“Is History History?” is the title of an essay out yesterday from the current president of the American Historical Association (AHA), James H. Sweet, who is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Before turning to the essay, let us stipulate starting out that academic history has almost fully surrendered to the worst excesses of leftism and identity politics, and the result is that the number of students majoring in history is plummeting. And the AHA is an abyss of political correctness. (For my sins I am an adjunct member of the AHA, piggy-backing on my misbegotten membership in the American Political Science Association.)
I have written at length about the problem with history elsewhere, taking as just one symptom that most biographies of major historical figures today that become best sellers are written by journalists and non-academic historians, and wondering why academic historians eschew writing old-fashioned biography any more.
Prof. Sweet appears to be a conventional academic liberal, though not perhaps a deep leftist. His major field of interest is African history, and in particular the slave trade. And yet in his AHA essay, he dissents, however gently and respectfully, from the near-universal hosannahs for The 1619 Project:
Whether or not historians believe that there is anything new in the New York Times project created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The 1619 Project is a best-selling book that sits at the center of current controversies over how to teach American history. As journalism, the project is powerful and effective, but is it history? . . .
Yet as a historian of Africa and the African diaspora, I am troubled by the historical erasures and narrow politics that these narratives convey. . . If history is only those stories from the past that confirm current political positions, all manner of political hacks can claim historical expertise. . .
The present has been creeping up on our discipline for a long time. Doing history with integrity requires us to interpret elements of the past not through the optics of the present but within the worlds of our historical actors. Historical questions often emanate out of present concerns, but the past interrupts, challenges, and contradicts the present in unpredictable ways. History is not a heuristic tool for the articulation of an ideal imagined future. Rather, it is a way to study the messy, uneven process of change over time. When we foreshorten or shape history to justify rather than inform contemporary political positions, we not only undermine the discipline but threaten its very integrity.
The whole essay is very much worth reading, despite his genuflections to the left that he makes throughout, no doubt intended as a measure of self protection. It didn’t work. You can imagine how this mild bit of heresy is going down on Twitter. The mob has been summoned to pick up their pitchforks, and send denunciations for printing this “appalling” article to the council of the AHA.
Periodically I hear from parents who says they have a child interested in studying history, and can I recommend a college with a good department. After Hillsdale and one or two other places, the answer is: No, there are none. Don’t do it. Academic history is now worse than a waste of time nearly everywhere.
Cue Prof. Sweet’s apology tour (and perhaps the removal of the article) in three, two. . .
I have been exercised about assassination plots and other efforts undertaken by the Iranian regime to commit murder on American soil. The Biden administration is now poised to grant Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi a visa to attend United Nations ceremonies next month even as the regime plots to kill former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Advisor. Only last week the Biden Department of Justice unsealed the indictment of an IRGC operative seeking to engineer their assassination.
Secretary Pompeo doesn’t seem to take it as personally as I would, but he is calling on the Biden administration to deny Raisi a visa, citing Tehran’s active plots to assassinate him and other Americans officials. Pompeo told the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo: “We worked for four years to deny Iranian terrorists the freedom to put Americans at risk. This administration is allowing them to come to New York City while actively engaged in efforts to kill Americans on U.S. soil. The Iranians just recently sponsored an attack that was almost successful in killing an American in that very city. We can do better.”
That seems to me the least that can be said, but it is worth saying and worth noting. Whole thing here.
Quotable quote: “The State Department would not respond to additional questions from the Free Beacon about the assassination plots and precautions it may be taking with regards to the Iranian diplomatic delegation.”
In the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (revised 1980 edition), Janet Maslin wrote the chapter on Bob Dylan. She included the photo of the folkie Dylan posing with a cigarette dangling from his lips and a guitar in his lap. Maslin supplied the caption: “The conscience of a generation, trying to smoke and sing simultaneously.” (The photo is accessible here.)
Liz Cheney followed in Dylan’s footsteps with her speech at Mead Ranch near Jackson on Tuesday evening following her crushing defeat in the Wyoming Republican primary. Photo captions might have read: “The conscience of her party, trying to chisel her face into Mount Rushmore and speak simultaneously.”
Newsweek has posted the text of Cheney’s remarks here. She suffers from a toxic overdose of her own virtue. She sought to dignify her humiliating loss by invoking Abraham Lincoln, likening her mission to his and throwing in Grant for good measure:
The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all. Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our Union and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history. Speaking at Gettysburg of the great task remaining before us, Lincoln said, “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and a government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.”
And so on, ad nauseam.
Lincoln first ran for the state legislature in 1832 at age 23. He lost the race while receiving an enormous vote of confidence from his fellow citizens in the frontier town of New Salem. Lincoln won 277 of 300 votes in New Salem — 92 percent of the votes cast.
It was the only direct election that Lincoln ever lost. Lincoln proceeded to win every succeeding election (eight in all, including two for president) in which he stood for office before the public. The only races he lost (closely) were those for the Senate in 1854 and 1858, in which he necessarily sought election by the state legislature.
In 1846 Lincoln was elected to Congress. Although Lincoln wanted to run for reelection, he declined. He felt bound to honor an informal agreement among the Whigs in his district to serve only one term and he therefore stood down. Cheney asserted that Lincoln lost an election to the House. I think she got that wrong.
Lincoln’s 1832 announcement of his candidacy is somewhat famous. In the concluding paragraph he wrote: “I am young and unknown to many of you. I was born and have ever remained in the most humble walks of life. I have no wealthy or popular relations to recommend me.”
I understand that Cheney carried Teton County, where she claims residence in Wyoming:
Teton County, home to Jackson, a new playground for the ultra-rich set against a breathtaking natural landscape, is unlike anywhere else in this heavy mining and agricultural state. It’s Wyoming’s bluest county, meaning voters here are more likely to be Democrats who voted for Cheney, an uncommon phenomenon that Cheney’s campaign encouraged.
Cheney claims residence in Wilson, a few miles away from Jackson Hole: “The voters…rode up to the city’s lone polling site in elite performance bicycles, Teslas and luxury trucks…” New Salem it’s not.
And the thousands of Democrats who crossed over to vote for Cheney in Tuesday’s primary mitigated the extent of her crushing defeat. Cheney’s pitiful share of the vote in the Republican primary was artificially inflated by the Democrats who voted for her.
Cheney has contracted delusions of grandeur somewhere along the line. She seems to be planting the seeds of a presidential campaign. It wouldn’t fly in the Republican Party. She might try as an Independent, but wouldn’t splitting the anti-Trump vote be a gift to President Trump? Or perhaps she intends to undertake her own Lincoln Project grift. I’m sure I’m missing something, but I think it makes about as much sense as her Mount Rushmore shtick.
Today CDC Director Rochelle Walensky released a video to the agency’s 11,000 employees that was sharply critical of CDC’s covid performance:
Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Wednesday delivered a sweeping rebuke of her agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it had failed to respond quickly enough and needed to be overhauled.
“To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes, from testing to data to communications,” she said in a video distributed to the agency’s roughly 11,000 employees.
Dr. Walensky said the C.D.C.’s future depended on whether it could absorb the lessons of the last few years, during which much of the public lost trust in the agency’s ability to handle a pandemic that has killed more than 1 million Americans. “This is our watershed moment. We must pivot,” she said.
Her admission of the agency’s failings came after she received the findings of an examination she ordered in April amid scathing criticism of the C.D.C.’s performance. The report itself was not released; an agency official said it was not yet finished but would be made public soon.
I agree that covid exposed serious weaknesses in CDC, although I don’t think my list would be the same as either Walensky’s or that of the New York Times, to whose article the above link goes.
It is notable that the experience of the last two years has caused a sharp, and well-justified, decline in public perceptions of CDC as well as other public health institutions. When covid began, CDC was sacrosanct and Dr. Fauci was considered nearly infallible by a broad swath of the population. The extent to which that has changed is reflected in a survey of 500 Minnesota voters that we have just completed for the October issue of Thinking Minnesota magazine.
As part of that survey, we asked respondents how much confidence they have in various state and national institutions. To me, the most surprising result, in a state that has long had a culture of deference to establishment organizations, was this one:
Now, I’d like to read you a list of institutions and please tell me how much confidence you have in each one. Would you say you have a great deal of confidence, quite a bit of confidence, not much confidence, or no confidence at all?
America’s public health establishment:
A great deal of confidence: 9%
Quite a bit of confidence: 27%
Not much confidence: 43%
No confidence: 19%
No opinion: 1%
Total confident: 36%
Total not confident: 62%
That represents a stunning fall from grace for once-respected institutions like CDC, and, here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health.
Perhaps most important of all, let’s not forget that for most of the last two years, social media outlets have routinely suppressed any information that dissented from or questioned whatever dogmas were, at that moment, being disseminated by CDC. Anyone who disagreed with that agency’s line of the moment was relentless smeared. And yet, we now see the agency itself admitting that it made many mistakes.
This experience obviously shows the importance of free speech and robust debate, but there are major elements in our society, including the leading social media platforms, that continue to be hostile to dissent from the liberal party line on public health and many other topics.
Daniel Pipes is the founder of the Middle East Forum. He literally wrote the book on the Rushdie affair: The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, The Ayatollah, and the West. I pulled it down from the bookshelf and wrote him last week following the attempted assassination of Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution. He kindly agreed to answer my questions by email.
In the exchange below I allude to his prescient tracking of the affair since 1990 here on his blog (also linked below) and he cites his extremist Muslim vetting test here (also linked below). I thought readers might find this of interest:
Power Line: You published The Rushdie Affair in 1990 and now see your assessment of the seriousness of the edict confirmed in the attempted assassination of Salman Rushdie. Can you comment for us now in retrospect?
Daniel Pipes: It surprised me how, already in 1990, Rushdie thought he could leave the edict behind by saying what he imagined his tormentors wished to hear. They saw through his lies and never gave up the campaign, until one day a willing executioner turned up. A psychological explanation probably accounts for Rushdie’s willful self-delusion.
Power Line: There appears to be some question whether Ayatollah Khomeini’s “fatwa” condemning Rushdie and his publishers to death was in fact a fatwa. Can you clarify?
Daniel Pipes: In addition to the technical point that a fatwa must be in response to a question, which the Rushdie death sentence was not, Twelver Shi`i Islam as practiced in Iran distinguishes between two types of religious pronouncements, a fatwa and a hukm. A fatwa holds during the lifetime of the mufti who issues it whereas a hukm remains valid after his death. Iranian spokesmen unanimously consider the sentence on Rushdie to be a hukm. Rather than get caught up in the technicalities of Islamic law, I call Khomeini’s pronouncement an edict.
Power Line: You persistently documented the vagaries of Rushdie’s reaction to the edict and occasionally faulted him for not taking it seriously. What was the point you were making?
Daniel Pipes: I kept warning him, six times in all between 1990 and 2007, to take the death edict seriously and not to fool himself into thinking he was safe just because he had not yet been attacked. He not only ignored me but prompted his friend, the writer Christopher Hitchens, to ridicule me.
Power Line: Insofar as the attempted assassination took place on American soil at a venue where Rushdie was about to advocate free speech, I find this incident a humiliation for the United States. Do you too?
Daniel Pipes: Not really. Rushdie chose to live in the United States and he refused security when it was offered him, so I don’t see that Americans or their government should feel guilty or humiliated. This incident does point, however, to the need for much more care about who enters the country. I have worked out a test to separate regular Muslims from Islamists that, needless to say, is not in use.
Power Line: At the same time the Iranian regime is seeking to assassinate former American officials including John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. What do you make of the Biden administration’s pallid reaction to the ongoing efforts?
Daniel Pipes: Biden and his aides are dead set on reaching a new Iran nuclear deal and, apparently, will not be deterred by something so petty as attempted murders on American soil.
Power Line: Can you comment on the Biden administration’s continuing efforts to wrap up another nuclear deal that with the Iranian regime?
Daniel Pipes: Like Barack Obama before him, Joe Biden believes that being nice, making concessions, and appeasing the mullahs in Tehran is the way to conduce them to better behavior. This approach worked brilliantly with Hitler, Brezhnev, and Arafat, so why not try it again?
Suddenly Democrats are feeling more chipper about their prospects for November. Congress passed something! President Biden got to have a signing ceremony at the White House! (You have to understand that for the liberal mind, nothing good can happen in the world without a signing ceremony—it’s the key sacrament of their secular religion.) Some polls show Democrats looking better, especially in key Senate races where Republicans have nominated weak candidates.
Bill Galston writes today in the Wall Street Journal about “Hopeful Signs for Democrats in the 2022 Midterms.”
Surprisingly, Democrats remain tied with Republicans in the generic congressional ballot, which reflects national preferences for the parties’ House candidates. . . In Senate races, candidate quality matters more. As has happened repeatedly in recent cycles, Republicans appear to have damaged their prospects during primary contests by choosing nominees who have more appeal with their party’s base than with statewide electorates. In Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, nominees backed by Donald Trump trail their Democratic opponents, several by wide margins.
And yet there is a history of these kind of happy thoughts, and favorable polls, evaporating for Democrats on election day—in the only poll that counts, as the old saying goes.
A look back at several key Senate races over the last several cycles reveals had badly the pre-election polls overestimate Democratic strength. A few screen shots from the Real Clear Politics people tell the story, starting with Susan Collins in 2020, who every single poll predicted would lose by a wide margin:
In every case, most of the polls had the race badly wrong. Keep this in mind as November approaches, and remember that pro-Democrat polls are intended to discourage Republican voters and depress Republican turnout. (You might almost call it “voter suppression” by propaganda.)
Wyoming and Alaska held primaries yesterday. Pollsters in Wyoming had the direction of the Liz Cheney-Harriet Hageman race for Wyoming’s at-large House seat right. Cheney was going to lose. But was she going to lose by nearly 40 points? Pollsters vastly understated the magnitude of Cheney’s pending loss. She was not merely repudiated. She was crushed. Hageman beat her by more than a 2-1 margin (below, via RealClearPolitics).
Cheney was planning for her political future as anti-Trump hero long before the polls closed. She has millions of dollars stashed in a PAC that she will put to some use. However, she seems to me a woman without a party (assuming she doesn’t want to switch parties). She is on a mission that might profitably be continued as a talking head on CNN or MSNBC.
I previewed Alaska’s open Senate primary here yesterday. Only 67 percent of the votes have been tabulated so far, so the outcome remains “murky,” but perhaps a little less “murky” than I anticipated. Incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski was well served by the open “nonpartisan” primary. She appears to be well-positioned to win the four-way ranked-choice election that is to be decided in November. Kelly Tshibaka is the preferable candidate by far. We encourage our friends in Alaska to rank Tshibaka vote for Tshibaka and leave the other choices blank. When the shouting is over Alaska’s open primary/ranked-choice system should be relegated to the ashcan.
Alaska also held a special election to fill Alaska’s the at-large seat left vacant by the death of Don Young. The special election is subject to the ranked-choice arrangement. No candidate appears to have cleared the 50 percent plus 1 first-choice bar for election. Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III are running second and third, respectively, to Democrat Mary Sattler Peltola in first-choice votes that have been tabulated so far.
According to the Anchorage Daily News story, “the winner won’t be known until the last ballots are counted later this month.” The story adds: “With two weeks to go until ballot counting is complete in the special election, the race will be determined by the number of voters who ranked more than one candidate in the state’s first ranked choice vote.”
In the votes counted so far, Peltola, Palin and Begich are also running in that order in the open primary for the seat that will be on the ballot in November. They will all be on the ballot and subject to the ranked-choice arrangement. What a rotten system.
That Hillsdale College is in the crosshairs of the left is not breaking news, but it is curious to see social media and their “fact checkers” joining the leftist mob.
Hillsdale held a conference a few months back on “the great reset,” analyzing the opportunism of elite institutions in using COVID as an excuse to grab more power and “restructure” our economy and wider social order. It’s a variation of “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The conference featured figures such as David Goldman, Brian Wesbury, Mark Mills, and Vivek Ramaswamy. These are not fringe figures.
Hillsdale decided to advertise the videos of the conference on Facebook. And here’s how it turned out:
And here’s the explanation if you click on “See why”:
To be sure, there has been lots of wild and wooly conspiracy talk about WEF and “The Great Reset,” but not from Hillsdale. Anyone not in the bag for the conventional wisdom would know that Hillsdale is offering a serious critique of the intellectual premises and consequences of the progressive view that “expert” administration can “re-imagine” our economy, our policing, etc. if we just give them more power and bow to their authority. All we need to “reset” the economy is just listen to these good people, and exert our good will.
It is not necessary to recur to conspiracy theories to see the insidious nature of this effort, and in fact there is no hint of any conspiracy in Hillsdale’s accurate description of the cheerleaders of “The Great Reset.”
I hope Hillsdale sues Facebook to get their ad money back for this blatant interference with their paid messaging. Meanwhile, cue Austin Powers:
When I made a government-sponsored junket to Germany in 2008 to tour their ambitious energy and environmental plans, every expert and government official our delegation met said the same thing: to have any chance of making Germany’s ambitious carbon-emissions reduction targets, they’d have to keep their nuclear power plants, despite the determination of the previous Social Democrats to phase them out. It seemed possible that Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led coalition government might try to reverse this improvident policy.
Then Fukushima happened in 2011, and even though none of Germany’s nuclear plants was vulnerable to a tsunami, the Merkel government panicked and decided to accede to the demands of its Green Party coalition partner to close down all of its nuclear power plants after all.
It was only a matter of time before reality caught up with Germany even without the Ukraine War disrupting its Russian natural gas supply, and in fact Germany’s decarbonization stalled out about four years ago as the limits of wind and solar power were approached (just as it is in California today).
Today Germany acknowledged this reality:
BERLIN—Germany plans to postpone the closure of the country’s last three nuclear power plants as it braces for a possible shortage of energy this winter after Russia throttled gas supplies to the country, said German government officials.
While temporary, the move would mark the first departure from a policy initiated in the early 2000s to phase out nuclear energy in Germany and which had over time become enshrined in political consensus.
Maybe German electricity prices have something to do with it:
And speaking of German worries about a cold winter. . .
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday proposed extending the life of the state’s last operating nuclear power plant by five to 10 years to maintain reliable power supplies in the climate change era.
P.S. France isn’t looking much better, despite its ample nuclear fleet. The story here is the cascading effect of European energy interdependence:
Most Americans are over Covid, which is a very good thing. But what about the disease itself? Has it gone away, not to return, or will it be back soon in another wave and perhaps another variant?
This screen shot comes from the CDC web site. It shows total deaths in the US, from all causes, by week. Over the last five or six months, total fatalities have essentially tracked with the historic demographic record, so that Covid has contributed little or nothing to total mortality:
You might look at this and say that Covid seems to be gone for good. Except that we have been through this drill before. The exact same thing happened in 2021: a peak in January, followed by a rapid decline, and essentially no excess mortality for five months or so. If we go back to 2020, the pattern is a little different, since Covid didn’t strike as early. But the rapid decline early in that year is similar.
A year ago, looking at the same chart, I thought Covid seemed to be on the way out. That conclusion was premature. So how is this year different? I don’t think it is; not much, anyway. At this point, Covid is pretty much the common cold. My wife caught it a couple of weeks ago, and I caught it from her. In our experience, it was not a particularly severe cold, but it hung on and didn’t want to go away. It was similar to H1N1, which I caught 10 or 12 years ago, whenever that was.
Just as the common cold or influenza didn’t strike for a couple of years and then disappear, Covid likely will be a permanent part of our landscape. I am no biologist, but I suspect that Covid has taken over some portion of the biological niche that colds and flu have long occupied. Over the years, it may become less severe, although Omicron is already pretty benign.
My point (and I do have one, as Scott likes to say) is that we should be prepared for the likelihood that, just as in 2020 and 2021, the fall will bring an increase in Covid cases and Covid mortality. If that happens, as I think it likely will, it is crucial that we not give in to repressive forces: we must not close our children’s schools, we must not shut down businesses and churches, and, as important as anything, we must not resurrect the idiotic mask mandates that have scarred our culture and our children’s development for the last two years.
Covid is not over as a disease–with a few exceptions, diseases are rarely “over”–but it is vitally important that Covid be over as a justification for totalitarian policies and disruptions in our way of life.
Project Veritas has an excellent story on Lisa Murkowski’s path to reelection. It follows from the ballot measure narrowly adopted by Alaska voters in 2020. The path combines an open “nonpartisan” primary with 19 candidates. The top four candidates in today’s open primary will proceed from the primary to the November election.
In the November election voters are then to rank their choices among the four candidates on the ballot. If no candidate receives 50 percent plus one of the first-choice votes, the election will be decided by the ranked-choice voting method. Ballotpedia explains the applicable ranked-choice scheme here.
The Ballotpedia home page on the 2022 Alaska Senate election is a necessary supplement to the Project Veritas story. This Newsweek story helps fill out the background. The Project Veritas story is light on the open primary/top four candidate component of the arrangement.
I infer from the Project Veritas reporting that Murkowski had something to do with this jerry-rigged scheme, but I don’t know. Her staff seems pretty, pretty happy with the arrangement. The video accompanying the Project Veritas story does a good job of providing the Murkowski-related background. In the follow-up video below, Murkowski talks around the questions while staffers try to shoo the Project Veritas reporter away. You might want to keep this in mind as Alaska’s primary results come in overnight. We will take a look at the results tomorrow.
• Way to go, Biden Administration:
Record numbers of migrants are being arrested while crossing the southern U.S. border with Mexico, a sustained surge of single men and families from across Latin America either seeking asylum or work, according to new figures Monday from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Border Patrol agents have made about 1.82 million arrests at the southern border so far in the government’s fiscal year, which runs from October to the end of September. The number beats the record set last fiscal year, which was 1.66 million apprehensions in the year ending September 2021.
With about two months left in the agency’s fiscal year, full-year arrests are expected to break the two million mark for the first time, analysts said. . .
• So another congressional delegation is visiting Taiwan (or as we old-timers still like to call it, “Free China,” or even “Nationalist China”), and Beijing responds with more drills and live fire exercises in the neighborhood. I think I see a strategy here: get China to use up all its munitions with successive congressional visits.
• Is it real—or the Babylon Bee:
Stoking public fears over violent crime is central to the conservative pitch. The annual summer spike in violent crime in many cities makes it easier for Republicans to harp on the problem, as voters become understandably worried by shootings. But the right has been noticeably silent on one salient dimension of the crime problem: Heat waves worsen violence, and to be safer from violent crime we need to address climate change. . . research has made the links to heat waves much clearer, suggesting that without intervention global warming will lead to more murders.
It’s real, in the once proud New Republic this week. I’ll meet them halfway: how about we build a new generation of solar-powered prisons.
• Speaking of wind and solar power, the recently passed inflation-fighting climate bill was enacted without the usual process of committee hearings, government agency (like the CBO) and independent expert analysis, and extensive floor debate that have always accompanied major energy and environmental legislation. If they had passed the bill in the usual way, perhaps they might have considered this tidbit reported by the Los Angeles Times:
Princeton University researchers estimate that zeroing out U.S. carbon emissions by 2050 could require installing solar panels and wind turbines across more than 225,000 square miles, an area much bigger than California.
Glenn Ellmers has done it again, with a fresh provocation entitled “America Never Existed.” Say what?!?! Did he drink some 1619 Moonshine or something?
Here’s his lede:
It is possible (not certain, but possible) that within the next 20 years or so, the United States will no longer exist. . . The end of the American republic would most likely mean the end of self-government all over the globe—the beginning of a new dark age. The United States, even now, is the world’s greatest example of constitutional democracy, and if the cause of freedom fails here, it probably will not survive anywhere. More than that, however, the end of liberty on these shores would most likely mean the end of any memory of America.
The United States would not simply cease to exist; it would never have existed at all.
Well. Strong stuff indeed. I decided that I wanted first crack at a classic format conversation podcast with Glenn (partly to scoop our rivals at the American Mind podcast!), but as I’m on the road again this week, I delegated the task to Lucretia, who skillfully walks Glenn through what he’s up to.
You know what to do now: listen here, or wander over to our hosts at Ricochet.
Yesterday, Donald Trump announced that during the Mar-a-Lago raid, FBI agents “stole” his three passports, one of which was expired. The Department of Justice initially tried to deny this claim, or at least weasel out of it. Via RedState:
NEW: According to a DOJ official, the FBI is NOT in possession of former President Trump's passports. Trump had accused the FBI of stealing his three passports during the search of his Mar-a-Lago home.
— Norah O'Donnell (@NorahODonnell) August 15, 2022
This is typical of how the Biden Department of Justice and the FBI operate. They piously assert that they can’t comment on much of anything publicly, and then leak falsehoods and half-truths to friendly and gullible media outlets. The careful wording of this particular leak is obvious: the FBI “is NOT in possession” of Trump’s passports–not that they didn’t take them, as Trump said.
It turns out that Trump was right:
So Trump team now publicizing this email, which shows:
1) DOJ obtained three passports (two expired, not one, as Trump said) and alerted Trump lawyers
2) They were recovered by a filter team, which weeds out privileged info.
3) Trump publicized this after DOJ offered them back pic.twitter.com/lz8wneIQ0a
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 15, 2022
A word of explanation: Trump and his agents have pointed out that some of the materials seized by the FBI were covered by attorney-client privilege. This happens a lot. The usual practice, as I understand it, is to have a team not associated with the investigation (the “filter agents”) review the materials and remove privileged documents before the investigative team digs into them. Apparently the “filter agents” removed the passports and the FBI offered them back to Trump. Is this consistent with the DOJ leak claiming that the FBI was “NOT in possession” of the passports? Only if the filter team did not consist of FBI employees, and even then, only if you construe “possession” with misleading narrowness.
The next question is whether the passports were within the scope of the search warrant. DOJ tells us the FBI was searching for “nuclear secrets,” which wouldn’t likely be hiding in a former president’s diplomatic passport. But the terms of the search were extraordinarily broad. The FBI was authorized to carry away from Mar-a-Lago:
a) Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes;
So if the FBI agents who conducted the raid found one or more documents with classification markings, they were authorized to carry away not just those documents, and not just the containers or boxes that held such documents, but any containers or boxes “found together” with them. That would include any container or box in Trump’s basement, and might have been construed more broadly by the agents, to include any containers or boxes at Mar-a-Lago. It would be interesting to know where Trump’s passports were kept.
The incident of the stolen passports reveals the extraordinary breadth of the Mar-a-Lago raid, and I think can fairly be said to cast doubt on DOJ’s self-serving claim to have been searching for “nuclear secrets.”
In 1989 Ayatollah Khomeni put out a hit on Salman Rushdie. He backed up the call for a hit with a $3,000,000 financial reward. Khomeni was of course the founder and Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Khomeni’s successor as the regime’s Supreme Leader. In 2005 he told Iranians that Rushdie is an apostate whose execution is authorized by Islam. In the words of Daniel Pipes, “Khameni reaffirmed Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 edict against Rushdie.” Pipes documents the persistence of the fatwa in Iranian eyes in this post covering the past 32 years.
Following the indictment of a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for seeking the assassination of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, the attempted assassination of Rushdie on American soil by a Muslim seeking to effectuate fatwa should prompt a serious response from the American president. A serious response would require the recognition of the nature of the regime and the fact that they are at war with us. It would also require the cessation efforts to arrive at any agreement that serves to enrich the regime.
In response to the indictment of the IRGC operative, Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued this meaningless statement:
We have said this before and we will say it again: the Biden Administration will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism. Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences. We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to protect Americans.
Sullivan could not be bothered to check on whether “waver” or “waiver” was called for. It’s one of those tricky homonyms. Unfortunately, only last week the administration “waivered” sanctions for Iran’s civilian nuclear activities.
In response to the Rushdie attack, the administration posted statement was issued in President Biden’s name without reference to Iran. It is an embarrassment.
Secretary of State Blinken went a little further in an unduly circumspect or circumlocutory statement:
While law enforcement officials continue to investigate the attack, I am reminded of the pernicious forces that seek to undermine these rights, including through hate speech and incitement to violence
Specifically, Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life. This is despicable.
Blinken got the waver/waiver thing right (“The United States and partners will not waver in our determination to stand up to these threats”), so congratulations are in order on that point. But what we have here is more blah blah blah. It is not serious.
The editors of National Review have more here in an excellent editorial. Jonathan Tobin has more in his JNS column here, and a constructive suggestion to boot. The Spectator’s Stephen Daisley puts it this way: “The West cannot do business with Iran.”
Whittaker Chambers—a Quaker—wrote to William F. Buckley in 1956 that “There is only one fully logical conservative position in the West—that of the Catholic Church.”
This may explain why a central cause of the modern left is destroying the Catholic Church above all other nodes of opposition to secular leftism. I know I am not the first to suggest that anti-Catholic bigotry is one of the few kinds of bigotry the left approves.
The latest example of this impulse is found currently in The Atlantic:
Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or “rad trad”) Catholics. On this extremist fringe, rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture. These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal. . .
The militarism also glorifies a warrior mentality and notions of manliness and male strength. This conflation of the masculine and the military is rooted in wider anxieties about Catholic manhood—the idea that it is in crisis has some currency among senior Church figures and lay organizations. . .
There’s much more in this vein, and the complete article doesn’t get any better at any point. One wonders if the author (“Daniel Panneton is a writer based in Toronto, Canada”—I’ve never heard of him either) has ever pondered the “Knight of Faith” of the middle ages, or the 19th century hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers,” which liberal Protestant denominations have been trying to strip out of their hymnals. It is astounding that an article this bad appeared in the once-respectable Atlantic.
Turns out there’s already a meme inspired by The Atlantic:
Last night I was on the Bolt Report with host Andrew Bolt, on Australia’s Sky News. We talked about the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s house, the insane responses thereto by people like Michael Hayden, and related matters. I think it is fair to say that the conversation was hard-hitting, but entertaining. This is the segment. It is around 7 1/2 minutes long:
Democrats quickly gave up on the Inflation Reduction Act, since they couldn’t sell the idea that another $700+ billion in deficit spending would somehow reduce inflation. So now it is alleged to be a climate control act, instead.
But the bill won’t affect the climate any more than it would have reduced inflation. Even if you assume the UN’s inflated estimate of the impact of CO2 emissions on global warming, the bill’s impact is nil:
[W]e get somewhere between 0.028 and 0.0009°F reduction in temperature by 2100 for about 400 billion dollars in climate spending contained in the bill.
But the oceans will stop rising! Which, by the way, they have been doing for the last 15,000 or so years.
Bjorn Lomborg created this chart, using the UN’s climate model. It shows graphically the climate impact of the
Inflation Reduction Temperature Reduction Act. See if you can spot the difference:
So the Democrats’ prize legislation is an exercise in futility. Unless, of course, you are one of the many Democratic Party constituents who will be cashing the checks that add up to more than $700 billion, with a little over half ostensibly going to benefit the climate.
The purpose here is to buy votes, obviously, and the Democratic Party press is ecstatic over the idea that Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer finally have a “win” to brag about. But I wonder. I haven’t seen much evidence that the Democrats’ deficit spending extravaganzas are especially popular outside the precincts of those who cash the checks. (And, by the way, the number one beneficiary of this particular $700 billion will be the Communist Chinese, who dominate “green” energy.) My guess is that most Americans have caught on to the Democrats’ game, and understand that this legislation will no more dictate the Earth’s climate than it will bring our crippling inflation under control.
I used to think that the most absurd collected quote book was The Quotable Kofi Annan, which the UN put out in 2003. It contained gems such as, “To make sure that the intergovernmental machinery has the support it deserves, we must also make sure that the United Nations Secretariat is much more nimble and responsive to changing needs.” With profundity like that, we know that we are in the presence of no ordinary mind.
But I underestimated the potential of Kamala Harris, whose prodigious propensity for word-salading has gone galactic, as this new clip demonstrates:
Kamala Harris is every boss you’ve ever had who got promoted way above their ability level. pic.twitter.com/fRkkvPomTj
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) August 15, 2022
You can’t help but notice that the absurdly named Inflation Reduction Act has been reborn in the press as a health care and climate bill. Performing its usual public relations work for Minnesota’s DFL, the Star Tribune celebrates the faceless Senator Tina Smith. Washington correspondent Hunter Woodall leads his story on the bill this way:
After a series of setbacks over the last year, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith’s work on passing major climate legislation is culminating with an estimated $740 billion package that also focuses on health care and taxes.
Smith said in an interview that she has no doubt when she looks back on her time in Washington that she’ll see the legislation as “one of the most important things that I had a chance to work on.”
The bill is a far cry from the roughly $3.5 trillion piece of legislation pitched last year. The Senate Democrats’ deciding swing vote dismissed that package, even as its price tag was cut, leaving the party to scramble for a compromise.
It was good of Woodall to mention the word “taxes” (without more). However, students of ancient history may wonder whatever happened to “inflation reduction.” The word “inflation” appears only in a quote from a statement by GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s almost funny.
Former Minnesota Senator Al Franken waited until the last minute to bestow his coveted endorsement on Rep. Liz Cheney via Twitter (below). Cheney is of course contending for the Republican nomination to stand for reelection to Wyoming’s single seat in the House. I’m sure Rep. Cheney appreciates Franken’s confidence as she seeks to persuade Wyoming conservatives that she is deserving of their continued support to represent them in Congress. It’s just what she needed. I hope the word gets out among all Wyoming Republicans voting tomorrow.
I was a fan of Franken and Davis back in the ’70’s. I thought they were funny, but I don’t think Franken has been funny in a long time.
Since Chuck Schumer forced Franken out of the Senate in disgrace he has resumed his career in show business. I have to admit that his endorsement of Cheney is funny in a way. However, the guy is a political obsessive. You can be sure that he is up to speed on Cheney’s invitation to Democrats to vote for her in the Republican primary tomorrow.
I’ve decided to endorse @RepLizCheney for the Republican nomination for the House seat In Wyoming it’s my first time endorsing in a GOP primary. But I think Al Franken’s support will carry a lot of weight with WY Republicans.
— Al Franken (@alfranken) August 13, 2022
Salman Rushdie has been severely wounded, but his physical condition is reportedly improving. He was wounded on American soil by a fanatic seeking to effectuate Ayatollah Khomeni’s fatwa. Rushdie may lose an eye, but he won’t be as blind as the Biden White House. The Biden administration refuses to acknowledge the evil reality of the regime they are treating with in Vienna. Jonathan Schanzer focuses on the evil reality in his excellent column.
Ruthie Blum widens the focus to take in questions of foreign policy toward Iran in “The satanic stabbing.” She observes that President Biden “didn’t even dare to mention the Islamic decree—or terrorism—in his public statement.”
It is a humiliating and appalling abomination that this attack occurred on American soil. It is a humiliating and appalling abomination that the Biden administration cannot acknowledge the reality of Iran’s continuing war on the West. It is a humiliating and appalling abomination that the administration continues its efforts to enrich the regime in connection with another absurd deal.
Taking his sweet time to think it over, Secretary Blinken posted a statement on the stabbing yesterday. He went this far: “Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life. This is despicable.”
"Satan's eye has been blinded."
This is the front page of Iranian state newspaper Jam-e Jam which celebrates the blinding of #SalmanRushdie after the attack launched by Khomeini’s fatwa, repeated by @khamenei_ir. pic.twitter.com/pfIriAelei
— Masih Alinejad (@AlinejadMasih) August 13, 2022
TCM is in the middle of its annual Summer Under the Stars festival featuring blocs of films with favorite actors and actresses. At the moment they are running films starring Randolph Scott that continue through tomorrow morning. You may want to set your DVR tonight for Ride the High Country (1962, directed by Sam Peckinpah). Regardless of the star, every film played this month demonstrates the superiority of the old Hollywood to the current version.
Marlon Brando’s turn came over the weekend. TCM included the rarely seen Reflections In a Golden Eye (1967) in the Brando lineup. I love concision and therefore admired the one-sentence précis served up by my cable provider. It went something like this: “Married to lusty Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando is feeling homosexual on an Army base in the South.”
Filmed in Technicolor, the color elements were drained in post-production to give the film a sepia tone. Director John Huston may have taken the “golden eye” thing too literally, though I’m sure he had an artistic purpose in mind. Not appreciating the effect, the studio restored the color for commercial release. Thankfully, TCM showed an original print. It is something to behold.
However, I wondered what Huston saw in the story (based on the Southern Gothic novel by Carson McCullers). Huston followed up on his interest in the Southern Gothic genre at the end of the next decade with the terrific Wise Blood (1979), based on Flannery O’Connor’s novel. It occasionally turns up on TCM as well.
My point here, and I do have one, is that TCM is featuring films starring Toshiro Mifune on August 19. TCM has posted an excellent account of Mifune’s career by Rebecca Kumar here.
Within the lineup of 11 films starring Mifune is a set that makes for a mini Kurosawa festival. Using TCM summaries, I want to note these masterpieces scheduled to run on August 19:
Rashomon (1950) is the classic Oscar-winning tale, set in the eighth century, in which various characters provide differing accounts of the same incident – the rape of a bride and the murder of her samurai husband. Mifune plays the notorious outlaw who claims to have seduced the wife.
Seven Samurai (1954) is another hugely influential classic – an epic samurai drama about a village of farmers in 1586 who hire seven rōnin (masterless samurai) to combat bandits who plot to steal their crops. Mifune is Kikuchiyo, a rogue who lies about being a samurai but proves himself as a warrior.
Throne of Blood (1957) is an historical drama in which Kurosawa transplants the story of Macbeth from medieval Scotland to feudal Japan. Mifune stars as the Macbeth character.
Yojimbo (1961) is a samurai adventure about a wandering rōnin known as Kuwabatake Sanjuro (Mifune), who arrives in a small town where two competing crime lords try to hire him as a bodyguard.
High and Low (1963) is a police drama starring Mifune as a wealthy executive who is told that his son has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. The executive faces a moral dilemma after he realizes that his chauffeur’s son was taken by mistake.
Kurosawa’s films are entertaining and great on their own terms. They were also highly influential on a generation or two of American filmmakers. Kurosawa was a great artist. The films above are some of the greatest ever made.
Not surprisingly, Kurosawa loved Shakespeare. Throne of Blood gives us Macbeth as Ran (not in the August 19 lineup) gives us King Lear, Japanese style. That is what goes under the denomination of cultural appropriation in today’s parlance. Can Kurosawa do that? Yes, he can. Kurosawa shows how and why it’s done.
Kurosawa’s samurai films appropriate the genre of the Western from Hollywood. They seem to me to rank up there with the Westerns of John Ford. Hollywood returned the favor in The Magnificent Seven, adapted from Seven Samurai. It’s a beautiful world.
The cultural appropriation continues in High and Low. The film is based on the police procedural A King’s Ransom, by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter), but goes far beyond it. It is an amazing film.
At the opening we meet businessman Kingo Gondo as he is engaged in raising funds to buy out the shoe manufacturing company he runs. Having raised the funds to save the company in the form he seeks to build on, he is told that his son has been kidnapped for ransom. He will have to use the funds to ransom his son. It is a decision he doesn’t agonize over. He doesn’t give it a second thought.
It turns out, however, that the kidnapper has mistakenly taken the servant’s son. Now what? That is a decision over which Gondo agonizes for a night. The drama is excruciating.
The second half of the film depicts the police pursuit of the kidnapper. In an unforgettable scene toward the end of the film, Gondo seeks out the kidnapper in prison. He wants to meet the man who threw his life off-course. In a moment of deep humanity, the kidnapper’s reflected face is superimposed over Gondo’s. You can glimpse the image in the first few seconds of A.O. Scott’s comments on the film from the Times’s Critics Picks series in the video below.
Here again is the link to TCM’s August schedule. Clint Eastwood comes up on August 21 and Peter Sellers on August 31.
As you know, the NFL’s “Washington Football Team” finally settled on a new team name: the “Commanders.” I wonder how many focus groups it took to settle on this. Was it harder than coming up with “Oklahoma is OK”? Is “Commanders” really a good name for a city whose commands to the populace are increasingly resented? (It might help if the team had a commanding record to boast about in recent years. On the other hand, their ineptitude is fitting for the home of our national bureaucracy.)
The Commanders have come up with a new fight song, whose history shows that we should have seen this all coming a long time ago. It is worth noting the evolution of the Washington franchise fight song:
Obviously you had to expunge “Dixie” (not to mention “Scalp ’em”), but “Fight for old DC”??
Anyway, behold the Commanders:
What was wrong with “Sons of Washington”? I imagine cultural leftists can come up with a dozen reasons.
It will be interesting to see how many Washington fans decide to stick with the old versions about the Redskins.
