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Yesterday — August 17th 2022Your RSS feeds

CDC Admits Its Covid Performance Was Lacking

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

Is Covid Over?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

The FBI Took Trump’s Passports

(John Hinderaker)

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.”

“The Ongoing Vendetta of the Democratic Party Against Donald Trump”

(John Hinderaker)

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:

It Won’t Reduce Global Warming, Either

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Peak Trump Derangement Syndrome

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Is Race Discrimination Illegal?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

The Demographics of Crime

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Explaining the Mar-a-Lago Raid

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Good News From the World of Academia

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Another FBI Scandal?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

The Latest On the Mar-a-Lago Raid

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Observations on the Mar-a-Lago Raid

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Britain Goes Into Shutdown Mode

(John Hinderaker)

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.

The Elephant In the Room

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Trump Takes the Fifth

(John Hinderaker)

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:

Dork Brandon

(John Hinderaker)

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:

pic.twitter.com/iZh9OcX9gA

— 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.

Europe’s Energy Disaster Worsens

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Most Transparent Lie of the Day

(John Hinderaker)

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!?!?:

The FBI Raids Trump [Updated Again]

(John Hinderaker)

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

Energy Prices Set to Skyrocket

(John Hinderaker)

The Democrats’ 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.

What’s Behind the Democrats’ IRS Expansion?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Another Aspect of the Dem Disaster: Drug Price Controls

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Bringing the Havoc Home

(John Hinderaker)

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 Coming War on Agriculture

(John Hinderaker)

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 Financial Post:

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.

The Week In Pictures: Your Lying Eyes Edition

(John Hinderaker)

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!

Biden Administration Calls For Censorship On Energy

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Don’t Tread On Me!

(John Hinderaker)

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!

See details & order online here: https://t.co/y819qcDllj pic.twitter.com/kQoSrBZo4Z

— 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.

Gang Fight at the Mall of America

(John Hinderaker)

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.

.pic.twitter.com/DL1XRJ3SEZ

— 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.

Whose Recession?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Fighting For the Rural Vote

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Revisionist History, Revisited

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Grievances

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.”

Murders

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.

Atrocities

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.

Fighting

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.

Trials

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.

Executions

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 Scream, You Scream, Reuters Screams…

(John Hinderaker)

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.

VERDICT

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.

“Green” Is Unsustainable

(John Hinderaker)

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.

2024, For Australians

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Iran Threatens New York City?

(John Hinderaker)

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.”

Build That Wall!

(John Hinderaker)

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.

The Week In Pictures: Recession Deniers Edition

(John Hinderaker)

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.

And finally:

Is Russia Reeling?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Everybody’s Talking About the Bird

(John Hinderaker)

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.

The Trans Fiasco: Will There Be an Accounting?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

The Recession Is Here. Does It Matter?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Trump Sues the B*stards

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Pompeo For President?

(John Hinderaker)

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.

Don’t Kill All the Lawyers

(John Hinderaker)

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.

These People Are Crazy

(John Hinderaker)

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


More:

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.

New Hampshire Dems Say: Go Away, Joe!

(John Hinderaker)

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.

“Far Right” Favored to Win Italian Election

(John Hinderaker)

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.

How Nice Can You Get?

(John Hinderaker)

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!

Biden Appoints Pro-Crime Appellate Judge

(John Hinderaker)

This is a shocking story:

One of President Biden’s latest judicial nominees serves on the board of a group that backed calls to defund the police and has called to abolish prisons.

Biden nominated Roopali Desai, a litigation partner at the law firm Coppersmith Brockelman, to the 9th Circuit Appeals Court bench last month.

The 9th Circuit is notoriously liberal, but this is ridiculous. Before we get to abolishing prisons, this perhaps explains why Desai was particularly appealing to Joe Biden and his administration. From Desai’s firm’s web site:

During the 2020 General Election, Roopali handled more than a dozen cases relating to voting procedures and election results. She represented the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office and defeated numerous cases seeking to challenge the results of Arizona’s election.

For that you get a lifetime appointment to the federal appellate bench. More:

Desai serves on the board of Just Communities Arizona (JCA), a self-described “abolitionist organization” that envisions “a world in which prisons and jails are unnecessary.”

The organization has taken several radical stances on the criminal justice system, including claiming that “the criminal punishment system isn’t really about justice” and mourning Arizona’s execution of Frank Atwood last month.

