Smarter Than They Look, I Guess

Today's musical question posed by Andrew Heaton: Why Are We Funding Harvard? If you're like me, you'll greet this Reason video from Andrew Heaton with a Costellovian mixture of disgust and amusement:

Some text:

Harvard's endowment grows faster than its annual tuition costs every year. It literally has enough money to cover the tuition for every student forever, without any financial assistance from taxpayers. So why are we taking tax dollars away from the 99 percent of Americans who never went to an Ivy League college and giving it to the incubation chamber of tomorrow's trust-fund tycoons?

Heaton strikes a very good balance between outrage and hilarity.

Also of note:

  • A belated Father's Day link. Kevin D. Williamson goes unexpectedly heartwarming in the NYPost: Four babies in two years makes a very special Father's Day.

    On Father’s Day of 2022, I didn’t have any children. On Father’s Day 2024, I have four little boys.

    We had been expecting the first boy in 2022 — the identical triplets, born earlier this year, were a surprise.

    When you tell people you have triplets, the first thing they ask is whether you underwent IVF.

    For the record, you can engineer fraternal twins or triplets via IVF — you just insert two or three embryos at once.

    Identical triplets just happen.

    Identicals are what happen when you and your wife talk about how you wish you’d met earlier in life so you could have had a bigger family, and God, who listens and has a sense of humor, says: “All right, big shot — let’s see how you do.”

    Pictures at the link, and if you don't go Awwww, I'm not sure I want you reading my blog.

  • One more belated Father's Day link. But no more after this, I swear. If you weren't irked by the Andrew Heaton video above, maybe this will do it. Eric Boehm reports: The Federal Government Is Funding Dad Jokes.

    "Did you hear the one about the world's greatest watch thief? He stole all the time."

    But even that guy might be impressed by the sticky fingers of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), a tiny corner of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that managed to pilfer nearly $75 million in taxpayer money last year to maintain, among other things, an official government repository of "dad jokes."

    It's funny—but not in a good way.

    The agency's website is the source of the cringey joke above, along with other forehead-slappers such as "Why don't you ever see elephants hiding in trees? Because they are really good at it," and "Have you seen the new type of broom? It's sweeping the nation."

    To be honest, these jokes are better than the ones on the back pages of the AARP Bulletin.

  • Hey kids, what time is it? According to Joanna Williams at Spiked, it's Time to retire the ‘far right’ slur.

    As the EU establishment struggles to make sense of last week’s revolt in the European elections, one thing is clear: our outdated vocabulary is not up to the task of describing today’s political landscape.

    Gains for France’s National Rally, Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) have been described as a ‘far-right surge’ in newspapers and TV reports, not just across Europe but around the world. Even before the election results came in, labels like far right and extreme right were bouncing off commentators’ keyboards. All agree that the far right is on the rise and ordinary people need to worry. This is Europe’s ‘Trump moment’, explained Politico. Some go further. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is described as ‘neo-fascist’, while academics calmly ask if the AfD is the new Nazi Party. ‘Fascism has arrived’, declared French author Emilia Roig when the election results became clear. Yet with almost a quarter of Europe’s voters having backed a party branded ‘far right’, it is worth asking how accurate this label is and what purpose it now serves.

    The article has a European tilt, but (come on) it's clear the same thing is happening in the US, with the MSM deeming "far right" as, roughly, anyone more conservative than Susan Collins.

  • Well, this is sad. I've been an Eric Clapton fan since I first heard Layla. I have a lot of his music. (Even his clunker, "August".)

    But now, in this article from Ed Driscoll: Strange Brew: Eric Clapton’s Anti-Israeli Turn. It's a history of his, um, controversial remarks, starting with his substance-fueled Enoch Powell appreciation in the 1970s. And his anti-vax stuff more recently. But now, quoting "David Lange of the Israellycool blog":

    But now Clapton has outdone himself when it comes to displaying his own antisemitism, moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy. In an interview with The Real Music Observer YouTube channel, he criticizes the Senate hearings into antisemitism on US college campuses, while stating that Israel is running the world (a clear antisemitic trope). At the same time, he fawns over Putin, Russia, and China – who he claims are all unfairly demonized – while expressing the desire to play there with his “brother” Roger Waters:

    [Instagram embed elided]

    There is little doubt in my mind that Clapton is a raging antisemite, much like “brother” Roger. Besides the clear antisemitic trope, his love of human rights violators Russia and China and his characterization of them as “‘unfairly attacked” reveals a great deal about the double standards by which he judges the world’s only Jewish state. Heck, he even shows tacit support for Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, which is not nearly as justified as Israel’s actions in Gaza now.

    If only Clapton took his own advice when it comes to Russia and China and actually visited Israel in order to get an accurate picture of the situation – not that I think it would make a difference to someone with this much prejudice against Jews.

    I won't be deleting the Clapton tracks from my iTunes library, but I'm pretty sure I won't be throwing any more dollars his way.

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

So Are the Days of Our Lives

If you prefer words to go with that, Mr. Ramirez suggests Byron York's column in the Jewish World Review: The Biden issue that won't go away

On Monday evening, the president attended a Juneteenth concert on the White House lawn. It wasn't a complicated event, as presidential appearances go. All President Joe Biden had to do was walk out of the White House, join the crowd listening to the music, and make some brief remarks.

It didn't go well. As the music played, Biden took his place on a front row that included Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, actor Billy Porter (wearing a "rainbow sequined caftan … accessorized with bedazzled ankle boots," according to Women's Wear Daily), and, next to Biden, Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd.

It didn't go well. As the music played, Biden took his place on a front row that included Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, actor Billy Porter (wearing a "rainbow sequined caftan … accessorized with bedazzled ankle boots," according to Women's Wear Daily), and, next to Biden, Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd.

Everyone was standing and swaying and clapping to singer Kirk Franklin's performance. Everyone, that is, except Biden. As the scene unfolded around him, the president stood still and absolutely motionless, his hands hanging by his side. His face had a frozen expression, and his eyes seemed fixed, staring straight ahead. This went on for about a minute.

Look at your watch or phone and set it for a minute. It's a long time. Biden was briefly engaged by Floyd, then resumed staring. Finally, he seemed to come out of it, ending the episode.

And the video in question:

I have to confess, I somewhat sympathize with Frozen Joe. I'd probably not want to embarrass myself by pretending to boogie either.

And in our weekly look at Election Betting Odds, there's finally some movement at the bottom: RFKJr has dropped below our 2% inclusion threshold, but Kamala and Gavin have risen above:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 54.4% +1.8%
Joe Biden 35.5% -2.3%
Michelle Obama 3.2% -0.4%
Gavin Newsom 2.7% ---
Kamala Harris 2.2% ---
Other 2.0% -2.0%

And Bone Spurs opened up an additional 4.1 percentage points in his probability lead over President Wheezy.

