It Wasn't Enough, It Isn't Enough, It Will Never Be Enough

An amusing comment on a recent speech by Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, Monica Tibbits-Nutt:

Chip Goines is not some right-winger: his Twitter blurb admits that he "turned out voters" for Ayanna Pressley's "historic 2018 campaign". His real gripe with Monica seems to be her excessive plain-talk honesty about her goals, values, and plans. Which all seem to involve getting more money from the citizenry.

Monica came to my attention via my Google LFOD news alert pointing me to this Boston Herald story: Massachusetts border tolls idea another way to 'unnecessarily' take money, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu says.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is not taking kindly to the idea of tolling drivers entering Massachusetts at the state border, a proposal that was floated last week by Bay State Transportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt during an advocacy event.

Tibbits-Nutt said a group tasked with developing recommendations for a long-term, sustainable transportation finance plan was discussing charging drivers at the state border in an effort to support road, rail, and transit systems throughout Massachusetts.

The concept has since drawn criticism from conservatives.

“Looks like Massachusetts has found yet another way to unnecessarily take your money,” Sununu, a Republican, said in a statement to the Herald on Friday.

“All the more reason for more Massachusetts residents to make the permanent move to New Hampshire,” the Granite State governor added. “The Live Free or Die state continues to be the place to be.”

Howie Carr is a right-winger, and is pretty gleeful: Massachusetts' Secretary of Transportation Monica Tibbits-Nutt is quite nutty.

Monica Tibbits-Nutt, Gov. Maura Healey’s crewcut Secretary of Transportation, is a real nutjob.

In case you’re not familiar with this latest $196,551-a-year local poster gal for leftist lunacy, this Nutt is nuttier than a fruitcake.

“We are going after all the people,” she said recently at a public gathering of her fellow tree huggers and climate cultists, “who should be giving us money to make our transportation better.”

To elaborate, she said she is “basically going after everyone who has money.”

No, not really. Nutty Nutt makes it very clear she only fantasizes about going after everyone who works for a living. Exempt from the apparatchiks’ diktats would be the non-working classes. Aren’t they always?

Yes, Howie, pretty much always.

Relegated to the Memory Hole: the 'millionaires tax' Massachusetts voters OKd all the way back in… 2022. I recall the incessant TV ads in favor. It was of course billed as the "Fair Share Amendment". And it was promised to bring in "billions in yearly support for transportation and public education."

Guess what? Given Monica's demands, it really should have been dubbed the "We'll Be Back For More in a Couple Years Amendment".

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe—yes, even the Boston Globe—reports on the inevitable result of treating your citizens as targets for plunder: People are leaving Massachusetts in droves. Who are they?

Throughout the pandemic, policy makers and labor economists sounded the alarm over the increasing number of people fleeing Massachusetts for other states — and what their exodus could mean for the future.

Now, a new report has shed some light on who, exactly, these runaways are. And it probably does not bode well for the state’s long-term economic competitiveness.

Boston Indicators, the research arm of the Boston Foundation, published an analysis exploring trends in so-called domestic outmigration in Massachusetts, or people leaving for elsewhere in the United States. Looking at a two-year average across 2021 and 2022, the analysis found that the people moving out of Massachusetts were predominantly white, middle- and high-income earners, and college-educated.

In related news: Boston faces $1.5 billion shortfall from declining commercial property taxes, report warns. Covid knocked down the idea of people commuting into the city to work in office, and many did did not return.

All this punctures a big hole in the arguments New Hampshire Democrats have been making for extending MBTA commuter rail up to Manchester. Ridership projections were always too rosy, and now are even more divorced from reality.

And Monica wants your money, commuters.

Also of note:

  • What "anti-Zionism" really means. Bari Weiss has a couple of examples: They Were Assaulted on Campus for Being Jews.

    For a second, imagine that black students at Columbia were taunted: Go back to Africa. Or imagine that a gay student was surrounded by homophobic protesters and hit with a stick at Yale University. Or imagine if a campus imam told Muslim students that they ought to head home for Ramadan because campus public safety could not guarantee their security.

    There would be relentless fury from our media and condemnation from our politicians.

    Just remember the righteous—and rightful—outrage over the white supremacist “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, where neo-Nazis chanted “The Jews will not replace us.”

    This weekend at Columbia and Yale, student demonstrators did all of the above—only it was directed at Jews. They told Columbia students to “go back to Poland.” A Jewish woman at Yale was assaulted with a Palestinian flag. And an Orthodox rabbi at Columbia told students to go home for their safety.

    Bari's Free Press has both stories.

  • Who's afraid of due process protections? The Biden Administration, as it turns out. Emma Camp reports: Biden's New Title IX Rules Erase Due Process Protections in Campus Sexual Assault Cases.

    On Friday, the Biden administration unveiled final Title IX regulations, nearly two years after the administration proposed dramatic changes to how colleges handle sexual assault allegations. The new rules largely mirror proposed regulations released last year and will effectively reversing Trump-era due process reforms.

    According to the final regulations, accused students will lose their right to a guaranteed live hearing with the opportunity to have a representative cross-examine their accuser. This is accompanied by a return to the "single-investigator model," which allows a single administrator to investigate and decide the outcome of a case.

    Further, under the new rules, most schools will be required to use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, which directs administrators to find a student responsible if just 51 percent of the evidence points to their guilt. Schools are also no longer required to provide accused students with the full content of the evidence against them. Instead, universities are only bound to provide students with a description of the "relevant evidence," which may be provided "orally" rather than in writing.

    Not good. It seems we are going back to the Bad Old Days of 2011. Thirteen years ago, Joe Biden came up to the University Near Here to announce the Obama Administration's similar travesty. I reported on the visit at the time, and I was way too charitable about it. (In my defense, Biden's description of the rule changes was fuzzy and anodyne.)

