Message: I Care

You may have seen this elsewhere:

I'm old enough to remember Jonah Goldberg's classic column where he meditated on Republicans reading their stage directions. His classic example was George H. W. Bush during the 1992 campaign in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he actually uttered the three words in today's headline.

But, yeah: President Dotard doubled down on that.

There's even a TVTropes page about this malady; their lead example is from Friends, featuring Joey's clueless audition for a role:

Joey: I can't. Oh, I want to, long pause, but I can't.

Leonard: I'm sorry, sorry. You're not supposed to say "long pause".

Joey: Oh, oh, I thought that was your character's name, you know, I thought you were like an Indian or something.

Friends, "The One with the Mugging"

Even more amusing, the official White House transcript transcribes "Pause" as "(inaudible)".

Also of note:

  • So who had "Illegal FTC Power Grab" on their Biden impeachment bingo card? Get your dauber out. Eric Boehm notes, at Reason: Ban on Noncompete Agreements Is an Illegal Power Grab by the FTC.

    More than 30 million Americans have signed employment contracts that limit their ability to switch jobs to a competing company, and those contracts are regulated by laws in 47 states.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) swept all of that aside in one fell swoop this week, as the commission voted down party lines to ban future noncompete agreements and to block the enforcement of many of those existing contracts. (The retroactive ban on noncompete agreements does not apply to senior-level employees.) Even for an agency that has sought in recent years to stretch its regulatory reach, the new FTC rule banning noncompete agreements is a stunning expansion of federal power—one that courts almost certainly will be asked to rein in.

    Banning noncompete agreements is "not only unlawful but also a blatant power grab," said Suzanne P. Clark, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. "This decision sets a dangerous precedent for government micromanagement of business and can harm employers, workers, and our economy."

    "Other than that, though, it's peachy keen."

  • If only Nate Silver had been around 55 years ago. I might have followed his advice:

    He expands on that at his substack: Go to a state school.

    Wait, was I serious about this one? Yeah, more or less. If I were advising a friend’s son or daughter facing Decision Day, I’d tell them to pass on the Ivy League and go to a high-quality state school instead under some conditions. Let me articulate some exceptions:

    And the exceptions are amusing:

    • If the student’s identity were deeply tied up into being a Princeton Man or a Cornell Woman or whatever, then I’d think that was a little weird — but by all means I’d tell them to go, I’m not here to kink-shame.

    • I’d also tell them to go with the elite private college if (i) they had a high degree of confidence in what they wanted to do with their degree and (ii) it was in a field like law that regards the credential as particularly valuable.

    • And I’d tell them to strongly consider going if they came from an economically disadvantaged background and had been offered a golden ticket to join the elite. I’m not super familiar with the literature on the selective college wage premium, but it’s among this group of disadvantaged students where the benefits seem to be concentrated.

    I should note that neither the University of Nebraska (where I lived as a high schooler), nor the University of New Hampshire appears on that list of "high quality state schools".

  • Some people forget that due process is a civil right. But not KC Johnson, so he calls it like it is: Biden’s Civil Rights Rollback.

    Last Friday, the Biden administration followed through on a promise: to roll back civil rights for college students accused of sexual misconduct. The new regulations come under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Set to go into effect in August, they will restore some of the worst excesses introduced when Biden was vice president under Obama.

    One of the most concerning is the return of the “single-investigator” model that was barred under Trump. This means “one administrator can act as detective, prosecutor, judge, and jury on a Title IX complaint.”


    The new rules damage due process in more ways than one:

    • Accused students will lose the right to have access to all evidence gathered in the university’s Title IX investigation;

    • They will lose the right to have a live hearing to adjudicate the claim against them;

    • They will no longer be able to have an adviser or attorney cross-examine adverse witnesses;

    • And the Biden administration has voided the basic requirement that any investigation open with a written complaint.

    It's a return to the bad old days of college star chambers.

  • If only Ayjay had posted this last year… Alan Jacobs on making rational choices about what books not to read:

    My own strategy for deciding what to read arises from these facts: Literary fiction in America has become a monoculture in which the writers and the editors are overwhelmingly products of the same few top-ranked universities and the same few top-ranked MFA programs — we’re still in The Program Era — and work in a moment that prizes above all else ideological uniformity. Such people tend also to live in the same tiny handful of places. And it is virtually impossible for anything really interesting, surprising, or provocative to emerge from an intellectual monoculture.

    With these facts in mind I have developed a three-strike system to help me decide whether to read contemporary fiction, with the following features:

    • The book is set in Brooklyn: Three strikes, you’re out
    • The author lives in Brooklyn: Three strikes, you’re out
    • The book is set anywhere else in New York City: Two strikes
    • The book is set in San Francisco: Two strikes
    • The book’s protagonist is a writer or artist or would-be writer or would-be artist: Two strikes
    • The author attended an Ivy League or Ivy-adjacent university or college: Two strikes
    • The book is set in Los Angeles: One strike
    • The author lives in San Francisco: One strike. 
    • The author has an MFA: One strike
    • The book is set in the present day: One strike

    I am not saying that any book that racks up three strikes cannot be good. I am saying that the odds against said book being good are enormous. It is vanishingly unlikely that a book that gets three strikes in my system will be worth reading, because any such book is overwhelmingly likely to reaffirm the views of its monoculture — to be a kind of comfort food for its readers. Even books as horrific as Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life — a novel I wish I had never read, and one of the key books that made me settle on this system — is comforting in the sense that we always know precisely whom we are to sympathize with and whom to hate. Daniel Mendelsohn is correct: “Yanagihara’s book sometimes feels less like a novel than like a seven-hundred-page-long pamphlet.” I would delete “sometimes.” 

    I read A Little Life last year, because it was on the New York Times Best Books of the Past 125 Years. Like Professor Jacobs, I found it to be not my cup of tea. (It gets "at least five strikes" under his system.)

Ah, But It's Not a Federal Crime to Feed This Unopened Envelope Right to the Shredder

I was tempted to do that, but … nah, let's see who's trying to scare their mailing list. "Read this in the next 5 days, or go to the Federal pen. Your choice."

It's FreedomWorks, as it turns out. I've said nice things about them in the past. In 2015 they were useful in quantifying then-Senator Kelly Ayotte's drift away from economic freedom. (A drift that was worse than useless in keeping her seat in the 2016 election.) I liked what their chairman at the time, Dick Armey, had to say in 2008 about some misbegotten privacy-invading legislation.

But Armey quit in disgust back in 2012. And since… meh.

Let them explain (some formatting altered):

Why Your Survey Is Important

Dear Paul Sand:

Thank you for taking a few minutes of your valuable time to…

  2. Sign your PLEDGE TO VOTE in 2024.
  3. And complete this survey of American taxpayers.

Missing is

4. Send us some money.

Yes, of course they get around to asking for that.

So now it's off to the shredder!

Also of note:

  • Further hint: if you can't spot the sucker at the table, it's you. Phil Gramm and Mike Solon take to the WSJ opinion pages to offer some fiscal guidance: Who Pays Corporate Taxes? Look in the Mirror.

    In his call for Congress to repeal the 2017 tax cuts and increase corporate tax rates, President Biden asked: “Are we going to continue with an economy where the overwhelming share of the benefits go to big corporations and the very wealthy?” Rep. Richard Neal, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said that extending the tax cuts will do nothing but fill “the pockets of venture capitalists and some business owners.” President Obama’s top economist, Austan Goolsbee, said that debates over who pays the corporate tax are “an argument about whether making corporations pay more income taxes would trickle down into lower workers’ wages.”

    Further on, Phil and Mike note:

    Corporate tax rates, which were the driving force behind the permanent part of the 2017 tax cuts, receive less attention than individual income-tax rates only because Americans don’t understand that corporations don’t pay taxes. A corporate entity is a “pass through” legal structure—a piece of paper in a Delaware filing cabinet. When the corporate tax rate increases, corporations try to pass the cost on to consumers. To the degree that the entire cost of the tax increase can’t be passed on to consumers, those costs are borne by employees and investors. Most economic studies conclude that 50% to 70% of a corporate tax increase not passed on in higher prices is borne by workers, while 30% to 50% is borne by investors.

    If you consume, you pay the corporate tax. If you consume and work for a corporation, you pay the corporate tax twice. If you consume, work and invest your retirement funds in corporate equities, the corporate tax rate hits you three times. Democrats call up the image of the greedy robber baron as a personification of big corporations, but when you pull back the curtain, it isn’t the wizard or the robber baron you see but yourself as a consumer, worker and pensioner.

    I'm retired, so I'm only hit on the "consume" and "invest" punching bags. The "genius" of the Biden strategy is that the plunder out of my pocket is so indirect.

  • Among the many things that should not be funded by taxpayers… Michael Chapman of Cato goes after a recent target of criticism: NPR Should Not Be Subsidized by Taxpayers. But that's not all, folks:

    If NPR were private, receiving no taxpayer funds, like The Nation or NBC News, its coverage and “less diverse” audience would likely raise little concern. NPR could be as woke as it wants or as conservative as it wants. The bottom line is that there is no reason why taxpayers should be forced to fund news organizations.

    In the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (9th Edition), scholars at the Cato Institute write, “In a society that constitutionally limits the powers of government and maximizes individual liberty, there is no justification for the forcible transfer of money from taxpayers to artists, scholars, and broadcasters. … Moreover, the power to subsidize art, scholarship, and broadcasting cannot be found within the powers enumerated and delegated to the federal government under the Constitution.”

    The same chapter says “Congress should eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts; eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities; and defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” (CPB’s FY2024 operation budget is $535 million.)

    For radio and TV, “the selection process is inherently political,” reads the Cato Handbook. “Why are taxpayers in a free society compelled to support news coverage, particularly when it is inclined in a statist direction?”

    Why indeed?

  • Not a replacement for "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman". Andrew C. McCarthy is no Trump fan, but he is merciless on one of Trump's many legal nemeses: Alvin Bragg, Election Denier. An excerpt from one of his (many) articles:

    We have spent much time on the manifold flaws in Bragg’s prosecution, including:

    • A business-records-falsification indictment against Trump that Bragg, the paragon progressive prosecutor, would bring against no one but a political enemy.
    • The impropriety that Bragg, a state prosecutor, is purporting to enforce federal campaign law — without a peep of protest from the collusive Biden Justice Department, naturally — in a matter that both DOJ and the Federal Election Commission (the federal agencies with actual jurisdiction over the matter) decided not to pursue against Trump.
    • The fact that Bragg is accomplishing this by making up his own version of what federal law requires, again, without any pushback from the feds — although you can only imagine the howling we’d be hearing if this were being done to a Democrat.
    • And the fact that this criminal case, mirroring New York attorney general Letitia James’s outrageous civil fraud case against Trump, involves an alleged fraud scheme in which the state can prove no fraud victims — i.e., Trump is charged with falsifying his records with fraudulent intent, but the state is not claiming that anything or anyone, including the state itself, lost a penny.

    Any one of these infirmities — and I’ve just hit the main ones — should be enough to explode Bragg’s prosecution, to say nothing of all of them in concert. But in focusing on the trees, we miss the forest: Alvin Bragg is an election denier.

    That’s what this case is about. It is an elected progressive Democratic district attorney’s version of “stop the steal” — the fraud that Democrats claim leaves “our democracy” hanging by a thread. Don’t take my word for it. Just read the Statement of Facts, so-called, that Bragg published in conjunction with the indictment.

    The classified-document case is probably the strongest against Trump. Bragg is an enthusiastic Trump-hater with unfortunate power.

  • I'm proud to be a cultural appropriator. And so is Martin Gurri, as he writes In Praise of Anglo-Saxons.

    This being an age of social justice, I want to recognize the achievements of today’s most ruthlessly marginalized and stereotyped ethnicity: the Anglo-Saxons. In film, television and the news media, the mandatory depiction of the Anglo-Saxon is either as a plutocrat or a hillbilly. The little Monopoly guy with the top hat and the monocle? He’s an Anglo-Saxon. The inbred yokel in “Deliverance” who kills anyone not married to his own sister? An Anglo-Saxon of the worst kind.

    By Anglo-Saxon I mean everyone originally from the island of Britain, including Scots, Welsh, Cornish and other assorted Celts who for centuries have roosted on the branches of the vast English tree. Let’s face it: To us non-Anglo-Saxons, from a distance, they all look alike. I also include the Scotch-Irish, who are really Scots who lived in Ireland before they left to improve their lives in Appalachia. But I most certainly do not include the actual Irish: If I were to call the Irish Anglo-Saxons, soon after, I’m certain, the Irish Republican Army would be knocking on my door.

    It’s true that the Anglo-Saxons are plutocrats and hillbillies—but they are so much more! Start with sports, the activity that best exemplifies the Anglo-Saxon ethos. Now, it is an irresistible impulse of the human animal to pick up sticks, spheres or both, and play games with them. This has been so in all continents and cultures, from the beginning of time. But only to the Anglo-Saxons did it occur to legislate a game into a sport. They accomplished this by mandating a bunch of arbitrary but unyielding rules (“three strikes and you’re out”) and the usage of words that were sometimes vaguely moralistic (“error,” “penalty”), sometimes weirdly suggestive (“love” for a tied score) and suddenly you had modern tennis, baseball, basketball, cricket, golf, hockey and football, both of the American and the lesser kind.

    It's awe-inspring, ackshually.

Recently on the book blog, one that some regular readers might find of interest:

Pun Salad PG13 Policy Continues to Erode

but in Hebrew, so it's OK.

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Jeff Maurer points out the underlying context: The Groups Protesting on College Campuses Don't Think Israel Should Exist.

In the official request for divestment filed by Columbia University Apartheid Divest, the group said that the Israeli occupation of Palestine had caused “immeasurable violence” to the Palestinian people for 75 years. That number — 75 years — dates the “occupation” to 1948, the establishment of Israel. It cannot be a reference to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which began in 1967. The reference to 75 years is not buried deep in the document — it’s in the second sentence. This letter that considers the very existence of Israel to be an occupation was signed by 89 student groups on December 1.

It's not just the Ku Klux Kollege Kids. Just last week, we mentioned the Action Alerts page of the Community Church of Durham (NH); their lead item demands "Justice for Palestine-Israel" and traces back the real problem to:

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

As Maurer says, this number is not arrived at by accident. The "problem", according to this Christian church, is linked to the mere existence of the Jewish state.

One more bit from Maurer:

Is calling for the elimination of Israel automatically antisemitic? I don’t know. But it is definitely a call for something bad to happen to the almost seven million Jews who live there (plus I wouldn’t assume that everything would be lollipops and rainbows for the more than two million non-Jewish Israelis). Affirming Israel’s right to exist is usually the starting point for any discussion of Israel-Palestine in American politics. Every member of The Squad except for Rashida Tlaib voted for a resolution affirming Israel’s right to exist, and AOC recently joined a statement affirming Israel’s right to self-defense. Debates about the bounds of antisemitism usually rest on questions that are subjective and unknowable, which is why I’m not addressing them. Instead, I’m focusing on the plain fact that the groups protesting at Columbia and elsewhere have adopted positions that not even the fringiest left-wing figures in American politics support.

Maurer is more charitable toward the "peace activists" than I am. Should they get their way, God forbid, Jews would be violently purged "from the river to the sea". The activists, safe in America, would shrug and smugly say: "well, I wasn't in favor of that, although Israel was asking for it"… and proceed to their next crusade.

Also of note:

  • For those who think otherwise… or if you just want some rhetorical ammo to provide to those asserting otherwise: Israel Is Not Committing ‘Genocide’ in Gaza. (My last gifted NR link for this month.)

    Has Israel erred in service of its aims? Absolutely. The recent accidental killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers is a tragedy, and those who played a role have rightly been held accountable. But such is the reality of all war; miscalculations are made, the wrong people get killed. And that is especially true in a war against an enemy that strategically embeds itself within civilian sites for the express purpose of maximizing death tolls among its own people. Yet that hasn’t stopped widespread accusations against Israel of systematically targeting civilians. And while some may be ignorant of the relevant statutes, the Geneva Conventions and other elements of international humanitarian law are clear: The standard for the death of civilians is the word “willful.” No credible source has presented evidence of Israel’s willful targeting of Palestinian civilians.

    These distinctions matter for putting genocide charges into the context of antisemitism. The term “genocide” was coined for the specific purpose of naming the systematic, state-sponsored persecution of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Recognition of the special nature of Jewish suffering has given way to frequent accusations that Jews seek to benefit from an exclusive claim on victimhood, that they have weaponized the Holocaust as a way to insulate Israel from all criticism and moral obligation, and have turned the Nazi genocide into a get-out-of-jail free card. This manipulation of the Holocaust and the concept of genocide is textbook antisemitism, according to the widely adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition. That it is being used by, among others, deniers of the Holocaust only deepens the irony.