Given how the cultural left dislikes manliness as “toxic masculinity,” maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to find some social science behind wimpy liberalism. Behold:
Paul Zak, Claremont Graduate University
Abstract: We tested the fixity of political preferences of 136 healthy males during the 2011 U.S. presidential election season by administering synthetic testosterone or placebo to participants who had identified the strength of their political affiliation. Before the testosterone treatment, we found that weakly affiliated Democrats had 19% higher basal testosterone than those who identified strongly with the party (p=0.015). When weakly affiliated Democrats received additional testosterone, the strength of their party fell by 12% (p=.01) and they reported 45% warmer feelings towards Republican candidates for president (p < 0.001). Our results demonstrate that testosterone induces a “red shift” among weakly-affiliated Democrats. This effect was associated with improved mood. No effects were found of testosterone administration for strongly affiliated Democrats or strong or weak Republicans. Our findings provide evidence that neuroactive hormones affect political preferences.
I checked: Paul Zak is a real person, a “neuroscientist,” so this is not a hoax. No wonder the left is suddenly alarmed that many young conservatives are into body building, but then just about any non-left trend is a heavy lift for liberals these days. If Trump really wants to trigger the left (as if he doesn’t enough already), he should promise to promote testosterone supplements when he’s back in the White House.
Meanwhile, now that CNN needs to replace Jeffery Toobin, I think we have found the perfect candidate for his slot. The Guardian reports:
A leading university has launched an inquiry after it emerged that one of its PhD students has written a research paper about sexual attraction to young boys.
Karl Andersson spent three months recording his thoughts and feelings while masturbating over images of young boys in Japanese comic books.
In the abstract for the paper, Andersson, who is interviewing fans of shota comics for his PhD, said he wanted to “understand how [they] experience sexual pleasure when reading shota”.
His 4,000-word study, which details his sexual habits and sexual encounters between boys in the comics, was published in the journal Qualitative Research in April. It provoked outrage from academics, an MP and others after it was circulated on Twitter this week.
The University of Manchester and Qualitative Research have announced they are investigating the circumstances of the research and its publication.
If you try to find the original paper now, you get this from Qualitative Research:
What is there to investigate? The journal editors saw nothing wrong with the article until normal people pointed out to them what moral idiots they are. I doubt that’s what the investigation will find. Still, Karl Anderson does seem like a perfect fit for CNN.
Of course, that is a risky prediction, given that the Democrats’ Trump Derangement Syndrome seems to become more acute on a daily basis. But for now, this may represent a peak (or nadir). Former CIA Director Michael Hayden suggests–I don’t think there is any other plausible interpretation–that Donald Trump should be executed for giving nuclear secrets to the Russians, a claim for which there is, to say the least, zero evidence, and which is absurd on its face:
Sounds about right. https://t.co/hJCjxhN2BQ
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) August 12, 2022
That tweet is actually three days old, but if you look at Hayden’s Twitter feed it consists of nothing but insane, over the top Trump hatred. Hayden is unbalanced, and the thought that he was once in charge of the CIA is frightening. It should be noted that Hayden was also one of the dozens of former security officials who falsely claimed that the Hunter Biden laptop showed all the signs of Russian disinformation–an outright lie.
We live in truly bizarre times.
The answer to that question is, sometimes. One would think this is clearly such an instance: Minneapolis teachers union contract calls for layoffs of white teachers first. That sounds like naked race discrimination by a government entity, but is it illegal?
First, some facts:
A Minneapolis teachers union contract stipulates that white teachers will be laid off or reassigned before “educators of color” in the event Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) needs to reduce staff.
The agreement adds that non-white teachers, as well as those working in various programs, “may be exempted from district-wide layoff[s] outside seniority order.” The agreement also prioritizes the reinstatement of teachers from “underrepresented populations” over white teachers.
The Star Tribune reports that the “seniority-disrupting language” of the agreement is one of the first of its kind in the entire United States. Teachers are normally laid off or excessed based on seniority alone, but the new agreement adds a racial component as well.
Can that possibly pass constitutional muster? Hans Bader takes up the case at Liberty Unyielding (links in original omitted):
This violates a well-known Supreme Court decision overturning the race-based layoff of a white teacher, and contradicts a well-known federal appeals court decision, which ruled that race-based layoffs of white teachers violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
It is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. When it comes to termination (as opposed to hiring or promotion under an affirmative-action plan), an employer can’t racially discriminate even against whites. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1996 that an school district can’t consider race even as a tie-breaker, in deciding who to lay off, even to promote diversity, because that (a) unduly trammels the white teacher’s rights — even affirmative action plans are supposed to be mild and not unduly trammel someone’s rights, and getting fired as opposed to being denied a promotion unduly trammels someone’s rights — and (b) putting that aside, the school district couldn’t consider race to promote diversity when black people weren’t seriously underrepresented in its workforce as a whole. That ruling was Taxman v. Board of Education of Piscataway, 91 F.3d 1547 (3d Cir. 1996).
It is also unconstitutional, for more complicated reasons, under the Supreme Court’s decision in Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education (1986). In that case, the Supreme Court overturned race-based layoffs by a 5-to-4 vote. Five justices said a school district can’t lay off white teachers to remedy societal discrimination against blacks. Four of those five also said that the Constitution forbids laying off people based on race (as opposed to considering race in hiring and promotions) even to remedy a school district’s own discrimination. (Justice Powell’s opinion announcing the judgment of the court, and also Justice White’s concurrence).
The provision also appears to be unconstitutional for an additional reason, because there does not appear to be a “strong basis in evidence” for the collective bargaining agreement’s claim that there are “continuing effects of past discrimination by the District.” The Supreme Court requires proponents of racial preferences to have a “strong basis in evidence” for the claim that blacks were subjected to discrimination by the institution giving them a preference, and that there are lingering effects of that discrimination. See, e.g., Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899 (1996).
Hans points out that the teachers’ union may share liability with the school district. That is music to my ears:
Since the teachers union supported the adoption of this discriminatory provision, it may also be liable for discrimination along with the school district. Unions are subject to liability for racial discrimination under Title VII, see, e.g., Woods v. Graphic Communications (1991), and the Supreme Court has ruled that people who conspire with the government to discriminate can sometimes be sued along with it, see Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co. (1971).
Liberals love to tell us how devoted they are to the rule of law, but they think nothing of engaging in race discrimination that appears to be plainly illegal under federal court precedents. This looks like a case for the Upper Midwest Law Center, which has already put out a call for injured teachers to contact the Law Center, whose work you can support here.
Our moral betters have instructed us that to point out double standards of liberalism when it comes to Donald Trump is “whataboutism,” and therefore somehow illegitimate. Whatever. How dare anyone suggest that anything was amiss in the government’s treatment of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and willful destruction of documents and devices.
At least we can have some fun with this. My newest hero on Twitter is someone called Socialist Mop, who offers up this genius piece of work from way back in 2016:
With the FBI’s raid of Trump’s private residence, I wanted to repost a video that I did back in 2016 showing James Comey of the FBI letting Hillary off the hook for mishandling classified info. Insane hypocrisy!
Check out “What Difference Does It Make?” pic.twitter.com/UY19CplmIv
— Socialist Mop (@socialistmop) August 13, 2022
Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released its report on the state’s 2021 crime statistics late Friday afternoon. My colleague Bill Glahn was one of the few who noticed.
The BCA’s numbers indicate that in 2021, homicides were up 72% over 2019, the state’s last “normal” year. Aggravated assaults were up 63% over 2019, and robberies up 30%. Minnesota’s crime wave continues to worsen.
What I really want to focus on is the demographic numbers, specifically with regard to homicide:
The racial characteristics of murder in Minnesota are very similar to 2020. Of known victims, 123 were African American, or 65 percent of the total. Of known perpetrators (a single murder could have more than one), 209 (76 percent) were African American. Compare these figures to the share of African Americans in Minnesota’s population, which is less than 10 percent.
African Americans represent less than 10% of Minnesota’s population, but are 76% of the state’s murderers and 65% of its murder victims. These facts make nonsense of complaints by Black Lives Matter activists, and liberals generally, that law enforcement unfairly targets blacks, or that blacks are “over-represented” in arrests or any other metric.
On the contrary, these basic numbers explain why, when plaintiffs successfully sued the City of Minneapolis to force it to adequately staff its police department, in accordance with the requirements of the city’s charter, those plaintiffs were blacks who live in crime-infested North Minneapolis. Liberals should be ashamed of themselves for deliberately obfuscating reality and thereby imperiling the lives of many of our citizens.
In his fatuous four-minute public statement on Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke up to defend the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago. The Department of Justice has posted the transcript of Garland’s remarks here.
At NRO, John Yoo and Robert Delahunty respond in the column “Why the Public Is Skeptical of Garland’s Mar-a-Lago Story.” They offer “four legitimate reasons Americans think something crassly political has just transpired.” They speak from experience and they know what they are talking about.
Yoo and Delahunty take up the sordid recent history of the FBI and the Department of Justice toward the end of their column. They do not directly address Garland’s condemnation of those who question the behavior of the FBI and the Department of Justice. Referring to “recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors,” one might think he dozed off during the four years of the Trump administration.
Garland asserted: “I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked.” His bravado was not such that he could stand up to questions following his brief statement. Indeed, he silently skulked off.
Garland professed to be bound to silence by canons of professional or departmental responsibility: “[O]ur ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time….This is all I can say right now.”
For reasons 1, 3, and 4 to doubt the bona fides of the raid, Yoo and Delahunty cite its timing, White House political pressure, and the impression of improper political motivation already created by the Justice Department and FBI. The second of the four reasons they offer for doubting the legitimacy of the raid is “the leaks”:
Garland had hardly vacated the podium when leaks from the inside began to flow to administration-friendly media. These allowed the agencies to put their self-serving spin on the raid without having to take responsibility for, or permit questioning of, those claims. Garland knows how Washington, D.C., works. He apparently wants to have it both ways: a trickle of official information but a gusher of selective, off-the-record disclosure.
If so, Garland’s invocation of “ethical obligations” is not to be taken seriously.
If, on the other hand, Garland is to be taken seriously and “ethical obligations” truly prevented him from saying more, one might infer that the leakers among Garland’s ranks belie his defense of the Department of Justice. He must be surrounded by lawyers and agents for whom the phrase “ethical obligations” is a contradiction in terms.
With Steve Hayward back at his station on the left coast, I wanted to bring this song of the day series featuring Minnesota musicians to an end on a high note. Earlier in the series we sampled Twin Cities supergroup The New Standards — Chan Poling (piano), ex- of the Suburbs, John Munson (bass), ex- of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic, and vibes player Steve Roehm. They make for a fantastic trio.
The Suburbs were one of the most popular Twin Cities punk/new wave band of the ’80’s. During their original run my friend Steve Greenberg, the man behind Lipps Inc. and “Funkytown,” produced their Love Is the Law album (1984). They have formed a new lineup since their original run and recorded new music including, most recently, last year’s Poets Party.
The New Standards have retrieved the title track of Love Is the Law — written by Poling — and given it The New Standards treatment. It makes for an encore that sends fans home on a natural high and it’s not bad for a Sunday morning song either.
Thursday evening, I was on the US Report on Sky News Australia, talking about the FBI’s raid on Donald Trump’s home. The host was James Morrow, who also co-hosts the excellent Outsiders show. In addition to the raid, we briefly discussed the Democrats’ grotesque expansion of the IRS, which, apparently but unaccountably, they expect to be popular.
You can go here to view the segment, which is six and a half minutes long. I can’t figure out a way to embed it, or I would.
NBC News reports that college attendance is dropping:
A little-understood backlash…
Little-understood by them.
…against higher education is driving an unprecedented decline in enrollment that experts now warn is likely to diminish people’s quality of life and the nation’s economic competitiveness, especially in places where the slide is most severe.
I sincerely doubt that. These are the numbers:
There are 4 million fewer students in college now than there were 10 years ago, a falloff many observers blame on Covid-19, a dip in the number of Americans under 18 and a strong labor market that is sucking young people straight into the workforce.
But while the pandemic certainly made things worse, the downturn took hold well before it started. Demographics alone cannot explain the scale of this drop.
John Nolte comments:
Over just four years, between 2016 and 2020, the percentage of high school graduates enrolling in college dropped from 70 percent to 63 percent. That’s a seven-point drop nationally.
It needs to drop more.
In certain states, it decreased even more. In Tennessee, it dropped 11 points to 53 percent. Indiana dropped 12 points to 53 percent. West Virginia dropped 10 points to just 46 percent.
Why the decline in “higher” education? Rising costs, fueled in large part by a foolish government loan program, are obviously a major culprit. And those costs are running into growing doubts about the value of a degree. Part of the problem is that the quality of instruction has slipped badly. Moreover, a large majority of jobs don’t need a college degree, so if your motivation is financial, as it is for many people, the costs don’t make sense.
But I think the intolerant leftism that prevails on virtually all campuses is also an important part of the story. Higher education, run mostly by women, is particularly hostile to men. Remarkably, the Left has managed to take the fun out of what used to be, for most students, a gratifying four years. I know a number of young people who have dropped out of college in disgust at the leftism that was inflicted on them, and have gone on to successful careers without carrying debt. Others have rushed through college as fast as possible, yearning for the freedom of the workplace and the outside world.
I hope college enrollment continues to decline. The reality is that many of our students are being misinformed, while many more are mostly wasting their time and money. There will always be a place for higher education, and I don’t know what the ideal percentage of young people attending college would be. It depends, obviously, on the quality of the education on offer. In today’s environment, I would guess maybe 30 percent. So further declines in college enrollment can be anticipated.
Emina Melonic offers us a bonus piece with a look back at the glory days of Hollywood when Hepburn and Grant ruled the scene:
Nothing says style and charm more than Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Hepburn is known for her beauty and kindness, and Grant for his humor and suave looks, which is why their pairing in Stanley Donen’s 1963 “Charade” is absolute perfection. It’s a film that exudes the 1960s style and playfulness, not to mention all that Hubert de Givenchy haute couture that was especially created for Hepburn herself.
“Charade” is both a mystery and comedy with an equal measure of romance. There are “good guys” and “bad guys,” except it’s very difficult to figure out who’s who. This is the awful predicament Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) finds herself in, as she tries to preserve her life.
During her vacation in the French Alps, Reggie decides it’s time to divorce her husband, Charles. It’s a meaningless marriage, it seems, and she doesn’t even know why she’s married to a man who is always absent and about whom she doesn’t know that much anyway. It is at this time that she meets a charming American, Peter Joshua (Cary Grant), who tells her he’d like to keep in touch upon their return to Paris.
Gathering her Louis Vuitton matched luggage to the luxurious Paris apartment, Reggie is confronted with the strangest event: the entire apartment has been pilfered. There is nothing left, not even one shred of clothing. Naturally, she’s beside herself, only to be frightened by a mustached man, who turns out to be Inspector Grandpierre. He informs her that Charles has been found dead with nothing more than one small bag next to him.
It turns out that Charles was a man of many passports and many identities. This is news to Reggie. Things really take a dark turn when she finds out that there is 250,000 dollars missing and that apparently Charles had it with him. But there is nothing more than a few toiletries and a stamped letter to Reggie in Charles’ bag.
Reggie’s life becomes even more complicated when four men, whom she never met demand that she produces the money that Charles left for her. One of them is a CIA administrator, Mr. Bartholomew (Walter Matthau), who tells Reggie that the money belongs to the American government and that it’s imperative that she return it. Except, Reggie has no idea where the money is.
The other three men, who appear to be Charles’ former friends are after the money also and are haunting and taunting Reggie. Peter Joshua is part of the mix, and it’s not clear if he’s a friend or a foe. Needless to say, their meeting in the French Alps was hardly a coincidence. All of this is designed to make Reggie totally insane. She cannot trust anyone, yet she finds herself falling in love with Peter.
Who is right and who is wrong? Who’s the villain? Can Reggie trust anyone beside her friend Sylvie? What is Peter Joshua hiding? This tangled mess gets untangled by the end, and Donen’s direction has created a superb mix of romance and mystery. The film’s stars bring not only their individual charm to the silver screen but the beautiful interplay between Hepburn and Grant is palpable. They are a perfect match, despite the fact that Grant was 25 years older at the time. The writers made a use of the age difference by creating a comedic tension between Hepburn and Grant. In this case, it is Hepburn who pursues Grant. He keeps calling her a “child” but can’t help but fall under the spell of her charm.
Both Hepburn and Grant are known as good and kind people, and during the making of “Charade,” Grant’s goodness became quite apparent. According to Grant’s biographer, Scott Eyman, Hepburn was very nervous about meeting Grant, and upon their first meeting, she spilled a bottle of wine on his suit. Hepburn, in general, suffered greatly from anxiety and nervousness, but Grant did not contribute to it. On the contrary, he made her feel welcomed and at ease. “Don’t be nervous for goodness sake. I’m thrilled to know you,” he said.
Hepburn recalled that not many people liked Grant’s reserved nature and a need for privacy but she understood it since she desired the very same thing for herself. “I think because he was a vulnerable man, he recognized my vulnerability,” said Hepburn. “He had more wisdom than I to help me with it. He said something very important to me one day when I was probably twitching and nervous. We were sitting next to each other waiting for the next shot. And he laid his hand on my two hands and said, “You’ve got to learn to like yourself a little more.””
Often, the stories of “on the set” fights and animosities render the movie less powerful because the reality trumps the aesthetic illusion. But in this case, it makes “Charade” even sweeter. In a world of so many unimaginative films, “Charade” is something we can go back to, even momentarily, as we experience the charm and beauty that once was possible on the silver screen.
Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeni was the architect of the Iranian revolution and the guiding spirit of the Iranian regime that has held sway since 1979. He was the regime’s Supreme Leader. Ayatollah Ali Khameni is his successor.
Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses was published in September 1988. A few months later, on February 14, 1989, Khomeni issued a fatwa proclaiming a death sentence on Rushdie “and all those involved in [the] publication [of the novel] who were aware of its content.”
As everyone knows, Rushdie lived in hiding for years. His memoir Joseph Anton (2013) recounts the devastating impact of Khomeni’s fatwa on his life. Benjamin Balint’s excellent Claremont Review of Books review is not accessible at the moment, but our friends at the CRB are working on it.
In the wake of Khomeni’s fatwa, and understanding its significance, Daniel Pipes immediately set to work on The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, The Ayatollah, and the West (1990). Referring to “Khomeni and his ilk,” Pipes concludes the book with these words: “The West has to make it clear that the fundamentalist Muslims will gain nothing through threats and intimidation.”
A funny thing happened on its way to publication by Basic Books. Basic Books canceled its contract with Pipes and let him keep the advance. Pipes includes Edwin McDowell’s brief New York Times Book Notes story on the cancelation in an appendix.
The long arm of Khomeni’s fatwa reached out to strike Rushdie down before his talk lauding free speech at the Chautauqua Institution in New York yesterday. Today comes news that Rushdie is severely injured and on a ventilator. The AP story on the events is posted here.
The perpetrator was immediately apprehended. See Michael Doran’s tweet on the perpetrator below.
Rushdie’s assailant is reportedly a 24 year old Shi’ite immigrant from South Lebanon by the name of Hadi Matar. His fake driving license carried the name Hassan Mughniyah (in honor of HASSAN nasrallah + imad MUGHNIYAH?). His FB page expresses love for the Islamic Republic. pic.twitter.com/rJhYFJ0CHu
— Mike (@Doranimated) August 13, 2022
It is a humiliating and appalling abomination that this attack occurred on American soil. What is to be done? Doran reasonably anticipates the worst from Joe Biden’s clown-car administration.
Get ready for anonymous senior Biden officials to tell the NYT it’s wrong to hold Iran responsible for the attack on Rushdie. “We have no proof that Matar was controlled by Tehran. The nuke deal is good on its own terms and should go forward.” 100s of billions of dollars to Iran!
— Mike (@Doranimated) August 13, 2022
With the exception of Andrew McCarthy’s NRO posts and columns, the written commentary on the raid on Mar-a-Lago has been wanting. Today he devotes his weekly NRO column (behind the NRO paywall) to the unsealed search warrant. Andy wrote me this morning in response to my notes on the warrant. I am grateful to be able to add his comments to the mix. With his permission I’m posting his message in full below the break.
* * * * *
This is about as close to a general warrant as it gets. There are no limitations, practically speaking, on what they could take. Yes, there is a focus on classified items, but it’s only a slice of the seizure authority.
Given the breadth of the warrant and the timing in connection with other investigative events (the Eastman and Clark searches, the grand jury subpoenas to Pence’s aides and the White House counsel lawyers, and the Rep. Scott Perry search warrant the day after Mar-a-Lago), it seems obvious that this is about Jan. 6 more than anything else.
I’m not saying they ‘re not interested in the classified information — I got some backlash for earlier this week for using the word “pretextual” as if I were saying the warrant was fraudulent or that they didn’t really believe classified intelligence was at issue. All I mean, very simply, is that their closet agenda (making a Jan. 6 case on Trump for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and to obstruct Congress) is a higher priority for them than the ostensible purposes of the search (to reclaim classified information and, apparently, for amending the Presidential Records Act by executive creativity, so that it is now a criminal statute — unlike the statute that Congress actually enacted).
You are right that it is not clear what the proof is that Trump declassified the documents while he was president. But that’s a defense and the defense is often not clear at this stage of a criminal investigation (I doubt they are going to bring any classified information charges, so this may all be academic). The question raised by your observation is the interesting one, though: What does a president (as opposed to a subordinate official or an executive agency) have to do to declassify a document?
We’ve never litigated that before, and I think it pits the originalist understanding of the Constitution (all power vested in one official, the POTUS, who is bound only by the constitutional limits on his authority and does not have to comply with the executive branch directives he issues to subordinates) against the progressive vision of the Constitution (administrative agencies, including the law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus, which, though technically located in the executive branch, are controlled by regulations and protocols that make them largely independent of the president — who is expected to comply with those regulations when he operates in the relevant area … and therefore would be expected to comply with Executive Orders and regulations that prescribe declassification procedures).
I am in the originalist camp, so I don’t think Trump would have to do much to declassify, but (a) I’m not sure what “much” means (other than that its a question of fact, not law, taking in the totality of the circumstances), (b) I’m not at all sure that the Supreme Court would agree with me, and (c) as with the former Independent Counsel statute, whose passing we do not mourn, I doubt Democrats are going to like living in the world they’re creating once it’s biting them rather than Trump.
With this episode of the Three Whisky Happy Hour, the great John Yoo joins up as a permanent co-host along with and Lucretia and me, having spent the last several weeks in Triple-A podcast instructional league while I was drinking my way across the British Isles.
Perfect timing, since John worked in the Justice Department once upon a time, and has insights into its internal political dynamics, and as such the ideal person to analyze The Great Raid on Mar-a-Lago. Needless to say, Lucretia’s outrage meter goes to eleven on this week’s leading story, while John provides the voice of reason, while I do my best impression of a potted plant.
Given the risks (mostly to me) of this new host line-up, the exit music this week is “Flirtin’ With Disaster” by Molly Hatchett.
As usual, listen here, or stagger over to our hosts at Ricochet.
Earlier this week I offered “Notes on the Trump raid.” I want to offer a few tentative notes on the Mar-a-Lago search warrant/receipt unsealed in slightly redacted form yesterday. Mr. Techno Fog, Esq., has posted the documents with his own observations here. The Wall Street Journal has separately posted the search warrant/receipt here.
I want to tune out the noise — Merrick Garland’s fatuous four-minute public statement, the ensuing Department of Justice leaks, and the Trump team responses — and focus on what we can observe with our own eyes. I reiterate my earlier observation that the authorities are out to get Trump.
Andrew McCarthy has commented here and here. He also takes up President Trump’s assertion that he declassified all the documents in issue: “[I]f Trump declassified documents while he was still president, then they no longer constitute classified information that he could criminally mishandle.” Query the evidence supporting the proposition that Trump declassified the documents. Where is the proof that he did so while he was president? That is not clear to me.
We have yet to see the affidavit(s) that underlie the warrant. We therefore lack the alleged factual basis supporting the finding of probable cause on which the approval of the warrant is predicated. We all want to see the affidavit(s) underlying the search warrant. The affidavits are where the action is. Without them we are shooting in the dark.
Judicial approval of the search warrant by itself doesn’t mean much insofar as the proceeding is ex parte (not adversary). As we saw in the Russia hoax, the government — the FBI and the Department of Justice — swear to “facts” without opposition and that may not be so. In the Russia hoax, they did this before federal judges serving in the FISA court with virtual impunity.
The scope of the FBI search is set forth in Exhibits A and B. The scope covers every inch of Mar-a-Lago but private areas. It covers every Trump administration document “illegally possessed in violation of” three specified criminal statutes. Looking at the receipt, I infer that the FBI seized whatever documents they wanted without reference to the criminal statutes.
Let’s take a look at the criminal statutes. They are cited in this order:
18 USC § 793: This is a provision of the Espionage Act that prohibits the appropriation of defense information “with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” The New York Times has won Pulitzer Prizes that celebrate its violation of this provision of the act. I wrote about it at length in the 2006 Weekly Standard article “Disclosure.” Trump’s alleged violation of this statute is a joke. I believe it discredits the operation — it is a red flag that the purpose is other than as stated. The allegation that Trump violated this provision of the law should not withstand the slightest scrutiny (let alone the requirement that it be supported by probable cause).
18 USC § 2071: The statute prohibits the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of government records. Was Trump’s removal of the records unlawful?
18 USC § 1519: This is an obstruction of justice statute. It prohibits the destruction, alteration, of government records “with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.”
We need the supporting affidavit(s) to have any idea what the alleged violation of sections 2071 and 1519 is about. The alleged violation of the Espionage Act colors my tentative view that what we have here is a crock fabricated in bad faith.
The receipt for seized property runs for three pages. It reflects the seizure of some 20 boxes of items, binders of photos, a handwritten note and the executive grant of clemency for Roger Stone, and “Info re: President of France.” It generally itemizes documents including documents at all classified levels.
When I say what we have here is a crock fabricated in bad faith, I mean that the purpose of the proceeding is other than as advertised. It is in furtherance of the Biden administration’s pursuit of President Trump for the events of Jan. 6 and, as I say — forgive me for repeating myself — I infer that they are out to get him.
UPDATE: NRO’s Andrew McCarthy wrote me this morning to respond to the issues I raised above. I have posted his comments here.
John did a commendable job filling in the all-important role of TWiP curator while I was away, though by his own admission he is weak at the Star Wars/Star Trek game, not to mention the semi-obscure semi-academic items I like to include, like send-ups of the stupid trolley car hypothetical beloved of idiot moral utilitarian bipeds who walk among us. And speaking of idiot moral utilitarian bipeds, such as the ones working for the FBI and Department of Justice. . .
Headlines of the week:
And finally. . .
We’re not really going to start a Videos of the Week to go with TWiP, but now and then a few videos cross the transom that deserve notice by our readership.
A reader calls to our attention the awesome satirists at the Babylon Bee offering up Law and Order: Microaggressions Victim Unit (just 3 min. long):
Next, Kamala strikes again:
KAMALA HARRIS: "Equity as a concept says recognize that everyone has the same capacity, but in order for them to have equal opportunity to reach that capacity, well, we must pay attention to this issue of equity." pic.twitter.com/iwrdS6C5QJ
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 12, 2022
Finally, Power Line’s sports desk, “Savage Brick Sports” (aka, Norman Hayward), has compiled the Top 100 Plays in NFL history. This one is a bit longer (at 27 min), but worth it for football fans (you may need to click through to YouTube):
By now I expect everyone has heard of the attack on Salman Rushdie. Andy Ngo notes:
And yet here’s how the New York Times reports it:
On Wednesday, Congressmen Jim Jordan and Mike Johnson of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Jill Sanborn, former Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, requesting that she provide an interview to committee staff. The subject was alleged inflating of “domestic violent extremism” cases by the FBI:
On July 27, 2022, we wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray about whistleblower disclosures that FBI officials were pressuring agents to reclassify cases as “domestic violent extremism” (DVEs) even if the cases do not meet the criteria for such a classification.
This is significant because increasingly, “domestic violent extremism” has explicitly or implicitly been cast as right-wing extremism.
Whistleblower disclosures made by multiple FBI employees from different field offices suggest that FBI agents are bolstering the number of cases of DVEs to satisfy their supervisors. For example, one whistleblower explained that because agents are not finding enough DVE cases, they are encouraged and incentivized to reclassify cases as DVE cases even though there is minimal, circumstantial evidence to support the reclassification. Another whistleblower stated that a field office Counterterrorism Assistant Special Agent in Charge and the FBI’s then-Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division pressured agents to move cases into the DVE category to hit self-created performance metrics. This whistleblower identified you as one official who exerted pressure on agents to reclassify cases as DVE matters.
We are investigating several allegations concerning the politicization of the FBI, including allegations that the FBI is padding its DVE data.
“Whistleblowers” can’t always be trusted, of course. But these claims have a ring of truth, in part because they are borne out by statistics. Two weeks ago, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Division Matthew Olsen testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the allegation that the FBI is inflating DVE numbers:
Representative Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the panel, asserted that “multiple whistleblowers” had approached House Judiciary Republicans, alleging that FBI officials were pressuring field agents to categorize cases as domestic violent extremism, even though they did not meet the criteria for such classification.
“Are you juicing the numbers?” Jordan asked.
Olsen responded that he was not aware of the accusations.
The numbers certainly raise questions:
The FBI tracks several categories of domestic violent extremists. White supremacists and anti-government militias have been responsible for most deadly attacks in recent years.
In his prepared testimony, Olsen said FBI investigations of domestic violent extremism cases have more than doubled since 2020.
Imagine that! Cases have more than doubled since the Biden administration took charge of the DOJ and the FBI. This is partly because “[h]undreds of these cases stemmed from the January 6, 2021, mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. The FBI is investigating the attack as ‘domestic terrorism.'” As opposed to misguided tourism, which in many cases it appears to have been.
Last September, [FBI Director Christopher] Wray told lawmakers that the number of active domestic violent terrorism cases had jumped from about 1,000 in early 2020 to 2,700, while the number of so-called homegrown violent extremist cases remained stable, at around 1,000.
It seems obvious that this focus on “domestic violent extremists,” real or imagined, dovetails with the Bureau’s hyping of “Militia Violent Extremism”–watch for the Betsy Ross flag!–as part of the FBI’s devotion to the political interests of the Democratic Party.
Yesterday Merrick Garland delivered a brief press statement, apparently feeling heat with regard to DOJ’s Mar-a-Lago raid. Garland’s unimpressive performance did nothing to quell concerns about apparent political overreach by the DOJ and the FBI, so the Biden administration tried to invest the raid with seriousness by leaking to its favorite media outlets that the raid resulted from concerns about “nuclear documents.” This upped the ante somewhat from prior leaks that attributed the raid to “classified documents.”
This afternoon the federal court in Florida that issued the search warrant unsealed the warrant and the receipt that was filed after the search was carried out, describing the items that were taken. You can read those documents here. The Wall Street Journal covers the story here.
The receipt indicates that several groups of “Miscellaneous Top Secret Documents” and “Miscellaneous Secret” or “Confidential” documents were recovered. How significant this is remains to be seen. Trump and his allies have suggested that some or all of these materials were declassified prior to Trump’s departure from the White House. That may or may not turn out to be true. Trump also says that DOJ and the National Archives could have had these materials at any time. He released this statement today:
Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn’t need to “seize” anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request. They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago. ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK. The bigger problem is, what are they going to do with the 33 million pages of documents, many of which are classified, that President Obama took to Chicago?
At this point, we have no idea whether any of the documents contained in the 15 or so boxes in Mar-a-Lago’s basement had any particular significance. (Contrary to what some may assume, the fact that a document is stamped “Top Secret” does not necessarily imply such significance.) Nor is there reason to think there was any danger of whatever secrets may have been contained being communicated to a foreign power–which is, after all, the point.
At the same time, I find it hard to credit Trump’s assertion that the Archives and DOJ had only to ask, and the boxes would have been turned over. News reports suggest there is quite a bit of water over this dam, allegedly including a subpoena for the files. Maybe DOJ just forgot to ask for the boxes before launching a raid with 30 FBI agents. If so, it is a scandal. But almost certainly, there is more to the story than that.
In the end, I suspect this will turn out to be a teapot tempest. Likely there was nothing of much significance in the boxes, and, in any event, there is zero reason to think that any secrets contained in the boxes would be compromised. We have here a collision between two unreasonable parties, Donald Trump and the Trump-hating federal bureaucracy. It may never be entirely clear, as to this tiny group of files in the Mar-a-Lago basement, which side was more unreasonable.
I doubt there is any reason why the rest of us should care, but the raid will have political fallout, if nothing else. It put Donald Trump front and center as the midterms approach, it blackened Trump, rightly or wrongly, with a charge of careless handling of government secrets, and it outraged many millions of Republicans and independents who see the raid as the latest sign that the administrative state is out of control.
I don’t know how the political pros and cons will net out, but personally, I would rather see attention return to the disasters of the Biden administration: the Afghan debacle, the multi-trillion dollar inflation extravaganzas, the skyrocketing cost of fuel and groceries, the dissolution of the border, the devastation of America’s energy system, and so on.
For those of you able to join us at 6 pm eastern time this evening for a live taping of the Three Whisky Happy Hour podcast, click on this Zoom link.
You may need to bear with us, as we have a couple of technical challenges today on account of equipment and far-flung locations. And if you aren’t able to join us live, the audio version will be posted up tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, good to see the New York Times editorial page headline writers are working overtime for our entertainment:
Moviegoers may recall the scene late in Return of the Jedi where the rebel fleet transmits a stolen security code to get through the defensive perimeter surrounding the new death star, and the communications officer on the imperial battle cruiser says, “It’s an old code, but it checks out.”
This line came back to mind with the news this morning that one of the items supposedly sought in the Mar-a-Lago raid were the nuclear launch codes that Trump carried in his pocket while president, and which as an ex-President he probably should have surrendered upon leaving office, though I don’t know what the actual procedure is.
This story seems highly suspicious, to say the least. The details of the command-and-control systems for our nuclear and other advanced weapons systems are highly classified, and are one of the most difficult problems of defense management in a crisis. It’s one thing to have nuclear weapons systems, but it is another thing to communicate and authenticate command orders in wartime conditions, when the enemy will be hacking and disrupting communication chains. This was a major problem even before the rise of the internet. It was a major concern, for example, back in the early 1980s when the United States deployed Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe. Some declassified accounts of the command-and-control challenges of that era make for harrowing reading.
Regardless of the complexity of C-and-C, it defies common sense to suppose that an ex-President would have live launch codes in his possession. Surely the codes are changed when a new president takes office, and in any case Trump wouldn’t have access to the “football’—the mobile communications device used for a president to send out launch instructions that travels everywhere with the president. Does anyone think Trump is going to call up some manned missile silo or ballistic submarine commander thinking that an old code will “check out”? This is too stupid even for George Lucas.
The only remotely possible difficulty is if it is supposed that our enemies could learn valuable intelligence about our command and communication structure if Trump deliberately or inadvertently allowed access to old codes and related documents about their use. If the Biden Administration has evidence of this, they ought to produce it immediately. And even if this unlikely scenario is correct, it wouldn’t justify the kind of sensational public raid that took place.
This is starting to sound like a re-run of the Russia Hoax, and by the very same people who are using the same old Code Red they sounded in 2016. But that old code doesn’t check out. It’s almost as though they want Trump to run and win again. Good for business at FBI headquarters.
Negotiations with the Iranian regime facilitated by our Russian “friends” have culminated in a final text of a new nuke deal announced in Vienna this week on August 8. FDD’s Richard Goldberg reviews the state of play in the disheartening essay “Five minutes from disaster.” Under the terms of a new deal:
Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030, including the lifting of U.S. terrorism sanctions imposed on the top financiers of a group President Joe Biden recently reaffirmed as a terrorist organization: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. As with the 2015 agreement, Iran would face no restrictions on its development of nuclear-capable missiles, its proliferation and sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East, and its abuse of the Iranian people. And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Pompeo adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.
Emanuele Ottolenghi’s Tablet column “Totalitarians Inc.” supplements Goldberg’s essay. It is hard to understand the thinking behind the promotion of such a deal in terms of the national interest of the United States. Brain death doesn’t explain it. Suicidal self-delusion might do it.
The Biden administration waited until this week to unseal the August 5 criminal complaint against the IRGC operative charged in the case. He was not in the United States and has not been taken into custody.
I can’t think of any reason other than the finalization of the prospective deal to have sealed the complaint. The defendant appears to be beyond the reach of American justice (“at large abroad,” in the terms of the press release), and the defendant’s superiors in the IRGC chain of command remain unnamed and uncharged.
Bolton’s colleagues in the AEI office can’t be too thrilled with the plan as described in the charge. Moreover, the IRGC operative had a second (unnamed) target in mind. It is apparent even from the Department of Justice press release on the case that the Iranians have operatives working on American soil.
In an interview with FOX News digital reporter Brooke Singman, Bolton characterized the plot as an “act of war,” which of course it is, and called on Biden to give up the ghost of the deal with his prospective assassins. The AP quotes Bolton’s statement on the charge: “While much cannot be said publicly right now, one point is indisputable: Iran’s rulers are liars, terrorists, and enemies of the United States.” The FOX News interview quotes Bolton on this salient point that remains implicit in the complaint:
“It is not just me,” Bolton said. “The regime in Tehran has targeted a lot of Americans.”
“The aim here is to kill Americans on American soil, and its former government officials,” Bolton explained. “This is a broad threat to private American citizens on American soil, and I think it is, essentially, unprecedented.”
The Biden administration cannot admit that the Iranian regime is at war with us any more than the Obama administration could. That “death to America” thing is simply boob bait for the Iranian bubbas, or something like that.
I’m afraid that this will not be the final installment of the Iran edition of this series. More to come.
Drawing on this week’s BLS report on the Consumer Price Index, President Biden and his flacks promoted the idea that inflation had dramatically fallen to 0 percent last month. I noted the administration’s 0 percent chorus here yesterday. Is it too late to cancel the destructive monstrosity moving through Congress under the misnomer of the Inflation Reduction Act?
That is one question the Democrat media adjunct failed to raise as it fell into line yesterday reiterating the talking point of the day (video below). So far as I can tell from the video, however, even the media adjunct could not whip itself into repetition of the 0 percent line.
A footnote to our coverage of inflation and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). IRA is the word for “anger” or “rage” in Latin. It is there in the opening lines of Vergil’s Aeneid (Aeneas is “battered” by “the savage Juno’s unforgetting anger,” in Allen Mandelbaum’s translation). At NRO, Philip Klein reports that Joe Manchin himself appears to have been battered by IRA:
[T]he polling for Manchin is…brutal. It finds that 51 percent of registered voters now have an unfavorable opinion of him, compared to just 21 percent who have a favorable view. In the same poll last month, Manchin was nearly even, with 34 percent favorable and 35 percent favorable.
That means that in a matter of a few weeks, Manchin’s favorability dropped a net 29 points! And there’s no way that can be attributable to anything other than his public support for the Democrats tax, spend, Obamacare expansion, and IRS audit bill [i.e., the IRA].
To be clear, this is not a poll of his home state of West Virginia, and it is unclear whether Manchin will even run again when he is up for reelection in 2024.
But it does undercut the idea that this bill is broadly popular and will give Democrats a big boost in November.
I asked yesterday who could think it was a good look to retail the line that inflation had fallen to 0 percent. The inflation ignited by Biden stares us in the face every day. Voters are resistant both to the administration’s happy talk and the alleged charms of IRA.
Where the country rock group Poco once picked up the pieces, Ammo Grrrll is PICKING UP THE THREADS. She writes:
Big doings this week for sure. I put in my opinion as a short comment on John’s Tuesday post. But I figured by Friday we would have so much new information that anything I wrote for Wednesday’s submission would not age well. However, even more important, I have been mercifully distracted by hosting my dear friend Ladiehawke, who is visiting from Minnesota. I believe that my thoughts on friendship will be of more comfort and consequence than anything more I could say about the grotesque invasion of Mar-a-Lago, with agents pawing through Melania’s clothes closet. How proud they must be!
My almost lifelong buddy arrived for a week’s visit last Sunday. In the airport pickup, I remarked to myself – not for the first time – how much easier is a drop-off than a pickup. When pretty much anyone asks me if I could take them to the airport, I say “yes.” It’s about a 35 minute trip from my house, depending on day of the week and time of day. You slow down slightly, tell your passenger to grab his or her luggage, open the car door and hurl them from the car somewhere near their airline. Easy peasy. Centrifugal force does most of the work!