  • For more on that… Let me gift you a link to Madeleine Kearns' take on the topic: Biden’s Outrageous Title IX Rewrite.

    On Friday, the Department of Education announced its final Title IX regulations, broadening the definition of sex-based discrimination to include “gender identity.” This effectively prohibits all educational entities in receipt of federal funds from acknowledging biological reality when individuals dispute it. As well as undermining free speech and due-process rights, the new rule will have sweeping and disastrous consequences for women and girls, the very people Title IX was supposed to protect.

    The Biden administration is framing the final rule as a delivery of a campaign promise to better protect LGBTQ students from harassment “just because of who they are” and to restore Obama-era kangaroo courts for sexual misconduct on college campuses, which the Trump Department of Education (DOE), under Betsy DeVos, reformed to protect due-process rights and investigatory integrity.

    So: worse than 2011.

  • Just say no to Jimmy Wales. Spurred by current events, Emil O. W. Kirkegaard looks at The Wikipedia fundraising scam.

    Wikipedia, and its parent organization Wikimedia, has been making the rounds on Twitter. This seems to be because Chris Rufo is attacking the new CEO of NPR (US public 'radio'), Katherine Maher. It turns out that Maher previously served as the CEO of Wikimedia. This got a lot of people looking into her behavior there, and this brought up the Wikipedia fundraising scam into the limelight. In the interest of making this information more publicly known, I provide a summary of it here as well. Many of the sources I draw on are published by minor accounts and writers, who clearly deserve a bigger audience.

    Kirkegaard has accumulated some impressive numbers, effectively debunking any claim that you need to send Wikipedia money in order to keep the server farm up and running. Instead, you'd be funding the Wikimedia Foundation. Which (in turn) heavily funds woke bullshit. Example:

    The Wikimedia Foundation defines racial equity as shifting away from US and Eurocentricity, White-male-imperialist-patriarchal supremacy, superiority, power and privilege to create an environment that is inclusive and reflects the experiences of communities of color worldwide. These modes of privilege mentioned above function as setting the dominant social, political, legal, policy-oriented, and cultural norms around the world.

    Hey, I just want to know about cannibalism in Papua New Guinea.

A Suggestion for a New Guinea National Anthem

Key lyric: "Once upon a time there were cannibals; Now there are no cannibals anymore".

But that may not be enough to mollify the hurt feelings, as reported by the Guardian: ‘Lost for words’: Joe Biden’s tale about cannibals bemuses Papua New Guinea residents. (Subhed: "President’s suggestion that his ‘Uncle Bosie’ was eaten by cannibals harms US efforts to build Pacific ties, say local experts")

Joe Biden’s suggestion that his uncle may have been eaten by cannibals in Papua New Guinea during world war two has been met with a mixture of bemusement and criticism in the country.

Biden spoke about his uncle, 2nd Lt Ambrose J Finnegan Jr, while campaigning in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, describing how “Uncle Bosie” had flown single engine planes as reconnaissance flights during the war. Biden said he “got shot down in New Guinea”, adding “they never found the body because there used to be a lot of cannibals, for real, in that part of New Guinea.”

Official war records say Finnegan was killed when a plane on which he was a passenger experienced engine failure and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The records do not mention cannibalism or state that the plane was shot down.

Analysts in Papua New Guinea who were shown his comments described the claims as unsubstantiated and poorly judged, pointing out that they come at a time when US has been seeking to strengthen its ties with the country, and counter Chinese influence in the Pacific region.

But, as Mark Knopfler says…

“The Melanesian group of people, who Papua New Guinea is part of, are a very proud people,” said Michael Kabuni, a lecturer in political science at the University of Papua New Guinea. “And they would find this kind of categorisation very offensive. Not because someone says ‘oh there used to be cannibalism in PNG’ – yes, we know that, that’s a fact.

Why does this remind me of a Monty Python sketch?

May I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no cannibalism in the British Navy, absolutely none. And when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount, more than I personally admit. But, all new Ratings are warned that if they wake up in the morning and find any toothmarks at all anywhere on their bodies, they are to tell me immediately so that I can immediately take every measure to hush the whole thing up. And finally, necrophilia is right out.

Which brings us to our usual Sunday look at the betting odds and candidate phoniness:

Warning: Google hit counts are bogus.

Candidate EBO Win
Probability
Change
Since
4/14
Phony
Hit Count
Change
Since
4/14
Joe Biden 45.5% +0.5% 431,000 -69,000
Donald Trump 43.6% -0.4% 2,540,000 +330,000
Robert Kennedy Jr 3.6% unch 20,700 -24,900
Michelle Obama 3.0% +0.5% 103,000 -163,000
Other 4.3% +1.4% --- ---

If anything, President Wheezy's delusional gory fantasies seem to have helped him with the punters, gaining nearly a full percentage point edge on Bone Spurs.

And Kamala's odds have dropped below our 2% inclusion threshold. Who knows, an actuarial event could bring her back pretty quickly.

Also of note:

  • Dueling observations from Power Line's Hinderaker. I admit I'm slightly puzzled by the headlines: Why Biden Can’t Win and Why Trump Might Win. In the former, he looks at the polling:

    How can Biden win when, apart from his other defects, 57% think he is simply too old for the job? And that perception is not going to weaken between now and November. Biden has signaled that he does not intend to debate Donald Trump. I don’t think he can. He isn’t up to it. The Democrats will try to sell the absurd idea that Biden isn’t afraid to debate, he just doesn’t want to “legitimize” Trump by sharing a stage with him. Right. When Biden refuses to debate Trump, it will seal the conclusion in just about every voter’s mind that he simply isn’t up to the job.