And yes, that's as exciting as Sunday mornings get around here at Pun Salad Manor.

Also of note:

  • Useful questions followed by depressing answers. George Will has some Questions for the Biden-Trump ‘debate’ that might be useful. Number One:

    The Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2033. Under current law, benefits then will be reduced 21 percent. The Biden-Trump consensus includes vowing not to diminish the entitlements (Social Security, Medicare) that are producing deficits that just added $1 trillion to the national debt in eight months. Would you favor a multitrillion-dollar tweak: infusing Social Security with more borrowing, meaning debt? (Tax revenue is insufficient to cover the other government expenditures.) If not that solution, what?

    Other topics: protectionism, Constitutional fidelity, Taiwan, Ukraine, the filibuster, illegal immigrants, DC statehood, Israel's war tactics, military enlistment, tax cuts, the SALT deduction, threats to democracy. Check it out, imagine the likely answers, try not to do anything unhealthy as a result.

  • Another reminder of my political homelessness. Coming from Rikki Schlott in the NYPost: We’re libertarians who refuse to vote for the party’s ridiculous presidential candidate.

    I’m a libertarian, but I’m totally turned off by the party. And I’m not alone, especially now that Chase Oliver is its 2024 candidate.

    Although libertarian ideology has mass appeal, the party has consistently alienated voters with outlandish antics and out-of-touch nominees, and this election cycle is no exception.

    Since Oliver won the Libertarian primary late last month, the former Georgia Senate candidate has been going viral for some of his more lefty stances.

    In resurfaced clips, the 38-year-old has been dragged for publicly advocating for defunding the police “until [they] restore trust with the people,” describing drag queen story hours as “performance art,” advocating for open borders and defending gender-affirming care for transgender kids as “the status quo.”

    And in other news… well, actually kinda the same news … our local party finds Oliver has failed their ideological purity test:

    You know what they say: when you've lost the LPNH, you've … just lost the LPNH.

  • Attention must be paid. Ann Althouse claims a new record has been set: This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen in The New York Times.

    I'm reading "A Hollywood Heavyweight Is Biden’s Secret Weapon Against Trump/The longtime movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg always sought scary villains for his films. Now he has found what he considers a real-life one in Donald J. Trump."

    Trim and wiry, intense but amiable, Mr. Katzenberg at age 73 still exudes a kind of ambitious, animal energy as if he were one of his movie protagonists. He is famous around Hollywood, and now Washington, for rising at 5 a.m. and riding an exercise bicycle for 90 minutes while simultaneously reading four newspapers before taking as many as three breakfast meetings — and waffles or eggs-and-extra-crispy-bacon breakfasts, not the leafy California kind. “The guy eats like a horse and he doesn’t gain any weight,” his close friend Casey Wasserman, the sports, music and entertainment mogul, groused good-naturedly.

    Are Biden supporters in such deep delusion that they would take comfort from this "secret weapon"? This inane filler says: Time to panic!

    Apparently the idea is to have Katzenberg engineer the Biden campaign as if it were a Disney movie. (One of the good ones, not Lightyear or The BFG!) Putting Donald J. Trump into the villain role, like Jafar or Ursula, or…

    Or something. Problem is putting Biden in a hero role. Do you see him as Aladdin? Or more like Pinocchio? Or maybe Dumbo?

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

Why I Subscribe to the Wall Street Journal

You may have seen some version of the Pope Francis/President Joe picture from the G-7 Summit. (Getty version at your right.) The WSJ had it at the top of page one this morning, and the associated headline was

In a G-7 First, Heads of State Meet

You laughed, right? The below-pic caption was also pretty good:

SKULL SESSION: Pope Francis and President Biden, a Catholic, talk Friday as leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations met in Savelletri, Italy. Francis became the first pontiff to address a G-7 summit, warning of the risks of artificial intelligence.

"Skull session". Ha!

If you'd like to read the WSJ's serious article on the doings, here's a gifted link: G-7 Nations Criticize Chinese Subsidies, High-Tech Exports.

Or instead, check out the Bablyon Bee's headline: Biden Disappointed After Huge Scoop Of Vanilla Ice Cream Turns Out To Be Pope Francis. You can click over for the article, but as usual for the Bee, 90% of the laughs are in the headline.

Also of note:

  • Unexpectedly! Dominic Pino, subbing for Audrey Fahlberg, who is subbing for Jim Geraghty, reports some good news: Affordable Connectivity Program: Web Welfare Expired, and the Sky Hasn’t Fallen.

    The impossible has happened: A welfare program ended. Congress created a web-welfare program on an “emergency” basis during the Covid pandemic, and, in classic Washington form, politicians tried to make it permanent. They rebranded it the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and gave it billions in extra funding. The program provided subsidies of up to $30 per month to qualifying households for broadband-internet service.

    It began providing benefits in May 2021 and accumulated over 20 million enrollees. Congress did not give it more funding, though, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which was responsible for administering it, stopped accepting new enrollees in February of this year. The ACP paid its last benefits on May 31, and all funding for it has been exhausted.

    Are millions of people losing internet access? No. We knew that wouldn’t happen, even though ACP supporters were fearmongering that it would.

    Pino also points out the program was fraud-ridden. And (like the local example I talked about yesterday, it was billed as "emergency" pandemic relief. Even though there was no emergency. And nobody got any subsidies until after the pandemic was on the way out.

  • Fauci is getting grouchy. Jon Miltimore notes that there probably was no "The Buck Stops Here" sign in his office: Fauci’s ‘Don’t Blame Me’ Testimony and the Government Accountability Problem.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci was at the Capitol recently following revelations that his top adviser, Dr. David Morens, and other National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases officials took active steps to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests, including destroying records and intentionally misspelling names to avoid searches.

    Fauci conceded that mistakes were made, just not by him.

    “That was wrong and inappropriate and violated policy,” Fauci said of Morens’s scheme to “disappear” problematic emails. “He should not have done that.”

    Fauci’s chief of staff was in on the scheme. Emails show that Gregory Folkers intentionally misspelled the name of Kristian Andersen, a tactic Morens suggested to avoid FOIA, after Andersen received an $8.9 million NIAID grant, which came two months after he authored a paper arguing that it was “improbable” that COVID-19 had a lab origin.

    This is why the adjective you seem to see preceding "bureaucrat" most often is "unaccountable".

    But speaking of appropriate adjectives…

  • I might have said "ignorant" instead. But Eric Boehm used a slightly milder adjective: J.D. Vance's Incoherent Argument for Higher Minimum Wages. Quoting from Vance's NYT interview, Boehm's emphasis: :

    The populist vision, at least as it exists in my head, is an inversion of [the postwar American order of globalization]: applying as much upward pressure on wages and as much downward pressure on the services that the people use as possible. We've had far too little innovation over the last 40 years, and far too much labor substitution. This is why I think the economics profession is fundamentally wrong about both immigration and about tariffs. Yes, tariffs can apply upward pricing pressure on various things—though I think it's massively overstated—but when you are forced to do more with your domestic labor force, you have all of these positive dynamic effects.

    It's a classic formulation: You raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour, and you will sometimes hear libertarians say this is a bad thing. "Well, isn't McDonald's just going to replace some of the workers with kiosks?" That's a good thing, because then the workers who are still there are going to make higher wages; the kiosks will perform a useful function; and that's the kind of rising tide that actually lifts all boats. What is not good is you replace the McDonald's worker from Middletown, Ohio, who makes $17 an hour with an immigrant who makes $15 an hour. And that is, I think, the main thrust of elite liberalism, whether people acknowledge it or not.


    The basic fallacy here is one that President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and plenty of other politicians make regularly: They talk as though America is made up of one group of people who are "workers" and another group who are "consumers."

    If this was so, you could focus on policies that raise wages for one group—the workers—at the expense of the other. But since most people are sometimes a worker and other times a consumer, policies that artificially apply "upward pressure on wages" also apply upward pressure on the prices consumers pay (because those wages have to come from somewhere). If you want to see how this plays out in reality, just look at California's experience with a $20 minimum wage. Prices have skyrocketed and jobs are being lost.

    I am no longer a "worker", just a "consumer", but I see his point.

  • The Day of the Censor. Larry Taunton has a really interesting article about a classy older gent: How Novelist Frederick Forsyth Learned He'd Been 'Bowdlerized'. Specifically, his 1084 novel, The Fourth Protocol:

    The Fourth Protocol is a political thriller in which the Soviets attempt to detonate a nuclear device next to an American military base in Britain. The novel contains fictitious letters from the very real English traitor Kim Philby — and still very much alive at the time of the book’s publication — to the general secretary of the Communist Party. A former MI6 operative and one of the infamous “Cambridge Five” in real life, the fictitious Philby, now in exile in Moscow, explains to his communist hosts how British democracy might be subverted from within via a classic “march through the institutions”:

    …all history teaches that soundly based democracies can only be toppled by mass action in the streets when the police and armed forces have been sufficiently penetrated by the revolutionaries that large numbers of them can be expected to refuse to obey the orders of their officers and side instead with the demonstrators….

    Our friends have done what they can. Since taking control of numerous large metropolitan authorities, through the press and the media, at every level high and low, they have either themselves, or using wild young people of the Trotskyite [i.e., communist] splinter factions as shock troops, carried out an unrelenting campaign to denigrate, vilify and undermine the British police. The aim, of course, is to vitiate or destroy the confidence of the British public in their police, which unfortunately remains the most affable and disciplined in the world….

    I have narrated all of this only to substantiate one argument … that the path [to socialism] now lies though … the largely successful campaign of the Hard Left to take over the Labour Party from inside…

    Paragraphs like these, numerous and detailing Marxist strategy, jolted me from the work of cutting hay for my horses. This was not merely fiction. It was a road map for the overthrow of Western governments. More than that, it was precisely what we were seeing taking place in America’s streets in the carefully orchestrated riots of Antifa, BLM, and the whole “Defund the Police” agenda.

    And these paragraphs have been removed from later printings of The Fourth Protocol. Without Forsyth's knowledge apparently.

    I await the outcry from the folks who are incessantly incensed about the "book banners". But I'm not holding my breath.

Campaign Signs Going Up Early

Snapped on South Street in Rollinsford during my dog walk yesterday morning:

Once again, the DC Shuffle in action:

  1. Uncle Stupid takes our tax dollars;
  2. Sends some of it back to us;
  3. Acts like he's done us a favor.

In this case, it's replacement of some antiquated water lines, so it's pretty close to literal trickle-down economics. The funding is specifically credited to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which dumped $1.9 trillion-with-a-t of Federal Funny Money on us. It was billed as a response to the pandemic. Despite the sign claiming "bipartisan", I don't think a single Republican voted in favor.

Specifically naming "President Joe Biden" on the sign is a nice touch, though. Which brings us to Christian Schneider's recent observation: Joe Biden Is a Weird Liar. Recent example:

On Tuesday, shortly after his son Hunter was found guilty of breaking federal gun laws, Joe Biden stood in front of a pro-gun-control group, buttressing his anti-gun position with phony credentials.

“When I was no longer the vice president, I became a professor at the University of Pennsylvania,” Biden said, adding that he had previously “taught the Second Amendment” in a constitutional-law class.

Of course, Biden was a “professor” at Penn in the same way a powdered beef-flavored ramen noodle packet contains filet mignon. Biden — evidently unaware this information is available on the internet — was paid nearly a million dollars to be a “professor” but never taught any classes; he was effectively there as a figurehead to attract donors. In fact, with his degree from the Wharton School of Business, Donald Trump has seen four more years’ worth of Penn classrooms than Biden has. (In fairness, Biden did spend years teaching a constitutional-law class, but it was at Widener University. On Tuesday, he was clearly trying to get some of that Ivy League shine.)

Schneider notes that, like many politicians, "Biden lies about things that benefit him politically." Not admirable, but that sort of, at least, makes sense.

But most of the time, Biden’s lies are about weird, creepy things for which he actually has no reason to lie. Things that don’t help him with voters but that he seems to think make him more interesting.

The cannibalized uncle. Corn Pop. Semi driver. Rule of thumb. Etc.

Also of note:

  • Speaking of bipartisanship, maybe he could get dog-handling advice from Kristi Noem? In the too-good-to-check department: Biden repeatedly watched his dog attack Secret Service as staff wished each other ‘safe shift’.

    President Biden repeatedly watched his German shepherd Commander attack Secret Service members, who wished each other a “safe shift” as the number of incidents mounted — with one exasperated workplace safety professional urging the use of a muzzle, agency records show.

    The number of dog attacks involving Commander, who the White House said in February was given away after more than two years of terrorizing professionals assigned to protect Biden; and former first dog Major, who was rehomed in 2021 after also attacking personnel; could top three dozen, the newly surfaced records suggest.

    The 81-year-old president reportedly accused a Secret Service member of lying about being attacked by Major during his first year in office, but was present for at least three separate attacks involving Commander, files released to Judicial Watch under Freedom of Information Act litigation show.

    Maybe the Secret Service should stop wearing the Pup-Peroni flavored pants.

  • Tell the truth, go to jail. The NR editors weigh in: DOJ Persecuting Trans-Medicine Whistleblower Eithan Haim.

    Following pressure from GOP state officials, in March 2022, Texas Children’s Hospital publicly announced that it would no longer be offering transgender drugs and surgeries to minors. This was a lie. Behind closed doors — and away from public scrutiny — the hospital continued its medically dubious regimen.

    We know this thanks to Eithan Haim, a courageous resident surgeon who leaked evidence of the hospital’s subterfuge to City Journal’s Christopher Rufo. In a matter of days, Haim’s whistleblower testimony prompted Republican state legislators to pass a bill outlawing the use of transgender drugs and surgeries in pediatric medicine.

    Not everyone was grateful for this public service.

    In June 2023, the day Haim was set to graduate from the hospital’s residency program, two federal agents showed up at his home and informed him that he was a potential target in a criminal investigation relating to medical documents. Concerned that he was being targeted for political reasons, Haim came forward with his identity and the Biden administration’s investigation of him.

    There is, I suppose, reason to be cautious, because we're only hearing one side. But…

  • I'm pretty sure Hunter Biden has no sympathy for Kevin D. Williamson. But KDW has Sympathy for Hunter Biden.

    The Bible tells us we are supposed to pray for our enemies—even the worst of them. Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden—there isn’t an asterisk that says, “… unless they’re really bad, in which case, never mind.” I myself have a hard time not wishing ill on people who use speakerphones in public—or, you know, resisting the urge to take active measures

    Hunter Biden isn’t even my enemy. He’s just a garden-variety dumbass with a very famous father. But it still isn’t easy to be sympathetic. Not for me, anyway. 

    That isn’t something to be proud of. Whatever the madding crowd may try to convince you in 2024, hatred is not a marker of moral seriousness, clarity, or urgency. It’s just a natural itch that it feels good to scratch, and we happen to live in a society that feels the need to moralize its pleasures.

    It's a good lesson, and I hope it isn't paywalled.

  • But I suspect they are not hiding in Washington D. C. A provocative hypothesis from Smart People University: Harvard Scientists Say There May Be an Unknown, Technologically Advanced Civilization Hiding on Earth.

    What if — stick with us here — an unknown technological civilization is hiding right here on Earth, sheltering in bases deep underground and possibly even emerging with UFOs or disguised as everyday humans?

    In a new paper that's bound to raise eyebrows in the scientific community, a team of researchers from Harvard and Montana Technological University speculates that sightings of "Unidentified Anomalous Phemonemona" (UAP) — bureaucracy-speak for UFOs, basically — "may reflect activities of intelligent beings concealed in stealth here on Earth (e.g., underground), and/or its near environs (e.g., the Moon), and/or even 'walking among us' (e.g., passing as humans)."

    Yes, that's a direct quote from the paper. Needless to say, the researchers admit, this idea of hidden "crypoterrestrials" is a highly exotic hypothesis that's "likely to be regarded skeptically by most scientists." Nonetheless, they argue, the theory "deserves genuine consideration in a spirit of epistemic humility and openness."

    There's a link to the "new paper" in the article, but it doesn't work for me.

    Could the cover-up alreadly be in place?

Last Modified 2024-06-15 1:50 PM EDT

"That Guy. Over There. It's His Fault."

Veronique de Rugy points out a recurring theme: Biden Points the Bill (and the Blame) Elsewhere.

Government overspending, an activity the Biden administration has taken to a new level, has sent the country into an inflationary spiral. Through trillions of dollars in COVID-19 relief programs, infrastructure spending, vote-buying student loan forgiveness programs and a political "Build Back Better Agenda," the White House has flooded the economy and decimated consumers' purchasing power. We're paying more and getting less for everything from energy to food.

According to the House Budget Committee, the average family of four is paying around $1,143 more each month than it was in early 2021 for the same goods and services; this includes increased gasoline costs. Rather than reversing course, President Joe Biden is telling voters the private sector is to blame and that he has the answers. He's doubling down by proposing more stifling, job-killing regulations to "fix" the problem — regulations which will inevitably send inflation to new heights.

That's the way I'd bet too.

Also of note:

  • Wimps. Just last month, our local Hamas cheerleaders congratulated themselves in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, for getting arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave the office of their (and my) CongressCritter, Chris Pappas.

    At the time, they proudly trumpeted their "willingness to face the consequences of civil disobedience".

    But now‥ not so much: Five plead not guilty to trespassing as they press Rep. Pappas in Dover on war in Gaza.

    Five people arrested at U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas’ Dover office in May after a protest against the war in Gaza have pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass and are scheduled to head to trial in the fall.

    The trial is scheduled for October. So they might be willing to face the consequences, but not soon, and not without a fight.

  • Thank your local mogul. Michael R. Strain writes In Defense of Billionaires,

    Billionaires should not exist,” argues Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has long described himself as a democratic socialist. Indeed, “every billionaire is a policy failure” is a relatively common slogan among American progressives.

    To demonstrate the horseshoe nature of the political spectrum, Strain points out another example…


    Billionaire innovators create enormous value for society. In a 2004 paper, the Nobel laureate economist William D. Nordhaus found “that only a minuscule fraction” – about 2.2% – “of the social returns from technological advances” accrued to innovators themselves. The rest of the benefits (which is to say, almost all of them) went to consumers.

    According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is worth $170 billion. Extrapolating from Nordhaus’s findings, one could conclude that Bezos has created over $8 trillion – more than one-third of the United States’ annual GDP – in value for society. For example, Amazon has reduced the price of many consumer goods and freed up an enormous amount of time for millions of Americans by eliminating the need to visit brick-and-mortar retailers. Bezos, meanwhile, has received only a tiny slice of those social benefits.

    I understand why political types like Sanders and Bannon despise billionaires: because billionaires provide ordinary people, directly or indirectly, with goods and services that they actually want, as demonstrated by their willingness to open their wallets.

    Government, on the other hand, will only give you what it thinks you should have. And make you pay for it.

  • It helped that Hunter is a blithering idiot. Andrew C. McCarthy disdains The DOJ’s Undeserved Victory Lap over Hunter’s Convictions.

    In the wake of Hunter Biden’s conviction on three slam-dunk felony firearm charges, we’ve now had a victory-lap press conference by so-called special counsel David Weiss, and the predictable chest-beating by Biden apologists about how the president’s Justice Department courageously prosecuted the president’s son without fear or favor.

    Astonishing chutzpah, even from this crowd.

