Watch what you do. Watch what you say. David Harsanyi looks at the latest bright idea: Biden's Ministry of Truth.
Earlier this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress that his agency is creating a “Disinformation Governance Board” to combat “misinformation” coming from Russia as we near this year’s midterm elections.
The Biden administration’s new Committee on Public Information will be led by Nina Jankowicz, “a disinformation fellow” who, perfectly enough, comes to the administration from a think tank named after Woodrow Wilson. Like Wilson, Mayorkas, himself a font of untruths, does not explain under what constitutional power he proposes to oversee speech.
It gets tedious to point this out, but you can vividly imagine the thermonuclear meltdown the country would be (rightly) subjected to if a Republican president assembled a government panel tasked with weeding out “disinformation.”
Harsanyi notes the irony of this new group happening under "a man who for the past 50 years has been one of our most entertaining fabulists."
Unfortunately, Corn Pop did not show up for the job interview. So, as Kevin D. Williamson relates, someone else got the job: Nina Jankowicz, Biden’s ‘Disinformation Board’ Chief, Must Be Placed in an Ankle Monitor.
Linguistically, the name of the Department of Homeland Security has always sounded a little off to me — a little . . . well, Russian. So I suppose that it is only fitting that it should be the DHS, and not, say, the Post Office, that will house America’s newest Ministry of Truth. Per Secretary Mayorkas, his already-sprawling agency will be adding a “Disinformation Governance Board” to its offerings, the better to fight the “huge threat to our homeland” that is free American citizens saying things that the federal government doesn’t like.
At the head of this new venture will sit an extremely strange woman named Nina Jankowicz, who, if her other activities are any indication, was apparently asked to choose between agreeing to the role at DHS and being turned down after yet another audition for the musical Wicked. A cursory look at Jankowicz’s social-media history suggests that, while she is certainly interested in disinformation, her passion is dressing up as Liza Minnelli. In one video, Jankowicz adapts the tune of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to convey that “Information laundering is really quite ferocious / It’s when a huckster takes some lies and makes them sound precocious.” In another, she offers up that pornographic twist on the Harry Potter books for which we’ve all been clamoring. “I helped him solve the mystery of the egg,” she warbles. “But I’d like to solve the mystery between his legs.” Her canon is limited in scope, but what I’ve seen of it is enough to test even the most committed civil libertarian in his opposition to casual waterboarding.
Hey, anyone can play that game:
"Old Joe Biden's governance is totally atrocious;
As if his brain is failing with dementia and psychosis."
And our state's junior senator says… Well, nothing. As reported by Michael Graham: Hassan Silent on DHS's Controversial 'Disinformation Governing Board'.
Sen. Maggie Hassan may sit on the Homeland Security Committee, but she had nothing to say about the controversial “Disinformation Governing Board” launched by the department she helps oversee.
Asked about the new board, Sen. Hassan declined to comment. She also declined to respond to questions about whether she would support Senate efforts to defund it. And she has no mention of it on her social media or Senate website.
“Of course Senator Hassan won’t vote to defund such an egregious use of taxpayer money, because she’s beholden to the far-left of her party,” tweeted GOP U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Smith. “#MaggieHasnt represented us on the Homeland Security Committee for the past five years, so why start now?”
Well, in her defense, she's been busy:
This morning, the New Hampshire delegation dedicated a tree to the people of our state at the U.S. Capitol.— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) April 28, 2022
I’m excited for a piece of our state’s beauty to be on display at our nation’s front steps. 🌳 pic.twitter.com/tuONc431pm
Mr. Graham also notes Maggie's been unbusy saying nothing of substance on another matter: As Biden Moves Toward Mass Student Debt Forgiveness, Hassan Dodges Issue.
In her defense, her pollsters probably haven't determined what position will lose her the fewest votes in November.
And can we stop calling it "forgiveness"? I know: "burden-shifting to taxpaying schmucks" is a little wordy, but‥
But speaking of student debt "forgiveness". Peter Suderman suggests we use an even more accurate term: Elizabeth Warren Wants Joe Biden To Deliver a Massive, Illegal Handout to the Well-Off.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren likes to describe herself as someone who sides with working people. For example, in a recent New York Times op-ed, the Massachusetts Democrat warns, correctly, that her party is headed for disaster in this year's midterm elections. She then urges President Joe Biden "to use every tool of the presidency to deliver for"—you guessed it—"working people." This is the sort of thing that is designed to appeal to Biden's abiding sense that he's just a regular guy whose mission in life is to make life easier for other regular people. He's just an average Joe trying to help all the other average joes.
Peter's particularly good on demonstrating the "well-off" part. Could this scheme actually be illegal?
Actually, someone did answer that question. Specifically, that question was answered in 2021 by the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Education. Lawyers for sprawling government agencies often like to defend the broad powers of their departments, declaring what they legally can do rather than what they legally can't. So it is noteworthy that the lawyers for the Education Department found that the secretary of education "does not have statutory authority to provide blanket or mass cancellation, compromise, discharge, or forgiveness of student loan principal balances, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof, whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic or for any other reason." That sounds like a pretty firm no.
So it's not just a plan to give huge amounts of money to corporate lawyers and junior associates at hedge funds. It's an illegal plan to give huge amounts of money to corporate lawyers and junior associates at hedge funds.
Also a little more wordy than "forgiveness", but much more accurate.
But to be fair, don't all recent presidents commit impeachable offenses? Charles C. W. Cooke notes that even a venerable MSM institution seems to agree: President Biden Is Planning to Violate His Oath of Office Again. Noting an article in the WaPo:
The administration is considering various ways to forgive some student loan debt through executive action. In recent weeks, senior Biden aides have examined limiting the relief to people who earned less than either $125,000 or $150,000 as individual filers the previous year, the people said. That plan would set the threshold at around $250,000 or $300,000 for couples who file their taxes jointly, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and the people familiar with the matter stressed that planning was fluid and subject to change.
CCWC comments pithily:
There can be no “limits,” because the move is illegal. There can be no “decision,” because the move is illegal. There can be no “planning,” because the move is illegal. Last summer, Nancy Pelosi said:
“The president can’t do it,” Pelosi said, at a press briefing. “That’s not even a discussion.”
Pelosi said any student debt forgiveness would have to be carried out by Congress.
Why did Pelosi say “the president can’t do it.” She said that because the president can’t do it. Why did Pelosi say “that’s not even a discussion”? She said that because everybody knows that the president can’t do it. Why did Pelosi say that this was a matter for Congress? She said that because this is a matter for Congress.
There's more at the link. CCWC is at his best when he's irked.
Does mental illness make you special? If you've been wondering about that, check out self-admitted Marxist Freddie deBoer over at UnHerd; he has the answer: Mental illness doesn't make you special.
Marianne Eloise wants the world to know that she does not “have a regular brain at all”. That’s her declaration, on the very first page of her new memoir, Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking. The book catalogues her experience of a dizzying variety of psychiatric conditions: OCD, anxiety, autism, ADHD, alcohol abuse, seasonal affective disorder, an eating disorder, night terrors, depression. By her own telling, Eloise has suffered a great deal from these ailments; I believe her, and wish better for her. But she would prefer we not think of them as ailments at all. And that combination of self-pity and self-aggrandisement is emblematic of our contemporary understanding of mental health.
Eloise is a champion of neurodivergence, an omnibus term that’s recently ballooned in popularity, which can include autism, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, or indeed any other psychiatric condition that’s hot right now. The term is designed for making sweeping pronouncements. Forget the fact that, say, autism and schizophrenia are so different that they have at times been described as opposite conditions. Forget the fact that saying you’re neurodivergent has as much medical meaning as saying you have a disorder of the body. The idea is that there’s a group of people whose brain chemistry differs, in some beautiful way, from some Platonic norm. And it’s an idea that’s taken on great symbolic power in contemporary liberal culture.
I've tried to think about mental illness non-judgmentally, neatly summed up in that "omnibus term" Freddie describes, neurodivergence. Or: being several sigma off the mean in one or more personality traits. (That certainly seems to apply in Marianne Eloise's case.)
And that's not necessarily bad. Clearly though, in some cases, it is. When does it become mental illness? Still working on that, but articles like deBoer's are helping clarify things.
Worthwhile Canadian Initiative. Dave Barry notes that the Great White North is nothing if not proactive: Canada's criminal code to soon include crimes committed on the moon.
Canadian astronauts will soon need to be wary of committing crimes on the lunar surface.
According to the CBC, Canada recently amended its criminal code to include crimes committed by Canadian astronauts during trips to the moon and on its surface.
The criminal code already includes crimes related to Canadian astronauts on the International Space Station, stating that any crime committed on the ISS is considered to have occurred in Canada.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police should probably have a subdivison: the Royal Canadian Space Police!
"Sergeant Preston of the Lunar Space Police, with Copernicus King, swiftest and strongest lead wookie, breaking the trail in the relentless pursuit of lawbreakers in the wild days of the Moon."