The pickup is FAR more inconvenient, especially in Arizona in the summer. You try to get there at least 20-30 minutes ahead of time, pull into the Cellphone Lot which only has Porta-Potties. I would sooner put a tarp over the seat and wear triple Depends than use a Porta-Potty. (“Jeez! What’s up with your yuge behind? Are you a Kardashian now?”)
Then you try to find an empty slot where you can see the Big Board of flight arrivals and departures. Naturally, when it’s 110°, you can’t shut off the car and lose the Air Conditioning.
In this particular trip, the Big Board was not working, because NOTHING works in Biden’s America. It is my belief that that is on purpose. Immiserating people is part of the kink. That’s how much they hate us. Can you imagine President Trump tolerating a months-long baby formula crisis? Within days, Mike Lindell would have converted his pillow factory into a MyFormulaCompany. Or NASCAR’S Formula One would have stepped up.
But last Sunday, all that appeared on the airport board was the endless list of delayed flights. I had to use my cellphone to look up Delta and the flight # and learn that it had landed 10 minutes early. Whew. At least she was here. Looking at the list of “canceled or delayed” flights, it seemed like a minor miracle.
She texted me the Door # on the North side and I came curbside to pick her up. We yakked all the way from the airport to Prescott. In true Geezer-American fashion, I asked her to help me remember to turn off the 17 onto the 69. When I picked up my friend Barb for the same trip four years ago, we were talking so much that I whipped right by the 69 and went halfway to Flagstaff before I said, “This is wrong and taking too long. I missed my turn.” Oh well.
Ladiehawke and I are having a spectacular time despite endless monsoon-level rain, and monsoon-level depressing political news. Nothing to be done about either of those things – so we resolved just to enjoy each other’s company.
We have known each other since we were in 9th grade. (And she’s known Joe/Max only 5 fewer years than that.) We have been through long separations for college, for living in another country (I’m told that Canada is actually a whole ‘nother country with their own money and everything…), for long journeys from the left back to the right (me, only), through several marriages (her, only), miscarriages, children, loss of parents, and so on. But, the main thing is that no matter what length of separation, we can pick up the thread right where we left off and carry on in a seamless fashion. This is the beauty of soulmate friends. I hope you have several. We need each other more than ever now.
We have not always been on the same page politically, although she has been far more consistent in her political life than I have. But it never mattered. It is tragic when politics breaks up long-term friendships and relationships, even families. I believe the intolerant one is usually the leftist, but I’m sure there is responsibility to go around.
Like most friendships, there is a yuge element of serendipity involved, starting with the fact that our last names started with “B.” Her twin sister sat directly behind me in 9th grade Social Studies and we hit it off, and then I was thrilled to get two friends for the price of one. (Minnesotans LOVE BOGO — Buy One, Get One — sales…) And eventually, though I always remained close friends with Heather until her untimely death, Ladiehawke (not her real name, more’s the pity…) and I just bonded slightly more tightly.
We had the same sense of humor and were Mad Magazine fanatics. We were both crazy obsessive readers. And of an analytical bent. I’ll give you an example of our Sherlock Holmesian analysis at the tender age of 14:
Ladiehawke: So did you see Brian at his locker?
Susan: Yes! I casually lurked in the vicinity of his locker from 6:30 a.m. until class started at 8:00 and I ran into him!
Ladiehawke: Did he say hi?
Susan: Yes! Wait til you hear! He said hi AND today for the first time he also said, “Susan.” Do you think this means he likes me? “Hi, Susan!” my heart is still racing.
Ladiehawke: Hi AND your name? Oh, yeah, that’s a very good sign.
Susan: Do you think we will get married?
Ladiehawke: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Maybe a date first?
Susan: Okay, you’re probably right. So who would you rather go out with – Dr. Kildare or Ben Casey? (This, of course was decades before we learned that Dr. Kildare was gay.)
And so on. We were all about “analysis.” In the same way the Climatistas are all about “Science,” just not the Scientific Method where you have reproducible results.
Let me digress just briefly to say that we have recently learned that many of the places where the Climatistas keep their trusty thermometers are in pretty much the hottest places they could find. It reminds me of when I was trying to convince my mother that I was desperately ill so I could skip school and finish reading Gone With the Wind. I had rubbed the thermometer briskly on the bedsheet. Alas, a bit too briskly. Mama was smarter than Greta Thunberg and Al Gore (put together). She figured out that 108 was probably not an accurate reading no matter what the thermometer said. And I was on my way to school. Curses! Foiled again!
But back to the topic of friends. By the way, if you think that teenage girls have changed any in 30, 40 years, once when I was working nightshift in a printshop, a couple of us went out for “lunch” at an Uptown Minneapolis Dunkin’ Donuts at 3:30 a.m. (Now, you’d be killed, but this was the early ’80’s). I was seated in an uncomfortable plastic booth (to discourage lingering), having a nutritious lunch of several donuts, some of them chocolate frosted for the magnesium. As it happened, I was facing in the opposite direction from the teenagers behind us. I could not see them but I could hear them. And I swear there was almost an exact replica of the above conversation about stalking the fella I fancied.
As I left, I turned to look at the young women – half expecting to see knee socks and penny loafers and white blouses and plaid skirts with a circle pin on the collar of the blouse. But they were Goths with all black clothing, Doc Marten boots, multiple piercings and white lipstick. And they STILL were mostly concerned about whether or not their current inamorata was interested in them. Hormones will out. Unless, of course, an entire generation gets on various puberty blockers at age 10 after a half-hour discussion with a “gender-affirming therapist” in the pay of a pharmaceutical company.
Although there is a kind of liberation in getting to know new people – where you can have a clean slate and invent a more interesting personality — there is enormous comfort in being around someone who has known you forever. As Geezer-Americans, of course, there is a good chance that at least half of those good friends have passed away. And so, with courage and optimism, we make new ones, even ones we have met through this column. This time around, we don’t have the luxury of taking 60 years to get to know someone, and so we have stopped trying to impress each other and just go straight for the “heart” stuff.
Stay strong, my friends. Don’t fudge on your taxes even a little bit lest you find yourself in the gulag after being investigated by the 5-plus new DIVISIONS of IRS agents and, no matter how tempting, don’t use any silly violent rhetoric. Remember, only celebrities and Democrats are allowed to threaten to kill people. When called on it, they always say they were just joking. Haha. What cards! So, if you aren’t a celebrity or a Democrat, just be careful. It’s gettin’ pretty real out there.
There is much to be said about the FBI’s raid on Donald Trump’s home. I won’t try to say it all here. These are a few observations, based on what we know currently:
* To get a search warrant, you have to identify a crime that has been committed, and explain how evidence you are looking for is relevant to that crime. At this point, we don’t know what purported crime was the basis for the Mar-a-Lago search warrant.
* Earlier today, Attorney General Merrick Garland delivered a brief statement to the press, and declined to take questions. He looked remarkably nervous and said hardly anything. Only two points emerged: 1) he ordered the raid himself, and 2) the Department of Justice will unseal the documents that were filed in connection with the search warrant.
* No one doubted that the raid was ordered, at a minimum, by the Attorney General. I think it is virtually certain that Garland had authorization from his boss, Joe Biden.
* Multiple parties, including Judicial Watch, moved the Florida court to unseal the filings related to the search warrant. The magistrate gave the government until close of business on Monday to respond. In effect, Garland said today that DOJ will accede to these motions and unseal the records. It remains to be seen how informative they will be.
* President Trump, like other presidents before him, took files with him when he left the White House. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this. The Presidential Records Act, passed in 1978, says that the official records of a president are public property and belong to the National Archives. But a president can take with him, when he leaves office, personal papers as well as–a point that I haven’t seen made–copies of documents, as long as they are marked as such and he leaves a copy for the Archives.
* Trump, like prior presidents, has negotiated with the National Archives about the materials he took with him. Earlier this year, he sent 15 boxes to the Archives. Subsequently, it is reported that representatives of the Archives came to Mar-a-Lago to review approximately 15 more boxes that Trump still had in his basement. While they were doing the review, Trump came downstairs to greet them. I don’t think the contents of those boxes, the apparent target of the search warrant, are a mystery to the Archives or to DOJ. Maybe they were hoping to discover something new in Melania’s closets.
* The DOJ, in its many press leaks, mostly to its in-house media organ the New York Times, keeps talking about classified information. This is because no penalty attaches to violation of the Presidential Records Act. The Biden administration has to allege the commission of a crime, and that most likely explains its references to classified information.
* I have no idea whether classified information is included in the 15 boxes that Trump has in his basement or not. It wouldn’t be surprising. The serious criminal statutes on classified information relate to passing it on to, say, the Russians or Chinese. As far as we know, there is no suggestion that Trump gave classified information to anyone. He was perfectly entitled to know it and to view it himself; the issue is that he may have taken it to an unauthorized location, i.e., Mar-a-Lago. Until now, this has generally not been considered a serious offense. Sandy Berger is an exception, although he got a slap on the wrist. But in his case, the point was that he stole a document from the Archives, apparently something damaging to the Clinton administration, so as to delete it from the historical record. There is no such suggestion, as far as we know, with regard to Trump.
* Many people have drawn analogies between what Hillary Clinton did and whatever misdeed Trump may now be charged with. I don’t see any comparison. Hillary, while Secretary of State, conducted official business on an illegal, off-the-books server located in her home, apparently for the purpose of evading the Freedom of Information Act. Most notably, the server was insecure, and the Russians, Chinese or others could have, and likely did, intercept her official communications as Secretary of State. Trump, on the other hand, has 15 boxes of documents in his basement. There is no comparison.
* It might be worth noting that 15 boxes, if that really is what is at stake, is a ridiculously small number of documents. As a lawyer, I supervised exchanges of hundreds or even thousands of boxes of documents. Fifteen boxes are a pittance, although it depends, of course, on what is in them.
* We will know more about the Mar-a-Lago raid within a few days, when the search warrant filings are unsealed. My guess, though, is that those documents will leave a lot of questions unanswered.
* The Democrats crossed the Rubicon when they raided Donald Trump’s home. Never before in American history has anything like this happened. I think the consensus of the commentariat is correct: the Democrats had better have something really good up their sleeve, or the blowback will be intense. Hence Merrick Garland’s sad performance today.
Since I’m tanned, rested, and ready from five weeks away, and armed with pages of notes on whisky discoveries, I’ll be resuming the helm of the Three Whisky Happy Hour podcast with a *live* taping tomorrow afternoon at 6 pm Eastern time (3 pm Pacific, etc). This session will be open to all comers, and I’ll post the Zoom webinar link here tomorrow shortly after noon Pacific time. So tune in, post up your questions and comments in the chat thread, and we’ll try to take up some of them as we go along.
This episode will include a special announcement about the future of the show (clever listeners may well guess what it might be).
Whatever shall we talk about this week? Heh. “Lucretia,” who really ought to be known as the Beth Dutton* of the Power Line extended family, says she has some opinions about the Mar a Lago raid. I can’t imagine what they might be.
* In case you don’t know the reference, Lucretia passes along this prompt:
Fits, since this is the real Lucretia in action:
The energy crisis in Great Britain, and across Europe, continues to deepen. The concept now in the news is “load shedding.” The Telegraph reports:
[L]oad-shedding looks likely to become the buzzword of this winter amid warnings that blackouts of the developing world are making their way to Britain.
As chaos in energy markets picks up pace and supplies falter, the UK faces a similar crisis of having to choose how to distribute demand for electrical power across multiple power sources.
The spectre of organised blackouts risks Britain being dragged into a crisis to match the power cuts of the 1970s.
Now, industry is pushing Government officials to finalise plans for reducing demand on the electricity grid to provide certainty ahead of winter. It would be the first managed decline of the country’s energy system for decades.
Consider that phrase: “managed decline of the country’s energy system.”
Yet the reality of life under energy rationing may be difficult for families in an advanced economy to swallow.
Mark Nelson, managing director of consultancy Radiant Energy Group, says: “…Many developing countries have load-shedding, billions of people know what this means, it’s just rich countries have not had to deal with it.”
Nelson adds that while load-shedding is commonly described as blackouts, plans currently being put in place in Britain are very different.
“Blackouts we associate with sudden, accidental bad performance of the grid, but load-shedding is a planned, longer-term failure,” he says.
“Load-shedding means the grid is fine but there just isn’t enough power for everyone.
“It’s a slower, managed decline of the country.”
This is the path that the U.S. is now going down, in one of the most catastrophically stupid policy decisions in history. From the liberal Bloomberg: “The US Industrial Complex Is Starting to Buckle From High Power Costs.”
Europe’s fertilizer plants, steel mills, and chemical manufacturers were the first to succumb. Massive paper mills, soybean processors, and electronics factories in Asia went dark.
Now soaring natural gas and electricity prices are starting to hit the US industrial complex.
On June 22, 600 workers at the second-largest aluminum mill in America, accounting for 20% of US supply, learned they were losing their jobs because the plant can’t afford an electricity tab that’s tripled in a matter of months.
Much more at the link. The scale of the human tragedy we will witness if we do not reverse our current “green” course is incalculable.
• What do the Danes know that we don’t?
“Children and adolescents only very rarely become seriously ill from COVID-19 with the omicron variant. Therefore, from July 1, 2022, it will no longer be possible for children and adolescents under the age of 18 to get the 1st [shot], and from September 1, 2022, it will no longer be possible to get the 2nd [shot],” reads a government statement. [translated from Danish]
• I haven’t been properly keeping up with our friends at Kite and Key Media (though not to worry—I am planning to have Troy Senik, the voiceover man for KKM, on the Power Line podcast soon to talk about his forthcoming biography of the last sensible Democratic president, Grover Cleveland), and as long-time readers know, for many years I produced an annual report on environmental trends in the United States, most of which are positive. This good news, naturally, infuriates environmentalists, who aren’t happy unless the world is coming to an end, and can’t take Yes for an answer. In any case, the latest KKM video out yesterday tells this story with their usual succinct skill:
• I’ve long understood that the Letters to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal are one of the most read items in the paper every day (partly because the WSJ doesn’t have an obituary section I suppose). Anyway, there’s one really great one today:
Mr. Soros advocates deploying mental-health professionals instead of police in crisis situations. Mr. Soros should lead by example and replace his private security personnel with social workers. If someone attempts to attack him, the social workers could sit with the assailant and discuss the root causes.
David Westrich, Teaneck, N.J.
• In re: Scott’s post yesterday about Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey going off on Ilhan Omar, her worship issued this reply:
To paraphrase the great Ron Burgundy, you stay classy Ilhan. Meanwhile, pass the popcorn.
• Finally, if you are an NY Times reader (I do it so you don’t have to), the Times Magazine ran a long feature article last Sunday about our friends at the Claremont Institute. Or should I say the “embattled” Claremont Institute, since that’s what it seems like these days whenever they come up in the media, which is often. It was a surprisingly even-handed article. You might even say it was fair.
Sample for non-Times subscribers:
The Claremont Institute is not a conventional think tank — comparatively small, its main outlets consist of two politics-and-ideas publications and several fellowship programs, including Publius and Lincoln, that have attracted rising stars on the right. Yet Claremont’s reach is extensive: Claremont scholars have collaborated with Ron DeSantis and helped shape the views of Clarence Thomas, Tom Cotton and the conservative activist Christopher Rufo, and the institute received the National Humanities Medal from President Trump in 2019. . .
Convinced by Lincoln’s argument that “public sentiment is everything,” Claremont was devoted primarily to shaping opinions. “The most successful thing that the Claremont Institute has done is this educational effort,” [Matt] Continetti told me. “Trump did fill his administration, maybe not with Claremont personnel, but with Claremont alumni.” . . .
When I asked [Claremont president Ryan] Williams what Claremont’s ideal future would look like, he cited the deconstruction of the administrative state. He told me recently that the June Supreme Court ruling constraining the E.P.A. is “a step in the right direction,” and he would like to see “Congress get back into the act of legislating” instead of delegating rule making to bureaucracy, a “long-term and complicated process involving legislators learning rules that they haven’t used in 30 years.” Prudence, he added, dictated that change should be incremental. “Though I can anticipate your next question, which is, You guys talk like counterrevolutionaries,” Williams said. “One of the goals of the more polemical stuff is to wake up our fellow conservatives.”
Exit question: what does it say about the current state of things that the Claremont Institute gets better treatment from the New York Times than from The Bulwark?
Coordination among the authorities and the mainstream media operatives is so blatant one might conclude is so blatant as to be laughable. We miss Rush Limbaugh’s recurring demonstration of the phenomenon. The FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence is only the latest in a long line of examples. Word came down that what was once a “raid” is now a “search.”
The conformity of the talking heads is mind-boggling. The element of high-mindedness they add to their conformity is comical. Those falling into line can’t help but add a large, large dose of self-love to their humiliating compliance.
In their own way President Biden’s White House minders must be just about as far gone as he is. With the announcement that Consumer Price Index had declined year-over-year from 9.1 percent to 8.5 percent, they thought it made sense to push the line that the numbers reflect “zero inflation last month” (i.e., on a month to month basis). The Bureau of Labor Statistics data are compiled here (home page) and here (latest numbers).
This was the line of the day. The New York Post captures the bizarreries in the editorial “With prices up and output down, Biden’s boast of ‘0% inflation’ is beyond parody.” Put to one side Biden’s Zombie-in-Chief demeanor. Who can think this is a good look?
The whole thing puts me in mind of Leo Strauss’s observation regarding modern political science: “Only a great fool would call the new political science diabolic: it has no attributes peculiar to fallen angels. It is not even Machiavellian, for Machiavelli’s teaching was graceful, subtle, and colorful. Nor is it Neronian. Nevertheless one may say of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.”
Biden: "Today we received news that our economy had 0% inflation in the month of July. Zero percent." pic.twitter.com/n5IG1ONxe3
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) August 10, 2022
Even before the hapless Biden Administration decided to make a yuuuge in-kind contribution to the Trump 2024 campaign by raiding his Florida home in search of . . . classified documents?! (yeah, right), everything I have been hearing from people who have spoken with Trump or been close to Trumpworld all say the same thing: he’s running again.
Perhaps it is only a coincidence, but the day after the raid, Trump released this very powerful video about “A Nation in Decline,” which I heard John Podhoretz (no Trump fan) say is the most effective short piece of political communication since Reagan in 1979-80. It’s just three minutes long, and worth watching. See if you notice what’s not said in this spot:
What’s not said? Nothing about the stolen 2020 election. (Notice also the production techniques, of transitioning from black and white to color about halfway through.)
It’s almost as if Trump knows what he’s doing.
The Elephant In the Room, subtitled “Donald Trump and the Future of the Republican Party,” is a collection of essays on that subject edited by Andrew Busch and William Mayer, professors at Claremont McKenna and Northeastern University, respectively. There are nine essays in total. In addition to Busch and Mayer, contributors include Glenn Reynolds and Charles Kesler, among others. I contributed the least substantial essay to the collection, titled by the editors “Expanding the Republican Coalition: Four Lessons from the Trump Presidency.”
I got my copy in the mail on Monday and am still working my way through it, but the essays are excellent and timely. If you are interested, you can order The Elephant In the Room from Barnes & Noble, available September 1.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is purporting to investigate Donald Trump’s businesses. James is obsessed with Trump, and her supposed investigation is an obvious piece of political grandstanding. She scheduled Trump for a deposition today. In Trump’s eyes, the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid was the last straw, and he announced today that he is invoking the Fifth Amendment and has declined to submit to a deposition.
Trump released a statement that is lengthy, but worth reading in its entirety:
Attorney General Letitia James openly campaigned on the policy of “Get and Destroy Trump.” This political attack on me, my family, and my great company is her despicable attempt to fulfill that cynical, and very corrupt promise. James developed a political platform and made a career out of maliciously attacking me and my business before she was even elected, or reviewed one of the millions of pages of documents we willingly produced. She proclaimed, “I look forward to going into the Office of Attorney General every day, suing him. . . and then going home!” She announced, “what is fueling my soul right now is Trump”, and that she had her “eyes on Trump Tower.” She even assured her supporters in an Election promise that, “we’re going to definitely sue him. We’re going to be a real pain in the ass. He’s going to know my name personally”, and she claimed I was an “illegitimate President”. In her AG victory speech, she promised to “shine a bright light into every dark corner of Trump’s real estate holdings.” Shortly thereafter, she vowed to “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions, and that of his family as well.”
Letitia James is a failed politician who has intentionally colluded with others to carry out this phony years-long crusade that has wasted countless taxpayer dollars, all in an effort to prop up her political career. During her heated “Trump” rhetoric, she ran for Governor of New York State, using “Getting Trump” as her primary credential. It didn’t work, she got very low poll numbers, and ran back into the Office of Attorney General to continue the persecution of “President Donald J. Trump”, despite the fact that New York is suffering its worst murder, drug, and overall crime rate in many decades. Criminals are running rampant, shooting, slashing, and hurting people on the sidewalks of New York, while she and her Office spend a big percentage of their time and money on their “Trump” vendetta.
Letitia James openly stated her hostilities toward me, and a kind of retribution that is unthinkable. Years of work and tens of millions of dollars have been spent on this long simmering saga, and to no avail. James now realizes I built a great company with tremendous value, and her case is a “Scam”, which is why for years, they haven’t been able to file a single charge.
What Letitia James has tried to do the last three years is a disgrace to the legal system, an affront to New York State taxpayers, and a violation of the solemn rights and protections afforded by the United States Constitution.
I did nothing wrong, which is why, after five years of looking, the Federal, State and local governments, together with the Fake News Media, have found nothing.
We cannot permit a renegade and out-of-control prosecutor to use this investigation as a means of advancing her political career. New York deserves better, and this Country deserves better. This is a vindictive and self-serving fishing expedition, the likes of which our Country has never seen before. The United States Constitution exists for this very purpose, and I will utilize it to the fullest extent to defend myself against this malicious attack by this administration, this Attorney General’s Office, and all other attacks on my family, my business, and our Country.
I once asked, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice. If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty. I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.
Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.
Trump also released several videos of Letitia James. This is one of them:
How important is this development? Trump acknowledged the reality in his statement:
I once asked, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Now I know the answer to that question.
Trump makes a good case as to why he should not cooperate with James’s witch hunt. Nevertheless, the question–why would you plead the Fifth if you are innocent?–is an obvious one to which, in many minds, there is no good answer. No doubt this will be added to the Left’s litany of Trump’s many real and imagined transgressions.
At this point, opinions on Trump are so ingrained that there isn’t much room for perceptions to shift. But perhaps Trump’s invocation of his right not to incriminate himself will contribute to the heavy weight of baggage that will cause many to think that he is not the GOP’s best candidate for 2024.
But I always try to be even-handed in talking about Trump. This, if you haven’t already seen it, is what amounts to a campaign ad that has obviously been ready to go for a while, but was released in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago raid. I think it is a beautiful piece of work, and one can fairly ask whether anyone other than Trump could have done it. It is worth viewing full-screen:
Everyone knows Ilhan Omar is a vile ingrate and egregious liar, but these may be among her less detestable qualities. I had nevertheless yet to hear her called out in public by a prominent Minnesota Democrat in the fashion she was last night by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (video below). Frey’s condemnation of Omar reflects his personal experience and it is something more than the weak tea we have come to expect from him.
The local FOX outlet posted the video and a few others along with its brief story on the Fifth District DFL primary contest. Frey endorsed Omar challenger Don Samuels late in the campaign (i.e., last week).
With Supreme Court oral arguments now scheduled for the Harvard and University of North Carolina affirmative action cases, I’ve started reading through some of the amicus briefs filed in the case, and will comment on some of them in due course.
Meanwhile, an exchange of letters between Macklin Fleming, a Justice of the Court of Appeals, State of California at Los Angeles, and Louis Pollak, Dean of the Yale Law School, that was published in The Public Interest in 1969 makes for remarkable reading today. In 1969 Yale Law School instituted a quota for black students. This was before the Supreme Court, in Bakke, struck down explicit quotas, but introduced the more insidious practice of disguising quotas beneath the banner of “diversity.”
Some samples from Fleming:
From your remarks and those of Dean Poor, I understand that 43 black students have been admitted to next fall’s class, of whom 5 qualified under the regular standards and 38 did not. You anticipate that half this group will actually enroll, thus furnishing 22 black students in the first year class of 165, of whom perhaps 3 will have qualified under the regular standards and 19 will not. . .
It also appears that 38 fully-qualified applicants for admission to Yale Law School have been rejected solely because they are not members of a minority race. Under current policy the admission ratio for black applicants (50 per cent) is 5 times the admission ratio for other applicants (10 per cent). . .
With the adoption of its new admission policy the Law School has taken a long step toward the practice of apartheid and the maintenance of two law schools under one roof. Already there has been established in the Law School building a Black Law Students Union lounge with furniture and law books provided by the school. And I learned from Dean Poor that the 12 black students in the present first year class who were admitted under relaxed standards have not done well academically. Dean Poor attributed this deficiency to the preoccupation of these students with racial activities. I think it equally logical to attribute their preoccupation with racial activities to their lack of qualification to compete on even terms in the study of law. . .
The immediate damage to the standards of Yale Law School needs no elaboration. But beyond this, it seems to me the admission policy adopted by the Law School faculty will serve to perpetuate the very ideas and prejudices it is designed to combat. . .
No one can be expected to accept an inferior status willingly. The black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression. This is likely to take two forms. First, agitation to change the environment from one in which they are unable to compete to one in which they can. Demands will be made for elimination of competition, reduction in standards of performance, adoption of courses of study which do not require intensive legal analysis, and recognition for academic credit of sociological activities which have only an indirect relationship to legal training. Second, it seems probable that this group will seek personal satisfaction and public recognition by aggressive conduct, which, although ostensibly directed at external injustices and problems, will in fact be primarily motivated by the psychological needs of the members of the group to overcome feelings of inferiority caused by lack of success in their studies. Since the common denominator of the group of students with lower qualifications is one of race this aggressive expression will undoubtedly take the form of racial demands–the employment of faculty on the basis of race, a marking system based on race, the establishment of a black curriculum and a black law journal, an increase in black financial aid, and a rule against expulsion of black students who fail to satisfy minimum academic standards. . .
The weakness of the proportional argument is that quotas, once instituted, cannot logically be limited to one group when other groups exist which are equally entitled to quotas. The next step is a series of quotas. But if minorities obtain quotas, demands from majority groups for quotas are bound to ensue. In short order a full-blown quota system would arise which would necessarily impose restrictions on overrepresented groups in order to assure a student body representative of the general population. A quota policy particularly discriminates against minority groups which have achieved disproportionate representation in a particular field. Such a policy discriminated severely against Jewish applicants for admission to medical schools in the 1930’s. That policy was undoubtedly justified by its supporters as one designed to preserve a proportion of gentile students in medical schools equivalent to their proportion in the general population. Currently, the orientals in California, roughly 1 per cent of the population, comprise in some instances 30 per cent of the enrollment in certain engineering and technical schools. Were a quota system to be introduced in those schools in order to favor black and Mexican-American applicants, the first losers would be applicants from the presently disproportionately represented oriental group. . .
There’s much more in Fleming’s long letter, and please do read the whole thing if you have time. Dean Pollak’s response also foreshadows the rampant corruption of our current scene:
For years—and long before such skepticism was fashionable—our Admissions Committee has entertained doubts about the predictive value (with respect to ultimate professional distinction) of the LSAT, and even of the college record, for applicants whose childhood and family background are remote from the experiences and aspirations of (primarily white) middle-class America, to which our conventional indices of academic aptitude and achievement are inevitably oriented. With this in mind, the Admissions Committee, under Jack Tate’s aegis, customarily gave less weight to the LSAT and the rest of the standard academic apparatus in assessing black applicants. . .
This means that, at least for the past fifteen years, numerous black students have been admitted to this Law School who would not have been admitted through uncritical application of the normal indices of past academic performance. Not surprisingly, given their lesser academic preparation, most of these students have not achieved academic distinction at the Law School. . .
[I]t is the view of the faculty that the school’s educational processes are unlikely to be impaired if the number of students with prior educational deficiencies is a minor fraction of the total student body. Second, it seems, in any event, reasonable to expect that the number of black applicants who are well prepared academically will increase markedly within the next few years, as a corollary of the increasing number of blacks matriculating at first rate colleges; and it is a fair expectation that our Law School can draw a substantial number of those who are highly qualified. . .
Pollak’s response seems pretty weak (not to mention condescending to minority students), but then it is the weak-mindedness of college administrators in general that have led us to the current situation. Needless to say, Judge Fleming’s views would be branded “hate speech” on campus today (just check with Amy Wax on this).
We have commented previously on the fad of “land acknowledgments” that are currently the rage on college campuses and at city council meetings in progressive outposts like Burlington, Madison, etc. I’ll repeat, for the record, why land acknowledgements are so unserious that they can hardly be dignified even as virtue-signaling:
I want to ask: “If the land the university sits on rightfully belongs to an Indian tribe, why don’t we give it back?” At the very least, justice demands that Indians be compensated for the wrongful expropriation of their land. Failing that, how about some back rent? Or current rent? We’re talking justice here. If nothing else, at least allow the local Indian tribe to open a casino in the middle of campus, and call it “ongoing reparations.”
A group of Israeli students has employed a variation of this argument to hit back at Ben and Jerry’s, the artery-clogging health hazard company that wanted to ban sales of its product in Israel because of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. In what could be our “feel good story of the day,” the New York Post reports:
Israeli students claim that ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is “illegally” occupying land in Vermont that once belonged to a Abenaki native American tribe and should practice what it preaches and immediately evacuate the properties.
A cheeky letter sent to B&J — signed by more than 1,000 Israeli students and academics affiliated with Students for Justice in America — accuses B&J of of hypocrisy.
“We have concluded that your company’s occupation of the Abenaki lands is illegal and we believe it is wholly inconsistent with the stated values that Ben & Jerry’s purports to maintain. Ironically, in July of the last year you announced that you would discontinue the sale of your products in Israel because you object to the Jewish State allegedly occupying Palestinian territories,” the letter to B&J’s chairperson, Anuradha Mittal said.
Best sentence in the story: “Ben and Jerry’s speak with a forked tongue.” And as one of our readers put it in a note: Revenge, like ice cream, is a dish best served cold.
What do we know? Law enforcement leaks and confirmation from the Trump side indicate that the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence indicate that the search was focused on presidential records and the possible violation of the Presidential Records Act. In her inside account of the raid, Miranda Devine puts it this way: “The Post has learned that the search warrant used by the FBI to enter the palatial Palm Beach property focused solely on presidential records and evidence of classified information being stored there.”
The scope of the seized documents, however, may have extended well beyond the terms of the warrant. It appears that the FBI scooped up just about every document at the residence. I take it that the authorities are out to get Trump.
Based on his own prosecutorial experience, Andrew McCarthy emphasizes that the raid was a pretext for seizing documents that may bear on the interest of the Biden Department of Justice in prosecuting Trump for events related to Jan. 6. The pretext is all.
The Trump people are talking. See Devine’s New York Post story linked above. However, their knowledge is limited and their purposes are self-interested.
The Attorney General and the FBI are not talking in public. You see, they are involved in an ongoing investigation. Confidentiality is sacred.
“[M]ultiple people familiar with the investigation” nevertheless spoke with the three New York Times reporters who wrote up the raid. Funny how that works.
Someone at the White House leaked to New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin that “senior White House officials” (presumably including Biden) had no notice of the raid. Martin takes it as the gospel truth. When it comes to Democrats, Martin adopts the willing suspension of disbelief. How does he know? A White House operative told him so. You have to be stupid to take this at face value.
Senior White House officials found out about the FBI’s Mar a Lago raid on Twitter, had no notice, per source familiar
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) August 8, 2022
I think readers would be well advised at this point not to believe anyone or anything you don’t see with their (your) own eyes. I don’t.
We saw the FBI agents holding the fort down outside Mar-a-Lago with big weapons. It was sickening. Christopher Wray should be sent packing and the FBI should be dissolved and reconstituted. It has become an unaccountable and politically corrupt organization.
McCarthy’s cynicism is required. Lending support to McCarthy’s observation about the pretextual nature of the Trump raid yesterday was the seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone yesterday. FOX News reported the story here.
Perry gave FOX News this statement: “This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone. They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish. I’m outraged — though not surprised — that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland’s DOJ, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress. My phone contains info about my legislative and political activities, and personal/private discussions with my wife, family, constituents, and friends. None of this is the government’s business.”
With every advantage in the race, Ilhan Omar narrowly emerged as the winner of Minnesota’s Fifth District (Minneapolis and inner ring suburbs) DFL primary yesterday. She defeated challenger Don Samuels by 2,500 votes out of nearly 113,000 votes cast (2.1 percent). I don’t think anyone other than Samuels and his supporters anticipated a race this close.
The result strongly suggests that Omar can be beaten from within the party by a decent DFL candidate with time and money to take her on. She appears to be ripe for the plucking.
Samuels is a decent man and a decent candidate. He is a former city council and school board member who has supported law enforcement in the crime-ridden north Minneapolis neighborhoods he represented. Unlike Omar, Samuels has the interests of the district at heart. He is not bent on promoting himself as an intergalactic superstar.
Unfortunately, however, Samuels will be supporting Omar against Republican nominee Cicely Davis in the general election. He is a Democrat in a D+26 district.
Omar represents a substantial part of the Fifth District DFL. I saw it in action when they called a special convention held on Father’s Day 2018 to endorse a candidate to replace Keith Ellison. Ellison had stepped aside at the last minute to run for Minnesota Attorney General.
Covering the special endorsing convention that Sunday, I saw that the party activists who endorsed Omar were among the woke left successors of “every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist” identified by Orwell as the fans of Socialism and Communism in England. They make up Omar’s base, and it is substantial base, but she is not invulnerable.
However, she is untouchable by law enforcement and by the media. She operates in the confidence that the rules do not apply to her. One of the luckiest people in the world, she expertly plays the victim card. Her hubris may bring her down before any political opponent does the job for her.
Is this the dumbest PR stunt of all time? If you haven’t seen it yet, the Democrats are trying to take “Let’s go, Brandon” and make it their own, much like Donald Trump did with fake news. Thus, they are putting out “Dark Brandon” memes in which Joe Biden appears as a rather sinister superhero.
This one comes from Biden’s Deputy Press Secretary:
A Biden staffer tried to make Dark Brandon a thing but copied a meme off of 4chan with a Reich Eagle in the background pic.twitter.com/C6h0eAP8Yv
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) August 8, 2022
The White House had to put out a statement to the effect that they didn’t intentionally incorporate Nazi imagery. Great job, PR team!
Here is another “Dark Brandon,” again from the Deputy Press Secretary. By the way, can you imagine being Karine Jean-Pierre’s deputy?
Dark Brandon is crushing it pic.twitter.com/w0L8xCzIW8
— Andrew Bates (@AndrewJBates46) August 7, 2022
This one is by Senator Chris Murphy:
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 7, 2022
Young conservatives like the ones I work with say, “The left can’t meme!” The Dark Brandon campaign bears that out. And of course, as many have pointed out, the idea of casting Joe Biden as a superhero is laughable. The man can’t even put on his own coat.
The Left holds our culture’s commanding heights, but one area where the right reigns supreme is memes. Basically, what is going on here is that the Biden administration is trying to compete with The Week In Pictures.
I’ve discovered a wonderful energy data tool, ElectricityMaps.com, that offers interactive real-time and historical maps of electricity production and consumption around the world (insofar as data exist, which it doesn’t for China and other key places). Check it out for yourself.
I want to draw a contrast between “green energy” Germany and France as of this morning (though use the time-slide in the lower left hand corner of the site and you’ll see that today’s contrast goes back years). As you will see, France has a much lower carbon-intensity (the amount of energy per unit of economic activity) than Germany, which boasts more “renewable” power than France. Gee—I wonder why that is? Nuclear power you say? A thing to remember as we emulate Germany rather than France in our “net-zero” mania.
P.S. I once asked a libertarian Frenchman I knew how France succeeded in building out a substantial fleet of nuclear power plants (mostly in the 1980s) at precisely the moment we gave up on them. His answer made sense: “It is simple; you see, in France, our Communists supported nuclear power, while your Communists [he had in mind Jane Fonda, etc] opposed it.” This is true: the French Communist Party, deeply embedded in France’s trade unions, saw lots of unionized jobs to be had.
Also, another key difference between American nuclear power and French nuclear power is perhaps best explained by . . . cheese. As my French pal said: “The problem with America is that you have one kind of cheese, and dozens of different nuclear reactor designs. In France, we have 300 kinds of cheese, but only one nuclear reactor design, making it cheaper and quicker to build.”
This is from today’s Telegraph:
In the end, it could be even worse than had been feared. Today saw the release of a new forecast for the energy price cap – and it does not make for comfortable reading. Experts predict that the figure will hit more than £4,200 in January [$5,082 for a single month]. In a new dire outlook for households, Cornwall Insight said bills are set to soar to around £3,582 in October – from £1,971 today – before rising even further in the new year. Ofgem is set to put the price cap at £4,266 for the average household in the three months from the beginning of January. The energy consultancy said this is around £650 more than its previous forecast. Consumer expert Martin Lewis described the latest forecasts as “tragic”, saying they will leave many households “destitute”.
As Britain rushes to wean itself off Russian energy, British Gas owner Centrica today inked a £7 billion deal to import liquefied natural gas from the US. The company signed an agreement with Delfin Midstream to buy LNG from America’s first floating export facility off Louisiana. While deliveries are not expected to start until 2026, James Warrington reports that it highlights how suppliers are securing extra imports after Vladimir Putin’s gas cuts sparked fears of energy shortages this winter.
In a crisis, no one is desperately trying to buy solar panels. That is the situation in the U.K. Then there is France:
France’s Emmanuel Macron has smothered his country’s cost-of-living problem by capping electricity bills at 4pc by state dictate, while gas prices have been frozen at the October 2021 level until the end of this year under a “tariff shield”.
That’ll work! Tragically, the U.S., with the greatest reserves of energy in the world, is going down the failed German path. This is the worst mistake of a catastrophically bad administration.
To listen to the Democrats’ media cheerleaders, Biden and his party have their mojo back, and can now look forward to turning around their dismal mid-term election prospects. Paul Krugman thinks Democrats may have actually saved western civilization!
It seems, though, that the voters haven’t yet got the memo, which is no surprise since public trust in the media is now below used-car salesman levels. As Charles Lipson pointed out, “no newspaper has a print circulation of more than 1 million. Only nine have more than 100,000 subscribers. Among the 25 largest papers, only one showed an increase in circulation.”
The latest polls continue to show Democrats facing disaster in House races this fall: Politico today:
A round of new internal polling is giving the GOP fresh optimism that the House battleground map is stretching even more favorably in their direction.
Four surveys conducted in late July reveal close races in open seats in Oregon, Colorado and California that President Joe Biden carried by between 11 and 15 points in 2020. Taken all together, GOP operatives view the data as a sign that Biden’s sinking approval numbers could drag Democratic candidates down enough to bring deep blue turf into reach. . .
But the numbers comport with general assessments about the state of the House map from strategists of both parties, as well as the close results of the 2021 statewide elections in New Jersey and Virginia. Altogether, the tightening polls suggest that some super-blue seats could be in play in November, which would mean Democrats may have to expend precious resources there on defense — especially because they lack well-funded incumbents.
Moreover, the latest Ipsos Poll shows the Latinx Latino vote continues to slip away from Democrats. Axios reports:
Big divides over issues like inflation and crime — along with religious and cultural dissonance with progressives — are eroding Latinos’ decades-long loyalty to the Democratic Party, injecting a major wildcard into the 2022 midterms and beyond.
Why it matters: Democrats once viewed projected U.S. Latino population growth as their party’s ticket to long-term political dominance. But recent elections and midterm polls show the perils in that thinking.
By the numbers: Democrats’ generic advantage over Republicans among U.S. Latino adults fell from 16 percentage points to 12 between March and June, according to Ipsos polling for Axios. Other polls have shown more dire scenarios for Democrats, with preferences essentially tied.
• A New York Times-Siena College poll last month showed a statistically insignificant lead for Democrats in a generic congressional ballot, 41% to 38%. One Wall Street Journal poll earlier this year actually gave generic Republican candidates a 9-point edge.
• In the 2018 midterms, Democrats held a 47-point edge with Hispanics. Biden’s 2020 margin was 21 points.
• In 2020, President Biden won around two-thirds of Latino voters overall, but densely Latino precincts in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Nevada, Texas and Florida all shifted toward former President Trump by between 6 and 20 percentage points since 2016.
President Biden’s approval rating among Hispanics in a recent Quinnipiac poll is a stunningly low 19%. Other polls have Democrats doing somewhat better among Hispanics but still running far behind traditional margins.
It seems clear that Democrats seriously erred in 2020 by lumping Hispanics in with other “people of color,” assuming that they sympathized with the racial activism that dominated so much of the political scene that year. In reality, Hispanic voters are not a liberal voting bloc, especially on social issues. In a Pew postelection survey, just 20% described themselves as liberal, while 45% were moderate and 35% conservative. Surveys show that Hispanics are overwhelmingly an upwardly mobile and patriotic population whose main concerns are jobs, the economy, healthcare, effective schools and public safety.
Take the issue of “structural racism.” In June 2022, the polling firm Echelon Insights released a survey in which respondents were asked to endorse one of two statements: “Racism is built into our society, including into its policies and institutions” or “Racism comes from individuals who hold racist views, not from our society and institutions.” Among participants identified as “strong progressives,” 94% chose the first statement; Hispanics preferred the second statement by a margin of 58% to 36%. . .
A likely factor in their declining support for Democrats is the party’s strenuous efforts to focus voter attention on abortion rights, gun control and the Jan. 6 hearings.
If the Hispanic vote abandons Democrats in November, the Biden Administration may well finish Trump’s wall.
P.S. The Axios story linked above has some representative anecdotes that capture what is going on at a more granular level. Samples:
Cleo Petricek, the daughter of Mexican immigrants and a lifelong Democrat who lives in Austin, Texas, said she’s considering voting for Republican candidates over Democrats’ failure to address crime and homelessness. “I created a website for Obama when he ran for president. I volunteered for Beto (O’Rourke) when he ran for Senate. But I can’t take this anymore,” Petricek said. . .
“College-educated elite whites have taken over and are setting the agenda and narrative of the Democratic Party,” Jacob Candelaria, a Princeton-educated, openly gay Latino New Mexico state senator, told Axios.
Candelaria quit the Democratic Party and became an independent last year after Democrats remapped districts in their favor and over what he said was the party moving too far left. “My people don’t care about electric vehicles when they can barely afford food.”
The White House leaked to its media adjunct that Biden and his aides didn’t know about the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago until they read about it on Twitter:
Senior White House officials found out about the FBI’s Mar a Lago raid on Twitter, had no notice, per source familiar
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) August 8, 2022
This claim is laughable. There is no way that Merrick Garland authorized a raid on the home of a former president and likely 2024 candidate without the express approval, likely in writing, of his boss, Joe Biden. As so often happens, one is left asking: how dumb do they think we are?
STEVE adds—When you’ve lost . . . (check notes) . . . Andrew Cuomo!?!?:
Michael Senger read Deborah Birx’s memoir Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It’s Too Late so that we don’t have to. In Senger’s judgment, Birx’s book “reads like a how-to guide from the front lines of subverting a democratic superpower from within.” Given late-breaking events yesterday, I can’t declare this the quote of the day, but it deserves special attention:
The lockdowns that Xi pioneered and Birx so zealously advocated for reportedly led to over 170,000 non-COVID excess deaths among young Americans while failing to meaningfully slow the spread of COVID anywhere they were tried. It would have been impossible for an enemy agent armed with anything less than nuclear weapons to have inflicted so much damage on America’s economy, social fabric, and historical freedoms in such a short period of time.
Notably, though Birx’s memoir has earned relatively few reviews from human readers on Amazon, it’s earned rave reviews from Chinese state media, a feat not shared even by the far more popular pro-lockdown books of professional genuflectors to power like Lawrence Wright.
The glowing response from Chinese state media should come as no surprise. Nearly every sentence of Birx’s book faithfully parrots the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign and domestic propaganda, which helped facilitate Xi’s weaponization of the COVID response to eliminate the independence of the CCP’s private sector rivals.
Senger’s informative Tablet column is “Deborah Birx’s Guide to Destroying America.” Highly recommended.
With the FBI raid and New York Times write-up by Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess, and Adam Goldman, President Trump was James O’Keefed yesterday. O’Keefe was raided, humiliated, and Times’d over Ashley Biden’s diary. The government is out to get him.
So it is with President Trump, right down to the Times coordination with the national security establishment (“according to multiple people familiar with the investigation”). Thinking that Trump had been O’Keefed put me in mind of Paul Simon’s “A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d Into Submission).” Lacking Simon’s gift and the time to work up something worthy, I offer this to get the ball rolling in a timely fashion:
I been James O’Keefed, got my beef.
I been James Comey’d, ain’t my homie.
I been New York Times’d, fully slimed.
I been Adam Goldman’d, hold my coat, man.
I been Roger Stoned, badly boned.
I been Chris Wrayed, sliced and fileted.
I been Carter Paged and felt the rage.
I been Steve Bannon’d ’cause I’m right handed.
I been Lisa Paged and Peter Strzok’d,
If you know what I mean…
I been Joe Biden’d and reminded.
I just discovered somebody’s tapped my phone.
I would like to see the warrant under which the search was conducted before further comment. This episode reminds us, however, that the FBI and FISA court need to be disestablished.
There is no clear dividing line between the legitimate purposes of a congressional investigation and the partisan purposes of the majority party that leads the investigation, but the balance usually devolves toward partisan agendas even when the underlying matter is serious, like Watergate. The only way to contain partisan motivations properly is for the minority party to have vigorous members on the investigating committee to hold the majority accountable and assure, to the extent possible in a proceeding not bound by the normal legal rules of the courtroom, that evidence and testimony is subject to skepticism and scrutiny, and that deeper principles of constitutional government are brought to the surface.
One person who served this role with honor and distinction in the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings was Wyoming’s lone member of the House, Dick Cheney. That was a long time ago now, but keep in mind that Democrats thought they had the perfect sequel to Watergate set up, and fully intended to move to impeach President Reagan if the hearings of the joint House-Senate select committee could assemble enough dirt to throw at Reagan. Of course the committee’s hearings didn’t succeed as Democrats had intended, but that story will have to be left for another time (though you can read my account of it in Chapter 11 of my Age of Reagan, volume 2).
Still, the outcome was notable for the stellar work of Dick Cheney and his chief counsel, David Addington, who produced the minority report that subtly called out the bad faith of Democrats along with substantive arguments about how congressional Democrats had improperly undermined the constitutional authority of the president to conduct foreign policy. Reagan complained in his diary about the difficulty of conducting foreign policy with “535 secretaries of state up on Capitol Hill.” Cheney’s minority report put the substance behind this argument.
Imagine if then-Speaker Jim Wright had rejected Cheney’s appointment to the Iran-Contra select committee, and appointed weak or anti-Reagan Republicans instead. Clearly everyone would have understood that the joint select committee was illegitimate, a kangaroo court that could not hide its partisan purposes behind investigatory doubletalk.
This is one reason why the January 6 Committee is illegitimate because of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unprecedented decision to reject Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks for the committee. Even if you think Trump is a defective person and disastrous president, he deserves a defense in the hearings, and the results of the J-6 committee would have more credibility if it included at least one Trump defender. No doubt the hearings would be contentious and volatile if Jim Jordan—the fiery ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee—had been named, but several of McCarthy’s picks seemed eminently objective. No Republicans should have agreed to serve on the committee after Pelosi’s outrageous decision to rig the committee. It is already clear that the outcome of this farce will be indistinguishable from a process that included no Republicans.
Which brings us to the current Cheney serving as the lone House member from Wyoming. By now it is evident that Liz Cheney did not join this committee with the purpose of objectively considering the facts and evidence of Trump and January 6, or treating Trump with any degree of fairness. This is made most evident by the TV spot her dad has cut (found at the end of this post if you haven’t seen it) endorsing her re-election based chiefly on the conclusion that “there has never been an individual who was a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.” (I assume he means “domestic” individual, though I suppose it is possible Dick has gone fully into the “Trump is worse than Hitler” fever swamp.) Further, it is Liz Cheney’s purpose to see to it that “Donald Trump is never again near the Oval Office.”
Isn’t that something for the voters to decide?
I don’t think the former Vice President looks very good in this spot, though to be fair he’s had serious health issues (including a heart transplant in recent years). I’ve always liked and admired the man, having met him and conversed with him on several occasions over the years. The news today, however, that Liz Cheney says she might not be able to support Ron DeSantis if he is the GOP 2024 nominee is yet another sign of how Trump has undone so many once sensible people. It is one thing to believe Trump has character and judgment flaws that make him unsuited for the presidency, and I can respect my many friends who hold this view. But too many people seem to have let Trump turn them against all Republicans across the board, which shows bad faith. (I’ll treat some of the central issues of January 6 later, but if Trump’s claims of election irregularities or the role of the Vice President in certifying the election lacked any foundation, why is Congress thinking of amending the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to clear up the ambiguities and defects of the statute?)
In fact, I predict that if Liz Cheney loses her upcoming GOP primary, as most think she will, Cheney may try to run as an independent candidate in November to deny her Republican opponent by splitting the vote. Wyoming has a “sore loser” law that should prevent this kind of thing, but you can expect some well-funded lawsuits on Liz’s behalf to overcome the law and get on the ballot, even as a write-in if necessary.
As a certain towering figure in America these days might put it, “Sad!”
The New York Times reports that the FBI has executed a search warrant on Donald Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.
Former President Donald J. Trump said on Monday that the F.B.I. had searched his Palm Beach, Fla., home and had broken open a safe — an account that, if accurate, would be a dramatic escalation in the various investigations into the former president.
The FBI has openly become an arm of the Democratic Party. This will not serve the Bureau well in years to come. But what was the pretext for the raid?
The search, according to two people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, after he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.
Mr. Trump delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, only doing so when there became a threat of action being taken to retrieve them.
That is classic NYT “news” reporting. The Times cites the fact that Trump took a while to send documents to the National Archives–which he did some time ago–as justification for today’s raid.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Mr. Trump said, maintaining it was an effort to stop him from running for president in 2024. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.”
“They even broke into my safe!” he wrote. “What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States.”
Good question, although, to be fair, the FBI had a search warrant issued by a compliant authority. But anyone who wonders whether the FBI’s leaders should be identified as Democrats hasn’t been paying attention.
Trump is certainly correct that all of this–the absurd “January 6” committee hearings, threats of criminal prosecution, and now this raid on his Florida home–is driven by the 2024 election. The Democrats impeached Trump twice, but that didn’t work. He leads Joe Biden in every 2024 presidential preference poll I have seen. So now they want to up the ante by arresting or indicting him on some trumped-up charge. That this is 100% about presidential politics, no one doubts.
I think this is unfortunate not only because it betrays our status as a banana republic, as Trump said, but also because it increases the likelihood that Republicans will rally behind Trump and he will be the Republican nominee in 2024. Given the disaster of the Biden administration, many think the Republican nominee will be a shoo-in in 2024, no matter who he or she might be. I disagree. I think that Trump might drag behind him so much baggage that he could be the only Republican likely to lose in 2024–not to Joe Biden, obviously, but to whomever the Dems nominate.
If I thought the Democrats were this well-organized, I would suspect that today’s raid was part of their plot to ensure that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee in 2024.
UPDATE: Crowds of Trump supporters are gathering at Mar-a-Lago:
BREAKING: Crowds of Trump supporters have begun arriving to Mar-a-Lago pic.twitter.com/NzIR0jMRfm
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) August 9, 2022
I don’t know whether the Democrats are trying to provoke a civil war, but they apparently intend to send President Trump to prison. That might do it.
MORE: Robert Spencer writes: “End of the Republic.”
When the FBI raided Donald Trump’s home on Monday, a key aspect of what made the United States of America great and free has been lost, and likely cannot be recovered. … [B]itter political opponents throughout the history of the republic have never before used the government’s own mechanisms of justice to do injustice to their foes. Joe Biden, Merrick Garland and their henchmen have brought America to a new phase of its history, and it is not likely to be one that is marked by respect for the rule of law or defense of the rights of individual citizens. Instead, we are entering an ugly age of authoritarianism, in which the brute force of the state is used to bend the people to the will of the tyrant.
The FBI that was heavily involved in trying to frame and destroy Trump in the Russian Collusion hoax is now trying once again to destroy him, apparently by claiming that he improperly took classified material from the White House. They never cared when Hillary Clinton misused classified material on a grand scale; what is the difference? …
Merrick Garland recently signaled that something like this was in the offing, when he emphasized that no one was above the law and anyone could be prosecuted. No one is above that law, that is, except Hillary Clinton, and Hunter Biden, and all the FBI officials who have been implicated in the Russian Collusion hoax, and all the other Leftists who have escaped and will continue to escape prosecution because they hold what the elites consider to be acceptable political opinions.
The lesson is clear: in America today, in the corrupt kleptocracy of Joe Biden, you have to have the right opinions. Then all doors will open for you and you can even break laws with impunity, and have no fear of prosecution. But if you dare to dissent from the opinions of the elites, prepare to be hounded by the new super-IRS and the weaponized FBI, and you’ll face raids, and prison, and who knows what else is coming.
Sad but true.
MORE: Kevin McCarthy puts Merrick Garland and the FBI on notice:
Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar. pic.twitter.com/dStAjnwbAT
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 9, 2022
Inflation Reduction Act $739 billion boondoggle will have nightmarish consequences for years to come, assuming it is actually implemented. Half of the bill’s total spending, $369 billion, is devoted to energy and climate. This spending, largely devoted to subsidizing wind and solar energy, is intended to hasten an alleged transition from fossil fuels to “green” energy sources. In fact, no such transition is taking place. The gap between energy produced from coal and energy produced from wind and solar is widening, not narrowing. And the world will never depend on wind turbines, which generate electricity around 40% of the time, or solar panels, which, where I live, generate electricity only around 18% of the time.
One thing the Democrats’ boondoggle will do is contribute to the rapidly rising cost of wind and solar energy. My colleague Isaac Orr explained in June, before the present bill took shape:
Prices of key minerals and metals for wind, solar, and battery storage have spiked in recent months, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The prices of lithium and cobalt more than doubled in 2021, and those for copper, nickel, and aluminum all rose by around 25 percent to 40 percent.
The price trends have continued into 2022. The price of lithium has increased an astonishing two-and-a-half times since the start of the year. The prices of nickel and aluminum — for which Russia is a key supplier — have also kept rising, driven in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The price of wind turbines rose 9% in 2021:
Solar panels were up 16%:
Also: “Prices for lithium-ion batteries are likely to see a major uptick in 2022.”
The deadly combination of mandates and subsidies will drive all of these prices vastly higher in the years to come. Who will benefit? Countries that produce and, more important, process copper, nickel, cobalt and lithium. Oh yeah: that is the Communist Chinese. The
Inflation Reduction Act $739 boondoggle is the Democrats’ biggest sellout to the Communist Chinese Party yet.
Today comes news of the death of historian David McCullough yesterday at the age of 89. The New York Times obituary by Daniel Lewis is here. McCullough was a popular historian who was an intense researcher with an incredible gift for narrative. I think he loved narrative history and America in roughly equal measure. The two loves made him an immensely popular popular historian — a popular historian of quality. His death represents a great loss to our life and letters.
The American reading public found him and took him to their bosom. The Times obit reminds us that McCullough won Pulitzer Prizes for two presidential biographies, Truman (1992) and John Adams (2001). He received National Book Awards for The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal” (1977) and Mornings on Horseback (1981), about the young Theodore Roosevelt and his family.
If not something like his manifesto, his Imprimis essay “Knowing history and knowing who we are” may serve as a good introduction to his work. The same is true of his Imprimis essay “A man worth knowing.”
I read A Stillness at Appomattox when I heard McCullough, in the course of a C-SPAN interview, describe its impact on him. McCullough had majored in English at Yale and received the book as a graduation present in 1955. Reading this one of Bruce Catton’s several magnificent books made McCullough want to write history. I thought, correctly, that must be some book.
In a 2017 interview John Avlon asked McCullough about his favorite books and authors at the Charleston Library. Among others, McCullough expressed his appreciation of Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope. (He loved The Way We Live Now as well as Trollope’s autobiography). McCullough also lauded the British mystery writer Ruth Rendell, (Rendell’s New York Times obituary is here.)
McCullough also talked about favorite books and authors in this 2013 Boston Globe interview. In the Globe interview he named Henry Adams’s The Education of Henry Adams and Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast along with a few surprises (as they seemed to me).
JOHN adds: I enjoyed all of McCullough’s books that I have read, but I would add a special plug for The Great Bridge, the story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of my favorite historical works.
I’ll have a lot more to say about the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” in due course after I finish unpacking and catching up with five weeks of snail-mail and other things in the pile, but as an opening generalization it should be said that by passing massive subsidies for wind and solar power, the U.S. has decided to emulate Germany’s energiewende (“energy revolution”) policy that it adopted 20 years ago. It has been a total bust. Emissions reductions in Germany stalled out several years ago, and soaring energy prices (along with dependence on Russian natural gas) now threaten Germany’s entire industrial sector, not to mention a cold winter ahead for the German people. And now we’re setting off on the same course.
Hence it is worth noting an early indication of how this will all end from inside our own borders, specifically California, which was an early adopter of the German model. Kudos to Politico for telling the story straight up a few days ago:
SACRAMENTO — California wants to quit fossil fuels. Just not yet.
Faced with a fragile electrical grid and the prospect of summertime blackouts, the state agreed to put aside hundreds of millions of dollars to buy power from fossil fuel plants that are scheduled to shut down as soon as next year.
That has prompted a backlash from environmental groups and lawmakers who say Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approach could end up extending the life of gas plants that have been on-track to close for more than a decade and could threaten the state’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2045. . .
That plan was a last-minute addition to the state’s energy budget, which lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled Legislature reluctantly passed. Backers say it’s necessary to avoid the rolling blackouts like the state experienced during a heat wave in 2020. Critics see a muddled strategy on energy, and not what they expected from a nationally ambitious governor who has made climate action a centerpiece of his agenda.
The legislation, which some Democrats labeled as “lousy” and “crappy,” reflects the reality of climate change. Heat waves are already straining power capacity, and the transition to cleaner energy isn’t coming fast enough to meet immediate needs in the nation’s most populous state.
Officials have warned that outages would be possible this summer, with as many as 3.75 million California homes losing power in a worst-case scenario of a West-wide heat wave and insufficient electrical supplies, particularly in the evenings.
It’s also an acknowledgment of the political reality that blackouts are hazardous to elected officials, even in a state dominated by one party.
You can expect this story to be repeated throughout the country over the next decade as the wind and solar madness of the IRA unfolds.
P.S. Imagine what environmentalists would be saying if a Republican governor was doing this. Also guess which candidate environmentalists will endorse in this year’s election.
The political news of the day is the passage of the shove-it-down-your-throat absurdity of the Inflation Reduction Act. What this country needs is a vastly expanded Internal Revenue Service! (said no sane man or woman ever).
Adding to the insufferable stupidity and deceit of the bill’s provisions is the insufferable stupidity and deceit of the media coverage of the bill itself. Feel the excitement coursing through Politico Playbook’s “How it really happened: the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Who in his right mind believes that the tax-and-spend extravaganza will have a salubrious effect on the inflation ignited by the Biden administration? And I wonder if we can get a fact-check on the name of the bill.
Who in his right mind thinks that the bill’s climate provisions will have a salubrious effect on the climate? Speaking of stupid media coverage, I cite Politico’s “Historic climate bill to supercharge clean energy industry.” I would like to say Jonathan Swift, call your office, but this stuff is beyond satire.
There is much more to be said and much more to come. I leave the subject this morning with the true question posed by the Inflation Reduction Act. Is the Democrats’ profound faith in the stupidity of the American people inflated or will it be vindicated in the midterm elections at which the bill is aimed?
We are close to the end of this song of the day series featuring Minnesota musicians, but I may indulge myself one more time tomorrow. If you have followed along, you may have noticed that I have excavated songs with an upbeat tone or feeling. In the spirit of the Inflation Reduction Act, the time has come for music in a more desperate mood.
With my friend Scott Sansby I saw just about all the good Twin Cities groups of the ’60’s. Indeed, Scottie was in a few of them. Many of the Twin Cities bands we saw had regional hits on Soma Records, the handiwork of Amos Heilicher. They are memorialized on the vinyl double album The Big Hits Of Mid-America: The Soma Records Story 1963-1967.
My favorite band was The Underbeats. They lead off the Soma collection. We saw them many times. They had the vocal group harmony thing nailed and were excellent instrumentalists to boot.
They headed out to Los Angeles at the end of the decade and landed a job as the house band at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go. Both Atlantic Records and Metromedia offered to sign them and they chose to sign with Metromedia. They came out with their self-titled debut — a double album — in 1970.
The double album was a mistake for a debut, but it was full of good songs composed by guitarist Rico Rosenbaum. My favorite was the suite “Dead and Gone” over on side 4. Rico planted a love song in the middle of the suite. I think the whole thing still sounds pretty, pretty good after all these years.
Rick Shefchik tells the story of the band in his excellent, scrupulously researched, well-written history Everybody’s Heard About the Bird: The True Story of 1960s Rock ’n’ Roll in Minnesota (University of Minnesota Press, 2015). Rick’s account raises the question whether the choice of Metromedia over Atlantic was a mistake for the band.
Gypsy’s story is not happy, but the music lives. On WUMB’s Highway 61 Revisited show this past weekend, I was more than a little surprised to hear host Albert O play a track from In the Garden, the band’s 1971 follow-up to Gypsy. Maybe not “Dead and Gone” after all.
Needless to say when I go away for more than a month, I’m going to fall behind on my semi-regular look at the world through the lens of charts and graphs.
• Let’s start with our non-recession “recession.” The jobs news last Friday—over 500,000 new jobs—virtually guarantees that we’ll be in an undeniable recession within a year. Unemployment is usually a lagging indicator of a recession, and a lot of the job market statistics these days are distorted by the peculiar rebound from COVID.
The big jobs number Friday assures that our mindless Fed will continue rate hikes until morale improves. Other current signs show the impending slowdown, such a consumer confidence, building inventories, and expectations in the crucial manufacturing sector (oh, don’t get too excited about gasoline prices starting to fall—it might not mean what you think):
• Climate change data continues to harsh the narrative:
Way to go Europe:
• Crime and (non)-punishment:
• Race and gender roundup:
• Wait—I thought Obamacare was supposed to reduce health care costs:
• These next two charts are related—the first is about taxes, the second about over-regulation:
• And now miscellaneous items:
I’m sure there is data to back this up:
And finally. . .
The news that “Batgirl” has been canceled by senior executives may be a significant sign that the rebellion against suffocating wokery is gaining steam, or maybe it is just a case of entertainment management finally figuring out sunk-cost fallacy. In any case, I asked Emina Melonic to bring her astute powers of cinematic perception to bear on the news:
Variety reports that Warner Bros./Discovery CEO David Zaslav has decided to completely scrap the release of a new DC film, “Batgirl.” This came as a shock to many, especially the directors of the film and the general movie community that appeared to be in full support of the film’s release. It’s not yet entirely clear why the film has been shelved, as it won’t be released either theatrically or on a streaming service.
Some report that the initial film screening of “Batgirl” went badly, and that the screening audience allegedly compared the film to “a bad episode of TV.” Whether that is enough to cancel a movie is open to debate but since the news came out, Zaslav was forced to make an explanatory statement about his decision.
“We’re not going to launch a movie until it’s ready,” said Zaslav. “We’re not going to launch a movie to make a quarter and we’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it.”
In addition, Zaslav said that the company “will fully embrace theatrical as we believe that creates interest and demand, provides a great marketing tailwind, and generates word-of-mouth buzz as films transition to streaming and beyond.” The strategy for making and promoting DC films appears to be changing, and people don’t like an upset of that kind.
The question that undoubtedly comes up is whether there were any political, cultural, or social reasons why “Batgirl” was canceled. In the grand scheme of things, one more superhero movie being scrapped is hardly a cause for sadness. Recent spate of DC Comics films has been showing poor imagination and wokeness all put together in one trail mix bag of dullness that has gone stale.
Women in roles of superheroes generally don’t have a lot of success. 2020 “Wonder Woman 1984” received poor reviews as well, singled for out its mediocrity and spectacle. Is it because society is so overwhelmed with that awful “toxic masculinity” that we are not ready for “strong women” characters? Hardly. For the most part, the roles of a superhero are generally reserved for men not because a writer is a misogynist but because there is a certain level of expectation and reality of what the differences between male and female are.
To be sure, superhero films have plenty of women characters but they usually go beyond woke amalgamation of male/female that is supposed to render women just as strong and heroic in the same way men might be portrayed in the film. Think of the gorgeous and sexy Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, starring opposite Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s 1992 “Batman Returns.” Pfeiffer is not just a villain in a superhero movie. She is a femme fatale that teases out Bruce Wayne’s/Batman’s dark desires. While Bruce Wayne is trying to rid Gotham City of a criminal element that wreaks havoc on unsuspecting citizens, Catwoman is seducing Batman to join her feline game. Keaton’s character, much like any film noir hero, is torn between erotic desire of giving into the woman and maintaining his masculinity intact. This is what makes the story compelling.
Superhero movies have lost their charm altogether. Remember when Christopher Reeve’s Superman fought for “truth, justice, and the American way”? That was something filmmakers and producers embraced at the time because “American way” was something everyone could get behind. Even if one disagreed with the sentiment, there was something permanent and solid in Reeve’s statement.
Now, the movie industry has embraced either woke politics or general lack of definition. There is no specificity to the characters anymore, and their interior struggles are either irrelevant or completely disregarded. We live in a culture that abhors existential conflict but thrives on hatred, fights, and close encounters of the Twitter kind.
Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese compared DC Marvel superhero films to amusement “theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being,” said Scorsese, who is quite correct in his assessment.
A superhero film can be done well, and can even have cinematic value (like Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns”). But audiences (even if they are not deep thinkers who watch Ingmar Bergman’s films) need an authenticemotional and psychological story. They need to know why they should care for the hero or the villain. Perhaps, in the end, “Batgirl” affirmed the pervasive boredom and malaise of our culture.
Nearly half of the Democrats’ Inflation Promotion Act is devoted to increasing the budget of the IRS. Think about that: when has more IRS ever been popular? Never. So what are the Democrats up to?
Monica Showalter writes:
The other half [of the Inflation Promotion Act], some $300 billion, will be dedicated to IRS enforcement, surveillance upgrades, and audits against small businesses, who have now been re-labeled “the rich.”
$300 billion to the IRS? Seriously?
Sinema got her demand to not close the carried interest tax loophole which is what her hedge fund donors wanted. Democrats replaced that with a provision to tax businesses even more.
This is ironic. Democrats say the IRS will go after “the rich,” but the one provision in the Inflation Promotion Act that actually would have been bad for the rich–repeal of the carried interest treatment of income earned by hedge fund managers–is now out of the bill. A friend of mine who made a lot of money as a hedge fund manager describes the carried interest concept as “completely unjustifiable.” Yet Chuck Schumer has protected it against reform for many years, on behalf of Democratic Party donors.
Now, finally, the Democrats ostensibly were ready to turn on their hedge fund backers–Wall Street is not entirely a Democratic enclave, but almost–and what happens? Kristen Sinema rides in to save the day not only for her own hedge fund supporters, but for Schumer’s as well. Coincidence?
That was a digression. More on the IRS:
The [Washington] Post reports the IRS expects a much lower return on all those “rich” people they claim they are going to audit with those 87,000 new agents, which is an eightfold increase in their budget….
Wait! 87,000 new IRS agents? Can this possibly be right? And an eightfold increase in the IRS enforcement budget? What do you suppose the IRS will do with that massive influx of money and manpower?
Showalter and others think the Democrats’ IRS will attack small businesses in a major way. That probably is true. But, as the president of a conservative policy organization, I have another concern. We all remember how Barack Obama’s IRS went after Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations before and after the 2010 midterm wipeout. Mostly, they slow-walked the 501(c)(3) approval process. But imagine an IRS hostile to conservative principles, and emboldened by an eight-fold budget increase and 87,000 new agents. What would the IRS do in the liberals’ wildest dreams?
I think the liberals who run the IRS would sic their agents on every conservative nonprofit in the country. They would audit such organizations, looking for evidence that they somehow had violated the extremely vague regulations governing political activity. Such audits would require even squeaky-clean organizations like my own to hire lawyers to defend them. Government lawyers work for free–that is, courtesy of the taxpayers–while private lawyers have to be paid. Thus, a concerted attack by the IRS could largely disable conservative nonprofits, whose revenue would be dissipated by paying for lawyers, and whose energies would be dissipated in dealing with IRS attacks.
Call me paranoid, but I think this lies behind the Democrats’ sudden desire to drastically upsize the IRS.
We have not yet taken the measure of the disaster that is the Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act,” perhaps the most absurdly named statute ever. One element of the law that has not gotten enough attention is its imposition of price controls on pharmaceuticals. Price controls are always, and everywhere, a terrible idea. When you apply price controls to a vital product like drugs, the results could be catastrophic.
At Real Clear Policy, my colleague Peter Nelson, who worked at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the Trump administration, where he was in charge of price transparency initiatives, explains:
I coauthored a new report with my colleague John Phelan at Center of the American Experiment which highlights how drug price controls would weaken the U.S. drug industry’s global leadership position and give China the opportunity to control greater market share to advance their national interests.
The package of price controls in the budget reconciliation bill would require Medicare to set prices for certain high-cost drugs and require drug manufacturers to pay rebates to the federal government when price increases exceed inflation. It uses the term “negotiation,” but it operates as a strict price control. That’s because excessive penalties on drug manufacturers for not negotiating make it a negotiation drug companies can’t refuse. Meanwhile, the inflation rebates impose price controls on nearly all drugs covered by Medicare Part D, as well as brand drugs and biologics covered by Medicare Part B.
Europe’s drug manufacturing industry used to be the global leader, but this leadership position eroded over the past three decades and the U.S. now stands on top. Over the most recent five-year period from 2016 to 2020, the U.S. accounted for 138 of the new chemical and biological drug entities, followed by Europe at 64. Twenty years ago, Europe was on top.
The budget reconciliation bill’s strict price controls create a serious risk that the U.S. drug industry might follow in Europe’s footsteps.
To the benefit of–who else?–China. Much more at the link, and especially in the linked report.
There is reason to think that Joe Biden is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party because of corrupt business transactions he has profited from over the years. But what about the 50 Democratic senators? Do they seriously want to devastate America’s pharmaceutical industry, and transfer international leadership in drug innovation to the Communist Chinese?
I certainly hope not. The most charitable interpretation is that most Democratic senators have no idea what is in the package that they have voted for.
Following up on “An utterly bizarre statement,” reader Dave Begley wrote Hunter Biden attorney Christopher Clark. Dave wrote Clark:
Hunter Biden is a criminal, tool for China, and a traitor.
His parents won’t mount him.
Clark responded to Dave:
You are a genius!!!!
Christopher J. Clark
Latham & Watkins LLP
The email from Clark comes with the obligatory firm warning: “This email may contain material that is confidential, privileged and/or attorney work product for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any review, disclosure, reliance or distribution by others or forwarding without express permission is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and delete all copies including any attachments.” We are taking a walk on the wild side sharing Clark’s message with readers.
Big firm practice appears to have changed over the years since John and I left the Faegre firm, and not in a good way.
In his Wall Street Journal morning editorial report email, Paul Gigot usefully summarizes the damage done in the absurdly named “Inflation Reduction Act” that the Senate is approving via the reconciliation process:
The Washington press corps prefers to cover politics over policy, so it’s mostly ignored the details in Sen. Joe Manchin’s tax-and-spending deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The Journal opinion pages have tried to fill that gaping coverage hole, and my choice for its worst three provisions are: drug price controls that will erode innovation and slow future cures; climate subsidies and language that will distort energy investment and liberate regulators to crush fossil fuels; and the tax increases on companies, including the new stock buyback levy that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema agreed to in return for altering the new book income tax that would have punished manufacturers in particular. But please don’t forget the $80 billion in new funding for 87,000 new Internal Revenue Service employees. That includes more than $45 billion for tax enforcement that Democrats claim will yield more revenue.
I trust Steve Hayward will elaborate on the language that will “liberate regulators to crush fossil fuels[.]” On the last point, regarding the IRS, Gigot cites the Journal editorial “The IRS is about to go beast mode.”
When Steve returns to his post on the left coast this week, I will bring this song of the day series featuring Minnesota musicans to an end. Matt Wilson and John Munson have teamed up again in the group The Twilight Hours. Matt and John are ex- of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic. John is the bassist in the New Standards trio. Matt also leads Matt Wilson & His Orchestra. Matt Wilson’s site is here. Written by Matt Wilson, “Help Me Find the Way” is off The Twilight Hours’ recording Black Beauty. It seems to me a song with an appropriate and timely Sunday morning plea.
• S0—what’d I miss?
• Feel good story of the week:
Vox Media is laying off 39 people, less than 2% of its total staff of more than 2000, in an effort to get ahead of economic uncertainty, according to a source familiar with the cuts and a memo obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: Vox Media is the latest in a long string of firms taking measures to prepare for a potential economic downturn.
“Economic uncertainty,” you say? “Potential economic downturn,” eh? Just don’t call it a “recession.”
• I guess when you run out of virgins, an American tourist will do:
An American tourist fell into Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano in Italy, after trespassing to take a selfie, officials said. The 23-year-old man, who dropped his phone and tried to retrieve it after the selfie, fell several meters into the ash of the crater before being saved by nearby park officials on Saturday. He sustained only minor injuries, officials said.
• I know John has written about the self-inflicted (by international environmental elites) disaster in Sri Lanka (and why these same knuckleheads want to repeat the disaster here), but let’s also remember how the media cheered the whole effort and now covers up the real cause of it:
• Speaking of media nitwits:
• Finally, for now: the view from my window of my last evening on Skye:
Yesterday the New York Times attacked Republican governors for sending a handful of the illegal immigrants who have invaded their states to other jurisdictions. The Times headline was “G.O.P. Governors Cause Havoc by Busing Migrants to East Coast.”
No. The havoc was caused by the Biden administration luring illegals to the border and inviting them to cross without consequences. A tiny fraction of the havoc the Democratic Party has inflicted on red and purple states is now coming home to roost in blue states. That is a good thing.
A political tactic by the governors of Texas and Arizona…
Erasing the border and inviting mass illegal immigration was a political tactic by the Democratic Party. Democrats evidently think they should be immune to the consequences of their own feckless actions.
…to offload the problems caused by record levels of migration at the border…
This is almost beyond belief. The problems at the border have been created deliberately by the Biden administration. They are not being “offloaded” by border states, which have no special obligation to bear them.
…is beginning to hit home in Washington, as hundreds of undocumented migrants arriving on the governors’ free bus rides each week increasingly tax the capital’s ability to provide emergency food and housing.
Yes, and what do you think the Biden administration’s pro-illegal immigration policies have done to tax the resources of border states like Texas and Arizona?
The Times’s pained reaction to having to share a tiny percentage of the border states’ pain–New York has gotten a handful of bussed illegals, like Washington, D.C.–validates the wisdom of Governors Abbott and Ducey’s policies. If blue voters experience a small taste of the evils caused by illegal immigration, maybe we can finally muster the collective will to enforce our country’s immigration laws.
The Daily Mail has published another exploration of the Biden family business in this story by Josh Boswell. Boswell draws on the laptop from hell and White House visitor logs to show the apparently direct involvement of President Biden in the business. Please check out Boswell’s excellent story.
Boswell’s story is profusely illustrated, Daily Mail style. Best of all, it includes the statement below from Latham & Watkins criminal defense attorney Chris Clark. According to the Latham & Watkins profile, Clark represents Hunter Biden in the grand jury investigation of Hunter Biden’s tax issues. Clark responded to the Daily Mail on his (i.e., Hunter’s) behalf.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this was Hunter’s lawyer’s response when I asked him for comment: pic.twitter.com/BSTsoukXOs
— Josh Boswell (@JoshTBoswell) August 5, 2022
The Daily Mail describes Clark’s statement as “near unintelligible.” I would say it is bizarrely deranged in the style we have come to expect from Clark’s client.
The Daily Mail appends this note to Clark’s statement: “NOTE: Clark, who has previously specialized in media industry cases, appeared to be under the mistaken impression that DailyMail.com is a News Corp company, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. DailyMail.com is in fact owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. He did not comment on the First Son’s criminal investigation, including the reported focus by prosecutors on the $142,300 Hunter received from a Kazakh oligarch to buy a Porsche Panamera.”
You probably know about what has happened in Sri Lanka, where the government’s attempt to impose organic farming led to food shortages, impoverishment, and a revolt that caused that country’s prime minister to flee. Also the Netherlands, where the government’s attempt to drastically reduce fertilizer use has led to massive protests by farmers that continue to this day.
At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw notes that farmers in other countries are up in arms as well:
There are already protests by farmers taking place in a number of countries besides the Netherlands, though the farmers there are currently drawing the most headlines. Similar uprisings are happening in Spain, Ireland, and New Zealand. There are food shortages gripping a number of countries around the world, but our elite climate warriors are pushing to reduce food production rather than expanding it.
Next up is Canada:
Undaunted by the uproar in the Netherlands over the impact on farmers of rules limiting nitrogen emissions, Canada’s government is now looking to go down a similar route.
The government is proposing to cut emissions from fertilizer 30 per cent by 2030 as part of a plan to get to net zero in the next three decades. But growers are saying that to achieve that, they may have to shrink grain output significantly at a time when the world is scrambling for more supplies.
Also at stake is the estimated $10.4 billion that farmers could lose this decade from the reduced output.
Cattle and fertilizer are key sources of nitrogen emissions.
Global warming religion is international, and the same anti-farming movement is coming soon to the U.S., the world’s number one agricultural economy. The first target will be nitrogen-based fertilizers, which are a principal foundation of the world’s ag productivity. Without fertilizers, the world will go hungry.
That leads to target number two: animals, especially cows. By far the largest crop in the U.S. is corn, and that corn is fed to cows and pigs to produce steaks, ground beef, bacon, pork chops, and so on. Liberals will argue that this is “inefficient.” People should live on vegetables and insects, and animal husbandry should be phased out. The fact that cattle also emit methane, primarily by chewing cud, makes their decline an added bonus from a global warming perspective.
Will the Left’s war on agriculture succeed? I don’t know. The Sri Lankan government pushed it until mobs invaded the prime minister’s residence. The government of the Netherlands isn’t giving an inch, despite massive and prolonged civil disobedience by farmers. Justin Trudeau apparently likes what he sees in those countries. And consider the Left’s war on energy: I never would have imagined that it could get as far as it has.
I think many liberals are essentially sadists. They love to boss the rest of us around and make us miserable. If you didn’t know better, you might think they spend their days dreaming up ways to humiliate their fellow citizens. “Here’s an idea–let’s screw up the grid to produce blackouts, so that people turn on the lights and nothing happens!” “They’ll never stand for that.” “We’ll make them stand for that, and like it, too!” “Here’s another idea: let’s tell people they can no longer eat hamburgers and bacon, they have to eat crickets and vegetables!” “What? No one is crazy enough to go along with that.” “Sure they will–all we have to do is tell them it’s necessary to save the planet.”
Making food scarce and expensive, so that much of the population is threatened with starvation, has another benefit for liberals. They can respond by writing people checks representing food subsidies. Thus they turn millions of formerly self-sufficient Americans into government-reliant serfs. It’s a win-win, if you are a liberal.
All of this is coming to the U.S. soon. We have seen the opening shots fired, as environmental groups have tried to block the expansion of dairy herds on the ground that cows cause global warming. We have seen the price of meat skyrocket, so that many Americans have had to change their eating habits. Already, if you look at ingredient lists on food products, you may see ground-up crickets. And the effort to delegitimize eating meat, especially beef, like the effort to delegitimize air travel, is under way.
I will hazard one more guess: when the Left looked for another state to follow California’s lead on automobile emissions, where did they go? Minnesota. When the Left wanted to spread California’s “ethnic studies” curriculum into the Midwest, where did they go? Minnesota. When the Left launches its full-scale war on American agriculture, where will that war begin? It won’t be Iowa. It will be Minnesota. And Minnesota currently has a governor and an administration that would be willing to lead the anti-food charge.
A final comment: global warming is a great boon to the Left because every human activity emits carbon dioxide. In fact, human beings emit carbon dioxide simply by living. So if you believe that carbon dioxide is the worst possible threat to the world, it justifies absolutely any government action that leftists might want to take.
So conservatives, and conservative politicians, need to stop conceding the premises of global warming to the Left. “Climate change”–that is, the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming–has been decisively refuted as a matter of science. But it lives on as a religion for those seeking meaning in their lives, and as a cynical political tool of the Left. Conservatives need to stop conceding moral high ground to environmental Leftists, and instead attack them head-on.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I was expelled from the daily Minnesota Department of Health Covid briefings conduced by Commissioner Jan Malcolm after I emailed a critical question to her staff. I repeatedly emailed to ask why I had been expelled. I left one or two voicemails with the head MDH communications asking why I had been expelled. I received no response or explanation.
I then filed a Minnesota Data Practices Act request to try to figure it out. Internal emails made it clear that I was expelled because of the critical question after MDH staff consulted with the Walz’s staff.
I had tuned in to the briefings following Walz’s March 25, 2020 emergency order that arbitrarily shut down the state. Following the data, I saw that 80 percent of the deaths attributed to Covid by MDH occurred in long-term care facilities. I sought an answer to the question why the state was being shut down because of a crisis in long-term care about which the authorities themselves remained silent.
At all times along the way Governor Walz and Commissioner Malcolm were protected inside a circle of media love led by the Star Tribune. As they inflicted incalculable damage to lives and careers and public health, they liked it that way.
Today the Star Tribune editors publicize a JAMA study of undefined “harassment” endured by public health workers and a follow-up survey including “harassment” of public officials such as Malcolm. Someone on the editorial board interviewed Malcolm on the study and Malcolm unburdened herself inside that circle of media love once again:
In an interview this week, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the study is tough to read. “I’ll just be really honest with you, I’m having a little PTSD,” she said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s just bringing back so many difficult things we’ve been through in the last couple of years personally, for my staff at MDH, for our local public health colleagues. When I think about the damage that’s been done, it just makes my blood boil.”
Enduring the vagaries of one-man rule tends to set free people on edge. The survey posed the question: “Is it justifiable to harass or threaten public health officials after business closures done to slow COVID’s spread?” The planted assumption is that the correct answer is “no.” That’s the way they roll over at the Star Tribune.
In the boiling blood department, it doesn’t do much for me to reflect that, despite her manifest incompetence and deceit, Malcolm not only still has the job she came in with, she is complaining about it. The Star Tribune editorial itself observes limitations of the study that render it a joke.
• You forced thousands of nursing home residents to be isolated from what little social contact they had. These residents then gave up, developed what is euphemistically referred to as “failure to thrive” syndrome and died. You compiled one of the worst records in the country in regard to nursing home deaths and serious illness.
• Your constant harping on danger and safety led hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans to miss needed health care, including child immunizations, leading to sharp rises in serious disease and to increases in death from causes such as dementia, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. We will pay the price for this terror campaign for years to come.
• Your policies caused a sharp increase in deaths from drug and alcohol abuse. You supported open-border policies which allowed enormous quantities of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs to flood into our communities, you supported destroying effective police forces to stop this flow of drugs and you have done nothing, absolutely nothing to limit the use of these drugs. Adolescents, young adults and minorities are most at risk due to your policies and inaction.
• You supported and enforced school closures which destroyed the educational and social lives of Minnesota’s children, and led to thousands of minority children simply dropping out of school.
• You supported lockdowns which disrupted all Minnesotans lives, leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and the closure of thousands of businesses, resulting in financial and mental health distress.
• You constantly provided misleading and incomplete information to the public and continue to do so to this day. You have been more interested in releasing data that support your messages as opposed to the truth. You suppressed a study on the ineffectiveness of masks. You refused to release communications with teachers’ unions showing that your school closure policies were just payback for campaign contributions to Walz and Democrats. You hid data showing that most hospitalizations attributed to Covid were not primarily for treatment of that condition. You supported crazy approaches to attributing deaths to Covid. You continue to refuse to provide full data on breakthrough infections and reinfections that would allow an honest assessment of vaccine effectiveness and immunity from prior infection.
• You lied about vaccine effectiveness and supported vaccine mandates which worsened health care staffing problems and led to worse health care. Your policies caused many workers to lose jobs even though they were no more likely to get infected or to transmit than were persons who were vaccinated.
Kevin concludes: “In short, you are guilty of ignoring the overall public health and spreading coronamonomania. Far from improving outcomes in Minnesota, whether from Covid-or other diseases, you worsened them. So spare us your self-pity, Commissioner Malcolm, and think about how you might atone for all the harm you have done to Minnesotans.”
If I stay overseas any longer, it’s pretty clear the usurpation of the 3wHH will morph into the “The Three McRibb Happy Meal Podcast” if I don’t put a stop to it, so I made sure to disrupt this week’s episode once again from London, this time while finishing off a bottle of Poit Dhubh (potch-goo), as fits the real show.
I didn’t stick around for long as it was the dinner hour over here in London, but I managed to get in my licks on the Joe Manchin Sellout, in which I find more and more mischief with every page. Turns out the Democrats are trying to amend the Clean Air Act to undermine the Supreme Court’s recent West Virginia v. EPA case, but trying this in a spending bill is likely impermissible under the Senate’s reconciliation rules. But what are “norms” among dreamy progressives?
After I took my leave, John and Lucretia continue their ongoing conversation about how to understand that apparent moment of revolution in jurisprudence, which John thinks isn’t merely the culmination of the Reagan-era initiative to restore constitutional originalism, but perhaps even goes beyond it.
You know what to do now: pour yourself a stiff one, or consult your local Ricochet bartender.
We live in the era of peak gaslighting. Recession? What recession? Inflation? The price of gas is falling! The border? We’re plugging the gaps in the wall! Hundreds of billions of dollars in more deficit spending? We’re fighting inflation! Foreign policy? It’s going swimmingly!
I guess in November we will find out whether voters believe the Democrats, or their lying eyes.
Before wrapping up, a couple of quick notes: First, Steve Hayward should be landing in the U.S. any time now, so this is my last week filling in on TWIP. It’s been fun! Thanks to all who contributed. Second, I don’t believe there is a single Star Wars or Star Trek meme in today’s lineup. I swear that is because no one sent them in, not because I ditched them. Although I might have, if given the opportunity. And finally, since this is my last contribution to TWIP, possibly forever, I thought we might do something a little different with Steve’s traditional “and finally” graphic:
Welcome home, Steve!
Laura Ingraham is broadcasting from the Twin Cities this week and reporting on subjects of local interest with national implications. Jon Justice caught up with her this morning. I appreciated Laura’s comments on the Twin Cities. She doesn’t indulge in the simplified take that we deserve what we get.
In the audio clip below she takes up the other side of the story of the Minneapolis Police Department that I have neglected here. I have asked over and over who in his right mind would go to work for the department. Laura expresses her regard for those who continue to serve.
Here is @IngrahamAngle after her reports LIVE from the state chatting with @JonJustice this morning on the state of crime in Minneapolis, and what she hopes to see in the future of the Twin Cities : pic.twitter.com/tIrDii765Z
— Justice In The Morning #TCNT (@jdtcnt) August 5, 2022
Jon himself provides the update below on the gang fight at the Mall of America yesterday. And the beat goes on.
— Jon Justice (@JonJustice) August 4, 2022
In his morning email blast the great Michael Ramirez pairs his cartoon of the day (below) with my post “Sinema & the Star Tribune sign on” and three other columns on the Schumer/Manchin monstrosity. Michael’s take is of course more concise than the Star Tribune’s. Unlike the Star Tribune’s propagandistic pabulum, it is also right on the money, so to speak. He titles this one “Fiscal fantasy” and comments in his message: “The Inflation Reduction Act will raise taxes and spending and IRS audits, discourage investment while having no significant impact on inflation, and adding $22.2 billion to the deficit for the first four years.” Michael’s Substack site is here (subscribe here).
Copyright Ⓒ 2022 Michael Ramirez. All rights reserved. Republished with permission.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema has signed on to a slightly tweaked version of the Schumer/Manchin Bummer Beyond Belief bill that is to be passed via the reconciliation process. Politico reports on Sinema’s approval here. Judging by the ecstasy of the Star Tribune editorial board about the bill — they buy it “price controls” hook, “climate control” line, and “inflation reduction” sinker — it is a destructive mess. The editors get extra credit for treating Amy Klobuchar as some kind of an authority. Classic.
I turn to one of our readers who writes with comments on the idiotic Star Tribune editorial that go to the merits of the Schumer/Manchin bill.
* * * * *
I’m a Nebraska resident who started following your site a few years ago. I’ve had a particular interest in media bias over the years and the impact it has on forming public opinion. I even worked for Newsbusters for a time before other commitments came calling.
I remember learning through research that the State of Minnesota has historically one of the highest percentages of residents in the U.S. who get their news via newspapers. So I always read intently anything you write about the Star Tribune and got in the habit of checking out their website regularly to see what they’re up to, a habit that begun with their frothing coverage of the Covington “controversy.”
I have to say that if the people of Minnesota truly do place so much emphasis on what they read in that newspaper it certainly explains why Republicans have so much difficulty winning elections in the state. For example, their latest editorial is the purest piece of straight-up propaganda I’ve seen in quite some time:
Just look at some of the things they write here:
It is also fiscally responsible. The bill pays for expenditures by closing existing tax loopholes that for too long have allowed the largest corporations and wealthiest individuals to escape paying their fair share of taxes. Among the revenue raisers: a modest 15% minimum tax on the largest corporations — those with more than $1 billion in profit. No one who makes less than $400,000 will see an increase in their tax rates.
* * * * *
“This is a landmark bill,” [Minnesota Senator Amy] Klobuchar said. “Americans, Minnesotans, are struggling so much with costs right now. What this bill does is, after getting through pandemic, put us on a path forward to reduce costs for families. This is not just a baby step, but a big step to bringing down inflation, and taking on climate change and the pharmaceutical industry — two things deemed impossible for years.”
Of course, the Penn-Wharton study has been much discussed this past week and it concluded that the bill would increase inflation. As did over 230 economists from the University of Chicago, Notre Dame, Virginia, Princeton, Columbia, Duke, et al.
And as Marc Thiessen succinctly sums up here, the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the bill would “raise taxes on Americans earning less than $200,000 to the tune of $16.7 billion in 2023 and would generate $14.1 billion from those making between $200,000 and $500,000 a year.”
But those inconvenient facts did not mesh with the Star Tribune’s narrative and interfered with their ability to tell us how awesome the bill is. So they simply excluded any mention of those findings and used quotes from Clinton/Obama treasury flack Larry Summers and prominent Democrat donor and Moody’s analyst, Mark Zandi, instead.
The editorial makes no mention that the bill more than doubles the size of the IRS (which we all know the real reason for Democrats wanting) and ends in an attack against Republicans for not supporting a bill that “does much for the constituents in their states and the country as a whole.”
This is the very definition of propaganda. And ironically, it comes from an outlet seemingly obsessed with “misinformation. [Citations omitted.]. I have actually taken a screenshot of this editorial being how I’ve noticed that the Star Tribune has been scrubbing their archives and making inaccessible a lot of their past embarrassing articles (e.g., “Russian collusion” articles, Trump’s border crisis, etc.), and I imagine it will be a mere months before it disappears from existence when crow du jour starts being served.
Thus, if you ever find yourselves entertaining the possibility that you might be a bit hard and repetitive in calling out the Star Tribune, you’re clearly not. If anything, you’re not being tough enough on them. They may have officially crossed that threshold from being unethical and annoying to being a legitimate danger to the people of your great state.
Have a good weekend.
Ammo Grrrll is challenged by BREAKING INTO MY FOOD. She writes:
I may have mentioned a time or two that I really enjoy eating. In this pleasure I join a vast horde and, if my Dusty Little Village is any representative sample, getting vaster by the day. And yet all is not Copa-cetic in my world in Maricopa.
It is my belief that Big Food has been trying to make it harder for me to get AT my victuals. Yes, dearly beloved, Big Food, in collusion with Big Packaging, is invested in devising ever more secure packaging to keep my food harder to break into than Fort Knox, or even Joe Vass’s Passwords or Debit Card PIN number. God only knows why. I’m sure they view it as “keeping me safe,” like how safe I feel when Conservative speakers are booed down and sent packing. (Whew! Dodged another unpleasant exposure to facts…)
It is only a matter of time before Nefarious Actors break into my home and hide all my food up in a tree, like we do to keep bears from getting at our S’Mores fixins on campouts.
This insight occurred to me last week when I was trying desperately to open a container of Talenti Gelato (Salted Caramel Truffle). I was introduced to this delight by my bestie’s husband Wayne. He is a connoisseur of frozen confections and generally eats them out of a bread bowl. No, not a bowl made out of bread, but a giant bowl in which us old-school housewives make our own bread.
Talenti Gelato comes in a hard, round plastic container with – for some stupid reason – a brown plastic screw-on top. I am pretty strong generally, but I have small, arthritic hands that can just barely encircle the lid. Because of the very nature of ice cream, it must get sticky around the screw-on part and turn to Gorilla Glue.
I am an Old Hand from the Rio Grande when it comes to getting lids off things: there’s the “rap it firmly on the counter” gambit. No dice. There’s the “hold it under hot water” option, with special attention to the sticky rim. Not working. Oddly enough, even swearing also had zero effect. Finally, there’s the “wedge a small sharp knife into the space between the lid and jar and circle the jar” idea. Never let a small detour to the Emergency Room keep you from enjoying your treat. Remember to put the Gelato container back in the freezer while you get your stitches. Wipe off the blood for decorum’s sake unless you have no intention of sharing.
The last humiliating option is to hand it to Joe, whose hands look like catcher’s mitts next to mine. And I was gratified to see that even HE had some difficulty. But he eventually got it open. What women do who are not married to males of varying levels of toxicity I cannot say. However, handing it to Joe was somewhat problematic inasmuch as I had hidden it FROM him under the frozen vegetables. Had I been called to my reward unexpectedly, he would have found it when either Hades froze over or when SOME, ANY leftist was held accountable for a violent or treasonous action.
Physically attack a Republican candidate? Bang a Chinese spy? Shoot a Congressman playing baseball? Insider trading? Plan a coup against a sitting President with the highest level of government collusion? Burn down several cities? Change legal documents? Sell the craven media an absurd story that a Republican Presidential candidate went to Russia and pottied on a bed? Child’s play and no problem. Oopsie, straying into the Anger Zone. Sorry.
So, anyway, the ice cream (technically, “gelato”) was finally opened and enjoyed by (sadly) all.
Later in the week, I wanted to try the Chicken/Gouda Sausage from Sprouts to go with our breakfast eggs. Gone are the carefree days when you could just open the cardboard or plastic wrap around the sausage with a deft hand, following the helpful hint: OPEN HERE. No. First they assure us that this sausage is “pork-free” (why I bought it), non-GMO, organic, contains no tree nuts. Whew, good to know.
And then, what to my wondering eyes did appear but the fact that each of the four individual sausages inside the cardboard wrapper is also separately shrink-wrapped in heavy plastic that cannot be cut off, pried off, or chewed off. Eventually, I had to just make a tiny cut INTO the top of each sausage to open the shrinkw-rap far enough to push the sausage out from the bottom like birthin’ a baby. And then do that three more times.
Oh, we’re not done yet. I like to have a daily hot cup of Bone Broth which is allegedly good for your “gut health” as well as your joints and brain. In those areas – all problematic — I’ll take all the help I can get. Usually I get the tall four-cup version in a lovely cardboard container with a little tiny, perfectly manageable screw-off top. Boom! One twist to the left and it’s off!
But the rental in which we are staying for the summer does not have a pantry shelf tall enough for those cartons, so I have bought the half-size versions. Big mistake. Do THEY have a small screw-off top? No, they have a complicated folded-over glued-down origami set-up where, while losing no fewer than three fingernails, you dig it out and unfold it before you can make a poorly designed “spout” and get AT what broth did not spill out on the counter. I know, I know, it’s a First World Problem, but it’s annoying.
And how ‘bout some fruit to go with your sausage and egg breakfast? Cut-up pineapple and melons used to come in a lightweight plastic container with a lid that just popped off nicely. Now the geniuses in Packaging have invented a razor-sharp kind of plastic and a lid that must first have a sharp strip peeled up, back and torn off and then you must focus on getting a kitchen knife wedged in between the base and the lid and popping it open. Fun! And always STICKY.
I HATE sticky! I don’t mind being DIRTY from gardening or even housecleaning, but sticky is something up with which I cannot put. Which definitely rules out the fine dining at The Waffle House where everything from the floor to the place mats to the menus to the booths is permanently sticky and has been since the day after they opened.
Last week I motored on over to the Prescott Sprouts for the kind of Orange Juice we favor – Uncle Matt’s Organic. I get two kinds because I like “With Pulp” and Joe likes “No Pulp.” At least until last week we felt financially secure enough to get both, but who knows going forward? Inevitably, as we each drink down our separate but equal half gallons we need more refrigerator space, so I combine them and it turns into one jar of “Some Pulp” Orange Juice. If I use the “No Pulp” jar, Joe doesn’t even know the difference, so don’t mention anything in the comments. But here’s the point of the story.
When I went into the store, the sky was kind of dark and threatening, but I had not received the screeching text warning me to PULL OVER IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE OF LIFE-THREATENING NO FOOLING AROUND FLASH FLOODS IN THE AREA. DO NOT DRIVE FURTHER. THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT. MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO NEW MEXICO OR KANSAS.
I swear I was in there no more than twenty minutes. Also, I should mention that I had parked about as far away from the door as I could and still be in Yavapai County. I am always on the alert for getting more “steps,” the pursuit of which rules my life.
Haha – you know what’s coming, don’t you? The MINUTE I hit the doorway on the way out, the heavens opened and I relived icky Bill Cosby’s great old routine, “Noah, how long can you tread water?” This was not the typical Arizona sprinkle that evaporates five minutes later. This was a gully-washer. I have never been more drenched since my childhood when Mama would let us go out in a big summer storm and stomp in puddles. The water was up to my ankles in the parking lot as I squished my way to the car, opening the trunk as little as I could get away with and threw my bags in.
Now came the dilemma: in my whole life – it’s one of my yugest Pet Peeves and, as I bet you’ve gathered, I have many – I have never once failed to return my cart to the Cart Corral. Would this be a first?
No! I reasoned that it was already far too late. I had attained Maximum Wetness and a few more minutes would make no difference whatsoever. In fact, I WALKED back as fellow shoppers in their cars looked on in amazement.
And I had a kind of epiphany. I think the Good-Natured, Patriotic, God-Fearing General Public has reached Maximum Drenchedness in the Evil Poop Storm we have been living in for two years. We are going to walk back to sanity calmly and reclaim our country. I feel it. A corner has been turned. I saw a Hispanic guy at breakfast with a t-shirt: “Bidenflation: The Price For Voting Stupidly.” We exchanged thumbs-ups.
John Rich has an extremely popular song out with the refrain “Stick your ‘Progress’ where the sun don’t shine.” With a terrific accompanying video, very uplifting.
RESIST. DO NOT COMPLY. WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS. WE GOT THIS.
This is shocking, or would be in a sane world: Gina McCarthy, the Biden administration’s National Climate Advisor, is openly calling on tech companies like Facebook and Twitter to censor any dissent from the administration’s “green” fantasies. McCarthy says the tech companies “have to stop allowing” people to disagree with Biden. No doubt the people she wants to censor include Steve Hayward and me, among many others:
Biden's National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy says Big Tech should censor people who criticize Biden's "green" energy agenda. pic.twitter.com/wEMWWpTp60
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) June 14, 2022
In my opinion, Gina McCarthy and the Biden administration disseminate misinformation on climate and energy 24/7. But I think they should be “allowed” to do so. Truth will win out, but only if it is not censored.
We wrote here about the lawsuit that the states of Missouri and Louisiana have brought against the Biden administration, accusing it of coercing, or colluding with, tech companies to violate Americans’ First Amendment rights. Watch for Gina McCarthy’s open call for censorship to be an exhibit in that case.
The Gadsden flag has been around for a long time, but I had to look it up to remember where it came from:
Before the departure of the United States Navy’s first mission in 1775, Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden from South Carolina presented the newly appointed commander with a yellow rattlesnake flag to serve as a standard for his flagship. Accompanying the Navy on its first mission were five companies of Marines carrying yellow drums featuring a snake with 13 rattles and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” The Navy later adapted the snake emblem and “Don’t Tread on Me” motto into what is now known as the First Navy Jack.
The Gadsden flag has been around for 247 years, but recently, like many other things, has become controversial. The FBI flagged it as one of a number of symbols that are popular with “Anti-Government or Anti-Authority Violent Extremists.” The FBI describes the Gadsden flag as a “Historical American symbol, representing gun rights and limited government.” Imagine that.
The Gadsden flag is in good company: according to the FBI, the Betsy Ross flag–featured at Barack Obama’s inaugural!–is another symbol “commonly referenced” by Violent Extremists.
Of course, the FBI also says that “The use or sharing of these symbols alone should not independently be considered evidence of [Militia Violent Extremism] presence or affiliation or serve as an indicator of illegal activity….” No kidding: I would say that they are nearly always evidence of patriotism. So why, exactly, did the FBI single out these symbols as something to be on the lookout for?
Meanwhile, Florida has announced the issuance of Gadsden flag license plates, proceeds from which will go to aid Florida veterans. The horror!
Florida’s vile new ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ license plate stirs controversy. DeSantis has claimed on Twitter that the plate is intended to send a clear message to out-of-state cars, likely refers to tourists from blue states like New York and California https://t.co/VpILlMbVD5
— Lesley Abravanel (@lesleyabravanel) August 3, 2022
The latest fake news hysteria is about the new Gadsden Flag license plate @GovRonDeSantis announced to help Florida veterans in need. Media is smearing this as a "racist"/"domestic terrorist" symbol, which is absurd!
— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) August 3, 2022
Why do liberals hate the Gadsden Flag? Because it stands for freedom, of course, but more importantly because it is patriotic. Hence their hate for the Betsy Ross flag, too. In truth, their real target is the American flag. Liberals won’t rest until it becomes impossible to display the Stars and Stripes because the U.S. flag is seen as a symbol of racism and oppression. That is where all of this is going.
This afternoon gang violence erupted inside the Mall of America. Details are still sketchy, but apparently members of rival gangs got into an altercation in or outside of the Nike store at the mall. One or more of the participants pulled guns, and a number of shots were fired. Apparently at least one person was wounded, but no one stayed around to talk to the police. As of this moment, there is no report of an arrest.
This video shows the first of what I understand to be the beginning of the gunfire.
Video from the reported Mall of America shooting. pic.twitter.com/tWwhPGzwtY
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) August 4, 2022
This one shows normals fleeing the central entertainment area after gunshots were heard. Many of them are young children. Newspapers will report that the only victim was a gang combatant, but these people are all victims too. As are the store owners and employees at the Mall.
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) August 4, 2022
The incident prompted a massive law enforcement response. There is a Bloomington Police Department precinct station under the building. I once had the opportunity to tour it as a member of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Board. It is an impressive operation and they take security seriously. As they should: the MOA has long been seen as a possible target of terrorism, and Stephen Hunter wrote a good novel about an Islamic terrorist attack there.
What happened today was less serious, but it is impossible to overstate the impact of this sort of lawlessness on the affected businesses and on the quality of life of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.
One more thing: one of the Mall’s problems is that it is a stop on the local light rail system. Few people ride the trains, and many fewer pay to ride them. They are a magnet for low-level crime and generally disgusting behavior. Among other things, the trains funnel criminal elements into the Mall of America. The Twin Cities metro area would be vastly better off if the entire light rail system, which serves hardly any useful purpose, were dismantled.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sat for an interview with Bret Baier on Special Report last night. Senator McConnell himself has posted the video below on YouTube. In it he explains the Schumer/Manchin Bummer Beyond Belief light bill as beyond his power to affect. It is a reconciliation package that requires only the Democratic majority for adoption. “Reconciliation is something done by one party only,” McConnell explained. “There’s nothing we could have done to prevent the Democrats from doing a bill that only they will vote for — so it’s not a question of being played here,” he added. Translation: Republicans are innocent bystanders.
However, Senator McConnell vowed to stop any reconciliation bill before he and 16 other Republican Senators joined the Democrats to pass the CHIPS spenderama. The CHIPS spenderama was the predicate to the Schumer/Manchin deal. It was to be held hostage to prevent any reconciliation bill. See Senator McConnell’s tweet below.
Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill.
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) June 30, 2022
Baier took up the question as posed by Joe over Twitter: didn’t Republicans get played? That was the point of Kim Strassel’s Wall Street Journal column “Manchin and the GOP dupes.”
In his remarks to Baier Senator McConnell implied that the Spenderama 17 relied on the previous public protestations of Joe Manchin. Really? Baier simply moves on from McConnell’s explanation quoted in the first paragraph above.
The 17 GOP Senators might have been dupes. They might have been collaborators. What were they thinking? Who did what to whom?
That question deserves an answer that should be reported out, but it appears to be beyond the scope of the Washington press corps. At the least, Senator McConnell should be pressed for an answer with specifics beyond the pat self-exculpation he served up to Baier.
It has been my object in this series to draw attention to talented Minnesota musicians who are worthy of attention and still working gigs. Today we come to Duluth bluegrass quintet Trampled By Turtles. You may have heard them on Banjodad Records. “Trampled By Turtles” makes me laugh. “Duluth bluegrass” makes me laugh. “Banjodad Records” makes me laugh.
But they are seriously worthy of attention and still working gigs. Take a look at the tour schedule posted at the link above.
The group’s songwriter, lead singer, and guitarist is Dave Simonett. He is originally from Mankato. He went to college in Duluth.
I have seen their music described as punk bluegrass and there might be something to that. Their recording of “Wait So Long” — the first track of Palimino (2010) — has racked up more than 1,000,000 views on YouTube. It puts me in mind of the Hüsker Dü album Land Speed Record. However, insanely fast is not their only tempo. They can slow things down a little too. That driving tempo nevertheless seems to be a core component of their aesthetic. Who needs drums? Not these guys.
The Biden administration has tried to redefine “recession” to avoid responsibility for two consecutive quarters of GDP decline. Has that rather pitiful effort worked? No, according to Rasmussen Reports:
Despite denials from the White House, most voters think the American economy is in a recession – and agree that Democrats are to blame for it.
A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports finds that 62% of Likely U.S. voters believe the U.S. economy is currently in a recession, while 23% think it’s not. Another 15% are not sure.
So much for White House spin. The real question, though, is: regardless of whether you call it a recession, who is to blame for the current economic decline? Rasmussen’s polling is eye-opening:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “Democrats inherited an economy that was primed for an historic comeback, and promptly ran it straight into the ground.” Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters agree with McConnell’s statement, including 45% who Strongly Agree with the Kentucky Republican. Thirty-five percent (35%) disagree, including 27% who Strongly Disagree with the quote from McConnell.
If those numbers are anywhere near correct, it is hard to see how the Democrats can avoid a blowout in November.
Scott wrote a little while ago about the debate between Minnesota governor candidates that took place earlier today, at FarmFest in southern Minnesota. FarmFest is like a State Fair for farmers and the ag industries. My wife and I spent the day at FarmFest helping to man the American Experiment booth there, and we attended the debate.
This is our booth. We had a wheel you could spin to win prizes and merchandise, and a steady stream of rural Minnesotans passed through all day:
The debate between far-left Democratic Governor Tim Walz and Republican challenger Dr. Scott Jensen was interesting on many levels. Here are some observations:
* Tim Walz is unpopular in rural Minnesota, as Democrats are generally throughout the country. He infamously told a gathering of Democrats that there is no reason to worry about Greater Minnesota–everything other than the Twin Cities metro area–because there is “nothing there but rocks and cows.” So today’s crowd was a good one for the Republican candidate.
* The crowd was huge, bigger than a vast building could hold. Interest in this year’s election is sky-high.
* If Phil Spector perfected the “wall of sound” in popular music, Tim Walz is the “wall of sound” politician. If he were getting paid by the word, he would be the richest man in town. He doesn’t try to persuade an audience, he tries to yammer his audience into submission.
What was striking today was how angry Walz seemed. He is the incumbent governor, so why is he so mad?
I think Walz is one of many Democratic politicians who think they have bought the voters’ ballots fair and square, with government programs. If voters hesitate, they are being ungrateful, so Walz is frustrated when he meets opposition. But anger is not a good look. A farmer from Sauk Centre who is not political watched the debate and came away asking, “Why is Walz so angry?” That was a common reaction.
* Republican candidate Scott Jensen is not a politician but a practicing doctor. Walz looked slovenly because he was trying to impersonate a Minnesotan, while Jensen dressed respectably:
* Maybe the details of today’s debate are unique to Minnesota, but in reality the main issues are the same almost everywhere. Our experience manning the American Experiment booth was that the price of energy is easily issue number one. Rural Americans understand the Left’s war on fossil fuels, which is in effect a war on rural and small town life. My organization has done perhaps the most sophisticated work of any group in the country on energy issues, but it is remarkable how little explanation the people who stop by our booth need to hear. They get it. And, for what it is worth, I didn’t encounter a single “green” energy advocate at FarmFest. The energy issue is death for Democrats at the polls.
* So who “won” today’s debate between a professional politician who is an incumbent governor, and a superficially less-polished challenger who is a doctor, not a politician? I think it did not go well for Governor Walz, for several reasons.
* One, a politician who comes across as angry is generally not winning.
* Two, Dr. Scott Jensen’s closing remarks were greeted with cheers and a standing ovation. Walz’s, to put it mildly, were not.
* Three, when the debate was over, a journalist immediately started peppering Dr. Jensen with questions about Donald Trump: Has Jensen been endorsed by Trump? Has he sought Trump’s endorsement? Has he been to Mar-A-Lago? This is an obvious attempt to change the subject. The two gubernatorial nominees have just gone at it for an hour and a half in a truly substantive debate, and the Democratic Party journalist wants to deep-six all of that and talk about Donald Trump. She obviously thought Walz lost the debate.
I am not sure whether there will be any more debates between Tim Walz and Scott Jensen. Walz seems to view any challenge as an act of Lèse-majesté, and given how poorly he fared today he might not agree to any similar events in the future.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter, at least as it relates to rural and small town voters. The Democratic Party has nothing to offer to the overwhelming majority of such voters. So politicians like Tim Walz, who came from rural origins and pretend to understand rural issues, are fighting a rear-guard battle. They are slaves to the forces that control their party, and have nothing to offer residents of rural communities. The same is true, no doubt, in many other states.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add that you can contribute to Dr. Jensen’s campaign here.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and GOP gubernatorial nominee Dr. Scott Jensen faced off in a debate at FarmFest in Redfern, Minnesota today. Walz is running for reelection this November. Anthony Gockowski has posted a story on today’s debate for Alpha News along with complete video here.
The fun took place following the debate. Walz has an abysmal record, a thin skin, and a staff that keeps him surrounded by a rarely breached circle of love. Recall that I was bounced from the Minnesota Department of Health press briefings on Covid shortly after Walz declared a semi-permanent emergency and MDH staff consulted with Walz’s staff about me. You see, I had asked a critical question of MDH staff by email following a press briefing. It took a section 1983 lawsuit against Team Walz to reinstate me to the press briefings and obligate MDH staff to answer my questions for the duration of the emergency. Faithful readers may recall how forthcoming they were with me.
They were about as forthcoming with me as Walz was with the voters seeking him out after the debate. Take this in as one victim of the Walz emergency tries to engage the governor with his story.
A farmer / retired sheriff tells Governor Walz:
“You wiped out my 30 year old farm.”
— Rebecca Brannon (@RebsBrannon) August 3, 2022
And note the quick work by staff to protect him from a question about the torching of the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct headquarters in the riots following the death of Saint George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020.
“Why would you let a police station burn to the ground and not send in the troops?”
— Rebecca Brannon (@RebsBrannon) August 3, 2022
In his morning email blast the great Michael Ramirez pairs his cartoon of the day (below) with my post “The Manchin version.” We are thinking along the same lines, but Michael gets the job done more effectively in fewer words. He titles this one “Buried” and comments in his message: “The Schumer-Manchin Inflation Reduction Act raises taxes, spending, and the prospect of an extended recession but does little to reduce inflation.” Michael’s Substack site is here (subscribe here).
Copyright Ⓒ 2022 Michael Ramirez. All rights reserved. Republished with permission.
FOX News has posted the video of Harris Faulkner interviewing Senator Joe Manchin about the fraudulently titled Inflation Reduction Act that he and Senator Schumer have concocted and put into a package to be passed via the reconciliation process. I have embedded the video below.
Faulkner touched on the surface of of Manchin’s misrepresentations regarding the substance of the bill, although she was insufficiently prepared to challenge them in any detail. Even so, however, Manchin resorted to challenging Faulkner’s patriotism. Manchin posed this lovely question to Faulkner: “Are you scared that we’re going to do something good that will help our country?”
Joe, how low can you go? I take that all by itself as a knock on the merits of the bill.
Manchin promoted it as “a red, white and blue deal, Harris, and everyone’s having a hard time understanding that we can walk and chew gum and do the great thing together, if we still start looking at our country first and quit worrying about our politics.”
You’re a grand old bill, you’re a high flying bill, and forever in peace may you wave.
Manchin also challenged Faulkner to “be optimistic” and “be an American” when she said experts predict gas prices will rise around Labor Day. Manchin has the conscience of Ted Bundy selling himself to his victims, but without the charm.
RealClearPolitics has posted yesterday’s primary results. I have posted a screenshot below.
Ben Domenech takes up the Kansas abortion vote here at Spectator World. It seems to me that the most important result is the victory of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt for the Republican Senatorial nomination to fill the seat of the retiring Roy Blunt. President Trump endorsed “Eric” — either Schmitt or the unelectable Eric Greitens. Schmitt will win the race. Greitens should and probably would have lost it. The results yesterday reflect Trump’s continuing influence among Republicans, but the “Eric” thing was unserious and mystifying.
Dr. Oz won the Pennsylvania GOP primary by about 950 votes with Trump’s endorsement. Without Trump’s endorsement, I think David McCormick would have won and been on track to fill the seat of the retiring Pat Toomey. The prospect of a Senator John Fetterman should have induced sober thought. In my judgment, everything about Oz is phony except his celebrity and his lack of funding to mount a campaign until this fall.
I hope to be proved wrong. However, if the Keystone State is the keystone of a prospective GOP Senate majority, I think we have a problem that can be attributed to President Trump’s influence on this race.
The Democrats staged one of their classic dramas with their so-called burn pit legislation. The Senate voted last night to pass the bill to expand health care benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits during their military service. The final vote was 86-11. President Biden can now sign it into law. I took it from the appearance of Jon Stewart to act up and promote the bill in Washington that all was not as it appeared, as Senator Pat Toomey noticed along the way.
It occurs to me that burn pits have their uses. The Schumer/Manchin Bummer Beyond Belief light reconciliation package — a $450 billion spenderama combined with a festival of taxes — should be relegated to a burn pit. The BBB light has many Manchins, so to speak.
We continue to receive daily messages from Senator McConnell’s office excoriating the Schumer/Manchin monstrosity, but no response to our inquiry about how it came to be after the $250 CHIPS bill spenderama. It wasn’t supposed to be (see McConnell tweet below, more here). What happened? Say it ain’t so, Mitch.
Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill.
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) June 30, 2022
I will leave this series featuring the work of Minnesota musicians in the next few days. Before leaving it behind I want to draw attention to The Jayhawks. I picked up on them with Hollywood Town Hall in 1992 and they are still going strong in slightly different form today. Their most recent album is XOXO (2020).
The band has some 12 or 13 albums to its credit, all of them worth checking out. Their sound includes a tinge of classic Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, Poco, and other ’60’s influences. Mark Olson, Gary Louris, and Marc Perlman formed the heart of the band, though Olson has come and gone a few times since founding the band. Hollywood Town Hall‘s “Settled Down Like Rain” was written by Louris and Olson and features their harmony singing.
The hanging of 38 Sioux Indians at Mankato, Minnesota in 1862, following a brief military conflict, is often seen as the ultimate evidence of oppression of Native Americans by whites. Each year, a long horseback ride is conducted to honor those who were hanged; Minnesota’s left-wing governor participates annually in the ride.
But this conventional view is wrong. In reality, the Great Sioux Massacre of 1862 is the blackest moment in the history of the native peoples’ slaughters of white settlers. Along with hundreds of women and a smaller number of men, many of whom were off fighting the Civil War, the Sioux murdered 100 white children under the age of 10. Those who were hanged were guilty of murder or rape–gang rapes were plentiful–not fighting in battle. In truth, many more than 38 should have been hanged, but some massacres had no survivors left to testify, and in other cases survivors could not identify specific Indians responsible for the slaughter. Also, no doubt, some who should have been hanged were killed in battle.
My colleague John Phelan is an economist from the U.K. who has taken an interest in Minnesota history. His piece in the April issue of Thinking Minnesota is the most balanced account of the massacres, the war and the hangings that you are likely to read.
Minnesota’s civil war
The truth behind the 1862 hanging of 38 Sioux men in Mankato — the largest-ever mass execution on American soil — is more complex than revisionists want us to believe.
Refugees leaving their homes during the first days of the Dakota War
On December 26, 1862, 38 Sioux men were executed in Mankato before a crowd of thousands. As the ropes were placed around their necks, “Their bodies swayed to and fro,” wrote an eyewitness, “and their every limb seemed to be keeping time…The most touching scene was their attempt to grasp each other’s hands, fettered as they were. They were very close to each other, and many succeeded…One old man reached out either side, but could not grasp a hand. His struggles were piteous.”
This is one of the most controversial — and misunderstood — episodes in Minnesota’s history. It came at the end of the Dakota War, about which many seem to know only that 38 Sioux men were executed at the end. As a result, falsehoods abound. Last year, for example, WCCO reported that “38 Dakota men were hung in Mankato, for defending their people.” The truth behind the largest-ever mass execution on American soil is much more complex.
Earlier that summer, the Minnesota Sioux’s long-standing grievances with traders and the federal government had become acute.
By two treaties in 1851, the Upper and Lower Sioux bands sold 21 million acres in southern and western Minnesota, including their best hunting lands, in return for annuity payments from the federal government. These treaties were amended to the Sioux’s disadvantage during ratification and administered by a corrupt and inefficient federal bureaucracy. In 1858, with little choice, the Sioux signed another treaty giving up half the land they had retained, and immigrants flooded in to farm it: Between 1850 and 1860, Minnesota’s population rose by 2,731 percent. There was widespread feeling among the Sioux that they were being “swamped.”
This simmering resentment came to a boiling point that summer when the federal government failed to make annuity payments. The Sioux depended on these to buy food but, with the Civil War raging, Congress was late appropriating the money. The Indian agent, Thomas J. Galbraith, refused to release food until the payments arrived. The Sioux grew hungrier and angrier. They appealed unsuccessfully to the traders for credit. One, Andrew Myrick, is reputed to have said: “So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass or their own dung.”
On the morning of Sunday, August 17, four Lower Sioux — Killing Ghost, Breaking Up, Runs against Something When Crawling, and Brown Wing — were hunting deer near Acton Township in Meeker County. Coming across the farmstead of Mr. and Mrs. Robinson Jones, they found some eggs and debated whether to steal them. They goaded each other into doing rather more.
They went to Jones’ store and then followed him to the house of his son-in-law, Howard Baker. There, they challenged Jones, Baker, and another visitor, Viranus Webster, to a shooting contest, which they accepted. Jones and Baker fired but did not reload. The Sioux then turned and shot the Joneses, Baker, and Webster dead. They rode away, passing Jones’ store where his 15-year-old daughter, Clara, was watching from the doorway. She, too, was shot dead.
That night the four came before Little Crow, the most respected Sioux leader. With other chiefs, they debated what to do next. Some saw an opportunity to retake the land lost to the immigrants: “All the white soldiers are in the South fighting other white soldiers,” Red Middle Voice said. “We have no choice. Our hands are already bloody.” Little Crow, who had visited eastern cities, disagreed. “The white-men are like the locusts,” he said, “when they fly so thick that that the whole sky is a snowstorm…Yes, they fight among themselves, but if you strike at one of them, they will all turn upon you and devour you and your women and little children, just as the locusts in their time fall on the trees and devour all the leaves in one day…Kill one, two, ten, and ten times ten will come to kill you.”
But Little Crow recognized that many would fight with or without him, so, with little enthusiasm, he agreed to lead them. The following morning, they would attack the Lower Agency.
Little Crow might have hoped to limit the Sioux to a manageable conflict that could end with something less than the extermination he prophesied; “I gave orders to kill only traders and government agents, who have cheated the Indians,” he said later. But while he was nominally in charge, he failed to impose this strategic vision on his warriors. Almost immediately, some pursued the strategy proposed by those like Red Middle Voice instead: the ethnic cleansing of white immigrants from the Minnesota River Valley.
The Lower Agency was wiped out and Myrick was reputedly found with grass stuffed in his mouth. But some of Little Crow’s Sioux — perhaps no more than 200 out of 2,000 — pursued fleeing survivors like Dr. Philander Humphrey and his family. Mrs. Humphrey was weakened from recent childbirth, so they rested in a house. Dr. Humphrey sent his 12-year-old son for help, but before he returned the doctor was shot dead and the house set on fire, burning his wife and two children alive. When Humphrey’s son returned, he witnessed Sioux cutting off his father’s head.
The killings spread. More than 50 were murdered at Milford Township. At Lake Shetek, 15 were murdered including Willie, Belle, and Francis Duley, aged 10 years, 4 years, and 6 months respectively. Elsewhere, August Schwandt, then aged 12, recalled how Sioux approached his family’s cabin, shot his father, and hacked to death his mother, two brothers, pregnant sister and her husband, and a hired hand. August himself was beaten and left for dead.
Many of those who fled fared no better. Helen Carrothers was among an ambushed group. She recalled how a Sioux took a baby belonging to a seriously ill woman named Henderson and “holding her by one foot, head downwards, deliberately hacked her body, limb from limb, with his tomahawk, throwing the pieces at the head of Mrs. Henderson. Some of the Indians made a big fire and when it was burning fiercely, they lifted the feather bed on which Mrs. Henderson lay, and tossed bed and woman and the mangled portions of her children into the flames.”
It has been said that such survivor accounts are exaggerated, and they may be, but there is no doubt that hundreds of civilians were murdered by Little Crow’s Sioux. In his book, Minnesota: A History, historian William E. Lass gives the following casualty figures: “413 white civilians, 77 soldiers, and 71 Indians, including the 38 who were executed at Mankato.” Civilians accounted for 74 percent of deaths in the Dakota War. For the Civil War, the ratio was just 8 percent.
Indeed, these atrocities repulsed many of their fellow Sioux. The Upper Sioux refused to join Little Crow’s war, with one chief, Wabasha, telling him that the uprising was not an act of war but rather a wanton slaughter of civilians, unworthy of true Sioux braves. The significant peace party tracked Little Crow, constantly pleading with him to release his captives. The atrocities were committed by a minority of a minority.
When Little Crow’s Sioux could surprise isolated groups of civilians or soldiers, as at Redwood Ferry (August 18) and Birch Coulee (September 2-3), they were victorious. But when they faced either soldiers or civilians who were prepared, as at Fort Ridgely (August 20-22) and New Ulm (August 19 and 23) — where civilians improvised a defense and fought off two assaults — they were defeated.
Minnesota’s governor, Alexander Ramsey, dispatched a hastily assembled column of 1,400 untrained men under Henry Sibley to relieve Fort Ridgely and defeat Little Crow. On September 23, the Sioux attacked Sibley’s camp at Wood Lake and were decisively defeated. The peace party seized the captives and Little Crow and a number of followers went west. Three days later, at a spot later named Camp Release, 2,000 Sioux surrendered with 269 captives.
The cry for revenge went up across Minnesota. “[The Sioux] must be exterminated,” wrote one newspaper editor, “and now is a good time to commence doing it.” He spoke for many.
Sibley was aware of this feeling. On September 28, he appointed a military commission to “try summarily the mulatto, and Indians, or mixed bloods, now prisoners, or who may be brought before them…and pass judgment upon them, if found guilty of murders or other outrages upon the whites, during the present state of hostilities of the Indians.” Over five weeks, 392 people were tried resulting in 303 death sentences, 16 jail sentences, and 69 acquittals. Many of the trials were a farce by modern standards: some lasted just minutes, many were convicted on the testimony of an informer who had bargained for his own safety, and many of those condemned to death had been found “guilty” of fighting in battles like Birch Coulee and Wood Lake.
But Sibley was also aware of the limits of his authority. “If found guilty they will be immediately executed,” he wrote General John Pope, who had been sent by President Lincoln to take charge of the war after leading the Union army to defeat in the Second Battle of Bull Run in August, “although I am somewhat in doubt whether my authority extends quite so far.” It did not. Military commissions were a form of legal proceeding used when a standard court-martial or civil trial was impossible. As Scott W. Berg explains in his book 38 Nooses, “All sentences were subject to the review of a ‘convening authority,’ meaning that a superior had to sign off on every judgment…capital convictions usually went to the desk of the president.”
At a cabinet meeting on October 14, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton read a dispatch in which Pope wrote that he “was anxious to execute a number” of Sioux. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles noted, “I was disgusted with the tone and opinions of the dispatch…The Indian outrages have, I doubt not, been great — what may have been the provocation we are not told.” Lincoln must have shared this disquiet. He sent Assistant Interior Secretary John Palmer Usher to Minnesota on a fact-finding mission and, three days later, Pope told Sibley “the President directs that no executions be made without his sanction.”
For Lincoln, this was an especially low point in the Civil War. The federal government’s attempt to seize the Confederate capital, Richmond, had failed at Bull Run. In September, Robert E. Lee’s Confederates advanced on Washington, D.C. and were only stopped at the bloody Battle of Antietam. In November’s mid-terms, Lincoln’s Republicans lost their majority in the House.
Lincoln picked three men to help him examine the trial transcripts: Usher and his chief clerk George C. Whiting, both recently returned from Minnesota, and Interior Department lawyer Francis Ruggles. “At some point on or around December 1,” Berg writes, “the president provided Whiting and Ruggles with a very specific set of instructions: They were to scour the trial transcripts with great care and identify all cases of rape, all cases involving the murder of women and children, and all cases involving the killing of unarmed men in the settlements. These sentences, in Lincoln’s estimation, accorded with the purpose of a military commission and deserved speedy executions. Other instances of violence, meaning shots fired in battle against Minnesota militia or United States soldiers, did not.”
The three worked diligently, Berg noting “their careful trial summaries, as well as their numerous pencil notes and cross-references on the transcripts.” Finally, on December 5, Lincoln wrote Sibley: “Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the Military Commission…lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit.” Thirty-nine names were included, those his review had concluded were “guilty of individual murders and atrocious abuse of their female captives.” The sentences of the rest were commuted.
After a delay of one week while enough rope was gathered for the nooses, the 38 were hanged in Mankato. One, Chaska, who had sheltered captives, was mistaken for a Chaskaydon, who had killed and mutilated a pregnant woman, and executed in error. The executioner was Capt. William J. Duley, father of three children who had been murdered at Lake Shetek.
Little Crow’s cause was doomed from the start, as he knew. While the Confederacy could realistically hope to inflict a military defeat on the federal government so damaging it would have to sue for peace, the Sioux could hope for no such thing. Worse, what they did do contrary to his instructions — the murder of civilians — guaranteed an overwhelming response.
His warning came to pass. The Sioux, “friendly” and hostile alike, were banished from Minnesota, along with others like the Winnebagos, who had taken no part in the war, and many women and children died here. Further expeditions into the Dakota Territory began in the new year. With the question of slavery resolved by the end of the Civil War, the westward expansion of the United States — long held up by debates about “free” and “slave” states — began in earnest. The Dakota War began a period of near continuous warfare between the federal government and successive native tribes that did not end until Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1890. Little Crow himself returned to Minnesota in the summer of 1863 and was shot dead by a farmer while picking berries with his son.
The Dakota War is perhaps the darkest chapter in our state’s history. This year marks its 160th anniversary and the 38 men executed in Mankato will, no doubt, be remembered. But so, too, should those murdered at places like Lake Shetek. All those whose blood and bones are mingled together in the soil of this state deserve remembrance.
I am a day late with this, but it is still worth a chuckle. Someone posted a short video clip of Joe Biden walking away from his wife while she is speaking at a podium, and added ice cream truck music as though Biden is being lured away by the prospect of ice cream. This is what is commonly known as a joke:
When your MKUltra trigger is ice cream truck pic.twitter.com/5To9ZhRS1e
— . (@grumpfuk) July 28, 2022
Note that Twitter flagged the video as “manipulated media.”
But Reuters was taking no chances. It put its fact-checking operation to work.
Social media users are sharing a video of U.S. President Joe Biden walking away momentarily during a speech given by U.S. First Lady Jill Biden and claiming that he was distracted by an ice cream truck. The video being shared, however, has been digitally edited to include music usually played by an ice cream truck.
Some posts also included photos with an ice cream truck in the background (here).
The original video was posted on C-SPAN (here) on Sept. 10, 2021…. At around the 01:35 mark, Biden can be seen walking out of frame and returning a few seconds later, but no ice cream truck can be seen in the video nor can any music be heard.
Altered. This video has been digitally edited to include ice cream truck music as U.S. President Joe Biden walked away momentarily during first lady Jill Biden’s speech.
Thanks for clearing that up, Reuters. What strikes me about this episode is that Reuters evidently believes that Joe Biden’s mental decline is so severe that people really will think that he wanders away in a fog when he hears an ice cream truck. In that respect, the “fact check” is unintentionally revealing.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan today has occasioned Niall Ferguson’s long Bloomberg column on The Four Mysteries of Pelosi’s Troublesome Taiwan Trip.” It’s a learned column with interesting quotes from President Trump.
Ferguson postulates that the Biden administration supports the trip because it wants to take a stronger stance against China than Trump did. I find that questionable, to say the least, and the evidence missing. Indeed, the Biden administration’s public statements seem to me to betray fear and weakness. However, the background that Ferguson provides in the column will prove useful beyond the events of the moment.
President Biden took off his mask and emerged from isolation to announce that the CIA had zapped al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zahawiri in a drone strike conducted by the CIA on his Kabul balcony over this past weekend. The White House has posted the transcript of Biden’s remarks here. Reuters has a good story on the drone strike here and more on the operation here. Biden said the strike occurred on Saturday; Reuters says Sunday. I assume the time difference accounts for the apparent discrepancy.
Reuters refers to Zawahiri’s apartment in Kabul as an al Qaeda safe house. The operation reminds us that we exited Afghanistan in disgrace last year. Biden represented the operation as a triumph of his vision, but the “safe house” tends belies that. Indeed, in another Reuters story here, Secretary Blinken is quoted saying the Taliban “grossly” violated the Doha Agreement by hosting and sheltering al Qaeda’s top leader.
You don’t say. Shocking.
Reuters cruelly quotes Blinken’s statement: “In the face of the Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to abide by their commitments, we will continue to support the Afghan people with robust humanitarian assistance and to advocate for the protection of their human rights, especially of women and girls.”
Secretary Blinken is one of the more respectable members of the Biden team. I offer this as further evidence that what we have here is a clown-car administration.
Below is a video clip that “Biden” tweeted out last night after announcing the hit on Zawahiri. He emphasized that Zawahiri’s family was unscathed in the attack, but I wouldn’t be one bit choked up if they were accompanying him to hell. Biden looks and sounds weak. The unstated message here seems to me something other than as advertised. I’m not sure he’s up to dealing with the impending crisis arising from Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Today, and every day, I am grateful to the superb patriots who serve in the United States intelligence and counterterrorism community.
It is thanks to their extraordinary persistence and skill that this operation was a success – they have made us all safer. pic.twitter.com/OUARNt1Kdv
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 2, 2022
The Phillips neighborhood just south of downtown Minneapolis should not be the hellhole it has become. It has proved a popular area for homeless encampments that have plagued the neighborhood, but it wasn’t always like this and there is no good reason it should be this way now.
Liz Collin reports for Alpha News here and in the video below. My friend Howard Root writes that “the images of the homeless encampments and destruction are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Minneapolis.” There seems to be no bottom to the crime and chaos and filth that the authorities in Minneapolis will tolerate or the Star Tribune paper over.
Quotable quote: “Alpha News also contacted Gov. Tim Walz for comment on the ongoing situation and did not receive a response.”
Prudence Johnson is a talented local musician. I was crazy about her work in the fantastic retro trio Rio Nido and then followed her as a solo artist over the years. I saw her show featuring the work of George Gershwin at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center and stuck around for both of her two shows singing the songs of Gene Pitney (backed on piano by her ex, former Pitney arranger Gary Rue) one happy night at the Dakota.
As I recall from catching up with her at that Gershwin show, Prudence took a timeout from her career to get a Ph.D. in psychology along the way. Her site is here. I think of her this morning as one of the local artists whose work I have greatly enjoyed on Red House Records. She recorded Songs of Greg Brown — Red House founder — in 1991. “Wash My Eyes” is from that album. The CD credits include Dean Magraw on acoustic guitar and the late Peter Ostroushko (unmistakably) on mandolin.
The administration’s “green” energy proposals, like those that have been adopted in Europe, are leading this country toward an economic, social and strategic disaster. It is hard to think of any set of policies, adopted by any government at any moment in history, that rival our “green” mania for sheer destructiveness. Although, that said, Sri Lanka’s brief commitment to “sustainability” comes to mind.
Speaking of sustainability, this piece by Stuart Gottlieb in today’s Wall Street Journal, titled “Biden’s Climate Plans Are Unsustainable,” makes some great points.
[T]he greatest threat to [environmental] progress—particularly in the critical realm of climate—comes not from such emerging mega-emitters as China and India, although they certainly play a role. It comes from the energy and climate initiatives promoted by the Biden White House, which are themselves unsustainable—so aggressive and unduly optimistic that they risk a backlash that would set back the cause of environmental sustainability for generations.
This is true for at least three reasons.
To begin with, the agenda is economically unsustainable. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, global demand for energy will rise nearly 50% by 2050, with fossil fuels still accounting for roughly 75% of world supply. Though many Democrats insist this simply proves the urgency of making the transition, there are no economic models showing how that could occur without causing massive harm to the underlying economy. A McKinsey & Co. report shows that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 would require nearly $6 trillion in new spending globally every year for the next 30 years—roughly equal to one-third of all tax receipts by every government in the world.
My experience with energy-related studies by companies like McKinsey causes me to think that this estimate is probably low by a factor of several times, if not orders of magnitude. But McKinsey’s numbers are bad enough. It simply isn’t going to happen.
The current agenda is also geostrategically unsustainable. It is increasingly clear that both Russia and China view aggressive Western climate commitments as an opportunity to increase their power and influence. We have already witnessed what Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas has wrought: unacceptable dependence on one of the world’s vilest governments.
Meanwhile, China is seeking to dominate Western markets for renewables (wind turbines, solar panels, lithium batteries) while enjoying its own right as a developing country, conferred by international conventions, to keep burning cheap fossil fuels as it powers its rise toward passing the U.S. as the world’s largest economy.
Is the Biden administration deliberately trying to sell us out? Is Joe Biden a paid agent of the Communist Chinese, or perhaps of the Putin regime? I have always assumed that the answer is no, but the troubling question is, if Biden were a Chinese agent, what, exactly, would he be doing differently? The answer: nothing.
And the current agenda is politically unsustainable. Without committed action by the Group of Seven nations—the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K.—there is little hope for real climate progress in coming decades. Yet these are also the world’s leading democracies, accountable to their publics. There is a real danger that voters in these countries will rebel against climate policies that ramp up energy prices, hinder economic growth and even lead to rationing and blackouts.
I should hope so! Blackouts are coming soon, likely to a neighborhood near you. I would say that the certainty that voters will rebel against blackouts is not a “danger,” but rather the salvation of our civilization.
If the Democrats continue with their mad “green” dreams, the inevitable result is that the day will come when we flip our light switches and nothing happens. Understand: if the Left gets its way on energy, the question is not “whether.” The question is “when.” When that day comes, and it will, there will be Hell to pay.
One last thing: some climate hysterics are even more extreme than the Biden administration. Check out this account from an admiring left-wing source of “climate activists” who roam city streets, letting the air out of vehicles’ tires:
One of the group kneels down, unscrews the tire valve cap, stuffs a lentil inside, and puts the cap back on. The tire immediately lets out a startled “pfft” noise, a leaflet is slapped onto the windshield and the group melts back into the night.
The Tyre Extinguishers movement started in the UK, spread to a clutch of other countries, and has now landed in the US. Since June, dozens of SUV and pickup truck owners in New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Chicago have discovered their vehicles with flat tires along with a note on the windshield declaring: “Your gas guzzler kills.”
As angry as normals will be when their lights don’t go on or they can’t heat their homes, they might be even more irate if they find that “environmentalists” have disabled their SUVs. And, by the way, where I live two-thirds of all vehicles sold are SUVs.
On energy, as on a number of other issues, the Democratic Party is on a collision course with reality. Call me an optimist, but throughout human history when ideology meets reality, reality generally wins.
Regular readers know that my favorite media relationship is with Sky News Australia. Pretty often, I get to try to explain American politics to Australian TV viewers. On Saturday night, I was on Outsiders, an excellent show featuring three conservative hosts–Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and James Morrow–that covers events in America better than pretty much any U.S. program. This is a short excerpt from my appearance, where I talk about the 2024 election.
Sorry about the awful lighting, by the way. My ring light was overwhelmed by the setting Sun. Hopefully they won’t hold it against me.
Ken Green takes up the old moral instruction “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but in fact game theory suggests that a strict tit-for-tat response actually leads to optimal outcomes eventually. Rather than walk through the headache-inducing and opaque equations and symbols of game theory, he simply ponders why treating the left with their own medicine is more likely to make them discover game theory for themselves:
So, I was talking to the wife about the tale of AOC, her callipygous attributes, and her recent experience with public harassment, and I opined that, well, I could see some virtue in her having to experience the kind of harassment that she’s advocated for applying to others in public office. In fact, I even expressed the thought that more of the people who advocate for such harassment should probably get a taste of it themselves, by way of helping them to understand why it’s not a good thing.
Well, as expected from prior conversations, the wife (who unlike me, was not raised in a barn) invoked the cardinal rule, saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Well, that told me, so, I moved on…
But then the other day, cruising my usual haunts on the internet, I saw that right here in my very-temporary (and probably getting more temporary each time I open my mouth) guest digs, John Hinderaker says the same thing, and adds the second clause of the “two-wrongs” axiom, a “we conservatives should not be dragged down to the Democrats’ level” overlay.” I’m not sure, but I think this implies that it is somehow degrading to oneself to both recognize, and then adopt a tactic that one’s assailant thinks is appropriate, a sort of “turn the other cheek” thing. But then, what do I know about that, I’m Jewish. I was always taught that if you turn the other cheek after someone slaps you, you’ll just get slapped on the other cheek.
Anyway, on top of all that, AOC says, “I don’t feel safe,” (despite having access to an ultra-secure, underground parking and subway system that would take her anywhere in the capital complex she wanted to be in total comfort and safety, should she choose to actually use it.)
And Knight-in-Tarnished-Armor Bill O’Reilly Tweets “there oughta be a law!” (Kinda selective timing in all sorts of ways there, Bill).
So, here is my Devil’s Advocate argument: I would contend that we actually have a moral obligation to respond to things that are destructive of the social order (as the whole Mad Maxine “Get in their Face” mentality of public protest is), and even more, we have an obligation to respond to those things effectively and educationally: teaching those engaging in destructive behavior why that behavior is wrong. And what better way to do it than to essentially treat people as they are treating others, so that they can come to understand why it is bad?
Instead, the right has “tut-tutted” at this stuff for my entire life, with no seeming effect, strutting around chanting “Marquis of Queensberry,” like lads from a scene in The Quiet Man. (Had to get that in here…favorite movie…) If anything, the harassment of the left has become more intense, harmful, omnipresent, and destructive of the social order.
And there’s another thing. As for “two wrongs make a right,” doing this would not be a “wrong,” by AOC’s own standard. In fact, it would a “right” thing to do. When a person, as AOC did, asserts the rightness of taking a certain pain-inflicting action on others, she is declaring that she believes this is legitimate moral action. By implication, therefore, she’s saying that she, personally, accepts that having others do the same to her would be equally moral acts.
That’s not to say that I think we should be establishing bounty funds to track the whereabouts of every public official we don’t like, and dispatch hooligans to hassle them (as the left seems to have done with Justice Kavanaugh) – that can only lead to negative consequences, including the likely reality that the political class will respond to incentives and isolate themselves even further from normal public interaction, rendering them even more out of touch with the values and norms of the population they govern.
So what is it, PowerLiners? Is it “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” or “don’t sink to their level”—or is it more a matter of “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander?” And, about gandering… I have to say, it’s hard to feel sympathy for AOC on the derriere front (back? whatever). Let’s not forget that she did choose to turn that real estate into a billboard reading “Eat the Rich” at a Met Gala. So, It’s a bit late to be saying, “my tush is off-limits” isn’t it?
According to Senator Tom Cotton, the leak of Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan “came straight from “the White House.” The AP reported yesterday that Taiwan was omitted from the itinerary of her Asian trip, but security concerns must have had something to do with that. Today comes word that Taiwanese and US officials expect her to visit Taiwan.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Pelosi is indeed planning to visit Taiwan. The Washington Examiner now reports “Taiwan cancels leave of some soldiers ‘to immediately prepare for war.’”
The Biden administration has both lowered respect for the United States among our enemies and amplified Pelosi’s visit into something like a crisis. It would be terrible for the United States if she succumbed to the pressure of the CCP and the Biden administration. We wish her the best on her planned visit.
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that a “New York man” possessing an illegal assault-style rifle was arrested near the home of an Iranian dissident who was previously the target of an alleged kidnapping plot by government operatives of the Islamic Republic. The New York Post has an accessible version of the story here. The brief Post story adds several telling details.
The “New York man” is Khalid Mehdiyev. Mehdiyev was arrested in Brooklyn after New York Police Department officers pulled him over for running a stop sign and found a suitcase containing a loaded AK-47-style assault rifle. Fortunately, Mehdiyev has been charged in federal court, so he remains in custody. He hasn’t been released under New York’s bail law.
Mehdiyev is charged with one count of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. He was long on ammo and cash. He had a suitcase with 66 rounds and $1,100 in cash.
These are the scary scenes capturing a man who tried to enter my house in New York with a loaded gun to kill me.
Last year the FBI stopped the Islamic Republic from kidnapping me.
My crime is giving voice to voiceless people. The US administration must be tough on terror. pic.twitter.com/XsxlFLSlOk
— Masih Alinejad (@AlinejadMasih) July 31, 2022
The FBI affidavit supporting the criminal complaint swears that surveillance video and other records show that over two days last week Mehdiyev parked for hours near a Brooklyn residence. The Journal notes that the complaint doesn’t specify the location or occupant of the residence, but reports that “the occupant of the home is Masih Alinejad, an Iranian dissident and human-rights activist who had previously been the target of an alleged kidnapping plot that led to criminal charges last year[.]” The Journal story is accompanied by a chilling photo of Mehdiyev taken by a security camera outside Alinejad’s Brooklyn’s residence drawn from the tweet above.
One can reasonably infer that this case is illustrative of Jay Solomon’s reporting in The Iran Wars. We covered the Iranian kidnap plot on Alinejad here and drew on Solomon’s book at that time. Please see the post on the kidnap plot. I assess with high confidence that the disregard of the Iranian regime for the sovereignty of the United States will have no impact on the diplomacy of the Biden administration.
President Biden is the Clown-in-Chief of the big circus that is the Biden administration. He has half a mind to be president. There is nothing funny about it. His administration is a circus colloquially speaking. President Biden and senior administration officials are not serious people. They have manifested as political hacks.
Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate set the tone. Her self-identification as black was prerequisite to her selection. Transparency is her leading quality. To put it discreetly, she is transparently vacuous.
Take Janet Yellen — please. Yellen holds the venerable office of Secretary of the Treasury. Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Yellen is well qualified for the job and an ostensibly serious person. Yet she has proved unfit for the office, regurgitating administration talking points with an utter lack of seriousness. Inflation — it was transitory. Recession — not yet. Abortion — restricting it would be “very damaging” to the economy.
As Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has managed to create a recruiting crisis for the armed forces. He has injected the Democratic Party’s racial mania into the veins of every branch of the military. According to Austin, our armed forces are rife with “whiteness” and “white rage.” He has done great damage to morale and his performance has detracted from our national security. Whatever his contribution to our departure from Afghanistan, he should have been relieved of his office at that time.
Like Yellen, Merrick Garland appeared qualified to serve as Attorney General. In office, however, Garland has proved just another hack. His declaration that “white supremacists” constitute our biggest national security threat is party-line histrionics unbecoming to his office.
As Secretary of State, Antony Blinken also had his hand in the Afghanistan disgrace. He continues his mad pursuit of Iran. He won’t take “Death to America” for an answer. He has done everything within the realm of the politically deniable to appease the mullahs and is still at it. He has fallen far short of the requirements of the office.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has responsibility for the domestic security of the United States. It’s a big and important job. Assuring us that the border is secure, Mayorkas has taken Baghdad Bob as his role model. His clownishness isn’t entirely his fault. He is executing the policy promised by Biden. If he had any self-respect, however, he would have departed long ago. He believes his routine.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg put the exclamation point on my clown-car metaphor. How can all those clowns fit in one car?
Most recently, Secretary Cardona has unveiled his plans to codify the “trans” ideology that grips the left. Six Republican Senators have responded in a letter that begins to trace the consequences of the trans regime. Stanley Kurtz takes it up at NRO Corner here.
I end on the “trans” note this morning because it explains the construction of the clown car. It is constructed on the woke ideology that has taken control of the Democratic Party. Biden and his secretaries have fallen into line with the new orthodoxy. It is unreal, it is absurd, and it rules every corner of this administration.
Minnesota bluegrass group Stoney Lonesome released two recordings on Red House Records and were frequently featured on Prairie Home Companion. Minnesota bluegrass sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? Yet we have an active bluegrass scene.
The lady out front in Stoney Lonesome was the lovely Kate MacKenzie. Kate recorded two discs under her own name: Let Them Talk (1994) and Age of Innocence (1996). I went to her CD release party/show for Age of Innocence at the Cedar Cultural Center. Kate made it a special evening. Among the musicians who flew in to back her that night was then teenage mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile.
The place was packed and Kate put on a long show. Standing in line for refreshments at intermission, I found myself next to Kate. Having followed Stoney Lonesome around town for a few years, I expressed my admiration for Kate and her work and her show. Kate told me she had fallen in love and was moving to Oregon. You’ve got to be kidding me! Kate, come back! We will forgive and forget.
Kate made a few friends along the way. On her recording of Kieran Kane’s “Forgive and Forget,” for example, she was joined by Ron Block (banjo), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Nick Forster (guitar, harmony vocal), Viktor Krauss (bass), Adam Steffey (mandolin) — bluegrass all-stars — and the incomparable Emmylou Harris (harmony vocal).
After a long hiatus Kate has resumed recording with MacKenzie Adkins. All I know is what I read here by David Edin on Garrison Keillor’s site.
I am not sure I understand this story, so I pass it on for what it is worth. From the Jerusalem Post:
Iran expert Ben Sabti tweeted that an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “Telegram channel threatens to produce atomic warhead for missiles,” citing the channel’s message: “Iran can immediately return to Emad project and build an atomic bomb if Natanz facilities are attacked.”
This is the tweet. I take it that the IRGC is a more or less official arm of Iran’s government:
#BREAKING–#Iran #IRGC Telegram channel threatens to produce atomic war head for missiles: "Iran can immediately return to Emad project and build an #ATOM bomb, if Natanz facilities are attacked". pic.twitter.com/4ug4Jd9k18
— BenSabti (@BeniSabti) July 30, 2022
The Emad, cited in the message, is an Iranian long-range missile.
The IRGC-linked Bisimchi Media (Radioman Media) Telegram channel published a video titled “When Will Iran’s Sleeping Nuclear Warheads Awaken,” according to the London-based Iran International news outlet.
I think this is the video in the tweet, but that isn’t entirely clear.
The short video declares that Iran’s regime will develop nuclear weapons in a rapid-fire period of time “if the US or the Zionist regime make any stupid mistakes.”
Per Iran International, the video states that Iran’s ballistic missiles have the capability of “turning New York into hellish ruins,” in an ostensible reference to Iran’s space program.
I take it that “space” refers to ICBMs. I don’t know whether Iran’s long-range missiles are yet capable of striking our Eastern seaboard.
The news organization paraphrased the video as stating that “the facilities at Natanz may be highly vulnerable to a possible attack by Western powers and Israel but Fordow will immediately assume war footing and begin the nuclear breakout project within a short time if Natanz comes under missile attack.”
The video declared that the regime can move its “peaceful nuclear program to a nuclear weapons program” at a fast pace.
I think it is beyond dispute at this point that Iran’s nuclear program is far advanced, and can easily be channeled into weapons production. In that context, why anyone is still talking about the “Iran nuclear deal” is beyond me. I did find the reference to “turning New York into hellish ruins” striking, but I suppose that is what the mullahs have in mind when they say “death to America.”
Whenever I want to get “Lucretia” spun up, I say something like, “Pssst. . . I’ll need to check with Bill Kristol on that!” And then I sit back and open up a new bottle of peaty single-malt. But I did relent when she pointed out that Bill had lately embraced the idea that Democrats are best-suited to fix the country’s problems. Maybe he was just trolling again? Lucretia won’t let him off that easily:
For many conservatives who for years looked forward to the arrival of William Kristol’s Weekly Standard, expecting to devour cover-to-cover the excellent articles, analysis, and commentary, Kristol’s descent into near-fatal Trump Derangement Syndrome has been distressing, to say the least.
The rabid anti-Trump posture adopted by the Weekly Standard proved to be its undoing (I cancelled my subscription in December, 2016), but the cadre of NeverTrumpers doubled-down on their failure. Some still pretended to be conservatives, wanting to “save” the Republican Party and conservatism from Trump; others, like Kristol, aligned themselves clearly with the left in opposition not only to Trump but to any conservative so misguided and corrupt as to continue to support Trump populism or the Republican Party Trump dominates.
Kristol nowadays calls himself a well-wisher of the Democratic Party despite the “sub-optimal performances of it leaders,” writes a wistful column in the laughable, “no tribal prejudices” Bulwark. The Democratic Party faces challenges: the party needs to defend (urgently!) democracy, moderation, and the rule of law; and the party needs to advance (urgently!) major reforms in our broken or damaged institutions.
This is major league self-delusion. Does Kristol really not understand that “democracy” for the Democratic Party simply means “we win and we get our way”? Anything else is not democracy. Voter integrity? If that means Democrats lose, then it’s voter suppression and therefore racism. Moderation? Kristol lists all the ways Democrats need to reform our institutions, as if it were not Democrats who intentionally intended to destroy those institutions to advance their own political power. Kristol calls on Democrats to defend congressional government while pledging to reform Congress: does he not recall that Democrats are those willing to destroy longstanding norms such as the filibuster to force through their unpopular agendas? He calls on Democrats to defend law and order: does he not recall that it was Democrats who encouraged the violent protests allegedly in response to the police killing of a violent, fentanyl-crazed felon and the demand to defund the police?
Kristol calls on Democrats to “to defend the rule of law while being appropriately critical of the current Supreme Court.” This is especially disingenuous on multiple levels: it has become abundantly clear that Democrats define the rule of law as simply punishing their political enemies (e.g., the treatment of the January 6 protestors versus the treatment of Stephen Colbert’s film crew illegally trespassing the halls of Congress). With respect to the Supreme Court, I suppose it was necessary for Kristol to make that obsequious comment; after all, if Kristol were to admit that the Court’s recent rulings do in fact advance the rule of law by returning political power to the appropriate venues for exercising that power (the states, Congress, the American people), he would have to admit that Trump’s appointments to the Court were salutary—something his TDS would never allow. So Kristol is willing to pretend he never favored a conservative understanding of the proper role of the Supreme Court. He may be a little uncomfortable with the lack of moderation in some Democratic methods of protest against the overturning of Roe, for instance, but he can certainly understand the frustration!
Kristol believes that the Biden Administration had the right idea with Build Back Better, because the country really did need to build back after the Trump years and the pandemic. The real problem, of course, is that the country was so thoroughly destroyed by Trump that the challenges we face are very, very serious. And we will need serious, thoughtful Democratic Party leadership, presidential leadership, to meet those challenges. What Kristol does not say, but also does not deny, is that there is no one currently waiting in the wings in the Democratic Party who is capable of providing that kind of leadership. His silence on that point may be his only honest moment in the whole piece.
White House Economic Council Director joined White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for the July 26 press briefing last week. The White House has posted the transcript here. Talking up the strength of our economy by comparison with others, Deese actually said this:
Well, look, I think that our — our economy is more resilient to the — to the types of challenges that we’ve faced. For example, you know, with respect to food, we’re a net exporter of agricultural commodities. And, obviously, the high prices are hitting Americans very hard, but they’re — that — in a way that is different from some places that are facing famine, for example.
The 22-second video clip is available on YouTube (below).
To access the video on Twitter, I have to click on the warning that it is “potentially sensitive content.” I’m not sure how it will render here. It is shocking, but I wonder what makes it “potentially sensitive.” I can handle it.
White House economic adviser Brian Deese: “With respect to food, […] the high prices are hitting Americans very hard, but in a way that is different from some places that are facing famine, for example."
— T. Grant Benson (@GrantB911) July 29, 2022
Jean-Pierre and Deese are just two of the passengers in the crowded clown car of the Biden administration.
Minnesota Sixth District Rep. Tom Emmer is chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. He appears weekly for a segment on Jon Justice’s morning news/talk show in the Twin Cities. Jon let me ask Emmer a question about the passage of the CHIPS bill spenderama with the support of 17 Senate Republicans and 24 House Republicans while the Democrat tax-and-spend Bummer Beyond Belief was still in play. Tom referred to “leadership,” which I understood to mean Senate Minority Leader McConnell. We get emails from McConnell’s communications team every day. Yesterday morning I asked them for a statement on the current situation. I have yet to see any reporting on it.
The Schumer/Manchin BBB light is now presented under the ludicrous label of “Inflation Reduction Act.” The editors of Issues and Insight take a look at the elements of the package in “The ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ Is A Lie, Pure And Simple.” I don’t think that’s sufficiently harsh, but it will have to do for the moment.
I caught up with the work of modern singer/songwriters listening to the long gone weekly Sunday morning Urban Folk show on KFAI. The hosts alternated between Bob Feldman and Marian Moore.
Bob was the (re)founder of Red House Records, Greg Brown’s label. Once he took it over and made it a going concern he proceeded to sign many of his favorite artists including Spider John Koerner, Eliza Gilkyson, Prudence Johnson, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Peter Ostroushko, and Stoney Lonesome (the bluegrass group that featured Minnesota’s Kate MacKenzie). MPR told the public side of his story here when he passed at the age of 56 in 2006.
I ran into Bob around town and got to know him just well enough to say hello. He lived in the same leafy suburb I do in the Twin Cities. We connected at a Rascals reunion show at the old Guthrie Theater and chatted at lunch in a restaurant next to the old Hungry Mind Bookstore on Grand Avenue in St. Paul when Bob signed Lucy Kaplansky or when they met to discuss her new Red House recording. As I recall, he was taking Lucy to lunch to celebrate one or the other.
He seemed to me a genuinely nice man. I looked up to him as the only person I knew who lived out the words of the Robert Frost poem:
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future’s sakes.
Bob’s death was an inexplicable and shocking loss.
The theme song for Bob’s Urban Folk shows was John Gorka’s “The Gypsy Life.” That’s the late Nanci Griffith on the harmony part. I looked forward to hearing the song every other Sunday and never got tired of listening to it. Gorka recorded it on another label, but Bob brought him to Red House and ultimately to Minnesota as well. “The Gypsy Life” — I think that’s the musician’s life. “People love you when they know you’re leaving soon.”
The Trump administration completed 450 miles out of a projected 750 miles of Mexican border wall, but President Biden stopped all wall construction on his first day in office. He and his officials have continued to denounce the project.
However, the administration now announces that it will resume construction to plug four gaps in Arizona:
More than 450 miles of barriers were built under Mr. Trump, and Homeland Security had plans for nearly 300 additional miles, but Mr. Biden halted all construction on his first day in office.
That left gaps, including four holes in the fence near the Morelos Dam Project along the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona. Migrants have streamed through those gaps in recent months.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday authorized Customs and Border Protection to close those gaps.
Why? If the wall is terrible, why aren’t the gaps good?
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre balked at the notion that President Biden is reversing course after vowing not to build “another foot” of the wall.
“We are not finishing the wall,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said Friday. “We are cleaning up the mess that the prior administration made. We are trying to save lives.”
A classic Biden administration response. Meaningless, beyond expressing hate for Donald Trump. Jean-Pierre added that the wall is “ineffective.” So, if it’s ineffective, why are you plugging the gaps?
In a statement announcing the authorization, Homeland Security said the gaps present “safety and life hazard risks” to migrants, who risk drowning in the Colorado River to reach the holes in the fence, and to agents who have to rescue them.
Of course, what creates the risk is not the gaps, but rather the open border policy that draws illegals to the Rio Grande border like a magnet. Whether they want to admit it or not, the administration’s resuming border wall construction is a testament to the failure of the Democrats’ immigration policies.
Now they just have another 300 miles to go.
President Biden took an ungracious victory lap when he came through his bout with the current variant of the Covid virus this week. I discussed his remarks in “What base ingratitude.” This morning he tested positive again (per an antigen test) in what his physician has deemed a case of post-Paxlovid “‘rebound’ positivity” — in a statement released from somewhere he can’t be asked public follow-up questions. He says Biden is “feel[ing] quite well.” To borrow the title of the album by one of the Minneapolis bands I’ve touched on this week, he’s Feeling Strangely Fine.
Emina Melonic is the perfect person to reflect on the meaning of the Vogue cover shot of the Zelenskyys:
The war in Ukraine has been odd, to say the least. At the beginning, I was following it closely, especially since I saw the echoes of my own experience, namely in war-torn Bosnia. I saw innocent people dying and displaced out of their homes. But just like most things in this strange, post-everything world, wars appear to be fought differently than what I would expect.
Media influence, TikTok videos, and other existential simulations have become part of our everyday experiences, so it is not surprising that something so visceral, basic, and political as war would be immune from such treatment. Everything is just another opportunity for “showing off” and for one more step toward becoming a persona, and so I wasn’t surprised at all to see that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife, Olena have graced the cover of the October 2022 issue of Vogue. None other than Annie Leibovitz was the photographer for the series of shots that featured the couple in the official presidential building.
Olena is a beautiful woman, and Leibovitz has a great talent for making beautiful celebrities look even better. Olena is almost ethereal; paradoxically, an embodied angel that’s guiding her husband. At least, that’s the image that is being created and presented.
Olena especially stands out in a shot at Antonov airport, next to the steel remains of an aircraft, surrounded by female Ukrainian soldiers. Her hair flows perfectly as she tugs the collar of her coat, looking into the distance. In case you’re wondering, all of Olena’s clothes are designed by Ukrainian designers, which is important for Vogue readers to know.
As a photo shoot, it is all conceived quite well. It has that industrial/Soviet feel juxtaposed to the classical past look, which works so well with gray filters. Blondes generally look great with that kind of color scheme, and Olena’s presence really suits the entire scene that Leibovitz created. It’s a great example of war chic, which I am sure will become a style for years to come.
It’s a world in which simulation has been taken to another level. Are any of the people involved in this aware of the mixing of art, fashion, and war, and how odd and shameless it appears? It is a world where only aesthetics rule, where appearances trump reality.
Annie Leibovitz is an accomplished photographer and a true artist. She mostly photographs celebrities but throughout her career she has created shots of regular people and their often odd and difficult lives. She’s not a stranger to war either.
In 1993, Leibovitz found herself in Sarajevo (my hometown), at the time when the war was still raging. The result was a series of moving images from the war: a child’s bike on the ground, next to the large blood stain; a couple stealing a kiss while moving fast among people carrying water, trying to evade snipers; doctors in one of Sarajevan hospitals, trying to save a life of a man who has been torn by shrapnel; a group of children playing among burned out buildings and old Fiats and Yugos that have become only shells of steel; a theater troupe and a group of Bosnian intellectuals sitting a table, talking in a joyful manner despite the fact that the war is still going on.
These are powerful images, and they are a testament to Leibovitz’s talent and eye. Of her experience, she remarked, “…the concerns I had before I went to Sarajevo about what kinds of pictures I would take were erased by simply being there. There wasn’t time to worry about whether I was taking a portrait or some other kind of picture. Things happened too fast. You could only respond to them.”
Such is the experience of war. It becomes an exercise in survival, boredom, and small glimpses of joy, along with humor that keeps you sane during the days when you wonder if you will die.
I’m not sure why a fashion magazine is interested so much in politics, but then again, these days, it’s not just art that’s political–a statement that was overused in the 1960s. Everything, including human beings, is turned into an occasion for ideological positioning and, in this case, posturing.
I managed to crash the podcast this week in a futile attempt to blunt the slow-rolling coup that Lucretia and John Yoo started last week in my absence, but by the miracle of the internet I did just that, dropping in for a few minutes between drams of whisky and dishes of haggis.
We kick around the Joe Manchin news, whether the White House will invent a new term for economic distress—”recessionyx” (seriously, who could doubt it)—and whether the J-6 committee is leading inexorably toward a Justice Department indictment of Donald Trump—and thus a further step toward making America a banana republic.
You know what to do now: Listen here, or roll your tanks over to our hosts at Ricochet.
But wait! There’s more: John and Lucretia worked overtime this week, stepping in as guest hosts for the flagship Ricochet podcast (Peter Robinson and Rob Long were both away), and I managed to crash that podcast too, live from a bar on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, pint in hand. The main topic of the episode is crime, which prompted the production team at Ricochet to come up with this graphic to go with the episode:
So lots of listening for everyone’s weekend.
FOX News media reporter Joseph Wulfsohn picked up Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia’s vulgar tweet below before it was deleted two hours later. I assume Garcia composed it. I can’t believe a staffer would have the nerve to speak this way under Garcia’s name. Warning: If you click on the tweet you will see the whole thing.
Garcia is (over)sensitive to criticism. The sensitivity also makes me think it is Garcia himself speaking in the tweet. That seems a little unusual for a man whose chosen profession is politics. He really ought to develop a thicker skin.
I wonder if we (I) can learn anything from it. These are my thoughts. Not all of them necessarily apply in this case, but Garcia’s tweet prompts these reflections on my part.
It is generally better to avoid vulgarity in public than to let it all hang out. Your audience might conclude that you have an extremely limited vocabulary.
It is usually better to think twice before shooting your mouth off.
It is usually better not to speak in anger.
Avoiding “retarded” as a term of disparagement is a form of sensitivity to others.
If you are under the influence of a substance that distorts your thought it is best to hold your tongue. It is even better to avoid the ingestion of mind-altering substances.
It is best to think through the substance of criticism directed your way before responding. You might be able to learn from it. Your critic may have a good point.
Not all criticism directed at your merits a response. Silence is frequently the best response.
That rule of thumb does not apply to self-criticism. Self-criticism is essential to self-improvement.
Strive not to disgrace your given name.
If you are not fit for the office you hold or the profession you pursue, you ought to hang it up.
Rep. Chuy García (D-IL) tweeted profanities and a slur in response to a random Twitter account with 531 followers who trolled him. pic.twitter.com/LUjqWnDoxd
— Joseph A. Wulfsohn (@JosephWulfsohn) July 30, 2022
On Thursday President Biden spoke with China President Xi Jinping by phone. “Biden” tweeted out the photo of himself speaking with Xi from the Oval Office (below). It’s not a good look. It’s a bad look.
Today I spoke with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China as part of our efforts to deepen lines of communication, responsibly manage our differences, and address issues of mutual interest. pic.twitter.com/mwIeg35h8j
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 28, 2022
Who said what to whom? “Biden” barely hints at the substance of the conversation.
This is the White House readout of the call:
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke today with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The call was a part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between the United States and the PRC and responsibly manage our differences and work together where our interests align. The call follows the two leaders’ conversation on March 18th and a series of conversations between high-level U.S. and PRC officials. The two presidents discussed a range of issues important to the bilateral relationship and other regional and global issues, and tasked their teams to continue following up on today’s conversation, in particular to address climate change and health security. On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Xi is no dummy. He has sized up Biden to our disadvantage. I assess with a high degree of certainty that Xi finds Biden’s climate shtick laughable.
Xi has of course compromised Biden through Chinese investments in the Biden family business. He therefore feels free to let it be known that he threatened Biden during the call. According to Chinese state media, Xi told Biden: “Those who play with fire will only get burnt. Hope the U.S. side can see this clearly.” New York Post covered the more forthcoming Chinese readout of the call here. The Daily Mail covered it here. The transcript of the White House backgrounder makes it clear that the Chinese state media had this right.
The Post circles back to incorporate its own coverage of the Biden family business via the laptop from hell:
Thursday’s call took place amid uncertainty over whether first son Hunter Biden still holds a 10% stake in a Chinese investment firm that’s controlled in part by state-owned entities. The company, BHR Partners, was formed 12 days after Hunter Biden joined his father, then-vice president Joe Biden, aboard Air Force Two for a 2013 trip to Beijing.
Online business records suggest the first son still holds the 10% stake in BHR and the White House has provided no transparency about his alleged divestment. [White House press secretary Karine] Jean-Pierre referred a question about Hunter Biden’s ownership status to the first son’s legal team, which claimed in November he no longer held the stake.
The Biden-Xi call also happened less than a day after The Post reported that a Hunter Biden associate, James Gilliar, referred to Joe Biden at least twice as the “big guy” — a term that relates to a different Biden family business venture in China, with energy company CEFC.
CEFC paid Hunter Biden and first brother Jim Biden $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018, the Washington Post reported this year. Joe Biden allegedly was due to receive a 10% equity stake in a corporate entity established with CEFC.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski says that he spoke with Joe Biden in May 2017 about the CEFC joint venture and a May 13, 2017, email written by Gilliar said that the “big guy” would get 10%. Bobulinski previously alleged that the president was the “big guy,” a claim confirmed by Gilliar’s latest message.
I further assess with a high degree of certainty that Xi believes he has the upper hand with Biden and his clown car administration.
Churchill expert Richard Langworth is senior fellow at the Hilldale College Churchill Project. He wrote me yesterday after I cited Churchill’s comments on Stanley Baldwin in “What base ingratitude.” I said that Baldwin had tested the limits of Churchill’s magnanimity. My quotations from Churchill suggested that Baldwin had exceeded the limits. Mr. Langworth wrote to let me know that he had “a further refinement on that[.]”
In “Churchill’s Magnanimity: Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947),” Mr. Langworth updates and elaborates on the older Langworth post I cited. Mr. Langworth commented in his message to me: “What Churchill said about Baldwin was about as rough as he said of anyone except wartime enemies—and yet he came back with those remarks at the Baldwin Memorial. Imagine our rulers today saying anything like that about old antagonists.”
Mr. Langworth is an authority on Churchill quotations. In the early days of the Obama administration, Obama to the contrary notwithstanding, he attested to the absence of the statement “We don’t torture” from Churchill’s vast corpus. I cited him in “Obama veers into the Daily Ditch.”
Mr. Langworth is the author of several books on Churchill including Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations. Turning to the section on Baldwin we find the memorable quote: “Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”
Reading Churchill is an elevating experience. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature and he should have won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Most recently restored to print in two volumes is James Muller’s long-awaited edition of Churchill’s The River War. The first edition quickly sold out upon publication last year, but the second edition is now available. I didn’t make the mistake of waiting to buy it this time around.
Things continue to go swimmingly on all fronts. Hey, it’s not a recession, it’s just a transition! We are transitioning to a non-binary economy where GDP is whatever you want it to be. Up, down, take your pick. In other highlights, Joe Biden cleaned his plate and Kamala Harris wore a blue dress (not that one). And if you think things can’t get worse, consider the fact that we are only through 19 months of the Biden administration, and have 29 months to go.
Curating The Week In Pictures in Steve’s absence has been fun. I have tried to generally follow his practices, with two exceptions: I don’t post Star Wars memes that I don’t get, which rules out nearly all of them. And I have suspended the practice of including a photo of a guy with a gun. Ladies, if you don’t like it, talk to Steve. He’ll be back in a few weeks.
Now on to TWIP.
These Atlantic memes are fake. I think. But with that magazine, it is hard to be sure.
A friend sent me a link to this paper, which says that, contrary to much of what we see in the press, Western sanctions are devastating Russia’s economy. The authors are all associated with Yale; subject to that caveat, here it is:
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters into its fifth month, a common narrative has emerged that the unity of the world in standing up to Russia has somehow devolved into a “war of economic attrition which is taking its toll on the west”, given the supposed “resilience” and even “prosperity” of the Russian economy. This is simply untrue – and a reflection of widely held but factually incorrect misunderstandings over how the Russian economy is actually holding up amidst the exodus of over 1,000 global companies and international sanctions.
That these misunderstandings persist is not surprising. Since the invasion, the Kremlin’s economic releases have become increasingly cherry-picked, selectively tossing out unfavorable metrics while releasing only those that are more favorable. These Putin-selected statistics are then carelessly trumpeted across media and used by reams of well-meaning but careless experts in building out forecasts which are excessively, unrealistically favorable to the Kremlin.
Our team of experts, using private Russian language and unconventional data sources including high frequency consumer data, cross-channel checks, releases from Russia’s international trade partners, and data mining of complex shipping data, have released one of the first comprehensive economic analyses measuring Russian current economic activity five months into the invasion, and assessing Russia’s economic outlook.
From our analysis, it becomes clear: business retreats and sanctions are catastrophically crippling the Russian economy.
More at the link. You can also go here to see the slide show that summarizes the authors’ data. Again, there is lots of information, but here are a couple of slides. This one supports the authors’ argument that liquid natural gas is a more important export commodity for Russia than it is an import commodity for Europe; and moreover, that American imports of LNG now exceed imports from Russia:
This one says that while China is buying Russian oil to partly replace exports to Europe, it is doing so at bargain prices:
This one is particularly interesting to me: “Kremlin Inundating Economy With Artificial Liquidity To Mask Economic Weakness.” Gosh. Sounds familiar.
I will defer to the economists among our readers, but I would be surprised if our own M2 chart doesn’t look worse than that.
All of that said, I hope the authors are correct, and Western sanctions are having serious impact.
That is, the bird that Congresswoman Linda Sanchez flipped to the GOP bench during yesterday’s Congressional baseball game. The incident occurred when Ms. Sanchez was removed for a pinch runner (no comment) during the sixth inning.
She seems nice. https://t.co/I3DyJr2eoS
— Brit Hume (@brithume) July 29, 2022
That’s sportsmanship in today’s Democratic Party. The Republicans went on to win the game 10-0. Looking on the bright side, at least no one shot at the Republican team this year.
I’m joining Jon Justice this morning from 7:00-9:00 a.m. (Central) as one of his three guest “friends” on his first Friday with Friends program since the death of Drew Lee. He has kept the identity of his “Friends” under wraps, but it should be a good show. He will have each of us discussing matters we have been covering or are otherwise knowledgeable about. Jon’s show is broadcast on KTLK AM 1130 in the Twin Cities and is accessible via live stream here. The call-in number is (651) 989-5855. Please tell producer Robbie Rosenhaus I sent you if you call in.
Kim Strassel observes in her weekly Wall Street Journal column that the $270 billion so-called CHIPS and Science Act served as the predicate of the Schumer/Manchin $750 billion Bummer Beyond Belief light that is now to be moved via the reconciliation process.
CNBC drily observes that Senator McConnell had “previously warned that Republicans would not back the China competition bill [i.e., the CHIPS bill] if Democrats continued to pursue an unrelated reconciliation package.” What happened? Strassel writes: “The kinder commentators are noting that Republicans got ‘duped’ by their West Virginia buddy—but that’s unfair to dupes.” (Senator Manchin is “their West Virginia buddy.”)
This is the explanation Strassel offers: “Some Republicans saw an opportunity to funnel money to home-state chip interests, while others saw a chance to do the only thing they know how, spend. Even Mr. McConnell—’master strategist’—voted yes. Don’t confuse getting duped with a failure of basic impulse control.”
The Journal adds this in an editorial today: “Republicans thought that by supporting giant infrastructure and computer-chip bills, the West Virginian might stop a partisan spending bill. GOP Senators now look like tourists who paid $300 from LaGuardia for a taxi to their Manhattan hotel.” That’s not much of an explanation, but it is apparently all we have.
It isn’t even good election-year politics. I think Republican reversion to the status of the stupid party — the one implicitly offered by the Journal editors — is as good an explanation as any, yet there has to be more (or less) to it than that. I have followed someone (is it the Journal editors?) in calling the magically expanding CHIPS bill Spenderama. With the Schumer/Manchin Bummer Beyond Belief light on the table and in process, it is in any event equally infuriating and demoralizing.
In the event, 17 Republican Senators, including McConnell, voted for the Spenderama. I have copied the roll call vote on it and filtered out the Democrats to list the 17 Republican Senators who voted yea on it. Here they are:
Ammo Grrrll has an important message for her readers and those of her husband as well in BLESSED WITH ALL THIS LIFE. She writes:
Sometimes, when the President of the Free World has just announced that he has cancer which was brought on by an oily windshield when he was a lad in Delaware, where he moved from Scranton when he was 10, it can get a person down. Oh, also, to the best of our knowledge, he doesn’t actually have cancer. Which is good. Only pathological Leftists cheer when someone they hate faces a physical attack or wretched illness.
When that same president promised that if you got the weekly booster, you absolutely would not get COVID because the entire epidemic is now a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” and you are later informed that he has COVID, you wonder aloud if they think you are too dumb to remember what he said a year ago. And that thought hurts your feelings a little.
Occasionally, when you read something like “the gender-fluid, non-binary, trans queer community” has commandeered sole ownership of dinosaur emojis, the rest of us gender-solid, extremely binary normies feel like we have fallen into an endless episode of The Twilight Zone.
It appears to me that part of The New World Order Plan – never anything that hasn’t failed to apocalyptic levels dozens of times in the recent past – is to create a society so bizarre, so anti-rational, so terrifying that we all start to believe we are having the famous Acid Flashback we heard so much about in the ’60’s. All the more remarkable if we had never even once tried LSD.
If you grew up Christian, each Sunday you probably recited in unison either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, statements of belief repeated to keep them ever in your mind. Judaism has very similar statements of belief as well, from Maimonides’ statements of Perfect Faith.
Soon, instead of that or the Pledge of Allegiance, we will all have to recite the “Progressive Mental Defectives’ Creed”: “I believe that there are 57 genders (with more added daily), Obama visited 57 states, and there are 57 sauces all of which belong to Teresa Heinz Kerry currently. I believe that males need tampons in their restrooms (hey, it’s called “men”-struation, duh) and can have babies. I believe with perfect faith that disagreeing with that is the exact same thing as killing trans black hookers. To hold any opposing views is not just hate but murder. I believe that printing money and throwing it at favored groups is not inflationary. I believe that being on time for anything is white supremacy. I believe that carjacking is just a form of reparations.”
And so on. When you fear that your mind will be shattered by reciting such loathsome untruths, it is time for a break. Time to take a step back and remember that Life is so much more than politics. Then we must channel the inspirational words of our historic first Woman Vice President of Some Non-White but Very Light Color, Possibly Ecru: “Is it time? It is time for us to do what we have been doing. And that time is every day.”
And so it’s time to snuggle a child or – if you’re very lucky – a grandchild. Or, having none of those available, petting a dog or, in desperation, a cat. (I kid the cats…) No pets? Put on some Brahms or Mozart or Ella Fitzgerald, The Eagles, Alison Krauss, or Toby Keith and recall what a Heaven-sent blessing music is in our lives. Shut off the television, shut down your Smartphone, crank up your SUV or Silverado and go out for that greatest of American sources of sustenance – the medium rare juicy hamburger with pickles and either mustard or ketchup (I’m no purist) and not one made out of either soybeans or crickets. Savor every bite.
Here in Prescott, AZ, The View we watch is not on television, praise the Lord! We wake up every morning in our rental house and take our coffee out on our deck and watch all the life that does not care whether AOC was actually handcuffed (she wasn’t), or Liz Cheney is going to lose her Primary (she is!). A little lizard blends in perfectly with the bark on the huge pine tree and can only be seen when he moves. (I’m going to assume his gender because this is America and I feel like it.) He slithers hither and yon as though he is checking off items on his To-Do List.
A chipmunk runs across the deck and hooks up with a friend. A squirrel dwarfs them in size, but not in cuteness. A pair of obviously married goldfinches natter at one another and dive-bomb us periodically to keep us on our toes. Here’s something you never see in human society: the male appears to be trying to convince the female to go back to the nest for a bit! She isn’t in the mood.
A lone doe lopes across the back yard, catches sight of us and stares at us for a long minute as if to ascertain whether or not we represent any danger. She concludes correctly that we are Geezer-Americans who couldn’t catch her if we were paid to do so and saunters on her merry way. The first day we arrived, I saw a bobcat sunning itself in the grass.
On this particular day, the famous novelist Max Cossack was celebrating the completion of his seventh novel and had spent eight months paralyzed with an inability to choose a title from his list of 18 possibilities. Looking around, he commented, “We are so blessed with all this life,” and I said, “There’s your title.”
Max’s seventh novel, Blessed With All This Life, is a slight departure from his earlier volumes in that there is a very interesting back story for his main character, Hack Wilder. Even though I do not play a musical instrument, I found the story of how Hack learned to play piano applicable to learning anything – mind-numbing repetition, being open to learning from everyone who knows more than you, and practice, practice, practice. It is ever thus with learning a new language, learning to write, do standup, cook, virtually everything. Hack is helped immensely by lucking into a mentor and teacher who is a key figure in the novel.
Much later, while helping an elderly neighbor lady who’s been the victim of an Internet scam, Hack chances on an opportunity to repay a part of the Universe that has nurtured him. Oh, have no fear, the same “Wilder Bunch” of small-town Minnesota miscreants all appear in good time. Did the new baby arrive? Wild horses could not make ME tell whether or not that baby had chosen [sick] “their” gender yet. Buy the book. Please.
I have read this beautiful, uplifting book twice now while being tasked with proofreading. Any errors found by readers are absolutely not my fault — first, because nothing is anyone’s fault in The New World Order, but mainly because I was so engrossed in the lovely writing itself that sometimes – okay, pretty often – I lost interest in the proofreading part. I have already learned from Extremely Alert Readers (Hat Tip: the great Dave Barry) that, as the politicians say, “Mistakes were made.” They are now mostly fixed. Your copy may vary. Forgive me.
I laughed a lot, as is usual with Max’s writing, and cried some too. As I learned long ago after the ten thousandth time my toddler played the insufferable Marlo Thomas propagandistic kids’ album Free To Be…You and Me, “it’s alright to cry; crying lets the sad out of you.”
So relax, refresh, renew your souls, read a good book, and gird your loins, friends. Because we have a long, tough struggle ahead and politics will still be there when we come back. Other than that, no spoilers! And take a few minutes to thank God for being blessed with all this life.
Blessed With All This Life is available in eBook and paperback at Amazon here.
Or available in paperback with 20 percent Power Line Discount here
To receive the Special 20 percent Powerline discount on Blessed With All This Life and any other Max Cossack or Ammo Grrrll books, just enter PLDISCOUNT (all CAPS, one word) at checkout.
Like everyone, I get a lot of unsolicited emails with the classic clickbait trick of offering a “top ten” list or something like it. I usually delete or block them without opening, but this one succeeded in getting the click, and I am sure it is news some Power Line readers will want to know (whether as a list of where to avoid, or cycle to, I leave to you to decide):
Love feeling the wind in your hair — and all over your body — while riding on two wheels?
There are U.S. cities where that’s not only legal but also celebrated, so what are 2022’s Best Cities for Naked Biking?
LawnStarter ranked the 200 biggest U.S. cities ahead of upcoming World Naked Bike Rides like the one in St. Louis on July 30.
We first assessed the regulatory landscape in each city to help naked bikers avoid legal (and other) bumps on the road. We then considered the local popularity of naked biking, the size and activeness of the cycling community, and, of course, the climate.
Check out the best cities for biking in the buff below, followed by key insights from our report. (Take a peek here to see where your city ranks and for some surprising findings.)
Chicago Wins the Race: Hold on to your bells, handlebars, and everything in between — the Windy City is our inaugural Naked Biking Capital.
Chi Town finished first in the Popularity category and is one of a handful of cities that hosts a World Naked Bike Ride. It’s au(nly) naturel that locals can barely contain their excitement about the event: Chicagoans searched for “naked bike ride” more times in the past 12 months than Googlers in any of the other 199 cities.
Keeping Austin Weird and Naked: Austin, which finished No. 4 overall, sped past the other 199 cities in our Naked Biking Friendliness category, thanks to some of the most lax public nudity and bicycling laws in the U.S. It’s one of only four cities where total nudity won’t land you a ticket or jail time.
The city with the 30th biggest nudist population even had its own local near-naked biking fixture, Leslie Cochran, years before there was ever a Naked Bike Ride. He’s gone now, but there’s a plaque in his memory on 6th Street.
Some years ago I spotted a statistic that the average age of people at nudist colonies was 56. Which I think would even send mosquitos fleeing as fast as possible.
And yes, you can see a pretty clear breakdown between blue states and red states in the “best” and “worst” lists.
The “trans” fad has devastated the lives of many people, especially children. Will there ever be an accounting? In the U.K., there are signs of one: the National Health Service’s Tavistock gender identity clinic for children is being shut down.
The NHS is shutting down its gender identity clinic for children after a review found that it failed vulnerable under-18s.
It will be replaced by regional centres at existing children’s hospitals offering more “holistic care” with “strong links to mental health services”.
Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) clinic has been accused of rushing children into life-altering treatment on puberty blockers.
The paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass, who is leading a review of the service, issued a series of recommendations today for a radical overhaul of how the NHS treats young people who are questioning their gender identity.
She found that the Tavistock clinic was “not a safe or viable long-term option” and that other mental health issues were “overshadowed” when gender was raised by children referred to the clinic.
Basically, Tavistock was run according to a “trans” activist ideology, and therefore destroyed many lives.
So there is at least the glimmer of accountability in the U.K. How about here in America? Hans Bader sums up where we stand in a long post at Liberty Unyielding. You should read it all; links are omitted in the following excerpts:
The FDA recently added a warning to the puberty blockers used by transgender children, reports The Post-Millennial. The warning was added after the FDA identified “a serious potential side effect” that can “cause cause a dangerous surge of spinal fluid pressure in the brain,” as well as “headaches, nausea, double vision, and even permanent vision loss.”
While puberty blockers have a long history of different uses, including the chemical castration of violent sex offenders, they are now most commonly recognized for the off-label treatment of gender dysphoria because of their mechanism to stop the production of estrogen and progesterone.
Proponents of puberty blockers to halt the development of secondary sex characteristics of adolescents with gender dysphoria claim they are “safe, effective and completely reversible.” Even the Biden administration has perpetuated this falsehood. As it stands, there are no studies on the long-term effects of puberty blockers. In light of new evidence, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) recently changed its stance on puberty blockers as being fully reversible to an admission that their long-term effects are unknown. The American Academy of Pediatrics is currently reviewing their policy on the use of puberty blockers for treating gender dysphoria.
Researchers have also found that puberty blockers stunted the height and impaired the bone mass density of children who wished to change gender. There is also evidence that puberty blockers have an adverse impact on cognitive functioning in children, with two studies finding that IQ may drop as a result of the medication. But perhaps most alarming, when a child takes puberty blockers at Tanner stage 2 (the first signs of puberty) and proceeds to cross-sex hormones, they will be sterilized (never able to have children) and never be able to achieve an orgasm.
Growing numbers of teenagers regret undergoing sex changes. At the age of 12, Chloe Cole decided she was transgender. At 13, she was put on puberty blockers and testosterone. At 15, she received a double mastectomy. But in less than a year, she realized she had made a terrible mistake. “I was failed by the system. I literally lost organs,” she said.
Much more at the link, including more instances of detransitioning patients who were rushed into sex change operations that they now regret.
How has this horror show come to be? I confess to puzzlement. Generally the Left is not hard to figure out. Leftists want power and money, and if you examine their policies with this in mind, they pretty much always make sense. But today’s gender hysteria is hard to understand within that framework. Unless the “trans” fad is essentially nihilistic: maybe the point is to discredit thousands of years’ worth of civilization, to alienate millions from the most basic elements of our culture, and to create a large army of dysfunctional, mentally, physically and emotionally crippled people, so that self-reliance becomes a thing of the past and government control is seen as the only alternative.
One of my failings and regrets is not getting to know Pat Michaels better. Pat’s passing about 10 days ago, at the too early age of 72, ago shocked his many friends. I met him several times and knew his work, and we once had a long and very convivial evening together in a New York bar about 15 years back. But I didn’t keep up with him as I should have, even though he was one of the premier climate change analysts of our time, ceaselessly toiling to debunk the exaggerations and errors of the so-called “consensus” about climate change.
Someone who knew him well and followed his work closely is our friend Ben Zycher of AEI (who is one of my go-to persons on climate and energy economics), and I asked Ben if he’d work up a proper tribute to Michael for Power Line. Here’s Ben (complete with footnotes!—so this is more than an obituary; it is also a reference work):
“Denier.” “Tool of the oil producers.” “Facilitator of planetary destruction.” Such were among the more moderate epithets directed at Pat Michaels, a real climatologist: Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, former president of the American Association of State Climatologists, former program chairman for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society, for thirty years a Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and the state climatologist of Virginia for 27 years.
Pat published numerous papers in the peer-reviewed scientific journals; I have not taken the time to count them, but Chip Knappenberger reports that he and Pat “co-authored 25+ papers on climate and climate change published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, penned hundreds of articles in the popular media, [and] countless blog pieces.” Needless to say, Pat published a lot more either alone or with other co-authors.
Pat published nine books, the most important of which in my view is Lukewarming: The New Climate Science That Changes Everything, co-authored with Knappenberger (Cato Institute, 2016). I believe it to be one of the five or thereabouts most important books on climate science and policy published in the last 30 years. In a nutshell: Anthropogenic climate change is “real” but vastly less important than commonly asserted. The mainstream climate models cannot predict the past or the present, and therefore are a highly unreliable guide for the future. The scientists that write the various working-group papers that together make up the periodic assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to a significant degree are engaged in self-delusion, in no small part because they are exceedingly poor statisticians who, perhaps shockingly, do not understand the difference between drawing an observation out of a possibly-fat tail of a statistical distribution, versus a shift of the entire distribution.
Pat’s work showed that there is no evidence in support of the crisis narrative, about which more below. He made the point, obvious but usually ignored, that any evaluation of climate policy proposals should include the benefits of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, among which are planetary greening, increased agricultural productivity, improved water use efficiency by plants, reductions in mortality from cold (vastly greater than heat-related mortality), longer growing seasons (for the U.S., it has increased by about two weeks since 1970.
In a word, Pat’s work was comprehensive. I am but a lowly economist, and the central difference between economists and real scientists is straightforward: The latter actually have to know something. And so my intellectual debt to Pat is enormous, as I knew virtually nothing about climate science — despite decades of work on energy and environmental policy — until I began to interact with Pat. His collegiality, patience, invincible humor, objectivity, and supremely impressive stock of knowledge were tremendous assets in terms of my own intellectual development in this area.
My intellectual debt to Pat is one that defies satisfaction. I offer here a brief summary of the evidence on climate phenomena, as I know of no better way to honor Pat’s memory, and I believe that Powerline readers may find this of interest.
That anthropogenic climate change is “real” — that increasing GHG concentrations are having detectable effects — is incontrovertible, but that does not tell us the magnitude of the observable impacts, which must be measured empirically. Temperatures are rising, but as the Little Ice Age ended no later than 1850, it is not easy to separate natural from anthropogenic effects on temperatures and other climate phenomena. The latest research in the peer-reviewed literature suggests that mankind is responsible for about half of the approximate temperature increase of 1.1 degrees C since 1880.
The “crisis” assertions are unsupported by the evidence reported in the peer-reviewed, official, or scientific literature. There is little trend in the number of “hot” days for 1895–2017; 11 of the 12 years with the highest number of such days occurred before 1960. NOAA has maintained since 2005 the U.S. Climate Reference Network, comprising 114 meticulously maintained temperature stations spaced more or less uniformly across the lower 48 states, 21 stations in Alaska, and two stations in Hawaii. They are placed to avoid heat island effects and other such distortions as much as possible; the reported data show no trend over the available 2005–20 reporting period. A reconstruction of global temperatures over the past one million years, using data from ice sheet formations, shows that there is nothing unusual about the current warm period.
Global mean sea level has been increasing at about 3.3 mm per year since satellite measurements began in 1992. The tidal-gauge data before then show annual increases of about 1.9 mm per year, but that comparison does not show an acceleration in sea-level rise because the two datasets are not comparable. The tidal gauges do not measure sea levels per se; they measure the difference between sea levels and “fixed” points on land that in reality might not be fixed due to seismic activity, tectonic shifts, land settlement, etc. Accordingly, the data are unclear as to whether there is occurring an acceleration in sea level rise; it is reasonable to hypothesize that there has been such an acceleration simply because temperatures are rising due to both natural and anthropogenic influences, as noted above, and such increases should result in more melting ice and the thermal expansion of water. But because rising temperatures are the result of both natural and anthropogenic causes, we do not know the relative contributions of those causes to any such acceleration.
The Northern and Southern Hemisphere sea ice changes tell different stories; the arctic sea ice has been declining, while the Antarctic sea ice has been stable or growing. U.S. tornado activity shows either no trend or a downward trend since 1954. Tropical storms, hurricanes, and accumulated cyclone energy show little trend since satellite measurements began in the early 1970s. The number of U.S. wildfires shows no trend since 1985, and global acreage burned has declined over past decades. The Palmer Drought Severity index shows no trend since 1895, and during the past century the percent of the globe in drought has not changed.
U.S. flooding over the past century is uncorrelated with increasing GHG concentrations. The available datado not support the ubiquitous assertions about the dire impacts of declining pH levels in the oceans. Global food availability and production have increased more or less monotonically over the past two decades on a per capita basis.The IPCC itself in the Fifth Assessment Report was deeply dubious about the various severe effects often asserted to be looming as impacts of anthropogenic warming.
If we apply the Environmental Protection Agency climate model, under the highest IPCC climate sensitivity assumption (4.5 degrees C as reported in the AR5), net-zero U.S. GHG emissions effective immediately would yield a reduction in global temperatures of 0.173 degrees C by 2100. That effect would be barely detectable given the standard deviation (about 0.11 degrees C) of the surface temperature record. The entire Paris agreement: about 0.178 degrees C. A 50 percent reduction in Chinese GHG emissions: 0.184 degrees C. Net-zero emissions by the entire Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: 0.352 degrees C. A global 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions implemented immediately and maintained strictly would reduce global temperatures in 2100 by 0.687 degrees C.Note that GHG emissions in 2020 fell by about 6.4 percent as a result of the COVID-19 economic downturn. Can anyone believe that even larger GHG reductions — and the attendant economic costs — are plausible politically? Is there a believable benefit/cost model that would justify such policies?
I betray no secret when I say that all of us are poorer as a result of Pat’s passing. May Patrick J. Michaels rest in peace, and may his memory inspire all of us to strive toward his standard of rigor, honesty, and courage.
 See Knappenberger’s remembrance of Pat at https://www.masterresource.org/debate-issues/remembering-pat-michaels/.
 On the carbon dioxide “greening” effect see NOAA at https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth; and Zaichun Zhu, et. al., “Greening of the Earth and Its Drivers,” Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6 (2016), pp. 791-795, at https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3004. On the agricultural productivity effects, see, e.g., Goudriaan and Unsworth at https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2134/asaspecpub53.c8. On water use efficiency by plants, see, e.g., http://www.co2science.org/subject/w/summaries/wateruse.php. On the beneficial impacts of moderate warming on mortality, see https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)62114-0/fulltext. On the increase in the length of the U.S. growing season, see the EPA discussion at https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-length-growing-season.
 On the surface (land/ocean) temperature record, see UK Met Office, Hadley Centre/University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, “Tim Osborn: HadCRUT4 Global Temperature Graphs,” https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/~timo/diag/tempdiag.htm. On the Little Ice Age, see Michael E. Mann, “Little Ice Age,” in Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, Volume 1: The Earth System: Physical and Chemical Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, ed. Michael C. MacCracken, John S. Perry and Ted Munn (Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2002), http://www.meteo.psu.edu/holocene/public_html/shared/articles/littleiceage.pdf.
 See https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/HadCRUT5.0Analysis_300.png. See also Ross McKitrick and John Christy, “A Test of the Tropical 200- to 300 hPa Warming Rate in Climate Models”; Nicholas Lewis and Judith Curry, “The Impact of Recent Forcing and Ocean Heat Uptake Data on Estimates of Climate Sensitivity,” Journal of Climate 31 (August 2018): 6051–71, https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0667.1; and John R. Christy and Richard McNider, “Satellite Bulk Tropospheric Temperatures as a Metric for Climate Sensitivity,” Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences 53 (2017): 511–18, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13143-017-0070-z. For a chart summarizing the recent empirical estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity as reported in the peer-reviewed literature, see Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger, “The Collection of Evidence for a Low Climate Sensitivity Continues to Grow,” Cato Institute, September 25, 2014, https://www.cato.org/blog/collection-evidence-low-climate-sensitivity-continues-grow.
 For the reconstruction of the NASA data, see John R. Christy, “Average per Station (1114 USHCN Stations) 1895–2017: Number of Days Daily Maximum Temperature Above 100˚F and 105˚F,” drroyspencer.com, http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/US-extreme-high-temperatures-1895-2017.jpg.
 For a visualization of a prototypical station, see Willis Eschenbach, “NOAA’s USCRN Revisited—No Significant Warming in the USA in 12 Years,” Watts Up with That?, November 8, 2017, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/11/08/the-uscrn-revisited/. For the monthly data and charts reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), see National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “National Temperature Index,” https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/national-temperature-index/time-series?datasets%5B%5D=uscrn¶meter=anom-tavg&time_scale=p12&begyear=2005&endyear=2020&month=8.
 See R. Bintanja and R. S. W. van de Wal, “North American Ice-Sheet Dynamics and the Onset of 100,000-Year Glacial Cycles,” Nature 454, no. 7206 (August 14, 2008): 869–72, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23171740_Bintanja_R_van_de_Wal_R_S_W_North_American_ice-sheet_dynamics_and_the_onset_of_100000-year_glacial_cycles_Nature_454_869-872. NOAA published the underlying data at R. Bintanja and R. S. W. van de Wal, “Global 3Ma Temperature, Sea Level, and Ice Volume Reconstructions,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, August 14, 2008, https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo-search/study/11933. For a chart showing the temperature record over one million years, see Institute for Energy Research, “Temperature Fluctuations over the Past Million Years,” https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/temperature-flucturations.png.
 See Frederikse et. al. at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2591-3. As a crude approximation, the data suggest that about two-thirds of such sea level increases are due to ice melt, and one-third to thermal expansion of water. See Judith Curry, “Sea Level and Climate Change,” Climate Forecast Applications Network, November 25, 2018, https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/special-report-sea-level-rise3.pdf. Curry cites research from Xianyao Chen and colleagues, the central finding of which is that “global mean sea level rise increased from 2.2 ± 0.3 mm/year in 1993 to 3.3 ± 0.3 mm/year in 2014.” See Xianyao Chen et al., “The Increasing Rate of Global Mean Sea-Level Rise During 1993–2014,” Nature Climate Change 7 (June 26, 2017): 492–95, https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3325. Whether the trend from a 21-year period can yield important inferences is a topic not to be addressed here. For a different empirical conclusion from the tidal gauge record, see J. R. Houston and R. G. Green, “Sea-Level Acceleration Based on U.S. Tide Gauges and Extensions of Previous Global-Gauge Analyses,” Journal of Coastal Research 27, no. 3 (May 2011): 409–17, https://meridian.allenpress.com/jcr/article-abstract/27/3/409/28456/Sea-Level-Acceleration-Based-on-U-S-Tide-Gauges?redirectedFrom=fulltext. For an example of temporary rapid sea-level rise in the 18th century, see W. R. Gehrels et al., “A Preindustrial Sea-Level Rise Hotspot Along the Atlantic Coast of North America,” Geophysical Research Letters 47 (2020), https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1029/2019GL085814. For further reported evidence of an acceleration, see Hans-Otto Pörtner et al., Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2019, https://www.ipcc.ch/srocc/.
 See https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2021/12/Bates-Sea-Ice-Trends.pdf?mc_cid=dac7df538b&mc_eid=ad653edd6d; and https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2022/04/Humlum-State-of-Climate-2021-.pdf?mc_cid=dac7df538b&mc_eid=ad653edd6d. See also Patrick J. Michaels, “Spinning Global Sea Ice,” Cato Institute, February 12, 2015, https://www.cato.org/blog/spinning-global-sea-ice. It appears to be the case that the Antarctic eastern ice sheet — about two-thirds of the continent — is growing, while the western ice sheet (and the peninsula) may be shrinking. No agreed explanation for this phenomenon is reported in the literature.
 For the historical data reported by the NOAA, see National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, “Historical Records and Trends,” https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/extreme-events/us-tornado-climatology/trends.
 For the reported U.S. wildfire data, see National Interagency Fire Center, “Total Wildland Fires and Acres (1926–2019),” https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.html. On the decline in global area burned over past decades, see Stefan H. Doerr and Cristina Santin, “Global Trends in Wildfire and Its Impacts: Perceptions Versus Realities in a Changing World,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences 371, no. 1696 (2016), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4874420/pdf/rstb20150345.pdf.
 See US Environmental Protection Agency, “Climate Change Indicators: Drought,” https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-drought; and US Department of Commerce, National Climatic Data Center, “Divisional Data Select,” https://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/CDO/CDODivisionalSelect.jsp.
 See Gregory J. McCabe and David M. Wolock, “Variability and Trends in Global Drought,” Earth and Space Science, Vol. 2, Issue 6 (June 2015) at https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015EA000100.
 See R. M. Hirsch and K. R. Ryberg, “Has the Magnitude of Floods Across the USA Changed with Global CO2 Levels?,” Hydrological Sciences Journal 57, no. 1 (2012): 1–9, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02626667.2011.621895?scroll=top&needAccess=true&.
 See CO2 Science, “Ocean Acidification Database,” http://www.co2science.org/data/acidification/results.php. See also Alan Longhurst, Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science, pp. 214–25, https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/longhurst-print.pdf.
 See Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Food and Agriculture Statistical Pocketbook 2018, 2018, Charts 28 and 46, http://www.fao.org/3/CA1796EN/ca1796en.pdf. See also Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ross McKitrick, and Patrick J. Michaels, “Climate Sensitivity, Agricultural Productivity and the Social Cost of Carbon in FUND,” Environmental Economics and Policy Studies 22 (2020): 433–48.
 Julie M. Arblaster et al., “Long-Term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility—Final Draft Underlying Scientific-Technical Assessment,” in Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, September 23–26, 2013, Table 12.4, at https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WG1AR5_Chapter12_FINAL.pdf.
The Biden administration is continuing its effort to spin bad economic news. Biden’s statement on today’s negative GDP report avoided any reference to recession, or even to the fact that the GDP number was negative.
Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth – and regaining all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis – it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation. But even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right path and we will come through this transition stronger and more secure.
What transition? The transition from economic growth to economic decline?
My economic plan is focused on bringing inflation down, without giving up all the economic gains we have made. Congress has an historic chance to do that by passing the CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act without delay.
Biden’s administration has done absolutely nothing to bring down the cost of living, and the legislation he mentions, including the absurdly-named “Inflation Reduction Act,” will only increase the inflation that has devastated American families.
I think the administration’s gyrations over the definition of recession only make it look foolish. The Republican Party has put out this simple chart, which also appeared (without the editorializing) in today’s Wall Street Journal:
To be fair, though, the concept of a full-employment recession is novel if not unprecedented. The labor shortage continues, and wages have been rising. The problem is that the increasing cost of living has much more than wiped out wage gains for most people.
We will see how the economic slowdown continues over the coming months, but my guess is that inflation will continue to be most voters’ number one concern. Somewhat ironically, if the Democrats’ current legislative efforts succeed, they will only cement that party’s responsibility for the inflation that has devastated so many lives. Liberals seem to think they can accomplish almost anything by redefining words, but in November the definition of a recession is going to be the last thing on the minds of voters who can’t afford to heat their homes, fill up their cars, or pay for groceries.
Nancy Pelosi explains the legislative bigthink behind one of the bills making its way through Congress. Someone with a sense of humor has added the perfect soundtrack to the audio. Buried in the babble is the comment: “If they’re putting things in, then we can put something out, even if Manchin doesn’t like it.” I hope Manchin is listening and spends some time decoding Pelosi’s explication. It’s a little scary that FOX News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram seems to understand Pelosi perfectly. He’s on her wavelength and she’s coming in loud and clear, at least to him. Perhaps Senator Manchin can consult with Pergram if he needs help figuring this out.
— AG (@Yolo304741) July 28, 2022
Winston Churchill was a magnanimous man of exemplary character, yet Stanley Baldwin tested his limits. He held Baldwin responsible for Britain’s lack of preparedness to go to war with Germany when the crisis inevitably came, as Richard Langworth recounts. During the blitz, when informed that a German bomb had fallen on Baldwin’s house, Churchill quipped, “What base ingratitude.” When Baldwin died Churchill rendered judgment: “I wish Stanley Baldwin no ill, but it would have been much better had he never lived.”
Yesterday President Biden looked back on his bout with Covid and bragged about his putative accomplishments suppressing the epidemic. The White House has posted the transcript of Biden’s remarks here. Biden attributed the mildness of his symptoms and his quick recovery to the four injections of one or more vaccines that were at the least contracted for purchase under the Trump administration and provided without charge to the public, including Biden, under Operation Warp Speed. Biden not only withheld credit to Trump, he went out of his way to administer a gratuitous jab of his own:
Here’s the bottom line: When my predecessor got COVID, he had to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill. Thankfully, he recovered. When I got COVID, I worked from upstairs of the White House — in the offices upstairs — and — for the — that five-day period.
This seems to be the real Joe Biden speaking. What a pathetic specimen of humanity. Who in his right mind thinks it is a good look? “What base ingratitude,” indeed.
As we inferred from the Biden administration’s verbal gymnastics this week, today’s Commerce Department report indicates that we are in a conventionally understood recession. According to the department, the economy contracted for a second straight quarter, with growth falling at a 0.9 percent annual rate in the April-June period. The Bureau of Economic Analysis explains: “Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter of 2022, following a decrease of 1.6 percent in the first quarter. The smaller decrease in the second quarter primarily reflected an upturn in exports and a smaller decrease in federal government spending.”
Yesterday Senators Schumer and Manchin announced they had arrived at an agreement on a slimmed down Build Back Better spenderama and tax package. This one is absurdly renamed an inflation fighter. How shameless can you get? How stupid do they think we are?
Politico talked with Manchin for the story “Manchin’s latest shocker: A $700B deal.” Warning: The Politico story may induce nausea. Regurgitating the shamelessness of this package in its headline, the AP reports “What’s in, and out, of Democrats’ inflation-fighting package.” Warning: The AP story may induce nausea.
At RedState Nick Arama holds out hope that Senator Sinema may be a fly in the Democrats’ ointment (“Her office has said that she will need to review the text before she can comment”). I said somewhere along the line that if we were counting on Joe Manchin to hold the line we were in trouble. In the past few months I meant to profess error on that count. I don’t remember whether I did or not. Assuming I didn’t, it’s for the best. He is a pathetic specimen of homo politicus.
Does Kyrsten Sinema have more backbone than Joe Manchin? It apparently doesn’t take much and it is possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Hüsker Dü — Bob Mould, Grant Hart, and Gregg Norton — was the incredibly influential band at the heart of the punk in Minneapolis and nationally. They came into their own on the double album Zen Arcade (SST Records, 1984). They followed up with the highly regarded New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig on SST in 1985 before they were signed to a major label (Warner Bros.), where they recorded Candy Apple Grey (1986) and Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987). I was impressed by their success with the rock crowd and rock critics but never saw them play or understood their aesthetic. I can’t do justice to them here.
I tuned in to Mould when the band broke up at the end of the ’80’s and Mould released Workbook on Virgin Records in 1989. It seems to me more accessible than his work with Hüsker Dü. He formed the trio Sugar and recorded a few albums with them before reclaiming his solo career.
Looking back, he wrote the memoir See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody (with Michael Azzerad, 2011). Dwight Garner has a good account of the book in his New York Times review. Garner’s review provides a glimpse of the emotions that underlie his music and the dissolute homosexual life Mould has pursued. As Garner puts it, “Hüsker Dü played faster and louder than almost any band of its era. The noise was an evocation of, and a cover for, Mr. Mould’s roiling emotions. He knew he was gay at 5, but throughout most of his career he fled from the stereotypical gay lifestyle.”
In any event, Mould is still working and touring. We can’t give an account of the local scene without acknowledgement of his work. “See a Little Light” is one of Workbook‘s best tracks.
Actually, he hasn’t sued them yet, but his lawyers have announced an intent to sue CNN, and cases against other media outlets are said to be waiting in the wings. Trump’s lawyers, a D.C. firm called Ifrah Law, wrote to CNN on July 21, giving notice of their intent to bring a defamation case under Florida law. The lawyers’ letter, with exhibits, is long, but its point is simple.
The letter says that CNN defamed Trump more than 7,000 times by accusing him of “lying” when he said that he thought the 2020 election was rigged, or stolen. But that is what Trump honestly believes:
President Trump harbors a subjective belief that he was unfairly deprived of a second term in office. This is particularly valid in the context of an incumbent president receiving over 74 million votes, a record number for any republican candidate in history.32 By refusing to acknowledge President Trump could be correct or that he could genuinely believe his contention is correct, CNN has willfully acted in disregard for the truth and has acted with reckless disregard for the truth. CNN’s relentless and willful campaign to brand President Trump a “liar” and purveyor of the “Big Lie” is defamatory in nature.
Without regard for President Trump’s genuine belief in his statements, CNN has published numerous articles characterizing him as a “liar” and the purveyor of the “Big Lie.”
Trump’s lawyers are right. If Trump believed what he said, he could have been wrong (although many millions of Americans agree with him, as the letter points out), but he isn’t lying.
The letter makes out a good, detailed case of journalistic malpractice and bias. But do CNN’s actions constitute actionable defamation? The conventional wisdom is that under current law, it is almost impossible for any public figure to win a defamation case. And if it is almost impossible for anyone, it is triply impossible for Donald Trump.
The problem is that the “actual malice” standard, like the standard for whether someone is lying, is subjective. Reporters can be wrong all day long, and their reporting may be politically motivated and malicious–i.e., motivated by hatred–but if they are writing about a public figure like Trump, they can’t just be wrong and hateful. They have to be lying. The plaintiff must show that they knew that what they said or wrote was false, or likely false, and said it anyway.
So CNN will argue, first, that whether Trump lied is a matter of opinion, not fact, and therefore they can’t be liable. They likely will win on that ground. They then will go on to say, in any event, our reporters and editors had a subjective belief that Trump was lying, just like Trump had a subjective belief that the election was stolen. Thus there can be no actual malice. So in a sense, CNN’s defense is a mirror image of Trump’s claim.
Under existing law, I don’t see Trump’s claims going far. Others who disagree might weigh in in the comments.
What I would really like to see is discovery on Trump’s claims. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a few years’ worth of emails and texts among CNN employees, and employees of other news organizations who may also be sued, where they talk about their efforts to destroy Donald Trump? And perhaps acknowledge that, while they disagree with him, Trump is honestly stating his views of the 2020 election? The letter from Trump’s lawyers demands that CNN preserve all relevant electronic and physical documents for discovery purposes.
Of course, CNN will fight discovery tooth and nail. Their strategy will be to engage in motion practice for months and years, based on the opinion defense and whatever else they come up with. They want to write legal briefs until no one cares anymore, not to turn emails and memos over to hostile lawyers. How this plays out will depend on the Florida judge, I assume a federal judge, who winds up with the case.
Finally, I note that the D.C. firm representing Trump is tiny. They might be an excellent boutique firm, I don’t know. But whether they have the capacity to handle this kind of litigation, especially if Trump sues multiple media outlets, is doubtful.
But hope springs eternal. I wish Trump success in whatever lawsuits he brings.
Via PJ Media.
As regular readers know, I am a fan of Ron DeSantis. I think other Republicans, like Marco Rubio, could also make good presidential candidates in 2024. And I think former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should be included in that mix.
Pompeo is a brilliant and extraordinarily competent guy who has succeeded spectacularly in every part of his career, from the military to academia to business to Congress to the highest reaches of the Executive Branch. In that regard, you could say he is sort of an anti-Joe Biden. Pompeo was the keynote speaker at American Experiment’s Annual Dinner in May. That gave me the opportunity to spend some time with him. What struck me that evening was how personable Pompeo is–far more the natural politician than I expected.
I did a Q and A with Pompeo after his speech that night, and subsequently we recorded a similar conversation for the current issue of Thinking Minnesota, which hit mailboxes this week and became available online today. You can read my full Q and A with Pompeo here. This was our exchange on the current left-leaning leadership of America’s armed forces:
The Ukraine war as it’s progressed so far has illustrated how important morale is in combat. Some people are concerned that the woke ideologies that seem to be infiltrating our armed forces could adversely impact our own morale. Is that a valid concern?
I’ve written about this. As a former soldier, I’m very worried when I see leadership in the United States military focused on anything but excellence; focused on anything but war fighting; focused on anything but actually being prepared to execute the dangerous mission that the commander in chief will have to call on them to do. And the United States military has always been good about diversity and bringing in those best suited to particular skill sets. But when you begin to focus on diversity, inclusion and equity — when you start to talk about things that aren’t directly related to war fighting, and the capacity to deliver lethal outcomes to your adversaries — not only will you have a less capable fighting force, but morale will fall. We have an all-volunteer service. The young men and women who have always come forward, who have gone to their recruiter’s office and signed up for OCS — they’ve volunteered to serve. They will say, “I don’t want to be part of any organization that doesn’t understand its central mission. And I’ll go take my talents and skills elsewhere.” I’m worried about what this might mean for our military, two or five or 10 years from now.
As you probably know, Iran’s mullahs have issued a fatwa calling for Pompeo to be assassinated. Security for our May event was extraordinarily tight, if mostly unobtrusive; our venue was probably the safest place in the U.S. that evening. I asked Pompeo about the killing of Soleimani, which may have put his own life at risk:
You mentioned Iran. How has the killing of Soleimani, their head terrorist, changed the military and political calculus in the region?
The strike on Soleimani mattered for multiple reasons. The first was he was trying to kill Americans. He was actively engaged in a real-time plot to kill more Americans. He had already killed some 500 or 600 Americans in the Iran-Iraq war. Soleimani was the head of the IRGC Quds Force, their external terror operation. He was a bad guy, and he didn’t like America. Even the day we struck him, he was engaged in a mission in Baghdad, Iraq, to build out a plot to kill even more Americans. So, in the first instance, we slowed that down. Second, the world saw what we did. Deterrence matters. It comes from strength. It comes from being real. It comes from actually executing on the things you told people you would do. And we had made a commitment.
We had made a commitment that we were not going to let Iran push us around. They’d shot down two American UAVs, and we had the opportunity to strike their most senior general. It sent notice to the world and to Iraq. And their behavior changed. We saw them change the way they thought about the United States. They knew we were serious. They knew if we drew a line, we were going to defend it, and we didn’t draw lines everywhere. We didn’t send the 82nd Airborne. We didn’t send the 101st Airborne Division. We didn’t send a Marine amphibious force. We used American power in a restrained way to reflect a real situation on the ground. And not only did we place deterrence on stronger footing with Iran, but the whole world noticed. They all saw that the United States was serious and determined.
The whole conversation is worth your time, and Mike Pompeo is worth considering as a 2024 presidential candidate.
Lawyers can come in handy. Just ask Charlie Kirk and his colleagues at Turning Point USA.
Turning Point held its Student Action Summit in Tampa last Friday through Sunday. The SAS is a huge event, attended by thousands of young people. On Saturday, a tiny handful of apparent neo-Nazi demonstrators showed up on the sidewalk outside the SAS venue. Who they were and why they were there is anyone’s guess, but the despicable crew on The View used the occasion to denounce Turning Point on Monday’s show. Per Fox news:
On Monday, the daytime gabfest kicked off its program discussing the TPUSA Student Action Summit that occurred last weekend in Tampa, Florida. “The View” co-hosts mocked the elaborate event for taking “a page from the WWE” simply because of special effects, inaccurately portrayed the group as being officially tied to the GOP and Joy Behar criticized the group because neo-Nazi protestors were outside the venue.
“Neo-Nazis were out there in the front of the conference with anti-Semitic slurs and, you know, the Nazi swastika and a picture of a so-called Jewish person with exaggerated features, just like Goebbels did during the Third Reich. It’s the same thing, right out of that same playbook,” Behar said.
She then said that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “did nothing,” but failed to mention the Republican governor attended the event the day before neo-Nazis appeared.
Apparently someone got through to The View while the show was still in progress:
Later on the program, “The View” read an on-air legal disclaimer to inform viewers that Turning Point USA condemned the neo-Nazis protestors who had “nothing to do” with the organization.
“But you let them in, and you knew what they were,” Whoopi Goldberg inaccurately said before the panelists were forced to read another disclaimer and explain the neo-Nazis were “outside protestors” and TPUSA didn’t let them in. “My point was metaphorical,” Goldberg said.
Tell it to the jury. Turning Point followed up with a letter from its lawyer:
“The View hosts intentionally and falsely associated TPUSA with neo-Nazi protestors outside the event placing TPUSA in denigrating and false light and negatively impacting its public perception. Such action will not be tolerated,” the letter said.
“Specifically, The View hosts insidiously and cavalierly stated that TPUSA ‘let [neo-Nazis] in’ to its SAS event, metaphorically ‘embrase[d] them’ and that neo-Nazis were ‘in the mix of people.’ The assertion that TPUSA is complicit or affiliated in any way with the neo-Nazi protesters outside the event is outlandish, false, defamatory, and disgraceful,” the letter continued. “Even after Ms. Haines reluctantly read the TPUSA statement that it condemns the group of neo-Nazis and that the group had nothing to do with TPUSA, its event, or its student attendees, Ms. Goldberg continued the false tirade against TPUSA, asserting that somehow the organization and its attendees were ‘complicit’ and/or associated with the outside protest.”
The letter went on to demand an on-air retraction and apology. Today, Turning Point got its apology, more or less:
The View apologizes for wrongly linking neo-Nazi protestors to Turning Point USA. pic.twitter.com/uVUo7Cfykr
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) July 27, 2022
Of course, the problem with the View hosts’ statements isn’t that they were unclear. They were perfectly clear, the problem is that they were false and defamatory. Still, the apology, while grudging, will probably be enough to forestall litigation. It is remarkable how much can often be achieved through the credible threat of a lawsuit.
John posted a video clip of Kamala Harris doing her thing yesterday in “These people are crazy.” Like John, I was mystified by Harris’s description of her attire in addition to her recitation of personal pronouns. Searching (so far unsuccessfully) for the White House text of President Biden’s unblinking remarks to the NOBLE group yesterday, I came across the text of Harris’s remarks here.
Harris was observing the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and speaking at a roundtable with “disability advocates.” I take it from the context that her self-description was for those who literally could not see. Even in this context, however, Harris managed to direct her focus to the sacrament of abortion:
And so I’ve asked these leaders to come in so that we can discuss these issues and pay attention to the fact that the Dobbs decision and the act of the United States Supreme Court to take away a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America will impact a lot of people and differently in some situations. And we need to be responsive to these issues and also lift up the voices of all people who will be impacted and the way that they will be impacted.
Etc., etc., ad nauseam. Harris’s remarks made me wonder how the “disability advocates” feel about the abortion of babies because of their disabilities.
According to the White House, President Biden has tested negative and recovered from his bout with Covid. This according to the announcement of of Biden’s personal physician today. Precautions will be taken to protect him from a “rebound” infection.
Where is Kevin O’Connor, the president’s personal physician? He appears to have adopted his own basement strategy a la the Biden 2020 presidential campaign. He has remained away from the press and issued daily written reports in lieu of any briefings where he might be asked uncomfortable questions such as what medications the president is on.
White House Covid response director Ashish Jha has done the talking. Why is that? Politico’s Adam Cancryn gingerly addresses this question in his story on Jha’s emergence as the spokesman on Biden’s case:
[Jha’s] briefing room stint wasn’t without its bumps, including persistent scrutiny over the White House’s refusal to provide access to Biden’s personal doctor, Kevin O’Connor. Jha declined on several occasions to offer a straight answer as to why he, and not O’Connor, was there, though three people familiar with the matter said he was chosen in part because aides believed he’d be a more disciplined messenger.
That leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Yesterday Biden delivered recorded remarks to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Conference. The video had obviously been edited to string it all together. I am unable to find the text on the White House site. This is the best I have been able to come up with.
As many have observed on Twitter, Biden’s speech was perhaps most notable for his unblinking performance. Even the animatronic Joe Biden would blink, wouldn’t he? Here he looks like a character out of Night of the Living Dead. This is just weird.
Brave women and men in uniform across America should never forget that the defeated former president of the United States watched January 6th happen and didn’t have the spine to act.
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 25, 2022
The ginormous CHIPS Act has grown like Topsy into a $250 billion bill with a little help from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Touted as a benefit to American national security, not just another case of corporate welfare or crony capitalism, the Act is slated to pass the Senate this week. The Free Beacon’s Joe Simonson reports on developments that might affect this assessment:
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) removed an anti-China security measure from a bill that invests billions of dollars in the U.S. technology sector, a move Republicans say would allow China to benefit from the spending bill and could kneecap the legislation.
At issue are provisions written by Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) that bar U.S. companies from manufacturing products in China, such as semiconductors, that were developed using federally funded research. Myriad government and private investigations conclude that the Chinese government routinely steals trade secrets from U.S. companies, government agencies, and universities.
Schumer earlier this month removed Portman’s provisions from the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act, throwing a wrench into the vote for Republicans who were under the impression it would be included and planned to vote for the bill, according to multiple interviews and internal documents viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
As always, one can draw his own inferences from Schumer’s response to Simonson’s inquiry: “Schumer did not respond to a request for comment.” Simonson has done some digging to try to figure out what it’s all about, but it’s still not exactly clear. Simonson’s story here is worth reading in its entirety.
According to Rolling Stone, The Replacements were the greatest band that never was. I don’t know what that means or whether it’s so, but they may well have been the most beloved Minneapolis band of the ’80’s. They are certainly the only such band to have a (respectable) 500-page book devoted to them: Bob Mehr’s Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements. I’ve read enough of Mehr’s book to confirm that the true story is not a happy story. Local journalist Jim Walsh compiled two more books on the band, one an oral history and the other a photographic history.
The Replacements made their name in concert and on Twin/Tone Records. The Twin/Tone page on the band here includes the band’s discography on the label and provides access to each album’s songs in streaming form. Twin/Tone Records was an essential part of the band’s story. Twin/Tone’s Paul Stark was Twin/Tone’s driving force. I admire Stark’s accomplishments with the label.
The band moved on to Sire for four albums at the end of the decade before breaking up. I hope fans of the band will forgive me, but I was never a fan or of the punk/alt-rock genre and can only note their rightful place in my series here (assuming that Westerberg is still a working musician).
Their “Alex Chilton” tribute on Pleased To Meet Me (Sire, 1987) is my favorite of the band’s songs. However, Let It Be (Twin/Tone, 1984) may be the most beloved album of this beloved band. “I Will Dare” is from that album.
Kamala Harris hosted some kind of event earlier today. Several mask-wearing (why?) women participated. As is now common in gatherings of liberals, they began the meeting by introducing themselves and stating their pronouns. And, weirdly, by describing themselves–their hair color, the dresses they were wearing, whatever. This might possibly make sense if it were a meeting of blind people, otherwise not. Utterly bizarre.
Here is Kamala:
VP: "I am Kamala Harris, my pronouns are she and her, and I am a woman sitting at the table wearing a blue suit." pic.twitter.com/gtBXTyHB4j
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) July 26, 2022
Why are they doing this lmfao. pic.twitter.com/VOSB5MAGZv
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) July 26, 2022
This is literally the weirdest thing I have ever seen. pic.twitter.com/0DZQOdHUPd
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) July 26, 2022
On the bright side, they seemed to understand that they are women. Nowadays, that is not to be taken for granted.
This weird ceremony started in academia, like so much idiocy, and has percolated out from there. Most people are entirely unaware that this kind of lunacy takes place. The Democrats want to keep it that way, so we need to get videos like these in front of the largest possible number of voters between now and November.
SCOTT adds: The White House has posted the text of Harris’s remarks here. She was speaking at a roundtable with disability advocates. I take it that the descriptions of attire were for those who could not see. Putting the personal pronoun shtick to one side, the weirdness of her remarks can really be seen in her observance of the abortion sacrament in this context.
This Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, is one of the more remarkable sets of survey data I have ever seen. UNH surveyed New Hampshire Democrats who are likely to vote in the 2024 presidential primary. The result? Joe Biden finished second with 16%, a shockingly low total for a sitting president less than halfway through his term.
Pete Buttigieg came out on top with 17%. After Biden, the familiar cast of characters followed: Elizabeth Warren at 10%, Gavin Newsom at 10%, Amy Klobuchar at 9%, Bernie Sanders at 8%. And, oh yes–Kamala Harris at 6%. That last number may be even worse for the Democrats’ 2024 prospects than Biden’s 16%.
The pollster also asked for respondents’ second choices. Biden finished 12th at 2%. Harris was the second choice of only 4% of New Hampshire Democrats.
I’ve been saying for a long time that Joe Biden will not be on the 2024 ballot. (This is one of the reasons why polls showing Donald Trump beating him don’t give me a lot of comfort.) This New Hampshire poll certainly reaffirms that conclusion, along with confirming the deep unpopularity of Kamala Harris. It also reflects the weakness of the Democratic Party’s bench: anyone who thinks Pete Buttigieg is a serious presidential contender was probably on the Evan McMullin bus last time around.
So the field is wide open for a younger, more charismatic Democrat to emerge the way Bill Clinton did in 1992. Happily for us Republicans, there doesn’t seem to be a Democrat in the wings who fits that description.
An election is coming up in Italy in September, and the Brothers of Italy party, led by co-founder Giorgia Meloni, is currently leading the polls. There has been scant attention to the election in the U.S., but European news coverage is interesting for what it tells us about the state of politics on that continent, which in some ways mirrors conditions here in America.
France 24 headlines: “Brothers of Italy, the far-right party on the cusp of power.” Polling suggests that Brothers of Italy will be the largest component of a winning “right/far right” coalition. But what makes Meloni and her party far right?
In recent European politics, “far right” just means skeptical of the wisdom of mass third-world immigration. And enforcing immigration laws evidently is popular with Italian voters, as with voters everywhere. Beyond that, Meloni’s political opponents smear her as a would-be fascist. However:
Piero Ignazi, a professor emeritus at the University of Bologna and an expert on Brothers of Italy, [said]: “The party’s identity is, for the most part, linked to post-fascist traditions. But its platform mixes this tradition with some mainstream conservative ideas and neoliberal elements such as free enterprise.”
You can be a fascist or you can be an advocate of free enterprise, but you can’t be both.
This sheds more light on what the European press means by “far right”:
Meloni also has ties with the US far right, having attended the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference and the National Prayer Breakfast alongside ex-president Donald Trump.
That explains a lot. CPAC, the National Prayer Breakfast and President Trump–how far right can you get?
Meloni at CPAC
The London Times seems a little more sympathetic to Meloni. Here, the paper highlights the Italian establishment’s hostility to her and its possible efforts to derail her candidacy:
Left-wing magistrates in Italy are preparing to launch spurious investigations into the right-wing leader Giorgia Meloni to ruin her chances of becoming prime minister, one of her closest aides has claimed.
In a stinging attack on Italy’s judiciary, Guido Crosetto, co-founder of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, told The Times that Italy’s magistrates were “as bad as fascists” and would seek to damage Meloni’s reputation in the coming weeks.
“It could be any accusation, and then years later they drop it — Italy is not a real democracy due to its powerful magistrates,” said Crosetto, 58. “The fascists put you in jail but everyone knew you were innocent, just an enemy of the regime. Now they arrest you and everything thinks you are guilty,” he added.
“Ever since 1994, part of the magistracy has decided almost all elections and the fate of parties and leaders, and they have almost always struck the opponents of the left. There is a part of the magistracy which is politicised and kills off its political enemies,” said Crosetto.
The Italian left constantly tries to tie Meloni and her party to Mussolini, but Crosetto makes a good point:
“People who praise Mussolini are idiots,” he said, adding, “Mussolini was a dictator who passed the racial laws, but that was a consequence of him being a dictator.”
But rather than discussing Mussolini, Italy should be recalling the centre-left Democratic Party’s ties to communism, he added.
“I find it ridiculous that everyone asks Meloni to justify Mussolini but no-one asks Enrico Letta, the leader of the Democratic Party, which descends from the Communist Party, to justify Stalin and Lenin — it’s the same thing,” he said.
Perhaps inadvertently, the Times makes Meloni sound rather attractive:
Combative, opinionated and with a strong accent from her native Rome that can make her sound permanently angry, Meloni is the latest European populist to tap into resentment of their country’s political class. Like most, she is anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic and critical of what the Italians call pensiero unico (single thought) — a term signifying something politically correct or woke.
But she is also an Atlanticist keen to dispel fears in Europe about the Italian right’s admiration of President Putin.
One last thing, which illustrates the fact that liberals’ attacks on conservatives often don’t turn out the way they intended:
Three years ago Giorgia Meloni, the rising star of Italy’s nationalist right, unwittingly found herself a hit on the country’s dancefloors. A speech in which she described herself as “a woman, a mother, an Italian and a Christian” was seized on by a couple of DJs unhappy about her views on gay marriage; they sampled her words, mixed them up and put a dance beat behind them.
But the stunt backfired: the song shot up the charts and rather than discrediting Meloni, it added to her growing popularity. “The song was too good and too danceable,” she later recalled. “What was meant to be a weapon against my ideas paradoxically became a powerful way of amplifying and spreading them.”
Funny how that works. This is the song:
If I were Italian, Meloni would have my vote.
PITLOCHRY, Scotland—You’d think up here in whisky headwaters of the Scottish Highlands you’d be blissfully free of all the intersectional identity politics nonsense afflicting the United States. And you’d be wrong.
The headline over the weekend in The Scotsman (the New York Times of the north country) ran: “Scottish cricket board resigns amid damning racism report.” Maybe The Scotsman is written by the New York Times, given the content of the article:
The entire Cricket Scotland board resigned 24 hours before an independent report is set to outline institutional racism in the sport and governing body. . .
My guess is this “independent report” as about as independent as a Penn faculty committee investigating Amy Wax. Here’s a clue to the level of hysteria involved in the matter:
An interim report in April revealed that the review had resulted in police involvement. Referrals were made to Children First, Police Scotland plus HR and legal experts to ensure allegations of racism were investigated fully. Other issues including “misogyny, leadership, and governance concerns” also surfaced.
Lawyers and bureaucrats from the “caring professions” of course, but police involvement?
Nowhere in this story is there a single detail or example offered of what racist acts or “structures” might be at issue. Apparently foreign players from some dominion countries don’t feel the “inclusiveness” that is now the watchword of our time.
And . . . cricket? This complaint, to use the old British colloquialism, just doesn’t seem cricket. Speaking of which, I once asked a British friend if he could explain the intricate rules of cricket to me. After a long pause, he simply said: “No.”
Meanwhile, you can’t help but pick up signs everywhere about Scottish separatist sentiment, which issues presently in a demand for a new referendum on Scottish independence. The 2014 referendum failed, and that was supposed to be the end of the matter for a good long while. But the Scottish left, which dominates the political scene, insists that Brexit changes things. The two candidates to replace Boris Johnson—Sunak and Truss—both reject the idea out of hand.
But Scots have long had Ireland-envy. One sign of this is contrasting Holyroodhouse, one of the Queen’s official residences in downtown Edinburgh, with the new Scottish parliament building right across the street from Holyroodhouse. Have look for yourself:
Across the street: any country that would build a parliament building this ugly doesn’t deserve independence.
Scotland had a perfectly classical parliament building and offices in the midtown High Street area, but chose to build this new modernist monstrosity right across from the royal house. Likely with malice aforethought. Maybe they thought this would make the royal family want to cut them loose for bad taste alone.
There is some other more interesting news to be found in The Scotsman. Like this story:
Margaret Thatcher looming large over Conservative leadership race
As the race to replace Boris Johnson continues, it is the legacy of another Conservative leader that looms over both candidates.
Liz Truss has so far drawn most associations with Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister whose personality and policies defined the last quarter of 20th century Britain.
Gee—that sorta reminds me of some American figure often mentioned this way. Can’t put my finger on the name, though. . .
Meanwhile, the whisky research is going well. My favorite discovery so far is Benriach 21 (though the high-octane Octomore in the background was equally delightful), sampled at the fabulous Whisky Bar at the Hotel Balmoral (bottom):
Now back to further research.
Senator Chuck Grassley has sent this letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding allegations from “highly credible whistleblowers” about the FBI’s “false portrayal” of derogatory Hunter Biden materials as “disinformation.” Mr. Techno Fog comments: “If these allegations are true, it’s a damning depiction of FBI leadership and it proves their efforts to influence the 2020 election. This is the second (if not third) straight election the FBI has meddled in, given the influence the Trump/Russia investigation – and its unlawful origins with the FBI – had over the 2018 midterms.”
This sounds vaguely familiar: “[T]he allegations provided to my office appear to indicate that there was a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation.” As did the rest of the national security establishment, so there is that.
Mr. Fog has more at the link. The Daily Mail covers the story here.
NEW: Multiple “highly credible” FBI whistleblowers have come forward to senior Senate Republican @ChuckGrassley alleging widespread effort to downplay or discredit negative information about the President 's son Hunter Biden, according to letters @CBSNews https://t.co/hw5kGiTFVv pic.twitter.com/xAgMcpdXMu
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) July 26, 2022
The Biden administration continues to prepare the battlefield for the Commerce Department’s second-quarter 2022 GDP estimate on Thursday. Administration officials must anticipate an estimate reflecting that we are in a recession, because they are making fools of themselves to deflect it in the meantime. What they really need to do is bring back the late Carter administration economic official Alfred Kahn and dub it the banana. “Between 1973 and 1975 we had the deepest banana that we had in 35 years,” Kahn famously explained, “and yet inflation dipped only very briefly.”
What we have is Joe Biden and his clown-car administration. It lacks a single official or spokesman with Kahn’s wit or wisdom. Not even close.
As for the Biden administration, that was then.
In 2019, now-Biden economic advisor Jared Bernstein defined a recession as GDP “crossing zero.”
In the first quarter of 2022, GDP was -1.6%. pic.twitter.com/ngZsN7H0gM
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 25, 2022
This is now.
"What is exactly the White House's definition of a recession?"
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: "I'm not going to define it from here" pic.twitter.com/GNteaetb0V
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 25, 2022
REPORTER: “There is all of this talk about a possible recession … explain to us, the health of our economy right now.”
BIDEN NEC DIRECTOR BRIAN DEESE: “Well, we’re in a transition, and it feels unique, because it is unique.” pic.twitter.com/rUJzcwvQy8
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 26, 2022
BIDEN: "We're not gonna be in a recession" pic.twitter.com/3uec0oLz1Z
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 25, 2022
You may recall the 1964 fantasy film The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Steven Mosher’s New York Post column now gives us the 5 fallacies of Dr. Fauci. (He could easily have made it 7 or more, for that matter.) According to Mosher, the 5 fallacies of Dr. Fauci include contact tracing, failing to protect the vulnerable, closing the schools, mistakes on natural immunity, and funding Chinese labs. This one doesn’t number among the five, but rather sets the theme:
[H]e warned us that we were facing a viral apocalypse, touting a pandemic model from the Imperial College in London that predicted millions upon millions of US deaths.
It turned out that the model was algorithmic garbage, but that didn’t stop America’s most famous virologist from recommending — in mid-March 2020 — that the economy of the entire country be shut down indefinitely, 40 million people be put out of work, tens of millions of children be denied an education, and millions of “nonessential” small businesses be shuttered, many never to reopen.
I should note that Mosher documented his (horrifying) field research on China’s one-child policy for his book Broken Earth (1984). He was condemned by the Chinese government and Stanford cowered. He was expelled from his Ph.D. program at Stanford in 1983 just short of achieving his doctorate. He is also the author, most recently, of The Politically Incorrect Guide To Pandemics.
Related: See John Tierney’s City Journal column “It’s Time to Award the Covid Nobels.”
Martin Zellar is the talented singer/songwriter who fronted Minnesota’s Gear Daddies. They released two discs in the late ’80’s before they were picked up by PolyGram/Polydor for a hot minute in the early ’90’s. They made it to David Letterman’s late night show with a performance of Zellar’s “Stupid Boy.” The band broke up in 1992 while Zellar continued his career as a solo artist.
I loved Zellar’s covers of “Little Red Corvette” and “My Maria” with the Gear Daddies on Can’t Have Nothin’ Nice (live tracks, studio outtakes and rarities, 1992). My disc is GDA0001, which seems to reflect a pressing on their own label.
I caught up with Zellar for one of his NEIL! (Diamond) shows late one Sunday evening at O’Gara’s in St. Paul back in the ’90’s. He recorded the Neil Diamond number “If You Know What I Mean” as a bonus track for Born Under (1995). Zellar’s site is here. It looks like he has reunited with the Gear Daddies for shows around the state this summer.
Most Minnesotans are relentlessly normal, but for some reason we have a habit of electing wacky politicians. A current example is our lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan. Flanagan is perhaps even more far-left than Governor Tim Walz, and she also adds a twist of the bizarre. As in this tweet:
Minnesotans are good neighbors.
We'll bring you a hotdish when you move into a new neighborhood.
We'll shovel your driveway when it snows.
And we'll protect you if you need an abortion.
— Peggy Flanagan (@peggyflanagan) July 25, 2022
I’ll bet you weren’t expecting that punch line. But today’s Left espouses the sacramental view of abortion: it’s about the nicest thing they can think of!
Ken Green returns with his patented snark on electric vehicle hype versus the evil gasoline cars most of us drive:
For as long as I’ve been following EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety—the ESG of the last generation) and transportation policy (and that’s a long time, since my first days as a doctoral student/EHS policy analyst at Huge Aircrash Company in the early 1990s), there has been one kind of ICE which has been stubbornly resistant to all of the air pollution control, and later, GHG control policies enacted by the Watermelon left: that ICE is the Internal Combustion Engine.
In those halcyon days, when I could stroll around the corporate office looking at giant oil paintings of Howard Hughes (the Musk before Musk), admire the cockroach-looking look GM Sunraycer parked in the lobby, chat with the guys in the next pod managing the GM EV1 electric vehicle project, and fantasize about shooting a “girls of Hughes” bikini model calendar using the Falcon, AAMRAM, TOE, and Sidewinder missiles that decorated the ground floor of the shopping-mall style corporate office building as props, I would analyze air pollution control policies involving Low-Emission Vehicles (LEVs), and Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), and invariably, the analyses projecting the future prospects of LEVs, ZEVs, and ICE vehicles had one common feature: ICE vehicles, even in 1990, were routinely projected to be as highly advanced as they were ever going to get.
When compared with the new LEV/ZEV technologies the air pollution panjandrums were pushing, ICE vehicles simply were not seen as competitive: whether it was vehicle fuel economy, emissions absolute, emissions toxicity, emissions per mile driven, or emissions per whatever were always held static as one projected into the future. Meanwhile, the projections for improvements in LEV, ZEV, and battery vehicles were usually shown as geometric, or exponential, as the technology was in its earliest days, and therefore, making the fastest progress it would ever make.
I spotted this trend in all sorts of public policy projections, from vehicle electrification, to projected vehicle/transit mode use…and I took to calling it “The Fallacy of the Static Other” (now that you’ve seen that phrase, you’ll see the fallacy everywhere you look in EHS policy; you can blame Steve for this). You can make any new fancy techno-development look great, if you hold your comparison technology static.
Of course, the fallacy of static-ICE was always…horse…feathers. ICE technology has proven itself to be insanely adaptable, and upgradeable since it was first invented, and it continues to be.
Case in point number five bazillion:
Converting to modern diesel engines is a quicker and less costly way to lower harmful emissions than adopting of electric vehicles, especially if now-available near-zero-emissions diesels run on renewable biofuels, says a study commissioned by a diesel advocacy group. Adoption of electric vehicles, few of which are currently available, would cost a trucking fleet three times more than converting to today’s new-technology diesels, the study by Stillwater Associates adds.
The study for the Diesel Technology Forum looked at air-quality conditions in 10 Northeastern states that have adopted California’s regulations for low-emission and zero-emission vehicles, then drew its conclusions.
Specifically, while acknowledging that electric trucks could, of course, lower emissions, researcher Gary Yarnell spracht:
Low-carbon, renewable bio-based diesel fuels cut emissions even more, he said. These fuels can be used in all diesel vehicles today, so fueling those in the study area with 100% renewable diesel resulted in three times larger cumulative greenhouse-gas reductions by 2032 than the EV scenarios, analysis indicates. The results were about the same if B20 – a 20% blend of biodiesel with 80% petroleum diesel – were used.
Electric trucks beat diesels in reducing nitrogen oxide emissions, the study notes. However, electric trucks are generally deployed on shorter routes and run shorter distances than comparable diesel vehicles, so NOx emission reductions with advanced-technology diesels would be greater on a cumulative basis.
Even the artifactual lower present cost of electricity won’t bail out the battery trucks:
The cost of electricity that would run electric trucks is lower now than for diesel, but that’s partly because there’s no road tax on electricity, Yarnell said. If and when authorities add road taxes, the business case for electric trucks would suffer.
So there you have it. ICE survives another climatista assault on its dignity, and place as the most superior transportation technology ever (IMHO) developed!
For those suffering picture withdrawal in Steve’s “absence,” a small fix. (PS, Steve, how can we miss you when you will not go away?) Charts from Diesel Forum Presentation, here.
The news roundups this morning report that the Senate is expected to advance a bill to boost chip production and advanced technology, setting up final passage Tuesday or Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal has devoted two good editorials — here (“Congress goes all in for chip subsidies,” July 19) and here (“The Senate’s semiconductor con,” July 21) to the bill. The second of the two Journal editorials begins with this disheartening assessment:
Are Republican Senators conniving spendthrifts or babes in the Beltway? We lean toward the former after watching a $76 billion semiconductor subsidy bill morph within minutes on Tuesday night into a $250 billion bipartisan spendarama.
The Senate voted 64-34 to begin debate on its Chips bill, a corporate-welfare vehicle providing $52 billion in grants and $24 billion in tax credits to the profitable semiconductor industry. But it turns out that bill was merely the bad news. The really bad news is that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer quickly filed a 1,054-page bipartisan amendment to pour more than twice that amount of money into federal agencies.
The $76 billion Chips version is wasteful enough since the pandemic computer-chip shortage is already easing amid slowing demand and new investments in capacity—including new factories in the U.S.
But politicians always want more, and the $250 billion version will help the U.S. compete against China only if you believe that the key to success is a larger federal bureaucracy and more political allocation of capital.
The editors hold out some slim hope that sanity will prevail:
One hope is that enough Republicans will come to their political senses to defeat this on a vote for final passage. It’s also possible that Democrats in the House could fail to pass this new version. The House narrowly passed its version of a Chips bill in February, and all but one Republican voted no.
But Democrats are aching for a pre-election victory, and so the skids may be greased. America’s bipartisan political class at work.
If the Journal editors have this right, Democrats are aching for a pre-election victory…and Republicans are either bound to give it to them or lack the fortitude to stop them.
The status of the investigation ordered by Chief Justice Roberts following the leak of Justice Alito’s Dobbs opinion to Politico remains shrouded in mystery. The AP reports that the Supreme Court is resting on its right to remain silent:
The Supreme Court won’t say whether it’s still investigating.
The court also won’t say whether the leaker has been identified or whether anyone has been disciplined.
Or whether an outside law firm or the FBI has been called in.
Or whether the court will ever offer an accounting of what transpired.
Or whether it has taken steps to try to prevent a repeat.
To these and other emailed questions, Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said by email: “The Court has no comment.”
Just in case you were wondering.
The White House is prepping the battlefield for next Thursday’s Commerce Department
estimate of second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth or contraction. Students of ancient history may recall that real GDP decreased at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2022, according to the most recent estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. A second quarter of contraction would suggest that we are in a recession (a “full-employment recession,” according to James Piereson).
Anticipating that the estimate will show contraction, the White House Council of Economic Advisers seeks to deter use of the term “recession” by the Democrats’ mainstream media adjunct. The CEA has posted an advisory on the true meaning of “recession” here. Axios attributes it to Jared Bernstein and Cecilia Rouse.
I take it Bernstein and Rouse have a pretty good idea of the forthcoming Commerce Department estimate. FOX News White House reporter Jacqui Heinrich excerpts their CEA post in the tweet below.
Bracing for impact: Even if Thursday's GDP report shows a second consecutive quarter of negative growth, you won't hear the Biden admin using the R-word.
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) July 24, 2022