    And in the latter:

    Well, he gets to run against Joe Biden. That is the main reason. But one of the extraordinary features of this year’s race is the Democrats’ lawfare. In a series of civil cases and criminal prosecutions, they are trying to bleed Trump’s financial assets and, more important, convict him of a “felony” to convince voters not to vote for him. The prosecutions range from selective (Trump’s handling of classified information) to idiotic (the Georgia RICO case and the case in New York that is now in trial).

    Good points all.

Recently on the movie blog:

Civil War

[3.5 stars] [IMDB Link]

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Our paid link will take you to Amazon's Blu-ray offering. Consumer note: I do not remember the Statue of Liberty being in the actual movie.

But Pun Son and I went to see it at BarnZ's in Barrington, on a less-than-large screen. Summary: It was a little bit better than OK.

The movie opens with the titular War being fought out in the streets of Brooklyn, with local authorities trying to keep a lid on a street demonstration, which eventually turns into carnage. It also throws together young aspiring photojournalist Jessie (Cailee Spaeny) with jaded photojournalist Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and her co-worker Joel (Wagner Moura). Brooklyn, they decide, is not where the real action is; they head down to D.C. to witness the final battle, as the insurgent "Western Forces" close in on the White House. Also tagging along with them is Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson), an aged and cynical veteran correspondent.

On the way, they encounter plenty of violent anarchy. Which side is which? Who's shooting who? It becomes pretty clear that it doesn't matter. Lots of people are using the chaos to go on sprees of torture and murder.

But don't worry: once we get to D. C., the murders will be perpetrated by people with military equipment and uniforms.

I might as well point out that reactions to this movie are mixed. Spoilers abound in Tyler Cowens' look at the movie's politics; spoilers as well in Instapundit's aggregation of negative takes.

Newsflash: Kirsten Dunst looks a little haggard here. Understandable, given the context. But it's been nearly 30 years since she was in Jumanji, 22 years since Spider-Man, and … I guess we're all getting Up There. (She'll be 42 at the end of this month.)

But Let's Bomb Those New Guinea Cannibals Back to the Stone Age

Matthew Continetti states the obvious: Israel Is Right to Reject Biden’s Bad Advice.

News broke Thursday evening of an Israeli strike inside Iran. In doing so, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the advice President Biden had given him after Iran’s April 13 drone and missile attack on the Jewish state. At the time, Biden told Netanyahu not to escalate. “You got a win,” Biden said to Bibi. “Take the win.”

Israel demurred. And was absolutely right to. Whatever happens next, it is worth reflecting on the idiocy of Biden’s comments.

Not only do Biden’s words capture the mindset responsible for the chaos that has engulfed the world during his presidency. His comments also raise the question of what a “win” against Iran would really look like — and why America has not pursued that goal.

The architects of our Afghanistan debacle should be extremely modest in making suggestions about how other countries should defend themselves.

On a related note, Biden may not be trying to appease Iran as much as he's trying to appease the Israel-haters inside his own party. John Hinderaker notes a big reason why that's misguided: Joe, It Isn’t About Israel.

The evil that is now running rampant across our country is ostensibly directed at Israel, but Israel is only the pretext, a target of convenience. We have seen in recent months that “anti-Zionism” is merely a cover for anti-Semitism. If Israel disappeared tomorrow, the anti-Semites here, in Western Europe and elsewhere, wouldn’t miss a beat.

But it doesn’t stop there. In Iranian and al Qaeda ideology, Israel is only the Little Satan. America is the Great Satan.

Hinderaker includes a tweeted video of some brave souls who took some American flags to a "pro-Palestine protest" in New York. The results (vandalism, theft, threats) tend to confirm Hinderaker's thesis. Data point:

Under new K-12 Social Studies standards adopted in January 2024, public school students in Minnesota will be told that the great evil of world history is “settler colonialism.” And it turns out that, despite the countless instances of invasion and migration through human history, there have been only two instances of “settler colonialism.” Imagine that! The two instances are, of course, Israel and the United States.

So, if you thought that the Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden were hopeless cranks whose ideas could never catch on, think again. They are accepted by mobs in New York City, at MIT, at Harvard, at Columbia, at Penn, and so on. Worse, in some states at least, they are accepted by the liberals who run the public schools.

Sigh.

By the way: mystified by today's headline? See the USA Today story: Was Joe Biden's uncle eaten by cannibals during World War II? (Betteridge's Law of Headlines applies: nope.)

And then you can be amused by USA Today's semi-dismissal of this yarn as just one of Biden's "long history of embellishing stories".

Not Biden's "long history of lies and delusions".

Also of note:

  • Suggestion: Ask her to name more than two examples of "settler colonialism". Damien Fisher profiles two brave souls who have ensconced themselves into the local white supremacist patriarchy: 'Pro-Hoe' Activists and BLM Leaders Bring DEI to NH Public Schools. They are both tedious, but I'll concentrate on Rachael Blansett, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Director at Oyster River School District (Durham/Lee/Madbury NH), salary $95-105K.

    Blansett, who never worked as a regular classroom teacher before getting the Oyster River job, is responsible for “work(ing) with teachers, administrators, and students to integrate DEIJ throughout the district. (Blansett) will lead trainings for teachers, revise curriculums so they align with district values of equity and inclusion, and act as a resource for anyone in the Oyster River community to ask questions about DEIJ taught in a classroom,” according to the district.

    Blansett's LinkedIn page — what she chooses to share with the world — contains a couple of presentations she's apparently authored or co-authored: "Are You Down With the Cause" and "White Tears in the Classroom". In the former, she identifies herself (because it's important!) as a "Black/biracial, queer femme"). In the latter (subtitle: "Examining how whiteness & white supremacy presents within the classroom"), Robin DiAngelo is approvingly quoted on "white fragility":

    I've had people tell the term itself is offensive…which is classic white fragility.

    Why would anyone send their kids to Oyster River schools?

  • He's probably right. Jesse Walker is tired. It's Another Day, Another Doomed Plan To Defund NPR.

