that. He says Twitter’s revenue has dropped dramatically because leftists have pressured companies not to advertise on the platform:
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
That liberal activists are trying to destroy free speech is not in doubt. But this is an extreme case: liberals, not content with controlling virtually the entire press and all other major social media and tech platforms, are trying to destroy the lone possible dissenter by pressuring others to withdraw advertising support. I don’t think our history offers even a remote parallel.
The advertisers say their concern is brand preservation. They don’t want to be associated with a platform where there is a lot of inappropriate content. This guy makes the point:
Elon, Great chat yesterday, As you heard overwhelmingly from senior advertisers on the call, the issue concerning us all is content moderation and its impact on BRAND SAFETY/SUITABILITY. You say you’re committed to moderation, but you just laid off 75% of the moderation team!
— Lou Paskalis (@LouPas) November 4, 2022
The problem with this facially-neutral explanation is that Twitter has always been a cesspool. Advertisers apparently had no problem with tens of thousands of #RapeMelania tweets, or severed heads of Donald Trump, or active Twitter accounts run by terrorists, or, as Musk has complained, countless bot accounts, Russian and otherwise. But the old Twitter cesspool, being on the Left, was apparently not a threat to “brand safety.”
Musk has tried to appease advertisers by telling them nothing will change with regard to moderation, with the implicit exception that Twitter won’t continue to shut down conservatives. But that doesn’t seem to be good enough for advertisers like General Motors, L’Oreal, Volkswagen, Pfizer, Audi and General Mills, all of whom have publicly declared that they will no longer advertise on Twitter, even though nothing in particular has happened in the few days since Musk took over the company. And who knows how many other companies have quietly made the same move.
What to conclude? Hostility toward free speech, especially free speech that leans conservative or is not on board with social fads of the moment, is widespread. Sadly, it doesn’t take much pressure from far-left activists to induce major corporations to swear fealty to Leftism uber alles. In fact, I am not sure it takes any pressure at all.
I’ve never been a fan of the late philosopher Richard Rorty, whose so-called “neo-pragmatism” seemed mostly an attempt to dress up or disguise his essential nihilism. But in some respects he resembles the other late left-leaning defector from current leftist orthodoxy, Christopher Lasch. Here’s Rorty from Achieving Our Country, which, though published in the 1990s, describes our current intellectual moment perfectly:
The cultural left is haunted by ubiquitous specters, the most frightening of which is called ‘power.’ This is the name of what Edmundson calls Foucault’s ‘haunting agency, which is everywhere and nowhere, as evanescent and insistent as a resourceful spook. In its Foucauldian usage, the term ‘power’ denotes an agency which has left an indelible stain on every word in our language and on every institution in our society. . .
The ubiquity of Foucauldian power is reminiscent of the ubiquity of Satan, and this of the ubiquity of original sin—the diabolical stain on every human soul. . . I now wish to say that, in committing itself to what it calls ‘theory,’ this Left has gotten something which is entirely too much like religion.
About those “democratic norms” and the “threats to democracy” that Joe Biden and other braying dogs of the left are saying come from “ultra-MAGA Republicans,” perhaps this is another case of projection? As this survey data from the Polarization Research Lab shows, it is Democrats who are more prone to having norm-breaking attitudes, especially when it comes to exercising executive power. And also this, as Polarization Research Lab puts it: “Surprisingly, about 8% of Democrats want to reduce voting options for Republicans.” Not surprising at all.
. . . but it rhymes, goes the apocryphal saying of Mark Twain. This came to mind when seeing David Brooks’s unintentionally hilarious column in the New York Times yesterday:
Sort of reminds me of Hillary in 2016, asking: “How come I’m not 50 points ahead [of Donald Trump]?”
Indeed, the angst of liberals about how they are unfairly going to get creamed on Tuesday also brought back to mind a classic SNL skit from 1988 in which “Michael Dukakis” says, of George H.W. Bush, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.” The reminder of Willie Horton should put into focus that current Democratic Party policy is putting hundreds of Willie Hortons back on the street: