As a textual addition to that picture, let's go to Charles C. W. Cooke, who has thoughts on the Mutual Assured Destruction of our political system: ‘Not Trump’ Is Not Enough. His bottom line:

What the hell are the Democrats thinking? Having become frivolous, vainglorious, and suicidal, the Republican Party is on the verge of super-gluing itself to its risible liability of a perma-candidate for the eighth year in a row. As a countermeasure, the Democrats have embarked on an experiment in political masochism that would have made George McGovern blush. The president has grown so transparently senile that one half-expects to see a set of jumper cables protruding from his back; the Democrats’ best rejoinder to this charge is “No, he’s not.” The economy is widely disesteemed; the Democrats have christened it “Bidenomics.” The vice president remains unable to speak in intelligible human sentences; the Democrats have concluded that she’s just one more TV appearance away from being designated as a National Treasure. When, in the BBC’s Blackadder Goes Forth, General Melchett explained that “if nothing else works, a total pigheaded unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through,” the line was intended as satire, not advice. In 2023, it might as well be the Democratic Party’s election slogan: “Vote for Us — We Have No Other Plan.”

That's from the January 2024 print version of National Review, and that's allegedly a "gifted" link. See if it works, and if it does, read the whole thing.

And now on to our usual Sunday feature looking at the betting odds:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 40.3% +1.9%
Joe Biden 31.8% -0.5%
Nikki Haley 7.0% -1.6%
Gavin Newsom 6.3% +0.3%
Robert Kennedy Jr 3.1% -0.1%
Michelle Obama 2.3% -0.3%
Ron DeSantis 2.0% ---
Other 7.2% -1.7%

I guess the big news here is that Ron DeSantis is back, baby. Barely meeting our 2% inclusion criterion. And Trump has significantly improved his probability. No doubt this news had something to do with that: Trump Takes 2024 Lead as Biden Approval Hits New Low, WSJ Poll Finds.

President Biden’s political standing is at its weakest point of his presidency, a new Wall Street Journal poll finds, with voters giving him his lowest job-performance marks and favoring Donald Trump for the first time in a head-to-head test of the likely 2024 presidential matchup.

Biden lags behind Trump by 4 percentage points, 47% to 43%, on a hypothetical ballot with only those two candidates. Trump’s lead expands to 6 points, 37% to 31%, when five potential third-party and independent candidates are added to the mix. They take a combined 17% support, with Democrat-turned-independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. drawing the most, at 8%.

Also of note:

  • So why aren't the Democrats dumping Biden? Kevin D. Williamson looks at, and debunks, one popular theory: It Isn’t About Kamala Harris.

    One thing that a whole lot of Republicans and Democrats agree on: The Democrats would be much better off replacing Joe Biden as their 2024 nominee, but they can’t because it would be too awkward to pass over Kamala Harris, who would be an even worse nominee than Biden.

    As almost always is the case when Republicans and Democrats agree, this claim is fundamentally wrong.

    Vice President Harris is hardly holding the conch in the Democrats’ election-season version of Lord of the Flies. She is, in a real sense, in a worse position than anybody else trying to figure out what to do about the problem she presents. The idea that she is some kind of hostage-taker who is keeping the Democrats from replacing Biden—that she would not or could not step aside without causing an identity-politics tantrum on the left—is pure nonsense. As things stand, Harris has two possible bad outcomes in front of her if she and Biden are the 2024 ticket: One, they lose, and she gets blamed either for being an encumbrance who thwarted efforts to replace Biden or simply for dragging down the ticket with her personal unpopularity and her political career comes to an end; two, they win, and she gets stuffed into the national sock drawer that is the vice presidency for another four years, waiting for her political career to come to an end. Harris isn’t exactly Niccolo Machiavelli, but she is smart enough to see how things stand. The notion that she would make a stink in order to hold on to the vice presidency—an office in which she has foundered badly and has been subjected to contemptuous treatment by her boss and her party—is nonsense.

    Instead, KDW's theory is our "weird, increasingly cultic approach to the presidency." It's apparently an unpaywalled article, so check it out and see what you think.

  • Just following orders. John Daniel Davidson at the Federalist reports: The Press Fearmongers About Trump At The Behest Of Biden.

    So what’s with the coordinated media campaign this week claiming a second Trump term will usher in the end of the republic and the rise of a fascist dictatorship?

    Well, three weeks ago, President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign scolded the press for not attacking Donald Trump hard enough, specifically calling out The New York Times, saying “it’s time to meet the moment and responsibly inform the electorate of what their lives might look like if the leading GOP candidate for president is allowed back in the WH.”

    As my colleague David Harsanyi noted at the time, the Biden camp wasn’t working the refs, it was demanding obedience. “And the fact that the White House can brazenly petition a supposedly free press to join his campaign effort tells us a lot about how little the contemporary Democrat cares for a free press.”

    We looked at the panicking lapdogs last Monday.

  • I'm a Never-Trumper so… I was intrigued by the headline on this column from Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.: Never Trumpers Never Learn. Hey, I'd like to think I'm ready to learn, so let's see … oh, he's not talking about me. Instead, he reviews the history of 2016's Russia, Russia, Russia hoax that boomeranged on Hillary, and…

    In some sense, this accident is already trying to replay itself in 2024. The latest exhibit is the Kagan essay in the Washington Post. Work through its 6,000-word argument and try to discern how Mr. Trump, with his limited appeal to an uninfluential base, checks and balances, and a mobilized opposition controlling almost every establishment institution, is supposed to make himself a dictator, when, say, FDR, with the most powerful electoral coalition in history, a 75% approval rating, and a world war to fight couldn’t have done so.

    It makes no sense and isn’t required to. Mr. Kagan replicates the failed strategy of the past eight years: Donald Trump is so bad, we must lie about him. The lies are so obvious and easily discovered, though, they end up validating Mr. Trump’s critique of the establishment and win him more voters. In fact, the only way not to see Mr. Kagan as dotty is to assume he’s trying deliberately to justify civil disorder and unconstitutional resistance when Mr. Trump is elected.

    Interestingly, the Post itself seems to have gagged on Mr. Kagan. With an insightful and well-balanced news report a few days later, it not only gave (as the press rarely does) the complete context of recent overplayed Trump quips. It went out of its way to note that the “dictator” talk comes from Democrats desperate over Mr. Biden’s sagging polls. Maybe Trump opponents are finally wising up to their own self-defeating tactics. Seeing the ex-president for what he is but knowing something about dictators, the former CIA analyst and formidable political philosopher Martin Gurri writes at “Relax. Trump is too old, too isolated, and too ADD to have a shot at dictatorship—and if he tried, the result would be comedy rather than tyranny.”

    A second Trump term, in my view, would be useless for America. His opponents, as I’ve been pointing out since 2016, are nonetheless working hard to make it happen.

    And (see the table above) they are having some success at that endeavour.

  • Pun Salad agrees with Jeff Maurer. Specifically: Republicans Could Own the Libs by Nominating Nikki Haley.

    And Pun Salad (with sadness) also agrees with his subhed: "But they probably won't."

    Haley has become the candidate of choice of the Republican donor class. She’s been surging in the polls, though that statement needs a galaxy of context: Her numbers have roughly doubled in a few months, but she still trails Trump by 50. She was absolutely treated like the frontrunner in last night’s debate: DeSantis and Ramaswamy attacked her early and often. Of course, Ramaswamy’s attacks may have helped Haley more than they hurt; Ramaswamy is so unlikable that most people probably instinctively take the non-Ramaswamy side in any dispute. He truly is an obnoxious shit smear of a man; the crowd — which was full of Republicans — boo’d him like he was Jane Fonda at a VFW meeting. I thought Megan Kelly might punch him in the mouth; if she had, then she would probably be the presumptive nominee. Ramaswamy attacked Haley’s intelligence, he said she doesn’t know things that his three year-old knows, and he also did this:

    [Yes he did]

    Fun fact: Vivek's even lower at EBO than Kamala.

  • But is she corrupt? Say it ain't so, Christian Britschgi! Nikki Haley Opposed Boeing Subsidies at Tonight's GOP Debate. As Governor, She Gave Boeing Millions.

    At tonight's Republican presidential debate, former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley took a lot of flak for her entanglements with corporate America.

    "You left government service in 2018 with just $100,000 in the bank. Five years later, you're reportedly worth $8 million, thanks to lucrative corporate speeches and board memberships like you had with Boeing," said rival candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

    Haley defended her record by saying that when Boeing started to ask for government bailouts during the pandemic, she resigned from the board on principle.

    I'd certainly wish that Nikki scored higher on my Personal Political Purity Test. But she easily beats the other likely candidates.

I Can Do This All Day

(paid link)

George Will casts a well-earned plague on both their houses: Two parties, two wildly different spending solutions, both implausible. But his actual reference is to "Annie", not "Romeo and Juliet":

The two parties disagree even when they agree, as they do about this: Federal spending is on an unsustainable trajectory under current law. They also agree that altering the most important drivers of this trajectory — Social Security and Medicare — is for tomorrow, which is always a day away. The parties propose, solemnly but implausibly, radically different solutions.

Republicans propose cutting taxes and regulations enough to ignite economic growth so rapid and constant that a gusher of revenue will restore fiscal health. This approach is marginally less implausible than the Democrats’ proposal, because one can at least postulate a sufficient growth rate — say, 5 percent, forever. But given the bipartisan normalization of enormous annual deficits — $2 trillion and heading up — substantial borrowing probably would be needed to supplement revenue streams, no matter how large they are.

The Democrats’ proposal is even less realistic: “Tax the rich” until they pay their “fair share.” The Republican approach ignores political and economic probabilities. The Democratic approach ignores arithmetic. The Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl explains this in his recent study “The Limits of Taxing the Rich.”

I was never a big Queen fan, but certainly we seem to be "caught in a landslide, no escape from reality". Is this just fantasy?

Also of note:

  • Speaking of Social Security… A couple months back I looked at one of those dreadful AARP mailers which demanded that I (1) petition my Senators and Congresscritter and (2) write them (AARP) a check. One of theit gambits was that proposed reforms to Social Security "could put the money you've earned at risk".

    I objected to that "earned" bit. And in the WSJ today, Andrew G. Biggs has issues as well: No, Social Security Isn’t ‘Earned’.

    Joe Biden and Donald Trump have something in common: Neither wants to touch Social Security. The program’s benefits “belong to the American people,” Mr. Biden said in February. “They earned them.” A month later Mr. Trump said: “We’re going to take care of our Social Security—people have earned that.”

    Both men have used the program as a cudgel against political opponents who have supported reining in benefits to balance the program’s troubled finances. The same goes for Medicare, which the progressive group Social Security Works has described as “an EARNED benefit,” adding that “anyone who proposes cuts to this program is reaching into your pockets and stealing from you!”

    Yet the numbers tell a different story. The Congressional Budget Office and Social Security Administration both find that most Americans are promised Social Security and Medicare benefits substantially exceeding the taxes they’ll pay over their lifetimes. In other words, the benefits are neither earned nor paid for. This ought to lead policy makers to consider fiscally prudent and generationally fair reforms, rather than force younger Americans to fund benefits that older Americans claim to have earned but haven’t fully paid for.

    If anyone's getting ripped off, it's today's young workers. (Thanks, kids!)

  • Maybe Hunter and Donald can be cellmates? I smell an SNL sketch! Andrew C. McCarthy calls them like he sees them. And he sees that The Hunter Biden Tax Indictment Is a Disaster for the White House.

    There are several astonishing things about the 56-page grand-jury indictment filed with nine counts against the president’s son, Hunter Biden, by federal prosecutor David Weiss.

    The first is that it’s dizzying.

    The indictment is scathing in describing the younger Biden’s unsavory lifestyle, his deep dishonesty, and his willful decision to evade tax liabilities on millions of dollars in income and instead spend the money on escorts, drugs, luxury goods, and the like. Hunter is portrayed as exactly the kind of tax cheat who should be prosecuted. In fact, he appears to be just the sort of elitist scoundrel abominated in the rhetoric of his father and Democrats — privileged, addicted to consumption, producing little of real value, and greedily unwilling to pay his “fair share.”

    But here’s the problem: Just four months ago, the same David Weiss tried to bury the same tax case against the same Hunter Biden — offering him a no-jail plea to two puny misdemeanors, a sweetheart deal so out of the ordinary that Weiss’s minions could not answer a judge’s simple questions about it, and that the ever-entitled Hunter’s defense lawyers foolishly blew up over fear of a hypothetical prosecution on tougher charges that Weiss patently had no intention to bring.

    Hope everyone stocked up on popcorn.

  • I gave up reading Andrew Sullivan when he grew obsessed with Sarah Palin's uterus. So I rely on folks like Instapundit to let me know when he's said something worth reading. And here it is, Sullivan describing The Day The Empress' Clothes Fell Off.

    It may be too much to expect that the Congressional hearings this week, starring the three presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn, will wake people up to the toxic collapse of America’s once-great Ivy League. But I can hope, can’t I? In the immortal words of Hitch (peace be upon him), as you listen to these people, “You see how far the termites have spread, and how long and well they have dined.”

    The mediocrities smirked, finessed, condescended, and stonewalled. Take a good look at them. These are the people who now select our elites. And they select them, as they select every single member of the faculty, and every student, by actively discriminating against members of certain “privileged” groups and aggressively favoring other “marginalized” ones. They were themselves appointed in exactly the same way, from DEI-approved pools of candidates. As a Harvard dean, Claudine Gay’s top priority was “making more progress on diversity,” i.e. intensifying the already systemic race, sex and gender discrimination that defines the place.

    Especially amusing are the defenders of the university presidents, who (I'm pretty sure) consider smirks, condescension, stonewalling, and finessing to be Business As Usual for people in that orbit.

Fun With Words

(paid link)

Our Amazon Product du Jour illustrates a seeming contradiction: how can a school branding itself as a university also be a champion of diversity?

I'm sure others have remarked on this. I'm sure others have combed through the etymology of those terms trying to reconcile the conflict. But I'm too lazy to look. Why has nobody upped their game, demanding triversity? Or tetraversity? Or…

Well, never mind that. Yesterday, we briefly examined the abhorrent/hilarious performance of university presidents testifying before a Congressional committee about their obviously hypocritical embrace of free speech. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression's (FIRE's) Nico Perrino has a good suggestion: Don’t expand censorship. End it..

Yesterday, the U.S. House Committee on Education & the Workforce held a hearing on “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.” For hours, members of Congress grilled the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on their responses to anti-Semitism on campus following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel — and many observers noted the hypocrisy of leaders of institutions with checkered records on free expression suddenly claiming their institutional commitments to free speech prevented them from cracking down on anti-Semitic speech.

Of course, one can understand the frustration of critics who rightly observe how quickly college administrators — including those at Harvard, Penn, and MIT — will reach for speech codes when certain disfavored views are expressed, yet don the cloak of free speech when they are more sympathetic to the speech at issue. Speech codes depend for their very existence on the exercise of double standards, as FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors has said.

But the solution to this moral cowardice is not to expand the use of vague and overbroad harassment codes so that they apply in more cases. Rather administrators should eliminate these codes and defend free speech in all cases. No hypocrisy. No double standards.

I suspect that the intellectual rot has set in too deep for the "elite" universities to take this advice.

Bonus, a tweet from Harvard's own Steven Pinker (who quotes a FIRE tweet referencing a different statement):

Click through for especially recommendation number four.

Also of note:

  • Neither was reverse racism, but we got that too. Glenn Reynolds, the Blogfather, pbuh, says, at his substack: Reverse Speech Codes Aren't the Answer.

    So the shocking pro-genocide/pro-Palestinian marches at top Ivy League schools have put their administrations into a pretty pickle.  They want to escape responsibility for student speech, but their efforts to plead “free speech” ring hollow, when they’ve been eagerly policing student – and faculty – speech for years. Just ask IowaHawk.


    But as much as I enjoy seeing these people stew in the juices of their hypocrisy – and believe me, enjoy it I do -- it is nonetheless true, as Eugene Volokh cogently points out, that free speech principles, and the First Amendment where it applies, prevent things like a selective ban on anti-semitism, or on “advocacy of genocide” or whatever. 

    But think how much easier the life of these administrators would be if they and their institutions had just had some principles.  If they had a record of allowing student and faculty speech on everything without punishment, they could point to that record and say, sure, some of our students are saying monstrous things, but we believe in free speech and that the best way to deal with monstrous ideas is by discussing, and refuting, them in the open.

    Of course, they can’t say that, because it isn’t true – and, more importantly, it obviously isn’t true.   Top universities have for years been denying the value of free speech, and even suggesting it is some sort of questionable relic of white supremacy, or Christian Nationalism, or something.  They’ve been centers for the belief that the way to deal with ideas you don’t like isn’t to refute them, but to ruthlessly suppress them.

    I'll once again point out (with a little pride) that the University Near Here is at the other end of the FIRE scale which Iowahawk references.

  • But that wasn't the only fun at that hearing. Another major idiocy didn't get the coverage it deserved, as described at the College Fix: MIT president defends blacks-only dorm: ‘Positive selection,’ not ‘exclusionary’.

    The president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology defended a blacks-only dorm on her campus Tuesday before a U.S. House committee, saying the segregation is not “exclusionary” but “positive selection by students.”

    “Actually at MIT, our students affiliate voluntarily with whichever dorm they want to. It’s not exclusionary, it’s actually positive selection by students which dormitory they want to live in,” MIT President Sally Kornbluth said during a hearing about rising antisemitism on college campuses.

    This can't end well, can it?

  • By which I mean: not my fault. David Harsanyi points the finger: Yes, Inflation Is Sort Of Your Fault.

    “If people are so mad about high prices, why do they keep buying so many expensive things?” wonders Annie Lowrey in an Atlantic piece headlined, “Inflation Is Your Fault.”

    Well, I assume demand remains high because individuals work and save to purchase things they need and like for themselves and their families — even when they’re mad about the price. We’re not automatons, after all.

    But let's skip to David's bottom line:

    Debt, spending, and inflation are all the culmination of long-term irresponsible behavior, compounded by many administrations and Congresses. If voters keep putting the same people into office — the ones who botched budgets, and Covid, and recoveries, and pretty much everything else — then yes, you’re also at fault.

    As someone who pretty much always votes for the election-losers lately, it's not exactly my fault. But I'm far from certain the pols I voted for would have done better.

I Agree With Sonny Bunch

Please don't miss "Readers added context".

David Strom adds that this may be the Best Troll Ever. And in case you don't know who Saira Rao is:

Some people and/or statements are so amazingly stupid that the only appropriate response is to laugh at the statements and ridicule the people.

Saira Rao is the stupid person in this case, and her claim that Time Magazine’s naming of Taylor Swift as Person of the Year is a celebration of the “White love of Black and brown genocide” is a ridiculous statement worthy of ridicule.

Rao, you may remember, is the grifter who has convinced bored middle-aged White women to pay her unGodly sums of money to call them irredeemable racists. This business model, I admit, is pure genius, as Affluent White Female Liberals (AWFLs) love to show their virtue by pretending to believe they are “doing the work” to become better people.

Strom says "you may remember", but I have to admit that I had forgotten her after a single blog item I wrote over four years ago. At the time, I left open the possibility that her website was a "fiendish parody".

If so, she's a consistent parodist.

Also of note:

  • I'd say "hilarious" instead of "abhorrent", but… the National Review editorialists viewed and deplored University Presidents’ Abhorrent Hypocrisy on Anti-Jewish Speech.

    All of a sudden, America’s elite universities have started to sound like John Stuart Mill. Asked yesterday by Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) whether students who call for “intifada” or shout “from the river to the sea” were acting “contrary to Harvard’s code of conduct,” Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, struck a notably enlightened pose. Such “hateful, reckless, offensive speech,” Gay insisted, was “abhorrent” to her personally, and “at odds with the values of Harvard.” But she could not in good conscience move to do anything about it, given Harvard’s “commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful.”


    The first problem with Gay’s answer (which was not fixed by a subsequent clean-up attempt) is that it is a brazen lie. Harvard does not, in fact, “embrace a commitment to free expression.” It does not tolerate views that its speech police consider to be “objectionable, offensive, hateful.” And, as the plain language of its own policies makes clear, it does not endure opinions that are contrary to its “values.” There is, of course, a strong case to be made for the university as an incubator of all ideas. Were Harvard known for a consistent liberalism, it might be able to defend the indulgence of students who chant “intifada” at their peers. But Harvard is not known for any such thing. On the contrary: Harvard is known for sanctioning scholars, for revoking acceptances, for disinviting academics, and for having created an environment in which students feel unable to share their beliefs. Per the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Harvard’s score in the Free Speech Rankings is an “abysmal” “0.00 out of a possible 100.00.” In its latest evaluation, FIRE accorded Harvard a “-10.69,” which, the outfit recorded, is “more than six standard deviations below the average and more than two standard deviations below the second-to-last school in the rankings, its Ivy League counterpart, the University of Pennsylvania.”

    Of all things to be outraged about! I've long considered the statements of university presidents too obviously mealy-mouthed and self-serving to be taken seriously.

  • This is Pun Salad, and I am a George Will fanboy, and Elizabeth Warren is a joke in herself, so… this column's headline, its author, and its subject is kind of a perfect storm: Any way you slice it, Elizabeth Warren’s war on Big Sandwich is crummy.

    Although not all worrywarts are progressives, all progressives are worrywarts. They believe that there are evermore things urgently in need of their supervision — things to ban or mandate or regulate to help society shimmy up the pole of progress.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is progressivism incarnate. The former Harvard Law School professor should possess, if there were such, a PhD in Advanced Worrying. She represents the cutting edge of modern fretting, forever anxious lest something, somewhere, escapes the government’s improving attention. So she has Xed (tweeted, for those who are not au courant) her joy that the Federal Trade Commission recently has been preoccupied with the menace of Big Tech is turning its disapproving squint at Big Sandwich. (This delicious phrase is from the Washington Examiner’s Tom Joyce.)

    This makes me want to get a Spicy Italian for lunch. And I don't mean Monica Bellucci.

  • Don't plan on driving an EV vary far down the Road to Serfdom. Politico reports Congress provided $7.5B for electric vehicle chargers. Built so far: Zero.

    Congress at the urging of the Biden administration agreed in 2021 to spend $7.5 billion to build tens of thousands of electric vehicle chargers across the country, aiming to appease anxious drivers while tackling climate change.

    Two years later, the program has yet to install a single charger.

    States and the charger industry blame the delays mostly on the labyrinth of new contracting and performance requirements they have to navigate to receive federal funds. While federal officials have authorized more than $2 billion of the funds to be sent to states, fewer than half of states have even started to take bids from contractors to build the chargers — let alone begin construction.

    It's Politico, so the partisan bias is blatant; eeevil Republicans are looking to subvert this noble cause. Not to pull the plug (heh) on an obvious boondoggle.

    And the article confidently states: "Consumer demand for electric vehicles is rising in the United States". I guess they don't read Money: Car Dealers Have Too Many EVs (and That's Good for Buyers).

    Well, it's good news for buyers who want an EV. But the simple fact is that supply > demand. For a good schadenfreudian time, Google electric vehicles piling up.

Few Seem To Grasp the Actual Problem

(Hint: The President Has Too Much Power)

Noah Rothman seems to be an exception, and he also has a good grasp on Trump's psychology. He wonders: Can Trump Be a Dictator If He Needs to Fail? First, a quick review of the current epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome:

Donald Trump has enjoyed a consistent lead over Joe Biden in a hypothetical 2020 election rematch for the better part of three months, which seems to be the amount of time necessary to convince Washington-based political observers that the trend is real. All of a sudden, a burst of apocalyptic warnings about a second Trump term has overtaken the political discourse.

Washington Post editor at large Robert Kagan led the charge last week with a column that has “Washington buzzing,” according to New York Times reporter Peter Baker. It’s well past the point at which the civically minded public should stop indulging the “self-delusion” that an alternative to Trump will win the Republican nomination, Kagan wrote in the piece warning of the “inevitable” coming of the “Trump dictatorship.”

But here's the thing:

The second Trump administration doesn’t want victories. It wants defeats. It is not interested in going through the ordeals that produced, for example, Middle East travel bans that passed constitutional muster or a policy of family separation at the border that survived scrutiny in the courts. Rather, they want to shoot for the moon with the understanding that their overreach will be slapped down in court, and that those defeats will give them an excuse to attack the foundations of the American system as unequal to the measure of the moment. That would be a reckless and cynical enterprise, but it could not also be a competent one.

According to their “conversations with Trump insiders” and their analysis of Trump’s campaign-trail pronouncements, Axios reporters Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen speculated about the high-profile face-plants the Trump administration hopes to engineer. Trump wants to “unleash” law-enforcement agencies like the FBI and the intelligence community “against political enemies.” He wants to “deport people by the millions per year” and will prioritize the hiring of “whoever promises to be most aggressive” in satisfying that desire. He seeks a “deep and wide purge of the professional staff” that manage executive agencies across administrations. He seeks to eliminate “social engineering and non-defense related matters” from the remit of the armed services.

The flunkies to whom these portfolios will fall will not be tasked with masterminding a series of unalloyed successes. Instead, their goal will be to establish the basis for an elaborate stabbed-in-the-back narrative designed to implicate the wreckers and saboteurs within the American system. Success in this endeavor would, in that sense, constitute failure.

Bottom line:

A more responsible political culture wouldn’t test the tensile strength of America’s constitutional guardrails, but they have held so far. Trump World’s plan seems to rest on the assumption that they will continue to hold — if only to establish what it regards as the logical basis for their demolition. Trump’s courtiers may have grander ambitions, but Trump himself seems animated most by cleaning himself of the stink of an electoral loss. Indeed, beyond dishing out one last humiliation to his adversaries, it’s not at all clear that Donald Trump wants to get much done in his second term. Assuming dictatorial control over the United States is probably low on his list of priorities. After all, that would be a lot of work.

No question, Trump II would be a shitshow. One the country would be wise to avoid.

Also of note:

  • Oh, yeah. He's an idiot. Or he thinks you are. Or maybe both can be true. Scott Sumner wonders: How important are "the issues"?

    Donald Trump has promised to pay off the entire national debt within 4 years:

    “We’re going to pay off debt — the $35 trillion in debt. We’re going to pay it off. We’re going to get it done fast, too.”

    I am supposed to be an economic commentator.  So perhaps I should do my civic duty and evaluate this economic policy proposal.

    Federal revenue is less than $5 billion trillion per year. Thus even if spending were cut to zero, it would require huge tax increases to pay off the debt in 4 years. But spending cannot be cut to zero, as the government is legally required to pay interest on the debt. That means even more massive tax increases would be needed.

    That link goes to an MSNBC column by Steve Benen, but it (even so) seems accurate that Trump was making the exact same promise in the 2016 campaign. I said "idiot" above, but Benen floats the "bonkers" theory.

  • A good bumper sticker for the Biden campaign: "Morally Weak, Untethered From Reality." The National Review editorialists look at Kamala Harris’s Performative Scolding of Israel.

    With Israelis in a grueling fight against a dangerous terrorist enemy, Vice President Kamala Harris was dispatched to Dubai to deliver a scolding of our close ally for the benefit of Arab leaders. Her remarks were morally weak and untethered from reality.

    Perhaps you would prefer less measured language about Harris's performance. Patterico's guest poster JVW has you covered: Mindless Bimbo Hectors Tiny Nation Besieged by Bloodthirsty Enemies.

    Vacuous Vice-President Kamala Harris showed up at a rostrum in Dubai yesterday on Saturday and embarrassed our nation and herself in much the same way that another fellow sugar baby did at the United Nations in the waning days of the Obama Administration. Visiting the repressive, authoritarian United Arab Emirates ostensibly for one of those climate change confabs where everyone furrows their brows at the risks posed by mowing your lawn or eating a hamburger, the Biden Administration’s number two officer (whose senile boss consistently confuses her for the head honcho) followed up Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s shameful dismissal of Israel’s resolve to eradicate Hamas by unleashing her toxic brew of frivolousness and cluelessness […]

    Our "advice" to Israel on defending itself against barbarism should be along the lines of: "Go for it. Let us know if we can help."

  • We have to protect our phony baloney jobs here, gentlemen. Last month I reported on a book by hil Gramm, Robert Ekelund, and John Early: The Myth of American Inequality. Today, Gramm and Early take to the WSJ opinion page to update one of the theses of that book: the Census Bureau has found Another Wrong Way to Measure Poverty.

    The credibility of the Census Bureau’s official measure of poverty didn’t survive the pandemic. Though government payments for social benefits rose by $1.5 trillion, or 47%, between 2019 and 2021, they didn’t dent the official poverty rate. The rate rose to 11.6% from 10.5%. President Biden claimed that the pandemic increase in the refundable child tax credit would cut child poverty in half, but the subsequent official census rate rose from 14.4% to 15.3%. These results were predictable because the official poverty measure fails to count 88 social benefits that low-income Americans receive from the government as part of their income, including almost all of the pandemic benefits.

    With the official poverty measure discredited, the Biden administration is pushing the experimental Supplemental Poverty Measure, which counts about half of the social benefit payments as income but redefines the income thresholds that determine who is counted as poor in a way that ensures the poverty threshold rises as median income rises. The official poverty measure has hardly changed for more than 50 years, even as social benefit payments to the average household in the bottom 20% of income earners have risen from $9,700 to $45,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars, because most of these payments simply aren’t counted as income to the recipients.

    Gramm and Early expose a different poverty problem: the poor state of "official poverty measures".

  • "<voice imitation="hal">I'm sorry, Dave Phil. I'm afraid I can't do that.</voice>." "A friend of a friend" of Philip Greenspun plays with AI: ChatGPT and the Art of Science. Specifically, he makes the following prompts:

    • "Make a poster with only white female scientists."
    • "Make a poster with only black male scientists."
    • "Poster of scientists."
    • Make a poster with only white male scientists."

    ChatGPT considers one of those things to be unacceptably unlike the others. Click over for the results, and additional examples.

I Propose My Usual Alternative Explanations

Tim Carney is inspired by President Wheezy's tweet:

Carney's commentary: Joe Biden really doesn’t understand how income taxes work (or he's full of it).

A few years back, all the liberal activists, half the news media, and the leaders of the Democratic Party all invented a new tax system that exists only in their minds. And then, for some reason, they all decided to act like it already existed.

The trick here is using the term “wealth gain” in a way that makes people think they are talking about “income.” But the category of “wealth gain” is far broader than the category of income.

Specifically, the imaginary proposal includes unrealized capital gains. Don't worry though! Only on billionaires! We hates them, don't we, Precious?

Carney points out that Biden's tweet implies “everyone else” is paying taxes on their "wealth gain". That's untrue, of course. He proposes two theories behind the tweet:

  1. Biden's "pure ignorance".
  2. His "rank dishonesty".

There are other possibilities, to which I've alluded before. First, let's allow for the strong probability that Biden doesn't actually write these tweets himself. I assume there's some team in some dark DC basement whose job it is to write, review, and approve these tweets. So let's toss in alternative explanations:

  1. The people who wrote/reviewed/approved this tweet are purely ignorant.
  2. The people who wrote/reviewed/approved this tweet exhibit rank dishonesty.

But finally, the most likely explanation:

  1. The people who wrote/reviewed/approved this tweet are (indeed) dishonest, and they think that they can hoodwink idiotic voters with this bullshit anyway.

… and, you know, they could be right about that.

Also of note:

  • Got my Reason for living. Katherine Mangu-Ward's lead editorial in the print edition is out from the paywall; the issue is themed to … well, not my favorite state, but it's definitely in the top ten: People Flock to Florida for the Freedom.

    Florida is a land of attainable possibilities. It's sunny, it's warm, there's a magic castle anyone can visit, there's no income tax, and there's enough beach for everyone. It lacks the pristine glamour of California or Hawaii, but it's cheaper and more accessible in nearly every sense. What it lacks in polish, it makes up for in unpredictability. It's a paved paradise—with plenty of parking lots.

    As a child, I was shipped off to Jacksonville for a couple of weeks every summer to enjoy the kind of oversugared, under-structured time that happens when you're left in the care of out-of-practice grandparents. I'd stretch out on a patch of pinky-beige carpeting under the skylight in their house reading age-inappropriate Stephen King novels and waiting for the afternoon deluge, then head outside to watch the sun force steam up from the wet pavement. Sometimes we'd drive to see the Weeki Wachee mermaids.

    I have never seen the Weeki Wachee mermaids, but they are still an option.

    I regret that Reason has yet to do a special New Hampshire issue. But I realize that we're poor competition to Weeki Wachee mermaids.

  • Commies gotta commie, even in the Live Free or Die state. Suzy Weiss writes on a New Hamposhire's resident: He’s Got $250 Million to Spend on Communist Revolution.

    Nestled into the mountains of the Upper Valley in New Hampshire, up a semi-paved road in a house next to a tiny cemetery lined with white picket fencing, Fergie Chambers, 38, leans over his kitchen island, worrying over his commune.


    Fergie’s the General Secretary of the Berkshire Communists, which describes itself as a “revolutionary Marxist-Leninist collective, aiming to promote the formation of a powerful workers’ party.” But the urgent issue that late summer afternoon—before Hamas’s war against Israel; before Fergie called for “making people who support Israel actually afraid to go out in public”; before three of Fergie’s comrades were arrested on the roof of a weapons manufacturer in New Hampshire—was that 16 comrades were descending on Alford for a weekend retreat, and it’s been pouring rain. The canvas tents they pitched on the property are letting in water. A skylight in one of the six houses there is leaking. The punching bags in the barn-turned-gym are in the wrong place.