Atwood was convicted in 1987 of raping and murdering 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson prior to disposing of her body in the Arizona desert northwest of Tuscon.

“The state of Arizona has executed Frank Atwood,” a black graphic featuring a lit candle published by the organization on Facebook read. “Please take a moment to send Light to Frank Atwood, his family and friends, and all those who suffer under Arizona’s punishment system (including those who are employed by it.”

Just what we need on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals! Desai also is a board member of the Arizona ACLU and has represented Planned Parenthood.

Desai…filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of a teacher’s union and its allies challenging Arizona’s ban on teaching the controversial subject in K-12 classrooms.

That would be Critical Race Theory.

Joe Biden is doing his best to politicize the federal judiciary in the time he has remaining in office. The Senate should decline to confirm the appointment of unqualified political radicals like Roopali Desai.

More Evidence of the Pointlessness of Wind and Solar

(John Hinderaker)

This essay by David Stevenson of the Caesar Rodney Institute Center for Energy & Environment appeared in May, but I just ran across it today. It analyzes data from the PJM electrical grid, America’s largest, between 2019 and 2021.

This comparison of actual regional grid carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions between 2019 and 2021 shows increased use of wind and solar did not reduce emissions. Wind and solar electric generation are actually poor technologies no one would use without permanent government mandates and massive subsidies and taxes that are adding $1 billion a year in power cost. They are also unreliable, non-recyclable, have negative environmental impacts, have shorter productive life spans than alternative power sources, and take up a lot of ground. If it doesn’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions why are we using wind and solar?

The intermittency of wind and solar power generation means that other, reliable sources have to cycle up and down, repeatedly. This decreases efficiency and increases emissions. Thus:

Coal emissions should have fallen the same 7% generation did, but only fell about half as much as power plant efficiency fell.

Overall, CO2 emissions declined only 0.8%. As I understand the data, this suggests that CO2 emissions would have declined more if there had been no wind or solar on the PJM grid.

This lack of CO2 reduction by wind and solar comes at a high cost. Tax payers and electric customers provide expensive subsidies totaling almost $2 billion in the 2020-21 period, or $1 billion a year.

Wind and solar energy are entirely pointless, if you don’t consider the fact that enormous amounts of money are changing hands. You and I pay more in electricity rates and taxes, while the Communist Chinese and a handful of Americans and Europeans make out like bandits.

Canceling David Hume

(John Hinderaker)

The skeptical philosopher David Hume is one of the giants not just of the Enlightenment, but of the whole history of philosophy. But that was not enough to save him from being canceled in his native Scotland. At the instance of “woke” students, who wallow in incorrigible ignorance, David Hume Tower at the University of Edinburgh was re-named “40 George Square.” Hume’s offense was that, while he opposed slavery, there is a footnote in a 1758 essay where he wrote that he was “apt to suspect the negroes to be naturally inferior to the whites.”

Now comes the good news: the University’s donors are not as benighted as the school’s students and administrators: ‘Cancel culture’ backfires as donors pull cash from Edinburgh University.

The University of Edinburgh has seen its donations slump by almost £2 million after it “cancelled” the philosopher David Hume over his slavery links.

The institution said that 24 donations and 12 legacies had been “cancelled, amended or withdrawn” in response to the September 2020 renaming of a prominent campus building dedicated to its former student, one of the leading figures of the Scottish enlightenment.
***
The David Hume Tower was rechristened 40 George Square with the university claiming that while Hume’s opinions were “not uncommon” when he wrote them more than 250 years ago, they “rightly cause distress today”.

I don’t believe that anyone was actually “distressed” by Hume’s footnote. I think today’s left-wing students are a vicious mob, cruising for victims. They are delighted to run across a stray comment that can provide fuel for their next auto-da-fé.

While it refused to say how much money had been withdrawn by donors directly due to the renaming row, overall donations to the university fell from £23.2 million in 2020-21, to £21.3 million the following year.

It would be good to see them fall further. Indeed, outside of a few select fields like engineering and medicine, it is hard to make a case that “higher education” confers a net benefit on society. As long as the current nonsense continues, donors to universities should seriously consider whether their money would do more good, or less harm, elsewhere.

The Week In Pictures: Bondage Fantasy Edition

(John Hinderaker)

Seventeen members of Congress got themselves ticketed for blocking traffic outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, in a protest against democracy. Staged, stereotyped and subject at most to a $50 fine, it was a ho-hum affair. But certain female (if we can still use that term) Congresspersons couldn’t resist pretending they were heroic civil rights demonstrators by faking being handcuffed by the police. Hilarity followed. And, hey, it takes a lot of hilarity to come away with the TWIP headline in a week when Joe Biden finally caught covid.

Finally, a new twist on a familiar theme:

And for the more traditionally-minded:

About that Northwestern European Heat Wave

(John Hinderaker)

Steve has mentioned the brief heat wave that brought unprecedented high temperatures to much of England, and elsewhere in Northwestern Europe. The heat wave didn’t last long–the high today in London was 79 degrees–but it prompted an outpouring of global warming hysteria.

I was reminded of visiting London around 27 years ago, in April. Then, too, the city was in the midst of an unprecedented heat wave–in April! With temperatures in the 90s and no air conditioning, everyone was sweltering. We stayed at the East India Club, and as I recall the Club, for the first time, relaxed its centuries-old requirement that coats and ties be worn in all public areas. It was hot then, too; the difference is that no one claimed it was our fault.

Watts Up With That has a useful antidote to “green” hysteria:

The high this week for central England was absolutely unparalleled, particularly regarding the deviation from the previous record high. Also note that the heat wave was very short.

As you can see in this chart:

Ironically, such an extraordinarily extreme event is a sign that global warming played a very small role in this event. This reflects the

Golden Rule of Climate Extremes:

The more extreme a climate or weather record is, the greater the contribution of natural variability and the smaller the contribution of human-caused global warming.

British temperatures have indeed been rising, around 1 degree Centigrade over the past 50 years:

So you can call that 1 degree rise “global warming,” and human activity may have something to do with it. But that doesn’t explain the brief heat wave of a few days ago:

That background warming of around 1°C is absolutely dwarfed by the magnitude of the heatwave, in which maximum temperatures were as much as 20C above normal (as shown by the figure above).

So why were the temperatures so extreme this week?

The reason is the development of a large ridge of high pressure, something called a ridge, which produces warming by sinking and moving air northwards on its western flanks.

Here is the upper level (500-hPa pressure level, about 18,000 ft) at 5 PM PDT July 17th. The ridging (high heights or pressure) are indicated by the red-orange colors. Note there was a trough (blue colors) of lower pressure on its southwest side. This feature increases southerly flow that brings up warmer air.

One feature of this rather freakish weather pattern is that the areas around the super-warm zone were colder than normal:

Ironically such a pattern also produces enhanced cooling to the east and west, something shown by the temperature anomalies (difference from normal) six hours later (red/brown above normal, blue below normal).

Conclusion:

The bottom line is that the recent European heat wave was caused by an amplification of the northern hemisphere wave pattern, with global warming contributing perhaps 5-10% of the warmth. Natural variability of the atmosphere was the proximate cause of the warmth and does not represent an existential threat to the population of Europe.

One obvious point is that weather events get lots of attention if they occur in the U.S. or in Western Europe. They often go unnoticed elsewhere. When it gets cold, climate alarmists like to tell us that it isn’t climate, it is only weather. What happened in England for a few days this month wasn’t climate, it was weather. Like the heat wave I endured in London many years ago.

Who Is David Jakubonis?

(John Hinderaker)

Last night Congressman and Republican candidate for Governor of New York Lee Zeldin was on stage, giving a speech at a campaign stop in upstate New York, when a man climbed onto the stage and attacked Zeldin with some kind of bladed weapon. Zeldin defended himself and bystanders wrestled the attacker to the ground. Zeldin was unhurt and later resumed his speech.

The assailant was identified as 43-year-old David Jakubonis. Not much is known about Jakubonis at this point. He has been described as an Iraq war veteran, but that may be only because of the hat he was wearing. It seems reasonable to assume that he is a Democrat, although he might just be a nut, and some observers said he looked as though he could be intoxicated.

But (via InstaPundit) Andy Ngo points out that Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul has been viciously smearing Zeldin as a “dangerous far-right extremist,” and implying, among other things, that he wants to ban contraceptives.

Moreover, just hours before the attack on Zeldin, Hochul emailed her supporters, sending them Zeldin’s campaign schedule and encouraging them to RSVP to attend the “far-right extremist” “Big Lie Lee’s” events.

It is common for Democrats to smear Republican opponents as dangerous extremists, traitors, and so on. Of course most Democrats won’t respond to such rhetoric by trying to assassinate Republicans, but are borderline personalities like James Hodgkinson, or the guy who wanted to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and perhaps David Jakubonis, motivated not only by the Democrats’ over-the-top rhetoric, but also by their condoning of violence in what they deem a righteous cause, like the George Floyd riots and pro-abortion riots and harassment of Republican judges and politicians?

I’ve been saying it for a while now, and will say it again: one of these days, someone is going to get seriously hurt.

Annals of Government Dentistry

(John Hinderaker)

Socialized medicine has long been a chief goal of the Democratic Party, but it is hard to understand why anyone would voluntarily entrust his family’s health care to the tender mercies of any government, even the most benign. We have tracked the United Kingdom’s experience with socialized medicine in our “Annals of Government Medicine” series, and I wrote here about the current crisis in British dentistry: nine out of ten National Health Service dentists’ offices won’t take any new patients. And British dentistry, like European dentistry in general, was nothing to write home about in the first place.

The Telegraph has the latest on Britain’s dental crisis:

Patients should go to the dentist every two years instead of at six-month intervals, under new plans suggested by NHS England.

Can’t get in to see a dentist? Socialist solution: Give it up! Don’t try!

MPs were warned the NHS was “disincentivising” dentists from taking on new patients under the current contract and patients were increasingly turning to “DIY dentistry” as they struggled to access care.

NHS dentists are essentially government employees, operating under a government-imposed contract that, as we wrote previously, makes it pointless to take on any new patients. To every government-caused problem there is a government-proposed solution that rarely involves changing the policies that caused the problem in the first place.

And “do it yourself dentistry” is a frightening concept. Are we talking about 6 or 10 shots of whiskey and a pair of pliers, as in the 19th century West? There is no link to elucidate the point.

Liberals say that health care is too important to be left to market forces. I say health care is too important to be left to anything but market forces.

Americans Want Oil

(John Hinderaker)

The Biden administration tells us that we are in the midst of a rapid transition from fossil fuels to wind and solar energy, and Pete Buttigieg says he can’t understand why so many Americans haven’t gotten on the bandwagon. This author reminds us of what the Biden administration seems to have forgotten, but many Americans understand:

[W]ithout fossil fuel, nothing separates us from the pre-modern era. For 99% of the world’s population, that era was not a pretty Jane Austen movie. Life was short, painful, diseased, filthy dirty, hungry, and either too hot or too cold. Most people didn’t live past 40 and half of children died before hitting 5. There were only four energy sources: Human labor, animal labor, and primitive wind and water energy. (Five sources, I guess if you consider the sun drying laundry on the line.)

I think we can add that, beginning in the 18th century, there was also steam power fueled by wood. Steam remains important, of course, but now we boil water using coal, natural gas, or a nuclear reaction, not wood.

Those energy limitations were why slavery lasted as long as it did (i.e., from time immemorial until a couple of centuries ago): The easiest labor was slave labor. Humans were easier to train and, if you didn’t mind simply working them to death, as happened in the sugar islands, they were relatively cheap.

And of course, fossil fuels underlie every single aspect of our lives. There is nothing you eat, use, look at, wear, live in, travel with, or anything else that isn’t completely dependent on fossil fuels. Remove those fossil fuels (without a nuclear substitute) and you are suddenly returned to life in a wood or dirt shelter, with only the most limited food and clothing, and really nothing else.

The fact is that no transition to wind and solar energy is taking place. Those remain trivial sources of energy, world-wide. If they worked, someone would adopt them, but no one does.

It seems that, despite pervasive “green” propaganda, most Americans understand this. Thus the findings of a recent Issues & Insights/TIPP Poll:

[W]e asked 1,643 adults across America to consider the following statement: “President Biden has said that record-high gasoline and electricity prices are necessary for meeting his goal of eliminating fossil fuels in the U.S. to fight climate change.”

Respondents were then asked to respond to a question with five choices: Would you say you:

1.) Agree with Biden’s climate change policy, even if it means higher energy prices.

2.) Disagree with Biden’s policy, and want more energy produced to decrease prices.

3.) Don’t think global climate change should be a U.S. policy priority.

4.) I don’t believe in climate change.

5.) Not sure.

The answer that came back loud and clear will not be comforting to either Biden or his Democratic Party advisers: Just 32% of those answering the poll, which has a margin of error of +/-2.5 percentage points, said they support Biden’s climate change policy even if it means higher energy prices.

But a far larger majority of 57% answered in the negative. They either said they disagreed with his policies and want more and cheaper energy (41%), or don’t think climate change should be a U.S. policy priority (10%), or don’t even believe that the climate is changing (6%).

The rubber will hit the road in November. We will see whether voters go along with the Biden administration–you peons will be impoverished, but it might slightly help the climate, if only the Chinese and Indians and Africans and Latin Americans would go along–or whether they vote against sky-high gasoline and electricity prices. I’m betting on the latter.

So Biden Has Covid

(John Hinderaker)

The White House announced today that Joe Biden has tested positive for covid. There is nothing surprising or particularly newsworthy about this, apart from the fact that, given his age and degree of frailty, Biden is in a relatively high risk group. Given the number of White House employees who have contracted covid over the past year and a half, if anything it is a bit remarkable that it took Biden this long to catch the bug.

While not really newsworthy, this is an appropriate occasion to remember that during the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden took advantage of covid hysteria and misinformation from the CDC to lay the entire epidemic at President Trump’s door. In a presidential debate, he blamed President Trump for every American covid death:

“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.” At the time the U.S. had recorded 220,000 Covid deaths.

Biden also campaigned on promises to stop the covid virus: “I will shut down the virus,” “I will beat this virus.”

Since Biden became president, more than 750,000 Americans have died from (or with) covid, per the CDC. If you take Biden’s election rhetoric seriously, he bears responsibility for those 750,000 deaths. And maybe we should take it seriously, because without covid and the ensuing panic, and without Biden’s wild covid claims and promises, he would not have been elected president.

Of course, all of this is now forgotten. The press has done nothing to hold Biden accountable either for his campaign excesses, or for his performance with regard to the virus–unlike Donald Trump, whose actions with regard to covid were relentlessly and critically scrutinized, right up to the moment when Biden won the election, at which point it was “mission accomplished” and all accountability ceased.

So it is fitting for Biden’s own contracting of the disease to provide a coda to a shameless story of political opportunism and press malpractice.

Banned In Minneapolis

(John Hinderaker)

First Avenue is a Minneapolis night club that became famous in the 1980s, largely through the movie Purple Rain. But the days when First Avenue hosted cutting-edge performers like Prince are apparently gone.

Comedian Dave Chappelle was scheduled to perform at First Avenue tonight, but evidently he is too hot to handle. Is this because he makes “trans” jokes? Or because he mocks Jussie Smollett? I am not sure. In any event, here is the announcement:

We hear you. Tonight’s show has been cancelled at First Avenue and is moving to the Varsity Theater. See our full statement for more. pic.twitter.com/tkf7rz0cc7

— First Avenue (@FirstAvenue) July 20, 2022


This is one of countless instances of misuse of the word “safe.” In fact, First Avenue has never been particularly safe, and with the current crime wave in Minneapolis it is hardly one of “the safest spaces in the country.” But danger comes from criminals, not from comedians like Dave Chappelle. The danger that free-spirited comedians pose is to liberal shibboleths, which is too much for First Avenue, now just another worn-out establishment institution.

Joe Biden, Cancer Victim [Updated]

(John Hinderaker)

Joe Biden opened a new front in the war on energy today when he claimed that he got cancer from living in a state that has oil refineries. The occasion was a speech on global warming.

The remark initially appeared to be a stunningly casual health announcement during a speech about global warming in which he described emissions from oil refineries near his childhood home in Claymont, Del. “That’s why I and so damn many other people I grew up with have cancer and why for the longest time Delaware had the highest cancer rate in the nation.”

Biden: "You had to put on your windshield wipers to get literally the oil slick off the window. That's why I and so damn many other people I grew up have cancer." pic.twitter.com/3Y0wkVcK58

— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) July 20, 2022


There are around 150 oil refineries in the U.S., of which one is located in Delaware. It appears to me that Delaware has had only that one refinery for many years. I don’t know whether Delaware has ever had the highest cancer rate in the country. It certainly hasn’t in modern times. Looking at the data, there is no apparent correlation between the presence of oil refineries, or the oil industry generally, in a state and the cancer fatality rate. In particular, I don’t know how oil refineries would give you skin cancer, which is the type Biden had, and I don’t believe that people in Delaware used windshield wipers to clear their windshields of oil slicks from refineries.

Biden also recently claimed that he and 80% of the people he grew up with have asthma, due to the same oil refineries and purported oil slicks on windshields:

We've heard this story before…

BIDEN IN APRIL: "I have asthma and 80% of the people who, in fact, we grew up with have asthma."

BIDEN TODAY: "That's why I and so damn many other people I grew up with have cancer." pic.twitter.com/8farOJVAfl

— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) July 20, 2022

As far as we know Joe Biden doesn’t have asthma and no longer has skin cancer, but his ongoing mental collapse is a threat to the republic. Democrats are moving to ease him out of office, but they aren’t moving fast enough.

UPDATE: This commentary is sad but true.

You know things have gotten ridiculous when the President of the United States says out loud that he has cancer and everyone responds by saying "oh, that's probably just his dementia."

— Greg Price (@greg_price11) July 20, 2022

Police Brutality In Washington

(John Hinderaker)

Earlier today, there was a pro-abortion demonstration outside the Supreme Court building in Washington. A number of Democratic politicians participated. The protesters blocked traffic so as to get themselves “arrested” as an act of political theater.

What is funny about this is that several of them, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, put their arms behind their backs, pretending to have been handcuffed by police officers. A liberal’s gotta suffer, right? The New York Post reports:

Far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was roundly mocked on social media Tuesday after she put her arms behind her back to imitate being handcuffed following her arrest at a pro-abortion demonstration outside the Supreme Court.
***
AOC kept up the charade of being restrained for a few steps before raising her fist to supporters watching from the sidewalk. She then crossed her wrists behind her back again in the faux handcuffed position.

While ostensibly in police custody, Ocasio-Cortez addressed the press–her favorite audience–with no handcuffs in sight:

Ilhan Omar also briefly pretended to be handcuffed:

But the pretense didn’t last long:

Grainy video of Omar also showed the “Squad” member walking several steps with her hands behind her back as if handcuffed. However, she too raised her right arm in a clenched-fist salute without any difficulty.

Someone with a mind less elevated than my own might wonder whether there is some psychological explanation for these women wanting to pose as if handcuffed. But I won’t go there.

The numerous Congresspeople and others who obstructed traffic are liable for a $50 fine, so the price they will pay for their moment of theater is vanishingly small.

Should We Impeach Biden?

(John Hinderaker)

Everyone expects Republicans to recapture the House of Representatives in November, and I have no reason to disagree. This raises the question: assuming Republicans do control the House, should they impeach Joe Biden?

That Biden has committed impeachable offenses seems beyond dispute. He has deliberately opened the Southern border, in defiance of our immigration laws, and has compounded the offense by distributing illegal aliens around the country. Most recently, Biden has stopped prosecuting those who cross the border illegally.

The president’s most basic duty under Article II of the Constitution is to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” As to our immigration laws, Biden has not only failed to execute them faithfully, he has openly and wantonly flouted and negated them. I don’t see how it can be argued in good faith that this is not an impeachable offense. It presents a far stronger case for impeachment than the charges that were brought against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, let alone the laughable charges that the Democrats brought against Donald Trump.

But, as we have seen, impeachment is a political act. Joe Biden has committed impeachable offenses, but will it be smart for Republicans to impeach him? Probably not, at least not early in the new Congressional term.

The new Congress will meet in an atmosphere of dire decline in the nation’s fortunes. Citizens who vote Republicans into office will be waiting anxiously for concrete actions: to restore production of American oil and gas, to do everything possible to close the Southern border, to restore sanity to federal spending, to stop the “woke” virus that has infected even the armed forces. These are urgent needs, and voters will be displeased, to say the least, if Republicans are seen as wasting time and energy on an essentially political retribution against Biden.

After Republicans have moved decisively to reverse the decline that the Biden administration has precipitated, it might make sense to proceed with impeachment. But by that time Biden may well have passed away or resigned, and if he is still on the scene, the optics of impeaching a pathetic old man may not be favorable.

Thus, Biden eminently deserves to be impeached and convicted, probably more so than any president since James Buchanan. Of course he would not, in any event, be convicted by the Senate and driven from office, but political considerations likely will militate that Biden not endure the impeachment he so richly deserves.

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