    Rep. Jim Banks (R–Ind.) announced yesterday that he will introduce a bill to defund National Public Radio (NPR). Marsha Blackburn (R–Tenn.) has said she hopes to do the same in the Senate. We live in strange times, anything can happen in politics, and there may be no faster route to looking like a fool than to issue a prediction. With that throat-clearing out of the way: No, of course Congress isn't about to defund NPR.

    This latest wave of Defund NPR! sentiment follows an article by Uri Berliner in The Free Press, in which the NPR editor and reporter—make that former NPR editor and reporter, since he has since resigned—argues that the network "lost America's trust" by shutting out opinions disfavored by the center-left hivemind. I think Berliner's piece wavers between claiming too much (it would have been more accurate, though probably less SEO-friendly, to replace "lost America's trust" with "saw its niche grow somewhat smaller") and claiming too little (it ends with a plea not to defund public radio, since Berliner believes there's "a need for a public institution where stories are told and viewpoints exchanged in good faith"). But at this point the specifics of his essay are almost beside the point, since the debate it has unleashed goes far beyond what the article says. The proof is that people have been using it as a springboard to call for cutting off NPR's federal dollars even though Berliner goes out of his way to stress that that's not the result he wants.

    Walker provides three reasons why NPR-resistance is futile: (1) Biden would veto a defunding bill; (2) NPR's government-funding network is a tangled web that would be difficult to extract from "the rest of the public-broadcasting ecosystem"; and (3) come on, "most of the GOP has no serious interest in defunding public broadcasting."

    I've said this before: NPR is great to listen to, if you enjoy people who are unaware of how much they sound like Titania McGrath.

  • She was pretty good on Saturday Night Live. Kevin D. Williamson does a reality check: Caitlin Clark’s Salary Isn’t an Injustice.

    There is, however, an economic answer to the question of why Caitlin Clark, the University of Iowa standout and first overall pick in Monday’s WNBA draft, will make an annual salary of only around $77,000 compared to the $12.1 million or so that Victor Wembanyama, the first overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, made this season. That reason is the number 4,067, which is the average attendance at games hosted by Clark’s new team, the Indiana Fever, and the number 40, which is how many games the Indiana Fever will play during the upcoming WNBA regular season. For Wembanyama and his San Antonio Spurs, those numbers are 18,110 and 82, respectively—with average ticket prices far greater than the $41 Fever fans paid in 2021. Add in the fact that the NBA is reportedly poised to sign a TV rights deal this summer worth between $60 billion and $72 billion over a multi-year period and the reason for the discrepancy becomes even clearer.

    Total WNBA revenue in the coming season is projected to be around $200 million, which is a nice bit of money—but NBA revenue is 52.5 times that, about $10.5 billion. For comparison, consider: The most successful car salesman in Poughkeepsie makes a pretty good living, but the most successful car salesman in Los Angeles has private-jet money—not because he is necessarily a better car salesman, or because he has an Ivy League MBA, or because he puts in more hours, but because he is at the top of a much bigger market. A pretty good actor in Hollywood makes a heck of a lot more money than the best actor in Copenhagen, which is why we have all those people named Mikkelsen and Mortensen running around in the California sunshine to which Danes must adapt with some difficulty. As it happens, there isn’t technically any rule that says Caitlin Clark has to play in the WNBA instead of the NBA. She could always go take Nikola Jokic’s job.

    Since I mentioned it:

    See? Told you.

  • Not exactly unexpected. Jerry Coyne reports: Dickey Betts died. He was 80, so it's somewhat surprising that he made it that far.

    Jerry has a number of videos, and if you want to see/hear some amazing guitar playing, check them out. He also protests the "bizarre" Rolling Stone list of the "250 greatest guitarists of all time", which has Betts at #145. I agree with Jerry: that's remarkably insane..

Kathy's the Gift That Keeps On Giving

We'll probably get tired of reading/posting about Katherine Maher and Commie Radio at some point, but we have not reached that point today.

First up is Reason's Robby Soave, who observes, accurately, that NPR's Uri Berliner Has Shown That DEI Is About Punishing Heresy.

"I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay," he said, referencing statements made by NPR CEO Katherine Maher—whose considerable history of tweeting woke nonsense is now under public scrutiny as well.

And he is quite correct. Berliner's article for Weiss concludes with this thought: "What's notable is the extent to which people at every level of NPR have comfortably coalesced around the progressive worldview. And this, I believe, is the most damaging development at NPR: the absence of viewpoint diversity."

Berliner cited Russiagate, the Hunter Biden laptop story, and coverage of the lab leak theory of COVID-19's origins as coverage areas where NPR's bias in favor of the progressive, establishment Democratic Party perspective led the outlet astray. A media company that did not completely dismiss non-progressive opinions out of hands might have fared better.

The absence of viewpoint diversity at NPR should be no surprise, however, when its CEO apparently believes that ideological diversity is a "dog whistle for anti-feminist, anti-POC stories." For Maher, diversity involves "race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, geography"—everything except diversity of thought.

I'm old enough to remember one of the cardinal justifications for affirmative action was that it would automagically bring diverse viewpoints to too-stodgy academia and business. Kathy's not down with that:

In other unsurprising news, Tristan Justice digs out a story that you might have thought would worry our Official Civil Libertarians: New NPR CEO Took Wikipedia Censorship Orders From Feds. Quoting a clip excavated by Christopher Rufo:

This is (as we have seen a lot lately) government censorship via a complaisant proxy.

Meanwhile Rufo interviewed a semi-famous Wikipedia co-founder, now a severe critic: Larry Sanger Speaks Out .

Christopher Rufo: What are you thinking as you’re watching these statements from former Wikipedia CEO Katherine Maher, who is now the CEO of NPR?

Larry Sanger: I’ve been following your tweets. You’ve kind of shocked me. The bias of Wikipedia, the fact that certain points of view have been systematically silenced, is nothing new. I’ve written about it myself. But I did not know just how radical-sounding Katherine Maher is. For the ex-CEO of Wikipedia to say that it was somehow a mistake for Wikipedia to be “free and open,” that it led to bad consequences—my jaw is on the floor. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised that she thinks it, but I am surprised that she would say it.

Rufo: In another clip, she says explicitly that she worked with governments to suppress “misinformation” on Wikipedia.

Sanger: Yes, but how did she do that in the Wikipedia system? Because I don’t understand it myself. We know that there is a lot of backchannel communication and I think it has to be the case that the Wikimedia Foundation now, probably governments, probably the CIA, have accounts that they control, in which they actually exert their influence.

And it’s fantastic, in a bad way, that she actually comes out against the system for being “free and open.” When she says that she’s worked with government to shut down what they consider “misinformation,” that, in itself, means that it’s no longer free and open.

But the thing is—I’m using the words carefully here—the Wikimedia Foundation doesn’t have an authority in the Wikipedia system: the website, its talk pages, the various bureaucratic structures. It just doesn’t have the authority to shut things down. So, if Big Pharma or their government representatives want to shut down a description of their research of a Covid-critical biochemist, I want to know how that happens. And I think the other people who are at work on Wikipedia, we want to know how that happens.

Yeah, I'd think Wikipedia contributors would like to know that.

But the lady herself takes to the pages of Jeff Maurer's substack to explain, in a guest column. And asks the musical question: Who the Fuck Did You THINK Ran NPR?

As CEO of National Public Radio, I expect to be scrutinized. So, I wasn’t surprised this week when conservative activists started circulating various tweets and other things I’ve said over the years. They are really going after me — I’m Public Enemy Number One on conservative Twitter! I’m being portrayed as an uber-progressive resistance liberal who works in privileged white woman cringe the way that Michelangelo worked in marble. My critics have seized on past statements like “America is addicted to white supremacy” and “I’m so done with late-stage capitalism” to hold me up as an avatar for midwit coastal elite groupthink.

I have to say: I’m surprised by the uproar. I expect scrutiny, but I did not expect to become the subject of a multi-day media frenzy. And please keep in mind: I’m not accused of wrongdoing — I’m accused of being extremely progressive in an obnoxious way. And I feel compelled to ask: Who the fuck did you think was running NPR, you fucking morons? Wasn’t it definitely going to be someone with my behaviors and opinions? Are you truly shocked that I’m basically the “Ruthkanda forever” girl grown up and in charge of a major media outlet?

Sounds totally legit.

Also, sounds like Pun Salad has entirely abandoned its keep-it-PG13 language stance. Ah well.

Also of note:

  • [Amazon Link]
    (paid link)

    I can't recommend our Amazon Product du Jour. Nor can I recommend its use on Hamas-loving college students. But I can understand. As the Free Beacon reports: Columbia Students Claimed They Were Sprayed With an Israeli Chemical Weapon. It Was Actually Fart Spray Purchased on Amazon, New Lawsuit Says.

    Chemical weapons are typically associated with Middle Eastern warzones, not Ivy League colleges. So when one of them was allegedly deployed at Columbia University, it ignited a media frenzy.

    Pro-Palestinian protesters told the Columbia Spectator they had been sprayed with "skunk," a crowd-control chemical developed by the Israeli Defense Forces, at a rally in January. Mainstream media amplified the allegations, and Columbia suspended a student involved in the "attack"—who had previously served in IDF—within days.

    The narrative was a progressive fever dream: At one of the best universities in the country, an Israeli student had deployed chemical weapons against peaceful student protesters for challenging the alleged depredations of the Jewish state.

    Columbia president Minouche Shafik repeated this claim at a meeting of the university’s senate. "Demonstrators," she said, "were sprayed with a toxic chemical."

    It now appears that the "toxic chemical" was a harmless fart spray purchased on Amazon for $26.11.

    According to a lawsuit filed against Columbia on Tuesday, the suspended student had in fact dispersed "Liquid Ass"—a "gag gift for adults and kids," per its product description—at an unsanctioned pro-Palestinian rally. He sprayed the substance in the air, not at any particular individual, in what the lawsuit describes as a "harmless expression of speech." The result was a swift suspension for which the student is now suing, alleging that the university "rushed to silence Plaintiff and brand him as a criminal" through "biased misconduct proceedings."

    Let me just say that searching for "Liquid Ass" on Amazon brings up a disquietingly large selection of items.

Unlike Kamala, He Hasn't Studied the Maps

Sure, that's sort of funny. It's all fun and games, until, as David Harsanyi notes, The World Is Paying A Deadly Price For Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy.

If a belligerent state launched 186 explosive drones, 36 cruise missiles, and 110 surface-to-surface missiles from three fronts against civilian targets within the United States, would Joe Biden call it a “win”?

Would the president tell us that the best thing we can do now is show “restraint”? What if that same terror state’s proxy armies had recently helped murder, rape, and kidnap more than 1,000 American men, women, and children? What if this terror state were trying to obtain nuclear weapons so it could continue to agitate without any consequences?

This is what Joe Biden and the Barack Obama acolytes, Iranian dupes, and Israel antagonists he’s surrounded himself with demand of [the] Jewish State.

And as long as he's making demands: Hands off Haifa, Bibi!

What does it say that I've found Jeff Maurer to be the most honest commentator on this? His streak is kept alive: The Israel/Iran Situation, But With Jokes.

Israel is the worst country in the world according to your niece. Iran is a country whose government has a bold vision for the seventh century. Their simmering conflict has the terrifying potential to pre-empt NBA playoff games. Leaders around the world are concerned that a war could hurt their favorable/unfavorable rating by as much as a point, and also cause a bunch of people to die or whatever. The situation is volatile, and right now, only one thing seems certain: The outcome will be bad for children in Gaza, because everything somehow always is.

The Iranian attack involved more than 300 missiles and drones. Many were low-tech models that took hours to get to Israel, especially the ones that had to layover in Atlanta, and fucking everything lays over in Atlanta. The drones solved the “takes too long to get to Israel” problem by being shot down in other countries or failing in crashes that Boeing executives called “Not our fault for once.” Iran did manage to land one righteous blow against the mortal enemy of Muslims everywhere: Seven year-old Bedouin girls. One was injured by shrapnel. Despite that mighty blow to the Infidel, the Iranian regime may be embarrassed that they failed to inflict casualties that exceed your average Philadelphia Eagles watch party.

A pungent observation:

The [Iranian] government was outraged by the Damascus embassy attack and argued that embassies are sacrosanct, though they implored people not to google “Iranian embassy attack”.

Also of note:

  • I'm old enough to remember… … the outrage when the Dubya Administration was threatening to comb through our phone records and library lending histories. A "chilling intrusion"!

    Well, guess what? Trump's onetime Attorney General noticed that The Securities and Exchange Commission Is Watching You.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission is deploying a massive government database—the Consolidated Audit Trail, or CAT—that monitors in real time the identity, transactions and investment portfolio of everyone who invests in the stock market. As SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce describes it, by allowing the commission to “watch investors’ every move in real time,” CAT will make it easier to investigate insider trading or market manipulation.

    But as a lawsuit being filed Tuesday in Texas federal court makes clear, CAT crosses a constitutional red line. Accepting this sweeping surveillance would eviscerate fundamental privacy protections. That a few bad apples might engage in misconduct doesn’t justify mass surveillance of everyone’s private affairs.

    The SEC conceived of CAT during the Obama administration. Now, without congressional authorization and under the radar of most Americans, the commission is trying to impose it by executive fiat. CAT will reportedly be the single largest government database targeting the private activities of American citizens.

    The lawsuit-filing good guys: the New Civil Liberties Alliance, identified here as a "conservative think tank". I guess you have to be a conservative these days to stand up for civil liberties.

  • Worst theme park ride ever. George F. WIll says Whee! The nation flies past another trillion-dollar milestone.

    This nation, tobogganing swiftly down a steep slope of fiscal irresponsibility, barely notices a blur of alarming milestones. Last week, we sped past this one: A $1.1 trillion deficit in the first six months of fiscal year 2024 that began Oct. 1 resulted in almost as many dollars spent on debt service ($429 billion) as on defense ($433 billion).

    This, at the most menacing geopolitical moment since 1945, makes one hope that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was radically wrong in saying recently that interest rates could reach 8 percent or more in coming years. If they do, deficits will explode even before the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are exhausted, within 10 years.

    FWIW, gold hit an all-time high of $2,408/oz earlier today. (It's dropped back a bit since, to $2396/oz, as I type.)

  • Pun Salad agrees. The NR editorialists come around to my position: Defund NPR.

    National Public Radio has every right to operate as a left-wing propaganda outlet masquerading as a legitimate news organization. But it is not entitled to pursue this goal with taxpayer money. The latest revelations about the ideological rot at NPR have only made this case stronger.

    Before his resignation on Wednesday, Uri Berliner had worked at NPR for 25 years, most recently as a senior editor. But after being suspended for last week writing a long essay for the Free Press criticizing the organization for its bias, Berliner decided to resign, saying he could no longer work there comfortably.

    In his essay, Berliner argued that while NPR always had “a liberal bent,” in the past, it at least attempted to provide some balance. These days, he wrote, “those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population.”

    Sigh. I remember when, at least, NPR could be funny. (That link is from 2006.

  • AI can do some jobs better. Josh Fruhlinger runs the Comics Curmudgeon blog, in which he appends acerbic commentary to newspaper comic strips. Like yesterday's Blondie:

    Josh did something unusual: he asked ChatGPT to

    Write a description of a three-panel Blondie comic strip on the theme of "there should be an app for loading the dishes!"

    Reader, ChatGPT came up with something much funnier than the allegedly-human-written comic above. Check it out.

A Random Thought I Had That Everyone Else Had Years Ago

And that random thought occurred to me when I looked at the picture of Joe Biden illustrating Jim Geraghty's NR Corner post: Excuses for Joe Biden Skipping Debates Start to Pile Up: Gee, Biden looks more like that ventriloquist's puppet every day.

Now, who was that guy? Google, google, google…

Oh, right. The ventriloquist was Jeff Dunham. And I was thinking of his cranky geezer puppet Walter. And‥

I discovered that Dunham was way ahead of me:

Cheap shots, but funny ones.

But (ahem) getting back to that Geraghty post:

Over at the Atlantic, David Frum argues that Joe Biden should decline to debate Donald Trump this autumn, urging the president and his team to issue a statement declaring: “The Constitution is not debatable. The president does not participate in forums with a person under criminal indictment for his attempt to overthrow the Constitution.”

Frum contends that the networks are urging the debates to go on as scheduled because they expect a ratings bonanza and cannot distinguish their financial interest from the national interest. And he is absolutely convinced that it is in the national interest that Biden and Trump never appear on a debate stage together. Frum is echoing the thoughts of Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chris Coons of Delaware, who suggested that Biden shouldn’t debate Trump because it would “elevate” his opponent.

Biden is free to make any decision he likes, but those who oppose Trump shouldn’t fool themselves about the way many voters will interpret a decision like that. If the 81-year-old Biden refuses to participate in debates later this year, many Americans will conclude that it’s because he’s too old and that either he or his staff fears what Biden would say, or how he would appear, over the course of three 90-minute presidential debates. Yes, Biden looked fired up in his most recent State of the Union address, but in the end, all Biden had to do was read off a teleprompter and pause for applause. Debates are much tougher, and the opportunities for gaffes and unflattering moments are plentiful.