    It's an excellent profile of a slightly scary moral monster.

  • Hey, kids, what time is it? Megan McArdle suggests that it's time for Politicians in both parties need to face up to the national debt.

    Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and I disagree on any number of political questions, but I’ve never doubted his intelligence. So it was dispiriting to see him tweet last week that our national debt was caused by only four things: “1) Reagan’s tax cuts, 2) Bush’s tax cuts, 3) Trump’s tax cuts, and 4) Bush’s overseas wars.”

    “We don’t need a fiscal commission to study it,” he added. “Everyone knows Johnson’s fiscal commission will recommend cuts in Social Security & Medicare. Instead, we need to end the tax breaks for the ultrarich and make a moonshot investment in American industry.”

    Khanna’s assertions about the debt are simply not true, not even in the low, Washington sense of facially correct, yet wildly misleading. And I assume Khanna knows better.

    Yet it’s hard to bring myself to fault him too much, because at the moment everyone in Washington is playing the same damned game, a noxious hybrid of “let’s pretend” and “not it.” The budget hawks in the GOP have been effectively vanquished by the Trump faction, and the days when Democrats strove to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility are long gone. Now, approximately no one is trying to contain budget deficits, which stand at almost 6 percent of GDP, or the resulting national debt, which is on course to equal basically the entire annual output of the U.S. economy. Instead, they’re looking to allocate blame, hoping to force the other party to bear the responsibility for fixing it.

    Add Khanna to the list of politicians who insult your intelligence, hoping you won't notice. For a more detailed refutation, see Dan Mitchell: Knowingly Flunking Budget Math.

  • Your periodic reminder that we actually have a First Amendment. It's from J.D. Tuccille: Even Hateful Protests Are Protected, Free Speech Group Reminds Congress.

    If you know the history of Israel, that the country was created after one-third of the world's Jewish population was murdered by Nazis (it has yet to fully recover), it's difficult to stomach protesters who often slip from supporting the Palestinian cause to gloating over Hamas's terrorism and the prospect of destroying the Jewish state. There's not a lot of good will in projecting "Glory to Our Martyrs" on buildings or chanting "from the river to the sea"—let alone explicit endorsements of the attack.

    But even assholes have speech rights. That's because all individuals have rights, however they use them, and because free expression only works if it's available to everybody, not reserved as privilege for the "right" ideas. And, importantly, respecting free speech lets people show us who they are.

    Unfortunately, political officials' natural distaste for dissent can combine with honest revulsion at despicable sentiments to produce a reaction that would violate the right to free expression.

    If I weren't so darn lazy, I'd send a copy of J.D.'s article to New Hampshire state Senator Jeb Bradley who thinks UNH physics prof Chanda Prescod-Weinstein "should be fired." Maybe also throw in a copy of the US Constitution.

Recently on the book blog:

[Amazon Img]


(paid link)

It seems to be on the upswing. Headline example one, from the WaPo: Trump attempts to spin anti-democracy criticism against Biden. Reporting from Cedar Rapids, Iowa:

Republican polling leader Donald Trump moved to deflect from criminal charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election and from his own pledges to take revenge on his opponents if he returns to the White House, seeking to parry warnings that he presents a danger to democracy.

His speech on Saturday was an effort to turn the tables on rising alarms from Democrats and some Republicans that Trump’s return to power would imperil free elections and civil liberties. As candidates ramp up appearances in Iowa ahead of the caucuses on Jan. 15, the former president, who refused to accept his 2020 election loss and inspired his supporters to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, responded by comparing President Biden to a fascist tyrant, and the campaign distributed signs reading ‘BIDEN ATTACKS DEMOCRACY.’

The intrepid WaPo reporters knew who to contact in order to get the F-word out there:

The speech showed that Biden’s framing of the 2024 election as democracy versus authoritarianism is resonating with voters, according to Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of American political rhetoric at Texas A&M University. Trump’s strategy to “accuse the accuser” could confuse voters about the real threat and help reassure his own supporters, she said.

“Trump’s Iowa speech continues his use of fascist rhetoric: it’s us versus them, he tells his supporters, and ‘they’ are enemies who cheat,” she said. “Authoritarians have a lot of rhetorical tricks for explaining away anti-democratic actions as actually ‘democratic.’”

To be clear: I am no Trump fan. He's awful. But he has a point to make about Biden, and the WaPo reporters go out of their way to dismiss it as a fascist diversion.

Also of note:

  • But it's not just the WaPo. The NYT, ostensibly a different newspaper, makes the same headline dismissal: Trump’s Defense to Charge That He’s Anti-Democratic? Accuse Biden of It.

    Former President Donald J. Trump, who has been indicted by federal prosecutors for conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with a plot to overturn the 2020 election, repeatedly claimed to supporters in Iowa on Saturday that it was President Biden who posed a severe threat to American democracy.

    While Mr. Trump shattered democratic norms throughout his presidency and has faced voter concerns that he would do so again in a second term, the former president in his speech repeatedly accused Mr. Biden of corrupting politics and waging a repressive “all-out war” on America.

    While the NYT reporter fails to dig up anyone who will call Trump a fascist, …

    Having said that he would use the Justice Department to “go after” the Biden family, on Saturday, he swore that he would “investigate every Marxist prosecutor in America for their illegal, racist-in-reverse enforcement of the law.”

    Mr. Trump has frequently decried the cases brought him against by Black prosecutors in New York and Atlanta as racist. (He does not apply that charge to the white special counsel in his two federal criminal cases, who he instead calls “deranged.”)

    Yet Mr. Trump himself has a history of racist statements.

    You don't have to consider seriously what Trump is saying because he once persisted in claiming Obama wasn't born in America.

    Via Ann Althouse, who observed: The NYT headline about Trump's Cedar Rapids speech is so close to WaPo's headline that I was afraid for a moment that I'd mistakenly attributed the NYT headline to WaPo... They are, indeed, singing from the same hymnal.

  • We said the F-word. We said the R-word. Now it's time for… Yes, the D-word. WaPo "Editor at large" Robert Kagan deploys it: A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.

    Let’s stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality: There is a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day.

    Kagan's rhetoric is apocalyptic:

    But Trump will not only dominate his party. He will again become the central focus of everyone’s attention. Even today, the news media can scarcely resist following Trump’s every word and action. Once he secures the nomination, he will loom over the country like a colossus, his every word and gesture chronicled endlessly. Even today, the mainstream news media, including The Post and NBC News, is joining forces with Trump’s lawyers to seek televised coverage of his federal criminal trial in D.C. Trump intends to use the trial to boost his candidacy and discredit the American justice system as corrupt — and the media outlets, serving their own interests, will help him do it.

