Dear Weekend Jolter,
Mindful of these spiritual days, a purifying mix of joyfulness and sorrow as our traditions dictate, this edition will be of lesser girth than usual, but still one hopes appetizing. There is a new issue of the fortnightly gem known as National Review now ambling its way through the U.S. Postal System. It’s indeed a special issue, boasting of 20 articles about the good, the bad, and the ugly of California. See below for more, but do take some advice: If you don’t have an NRPLUS membership, which entitles you to immediate (true, electronic) access to NR, and to its archives, and to all those behind-a-paywall examples of journalistic brilliance, and so much more . . . well, you are ill-serving yourself.
Take the well-served option: Subscribe here. (Hey! There’s some big sale going on!)
More advice: Mark Antonio Wright, great American and executive editor of this enterprise, has commenced a new weekly / weekend column, dubbed “The Vitruvian Life” (Your Ignorant Correspondent initially believed it referred to a rutabaga-based diet or some other oddity, but was told “No fool — it has to do with that Da Vinci multiple-armstretching dude”).
You will find the first installment of Mark’s brilliance here. Please do read it.
Also please discover, if you haven’t yet, the excellent new podcast, hosted by David Bahnsen, “Capital Record.” The latest episode, featuring financial writer John Mauldin, can be heard here.
NAME. RANK. LINK
No kow tow; so, pow?: China & Taiwan: Attack by Beijing Getting Closer
Integrity idling on tarmac: Georgia Voting Law: State Should Stand Up to Corporate Bullies
Bridge on the River Joe: Biden Administration Infrastructure Plan: Unnecessary Spending & Tax Increases
Teachers’ Petty: It’s Time for America to Take Back Power from the Teachers’ Unions
Michael Brendan Dougherty: The COVID Dead-Enders Want Lockdowns to Live On
Andrew C. McCarthy: Powerful Evidence That George Floyd Resisted Arrest
Charles C.W. Cooke: Georgia Election-Reform Bill: Baseless Controversy Stoked by Opportunistic Liars
Cameron Hilditch: War on Porn: Legislative Solutions Have Limits
Kevin Hassett: Five Questions for Senator Ron Johnson
Kevin Williamson: Biden Infrastructure Plan a Massive Political Slush-Fund
Naomi Schaefer Riley: Critical Race Theory Challenges Southern Baptist Convention Programs
Max Eden and Tracey Schirra: Kristi Noem, Women’s Sports and Conservatives: A Better Approach Is Needed
Elliott Abrams: Is Iran Being Turned into Red China’s Gas Pump?
Andrew C. McCarthy: Andrew Cuomo’s Brazen Stalling Strategy
Charles C.W. Cooke: You Indeed Can Be Pro-Life and Pro-Gun Rights
Cameron Hilditch: California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Revives Aztec Religion
LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW!
Armond White calls out TCM: Reframed Series Offer Woke Critics Rebuking Film Classics
Kyle Smith sees no masterpiece: Zack Synder’s Justice League Is Disappointing
FROM THE NEW ISSUE
David Bahnsen: The Great California Exodus
Michael Gibson: Chesa Boudin’s Dangerous San Francisco
Steven Greenhut: Reform California’s Water Policies
David L. Leal: Winning California’s Latino Vote
Peter Robinson: Notes from a Once-Golden State
David Mamet: The New Zealander Comes to California
AND NOW, WE FILL YOUR EASTER BASKET WITH LINKS AND EXCERPTS
1. Red China seems to be putting on the war paint. From the editorial:
At two separate Senate hearings last month, the current head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the nominee to replace him warned of a growing threat of a Chinese attack. It could come “in the next decade, in fact within the next six years,” said Admiral Phil Davidson. His would-be successor, Admiral John Aquilino, a few weeks later offered a similar assessment: “There are spans from today to 2045. My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think.”
Their grim assessments are borne out by the facts.
First, consider the extent of the Chinese military’s buildup in recent decades. Not only has the People’s Liberation Army embarked on a massive modernization drive for the past 30 years, but these efforts have been supported by an extensive whole-of-country initiative to marshal precisely the kind of resources necessary for an eventual cross-strait invasion. Even one of China’s largest ferry operators has constructed ships according to PLA specifications that could transport equipment and personnel during an amphibious assault.
2. Atlanta-headquartered Delta execs wet themselves and gets woke over Georgia’s election-reform law. Someone needs a spanking. From the editorial:
Corporations have the right to free speech. They do not have the right to obedience to all of their demands. It is high time that state-level Republicans remembered that.
A variety of factors have led to the capture of America’s major corporations by the social-justice-warrior wing of the Democratic Party. Corporate C-suites and legal and human-resources departments are increasingly staffed by products of woke university educations. The “diversity and inclusion” business sector is now itself an $8 billion a year industry. Corporate managers who are not themselves left-wing culture warriors are easily pushed around by a vocal minority of their employees or customers brandishing boycotts, lawsuits, and Twitter mobs. This is especially prevalent in sports, entertainment, and journalism, where prominent employees wield outsized public platforms.
One result is that sports leagues, Hollywood, and big business have gotten into the habit over the past decade of threatening to pull their business from states whose legislatures pass laws that do not meet the approval of the cultural Left. We have seen this pattern over and over with laws in Indiana, Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota, and other states that addressed hot-button topics ranging from immigration to religious liberty to transgenderism to same-sex marriage. What has followed, in nearly every case, is that state governors have folded like a cheap suitcase rather than stick up for the democratic right of a free people to pass laws through their elected representatives, chosen in free and fair elections.
3. Joe has proffered a gross infrastructure bill. It needs a kick in the asphalt. From the editorial:
The infrastructure bill’s spending, spread out over eight years, would be funded by 15 years’ worth of corporate tax hikes — not only pushing the tax on corporate income from 21 to 28 percent but also imposing a wide variety of other tax schemes, from a strengthened “global minimum tax” to a minimum tax on big companies’ “book” income (which does not include, for example, deductions for investment and previous losses). Details on individual income-tax hikes, meanwhile, await Biden’s next proposal. More than likely, all these tax hikes won’t fully pay for the spending, especially if parts of the agenda are renewed when they end. But they’ll be big tax hikes nonetheless.
It’s not really in dispute that, all else equal, higher taxes reduce economic growth. The Congressional Budget Office, for example, recently found that both labor and capital taxes reduce GDP, the former by reducing the incentive to work and the latter by reducing the incentive to save and invest. Meanwhile, the evidence that infrastructure investment will spur enough growth to compensate is disputed at best.
