Great America

The Riots Ought to be Against Romney, Bush, Biden, and Harris

The neoliberal core of both of these supposedly distinct political parties is stronger than ever.

Not quite a year ago, online journalist Kaitlin Bennett interviewed a Rutgers student who said “neoliberalism has torn through humanity.” Without meaning to, the student neatly expressed the reason Donald Trump appeals to increasing numbers of Bernie Sanders voters, and why NeverTrump Republicans are better suited to be Democrats.

Among the populist leftist movement in the United States, apart from the relatively few people who are hardcore Communists and anti-white racists, you’re left with a vast, embittered population of Americans who have indeed had their lives torn apart by neoliberalism. 

For the uninitiated, neoliberalism sees all humanity as an undifferentiated mass of consumers, with borders, language, cultures, and national sovereignty as nothing more than obstacles to global corporate governance.

NeverTrump Republicans, on the other hand, have been treated very well by neoliberalism, as have the Silicon Valley moguls and Wall Street raiders who now constitute the moneyed core of the Democratic party.

Through an impressive sleight of hand, America’s neoliberal corporate elite have succeeded in making Trump, who wants to bring jobs back to America and stay out of foreign wars, the target of nationwide rioting. These efforts by Trump make him an enemy of neoliberals. 

By contrast, Mitt Romney and Joe Biden epitomize those neoliberals who have gotten rich by gutting America’s economy, and George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton epitomize those neoliberals who have dragged America into endless wars that drain our wealth and murder our youth.

It’s hard not to have contempt for these politicians. Romney got rich by taking over American companies, loading them up with debt, selling off the assets and the intellectual property, firing the employees, then closing the bankrupt shells while paying himself and his partners the looted millions. Bush is best remembered as the man who destabilized the Middle East on false pretenses, costing countless lives, trillions of dollars, and ongoing chaos.

Now Romney and Bush are now trying to win their grim battle with history, hoping that by joining NeverTrumpers they can vindicate themselves. Good riddance.

Make no mistake about it, Romney and Bush are no longer Republicans, because the overwhelming majority of Republican voters support Donald Trump. Romney and Bush, by declaring they will not vote for Trump, merely signal that the center of gravity of the establishment uniparty has shifted from Republican to Democrat. But the neoliberal core of both of these supposedly distinct political parties is stronger than ever.

Redefining the Premises of Leftist Anger 

Once the left-of-center, left-behind millions in America realize that when it comes to the most fundamental issues affecting their lives, Romney and Bush are actually Democrats (indistinguishable from Republicans), and that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are actually Republicans (indistinguishable from Democrats), they’ll need to think carefully about what sort of leadership and policies they really want from their elected politicians. 

And the first thing they’ll need to understand is that neoliberalism is globalism. A core premise of globalism is leveling the national economies of the entire world. In practical terms, that means erasing borders and letting capital chase the lowest wages and the highest profits—both things that are contrary to their interests. 

Certain other inevitable realities follow. The first of these reality checks is that a worldwide communist revolution will not happen. The Silicon Valley technocrats, their allies in China, the American deep state, and their Biden-Romney puppet politicians can stop violent dissent, as Trump actually dares to state, “in 30 minutes.” 

The next reality check is that when you have open borders, it doesn’t matter what political economy you choose, allowing millions of unskilled and destitute people to swarm into a developed nation will reduce that nation’s ability to maintain a sustainable system of social welfare.

Reality checks like these will come fast and furious once America’s disenfranchised left-of-center millions realize that Biden is Bush, and Romney is Harris. They will realize that the reason they can’t afford homes is not only that, thanks to mass immigration, they can’t make a living wage—if they even have jobs. The other reason they can’t afford homes is that homes, like everything else in America, are artificially scarce. When demand exceeds supply, prices rise.

To create scarcity in everything that matters, from homes to roads to minerals and other vital resources, America’s environmentalists have stopped development in its tracks. Only the wealthiest developers and corporations can afford to jump through the regulatory hoops and pay off the many environmentalist litigants. This suits neoliberals, even though it violates their principles, because when markets have barriers (artificial or otherwise) and prices rise, profits soar. 

And of course who could fail to appreciate the need to keep home prices in the stratosphere so consumers can borrow against their home equity to purchase products from the Chinese slave state, where Romney and Biden—and Kamala Harris’s technocratic Silicon Valley buddies—all have fabulously remunerative investments?

Neoliberalism, flawed and corrupt in execution, but true to its core principle of leveling national economies, has indeed torn through humanity. 

And there is an alternative.

America’s Unified Future Belongs to Civic Nationalists

As President Trump has often said, “we want immigrants, but it has to be based on merit and it has to be legal.” This is a core premise of civic nationalism in America, because it embraces America’s tradition of welcoming immigration as long as it is in the national interest. Why not allow the best and the brightest come into America? Until we manage to destroy the teachers’ unions and implement school choice, we will need more well-educated people. 

The more immigrants have needed skills, the more likely they’ll contribute and assimilate. But to complete America’s economic recovery and create a political economy that restores opportunities to America’s disenfranchised millions, civic nationalists have to fight the environmentalists.

The next wave of militancy to hit America will be coming from the climate change extremists. With or without a Biden presidency, this will be yet another wave in the neoliberal campaign to level the economies of nations. Using the radicalizing issue of climate change, environmentalists are demanding even more curbs on America’s economic potential. Many of these policies, already in place and set to get worse, have nothing to do with climate change. 

Central among them is urban containment, the policy of ending all growth beyond the existing urban footprint of cities. More than anything else, these containment policies are the reason homes are unaffordable. These laws create an impossible situation that bears further explanation.

The neoliberal Left demands immigration. They want Americans to open their borders and admit millions—tens of millions, of new migrants. Yet, in the name of fighting “climate change,” they demand that cities stop growing outwards. 

But even if you believe in climate change, the argument that cramming everyone into existing cities will alleviate it is dubious at best. More to the point, imagine the chaos and misery that would ensue when millions of migrants, homeless, and displaced inner-city welfare recipients are disbursed into subsidized multi-family dwellings, randomly dropped onto the sites of demolished single-family homes.

The neoliberal Left, supported by brain-dead libertarians who oppose “zoning,” along with green and anti-racist radicals, is dead serious; they intend to destroy America’s suburbs.

The solution to this grotesque assault on America’s standard of living and quality of life—supported by Romney and Bush just as much as by Biden and Harris—is to reject the argument that developing new suburbs on open land will harm the planet. Because it will not. 

What it will do is make homes affordable again. The reason neoliberals want to create scarcity of housing is because they want the financial collateral created when demand for developed real estate exceeds supply. And mega development corporations are slavering over the chance to build millions of tax-subsidized, rent-subsidized, grossly overpriced multifamily dwellings where single-family homes currently stand.

The fight between civic nationalists and environmentalists extends to every facet of economic growth. Why aren’t Americans building more nuclear and hydroelectric power plants? Why aren’t Americans mining their own raw materials instead of importing them? Why aren’t Americans reviving their timber industry, an action that would have the side benefit of greatly reducing the severity of forest fires? Why aren’t Americans rebuilding their infrastructure? Environmentalists oppose all of this. They must be stopped.

President Trump has been right on all these issues. 

The final reality check that left-of-center Americans must cope with is that neoliberalism is destined to fail even if the neoliberals level national economies. Because other nations are not going to accept a neoliberal global order. The Chinese slave state is bent on replacing America as the dominant power in the world. For them, neoliberals are useful idiots. Buy off Biden. Buy off Romney. Let them kill their economies so they can acquire more personal wealth. Thanks to these greedy traitors, it will be easier to conquer the world.

If you want to know why virtually every establishment apparatus in America is trying to defeat Trump, these are the reasons. Bernie voters: Face reality. Join us.

Great America

9/11: 19 Years Later

Can we ever recover that patriotic unity we had in the aftermath of that horrible day? Or has 2020 set us on a path to utter disintegration?

For 19 years, we all lived in the long, dark shadow of 9/11. Every time September 11 rolled around again, we engaged in ritual remembrance of the events of that day and reflected on the ways in which the world had changed in its aftermath. There was pre-9/11 and there was post-9/11.

If the immediate consequence of 9/11 was a feeling of strong national unity, its long-term effect was the opening up of a huge national divide. On one side were those who loved America, cherished its founding principles, and recognized the attacks on 9/11 as an assault on those principles by totalitarian ideologues. On the other side were those who reacted to 9/11 by deciding that America’s enemies must have a point and by buying the claim that America’s legacy is one not of freedom and equality but of prejudice and exploitation. 

On 9/11, who would have imagined that Islam would soon be widely depicted as a religion not of totalitarian conquest but of innocent victimhood, and that Sharia apologists like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib would be congresswomen? 

It started with George W. Bush’s whitewashing of Islam and his use of 9/11 as an excuse for Middle East nation-building. Barack Obama, who spoke loftily of “one America” as a candidate, but took every opportunity to undermine American unity and question American greatness as president, was far worse, singing Islam’s praises even as 9/11 was succeeded by one act of jihadist mass murder after another.  

The roots of America’s division had been present long before 9/11, of course. When the 1960s ended, many of those who’d mounted the barricades found jobs in the news media and publishing, in Hollywood, in government, in mainline religious bodies, and in the academy. Accruing power over time in those institutions, they helped indoctrinate millions, including a young Barack Obama. Ultimately, with the blessing of the Obama White House, these brainwashed multitudes introduced radical politics into settings that had previously been immune to such toxins—the corporate boardrooms, the upper hierarchies of the police and military, and the higher levels of the FBI and other intelligence services. 

The Radical Revision of Patriotism

The elections of 2016 brought America’s divisions to a head. While Hillary Clinton railed at flyover state “deplorables”—expressing more empathy for illegal aliens and Islamic terrorists than for hard-working, law-abiding, middle Americans who’d been economically decimated by globalism—Donald Trump consecrated himself to the service of those deplorables. Yes, from the beginning of his administration, he sought to be a president for all the people. But it was far too late. 

Too many Americans had been conditioned to respond to America-first rhetoric with a reflexive, implacable contempt. From the moment Trump won, the Democratic Party treated his victory as illegitimate and—with the help of a mainstream media that, since 9/11, increasingly had become an instrument of left-wing propaganda—sought to bring him down by unlawful means. At totally unfounded impeachment hearings, House Democrats hit a new low for naked and mendacious partisanship.

This should not have come as a surprise. Over the course of a few years, leftist orthodoxy had grown more and more disconnected from fact, reason, logic, and common sense. The Democrats, who had called themselves the party of science, are now the opposite. Top party people who bought beachfront mansions also asserted that, without radical action on climate, sea levels would soon rise high enough to wipe those beaches out. 

On sex, the new party line was that any number of genders exist, that an individual’s sexual identity is whatever that individual claims it to be, and prepubescent children have a right to sex-change surgery on demand. As if all this weren’t mad enough, leading Democrats supported the defunding of police, defended mob destruction of statutes, and redefined abortion to include live delivery followed by infanticide. 

Moreover, after a half a century during which an America overly preoccupied with racial and ethnic identity had transformed into a country increasingly focused on the individual, Democrats, especially during the Obama years, had made a U-turn back to group labels and segregation, defining people as good or bad, villain or victim, oppressor or oppressed. 

The 2020 Explosion

And then came 2020. In the midst of an unprecedented pandemic lockdown, America exploded. In response to a random incident in Minneapolis involving a wayward cop and a career criminal, neither of whom had anyone ever heard of, left-wing extremists rioted in major cities, committing acts of arson, vandalism, and even murder. While Democratic mayors and governors refused to send in police, the media insisted the violence wasn’t happening, drastically played down its scale and import, or blamed it on Trump.  

Suddenly, 9/11 seemed almost quaint. Yes, those attacks had been horrific, but they were over by 10 a.m. This new nightmare appeared never to end. On 9/11, America had been targeted by 19 foreign fanatics in the grip of a religious ideology that was, at that point, still largely alien to the United States; now, in 2020, America was under siege by thousands of its own, all driven by radical ideas that had spread to almost every classroom in the country. 

The rioters are young. Most were small children when those planes struck the Twin Towers. That atrocity—an assault on core American principles—should have inspired an enduring rededication to those principles; children who grew up in its shadow should have been raised to treasure everything that the jihadists despised. 

But the political, cultural, and educational leaders—and, not least, the parents—who should have seized that moment, bungled it royally. Too many privileged young Americans learned not to be grateful for their privilege but to take it for granted; instead of being taught respect, responsibility, self-discipline, hard work, manners, courage, honor, delayed gratification, and simple decency, they were indulged, spoiled rotten, and showered with participation trophies. 

Sneering TV propagandists like Jon Stewart, brainless online “influencers,” and teachers and professors armed with copies of Howard Zinn convinced them that multicultural wishy-washiness, radical cultural relativism, and outright hatred of America and the West were cool, that the world was defined by Western imperialist hegemony, and that American society was all about the subjugation of blacks, women, Muslims, and trans people by straight white males. 

Earlier generations, after completing their educations, had sought to make careers, raise families, and pass onto their children the values of their forebears; all too many members of the post-9/11 generation, however, disdain traditional families and careers and hence seek to bring the whole thing down—to replace the tyrants’ power with their own.  

The Collusion of Treasonous Perfidy and Media Duplicity

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Obama Administration’s effort to destroy Trump revealed a level of treasonous perfidy in the corridors of federal power that would’ve been unimaginable until recently. This perfidy was matched by unprecedented media duplicity. In record time, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and the broadcast network news divisions had all become fully integrated parts of a vast propaganda operation. Their message was simple and straightforward: Obama—in reality a mischievous mediocrity—was a golden idol; Trump, who despite massive opposition rolled up the most impressive record of any president’s first term, was the embodiment of evil. 

Trump, the most transparent president in history, regularly was depicted in a way that was utterly at odds with reality. He had moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but he was anti-Semitic; he reformed anti-black crime laws and brought black employment to record lows, but he was racist; he appointed more gay people to positions of responsibility than any of his predecessors and had supported same-sex marriage long before Obama (or the Clintons), but he was a homophobe. 

Certain lies, though disproven, were ritually hurled at him by Democrats and media. He had called white supremacists in Charlottesville “good people”; he had mocked a journalist’s disability; he had suggested bleach as a cure for the COVID-19 virus; he had removed mailboxes around the U.S. to prevent voting by mail; he had called dead soldiers “losers.” The ease with which leftists repeated these increasingly ridiculous and reprehensible lies was shocking unless you were aware that indifference to truth lies at the very heart of the postmodern sensibility.  

Can We Recover Patriotic Unity?

At some point during the madness of 2020, one began to find oneself thinking of the fall of Rome and the French and Russian revolutions. 

At first one brushes away these thoughts; after a time, they seem unavoidable. How quickly life in America during the coronavirus lockdown and the Antifa and Black Lives Matter violence morphed into a new normal; how quickly life in 2019 and before came to seem a distant memory. And how much more removed we feel now from 9/11, which for one brief moment seemed to bring all Americans together in love of country. 

Can we ever recover that patriotic unity? Or has 2020 set us on a path to utter disintegration?

Great America

Private School Primacy?

It’s back-to-school decision time for many parents.

With schools set to reopen, it’s time for parents to choose how best to proceed with their children’s education in our COVID-obsessed country. If there is no in-school option, how many will stick with online education from their local public school? And how many will opt to home school or select a private school, many of which will have traditional learning or at least more rigorous online learning?

While it is too soon to have a definitive answer, here are a few bones to chew on. According to a recent Civis poll, about 40 percent of parents of k-12 students nationwide say that they have “disenrolled their children from the school they were originally supposed to attend this year, in response to school reopening plans.” And of those who have removed their kids, 20 percent have signed them up at a private school.

Here in southern California, school districts are taking a hit, though primarily in lower grades. As reported by the Los Angeles Times Howard Blume, kindergarten enrollment in LAUSD is down 14 percent from last year.

Many who choose private schools will soon discover the difference between them and the public school variety. A recent survey conducted by Dick Carpenter and Josh Dunn, professors at the University of Colorado, speaks volumes. They found that in the spring, 89 percent of private school children received live, online instruction by their teachers, but only 56 percent of public school children did. They also report that 65 percent of private school parents said their teachers “graded student assignments and those grades played an important part in the overall assessment for the year,” but that was true for just a third of public school children.

Also, a recent report by the Center for Reinventing Public Education found that only one-third of public school districts examined required teachers to deliver instruction during the lockdown, and “less than half of all districts communicated an expectation that teachers would take attendance or check in with students regularly.” This lack of rigor is particularly egregious for poor and minority kids who were already suffering a subpar education.

It cannot be stressed enough that private schools must compete for business, charge about half of what public schools do, and importantly, are not unionized. Thus, children—not a political agenda – are their focal point.

Speaking of agendas, due to Covid-19, the teachers’ unions have been more driven than ever. All over the country, not only have they been insisting that the federal government pour more money into the bottomless education funding hole before teachers go back to work, but frequently make other demands. As American Enterprise Institute education policy expert Rick Hess explains, unions in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Oakland have joined up with the Democratic Socialists of America in a coalition “calling for a moratorium on charter schools and standardized testing, new taxes on the wealthy, police-free schools, a halt to home foreclosures, and much more.” Additionally, the teachers unions have been engaging in world-class hypocrisy.

To wit . . .

The American Federation of Teachers, which supports safety strikes for teachers because “dead teachers can’t teach” and “dead kids can’t learn,” launched a $500,000 ad buy in August, in which the union accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of “stonewalling funds to help schools to reopen safely.” The union claims that billions are needed for comprehensive contact tracing, mandatory masking, and updating ventilation systems. Yet, the same union that sounds alarm bells about teachers returning to school still managed to join up with Al Sharpton’s National Day of Action in Washington, D.C. on August 28, where social distancing was not practiced, and those who wore masks were not overly concerned about a proper fit. AFT president Randi Weingarten, who has solemnly reported that teachers are so scared of going back to work that they’re, “writing their wills,” had no compunction about speaking at the rally, sans mask, exposing her as a supreme hypocrite.

While Weingarten and her fellow unionistas are using the pandemic to advance their agenda, there are a few facts they choose to ignore. The median age for teachers is 41. And as the CDC reports, between February and August 3,450 people age 35-44 died from COVID-19 in the U.S. At this rate, over a year’s time there would be fewer COVID-related deaths than the 8,217 35-44-year-olds who died in automobile accidents in 2017. (Yes, older teachers, especially those with certain medical conditions, may have to wait for a vaccine before returning to a classroom.) Additionally, far more children die in auto accidents than because of Covid-19. So decisions about how to go forward should be made with a scalpel, not a bludgeon.

If parents haven’t already made a decision about fall schooling, they will be doing so very shortly. For those who abandon government-run schools, the choice could be a permanent one, which would have consequences for the education establishment long after the coronavirus has run its course. Talk about a silver lining!

This article originally appeared at the California Policy Center. 

Great America

Environmentalists Destroyed California’s Forests

The catastrophic fires that have immolated millions of acres of forests in the Golden State were preventable, and for decades, everyone knew what had to be done.

Millions of acres of California forest have been blackened by wildfires this summer, leading to the usual angry denunciations from the usual quarters about climate change. But in 1999, the Associated Press reported that forestry experts had long agreed that “clearing undergrowth would save trees,” and that “years of aggressive firefighting have allowed brush to flourish that would have been cleared away by wildfires.” But very little was done. And now fires of unprecedented size are raging across the Western United States.

“Sen. Feinstein blames Sierra Club for blocking wildfire bill,” reads the provocative headline on a 2002 story in California’s Napa Valley Register. Feinstein had brokered a congressional consensus on legislation to thin “overstocked” forests close to homes and communities, but could not overcome the environmental lobby’s disagreement over expediting the permit process to thin forests everywhere else.

Year after year, environmentalists litigated and lobbied to stop efforts to clear the forests through timber harvesting, underbrush removal, and controlled burns. Meanwhile, natural fires were suppressed and the forests became more and more overgrown. The excessive biomass competed for the same water, soil, and light a healthier forest would have used, rendering all of the trees and underbrush unhealthy. It wasn’t just excess biomass that accumulated, but dried out and dead biomass.

What happened among California’s tall stands of Redwood and Ponderosa Pine also happened in its extensive chaparral. Fire suppression along with too many environmentalist-inspired bureaucratic barriers to controlled burns and undergrowth removal turned the hillsides and canyons of Southern California into tinderboxes.

In 2009, after huge blazes wiped out homes and forced thousands to evacuate, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich observed: “The environmentalists have gone to the extreme to prevent controlled burns, and as a result we have this catastrophe today.”

In 2014, Republican members of Congress tried again to reduce the bureaucracy associated with “hazardous fuel projects” that thin out overgrown forests. True to form, the bill got nowhere thanks to environmental lobbyists who worried it would undermine the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the law that requires thorough impact assessments ahead of government decisions on public lands.

In a blistering report published in the California Globe on how environmentalists have destroyed California’s forests, investigative journalist Katy Grimes interviewed Representative Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents communities in and around the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California. McClintock has worked for years to reform NEPA and other barriers to responsible forest management. 

“The U.S. Forest Service used to be a profitable federal agency,” McClintock told Grimes.

Up until the mid-1970s, we managed our national forests according to well-established and time-tested forest management practices. But 40 years ago, we replaced these sound management practices with what can only be described as a doctrine of benign neglect. Ponderous, Byzantine laws and regulations administered by a growing cadre of ideological zealots in our land management agencies promised to save the environment. The advocates of this doctrine have dominated our law, our policies, our courts and our federal agencies ever since.

But these zealots have not protected the forests. They have destroyed them. The consequences are far-reaching. 

Decimating the Timber Industry, Disrupting the Ecosystem

Few people, including the experts, bother to point out how overgrown forests reduce the water supply. But when watersheds are choked with dense underbrush competing for moisture, precipitation and runoff cannot replenish groundwater aquifers or fill up reservoirs. Instead, it’s immediately soaked up by the trees and brush. Without clearing and controlled burns, the overgrown foliage dies anyway.

A new activist organization in California, the “California Water for Food and People Movement,” created a Facebook group for people living in the hellscape created by misguided environmentalist zealotry. Comments and posts from long-time residents of the Sierra foothills, where fires have exploded in recent years, yield eyewitness testimony to how environmentalist restrictions on forest management have gone horribly wrong. Examples:

“I’m 70, and I remember controlled burns, logging, and open grazing.”

“With the rainy season just ahead, the aftermath of the Creek Fire will challenge our water systems for years to come. Erosion will send toxic debris and sediment cascading into streams, rivers, and reservoirs, reducing their capacity to carry and hold water. Dirty air, dirty water, and the opposite of environmentalism are on full display right now, brought to us by the environmental posers who will no doubt use this crisis to unleash a barrage of ‘climate change did it’ articles.”

“Many thanks to Sierra Club and other environmental groups. You shut down logging/brush removal and had a ‘don’t touch’ approach to our forests. You shut down access roads and let them get overgrown, so now they can’t be used for fire suppression and emergency equipment. You fought ranchers for grazing, which helped keep the forest floors clean. You made fun of Trump when he said we need to rake the forest. Trust me these forest rakes and logging would have prevented the devastating fires we see now.”

The economics of responsible forest management, given the immensity of America’s western forests, requires profitable timber harvesting to play a role. But California has no commercial timber operations on state-owned land. And since 1990, when the environmentalist assault on California’s timber industry began in earnest, its timber industry has shrunk to half its former size. Reviving California’s timber industry, so the collective rate of harvest equals the collective rate of growth, would go a long way towards solving the problem of catastrophic fires.

Instead, California’s environmentalists only redouble their nonsense arguments. Expect these fires to justify even more “climate change” legislation that does nothing to clear the forests of overgrown tinder, and everything to clear the forests, and the chaparral, of people and towns.

Expect these fires to fuel a new round of legislation containing urban growth while mandating suburban densification, with increased rationing of energy and water.

Expect the “climate emergency” to accelerate in synergistic lockstep with the pandemic emergency and the anti-racism emergency. Expect all three of these emergencies to become issues of public health, thereby eliminating inconvenient constitutional roadblocks to swift action.

Misdirected Union Priorities

Meanwhile, tragically, expect California’s politically powerful firefighters’ union to do little or nothing to support the timber industry or rural inhabitants who don’t want to move into urban condos.

As Steve Greenhut explained in a recent column in the Orange County Register:

Frankly, union power drives state and local firefighting policies. The median compensation package for firefighters has topped $240,000 a year in some locales. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighters earn less, but their packages still total nearly $150,000 a year. The number of California firefighters who receive compensation packages above $500,000 a year is mind-blowing.

No wonder firefighters are overwhelmed during California’s wildfire season. The state can’t afford to hire enough of them. 

And when these firefighter unions could have been pushing for legislation to clear the forests back in 2019, where instead did their leftist leadership direct their activist efforts? They marched in solidarity with the striking United Teachers of Los Angeles. The teachers’ unions have done to California’s public schools what environmentalists have done to California’s forests.

If an honest history of California in the early 21st century is ever written, the verdict will be unequivocal. Forests that thrived in California for over 20 million years were allowed to become overgrown tinderboxes. And then, with stupefying ferocity, within the span of a few decades, they burned to the ground. Many of them never recovered. 

This epic tragedy was the direct result of policies put in place by misguided environmentalist zealots, misinformed suckers who sent them money, and the litigators and lobbyists they hired, who laughed all the way to the bank.

Great America

This essay is part of RealClearPublicAffairs’s 1776 Series, which explains the major themes that define the American mind. It expands on four episodes of “The American Story” podcast: How Sleep the BraveWhat’s Love Got To Do With It?Known But to God, and Gettysburg.

Increased Devotion

Like the Sentinels of the Tomb, Lincoln teaches us that to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we need only hold ourselves to the ultimate standard in all we do—even when it is known but to God.

How sleep the Brave, who sink to Rest,
By all their Country’s Wishes blest!
When Spring, with dewy Fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallow’d Mould,
She there shall dress a sweeter Sod
Than Fancy’s Feet have ever trod.

By Fairy Hands their knell is rung,
By Forms unseen their Dirge is sung;
There Honour comes, a Pilgrim grey,
To bless the Turf that wraps their Clay,
And Freedom shall a-while repair
To dwell a weeping Hermit there!

Abigail Adams quoted from memory the ode “How Sleep the Brave,” by English poet William Collins, in a letter to her husband John, started on Sunday, June 18, and mailed on Tuesday, June 20, 1775. She had just confirmed reports of the death of their dear friend and family doctor, 34-year-old Joseph Warren. He had fallen “gloriously fighting for his Country,” Abigail wrote, and “Those favorite lines of Collin[s] continually sound in my Ears.”

Warren had died on Saturday, June 17, in what came to be known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, where the British army had driven colonial militia from their positions but suffered heavy losses. He had been a leading patriot since the Stamp Act Crisis 10 years before, when he was just 24. It was he who sent Paul Revere on his famous Midnight Ride. The extralegal Massachusetts Provincial Congress commissioned him as a major general of the militia just a few days before the battle, but he chose to serve as a private soldier and was killed during the third and final British assault. He immediately became a martyr of the Revolution. His death would later be immortalized by John Trumbull in the oil painting The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill 17 June 1775, a version of which hangs today in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The Battle of Bunker Hill took place within earshot of the farm in Braintree Massachusetts where Abigail and her four children were living. “The battle began,” she wrote, “Saturday morning about 3 o’clock.” She thought it marked “perhaps the decisive Day . . . on which the fate of America depends.”  “The constant roar of the cannon is so distressing,” she said, “that we can not Eat, Drink or Sleep.”

Weeks before, as militia streamed into the area in the wake of the battles of Lexington and Concord, Abigail had collected the family’s pewter dishes and melted them down in a large kettle held over the kitchen fire to make bullets. From time to time, she heard alarms, warning that the Royal Navy was about to land forces along the coast. She had good reason to fear the British would try to seize rebel leaders and their families. Her husband was 400 miles away in Philadelphia as part of the Massachusetts delegation to the Second Continental Congress. Six weeks earlier, he had written Abigail from Connecticut: “I am often concerned for you and our dear Babes. . . . In Case of real Danger . . . fly to the Woods with our Children.”

It’s hard in easygoing times to imagine what it could mean to face such an extremity: a mother forced to contemplate fleeing into the forest with her four children, pursued by hostile armies. It is hard to imagine being the husband hundreds of miles away writing such a letter to his wife or the wife reading such a letter from her husband. But Abigail Adams possessed all the self-reliance and courage that John’s letter counted on her to have—come what may.

“I saw with my own eyes those fires, and heard Britannia’s thunders in the Battle of Bunker’s hill and witnessed the tears of my mother and mingled with them my own, at the fall of Warren a dear friend of my father, and a beloved Physician to me.”
—John Quincy Adams

Far from fleeing to the woods, early on the Saturday morning of the battle, Abigail took her seven-year-old son and climbed to the top of Penn’s Hill to get a closer look. From there, the two could see fire and smell the smoke from houses burning in Charlestown. Seventy-one years later, after an illustrious career as a diplomat and a term as sixth president of the United States, and still serving as an active member of Congress, her son vividly remembered that day. In a draft of a letter, he wrote, “I saw with my own eyes those fires, and heard Britannia’s thunders in the Battle of Bunker’s hill and witnessed the tears of my mother and mingled with them my own, at the fall of Warren a dear friend of my father, and a beloved Physician to me.” In that same letter, he repeated from memory the ode his mother had quoted to her husband in the letter she wrote 71 years before, when “the fate of America” hung in the balance. Back in that spring and summer of 1775, when he was just seven years old and the War for Independence swirled around him and his family, John Quincy Adams remembered, “[my mother] taught me to repeat daily after the Lord’s prayer [the Ode of Collins] before rising from bed.”

“How sleep the brave?” Something like Abigail Adams slept, I should think.

A few years after the War for Independence was won, when America was deliberating over a new Constitution, James Madison reflected in Federalist 55 that “there are . . . qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence,” and that “[r]epublican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.” Human beings are not brave by nature, but it is human nature to be capable of becoming brave, and of acquiring all the other virtues, through habit that molds enduring character. Republican government—self-government or free government—does the greatest honor to human nature by regarding human beings as capable of acquiring all the moral and intellectual virtues needed to rule themselves.  Bravery or courage is the first or most fundamental virtue free government requires of its citizens. It is indispensable for all that follows.

America could not have become a self-governing republic—could not have assumed among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitled us—without the courage of Joseph Warren and the thousands after him gloriously fighting and dying for a “country” that was still an aspiration. In national memory, the young Nathan Hale would become representative of American patriots who offered and gave their lives that their country might be born. We all know—or used to know—the story. Nathan Hale was a 21-year-old Connecticut boy in 1776. He was serving in the Continental Army during the American War of Independence. George Washington needed someone to spy on British troop movements behind enemy lines in New York. Nathan Hale volunteered for that job. He was captured by the British. The penalty for espionage was death by hanging, and he was hanged. On his way to the scaffold, Hale spoke the words that every generation of Americans since has been able to quote, as Abigail Adams and John Quincy Adams could quote the Collins Ode: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

America will always need Nathan Hales and Joseph Warrens. Every country does.

America will always need Nathan Hales and Joseph Warrens. Every country does. America will always need citizens willing to give, in Abraham Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, “the last full measure of devotion” for their country’s cause. If you are an immigrant seeking citizenship in the United States today, you must take an oath of naturalization, part of which involves a pledge that you will bear arms if necessary in defense of the Constitution of the United States. This means you have to be willing to be a Joseph Warren, a Nathan Hale. Native citizens live under the obligation of the same oath, even if we don’t explicitly take it. Each of us is pledged to all, and all are pledged to each, to defend our lives and liberties as Americans when needed.

In every generation, it has been so far a small percentage of our citizens who must offer and give the last full measure of devotion for our country. These are usually young. They used to be young men only; now, of course, they are young men and women. How can the rest of us—the vast majority—properly honor such sacrifices? How can we be worthy of them?

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery can teach us something about that, and about how it benefits us the living to honor those who have given their lives for us. Inscribed in capital letters on the western façade of the Tomb are the words: HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD. More than 4 million visitors come to the cemetery every year from across America and around the world. Unless they have their own personal visit to make, what they most want to do is to climb the hill to the high ground of the Memorial Amphitheater and visit the Tomb.

The American Civil War brought forth Arlington National Cemetery, on land belonging once to George Washington’s family and later to Robert E. Lee’s. More Americans died in that war than in all America’s other wars combined, and the first soldier buried at Arlington was Private William Christman, on May 13, 1864. The Great War, later tragically to become known as World War I, brought forth the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The American Expeditionary Force that fought in the Great War in 1917 and 1918 lost more than 116,000 troops.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier touches visitors so deeply, in part, because it prompts a realization that the experience and sacrifice of all fallen soldiers must in some ways always be unknown to us—though they are not unknown to God.

Identification tags were a relatively recent introduction of modern warfare, but still almost 2,000 fallen American troops remained unidentified. One of those unidentified troops was selected for burial at Arlington, with solemn ceremony, on what was then still called Armistice Day, three years to the day after the war ended—November 11, 1921. The Tomb’s sarcophagus that we see today standing above the grave was completed and unveiled to the public in 1932. It is made of marble from the same quarry in Colorado that provided the marble for the Lincoln Memorial.

To the west of the Tomb, white marble slabs flush with the plaza mark crypts for an unknown soldier from World War II and another from the Korean War. As we know well today, advances in technology over the years made being unknown more and more difficult. So for the Vietnam War there is a third marble slab, over an empty crypt, inscribed with the words, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.” The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier touches visitors so deeply, in part, because it prompts a realization that the experience and sacrifice of all fallen soldiers must in some ways always be unknown to us—though they are not unknown to God.

At midnight on July 2, 1937, the Army began to maintain a constant guard over the Tomb. On April 6, 1948, these duties were assumed by the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as “The Old Guard,” the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army. Since that day, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, in all weathers, The Old Guard has maintained its vigil. This sacred duty is carried out by the most specialized and famous platoon of The Old Guard, known as Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who served at Arlington with The Old Guard between combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has written a good book about their history called Sacred Duty. He tells the story of the young soldiers of The Old Guard, “who dedicate themselves to [the] sacred duty of honoring those who have served and died for the nation.” The movie Taking Chance gives an idea of what carrying out this duty looks like.

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier happens every hour on the hour from October through March, and every half hour from April through September. It is the most visible manifestation of the sacred duty of honoring our fallen heroes. With exquisite precision and unbroken attention to detail, the Sentinels aim to make that ceremony perfect every time. They want to hold themselves to the ultimate standard by which men can be judged, because nothing less can begin to honor adequately the ultimate sacrifice they are there to honor.

This is their undying gift to us. To be worthy of their bravery and the bravery of all our Abigail Adamses takes all the wisdom and virtue a man or woman could hope to possess.

For the millions of Americans and foreigners who visit the Tomb each year, especially the young, the Changing of the Guard offers profound moral and political instruction. And what makes the ritual ceremony so powerful for visitors to see is that, in a vital sense, the visitors don’t matter. The Sentinels are most devoted to achieving perfection when they are not seen—when their precision, their attention to every detail, their concentration on the high purpose of honoring the fallen into eternity, is known but to God.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, America’s greatest speech, was a dedication of the soldiers’ cemetery at Gettysburg, months after the great battle fought there. It teaches how we the living are blessed to be dedicated to the unfinished work of all the Joseph Warrens and Nathan Hales and the thousands buried unnamed who gave the last full measure of devotion for the cause of freedom. We honor their memory by our increased devotion to their noble cause. This is their undying gift to us. To be worthy of their bravery and the bravery of all our Abigail Adamses takes all the wisdom and virtue a man or woman could hope to possess. Like the Sentinels of the Tomb, Lincoln teaches us that to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we need only hold ourselves to the ultimate standard in all we do—even when it is known but to God.

This essay originally appeared in RealClearPublicAffairs.

Great America

Rochester Proves ‘Black Lives’ Don’t Matter to BLM

Over the July 4 weekend, 13 people were shot in this city of just 200,000 people. But has BLM organized marches on the homes of notorious domestic abusers or drug dens? Of course not.

For almost a week, Black Lives Matter and like-minded activists have been marching in the streets of Rochester, New York, protesting the death of Daniel Prude at the hands of police. BLM zealots even harassed diners and overturned tables at two restaurants located next to the apartment building in which I live, creating a social media firestorm. Events in Rochester have even attracted the notice of none other than President Donald Trump.

We Rochesterians are not used to playing a starring role in the national news cycle. Well, now we are, like it or not.

The curious thing? Daniel Prude died months ago, and under circumstances that hardly suggest racial animus played a role in his demise. He was a mentally deranged man on drugs—someone the police had to restrain as best they could. And restrain him they did, based on well-established policies and procedures. Unfortunately, based on a variety of circumstancessome of them completely outside the control of the police officers who detained him—Prude later died. This makes Tuesday’s announcement by the police chief that he and his entire command staff would resign at once baffling and unfortunate. The move only reinforces the (false) perception that the police were culpable in Prude’s death.

The facts be damned, however—the media and the anti-police outrage industry can turn almost any questionable incident caught on camera into an instant scandal. In fact, as we see in this case, a police “killing” need not even be recent to excite “anti-racist” fervor. Nor must it be demonstrably racist, as events this summer have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that it is not just left-wing crazies who are being sucked into this maelstrom of anti-police rage and racial fear-mongering. There are also many well-meaning, compassionate Americans who are laboring under the misconception that there is a sudden rash of police slayings of innocent black men in America.

What is abundantly clear is that the loss of blacks lives, per se, is not what is driving public attitudes and media coverage. For one thing, there is zero evidence that the summer of 2020 has seen any more police-involved killings of black men than would be normal in a country of 330 million people—and neither have police killings of white suspects (which are always more numerous) increased, not that anyone is even bothering to ask that question.

In fact, what we know for certain is that police departments, especially in big cities, have undertaken unprecedented efforts to improve training, reduce the potential for violent confrontations with suspects and with the public, and recruit new officers from historically disadvantaged communities. As a result, police forces, including the RPD, are more restrained in the use of force, and more representative of and respectful towards communities of color, than they ever have been.

What’s more, BLM’s, and the media’s, raging obsession with police “slayings” of black men is an absurdity, if one’s concern is the preservation of black lives. BLM shows no inclination to protest or draw attention to other scourges that routinely claim far more of them. In terms of violence, domestic disputes and drug gangs are vastly more likely to take black lives than the excessive use of force by the police. Statistically, this is beyond questioning.

Rochester, New York has a murder rate three times higher than the national average. In Rochester, just this year, dozens of people have been murdered, most in circumstances related to family violence or gang activity. Over the July 4 weekend, no less than 13 people were shot in this city of just 200,000 people. But has BLM organized marches on the homes of notorious domestic abusers or drug dens? Of course not. 

We must also keep in mind that far more black lives are taken by natural causes, including heart disease, cancer, and the coronavirus, than by police violence. Most of these health threats affect communities of color and poor neighborhoods disproportionately. Do these dangers—statistically, far more menacing than the police—excite BLM’s fury or even merit their concern? Not in the least.

Moreover, the problems that people of color encounter are by no means restricted to mortal danger. Poverty, underperforming schools, shuttered factories and businesses, drug and alcohol abuse, and broken homes, to name just a few blights on many communities of color, are every bit as serious in terms of their ability to erode quality of life.

These are all phenomena, I hasten to add, that are fostered, to one degree or another, by misguided public policies supported by the same kind of left-wing radicals and neo-Marxists who find a happy home in the BLM movement. They are also problems that find the most fertile ground of all in deep blue, Democratic-led urban centers like Rochester.

The only conclusion we are left with is that BLM, and those who march with it and lend it their support, no matter how well-meaning, are not motivated first and foremost by the preservation of life, black or otherwise. Instead, they are obsessed with the exploitation of death—in this case, the deaths of black men at the hands of the police.

Theirs, in other words, is a cause propelled not by caring, but by animus—animus towards law enforcement, certainly, and often animus towards white people, who are seen as the root cause of America’s “original sin”: racism.

What is ultimately notable about Black Lives Matter, then, is how little black lives matter to those who wave its banners and shout its slogans.

Great America

Leftists Blame America. Decent People Blame Themselves

America has been a great country because it was built on the belief that we must all fight against our natures (and fight for our country).

As long ago as the 1970s, I came to a major realization. While watching fellow students at Columbia University demonstrate not just against the war in Vietnam but against America—“Amerika,” as many spelled it, the “imperialist,” “colonialist,” “mass-murdering” country—I kept wondering what made these people so hostile to the freest country in human history.

Then, one day, as a result of my having attended a yeshiva (an Orthodox Jewish day school) through high school, the reason became clear. Half of each school day was devoted to religious studies in Hebrew, and the other half was devoted to secular studies in English. This meant that I had been immersed in a religious worldview until college.

Though it was Jewish, this worldview could also be called “Judeo-Christian.” Students at traditionally Christian schools were immersed in essentially the same worldview. We were all taught that the most important battle we need to wage in life was with our own nature. Jews and Christians learned from the same Scripture that “the will of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21).

Therefore, being a good person involved a constant battle with our flawed human nature: our urges, appetites, and innate weaknesses. This battle was also the only real route to a better world. Every individual had to work on him or herself to be decent, strong, courageous, and self-controlled, and every parent had to work, first and foremost, on raising such people.

One day, I came to realize that this was not how the vast majority of my fellow students were raised. They were raised to believe that the great battle in life was not with one’s nature but with outside forces—with parents, in many cases, but most of all with society, i.e., America.

All of us, whatever our political outlook, have to confront personal failure, loss, disappointment, and unhappiness. When confronted with these challenges, religious Jews and Christians are taught to look inward for both the primary source of their problems and the primary solutions to those problems: What have I done wrong? What can I change in my life to solve my problems?

Of course, some nonreligious liberals and conservatives also have this attitude. But most of them likely inherited it from religious parents or, at the very least, from parents who were raised in a religious home or a home that retained the remnants of such an upbringing, which was common in pre-1960s America. (It is therefore questionable how many secular parents will succeed in passing this attitude on to their children.)

The Left, which proudly rejects Judeo-Christian values, has adopted the opposite of the Judeo-Christian view regarding pain in life. Leftists (as opposed to liberals) hold outside forces responsible for their pain. That is the reason for the litany of left-wing enemies: capitalism, patriarchy, misogyny, systemic racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, sexism, xenophobia.

So, then, if you are an unhappy American woman, you can work on yourself and your nature, or you can blame sexism and patriarchy, i.e., men, for your pained state.

If you are an unhappy gay American, you can work on yourself, or you can blame society’s homophobia for your unhappiness.

And, most significantly, if you are an unhappy black American, you can work on yourself and your life, or you can blame systemic racism and whites for your anger and unfulfilled life.

All this explains why the Left encourages every group except for white, Christian, heterosexual males to regard themselves as oppressed. The more oppressed women, gays, blacks, etc., see themselves, the more they are alienated from America and its values, and the more they gravitate left. In light of this, I came up with a riddle:

Q: What do you call a happy black person?

A: A Republican.

Without an exception I can recall, over the course of decades, I have guessed the political affiliation of every black caller to my radio show within a minute of talking to them. If they sounded happy, I knew they were a Republican; if they were angry, I knew they were a Democrat. This has held true for male and female callers.

America has been a great country because it was built on the belief that we must all fight against our natures (and fight for our country). It is difficult to overstate the damage the Left is doing to this country by abandoning the fundamental Judeo-Christian teaching that we must fight our natures in order to lead a more decent and happy life and replacing it with the belief that we must battle America instead. This replacement inevitably leads to a population of unhappy, ungrateful, and mean-spirited human beings—precisely the type of individuals you see rioting and looting, the type of elected officials who do nothing to stop rioters and looters, the columnists and academics who devote their lives to spewing hate-filled lies about America, and the Twitter mobs who comprise the toxic cancel culture.

It will lead to what the Left acknowledges it seeks: the end of America as we have known it.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

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Why Don’t Alternative COVID Therapies Get More Trials in America?

Maybe there’s a shared consensus among elites that now is the time to screw down the freedoms Americans have taken for granted.

In case anyone still thinks it is, the COVID-19 pandemic is not a hoax. How and why it originated may never be known for certain. How societies ought to respond to it, and who are most vulnerable to the disease, are both topics of intense debate. But deaths in America from all causes are up year-to-date by over 200,000 compared to recent years, and while we may hope the worst is behind us, this is not over.

The single most authoritative source for statistics on deaths in the United States is the CDC website, and a way to eliminate any doubt about the cause of death is simply to bypass the categories and look at deaths from all causes. 

If that number is only marginally up this year, then you can argue that COVID-19 is overhyped. If that number is up significantly, then something terrible is going on, and COVID-19 probably accounts for most of that. As it is, for 2020 through the end of June, deaths from all causes are up by 15 percent over the average for the past six years, even adjusting for population growth.

The chart below shows deaths from all causes by week, starting when flu season starts in October, with data displayed through September for the six most recent previous years, and through August 26 for the 2019-20 flu season. The pattern of deaths from all causes tracks pretty evenly across the years, roughly 50,000 people per week die in America, except during flu season, when that number increases to somewhere between 55,000 and 60,000. 

Before this year, one outlier is the particularly bad 2017-2018 flu season, when weekly deaths spiked up to 67,495 during the first week of January 2018. But it is clear that 2019-2020 is much worse.

While comorbidity is a factor that can trigger legitimate debate regarding who is dying and how they are dying, these overall death statistics defy manipulation. Dead is dead. And starting around January 2020, deaths in America hit around 60,000 per week, which is within the normal range but on the high side, then spiked all the way up to an unheard of 78,641 during a horrible week in mid-April, before apparently dropping to a low of 57,154 during the week of June 25, then trending slightly up after that.

Anyone viewing the above graph needs to avoid concluding that the downward slope of the blue line representing the 2019-2020 death trend is indicative of reality. CDC data, for whatever reason, lags up to eight weeks behind. This means that any 2019-2020 weekly totals appearing on this graph after the first week in June are inaccurate and are going to rise significantly.

The next chart can provide an idea of what this means. It compares CDC data for 2019-20 as reported through June 24 (week 25) to more recent CDC data as reported through September 7 (week 35). The only reasonable conclusion is that the death rate in America in 2020 is set to remain significantly above average for at least several more weeks.

As can be seen by looking at the blue line on the chart above, the CDC on June 25 reported deaths so far for that week at 16,283. But by September 7, with most of the data for that week now submitted, the CDC reported deaths for that same week of June 25, shown on the red line, had risen to 57,154. This is an invariably consistent pattern. Weekly deaths are initially reported at a level one-half to one-third of what will become their eventual total once most of the data come in. This process takes at least eight weeks.

This chart graphically depicts the implications of this delay in reporting. A new peak is forming on the week of July 29 (the red line), with total deaths reported so far at 60,159. But this is only five weeks ago, which means the eventual total will be higher still. Subsequent weeks, where the reported numbers plummet, have diminishing predictive value. 

What is beyond doubt right now is that while the unprecedented levels of death seen back in April may not be repeated, for now they are settling at a plateau around 60,000 per week which is well above levels in previous years.

Why Aren’t All Therapy Options Granted Open Debate?

Another unknown surrounding COVID-19 is whether or not a vaccine can ever be sufficiently effective to wipe it out. The disease clearly has various mutations, some more virulent than others, and flu vaccines are typically only 40-60 percent effective. Equally to the point, before a vaccine is available, and certainly afterward as well, more people will die without effective therapies to treat COVID-19.

On July 21, I described the shameful, organized suppression of public debate, or even access to information about the drug hydroxychloroquine. Ongoing trials around the world continue to indicate this drug, taken in conjunction with zinc and the antibiotic Azithromycin, has therapeutic value in treating COVID-19, although more information and study is required. But as I detailed in July, the CDC, WHO, and reputable medical journals have all dismissed this therapy as useless, even dangerous.

Just a few days later on July 25, a group of doctors held a press conference to challenge the anti-HCQ narrative, claiming it was an effective therapy for their COVID-19 patients. That video, after getting nearly 20 million views in only a few hours, was removed by Facebook and YouTube, and their website was shut down by its ISP. Versions of that video still survive on BitChute.

The next graphic isn’t included because it’s accurate. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. It was found online on a Twitter account with the handle @MisaAlvo. In the discussion accompanying the graphic, there are comments that appear to question some of the data. 

But showing this graphic isn’t to attest to its veracity. It’s to ask a very simple question: Why isn’t the WHO or the CDC compiling this data, and presenting this chart? Why do we have to go to “Misa Alvo,” an unknown entity existing somewhere in the vast Twittersphere, to see a report that uses such an informative layout?

Another alternative therapy called Ivermectin shows some promise. Will information about this drug also be discredited and suppressed?

An early exposé on One America News, which aired August 13, discussed the potential of Ivermectin. Searches currently show information from multiple sources about Ivermectin. In BioSpectrum Asia, “Australian develops effective Triple Therapy to treat COVID-19.” Additional favorable (or at least balanced) reports come from TrialSite News, ScienceDirect, Medpage Today, Medscape, and the Journal of Antibiotics.

Why aren’t we hearing more about this drug? Why isn’t it being tested all over America?

We may never know what caused the COVID-19 outbreak. We won’t know if it was engineered or arose spontaneously. We won’t know if it was released deliberately or by accident. If it was deliberately released, we will probably never know who was behind it. We may never even know which precautions we took as a society were the most effective, and which ones were unnecessary or even counterproductive.

Amidst this profound uncertainty, however, we can be sure of one thing. The systematic denial of information on cheap and possibly effective therapies undermines trust in America’s institutions. Big Tech, Big Pharma, and the so-called deep state are all implicated. With people dying in numbers that are significantly and indisputably greater than normal in America, it is hard to think there are not sinister motivations behind the denial of information and access to various inexpensive and possibly life-saving treatments.

People should be free to try, they should be free to decide for themselves, they should be free to be wrong. Trial and error. Hypothesis and experimentation. Debate over the efficacy of HCQ should welcome all sides, advocates and detractors. 

Instead, only hydroxychloroquine’s detractors have the mic, and they sprinkle their arguments with obvious, discrediting lies, such as the lie that HCQ constitutes a serious danger to the health of anyone who takes it as prescribed.

What sort of hidden agenda could be behind all this, one might ask? Is it greed? Kill small businesses and let mega corporations take full control of the economy? Develop new drugs that are fabulously expensive, and restrict COVID-19 therapies to these highly profitable choices? Mandate vaccinations and make trillions by injecting everyone?

On the other hand, maybe there’s a shared consensus among elites that now is the time to screw down the freedoms Americans have taken for granted. Or maybe the political chaos and economic misery largely caused by the pandemic can be pinned on the president, which could then result in his defeat this November.

Or maybe all of the above. Meanwhile, people continue to die.

Great America

We Don’t Need to Invoke Article V to Rein in Radical Judges

Right now, the political branches can exercise the inherent authority they already possess to counteract anti-constitutional court decisions through ordinary legislation.

James W. Lucas argued at American Greatness recently that the solution to lawless, radical judges is to be found in “reviv[ing] the people’s ultimate control over the meaning of our foundational document by reforming and updating the amendment process.”

Lucas observes correctly that, contrary to the founders’ intent, “the Supreme Court has become the Constitution.” What he means is, “[t]hrough judicial interpretation, the Supreme Court has gained the power, essentially, to rewrite the Constitution as it sees fit.” Not only that but “the court’s revisions cannot be reversed or challenged”—creating a situation which, unsurprisingly, generates intense partisan rancor over both its composition and decisions.

It’s true that Lucas’s proposed solution would work—but only if we could actually pass an amendment to amend Article V. It’s not at all clear how we could do so under the current procedures, which Lucas concedes make the U.S. Constitution by far “the most difficult charter to amend in the world.” 

Given how polarized the country is at this moment—and with the Democrats constantly attacking basic constitutional norms, including equal representation in the Senate, the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and the very existence of the Electoral College—it seems unwise and imprudent to make the Constitution even easier to amend.

The Constitution should be amended only when there is supermajority support for doing so, and if we are going to tinker with that process, we should only do so when there is already broad, society-wide agreement on justice and the common good. Amendments are generated by a largely unified polity that already agrees on much; they do not create such unity and agreement.

But that does not mean that we have no choice but to lay supine before lawless federal judges, particularly those of the Supreme Court, and passively accept whatever distortions they introduce into our fundamental law.

We have more options to get a handle on this situation besides impeaching judges and/or selectively stripping the appellate jurisdiction of federal courts. Right now, the political branches can exercise the inherent authority they already possess—a power that’s grounded in the political philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and inherent in the Constitution’s separation-of-powers principle—to counteract anti-constitutional court decisions through ordinary legislation, thereby returning the country to the legal status quo ante.

The Declaration is the very “ground and foundation” of the Constitution. Its famous second sentence is indispensable to a proper understanding of the Constitution. The Declaration teaches that all legitimate political authority originates and flows from the sovereign people to their government, not the other way around. In other words, the American people are sovereign, and any and all authority exercised by our government—whether it be federal, state, or local—is delegated to it by the people’s consent. 

The Constitution, which is designed to secure our “safety and happiness,” makes our consent real. It serves those great ends (“the alpha and omega of political life”) by enabling our experiment in representative self-government; protecting our natural, civil, and political rights; and securing our natural liberty by limiting government to its proper spheres of action.

Further, the Constitution is the nation’s fundamental positive law and is therefore outside the reach and control of any of the three branches, which are subordinate to it; this is why, pace Lucas, it is conceptually impossible for the Supreme Court to “change” the Constitution’s meaning, even if every June we all act as though its decisions can and do.

This very brief exposition of the connection between the Declaration and the Constitution allows us to apprehend a correlative truth: There is a hierarchy of institutional governmental power. And because proximity to the people is directly correlated with greater authority in matters of governance, the closer a governmental institution is to the people, the more authority and power it has. 

Thus, the political branches, which are in various ways and to varying degrees popularly elected by the people, possess more authority than do both the lower federal courts and Supreme Court, whose compositions are both refracted by the appointments process on the front end and made less responsive to the public on the back end because of the judges’ and justices’ life tenure.

The conclusion of this argument is not as radical as it might seem. Canada’s constitution contains a “notwithstanding clause” in Section 33 of its Charter of Rights and Freedoms (which is the rough equivalent of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights). Under the notwithstanding clause, a Canadian legislature can pass a law that expressly, brazenly, and obviously violates the Canadian constitution so long as it announces before it passesa law—or after a law has been reviewed by a court—that it will pass said law “notwithstanding” whatever the Canadian constitution says. (These exemptions can last for up to five years at a time; if an exemption is not renewed, it expires, and the legislation is consequently invalid if it, in fact, violates the constitution.)

Simply put, the political branches in America have a similar power (albeit one that is not explicitly provided for in our Constitution as it is in Canada’s), namely, the power to counteract erroneous court rulings by operation of their basic constitutional authority and duty to pass laws. Moreover, this power is similar in kind, even if not quite in scope, to Congress’s plenary authority over federal statutes. Congress, at least in the modern era, frequently (and uncontroversially) exercises its power to amend its statutes in the face of Supreme Court decisions that it believes have wrongly interpreted them.

Besides an implicit commitment to judicial supremacy—or, the “imperial judiciary,” as Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), following Antonin Scalia, has dubbed it—there is simply no justification for ceding final authority over the meaning of the Constitution to the Supreme Court as we’ve done for decades. We also have no reason to think that only the (rightly) extraordinary invocation of Article V, whether it be modified or not, can overturn a Supreme Court decision. 

In fact, the best, most proper keepers of our fundamental law are We the People’s elected representatives—because they are closer, more accountable, and more responsive to us than are insulated, life-tenured federal judges. And they can act tomorrow to correct whatever errors they believe the courts have committed.

In this truly revolutionary moment, with perhaps the most important election in our lifetimes just under two months away, it’s time for us to relearn the things that make America exceptional. And resisting the ever-growing reach of the courts into every facet of our lives by properly reasserting the primacy of the people’s political control over our Constitution is as good a place as any to start.

Great America

Trump Takes on the Real Pandemic

At long last, the president tackles the “critical race theory” infecting the federal workforce.

To be a freedom-loving individual in the year 2020, and to have a proper understanding of modern history and current events, is to be terrifyingly aware of just how much the liberty, prosperity, and stability of America and the free world depend on one thing and one thing alone—namely, the continued physical and intellectual health of a certain preternaturally brave, brilliant, and energetic 74-year-old named Donald Trump.

Rarely have so many owed so much to one extraordinarily dynamic and world-historical figure. And rarely has a head of state been so outnumbered by his enemies. 

The Democrats are against him. The media and academy are against him. The deep state, which is to say officials in government departments and agencies and bureaus that are nominally under his own control, is against him. An increasing number of corporate leaders are against him. And even most of the members of his own party are against him—either that, or they’re cowards and careerists who, aware that no one else can fill his shoes, are hedging their bets, waiting to see whether he prevails or not. 

Ever since Trump began running for president, the odds against his prevailing have seemed steep. In the 2016 Republican primaries he ran against a stage full of political veterans armed with researchers, speechwriters, focus-group results, and poll-tested talking points. He felled them all. 

In the general election, he faced a candidate who had been cast by the blue-state establishment as the inevitable first woman president to follow the first black president. In the greatest upset in American history, he beat her, too.

During his campaign and well into his presidency, his predecessor plotted with deep state higher-ups and media cronies to bring him down. He survived—and they have yet to pay the price for their crimes. 

The newest challenges against him take the form of riots in American cities—Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Kenosha, Rochester. There is vandalism, arson, and worse by fanatical socialists who, brainwashed by an ideological abomination known as critical race theory, view themselves as crusaders for racial justice. 

The entire Democratic Party, which in recent years has been radicalized beyond recognition, is behind these riots. Democratic mayors and governors refuse to criticize them, let alone to suppress them (or to allow Trump to do so). Meanwhile, the media either portray the riots as “largely peaceful” or, perversely, blame them on Trump.  

Critical Race Theory

But these riots are not the most menacing challenge to Trump. Far from it. Just as the greatest danger coming from Islam to the West is not the occasional act of terrorism but the relentless daily pressure on Western societies to adapt to Islamic social and legal norms, the greatest threat to Trump is not the fights and fires in the streets but the quiet, steady, behind-the-scenes institutionalization of critical race theory across America. 

Take the New York Times’ duplicitous “1619 Project,” which, drawing on critical race theory, seeks to convince Americans that their country was founded not on freedom and equality but on slavery and racism. Propaganda materials based on the Times’ project have since been distributed for use in schools around the country. White children are being taught that they’re privileged oppressors. Black children are taught that they’re born victims. The idea of America as a land of opportunity for all, where little white and black kids can talk and learn and play together without constantly thinking about race, has been jettisoned. 

Meanwhile, this same critical race theory is being forced on employees of innumerable companies and colleges at compulsory “training sessions” reminiscent of Communist Chinese reeducation camps. White employees are required to issue statements in which they confess to racism. These “training sessions,” we learned recently, have also been given to federal government employees under a policy apparently instituted under the Obama Administration. 

It’s ironic. In 2008, Americans elected their first black president, who had spoken loftily during his campaign of “one America” that was neither blue-state nor red-state, neither black nor white. After he entered office, he launched aggressive reeducation initiatives predicated on the assumption, central to critical race theory, that white Americans—the people who put him in office—are profoundly racist. 

Nothing could be more divisive, more dangerous—more un-American—than critical race theory. It’s not just wrong about the way ordinary, decent people think and feel. It’s an insidious attempt to undermine the view of race advanced by Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Dr. King called on Americans to treat people as individuals and to judge one another by the content of their character and not by the hue of their skin. He held up the bright possibility of post-Jim Crow redemption and reconciliation—the hope of building a multiracial (not multicultural) society in which people of all colors live together in harmony and work together towards ever-greater freedom, peace, and prosperity. 

By contrast, the proponents of critical race theory paint an unrelentingly grim picture of America. Theirs is an America in which, no matter what we may feel or think or say or do, we are all eternally trapped in the cages of our racial groups and all, consequently, eternally divided into oppressor and oppressed, villain and victim. 

The Real Pandemic

A society that buys into this view of itself thereby sets itself on a road to increasing fragmentation and—ultimately—destruction. For months, Americans have been worried about the COVID-19 virus. But the spread of “critical race theory” is the real pandemic.

Which is why actions taken by Trump in the last few days are so important. His moves come in the wake of a warning by the Discovery Institute’s Christopher Rufo, who told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on September 2 that “critical race theory has become the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people.” 

Rufo spoke of Treasury Department employees forced to attend a seminar at which Caucasians were denounced as white supremacists and pressured to confess their prejudice. The vile ideas propounded at such events, asserted Rufo, are utterly at odds with “core traditional American values” and represent an “existential threat to the United States.”

He’s right. It is immensely heartening, then, that Trump, who retweeted a video of Rufo’s appearance on Carlson’s show, has now ordered federal agencies to cut all this malignant nonsense out. 

In a memo issued last Friday, Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that these “training sessions” run “counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception” and “engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce.” The president, added Vought, “has directed me to ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” 

Vought called on all agencies “to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either 1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or 2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” Vought’s memo concluded with this paragraph:

The President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States. The President has a proven track record of standing for those whose voice has long been ignored and who have failed to benefit from all our country has to offer, and he intends to continue to support all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed. The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government.

In a word: bravo. 

The Mendacious Media

Of course, in a sane world all of this would be a no-brainer. Alas, America being what it is at present, the mendacious mainstream media were quick to depict Vought’s directive—which is rooted in an understanding of these matters that can be traced directly to Martin Luther King, Jr.—as racist. 

In a commentary presented as a news story at the CNN website, Caroline Kelly cynically framed Trump’s action as “the latest overture to his political base,” one that would provide “another talking point for his reelection campaign as it seeks to highlight culture war issues.”  

At NPR, which gained attention recently for its uncritical promotion of a book entitled In Defense of Looting, Matthew S. Schwartz appeared to take for granted that Trump was shutting down noble initiatives: “While many conservatives applauded the move, others decried the continuing racism that they see pervading many aspects of American society, including the awarding of government contracts.” 

At the Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Jeff Stein cited claims by “experts” to the effect that “racial and diversity awareness trainings are essential steps in helping rectify the pervasive racial inequities in American society, including those perpetuated by the federal government.” 

One such “expert,” M. E. Hart, said that “If we are going to live up to this nation’s promise—‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’—we have to see each other as human beings, and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible.” 

To their credit, Dawsey and Stein admitted that Hart “has run hundreds of diversity training sessions for businesses and the federal government.” Ka-ching! They did not acknowledge, however, that such sessions routinely make a goal not of equality but of “equity”—i.e., of a society in which an extensive system of preferences is in place to ensure the supposed redress of racial injustice.  

Finally, USA Today’s Jason Lalljee contextualized Trump’s order by explaining critical race theory. How did he explain it? By uncritically quoting critical race theory hustlers, who, of course, made the whole thing sound innocuous and valuable. 

One such hustler, Princeton’s Imani Perry, claimed to be “unaware of any critical race theory ‘training’ for federal employees” and said she was “not even sure how that would function.” Perhaps Perry should ask M. E. Hart. Or else she could ask this year’s most successful author, Robin DiAngelo, who got rich giving such training sessions (for $12,000 a pop) before getting even richer on sales of her book White Fragility.

Like many others who reported on the OMB memo, Lalljee included in his article references to Trump’s supposed opposition to “anti-racist demonstrations” (no, he opposes riots) and repeated the now-familiar calumny that Trump described white nationalists at Charlottesville as “very fine people.” But that’s all par for the course, needless to say.

A Double Bogey

But wait. This Labor Day weekend, Trump made a double bogey. Not content to take on these “training sessions” in the federal government, Trump followed up the Friday memo from the OMB with a Sunday tweet in which he broke some exceedingly welcome news. The Department of Education, he announced, would henceforth be under orders to defund any California schools found to be making use of the reprehensible “1619 Project.” 

Double bravo. Needless to say, CNN was on the job, representing the “1619 Project”—which was criticized roundly by respected historians for its outrageous distortion of history—in a flattering way while characterizing Trump’s action as yet another move by the White House to “disparag[e] attempts to process or reckon with the country’s fraught racial history.”

With these two bold steps—which of course will have to be followed up with aggressive action—President Trump has yet again proven his utter indispensability, giving further hope that all may not yet be lost.  

Great America

The Trials of Labor Day

The American worker has few things to celebrate this holiday, and fewer chances to find work in the days ahead.

How many workers are able (for now) to survive, but unable to earn a living? How many workers are testing agents for the end of work and the death of leisure, not because automation is the precursor to personal autonomy, but because machines threaten to render the unemployed unemployable? How many workers labor every day to preserve a scintilla of hope, in spite of the fact that Labor Day is just another day in a year without work?

The American worker has few things to celebrate this Labor Day, and fewer chances to find work in the days ahead. In New York City, he can neither afford to do nothing nor wait for the city to allow him to return to work. In Chicago, he can neither withstand months of idleness nor weather a year of discontent. In Los Angeles, he can neither pay his rent nor house his family in the streets. 

In every city, he faces the cruelty of the overclass and the contempt of the underclass. Both groups hate the working class because neither group values the middle class; neither group shares the values of hard work for good pay and good works to lessen the hardships of life. Both groups are fellow travelers on a flight toward oblivion; in flight, too, from a reckoning they cannot escape.

The flight is a cultural Hindenburg. The flight is the fault not of a royal Wilhelm, but an imperial mayor named Warren Wilhelm, Jr. The mayor’s legal alias is Bill de Blasio. His bonds of political affection extend throughout America. 

Members of the same party, and party to the fast undoing of schools and public safety in their respective states and cities, their bonds of partisanship stretch from Springfield to Saint Paul to Salem to Sacramento. 

The bonds of one-party rule tighten while doing nothing to stanch the bleeding of jobs and people. The bonds are the gubernatorial handiwork of Pritzker and Walz and Brown and Newsom. The bonds belong to the party of Cuomo and de Blasio. The bonds connect all willing Democrats to the policies of Biden and Harris.

The bonds have an economic cost, too, because they reach maturity on Tuesday, November 3, Election Day. If a majority or plurality of voters chooses to cash these bonds instead of cashiering the underwriters of these worthless securities, the price will be too big to repay.

The bonds will be a bonus check—a blank check—for Democrats, marking the descent of blue states into a permanent state of red. The bonds will make it impossible to achieve moral or financial balance. 

Workers will pay the price, as is typical, with neither an ounce of gratitude from the callous nor a penny of interest from the careless.

Great America

Christians, Beware (Marxist) Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

It’s very disturbing that a rival faith has taken up residence in my Church and that my priests willingly and even eagerly pray the prayers of this false religion.

One of Jesus Christ’s most well-known sayings comes from the Gospel of Matthew: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.”

Sadly, that warning became highly relevant last Sunday, when Fr. Kenneth Boller, pastor of the Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City, asked that congregants bow their heads for a “racial justice” prayer that he led them in just before the end of the Mass. “I now invite you to stand, and joining [sic] us in the prayer for racial justice, by responding ‘yes’ to each of the following statements,” he began.

What followed was disgraceful: A priest of the triune God Almighty began mouthing poisonous, divisive, racial Marxist platitudes. Fr. Boller invited the demon of racial hatred into the sanctuary and presented it to his flock as their salvation (“Will you renew and honor this pledge daily knowing that our church and our community, our nation, and our world will be better places because of our efforts?”). But he should know better—for God alone is “the giver of life to our bodies, the good savior of our souls, and the guardian of our lives.”

What makes calling out this kind of behavior tricky, however, is the slipperiness of it; much of what Fr. Boller said sounds unobjectionable—like so much anodyne boilerplate. “Do you affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person?” Of course we do! But this is the strategy: Conceal the presence of radical statements by sprinkling them among other decent and even laudable ones.

“Do you affirm that white privilege is unfair and harmful to those who have it and to those who do not?” or “Do you affirm that white privilege and the culture of white supremacy must be dismantled where it is present?” and “[W]ill you strive to understand more deeply the injustice and suffering white privilege and white supremacy cause?”

Fr. Boller does not say what he means either by “white privilege” or “culture of white supremacy.” And that’s not an accident. He simply expects his congregation to notice that he is “woke” by his use of trendy, vapid academic-speak, and he presumes that they will automatically fill in the meanings of these terms; that’s not a bad bet. After all, they’ve been propagandized ceaselessly in school and by the media for their entire lives to be receptive in that very way to precisely this sort of banal sloganeering.

For a Catholic priest to speak the language of the Church’s enemies is deeply shameful, not to mention frightening. No further proof is needed that the racial Marxists have a new conquest: American churches. But should you require more, watch this woman (who has yet to be apprehended) punch a kid in the face twice as he walks past her back to his pew during Mass.

We are witnessing in real-time the execution of the standard playbook of race-obsessed neo-Marxists, a playbook they have used since the 1960s to great effect. These revolutionaries have a stranglehold over every center of power in the country save the presidency and, to a lesser degree, the U.S. Senate—i.e., legacy and social media, K-12 education, universities, professional associations, Hollywood, the administrative state, and, now, corporations (through their human resources departments).

The method by which this happened now seems obvious, but it unfolded so gradually that it was easy to miss. 

Step one: Covertly infiltrate an institution with inoffensive-sounding rhetoric and seeming support of regnant principles like liberty and meritocracy. 

Step two: Firmly secure control of influential portions of said institution (e.g., corporate HR departments). 

Step three: Leverage that department’s/subdivision’s disproportionate influence over the rest of the institution to steer the whole thing in a racialized direction, with the ultimate goal of remaking it to reject colorblind equality, due process, merit-based advancement, and freedom of thought and expression—and then project that rejection beyond its four walls into the entire country in concert with all the other similarly toppled institutions your comrades have seized and now control.

It’s disturbing that a rival faith has taken up residence in my Church and that my priests willingly and even eagerly say the prayers of this false religion. To their shame, they have forgotten the First Commandment: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me.”