    The crimes found by the jury were committed on October 12, 2018, and were fully known to law enforcement within less than two weeks when the gun was recovered after the defendant’s then-girlfriend — the wife of his late brother, whom he’d also gotten hooked on crack — took the Colt Cobra .38, which he’d illegally purchased while lying on the required federal form, and recklessly discarded it in a trash bin near a school, out of fear that in his drug-addled state he’d hurt himself or others. If the defendant’s name had been Robert Hunter Smith, any normal federal prosecutor would have prosecuted him for these crimes by early 2019, if not sooner — and there’d have been no concerns about the Secret Service mysteriously intervening to make the damning evidence disappear.

    But the defendant was named Robert Hunter Biden and the federal prosecutor was the abnormally political David Weiss, so the prosecution took six years — and if Weiss and the Biden Justice Department had had their way, it wouldn’t have happened at all.

    Not a gifted link, sorry.

  • But I was assured… Speaking of long-delayed justice, Jazz Shaw relates: Connecticut Dems Arrested After Voter Fraud Debacle.

    The wheels of justice turn slowly, as the saying goes. That seems to be particularly true in Connecticut. As you may recall, the mayoral election in Bridgeport, Connecticut last year was so riddled with election fraud involving mass mail-in voting that a judge ordered both the primary and general elections to be rerun. That wasn't the city's first run-in with that sort of cheating. During the 2019 elections, other allegations of "mishandling" absentee ballots were raised, leading to a police investigation. But this week, long after the dust had allegedly settled, arrests were finally made in these cases. Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee Vice Chair Wanda Geter-Pataky and City Council Member Alfredo Castillo were charged with unlawful possession of absentee ballots and other election law violations. Two campaign workers - also Democrats - were also charged.

    It might have gone unnoticed, but the alleged perpetrators seem to have been extremely inept.

    The problem with "easy" voting is that it makes fraud easy too. It's claimed there's "no evidence" of widespread voter fraud, but that's because the system is designed to not detect fraud.

Caption This

"If we jump into that limo and floor it, we can be in Mexico by tomorrow morning!" "Wha?"

But let's be serious, by linking to a serious article by Jacob Sullum: Hunter Biden's Gun Conviction Does Not Resolve a Constitutional Dispute That Pits Him Against His Father.

A federal jury in Delaware today found Hunter Biden guilty of three felonies based on his purchase of a revolver from a Wilmington gun shop in October 2018. That outcome is not surprising, since Biden had publicly admitted that he was a regular crack cocaine user around the time of the transaction. But Biden can still challenge the verdict by arguing that his prosecution violated the Second Amendment—a claim that pits him against his own father.

I don't recall seeing this scenario played out on The West Wing. But that may be because I never watched The West Wing.

Ah, but wait a minute, how about 24? Ah, this is much closer.

During Day 1, a political scandal broke out surrounding Keith Palmer's alleged murder of Lyle Gibson. Keith's father, Senator David Palmer, was running for the Democratic Party nomination at the time this scandal broke out. A collective of businessmen responsible for much of the funding of the David Palmer presidential campaign—known as the Latham Group—feared this scandal would ruin Palmer's chances of becoming president. They went so far as to commit blackmail and murder in order to cover it up. Palmer, however, eventually came forward with the truth himself and exposed the conspirators.

Jack Bauer could have cleared things up by shooting a few people in the leg, but apparently that wasn't necessary.

Also of note:

  • Don't believe the some polls. Nate Silver provides his latest Pollster ratings. There's a large table, but I jumped down — way down — to find the Survey Center hosted by the University Near Here.

    Spoiler: the Survey Center is in 291st place, and was awarded a mediocre grade of C+. Interestingly, Nate calculates their "Mean-Reverted Bias" to be 1.9 percentage points toward the Ds.

  • But the Department of Justice isn't politicized. Emily Yoffe with a sign of the times: A Doctor Told the Truth. The Feds Showed Up at His Door.

    Eithan Haim, 34, is at the beginning of his career as a surgeon. He and his wife are expecting their first child in the fall. And now he is facing a four-count federal felony indictment for blowing the whistle on Texas Children’s Hospital, where he worked while a resident.

    At TCH, he discovered the hospital was secretly continuing gender transition treatments on minors—including hormonal intervention on patients as young as 11 years old—after publicly declaring, in March of 2022, it would no longer provide such services.

    The hospital unwillingly backed away from the treatments under pressure from the Texas governor and attorney general. But Haim found not only were the treatments continuing—the program appeared to be expanding. He recorded several online presentations by medical staff encouraging the transition of children—one social worker described how she deliberately did not make note of such treatment in the medical charts of patients to avoid leaving a paper trail. Haim told me, “They were talking publicly about how they were concealing what they were doing. You can’t take care of your patient without trust. For me as a doctor, to not do something about this was unconscionable.”

    HIPAA violations are alleged, but Haim claims to have redacted names and other identifying data from the documents he provided to Christopher Rufo, the reporter covering the story for the City Journal.

  • Also in the censorious eye. James Taranto notes a desperate attempt to make something out of nothing: Justice Alito Stands Falsely Accused of Candor.

    Justice Samuel Alito began the week facing an accusation of excessive candor. Although the charge was leveled by Rolling Stone magazine, it seemed plausible because he is unusually outspoken for a sitting jurist. But it’s a bum rap. In this instance, what Justice Alito had to say was about as interesting as a seminar on real-estate law.

    The magazine claims that Justice Alito “spoke candidly about the ideological battle between the left and the right—discussing the difficulty of living ‘peacefully’ with ideological opponents in the face of ‘fundamental’ differences that ‘can’t be compromised.’ ”

    The “interlocutor,” Lauren Windsor, turned out to be lying to Justice Alito. Rolling Stone describes her as “a liberal documentary filmmaker” who “asked questions of the justice as though she were a religious conservative.” She met him by joining the Supreme Court Historical Society and buying a ticket to its annual dinner last week (and also in 2023), where she surreptitiously recorded the conversations. She posted the audio recordings to Twitter.

    Free legal advice: Ms. Windsor would be in trouble if she tried that in New Hampshire.

Blunt But Accurate

Jeff Maurer takes down a progressive fantasy in exactly 25 words:

Fair play to him. (Sorry, I'm in the middle of reading Tana French's latest.)

Also of note:

  • Blame it on the Bossa Nova. Megan McArdle requests that we point our shaky fingers elsewhere: Don’t blame the Supreme Court for universities’ stunning reversal on DEI.

    After a decade of ever-escalating commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, elite campuses are reversing course.

    Many Ivy League admissions offices reinstated SAT requirements, even though doing so will make it harder to evade stricter Supreme Court scrutiny of racial preferences. MIT rescinded its requirement that aspiring faculty provide DEI statements explaining how they would advance its principles. Harvard’s faculty of arts and sciences soon followed, and the rest of the Ivy League will likely come trailing behind. Harvard also announced it would no longer be taking positions on matters outside the core functions of the university, while Stanford’s faculty voted to reaffirm principles of academic freedom and exercise restraint on institutional pronouncements.

    It's amazing to watch such an abrupt volte-face. What’s even more amazing is how far things went beforehand and how long the correction took to arrive.

    Ms. McArdle oh-so-gently notes that DEI was built on well-meaning prevarication; but as time went on, the lies took on their usual sitcom course, snowballing until the whole rickety structure became unsupportable.

    Classical reference. Why don't they ever play that song in my supermarket? Probably because people would be dancing in the aisles.

  • Why make up conspiracy theories about the Deep State, when the simple truth is so outrageous? James Taranto writes at the WSJ on The Deep State vs. Taxpayers. Quoting a Washington Times story:

    The IRS is struggling to get its employees back to work in person at least 50% of the time, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the agency’s labor union is the chief hurdle.

    In striking testimony to Congress, Ms. Yellen suggested that the department may have to renegotiate contracts to get those employees back to their desks more often.

    “Some of the employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. They are members of a union, and to enforce those rules requires an agreement with the union,” she told the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.

    Apparently, Federal "workers" have been allowed to unionize since the Jimmy Carter administration. That, to put it mildly, was a mistake.

  • Really trying to win Michiganistan, I guess. John Podhoretz writes of four "clarifying moments" that occurred recently: Heroism and the Biden Brainless Trust.

    It was a clarifying weekend both in the Middle East and in Washington. Clarifying in the first place because Israel got some of its mojo back in the staggering rescue of the four hostages in broad daylight from separate buildings in the Nuseirat refugee camp—which is technically under UN control, let us not forget. And one of those buildings was an UN refugee school. In other words, the UN was being used as a hostage prison. So we had four Israelis being used as slaves and household workers in territory controlled by the the world’s “peacekeepers.”

    Those of us who have long advocated literally blowing up the UN buildings in Turtle Bay in Manhattan—one of the first covers of the long-defunct magazine Insight, which I edited beginning in 1985, depicted the UN tower being dismantled, so that’s how long ago this idea has been percolating—now have renewed reason to press our case. The UN pays no taxes. Tear it down and there’s a huge development site in the most desirable spot in the city that could return billions in lost revenue. Meanwhile, the UN could be relocated to someplace that could use its commerce and doesn’t mind how it sheds blood and treasure in the name of Israel-hatred, like Lagos or South Sudan, and where there are no boutiques for the wives of monstrous dictators to buy stuff marked up especially for them. Rid my city of this organization that employs out-and-out neo-Nazis like UN “special rapporteur” Francesca Albanese, a person (I hesitate even to call her a person) whose views on Israel might cause Josef Goebbels to say, “Well, now you go a little far.” Not to mention one of the world’s greatest villains at the moment, UN General Secretary Guterres, a man who demonstrates the way in which a lifelong commitment to socialism now practically requires all-but-open Jew-hatred to maintain its purity as an ideological calling.

    You'll have to click over for the other clarifying moments. JPod's on fire.

  • Confirmed. At Power Line, Steven Hayward notes Facebook Censoring Climate Dissent Again.

    We’ve often cited the work of Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado, who science Substack, The Honest Broker, is essential reading. What you should know about Roger (whom I know quite well) is that he is a centrist-liberal Democrat, believes climate change is a genuine future risk, and supports a carbon tax and other measures to fight it. But he also calls bull—- on a lot of climate extremism and exaggeration. His work has been cited by the “official” “consensus” scientific reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and he even forced Al Gore to change some of the claims Gore used to make about thermageddon.

    Hayward requested readers to make a normal FB post pointing to Pielke's Substack article, Climate Science is About to Make a Huge Mistake. That "huge mistake"? Pushing "an outdated extreme emissions scenario called RCP8.5" as the proper one to guide international policy.

    Reader, there is nothing outrageous or dangerous in Pielke's article; check for yourself.

    But, yup, within a few seconds of my posting a link to the article, it got taken down. I have appealed.

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Last Modified 2024-06-12 7:34 AM EDT

Pun Salad Dietary Advice: Don't Eat Anything You Wouldn't Kill Yourself

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There are some surprising answers to the question posed at Our World in Data by Hannah Ritchie: What are the trade-offs between animal welfare and the environmental impact of meat?. It's an article full of Fun Facts, and here are some of the Funnest (footnotes elided):

Swap a beef burger for a chicken one, and you’ll cut the carbon footprint of your dinner by around 80%. The problem, however, is that you’ll need to kill 200 times as many chickens as cows to get the same amount of meat. An average chicken might produce around 1.7 kilograms of meat, while a cow produces around 360 kilograms.

This is true for other types of livestock, too. In the chart below, I’ve shown each type of meat’s carbon footprint on the right and the number of animals killed to produce one tonne on the left. You can see the trade-off. Bigger animals — cows, pigs, and lambs — emit more greenhouse gases but produce much more meat per animal. Chicken and fish might have a low carbon footprint but are killed in much higher numbers.

The consequence is that many more smaller animals — chickens and fish — are slaughtered. As my colleague, Max Roser shows in another article, every day 200 million chickens and hundreds of millions of fish are killed, compared to several million pigs and sheep, and about 900,000 cows daily.

To give these figures some context, the average person in the European Union consumes around 80 kilograms of meat per year. If all of this came from chicken meat, about 40 chickens would have to be killed per person. From beef, it would be less than one-sixth of a cow. That’s one cow every 6 or 7 years.

But it’s not just the number of lives that matters. The life of an average chicken is likely much worse than a cow's. Nearly all of the world’s chickens are factory-farmed. I’ve written about the painful conditions that many chickens experience throughout their lives. While it is certainly the case that some cattle will also experience poor standards of care, they’re more likely, on average, to have higher levels of welfare.

It is difficult to navigate this tradeoff. Swapping beef for chicken and fish will reduce your environmental footprint but at the cost of more animals living more painful lives.

Hannah has gone vegan, an admirable choice. I've been evaluating my dietary options lately. This article didn't make things easier for me.

Also of note:

  • Irony alert. Exercise for the reader: construct the the Venn diagram showing the intersection of (a) people who shriek about "book bans" when parents gripe about school libraries with copies of Gender Queer; and (b) people who think this sort of thing is just great: The Olympics Create List Of Banned Words For Journalists Regarding "Trans" Athletes. Victory Girls Blog quotes the Daily Mail:

    In a new 33-page document, the International Olympic Committee warned the media against using terms such as ‘born male’, ‘born female’, ‘biologically male’ and ‘biologically female’, which they claim is ‘problematic language’.