These taxes can also directly affect Americans whom Biden promised would be shielded. During the campaign, Biden vowed not to increase taxes on “anyone” earning less than $400,000. But that promise has now magically evolved to include households that pass the threshold only when both spouses’ earnings are counted. Of course, during the speech he was back to dishonestly claiming, “No one making under $400,000 will see their federal taxes go up. Period.”
4. The one institution that won’t be fact-finding about China’s role in the coronavirus genesis is WHO. From the editorial:
Not only was the work of the WHO investigators severely restricted by the Chinese government, they themselves have been strangely antagonistic to these conclusions. During a press conference in Wuhan, Peter Ben Embarek, the researcher who led the mission, called the lab-leak theory “extremely unlikely,” though after returning from China he clarified that it is “definitely not off the table.” (The WHO mission’s report this week reverts to Ben Embarek’s first formulation.)
Another researcher on the mission, Peter Daszak, president of the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, had organized a statement signed by researchers that called the lab-leak hypothesis a “conspiracy theory” almost a year before.
Notably, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance received a National Institutes of Health grant that it used to fund research at WIV, and he has co-authored over 20 studies with Chinese party-state researchers or otherwise funded by the Chinese party-state institutions, including the People’s Liberation Army. In other words, as a February letter by more than two dozen scientists criticizing the WHO mission’s work put it, his “public statements cast serious doubts as to his scientific objectivity.”
5. America’s teachers’ unions are devastating our kids. It’s beyond time to fight back. From the piece:
This isn’t bare-knuckle labor politics — it’s political child abuse.
The Centers for Disease Control has said that schools can be safely reopened while maintaining social distancing of as little as three feet. And, as we all know, the pronouncements of the CDC are the gold standard for our progressive friends — right up until they run into the demands of an important Democratic constituency, at which point, they become trash. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten says she’s “not convinced” by the CDC’s advice. Weingarten, a lawyer by education and a union goon by profession, is, to say the least, not very well prepared to critically review the CDC’s public-health findings.
We have been through a great deal in the past year, with the schools and other institutions taking extraordinary measures that were generally, even when we disagreed, understandable. But 100 million Americans have now received at least one dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines, and the research overwhelmingly finds that elementary-school education is a relatively low-risk proposition — and that every additional unnecessary delay in the return of ordinary education does real and lasting damage to children, especially to those whose families do not have the resources to adequately pick up the slack. A great many people have worked throughout this terrible episode, many at some considerable personal risk, and not only doctors, nurses, and ambulance drivers but also grocery clerks, warehouse workers, and taxi drivers. They have kept the country running while unionized teachers in Oakland and elsewhere have turned up their noses at the children they are supposed to be serving and looked instead to their own two-point agenda: (1) not going to work; (2) getting paid.
Many Wonderful Articles to Which Your Attention and Intelligence Are Called
1. It just goes on and on my friends . . . in a line from a kid’s song, and also a strategy of lockdown junkies. Michael Brendan Dougherty profiles the COVID dead-ender. From the article:
There’s been a strange additive quality to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, health experts said not to wear masks. Then, they told you to wear masks whenever you were indoors and couldn’t socially distance. Then, most states issued guidance approved by their own health departments that required you to wear masks and socially distance at the same time. And suddenly, in deep-blue states, people began wearing masks even when they were completely alone outdoors. Then the authorities told you to wear two masks. At least until you could get the vaccine. And then, on second or third thought, maybe just start buying masks in bulk so that you’re supplied until 2022. So saith Fauci.
And now, in America, you may be getting the vaccine. Your elderly parents or grandparents very likely had access to get one already. If you have one of the many qualifying conditions, or your state is liberalizing the criteria quickly, you yourself may be getting the vaccines. You might be planning your first big family get-together again for this Easter because of it.
Or you may be one of the vaccine-hesitant and you intend to be a free-rider on the herd immunity that vaccination of over half the population and infection of many more will bring. You are looking forward to normality. To traveling again. Or to reunions, weddings, and yes, funerals that are unmasked and undistanced. To those life-moments when people cry tears of joy or sorrow into each other’s shoulders, rather than into N-95s, because that is the policy of the venue.
Unfortunately, for you, there is the COVID dead-ender, and he stands in your way.
2. George Floyd resisted arrest, as Andrew C. McCarthy sees the evidence, which he finds powerful. From the analysis:
This does not mean the officers’ prolonged restraint of Floyd later on, as his life faded, was justified. That is the central issue the jury will have to resolve. But the latest evidence helps better explain what preceded the infamous and grim video footage of Floyd under Chauvin’s knee.
Notably, Floyd’s now-famous statements that he could not breathe and that police were killing him, as well as his cries for his mother, were not just reactions — as prosecutors and political activists have framed it — to his being placed in a neck hold by Chauvin after police put him in a dangerous prone position on the street. In reality, Floyd began calling for his mother, and crying out that he could not breathe and was going to die, while police were trying to get him to sit in the back of the squad car. Those claims may have been sincere, but if so, they were spurred by what Floyd maintained were his “claustrophobia” and anxiety over being taken into custody, not by the neck hold in which Chauvin subsequently placed him.
What’s more, it was not the idea of the arresting officers to place Floyd in a prone position on the street. Rather, after propelling his way out of the squad-car rear seat that four cops unsuccessfully struggled to place him in, Floyd insisted that he preferred to lie down on the street. The police restrained him in the position in which he put himself, which was not the position they wanted him in (they wanted him in the car). Reasonably convinced that Floyd was high on drugs (a conclusion supported by his erratic behavior, the accounts of witnesses, and later toxicology tests), the police called for paramedics to take him to a hospital, rather than continuing to try to thrust him in the squad car and take him into police custody.
That is, the police accused of murdering Floyd actually summoned medical help out of concern over his condition.
3. Georgia One: The Peach State proves a mecca for liars. Charles C.W. Cooke is keeping score: From the article:
Once again, the liars of the world have descended upon Georgia, which, in its infancy as a purplish state, has become a cynosure for fabulists of all stripes. This is the third time in as many years that Georgia has been wantonly maligned. Who among us would bet against there being a fourth before the end of next year?
The tradition started in earnest in 2018, when Stacey Abrams became nationally famous for refusing to accept the results of a fair election that she lost by 50,000 votes. Abrams still insists that she was cheated, is supported in this holding by many in the press, and has so effectively spread her distortions that, three years later, they are still echoed habitually by figures such as Elizabeth Warren.
Abrams’s complaints in 2018 were numerous, hysterical, and utterly meritless. She complained that her opponent was running for office while he was secretary of state — which he was, but which he’d done twice before without incident, which Democrats themselves had done happily in the past, and which was ultimately irrelevant given that the secretary of state’s office does not count or reject votes. She complained that Kemp had enforced an entirely mainstream law that strikes from the rolls anyone who hasn’t voted for three years and who, having been asked by the secretary of state’s office whether he or she is still a Georgia resident, has ignored the question for two consecutive federal elections. And she complained that Georgia had reduced the number of polling places — which was true, but which was the product not of Kemp’s being secretary of state, but of consolidation by rural counties and the rules set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Together, Abrams cast these complaints as the return of “Jim Crow” — a charge so historically illiterate and irresponsible that, in a sensible political culture, it would have disqualified her from public life in perpetuity. If the Georgia Tourist Board were looking for a Chief Mendacity Officer, Abrams would be a shoo-in.
4. Georgia Two: Rich Lowry finds that Joe Biden has opened his mouth and . . . yep, a big fat lie came out, with a side of canard. From the column:
Biden says the new law is “Jim Crow in the 21st century” and “an un-American law to deny people the right to vote.”
It’s now practically mandatory for Democrats to launch such unhinged broadsides. Elizabeth Warren, accusing Georgia governor Brian Kemp of having stolen his 2018 election victory over Democratic activist Stacey Abrams (a poisonous myth), tweeted, “The Republican who is sitting in Stacey Abrams’ chair just signed a despicable voter suppression bill into law to take Georgia back to Jim Crow.”
Anyone making this charge in good faith either doesn’t understand the hideousness of Jim Crow or the provisions of the Georgia law.
The old Jim Crow was billy clubs and fire hoses; the alleged new Jim Crow is asking people to write a driver’s license number on their absentee-ballot envelopes.
The old Jim Crow was poll taxes; the new Jim Crow is expanding weekend voting.
5. Considering their rhetoric, says Dan McLaughlin, you’d think Democrats want to do away with voter registration altogether. From the article:
Laws, after all, make it harder to do almost anything — even when “harder” means that the process overall is easier because government imposes order, but requires citizens to take some affirmative steps to learn the rules and comply with them. Is it “harder” to drive because you have to obey red lights and traffic signs? Yes, because you are not free to do whatever you want; no, because the roads work better for everyone as a result. Conservatives believe that we should, in general, have fewer laws, but not no laws: We recognize that having some laws is necessary for order, and order is necessary for the exercise of a citizen’s liberty.
So, yes, having any rules at all makes it very marginally harder, in some very minimal ways, to cast more votes. Is that automatically bad in all cases? One wishes that progressives would apply some of this spirit of unyielding doctrinaire libertarianism to laws that make it harder to open and run a business, pursue a trade, keep one’s own wages, or exercise core constitutional rights to practice one’s faith, speak freely, or keep and bear arms.
Ask yourself the question that few Democrats or progressives seem willing or able to answer: Why do we register voters at all? What legitimate purpose does voter registration serve? It makes it easier to vote only in the sense that a voter can show that he is eligible to vote — but progressives oppose every law that is premised upon the state having a legitimate interest in checking to ensure that any voter is eligible to vote. And just about everywhere in the United States, everybody is eligible to vote so long as they are (1) a U.S. citizen, (2) age 18 or older, (3) a resident in the place they want to vote, and (4) not a convicted felon. Those are the only restrictions, and they are quite lenient.
6. If you think there are wins to be had in the war against porn, Cameron Hilditch has some ideas. From the analysis:
The shortcomings of cumbersome bureaucratic plans for regulating pornography should not, however, cause social conservatives and anti-porn feminists to throw their hands up and resign themselves to a libertine cultural landscape. Technological innovation and market forces can be used to check the spread of pornography in much the same way they’ve been used to proliferate it. But for a rearguard action against pornography to be successful, it will have to begin at the grassroots level rather than be handed down from on high by legislators.
We already have examples of how this might work. The team behind Pi-hole, for example, has built a piece of open-source software that allows users to block their devices from accessing certain domain names by preventing those domain names from resolving to a useable IP address. At the moment, Pi-hole is used for things like blocking ads on websites, but the technology could easily be applied to pornography. It’s not hard to imagine a tech start-up that would market itself as an open-source anti-porn collective. Such an organization would keep an eye on the ever-growing list of porn sites and constantly update its program to block their IP addresses. Subscribers or “members” of the collective could have the program running on their home devices and organize themselves into physical and virtual neighborhoods and communities wherein each household was a member of the same collective. Devices operating on the 4G or 5G services of Internet companies would obviously be bound only by the policies of the service provider, but those companies tend to have robust parental controls for these services anyway.
Social conservatives who favor a legislative response to the proliferation of pornography will probably have little patience with this approach. But it is the only viable one in the long term. The only way to comprehensively ban pornography would be to have a complete and total government takeover of the Internet, as has been accomplished by the Chinese Communist Party. This would be somewhat analogous to the Norman strategy of total conquest in Ireland. It would also, for all practical purposes, mark the end of freedom and privacy in the United States of America. Few, one would hope, would regard this as a worthy price to pay for the extirpation of Internet pornography.
8. Kevin Hassett poses five questions to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. From the interview:
Looking back at Trump’s policies before the pandemic, what do you think the bottom line should be about their effectiveness?
My feeling is that progress was made, but we missed some big opportunities. We obviously made our tax system more competitive, but we didn’t simplify or rationalize it. I think we overshot in how much we lowered the corporate-tax rate. We didn’t really do much in terms of taking away tax preferences and simplifying the tax code. During the tax debate, I kept telling the members of my conference — and anyone who would listen — that we were too focused on rates and not focused enough on tax simplification and tax rationalization. One of my favorite sayings is “All change is not progress, all movement is not forward.” So we didn’t take the once-in-a-generation opportunity to dramatically simplify and rationalize our tax code. What I said in the budget hearing I reference earlier, and then discussed later with Tim Kaine, is just one example. I mean, it’s crazy that we have an arbitrary and different tax rate for capital gains. Now, I don’t think you should tax inflationary gains. Simply index inflation out of the gain, and then tax the remaining gain as ordinary income using the same individual taxpayer rates.
If we really simplify, we could even do away with the corporate tax and tax everything at the individual rate. I would prefer a flat tax, but I accept the fact that progressive tax rates are what Americans want, and a progressive system is here to stay. But we tax business income at the ownership level for Sub-S, LLCs and partnerships, and those business types are something like 95 percent of all American businesses. I proposed this way of taxing business income during the 2017 Tax Reform debate. I called it “The True Warren Buffet Tax.” There are many advantages to this system, including a more efficient allocation of capital and making stock ownership more advantageous and attractive to lower-income Americans. I am continuing to push this idea and hope to have more information in the near future.
But to be sure, the policy victories passed by Republicans and the Trump administration did have a big and positive impact on the economy and the lives of ordinary Americans. But you can always do better.
9. Kevin Williamson finds that bridge-building translates in Bidenese to political slush-funding. From the piece:
President Joe Biden is proposing a multi-trillion-dollar “infrastructure” plan that actually isn’t all that focused on infrastructure — because bullsh** is the common currency of this realm — and one of the things high on his agenda is subsidizing broadband Internet connections for areas that don’t have them. By industry estimates, about 93 percent of Americans have access to a broadband connection, and those who don’t mostly live in remote and rural areas. There are many more Americans who have access to a broadband connection but choose not to pay for one. The Biden administration complains that high-speed connections are “overpriced,” based on . . . the careful thinking and analysis that one naturally associates with Joe Biden.
Lack of broadband connections is not, in reality, much of a national problem for the United States, and it is becoming less of a problem every year as Americans gravitate toward the metropolitan areas where the jobs and the capital are, along with the good broadband connections. But this kind of project presses all sorts of New Deal, TVA, rural-electrification buttons in Democrats of Joe Biden’s generation. Hence the slogan, “Broadband is the new electricity.” These are not super-imaginative people.
Expanding broadband access isn’t going to do much for unemployed or marginally employed people in rural areas, but it is a big, fat subsidy for people like me: work-from-home knowledge-economy types with a yen for that sweet Unabomber lifestyle and in need of fast Internet in the bunker. If Biden is successful, it will be a red-letter day in the history of federally subsidized misanthropy. Pour one out in memory of Florence King.
10. There is no place in U.S. military training for Critical Race Theory, argues Senator Tom Cotton. From then piece:
Unfortunately, more than 70 years after Truman’s executive order, racist and un-American ideas of unequal treatment are creeping back into the Armed Forces under the guise of so-called critical race theory.
Critical race theory repudiates the principle of equality under the law that is articulated in the Declaration of Independence and that has motivated civil-rights reformers for generations. It claims that this American ideal is a sham used by the white majority to oppress racial minorities, and consequently that America is racist to its core. The theory concludes that the only way to end perceived discrimination against racial minorities is to systematically discriminate on their behalf — to fight fire with fire, so to speak. As Ibram X. Kendi, a leading agitator for critical race theory, wrote, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
Kendi’s belief in unequal treatment and discrimination has been embraced in fashionable left-wing circles. Increasingly, this ideology is institutionalized in corporate America, higher education, and other elite sectors in the form of “implicit bias training” and “diversity, equity, and inclusion” offices. Sadly, now these racist ideas are even being taught to our troops.
Last month, the Navy released a recommended reading list to facilitate the “growth and development” of sailors. One of the books on this list is How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi’s bestseller advocating critical race theory. Separately, the Navy’s Second Fleet created a book club for sailors to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, a book that claims white people are inherently racist, whether consciously or subconsciously, and that race is the insidious subtext for virtually all human interactions.
11. Will the way the Southern Baptist Convention handles CRT impact its policies on adoption? Naomi Schaefer Riley does the analysis. From the article:
The truth, though, is that this controversy over critical race theory could have real-life implications for a population that is already among the most vulnerable — children in the foster-care system. In recent years Evangelical congregations, including a great many Southern Baptist ones, have led a revolution in foster care and adoption. They have formed hundreds of ministries and other organizations devoted to the recruitment, training, and support of families who foster or who adopt children out of foster care. And their efforts have shown enormous success, both in drawing more people into the system but also giving them the education and the help that they need to stay in it for the long term.
There are, of course, a disproportionately high number of black children in the foster-care system and a disproportionately low number of (nonrelative) black foster and adoptive families. And so, inevitably, many of the families who volunteer to foster or adopt do not look like the children they are caring for. There was a time when this development would have been celebrated as a triumph of tolerance and racial harmony. But that time is not today. Instead, it is hardly uncommon for our cultural elites to question these interracial relationships.
12. Max Eden and Tracey Schirra says conservatives can strategize a better way to defend women’s sports. From the piece:
And at the very highest level, the differences become even more stark. Serena Williams may well be the greatest female tennis player of all time. But she and her sister Venus were once beaten back-to-back by a 50-year-old man who smoked cigarettes and drank beer during the changeovers. Tori Bowie is an Olympic gold-medalist female sprinter. Her lifetime best performance in the 100-meter dash is 10.78 seconds. Men beat that 15,000 times in 2017 alone.
If collegiate athletic programs opt to exploit this biological advantage, women would still have the opportunity to compete. But it could herald the beginning of the end for the possibility of world-class female athletics.
Noem expressed concern that the NCAA could take punitive action against South Dakota. But it’s hard to imagine the NCAA bullying 20 states simultaneously. If it tried to, the NCAA would not only lose in the court of public opinion, but it also might literally lose half the country. The Constitution does not grant it monopoly power over college athletics. Another association, one actually dedicated to athletic excellence, could and perhaps should be formed in such a contingency.
The social pressure against any action will, of course, be immense. The Washington Post editorial board has declared that this issue is “a convenient way to whip up fears and bigotry about transgender people,” and the New Yorker’s Masha Gessen has insisted that all objections are rooted in “ignorance and hate.”
13. What Iran is selling, Red China is buying. Elliott Abrams warns about the fill-’er-up relationship. From the article:
Consider the numbers, too. According to the World Bank, total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Iran, from all sources, maxed out in 2017 at $5 billion, but by 2019 had fallen to $1.5 billion. It seems to have fallen further in 2020, to about $1 billion. This agreement with China — $400 billion in 25 years — calls for $16 billion per year from China alone. Does that seem realistic for Iran, a country that has never absorbed more than $5 billion in a single year in FDI from the entire world? There is also good reason to question the notion that China will significantly increase its reliance on Iran for oil: Would China want to rely on a sole, Middle Eastern source rather than diversify its supplies?
There are other ways of evaluating how real the $400 billion figure may be. According to the China Global Investment Tracker produced by the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, in the 15 years between 2004 and 2019, China invested a total of $182 billion in the United States, or an average of $12 billion a year; $98 billion in Australia, or $6.5 billion per year; and $83 billion in the U.K., or $5.5 billion per year. The numbers are lower for countries such as Brazil, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. How realistic is it, then, that China will invest more annually in Iran than it does — or has ever done — in any other country in the world?
This is not to suggest that a large economic deal between Iran and China has no meaning. One has to assume that Iran will sell more and more oil to China, defying and undermining U.S. sanctions. And one should also assume that China will increase its investments in Iran, in many sectors of the economy. Among other harmful effects, we should consider how this will affect China’s willingness to discipline Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency for its continuing violations of the JCPOA, the Additional Protocol, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty — violations that bring Iran closer to being able to create a deliverable nuclear weapon.
14. Andrew C. McCarthy says the Big Hubris in Albany has a black belt in brazen stalling tactics. From the piece:
Cuomo and his allies are perversely exploiting the metastasizing of allegations against him as a stalling strategy. They urge that everything, including the kitchen sink, be thrown into the state assembly’s investigation, even such matters as bridge-safety concerns, which do not at the moment appear very serious. The point is to project the impression that Cuomo is not afraid of an impeachment investigation, while in reality making the investigation so extensive that the third-term governor would be in his fifth term by the time it concludes, if it ever does.
I’ve put the game this way: Cuomo is betting that the more impeachable he is, the less impeachable he is.
Preferential treatment amounts to a serious liability for the governor. That’s not just because it is an ugly look given that, as the New York Post reported Sunday, the nursing homes that were endangered by Cuomo’s policies were begging in futility for test kits while the governor’s family and friends were bumped to the front of the line.
It is a serious liability because it constitutes a black-and-white law violation that is explicitly made subject to potential removal from office under New York State ethics statutes. That puts it in a different category — if not of gravity, then of provability — than Cuomo’s two other scandals.
15. Charles C.W. Cooke takes on a Stanford prof and baloney about gun-owning pro-lifers. From the beginning of the piece:
‘You cannot be pro-life and pro-AR15 at the same time.” So says Stanford professor Michael McFaul, echoing a line that is thrown around the political arena each and every time Americans debate gun control. Like those whom he is channeling, McFaul is wrong. Worse still, he is repeating a cheap slogan that is designed to appeal to people who are neither pro-life nor pro-AR-15, and, in turn, to short-circuit the debate with half-witted question-begging. The sole effect of McFaul’s contribution will be to have made us all dumber and less precise in our thinking.
McFaul’s claim rests upon a comparison of apples and oranges from which there is no coming back. Abortion is a process that, as with suicide or euthanasia or murder, causes every person at whom it is directed to die. It is true, of course, that many practitioners of abortion think that they are killing a life of no value, or that they are killing a life of less value than their own. But, irrespective of their moral calculations, they are indisputably still killing. To abort a baby is to stop it living, growing, and, eventually, being born. That is the point — and the sole point — of the procedure.
A gun, by contrast, is a tool — like scissors, or vacuums. Those tools can kill, yes. But they don’t always. There is a reason that you don’t hear pro-choicers saying, “You can’t be pro-life and pro-scissors” and that reason is that you quite obviously can be both things. You just can’t be pro-life and pro-murdering unborn babies with scissors. The same rule applies to guns. I have many guns, and, while they are indeed all capable of inflicting horrible damage, I have never hurt a single person with any of them. As with scissors, I can absolutely be pro-life and keep those guns for my defense; I just can’t be pro-life and murder people with them.
16. More from Cameron Hilditch: The gods may be crazy, but not as nuts as the Aztec-loving California Board of Education. From the piece:
Even a passing knowledge of Aztec history raises serious questions about this ritual (a passing knowledge of the First Amendment raises even more, but that’s a different matter). None, though, is more important than the question of what, precisely, has brought these deities back to life after so many centuries of slumber. Why do teachers and administrators in California want to revive these Aztec cults and set them favorably against Christianity?
We can’t ask this question properly — let alone answer it — without taking at least a cursory look at Aztec history and searching for the virtues that California’s Board of Education thinks it has found in the cults of these Mesoamerican deities.
The principal place of worship in the Aztec empire was the Templo Mayor in the city of Tenochtitlan, which was made up of twin pyramids, one dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, god of the sun, and the other to Tlaloc, the god of rain. Like all the Aztec gods, Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc had an insatiable appetite for human sacrifice. The priests of Huitzilopochtli would appease their patron deity by laying out a sacrificial victim on a stone at the apex of the god’s pyramid, carving out said victim’s heart (while he or she was still alive), and then rolling the body down the side of the pyramid, at the base of which it was then dismembered and either disposed of or eaten. Post-conquest sources report that at the reconsecration of this pyramid in 1487, about 80,400 people were sacrificed in this way over the course of just four days. Even historians who regard this number as an exaggeration concede that the victim tally was probably still in the tens of thousands.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Tlaloc was an even less attractive figure. He had a particular predilection for the sacrifice of children. The remains of more than 40 boys and girls were discovered at the excavation site of the great pyramid, most bearing the marks of severe and prolonged torture. This was to be expected given that the Aztec pictorial codices that have come down to us invariably show the children crying before being sacrificed. The priests of Tlaloc believed the tears of innocent children to be particularly pleasing to the god, and they took great care to ensure that their little victims were crying before and throughout the ceremony so that the smoke of the sacrificial fire would carry their tears up to the god above at the moment of death. The ritual began with the bones of the children being broken, their hands or their feet burned, and carvings etched into their flesh. They were then paraded before the celebrants of the ritual while crying. Insufficient tears from the children were believed to result in insufficient rains for the crops that year, so no brutality was spared. At the end of it all, the mutilated victims were burned alive.
The New Issue of National Review Is a Humdinger of a Special about California
The April 19, 2021 issue is bursting with 20 articles, analyses, and commentaries on the Golden State, the good, bad, and ugly of the sunkist place people are leaving in droves. Herewith we show off seven randomly selected, ripe, and juicy persimmons of persuasion.
1. David Bahnsen — prophet, no; keen observer, yes — writes the Article of Exodus. From the piece:
But there is one basic, objective reality that is impossible to spin away — people are leaving in droves.
I suppose that some states or pockets of the country in various periods, likely cyclical ones, could be susceptible to mass exodus. Weather conditions, quality of life, scenic options, pace, energy, educational opportunities, job-market dynamics — there are always reasons that could lead one to leave a certain place for another. But every one of those issues was a magnet to California decade upon decade — not a deterrent to coming or staying. Come spend a day with me in Newport Beach sometime and tell me that the weather is the reason people are leaving this state. You can rest assured that no part of California will receive a failing grade for its weather.
To leave a spot often branded as paradise for its warm, sunny, and consistent weather, there has to be a catalyst. Dreamers long flooded into California because of an entrepreneurial culture that was real and palpable. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from the Central Valley to San Diego, from downtown Los Angeles to the Inland Empire, whether in entertainment, technology, agriculture, sciences, big business, or small business, there was a dream associated with being in California. It was aspirational. It was a spot of infinite opportunity that also had the Pacific Ocean and 70-degree weather. It was no accident that California grew as it did, and no accident that such profoundly important businesses grew here, came here, were founded here, and flourished here. But, alas, it has been no accident, either, that all of this has wrenchingly reversed. The weather and the dreams have not changed. But the tax rates, the regulations, and the cultural climate have. And over two decades marked by a highly conscious policy shift, the Left has helped to reverse the New Year’s Day dynamic of folks around the country watching the Rose Bowl on ABC, wondering why they are shoveling snow off their driveways when those lucky SOBs in Pasadena are bathing in sunshine with a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. It takes a lot of work to reverse a force like that, but the work was done, and that force has been reversed.
2. Michael Gibson explains the trauma caused by San Francisco’s horrid district attorney, Chesa Boudin. From the article:
The Lyons mayhem is not an isolated case in the city by the bay. On New Year’s Eve, a parolee on the run from a robbery — also in a stolen car — sped through a red light, striking and killing two women, 60-year-old Elizabeth Platt and 27-yearold Hanako Abe, who were in the crosswalk. The driver, Troy McAlister, had been released twice by the district attorney in the previous year: the first time because Boudin refuses to pursue three-strike cases, of which McAlister’s was one; the second — as recently as December 20, when the SFPD arrested McAlister for driving a stolen car — because Boudin kicked the case to the state parole officers, who did nothing.
Welcome to San Francisco’s latest idiocy, a new experiment in governance where everything is allowed but nothing is permitted. A paradox, you might say, but take a walk down Market Street, down that great avenue in a great city in a great nation, and note the desolation of the empty streets, the used needles tossed on the sidewalks, and the boarded-up windows on storefronts. Consider that, at various unpredictable times in the last year, it has been illegal — for the sake of public safety during COVID — to run a mom-and-pop corner shop or to serve food at sidewalk cafés. Reflect for a moment that, since time immemorial, it has been illegal to build any new housing, because of the most onerous and confusing zoning laws in the known universe. Mark Zuckerberg can apparently influence national elections by tweaking algorithms, but he is powerless before the planning commission when it comes to building apartments for his employees. The city has banned plastic straws, plastic bags, and McDonald’s Happy Meals with toys. And yet, all the while, drug dealers sell their wares — COVID or no COVID — openly and freely at all hours of the day and night, users shoot up or pop fentanyl in public and defecate on the street, robbers pillage cars and homes with the ease of Visigoth raiders, and the district attorney frees repeat offenders who go on to sow disorder, pain, devastation, and grief. A profound melancholy hangs in the air of this city, punctuated only by the shrieks of a junkie dreaming of demons or by the rat-tat-tat-bam of the occasional firework. (Or was that a gun?) This is anarcho-tyranny. Everything is allowed, nothing is permitted.
3. Will Swaim attacks the attacks on California’s suburbs. From the piece:
And so the messaging continues. It’s McCarthyism turned upside down: The suburbs (not just Orange County, but everything outside the actual cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco) are nurseries of fascism, and in this California version of the Spanish Civil War, only the vanguard of the proletariat (Democrats, bureaucrats, and government unions) can stop the suburbs.
In their fight to kill the suburbs — as places of white people, conservatives, and (heaven forfend) Republicans — California’s environmentalists are helpful allies. Arguing that suburbs are sprawl, and that sprawl is killing the planet, they front a blizzard of legislation designed to choke the ever-living ghost out of the suburbs.
Animated by this philosophy, the regulatory war on suburbs takes many forms. One new law ties suburban development to a government-approved estimate of the number of miles a new homeowner might drive each day. As my California Policy Center colleague Edward Ring put it, the law “has a synergistic value to the greens: It makes war on single-family dwellings at the same time it makes war on the family car.” Instead of allowing suburbs to expand, another new law allows for benign-sounding “neighborhood multi-family areas.” Translation: In order to boost housing units but limit suburban growth, California governments may authorize the bulldozing of single-family homes in favor of subsidized multifamily units. (Two notable exceptions in that law exempt super-wealthy communities Marin and Santa Barbara.)
Other “inclusive zoning” laws don’t just require the legitimate abolition of racist prohibitions on home purchases; they require that local governments subsidize home purchases and apartment rentals in communities the poor cannot otherwise afford. Leveraging the state’s Ottoman environmental codes, private-sector building trades extort home-builders for union contracts. Government unions demanding new revenue have boosted the cost of residentialbuilding permits to as much as $100,000 per home.
4. Steven Greenhut wades into the water-policy desert. From the analysis:
In 1919, when California’s population was 3.35 million, it faced a similar problem. That year, the California State Irrigation Association distributed a water-infrastructure blueprint by Colonel Robert Bradford Marshall, a geographer, who wrote, “The people of California, indifferent to the bountiful gifts that Nature has given them, sit idly by waiting for rain, indefinitely postponing irrigation, and allowing every year millions and millions of dollars in water to pour unused into the sea.”
In the ensuing years, the state and federal governments, through the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, built a remarkable system of dams, reservoirs, and canals, which provide the water that sustains the current population and turned the Central Valley into one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. These projects also eliminated massive and routine floods. California used to fund water projects appropriately, via revenue bonds paid by end users.
California water policy has devolved largely into an insane battle over fish habitats. Fish populations are important, but flushing more water down the rivers isn’t doing much to revive their still-declining numbers. During the last drought, I covered a contentious meeting at the Oakdale Irrigation District, in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of the San Joaquin Valley city of Modesto, where officials were draining two reservoirs to help a handful of hatchery-raised steel-head trout. “Now we have sizable communities that eventually might open the spigots and have no water,” I wrote, “to help a fish so common I had it for dinner this week.”
5. David Leal believes the GOP can win the Hispanic vote. From the analysis:
Some conservatives see a dystopian future of Anglo population decline, minority and immigrant population growth, and increasing support for socialism and “cultural Marxism.” This is called “replacement” in nativist-populist circles, and the end result is America somehow becoming Nueva Cuba.
This is hogwash, of course. As with so many political tales, the reality turns out to be more complicated. In particular, the claim that Latinos and immigrants are die-hard Democrats and ideological leftists who will change America is false to the point of slander. The political future of California and America is not, and never has been, preordained by population change.
The claim that California politics was reshaped by the ballot initiatives of the 1990s is debatable. One reason is that it does not clearly map onto election results. We do not see a simple pattern of one party losing or gaining in the 1990s and 2000s. While Republicans did make gains in statewide offices and the state legislature in 1994, the national red wave of that year may have been more consequential than Proposition 187. While this was followed by Democratic gains in subsequent elections, that appears more like a return to the status quo than a new blue wave.
6. Peter Robinson shares notes from a once-golden state. From the piece:
“What went wrong?” asks Pete Wilson, who served as the Republican governor of California during the 1990s. “Hell, what didn’t?”
A native of the Midwest, Wilson moved to California in 1959. Seven years later, he began a political career during which he would spend four years in the assembly, a dozen years as mayor of San Diego, eight years in the U.S. Senate, and eight years as governor. The California that kept voting for Wilson — he never lost a general election — possessed a functioning two-party system. As late as 1999, Wilson’s final year as governor, the GOP remained competitive. Registered Republicans accounted for 36 percent of the California electorate. The GOP held 37 of the 80 seats in the state assembly, 15 of the 40 seats in the state senate, and 24 of California’s 52 seats in the House of Representatives. Today? Registered Republicans account for just 24 percent of the California electorate. The GOP holds 19 of the 80 seats in the assembly, nine of the 40 seats in the senate, and eleven of California’s 53 seats in the House of Representatives. The two-party system has collapsed.
Wilson names three causes.
The first: public employees’ unions. In the 1970s, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation giving collective-bargaining rights to public employees, including state employees. This expanded the power of organizations such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “Jerry claimed it was just a minor change,” says Wilson. “I said, ‘The hell it is.’” Then, in 1988, Proposition 98 amended the state constitution, ensuring that each year a certain portion of the entire state budget — typically at least 40 percent — would go to public schools. This gave the California Teachers Association (CTA) a reliable source of income. Since then, the SEIU, the CTA, and other public employees’ unions have built a political perpetual-motion machine. The unions back Democratic candidates. The Democrats, once in office, spend public money to the benefit of the unions. Then the unions back more Democratic candidates.
7. David Mamet considers the decline through some literary lenses. From the reflection:
Trollope’s New Zealander (1855) is a collection of essays on the corruption and decay of contemporary British society, culture, and morals, but they could have been written about the California of today; as, indeed, they were written about that which we, in our continued abundance, share with Victorian England: “the inevitable result of prosperity and peace; that is, cowardice” (Duff Cooper).
California, with the world’s fifth-largest economy, is as dedicated to self-destruction as was 1914 Europe. Was there no alternative to the Great War? Could no one have stopped it?
Siegfried Sassoon reports in his Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) that, after three years in the trenches, he wrote to his commanding officer demanding that he, or someone in authority, state the war aims. Sassoon was a decorated, combat-wounded officer, and rather than court-martial him (which was then their legal right), the military authorities judged him mentally incompetent and sent him to an asylum.
Today we, here, where it is always “either 72 degrees,” have real problems incident to prosperity: illegal immigration, technological change, homelessness; and, to round out the entertainment, the cry against problems whose evanescence is their most plaguing trait — systemic racism, micro-aggression, white privilege, and so on. We know that a disagreement over a real slight may potentially be healed but that one over a slight merely imagined will persist forever — its persistence being its own purpose, as hypochondria, a disease for exercising control, is not a problem but a solution.
Trump’s great crime was that of Galileo or Milton Friedman, pointing out that our problems could be solved by simpler solutions, given an honest analysis and a bit of will. This brings to mind the wisdom of a California sage, Sam Goldwyn, who once stormed into his office declaiming, “I want someone here to tell me what’s going on if it costs them their job.”
The prosperous person may employ a housekeeper; and, if increasingly wealthy, two or three, and then a household “manager” to oversee them; and, if downright rich, a pilot, a yacht captain, and (within my experience) a second “chase boat,” to transport the jet ski, helicopter, and security team.
Government is, finally, just the agglomeration of individuals as wicked, misguided, and sinful as ourselves. Our laws exist to keep in check those we elevate to power; for they will certainly misuse it. They may build the “train to nowhere,” a solution to a problem that does not exist; or let the schools decay to a position of 37th in test performance, out of a possible 50, all the while, and of necessity, raising taxes. They will not, any more than Goldwyn’s office boy, speak up to destroy their jobs. They will raise taxes to drive capital and business out of the state and, then, appalled by the drop in tax revenue, respond by further raising taxes.
Lights. Camera. Review!
1. Kyle Smith is pretty meh about Zach Snyder’s Justice League. From the review:
I shared in the general rejoicing when Snyder was allowed to finish and deliver his four-hour version of the film — Zack Snyder’s Justice League — to HBO Max. Snyder is an interesting filmmaker; Whedon is not. Snyder has ideas; Whedon has quips. Nevertheless, Snyder’s movie is a letdown.
What I ask of ZSJL is what I ask of any movie: Make me feel something. At first, I felt relief: Wow, this is a lot better than Whedon’s version! But malaria is better than Whedon’s version. The new cut is merely a run-of-the-mill 21st-century comic-book flick, only more ponderous and broody than average. I’ll take ponderous and broody over meretricious and smarmy any day. But Snyder’s cut doesn’t match the caliber of the finest “dark” superhero movies, such as the ones by Christopher Nolan and Snyder’s previous efforts, Watchmen and Batman v. Superman, both of which did an intriguing job of exploring how superheroes wear out their welcome and even gods on earth could come to be hated.
ZSJL, by contrast, is about mighty people punching and kicking each other all over the digital landscape. The scary scenes aren’t scary, the action scenes are only semi-thrilling, and the jokes are terrible. Virtually everything said by the Flash — played predictably irritatingly by one of the most irritating actors alive, Ezra Miller — is a would-be witticism that just clangs off the hoop. There isn’t a single line of dialogue in the entire four-hour extravaganza that goes swish through the net. It’s all “Get the hell off of me!” or “I do competitive ice dancing” — blandly functional or horribly witless.
2. Armond White and a ton of bricks come down hard on the Wokesters at Turner Classic Movies. From the beginning of the piece:
Turner Classic Movies, the closest thing to a national film outlet on television, has succumbed to political fashion with its recent month-long series Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror. Responding to the current political revisionism, TCM subjected its content of “beloved classics” to the oversight of politically correct agitators.