Besides that, it is telling that they choose to speak in the subversive language of intersectionality—which reduces people to a laundry list of immutable characteristics and then ranks them according to a dehumanizing victimhood hierarchy, with white people as the eternal oppressors of allegedly sainted, oppressed minorities—rather than the plain language of our nation’s founding, the Declaration of Independence, which holds us all equal before God as brothers.

Nothing more needs to be said to rebuke race-based hatred, bigotry, and discrimination (to the extent those exist in modern-day America) than those justly famous, stirring words of the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

America’s continued survival depends on our relearning those sacred principles and reapplying them to the challenges of the 21st century to preserve the American way of life. Time is running out.

Great America

Central Planning for America’s Suburbs

Beware of “conservative” urbanists who seek to impose federal “correctives” on local community choices.

The Trump Administration recently terminated an Obama-era housing rule that sought to expand federal control over the makeup of America’s suburbs. Trump’s actions—and those of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson—have prompted a debate on the Right between those who think the federal government should exercise more control over suburban planning and development, and those, like me, who do not.

The housing rule, better known as AFFH for “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” was a quiet attempt by the Obama-Biden Administration to spread federal tentacles over American suburbia, using the ample federal funding provided to the suburbs as a means to dictate racial and ethnic makeups, and micromanage the location and construction of businesses, housing, and transportation centers. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a housing plan that takes Obama’s plan even further, eliminating single-family zoning altogether.

The idea is predicated on the notion that single-family zoning—which limits structures built on certain properties to stand-alone homes only—is limiting access to the suburbs for working families by limiting the housing supply and driving up home prices as a result.

Abolish Single-Family Zoning?

The advocates of AFFH on the Right believe that communities must be “incentivized” to “relax” single-family zoning, so that high-density housing can take its place. In their telling, single-family property owners looking to defend their property investment against urbanization are simply “upper-class NIMBYs,” at best, or exclusionary racists, at worst.

This sentiment was recently shared with me by Samuel Hammond, director of poverty and welfare policy at the post-libertarian Niskanen Center, who took issue with a recent piece I wrote on the topic. 

I argued that the Trump Administration was right to rescind AFFH—because working families, including African Americans and immigrants, actually want to aspire to single-family homes, as opposed to merely hopping from a city high rise to a suburban one. 

“If it’s not NIMBYism and it reflects the preferences of the working class,” Hammond wrote on Twitter, “then why do multifamily dwellings need to be restricted by law? Telling property owners how they use their land on behalf of the ‘collective?’” he continued. “I didn’t know Claremont employed communists.” 

The factual inaccuracy that I don’t work for the Claremont Institute aside, it’s a bizarre argument to claim that communities making democratic choices about how they live together constitutes “communism.” 

Hammond’s colleague Daniel Takash went on to claim that the meta construct of suburbia is “the product of very explicit racial engineering” and that the property owners who show up at city council meetings to discuss zoning regulations “don’t represent the broader demographics of those communities.” 

The people he refers to as not representative of the broader community appear to be “individuals who are older, male, longtime residents, voters in local elections, and homeowners.” The suburbs, evidently, must be rescued by the federal government from the scourge of old-timers who own homes and vote.

These objections are often combined with the claim that the vast federal suburban subsidization has artificially constructed the suburbs in the first place. Single-family zoning would crumble under its own weight, they say, if suburbs had to raise their own money to pay for transportation infrastructure and other services that federal money helps sustain. 

In all these narratives, we are told that the true liberty position is either to eliminate the subsidies altogether and let the suburbs crumble in a blaze of unfettered, winner-take-all capitalism, or instead to use that federal money to incentivize the preferred policy outcomes of conservative urbanists—banishing single-family zoning in favor of pod dwellings next to the metro stop.

The Free Market and the Free Suburbs

But this framing sidesteps a central question around the role the federal government has to play in promoting a sustainable citizenry—or, at the very least, policies that the overwhelming majority of suburban communities prefer.

As I laid out in my original piece, statistics tell us that people of all demographic and economic classes are moving to the suburbs to leave behind urban living—not to replicate it. Why should their preferences be ignored?

Moreover, a primary reason many working families leave the cities for the suburbs is for space to raise a family. Indeed, census data tells us that people in the suburbs are more likely to be married with children. Incentivizing and providing spaces for families to grow and develop was, at one time anyway, a key conservative aim.  

But such positioning also conveniently oversimplifies the complicated interactions between government and the “free” market. Lots of institutions call themselves “conservative” while supporting government intervention in all kinds of markets: corporate tax breaks, handouts to the energy industry, and defending the entire business model of American tech companies, which is built around a unique statutory privilege. Our free trade policies are less “free” than they are a jumbled mix of policies that preference some industries over others.

So attempting to distill this into a “free market” versus “manipulated market” isn’t entirely accurate. All these markets are manipulated, constantly. The question as it relates to the suburbs is more about whose preferences, ultimately, are reflected in the end—central planners in the government, or those of the local communities? 

Ultimately, what Hammond and Takash are arguing for is the right to have the federal government subsidize their notion of suburban development, over and above the notions of the people who actually live in the towns. 

Self-Determination in the Suburbs

This debate, then, is really about whose preferences will prevail: the communities who determine together how they want to live, or central planners thousands of miles away? 

 Communities may not make perfect decisions—and there are all kinds of laws on the books to prevent them from making discriminatory and criminal ones. But when individuals in a community collectively determine both the character of the community they want to live in and the rules for how they want to live together, that is in itself an expression of liberty that deserves protection.

Conservative urbanists want to impose a “corrective” on those community choices, blanketing suburbs with federal incentives and quotas and penalties for those who participate too much—or don’t participate enough—in determining community outcomes. Their policies assign racist motivations to communities in which they don’t live, and know nothing about, to justify imposing their own federal preferences. In their view, destroying the choices local communities have democratically made for themselves is an acceptable price to pay as long as it incentivizes the property values of lots bought by corporate developers.

It’s a one-size-fits-all approach that dismisses the expressed preferences for the lives many working families aspire to live. It also, ultimately, goes against the key aspect of political liberty which allows diverse and differing suburbs the freedom to enact laws that reflect the interests of the people who live there—in other words, people in communities, deciding together how they will live. 

Kind of sounds like America to me.

Great America

America Is in Danger of Becoming a Byword to the World

Blind rage is driving events in America’s own “Age of Dreyfus.”

Toward the end of the 1969 political thriller “Z,” a senior Greek army officer, long a pillar of the establishment, finds himself accused of murder for involvement in the 1963 assassination of the leftist politician Grigoris Lambrakis. Striding angrily out of the prosecutor’s office, the officer must make his way through a crowd of reporters and photographers, one of whom asks him, “Are you a martyr like Dreyfus?” His spluttering reply: “Dreyfus was guilty!

Thus did the notorious “Dreyfus Affair” reverberate across Europe more than a half-century after its conclusion. In brief, French Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted in 1894 of treason and sent to Devil’s Island for supposedly betraying military secrets to Germany, France’s mortal enemy. Two years later, the real culprit was discovered, but rather than admit its mistake, the Army covered it up and reaffirmed the original conviction. 

When celebrated writer Émile Zola took up the Dreyfus cause, the affair exploded into a full-blown culture war, pitting anti-clerical, anti-“militarist” intellectuals against anti-Semitic elements in the Army and the Catholic Church (Dreyfus was Jewish). 

Dreyfus was finally exonerated in 1906 and reinstated in the Army, serving honorably in World War I. But for his countrymen, questions of his guilt or innocence had long since been superseded by the bitterness, even the rage they felt against one another. 

The result was to make the Dreyfus affair a byword for foolish political hysteria. Among the nations, it gave France her worst black eye since the Reign of Terror.

Two illustrations of this:

  • The early 20th-century American satirical cartoonist Gluyas Williams included among his many full-page illustrations of the human comedy a picture of the proceedings of a certain legislative assembly. At the tribune, an orator is in full flight, weeping, gesturing with one hand, and holding a handkerchief with the other. Behind him, the presiding officer yawns and the clerks to either side show head-in-hands boredom. But all else is bedlam. Members applaud or boo, and glare at each other for it. One kicks another in the shins. Members tear their hair, they tug at their beards, they climb the tribune to cheer the speaker on or they stand in the well of the house, challenging him to come down and fight. One member pounds the wall, another lies flat, drumming his heels on the floor. Another tears a sheaf of papers to shreds, like Nancy Pelosi during the last State of the Union address. Yet another aims a revolver at his own head, while his colleagues seek to dissuade him from pulling the trigger. In the backbenches, a phalanx of patriots waves the tricolor and sings “La Marseillaise.”

    The drawing’s title? “The French Chamber of Deputies Debates a Minor Appropriation Bill.”
  • When, in 1982, Argentina suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Great Britain in the Falklands War, Argentine strongman Leopoldo Galtieri’s Italian roots (a heritage shared by more than half his countrymen) gave currency to this contemptuous comment: “An Argentine is an Italian who speaks Spanish, wishes he were British, and acts like he is French.”

    So Argentina’s humiliation became the punchline for a joke about France. And that was 13 years before “The Simpsons’” Groundskeeper Willie coined the phrase “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.”

No one wants to become a byword to the nations as France did. We Americans certainly don’t want our country to go that way. We like to think of the United States as a “shining city on a hill.” That’s what Ronald Reagan called her, referring to the sermon John Winthrop preached in 1630 while bound for Massachusetts. What few people now realize is that Reagan had turned an admonition into a boast. Here’s what Winthrop actually said:

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.

Winthrop didn’t use the word “shining.” If he had, and if we had begun dealing falsely with our God, as he feared we might do, then our shining would likely strike him the way John Randolph once described a political rival: “He is a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight.

The question of whether we shall end up dealing falsely with our God is, I regret to say, very much an open one. But I don’t raise this byword business to drive home Winthrop’s point, well-taken as it may be, nor to expatiate on the ongoing feud between Donald Trump and his Democratic foes, for all of Pelosi’s paper-shredding tantrums.

After all, Trump, despite the endless calumnies his enemies have thrown at him, has yet to take ship for Devil’s Island. He is not what is making America a byword through the world. It is our race relations that threaten to do that.

Race has always been a black eye for us. Back in 1775, the English writer Samuel Johnson answered our complaints about “taxation without representation” with the retort, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” Sometimes the black eye has worked in our favor. During our Civil War, distaste for slavery helped keep a cotton-starved Britain from intervening in favor of the Confederacy and thus breaking the United States apart. Other times, it has worked against us. In the heyday of the Soviet Union—long before “Russian meddling” supposedly tipped the 2016 election in Trump’s favor—condemnation of American race relations was a constant theme in communist propaganda. (Billy Wilder included a throwaway gag about that in his 1961 Cold War comedy, “One, Two, Three.”)

What stands out is this: Despite all the progress America has made over the years—the abolition of slavery, the integration of the military and of professional and collegiate sports, the prohibition of racial discrimination in education, employment, housing, and public accommodations, the acceptance of interracial marriage, even the election and reelection of an  African-American as president of the United States—racial strife is afflicting us as much as ever.

I won’t even try to analyze all the causes for that, let alone try to offer solutions for each one. Better men than I are already hard at it. Let me instead focus on just one aspect of the problem: violent encounters between police officers (or in one case a neighborhood watch volunteer) and unarmed black men.

These are the flashpoints for rioting, as they were in the 1960s. They also paint America in the strongest resemblance to the France of the Dreyfus Affair. For while some officers’ handling of black men has been so clearly wrong that no one disputes it—the death of Walter Scott, for example—other notorious examples look much different upon closer examination than they first appeared. Yet some Americans are too caught up in bitterness and rage against other Americans either to know or care about such findings.

Consider the following four cases.

Rodney King. America was shocked in 1991 when a bystander’s video of Los Angeles police beating King came to light. I remember reading aloud to my family a George F. Will column denouncing the officers involved. But the video, which covered only the last part of the struggle, did not give a complete picture.