Even if one or more Trump-Biden debates come off, you couldn't pay me to watch.

Well, you couldn't. Or at least wouldn't. Nor would I expect you to. Sorry, didn't mean to imply otherwise.

We are left to wonder what debate-evading excuses Frum, Durbin, and Coons would have made up if Nikki Haley had been the GOP nominee.

Also of note:

  • Commie Radio goes full Stalin. Never go full Stalin. But at least NPR has the story: NPR suspends veteran editor as it grapples with his public criticism.

    (No, I'm not kidding. That link goes to the NPR story.)

    NPR has formally punished Uri Berliner, the senior editor who publicly argued a week ago that the network had "lost America's trust" by approaching news stories with a rigidly progressive mindset.

    Berliner's five-day suspension without pay, which began last Friday, has not been previously reported.

    Yet the public radio network is grappling in other ways with the fallout from Berliner's essay for the online news site The Free Press. It angered many of his colleagues, led NPR leaders to announce monthly internal reviews of the network's coverage, and gave fresh ammunition to conservative and partisan Republican critics of NPR, including former President Donald Trump.

    Indeed, Trump reacted with his usual caps-lock subtlety:

    Can't have that!

    At the NR Corner, Jeffrey Blehar has an interesting take on the essay: Uri Berliner Burned His Bridges at NPR, Then Set the House Ablaze.

    When I read it, I had two reactions, one to the text and one to the subtext. The text of Berliner’s piece was of course an eloquent and sensitively written exposé of the accelerating editorial rot behind the scenes at NPR. Berliner’s argument is not about bias — NPR’s liberal tilt is structurally unavoidable given the kind of people who want to work there — as much as it is about the complete internal corruption of journalistic ethics. (To wit, his discussion of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal is the ultimate confirmation of priors for suspicious conservatives: “I listened as one of NPR’s best and most fair-minded journalists said it was good we weren’t following the laptop story because it could help Trump.”)

    The subtext of the piece, however, was clear: “Now that I’ve aired our dirty laundry, I dare you to fire me before I eventually resign.” This was, for all its eloquence, functionally a career-terminating act. The various official responses from NPR, including a defensive rebuttal from NPR’s standards & practices editor and a five-day suspension without pay for “freelancing without permission,” indicate clearly that he is now persona non grata. To be fair, Berliner either certainly expected this or should have. As Phoebe Maltz Bovy aptly asks, “How many jobs are there where you could write a big essay about your beef with your workplace and keep your job?” Berliner was clearly dismayed enough about the situation at NPR that he was prepared to leave, and since as an NPR liberal he is more genteel than Homer Simpson, he chose to burn his bridges publicly and rhetorically, rather than literally.

    That last link goes to…

    Blehar also notes Berliner's references to NPR's new CEO, Katherine Maher. Who is described as the "Kwisatz Haderach of white wokeness, presumably bred through generations of careful genetic selection to be the supernaturally perfect embodiment of Affluent White Female Liberalism."

    Overstated? Well, for additional information on that, Matt Taibbi provides New NPR Chief Katherine Maher's Guide to the Holidays. (Only partially free, but enough.)

    Dumb old me didn't realize that one of Maher's previous gigs was at the Wikimedia Foundation. Where, if you responded cash-wise to one of Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia beg-a-thons, you were mostly funding a lot of tedious wokism.

Hey, Parishoners! Let's Boycott the Freest Country in the Middle East!

I was tempted to do a full fisking of a recent column appearing in Sunday's local paper. It's by the pastor of the Community Church of Durham (NH), one Rev. David Grishaw-Jones, pictured at your right. He asks the musical question: Should New Hampshire really penalize nonviolence?

You're expected to say "Gee, of course not" at this point.

Let's find out what the Rev is actually talking about:

Again the New Hampshire House is considering a bill to penalize businesses that participate in boycott and divestment campaigns aimed at ending Israel’s illegal campaign of occupation and apartheid in Palestine. For hundreds of years, Americans have valued economic activism as protected first amendment speech (and an important nonviolent tool) in protesting injustice at home and abroad.

More recently, Palestinian activists—with Israeli allies—have insisted that boycotts and divestment represent an important sign of hope for meaningful change in their beleaguered homeland. With SB 439 however, our legislature considers banning participating businesses from receiving state funds and contracts, thereby codifying in NH law an executive order signed by Governor Chris Sununu in July 2023. If you care, says this law, and if you act in a principled way on that concern, the state will make you pay.

We'll ignore the question-begging assertions about Israel. I just want to point out that the legislation is also nonviolent. It's very nature is tit-for-tat: you refuse to do business with Israel, New Hampshire refuses to do business with you.

Governor Sununu's executive order last year made New Hampshire the 37th state to act in opposition to the so-called "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" (BDS) movement.

I count 18 sponsors of SB439 in the NH Senate. (And there are only 24 senators.) The Rev tries to paint this as an insidious plot, sourced from "extreme right wing think tanks (such as the American Legislative Executive Council)". A check of that sponsor list should debunk the relevance of the bill's provenance; it includes (for example) Democrats David Watters and Debra Altschiller. Are they unwitting pawns of the Great Right-Wing Jewish Conspiracy?

It goes without saying that the BDS effort is entirely aimed at Israel. The Middle East is full of dreary little despotisms. The only one that is rated "Free" by Freedom House is, that's right, Israel.

Rev, if you want to target citizen oppression, there are more likely targets.

The Rev's church is very (um) socially involved. They have a Action Alerts page letting people know where they stand on eight issues. Number One: "Justice for Palestine-Israel". What do you make of this?

For over 73 years, Israel has created and maintained laws, policies, and practices that deliberately oppress Palestinians.

Over 73 years. Why I do believe they are referring to 1948, the year Israel was created.