    "Like a colossus"! Welcome to Robert Kagan's nightmares.

    And yes, he goes there:

    In Weimar Germany, Hitler and other agitators benefited from the squabbling of the democratic parties, right and left, the endless fights over the budget, the logjams in the legislature, the fragile and fractious coalitions. German voters increasingly yearned for someone to cut through it all and get something — anything — done.

    He goes on, and on, describing the Trumpian Hellscape. And it's our own damned fault:

    We are closer to that point today than we have ever been, yet we continue to drift toward dictatorship, still hoping for some intervention that will allow us to escape the consequences of our collective cowardice, our complacent, willful ignorance and, above all, our lack of any deep commitment to liberal democracy. As the man said, we are going out not with a bang but a whimper.

    Viking Pundit notes that Kagan is essentially calling for Trump's assassination.

    At first I thought it was partisan bluster, then I was bemused by the overwrought fan fiction of a hypothetical tyranny, but then it dawned on me that Kagan was all but calling for Trump's assassination. The piece has references to Hitler (natch), Stalin, and Julius Caesar. Having established that Trump's return would be apocalyptic, Kagan makes a call to action
    Are we going to do anything about it? To shift metaphors, if we thought there was a 50 percent chance of an asteroid crashing into North America a year from now, would we be content to hope that it wouldn’t? Or would we be taking every conceivable measure to try to stop it, including many things that might not work but that, given the magnitude of the crisis, must be tried anyway?

    I'm old enough to remember when JFK was assassinated, respectable commentators ignored the fact that the killer was a dedicated Communist, instead preferring to point to the right-wing atmosphere of Dallas. If, God forbid, some crank does pull the trigger on Trump, I'm sure Kagan will be saying “That is not what I meant at all; That is not it, at all.”

Recently on the book blog:

[Amazon Img] [Amazon Img]

Sadly, It May Not Be a Good Year for "Patient and Practical"

Seen on Twitter: [crickets are delicious]

Where can I buy?

It's Sunday, so let's look at what the oddsmakers are saying:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 38.4% -0.1%
Joe Biden 32.3% +4.2%
Nikki Haley 8.6% +1.2%
Gavin Newsom 6.0% -3.9%
Robert Kennedy Jr 3.2% -0.5%
Michelle Obama 2.6% -0.6%
Other 8.9% +2.0%

Whoa. Notice who's missing? Ron DeSantis! He's dropped below our 2% criterion for inclusion. Below Gavin Newsom and Michelle Obama, who aren't even running.

Not yet, anyway.

George Will plugs our girl, who's now in third place in the bettor's hearts and pocketbooks: Nikki Haley, patient and practical, awaits her moment.

Delicacy is rare in the mass-mobilization politics of democracy, where candidates prefer bold brushstrokes of primary colors rather than pastels. But while the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination is a fountain of colorful rhetoric, Nikki Haley’s ascending candidacy is using tactical reticence to reach the right moment for becoming the last challenger standing against Donald Trump.

Critics in, as it were, the bleachers, fault Haley for not focusing her campaign against the former president. What these critics have in common is that they do not have what she has: responsibility. She is competing in the game. They do not have the challenge of prudence — of applying personal preferences and principles to untidy realities. This task falls to the few who are in the arena where great power is at stake.

Critics of Haley’s judiciously modulated nomination campaign can haughtily disdain compromises and maneuverings. These critics can concentrate on curating their pretty political profiles. They have the luxury of ignoring stubborn facts while proclaiming the importance of stopping Trump. Haley, however, must attend to the practical politics of doing that, which begins by accommodating this fact:

Americans gave Trump 62,984,828 votes in 2016 and, after watching him govern for four years, 74,223,975 of them asked for four more years. Many voted for him not as a complaint about the nation’s distribution of material rewards but to protest a more searing deprivation: of dignity. The large and widening “diploma divide” between the roughly one-third of Americans who acquire the (often foolish) prestige that comes with a four-year college degree, and the nearly two-thirds who do not.

Interesting points about campaign strategery. How to criticize Trump without insulting the people who like him?

Also of note:

  • Worst Poltergeist sequel idea. Robert Graboyes says The Jew-Movers Are Back.

    Sages of social media and swarms in the streets tell us, “It’s time to move those Jews again.” “From the river to the sea,” they inform us, “Palestine will be free.” Free of Jews, that is. Or, some Germans once put it, “Judenrein.”

    Following Hamas’s livestreamed orgy of murder, torture, rape, beheading, kidnapping, and necrophilia, and before Israel had reacted in any way, celebrants took to Western streets and campuses to condemn Israel, not Hamas, and to chant their ambiguous little rhyme, which has three plausible interpretations: (1) extermination, (2) coexistence in a binational state, and (3) expulsion and exile. Hamas has always made crystal-clear that their ambition is option (1)—the murder of every Jew on earth. Rep. Rashida Tlaib chose option (2), saying the phrase “is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate;” but she proffered that definition while dodging censure and repeatedly spreading Hamas’s murderous lie that Israel had killed 500 by bombing a hospital.

    So, let’s explore interpretation (3)—expulsion and exile. We’ll examine a whole array of questions: How long have Jew-Movers been forcibly relocating Jews? How did European and Arab governments force Jews to move to what is now Israel? What would happen if Israel’s Jews suddenly left Israel en masse? Where do Jew-Movers insist they go?

    Graboyes looks at the long history, often gory, of Jewish persecutions and forced exile from various countries. A useful, if painful, history.

I Assume Remy Couldn't Figure Out How To Rhyme "New Hampshire"

So instead he says he's Moving to South Dakota.

But don't get lost on the way here, freedom-lovers, because (as Mitchell Scacchi points out): While freedom flourishes in New Hampshire, the rest of New England is a different story. After reviewing the latest scores from Cato's Freedom in the 50 States 2023 and the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of North America 2023, here's the bottom line:

While the rest of New England champions increased government spending for social programs and public welfare, higher tax rates, more regulation, and top-down control over education and the economy, they get in return lower levels of economic opportunity, growth, and prosperity than New Hampshire does.

Also of note:

  • Sounds like clickbait! Jess Gill takes a contrarian look at This TikTok Video Shows How the Right Is Scaring Young People Away from Capitalism. And I think this is my first effort to embed a TikTok video, let's see if it works:


    im also getting sick leave me alone im emotional ok i feel 12 and im scared of not having time to live

    ♬ original sound - BRIELLE

    To be fair: she's annoying, practically begging for comments like: geez, lady, don't spend so much time installing your eye makeup!

    Ms. Gill:

    As with all generations, zoomers face disadvantages. One of the biggest challenges young people face today is finding an affordable place to live. It’s hard enough for many young people to afford rent, let alone save up for a mortgage. As the Tiktoker describes in the video, she’s unable to afford to live close to her workplace.