The network’s five regular hosts, Ben Mankiewicz, Alicia Malone, Eddie Muller, Dave Karger, and Jacqueline Stewart opined on the “problematic” aspects of films that were made before wokeness — putting them through the now standard race and gender sieve, testing them against self-righteous Millennial standards. Not surprisingly, none of the classics — The Jazz Singer (1927), Gone with the Wind (1939), Dragon Seed (1944), The Searchers (1956), The Children’s Hour (1961), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), among others — were found to be woke enough.
This process of reexamination greets the vagaries of art with disapproval. It’s part of the dangerous new reconciliation fever, more reckoning. Not quite cancel culture, TCM’s Reframed still steps in that direction. It follows the same revisionism that distorts the history of Hollywood’s late-’40s to late-’50s blacklist: Everything is seen in terms of victimization and offense. TCM’s hosts, an Our Gang mix of age-race-sex political identities, discussed each movie according to their respective representation specialty. But the result was almost always the same: blame and condemnation, although film-noir expert Muller usually backed off from the latter, thus coming closest to scholarly appreciation.
Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System
1. At Gatestone Institute, Con Coughlin looks at the Iranian sneaks and the U.S. mollycoddlers. From the piece:
With the Biden administration seemingly keen to recommence negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, fresh evidence is emerging that Iran’s regime is up to its old tricks by attempting to conceal key elements of the programme from UN inspectors.
Iran has a long and undistinguished history of seeking to conceal the existence of key elements of its nuclear programme dating back to 2002, when a group of Iranian dissidents first revealed the existence of the Natanz nuclear enrichment site.
Enrichment is a crucial process in producing weapons-grade nuclear material, and the fact that Iran managed to build the massive underground facility about 100 miles to the south of Tehran in secret was the first major evidence that the regime was developing nuclear weapons.
Since then there have been many similar instances of Iran seeking to conceal the existence of key facilities from the outside world, such as the Fordow facility which was constructed during the late 2000s under a mountain to protect it from attack.
Now evidence has emerged that, with the Biden administration indicating that it wants to resume negotiations with Tehran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal negotiated by former US President Barack Obama, Iran has resumed its attempts to conceal vital components from UN inspection teams.
2. At The College Fix, Henry Kokkeler reports on how Loyola University of Chicago pinheads students are demanding complete green energy in four years, among other idiocies demands. From the beginning of the piece:
Student activists at Loyola University Chicago have sent a list of demands to the administration, including moving the university to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2025 and a complete fossil fuel divestment by July 2022.
“In light of the 2021 Climate Change Conference, we are holding you accountable for your claims to celebrate youth activism,” Sunrise Movement LUC said in a petition on Actionnetwork.org, which has 108 signatures as of March 27. The students want the university to “[s]ource 100% renewable energy by 2025,” among other requests.
The petition follows a recent Climate Change Conference held virtually on March 9 by the university’s new School of Environmental Sustainability.
University officials opened the environmental school in December 2020 and said it was “the first-ever school dedicated to environmental sustainability across Jesuit institutions worldwide.” Keynote speakers at the recent climate conference included Dejah Powell, a leading organizer for the Sunrise Movement.
The Loyola group appears to be an affiliate of this national organization, founded in 2017. The national organization supports the Green New Deal, among other environmental initiatives.
“It is not enough to acknowledge youth activism–listen to and follow through with your own activists on campus,” the letter from the activists said. The Sunrise group “recognizes the intersection between environmental and social justice issues.”
3. At Law & Liberty, David L. Schaefer reflects on Andy Ngo and the true threats to our freedoms. From the piece:
More recently, a thoroughly anti-constitutional precedent was set by then-minority leader Chuck Schumer only last March, when he led a posse of about 75 members up the steps of the Supreme Court to warn recently appointed justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh that they had “released the whirlwind,” would “pay a price,” and would “not know what hit” them if they voted the “wrong” way on an abortion case. (Schumer’s act won a rare rebuke from the normally reserved Chief Justice Roberts, who denounced Schumer’s comments as “inappropriate” and “dangerous,” stressing, that “all members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.” In a proto-Trumpian response, Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman explained that his boss’s words didn’t mean what they sounded like, and denied that. Schumer was threatening or encouraging violence.)
A decade ago, an even more direct and threatening, though ultimately (mostly) nonviolent, challenge to constitutional government was offered by Wisconsin public employee unions who invaded that state’s Capitol to protest and attempt to block Governor Scott Walker’s program of reforming public-employee contracts so as to balance the state budget without raising taxes, and also liberate public school administrations from rigid tenure rules (closely paralleled in school districts throughout the country) that prevented them from hiring teachers based on merit and adjusting their pay based on performance. Walker’s reforms even went so far as to require public employees to contribute to their health-insurance and pension costs — while still paying less for those benefits than the average Wisconsin citizen. (See Walker’s retrospective view of the “Capitol Siege,” with over 100,000 occupying the building and its surrounding square). Although nobody died in the Wisconsin protests, several legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, reported receiving death threats at the time. And one woman who emailed death threats to Republican lawmakers also pleaded guilty to making a bomb threat. Yet it would be difficult to find criticism of either Schumer’s warnings or the Wisconsin unions’ attempt to intimidate their state’s public institutions in most of the “mainstream” media.
The threat to the rule of law, and even to the constitutionally protected freedom of speech, in today’s America goes well beyond the attack on the U.S. Capitol, let alone the other attempts to intimidate lawgivers and judges just mentioned. The wave of riots, violent crime, and looting ostensibly provoked by George Floyd’s death while police attempted to restrain him is of course well known. But as independent journalist Andy Ngo documents in his just-published book Unmasked, widespread rioting led by the loosely organized anarchist group Antifa began in his home city of Portland several years before the Floyd event. With considerable courage, Ngo both reported on and photographed the months of rioting in Portland and Seattle, entailing direct assaults on police departments and courts in both cities, attacks on police resulting in hundreds of injuries, and multiple deaths. Yet in each case local authorities let most of the violence go unpunished, with Seattle’s mayor Jenny Durkan even celebrating the establishment last June of the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ), from which police and other government personnel were excluded, as exemplifying a “Summer of Love” — until mounting deaths and other casualties, to say nothing of costly damage to local shops, finally caused her to shut it down after three weeks.
Brothers and Sisters of the Book Old and the Book New, on this remarkable weekend, feel the redemptive graces and know the promises of salvation. Whether it be Easter or Passover, may it fully deliver unto you and yours its unbound and everlasting beneficence.
May the Creator Bless You Abundantly,
Jack Fowler who can be emailed your thoughts about Peeps or anything else at firstname.lastname@example.org.