It appears the Rev's church isn't just opposed to Israel's policies; they are, instead, opposed to the idea of a Jewish state. Real river-to-the-sea advocates. Lets make the entire Middle East unfree!

If that happened, of course, the Rev and his allies might spend a few minutes tsk-tsking about all the violence. (But not without explaining that Israel had it coming.)

Also of note:

  • A backbone of Jello. Eric Boehm explains that Bone Spurs ain't going to make it into an updated edition of Profiles in Courage, describing Donald Trump's Cowardice Over Warrantless Spying.

    In a social media post on Wednesday afternoon, former President Donald Trump delivered an all-caps message to members of Congress. "KILL FISA," he wrote. "IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS."

    Trump was referring to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows intelligence services to scoop up electronic communications between Americans and individuals overseas. Those communications are stored in a massive database—the true extent of which is unknown and perhaps unquantifiable—that is routinely queried by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, giving them a back door to spy on Americans' communications without a warrant.

    Trump is right to be mad about how Section 702 has been used, and he's also right that he is far from the only target. In 2021, for example, the FBI used its FISA powers to run more than 3.3 million queries through the Section 702 database. A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court report unsealed in May showed that the FBI improperly used its warrantless search powers more than 278,000 times during 2021—targeting "crime victims, January 6th riot suspects, people arrested at a protest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020," and donors to congressional candidates.

    Last week, as Congress was considering the periodic renewal of Section 702, some lawmakers (including some of Trump's closest allies in the House) were pushing for a requirement that law enforcement agencies get a warrant before trolling through the FISA database. That effort failed, 212–212, with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R–La.) casting the tie-breaking vote.

    And how did Trump react to all that?

    "I'm not a big fan of FISA," the former president reiterated to reporters after meeting with Johnson at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night. "But I told everybody, 'Do what you want.'"

    I don't know what Nikki Haley's position on FISA reauthorization was, but whatever it was, I bet it lasted more than a few hours.

  • An insightful take. And it's from Jeff Maurer: Comedy Has Gotten More Political Partly Because Opinions are Easy and Jokes are Hard. He recalls the good old days of Conan O'Brien being funny. (Click over to see "Awesome Dave’s Counting Channel" video.

    The reasons why networks can’t or won’t make a Conan-style show are many and varied. I’ve written a lot about how comedy has changed, and I’ll probably write more. But because I’m so definitively in the political/comedy space,1 I can say something that non-political-comedians are usually too polite to say: Writing jokes is a lot harder than writing opinions. And one reason why there’s a lot of political comedy out there is that it’s simply easier.

    Political comedy has been my full-time job for a decade. I’ve had lot of time to think about what hits, what doesn’t, and why. I find there are basically two things that people respond to. One is humor — some of my most popular pieces are goofy things that are barely political at all. And the other thing that people like is — you’ll love how obnoxiously pretentious this is — a statement. Generously interpreted, “a statement” means “a trenchant analysis of important matters.” Less-generously interpreted, it means “some shit people agree with.” But probably the most accurate interpretation is: “a cynical regurgitation of your audience’s beliefs that flatters their self-image, which creates a fucked-up relationship based on mutual puffery that — somehow, some way — ends in you getting money.”

    `

    Not for nothing, there's a Wikipedia page for clapter.

Recently on the book blog:
Recently on the movie blog:

All the Sinners Bleed

(paid link)

I really liked two previously-read S. A. Cosby novels, Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears. This is, unsurprisingly, another page turner.

The protagonist is Titus Crown, Black sheriff of a Virginia county where a lot of white residents haven't gotten over the results of the Civil War. He's returned home to his widower father and sorta-criminal brother after a promising FBI career ended in bloody disaster. (We don't get the gory details on that right away.)

Titus's job is tough enough, with all the simmering racial resentment. But then things get very bad, when what starts out as one of those school shootings turns out to be something else entirely: a falling-out between two participants in serial killing, involving the torture and murder of Black children. Those two are dead by page 20, but that leaves the "Lone Wolf", the dangerous evil mastermind behind the killings. Who happens to enjoy taunting Titus, and threatening his loved ones.

So it's pretty good. Cosby's portrayal of the local white racists lacks any complexity or sympathy, and verges on the cartoonish. If they had mustaches, they'd be twirling them. At one point, Titus, while verbally jousting with one of them, refers approvingly to the "white folks who don't carry water for Robert E. Lee or worship at the shrine of Ronald Reagan". Hey, S. A., I liked Reagan a lot, and I don't appreciate being lumped in with Confederacy-lovers.

Orphans of the Sky

(paid link)

Another one down on my "Reread Heinlein" project. Four left to go!

It was originally published in Astounding, in two parts, five months apart, in 1941. It's a masterpiece of plopping the reader into a bizarre tech/social setting, and only eventually revealing "what's really going on".

But I'll tell you, stop reading if you object:

A slower-than-light starship, designed to travel to a distant star system over a couple generations, has gone horribly wrong. A mutiny has killed most of the crew, leaving the worst in charge. Over the years, the survivors breed, some of them mutated. The cylindrical ship still rotates, providing "gravity" to the inhabitants. "Lower" high-gravity levels are occupied by the non-mutated. The "higher" levels hold the "muties". Conflict is common, and cannibalism is practiced. The origin and purpose of the ship gets lost in mythology. The world is the ship.

Into this comes Hugh, a wannabe "scientist". He's captured by the muties, and one of their clan, a two-headed "twin" named Joe-Jim, takes him to the Captain's Veranda, where he can see the stars. Gasp! And so starts a plan to fulfill the ship's mission. But there's a lot of bloodshed along the way. (This may be Heinlein's most violent book.)

According to the Wikipedia page, Heinlein revealed the ship's ultimate fate in Time Enough for Love. So I'm looking forward to that.