    The IOC also urges the press to avoid ‘sex change’, ‘post-operative surgery’ and ‘transsexual’. They said these phrases ‘can be dehumanising and inaccurate’ when describing transgender sportspeople and athletes with sex variations.

    The IOC's document doesn't seem to use the word "ban". I'm not sure what they would do if some renegade journalist committed an act of honesty.

  • Well, that's good news. Andrew McCarthy says Steve Bannon’s Remand Is Consistent with the Law. Ah, but there's a catch.

    There is gnashing of teeth over the federal court order on Thursday that former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon surrender on July 1 to begin serving, finally, the four-month sentence imposed on him nearly two years ago by Judge Carl Nichols. Naturally, much of the caterwauling comes from Bannon himself, who, as our Zach Kessel reports, claimed that the ruling by Nichols — a Trump appointee — was “about shutting down the MAGA movement, shutting down grassroots conservatives, shutting down President Trump.”

    While I am chagrined to see Bannon confined, just as I was to see him prosecuted, there is nothing untoward about Judge Nichols’s directive.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Bannon was guilty of obstructing Congress . . . just as I think Attorney General Eric Holder was guilty of obstructing Congress. The difference is that, in their Trump-deranged norm-breaking, the Democrat-controlled House January 6 Committee — which was rigged to exclude members tapped to serve on it by Republican leadership — referred Bannon to the Biden Justice Department, which dutifully prosecuted him; by contrast, the Obama Justice Department (shock, shock!) chose not to prosecute Holder, Obama’s attorney general, when he provided false information (in connection with the Fast and Furious fiasco) to the then-Republican-controlled House.

    That's a gifted link, so RTWT.

Wallace Stanley Sayre! Thou Shouldst Be Living at This Hour!

Because "Sayre's Law" has never been so relevant.

Sayre is credited with the quip: "Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low." The Wikipedia entry generalizes: "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake."

That is what (sort of) came to mind while watching this Reason video from Zach Weissmueller:

Or you can read the transcript, if you prefer: A Power Struggle Consumes the Libertarian Party.

How did the Libertarian Party Convention become a campaign stop for candidates with wildly anti-libertarian views? This year's speakers included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who once called for jailing so-called climate deniers, and former president Donald Trump, a rabid opponent of free trade who added $8 trillion to the U.S. debt.

It's part of a strategy to transform the Libertarian Party (L.P.) into a major force in American politics that's largely the brainchild of political strategist Michael Heise, who viewed the 2016 presidential candidacy of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld as a colossal failure.

"Gary Johnson, 4.3 million votes, highest vote total ever, no lasting movement, no return on investment on those votes," Heise told Reason in 2022 during the party's convention in Reno. "[Gary Johnson voters] didn't stay because they weren't what you might call 'true believers.' They didn't feel it in their bones. It didn't have that same animation to it [as did] the Ron Paul [movement]."

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I guess I'd point to Heise's invocation of "true believers" as a good thing as the actual problem here. It's as if he read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer and treated it as a how-to manual. (I finally got around to reading it myself last year. And you should too. Amazon link at your right.)

So, anyway, Sayre's Law definitely applies, as witness the bitter LP infighting. But a different saying would apply to Heise's efforts to turn the LP into a Hofferian "mass movement": actual libertarians, instinctively individualistic, flinch away from that sort of thing. A different, probably Marxist, saying applies: "I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

Our regular Sunday look at the betting odds unsurprisingly fails to include Chase Oliver, the LP presidential candidate:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 52.6% +1.8%
Joe Biden 37.8% -2.9%
Michelle Obama 3.6% +0.8%
Robert Kennedy Jr 2.0% -0.2%
Other 4.0% +0.5%

Observation: Trump leads Biden in the betting probability by 14.8 percentage points, which is bigger than his lead on the Sunday just before he got convicted of 34 felonies. Funny.

And Michelle continues to impress some of the punters, who, I assume, are actually wagering on an actuarial event.

Also of note:

  • Finally. I was long dismayed by the wild and wacky conspiracy theorizing about the 2020 election. (Example.) But Steven Calabresi has some valid criticism at the Volokh Conspiracy here (but also see here).

    Using the the Covid pandemic as an excuse, the Left in 2020 massively changed the way presidential elections are held in this country. Whereas previously the secret ballot and same day voting was the norm, and one needed an excuse to get an absentee ballot, suddenly the Left declared it was essential to switch to mail in voting, for any reason at all, over a period of many weeks.

    Swarms of Democratic vote canvassers knocked on the doors of thousands of people who had not yet voted "by mail" and offered to "help" them "make their vote count". Ballots were filled in by voters at home. possibly with canvassers or family members, "observing" how each person voted. Canvassers then "offered" to deliver the "harvested ballots" to "drop boxes" saving voters the trouble of turning them in themselves. The net result was that Donald Trump got more votes in Pennsylvania in 2020 than Barack Obama had in either 2008 or in 2012, but he still fell 80,555 votes short of Joe Biden because "mail-in" voting with no secret ballot and canvassers conveying your ballot for you to the polls or a drop box was such a hit.

    Absentee ballots are probably necessary for the bedridden and voters currently out of state. (In fact, I'd prefer, for example, that UNH students paying out-of-state tuition get absentee ballots from their own localities.) But Calabresi makes a compelling argument that routine mail-in voting opens up too much room for intimidation and fraud.

  • She likes the bad boys. Ann Althouse looks at a WaPo article about the GOP Veepstakes: "In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly talked about Rubio, Vance and Burgum, according to people familiar with his remarks...."

    But, hey, what about Nikki? Ann quotes from the article:

    “She’s a very disloyal person,” Trump said, according to attendees [at a recent fundraiser]. He then complained that she backed Marco Rubio in 2016 even after he asked for her endorsement and that she had been disloyal repeatedly to him since. “You have to like the person you’re running with, and I don’t like her. I don’t like her.

    Trump said he was not worried about her voters leaving him, according to attendees. “All those people are going to come vote for us anyway. Who are they going to vote for? … I think if I picked Nikki Haley, it would look like such a weak decision.”

    The primary thing Trump cares about is "loyalty". To him. How deeply do they bend the knee, how much spittle do they leave behind when kissing the ring?

  • A bad day's when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been. Matthew Continetti thinks President Dotard is Slip Slidin’ Away.