    The housing crisis has a big role to play in this. Due to red tape and planning regulations, the supply of housing is severely limited. This is especially true in cities, where the demand greatly outweighs the supply.

    Anyhow, the theory is that by not taking Brielle's problems seriously, non-sympathetic boomers are driving her toward socialism.

    Which won't fix her problems either, but by the time she figures that out, it will be too late, we'll all be Zooming down the Road to Serfdom.

Last Modified 2023-12-02 1:13 PM EST

At the Top of Uncle Stupid's Executive Branch

I especially like the "Readers added context" feature. Here's my "added context": Joe Biden is an idiot.

Or perhaps even more accurately: Whoever writes these tweets for him is an idiot.

Or perhaps still more accurately: The people who write and (undoubtedly) review and approve these tweets are idiots.

But my final take: the people who write, review, and approve these tweets think you are an idiot.

And they could have a point there, I suppose. He got a lot of votes, after all.

Also of note:

  • Not the first time I spoke too soon. And it probably won't be the last. Just a couple days ago, I wrote that the fuss over Hamas cheerleading at the University Near Here seemed to have died down. But NHJournal reports on yesterday's outbreak: More Anti-Israel Chants of 'From the River to the Sea' on UNH Campus.

    Just hours after New Hampshire’s attorney general announced an expansion of his office’s Civil Rights Unit in response to an increase in antisemitism, anti-Israel protesters gathered on the UNH campus to repeat the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

    The phrase is viewed as an antisemitic call for the destruction of Israel by the Anti-Defamation League and many members of New Hampshire’s Jewish community.

    No foolin'. Here's the poster used to advertise the event:

    [Advocating a new Holocaust]

    Note the map of river-to-sea "Palestine". Appropriately in red. Governor Sununu has called the rhetoric "nothing short of requesting another Holocaust.” And he's right.

  • Well, at least we're not Brown. Zach Kessel notes the doin's down in Providence: Brown University President Omits Reference to Jewish Students after Heckling from Pro-Palestinian Activists. Christina Paxson addressed a vigil in support of Brown student Hisham Awartani, who was wounded in a Vermont shooting:

    “We can’t disentangle what happened to Hisham from the broader events in Israel and Palestine that sadly we’ve been dealing with for decades,” Paxson said before being confronted by demonstrators. “Sadly, we can’t control what happens across the world and country. We are powerless to do everything we’d like to do.”

    The next line in the version of the speech Brown published on its website was the following: “At a faculty meeting last month, I said that ‘Every student, faculty and staff member should be able to proudly wear a Star of David or don a keffiyeh on the Brown campus, or to cover their head with a hijab or yarmulke.'”

    However, when Paxson gave the address, and after pro-Palestinian protesters began heckling her, that line changed to “every student, faculty and staff member should be able to proudly don a keffiyeh on the Brown campus, or to cover their head with a hijab,” with no mention of a Star of David or yarmulke.

    Maybe decent Brown alumni—there must be some—should think about diverting their donations to organizations that have some administrative backbone.

  • Given the previous items… John O. McGinnis's article should be on the reading list of every college administrator and trustee: Addressing the Rot in Our Universities.

    The naïve might wonder why universities need to set up special task forces on antisemitism, when they all have established Offices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, supposedly dedicated to protecting minorities. Do these offices not have ample personnel to take on new issues of the moment? The answer is that most DEI offices cannot be trusted to focus on antisemitism, particularly when it is connected in any way to Israel.

    Many DEI offices prioritize a particular ideology—that of intersectionality—which analyzes how various identities contribute to the construction of the oppressed and oppressor. Through that prism, Jews do not fit into the oppressed class, but rather are placed in the oppressor class of privilege. Indeed, Jews are seen (correctly) as one of the groups that built Western Civilization. And from the identitarian perspective, Western Civilization is at best complicit in the harms that have been visited on various groups—women, Blacks, and gays, among others.

    That an event in Israel furnishes the context for the rise of antisemitism makes it that much harder for DEI offices to become the locus of a response. Part of the DEI outlook is anti-colonialist, and Israel is seen by the left as a colonial power with the Jews taking the lands of the Palestinians.

    Step one:

    Thus, the inability of these offices to address antisemitism should prompt a renewed effort to end their role in college life. Indeed, any trustee who has been appalled by the reaction to the Hamas massacres should take a cue from Roman history. Just as the elder Cato ended every speech with the conclusion that Carthage must be destroyed to safeguard the republic, so should the trustee end every speech with the conclusion that DEI must be administratively dissolved to safeguard the modern university.

    Again, looking at the University Near Here: you can get a hint of the massive (and expensive) DEI sub-bureaucracy on UNH's Diversity, Equity, Access & Inclusion page.

    They got your "Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice, and Freedom".

    They got your "Civil Rights & Equity Office".

    They got your "Office of Community, Equity & Diversity"

    To be fair, one of those (but only one) is responsible for making sure UNH is adhering to civil rights laws and other regulations. The other two could go away tomorrow and nobody would notice.

  • Inescapable conundrums are the best conundrums. Finally, a non-university item. Jeff Jacoby writes on The inescapable conundrum of anonymous speech. Spurred by Nikki Haley's recent demand (and eventual back-down) of anonymity bans on social media sites:

    To a nation that cherishes and upholds free speech, anonymity poses an insoluble conundrum. The harms it makes possible are all too real. From behind the mask of a pseudonym (or no name at all), bad actors are emboldened to spew hatred and abuse, to disseminate lies and disinformation, to whip up bigotry against minorities and incite animosity against those they resent. People lacking the courage to identify themselves will spread ugly rumors, trash reputations, and promote conspiracy theories surreptitiously. And while that has always been the case, the digital revolution has compounded it by orders of magnitude. The nastiness of social media, the vitriol of online comment sections, the viciousness of trolls — they are familiar to just about anyone with a computer and an internet connection.

    But if anonymity can be toxic, it can also be invaluable. It can shield dissidents, reformers, or truth-tellers from the retaliation of the powerful. It allows thoughtful individuals to candidly express views on contentious issues without worrying that their words will maliciously be used to cancel them. It helps counteract the chilling effect caused by our culture's merciless thought police, who have deemed certain opinions unsayable and persecute anyone who deviates.

    But if anonymity can be toxic, it can also be invaluable. It can shield dissidents, reformers, or truth-tellers from the retaliation of the powerful. It allows thoughtful individuals to candidly express views on contentious issues without worrying that their words will maliciously be used to cancel them. It helps counteract the chilling effect caused by our culture's merciless thought police, who have deemed certain opinions unsayable and persecute anyone who deviates.

    After a few dabbles with semi-anonymity on BIX and Usenet decades ago, I made the personal decision to be non-anonymous. I get the arguments that might lead people the other way, though.