    The world must not ignore the sadistic pleasure taken by those charging Israel with genocide. It is an attempt to neuter Jewish trauma in order to wage political war against Israel. By positing a moral equivalency between what was done to Jews then and what the Jewish state is now doing in its defensive war against Hamas, the atrocities of the Holocaust are delegitimized, and Jews can no longer reap the supposed illicit advantages granted by their history. Indeed, the false charge of “genocide” is what has allowed critics to continue excusing Hamas’s terrorism as a justifiable act of resistance, desecrating Jewish storefronts with swastikas and slurs, or holding signs saying “Hitler would be proud” with total impunity.

    A similarly-weaponized word from Israel-haters: "apartheid".

  • Not exactly "contempt" in my case, but… Louis Markos asserts at the Federalist: Contempt For Ordinary Voters Undermines Opposition To Trump.

    A complaint I hear increasingly leveled at contemporary American politicians is that they are out of touch with voters, if not downright contemptuous of them. On a number of core issues, politicians seem less concerned with pursuing policies that are deeply unpopular with ordinary Americans than with upholding the ideologies and self-interests of the ruling elite. Two dramatic examples of this political disconnect with average citizens are the refusal of urban governments to prosecute violent criminals, which has caused a surge in crime, and the White House’s tolerance of mass immigration, which threatens jobs, security, and the rule of law.

    As I survey the current political and intellectual landscape, I cannot help but see a resurgence of the arrogance and disdain of the 18th-century French revolutionaries for those they considered to be incapable of rational thought and moral behavior. But I am moving too fast. Let me slow down and give some historical background.

    Not to kvetch, but I really think the headline should be "underlies", not "undermines".

    Markos's thesis is that today's progressives echo the attitude of Diderot toward the "multitude", which he thought was shot through with "wickedness, stupidity, inhumanity, unreason, and prejudice".

    I am a mild-mannered Trump opponent myself. And I don't get all misty-eyed about the voting public; see my reports on Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter, Jason Brennan's Against Democracy, and Garett Jones' 10% Less Democracy.

  • A KDW article outside the Dispatch paywall! So check it out: Pinching Pennies for Putin.

    There is a William F. Buckley Jr. line for every occasion, and the one for Sen. J.D. Vance is: “I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.”

    Vance came to his heartland populism via an education at Yale Law School, Peter Thiel’s money, Hollywood, and the New York Times bestseller list. A venture capital man who once denounced Donald Trump as unfit for the presidency and who currently is so intimately and uncomfortably attached to Trump that it is impossible to distinguish him from a hemorrhoid, Vance has decided to be the clown prince of a very small kingdom: the realm of people who feel very strongly that the U.S. government should accommodate Vladimir Putin’s imperial project in Ukraine and beyond. Vance is not stupid, and he has seen how far a clown prince can go in Washington. He even has some reason to hope that he is 1,659 days away from being elected president of these United States after serving as Donald Trump’s vice president and riding that lame duck as far as he will waddle.

    It is difficult to feel much other than contempt for what Vance has become and pity for the way he became it. My own background is similar to his in the worst ways, and I sympathize when it comes to the temptation to say to the world, as Vance has, “Tell me what sort of man you want me to be, and I’ll pretend to be that sort of man.” I can understand it, and even forgive it. (Eventually.) But you can never trust a man who has decided to be the Tom Ripley of American politics.

    I liked Vance's book Hillbilly Elegy. Now I wonder how honest he was being there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The concept has since drawn criticism from conservatives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, Howie, pretty much always.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Monica wants your money, commuters.

Also of note:

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

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

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

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

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

    Bari's Free Press has both stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So: worse than 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

A Suggestion for a New Guinea National Anthem

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, as Mark Knopfler says…

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

Why does this remind me of a Monty Python sketch?

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

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

Warning: Google hit counts are bogus.

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

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

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

Also of note:

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

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

    And in the latter:

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

    Good points all.

Recently on the movie blog:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Also of note:

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

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

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

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

    Why would anyone send their kids to Oyster River schools?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Since I mentioned it:

    See? Told you.

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

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

Kathy's the Gift That Keeps On Giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds totally legit.

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

Also of note:

  • [Amazon Link]
    (paid link)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlike Kamala, He Hasn't Studied the Maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A pungent observation:

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

Also of note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Josh did something unusual: he asked ChatGPT to

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

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

A Random Thought I Had That Everyone Else Had Years Ago

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

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

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

I discovered that Dunham was way ahead of me:

Cheap shots, but funny ones.

But (ahem) getting back to that Geraghty post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also of note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Can't have that!

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

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

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

    That last link goes to…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also of note:

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

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

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

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

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

    And how did Trump react to all that?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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