    President Biden “shows signs of slipping,” the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Journalists Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes — no conservatives — spoke to 45 people who have met with the president and noticed his mental and physical decline. They recount, in detail, several meetings over the past year where Biden has been forgetful, confused, and out of it. The president, Linskey and Hughes report, “appears slower now, someone who has both good moments and bad ones.”

    No kidding.

    You don’t need the Journal to tell you that Biden is diminished. You need only to open your eyes. Go over special counsel Robert Hur’s report into Biden’s unauthorized removal of classified documents. Review Biden’s Oval Office meltdown after Hur released his findings. Watch Biden try to sit at a D-Day commemoration in France on Thursday.

    We're only about two and a half weeks away from the first scheduled Trump/Biden debate. A good evening to binge WKRP in Cincinnati episodes.

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Why, Sometimes I've Believed As Many As Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

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Jacob Sullum notes possible evidence for presidential time travel: Laurence Tribe Bizarrely Claims Trump Won in 2016 by Falsifying Records in 2017.

"In 2016," Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe writes, "Donald Trump seemed to pull an inside straight by narrowly winning" Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin "while losing the popular vote by 3 million. We now know Trump committed 34 felonies to win that election. Without these crimes, he seems almost certain to have lost to Hillary Clinton. She would have been sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. She would have filled two Supreme Court vacancies and enacted her legislative agenda."

Since those 34 felonies involved falsified business records that were produced in 2017, Tribe's claim is logically impossible. Yet his gloss on the former president's New York conviction echoes similarly puzzling claims by many smart and ostensibly well-informed observers. In their eagerness to embrace the prosecution's dubious "election fraud" narrative, they nonsensically assert that Trump retroactively ensured his 2016 victory by disguising a 2017 hush-money reimbursement as payment for legal services.

Sullum provides other examples of this temporal paradox promoted by historian Douglas Brinkley, the WaPo, the NYT, Al Jazeera, NPR, and (of course) the prosecution. And expresses surprise "that so many people who should know better have described the verdict in a way that could not possibly be true."

Which inspired today's headline, brought to you courtesy of Lewis Carroll. Some people have gone Through the Looking Glass, and live there now.

Also of note:

  • Among the many things Biden's forgotten… Nikki Haley takes to the NYPost to point out an important one Joe Biden has forgotten what happened on Oct. 7 — but Israelis can’t.

    It’s crucial that Israel finish the job in Gaza, defeat Hamas and return every hostage back home to their families.

    That includes the eight Americans who are still hostages in Gaza, five of whom are known to be alive.

    Yet instead of supporting Israel against the terrorists who pledge Death to Israel and Death to America, President Biden and some members of Congress are withholding weapons, punishing Israel diplomatically and economically and dictating what they want politically instead of what Israel needs for security.

    Worst of all, they’re demanding a cease-fire.

    A cease-fire is the same as defeat.

    It would give the terrorists time and resources to complete their mission, which is the total destruction of Israel.

    True dat. Which caused me to check out the latest newsletter from our local Hamas cheerleaders, the Community Church of Durham. And … yup:

    Any parishoners who have not quit the church in disgust are encouraged to "Join Our Vigil for a Permanent Ceasefire"

    Join us in Dover, outside the office of Senator Jeanne Shaheen in Henry Law Park. Join us for a silent vigil for all who are suffering violence, displacement, terror, and grief in Palestine and Israel. We will implore Sen. Shaheen to join the call for a permanent ceasefire, an end to the Israeli bombardment and blockade of Gaza, and an end to US military aid to Israel.

    The "permanent" bit is certainly irritating, but it (of course) mirrors current Hamas demands.

    And, unless you're a fool, the Hamas definition of "permanent ceasefire" simply means "until we gear up for more atrocities."

  • And going bust. Steven Greenhut notes the recent folly: California Is Doubling Down on Banning Plastic Bags.

    You know those scenes from old Western movies (or Bugs Bunny) where an outlaw fires his gun near someone's feet. The goal isn't to harm the target, but to make him dance to miss the bullets in an effort to frighten, humiliate or exert dominance. Think about those scenes as you consider a set of new pointless plastic-bag-related laws that seem destined just to make Californians "dance."

    Remember all the hoopla in 2014 when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a "groundbreaking" law that would dramatically reduce solid waste by forbidding grocery stores from providing "single-use" plastic bags? It's been a decade since that law turned the grocery-checkout process into a grinding routine as clerks ask consumers how many bags they want to buy and cheapskate shoppers drag out bacteria-laden reusable cotton ones.

    That law's backroom negotiations offer hilarious lessons in legislative sausage-making, as unions, stores, and environmentalists jockeyed for special privileges. A key compromise allowed stores to sell thicker "reusable" plastic bags, which seemed bizarre to me. The "single-use" bags actually had multiple uses. They were so thin I'd keep them to pick up dog poo and line bathroom trash cans.

    Greenhut goes on to note that the state is on trajectory to make things worse.

    Pun Salad has been a plastic bag cheerleader for years: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

  • Professor Pinker provides a free speech tutorial. In an interview with the Harvard Political Review on Time, Place, and Manner. He hits this softball question out of the park:

    HPR: ​In the past, you have criticized Harvard for not doing more to uphold the First Amendment, and you have argued against criminalizing “deplorable speech” such as hate speech. However, you have also written that Harvard should have shut down the pro-Palestinian encampment, which encampment organizers defended as a peaceful exercise of free speech. How do you reconcile those two viewpoints?

    SP: Oh, because free speech doesn’t mean that I get to break into your apartment and spray graffiti on your walls, or to stand outside your apartment with a sound truck blaring propaganda at 3 a.m. First Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that free speech is not a license to use force to break the law nor to infringe on other people’s rights. And so restrictions on time, place, and manner have always been tightly interwoven into defenses of free speech, otherwise they could collapse in absurdity. For example, if a professor offered to trade grades for sex to a student, he would not be able to defend himself on the grounds of free speech. Or if someone threatens to kill someone, that too would not be protected under the First Amendment or any reasonable definition of free speech. So both crimes are inherently committed through speech, like extortion and harassment.

    Reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner, have always been a part of defenses of free speech. Now, restrictions on time, place, and manner themselves have to be carefully delineated and defended; otherwise, they could be a pretext for suppressing speech. And the usual threefold test is: Are they content-neutral? That is, do they apply regardless of what the protesters are actually saying? Are there alternative means by which those opinions can be expressed? And is there a rationale for the restrictions? That is, do the restrictions serve some legitimate institutional purpose? In the case of the encampment, the argument for shutting it down passes all three time, place, and manner restrictions. Namely, it has nothing to do with the content of what the protesters are saying, although I think the content is deplorable, but that’s not by itself a reason to shut it down.

    … and there's more at the link.