King, a convicted robber who feared having his parole revoked if he was arrested for DUI, had led officers on a high-speed chase (over 100 mph at one point). Once the cops finally pulled him over, they ordered him and his two passengers (both black) to exit the car and lie face down with hands behind the back so they could be handcuffed. The passengers complied and, having committed no crimes, were later released unharmed. King likewise could have escaped harm, but he chose to fight instead.

Not wanting to risk killing King, the sergeant in charge ordered everyone to holster their guns. Four officers then “swarmed” him, one on each hand and foot, so as to wrestle the cuffs onto him. King, who was buffed by the use of prison weightlifting equipment, shook them off. The police next tried tasing him, but the intoxicated man shook that off, too. That’s when the batons came out. Careful not to strike his head, officers rained blows on his limbs and torso, pausing between salvos to give him a chance to comply. His rolling around under this onslaught, which looks so pitiable on the videotape, showed the cops he was determined to keep resisting. Finally, King said, “Please stop.” He still wasn’t in the required compliance posture, but those words ended the beating. The officers swarmed him again, and he was cuffed, hogtied, and sent off to the hospital.

The force used was the minimum necessary, because of King’s own choices, to effect his arrest safely. What were the cops supposed to do, just let him walk away? When a California jury heard it all, it found the four officers charged in the beating “not guilty.” But when that verdict was announced in 1992, people who hadn’t been paying attention were amazed. Few wanted to hear the jury’s reasons for its verdict. Instead, Los Angeles saw the worst rioting since the 1960s.

Trayvon Martin. When neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in 2012, no video existed to set people off on the wrong foot. But the media accomplished that anyway, through means such as the choice to deceptively edit a police dispatcher’s recording to make it appear that Zimmerman had focused on Martin because “he looks black” rather than because of any suspicious behavior, and the choice to call Zimmerman a “white Hispanic,” the better to support a racial oppression narrative. (Hispanics do come in all colors, as white as Marco Rubio or as black as Roberto Clemente, but Zimmerman, whose mother is Peruvian, is as brown as any San Antonio Mexican.)

When Zimmerman went to trial in 2013, the jury found no reason to doubt testimony that Martin, angered at being shadowed by the watch volunteer while walking around in the gated community, confronted Zimmerman, knocked him down, pounded his head against a concrete sidewalk, and continued punching him, cursing him and threatening to kill him, with him screaming for help all the while, until Zimmerman drew his pistol and fired one shot, killing Martin. Police dispatcher tapes, photos of Zimmerman’s injuries, and neighbors’ eyewitness accounts corroborated that version of events, and the verdict was “not guilty.”

The moral of this story might have been, “Before you try to beat a guy’s brains out, check to make sure he’s not packing heat.” But that’s not the lesson that was drawn. Instead, people went full Dreyfus. Retaliatory assaults against whites ensued around the country, along with a few larger disturbances, though nothing to compare with the L.A. riots. The verdict did, however, inspire a woman named Alicia Garza to use the phrase “black lives matter” in a Facebook post, and that led to the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Michael Brown. BLM really got going after Brown was shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Rioting started the very next day. Ferguson went up in flames, and what Heather Mac Donald has called “the Ferguson effect” had police departments drawing back from “proactive policing” nationwide. Yet in this case, the evidence that Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Brown was so clear that a grand jury declined to indict Wilson and a federal civil rights investigation also cleared him. Brown didn’t put his hands up in surrender, and he didn’t say “Don’t shoot.” He did punch Wilson and wrestle him for his gun, and he did charge toward him as the fatal shots were fired. But that didn’t stop people from chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” all over the country. The facts of the case just don’t matter to Black Lives Matter.

George Floyd. As in the Rodney King beating, we have video of Floyd dying while pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers on May 25 this year. As in the Michael Brown shooting, rioting in response to the case began immediately, in many cities around the country, with everyone from BLM and Antifa to President Trump decrying Floyd’s death and vowing punishment. I myself called what was done to Floyd “clearly a cruelty, likely a crime, and certainly not good police work.”

But then I read George Parry’s American Spectator article, “Who Killed George Floyd?” “Why couldn’t Floyd breathe, and how did he die?” Parry asks. “The clear answers to those questions are to be found in his toxicology report, which overwhelmingly and unerringly supports the conclusion that Floyd’s breathing difficulties and death were the direct and undeniable result of his ingestion of fentanyl mixed with methamphetamine.” Floydwho repeatedly had cried “I can’t breathe” while he was still standing and also while he was sitting, well before he ended up lying on the groundhad 11 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl in his blood. People have died from fentanyl overdoses of as little as 3 ng/mL, with symptoms identical to those Floyd exhibited.

The police had already called for an ambulance for Floyd before they pinned him down, and one of them gave him CPR on the way to the hospital. But he was already dying before they ever touched him. Parry—a former federal and state prosecutor who for five years investigated cases of police brutality for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office—doesn’t think the cops in the Floyd case should be on trial at all. “Who killed George Floyd?” Parry asks. “He did.”

Does any of this matter, in America’s own “Age of Dreyfus”? I wish I could say it does. For now, blind rage is driving events, and we indeed are becoming a byword throughout the world. Bringing us out of it would require someone as famous and as courageous as Emile Zola to shout “J’Accuse!” to our country’s cultural masters, to the ones who are cultivating that rage. Pray that someone will, and soon. 

Great America

Kyle Goes to Kenosha: A Folk Hero Is Born

Tired of waiting on a neutered, coopted, infiltrated and compromised police to come to the rescue? Let law-abiding taxpayers hire private protection of Kyle Rittenhouse’s caliber.

Having done an about face against rioting, CNN’s sanctimonious Don Lemon giggled and smirked his way through a segment about “racist” white suburbanites who had the gall to imagine any self-respecting rioter would bother with their ugly abodes. Hey, racists, there is no Gucci merchandise where you bunk down, taunted CNN’s silly man.

Desperate, suddenly, to appear on the side of normies, the Fourth Estate is currently yearning for a Sister Souljah moment. Sister Souljah had expressed sympathy for the 1992 Los Angeles rioters. If only black people would turn to killing whites instead of one another, lamented that eponymous rapper.

Back then, Bill Clinton—a master politician, and a conservative by the standards of Democrats today—diffused her weasel words. Candidate Clinton called the rapper a racist as bad as David Duke. As a master of triangulation, he managed at once to appease whites (who mattered back then) without alienating black Americans. 

And, unlike Anderson Cooper, Bill Clinton felt your pain.

Behold the puzzled look on Cooper’s bewildered face, as he is told by an ordinary, working American what it means to lose your life’s work to louts and looters. The silver-haired Cooper, also a CNN celebrity anchor, is the son of heiress Gloria Vanderbilt. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Perhaps he cannot comprehend the concept of private property owners defending their modest residences and meager businesses given the fact that he grew up in a castle.

A Teen Rose to the Challenge

Not so Kyle Rittenhouse. Young Kyle went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, because he was never confused. He attempted to do the job politicians and police have refused to do. As the city’s mayor and the state’s governor watched Kenosha burn, Kyle confronted the enemies of the commonweal. Unlike the flaccid men of the media and in corridors of power, the 17-year-old rose to the challenge, firing only when he was prone and was being pounded by the feral fiends.

Intent on doing a Nick Sandmann on Rittenhouse, the media hounds have been pounding the airwaves with the “right-wing vigilante” pejorative, also calling Kyle a “17-year-old man.” This is a subliminal message for “charge him as an adult.” 

Consequently, GoFundMe, a crowd-funding portal, removed efforts on Kyle’s behalf, directing visitors, instead, to the campaigns of the men he killed in self-defense. The one had a history of domestic violence; the other was a registered sex offender. For his part, Jacob Blake, whose shooting unleashed the Kenosha peace parade, had sexually assaulted a woman and was being intercepted for violating a restraining order against his victim. 

Even the New York Times’ visual investigations unit provided a blow-by-blow account of young Rittenhouse being hunted down by fellows who were foaming and fulminating about the need to “cranium” Kyle. “This is 100 percent self-defense,” seconds Rittenhouse’s attorney.    

Kyle’s recent history? Working as a community lifeguard—boy, can he swim in polluted waters—cleaning “defaced storefronts,” extinguishing dumpster fires lit by Democratic detritus, and standing sentinel in front of storefronts in downtown Kenosha, actions the local police first lauded then instructed him to cease. Well, of course: the police force, in 2020, is a spent force; missing in action, flouting their constitutional obligation to protect innocents and their property.

Who Stands With Rittenhouse?

But President Trump is still a fierce brawler. He knows that the only time you reach across the aisle to the current crop of pyromania-enabling Democrats is to grab them by the proverbial throat. With the president in the lead, I hazard that 50 percent of the country is behind this remarkably composed young man. (“NeverTrumpers” are with the “new and radicalized Democratic coalition.”)

Currently, energetic attempts are underway by the media—a fifth column really—to frame murder, mayhem, and riots across American cities as Trump’s doing. Not even Democratic voters—vested in law-and-order like everyone else—believe that Trump’s tweets and patriotic convoys of his flag-waving supporters are destroying Seattle, Portland, Kenosha, Oakland, Minneapolis, Chicago, Albuquerque, Denver, Berkeley, Harrisburg, on and on. 

In particular, a malevolently dissembling media accuse Trump supporters of causing the conflagration in anarcho-Portland, which, with mayoral imprimatur, has adopted permanent rioting status. Why so? Because “Patriot Prayer,” a “dangerous” pro-God group, dared venture into sin city.

Didn’t the flag-waving faithful know that those with God and law-and-order on their minds were not welcome; that Mayor Ted Wheeler had consecrated the city for criminals alone? Wheeler has turned Portland into a sanctuary city for the kind of rabble that is reducing cities across America to rubble. 

Enabler of the Portland riots, you have to know that Wheeler has allowed criminals to homestead his city. As Scott Jones, sheriff in Sacramento County, California, put it: These rioters are idiots. They have no coherent platform. Other than to destroy, they don’t know what they want. They must be met with force. Unlike Wheeler, Sheriff Jones will not be letting rioters gain a foothold on his turf.

Lo and behold, Portland’s Wheeler is now calling for the violence to cease and for unity to prevail, after a member of “Patriot Prayer” was murdered by one of Wheeler’s protégés. If not for the decisive actions of the U.S. Marshalls trying to apprehend him, it seemed the mayor and his police force intended to succor the man who allegedly executed Patriot Prayer’s Aaron “Jay” Danielson. The suspected killer, clearly visible on closed-circuit television, was shot and killed in Washington Thursday night after he opened fire on federal and local officers coming to arrest him.

One fractious group, Black Lives Matter and their white hangers-on, is the beneficiary of “light-touch policing.” The other group, for Trump and law-and-order, gets “heavy-handed policing” for daring to safeguard American civilizational markers: statues and store fronts, both symbolic of a history and a work ethic once shared.

Law Enforcement Double Standards

Indeed, where are the charges against these bands of roving violent outlaws, for ongoing aggravated assault, arson, and for crossing state lines in furtherance of their criminal enterprise? Only 300 arrests have been made nationwide. A mere 75 have been charged federally. By Chad Wolf’s telling (he is acting secretary of homeland security), 100 of these are in Portland. Given the magnitude of the destruction—this is not law enforcement.Amid the chaos, some pettifoggers have found the wherewithal to throw the book at Kyle Rittenhouse and Steve Baca, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He, too, was chased down by a wilding pack; ran until he could no longer, and only then stood his ground. Why is Baca being prosecuted and destroyed, rather than given the key to the city?

T. Jefferson—hush, don’t say a Founding Father’s name out loud—passed the 1807 Insurrection Act. If it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. Bring It. Some skulls need cracking.

Still better: Tired of waiting on a neutered, coopted, infiltrated and compromised police to come to the rescue? Let law-abiding taxpayers hire private protection of Kyle Rittenhouse’s caliber.

Great America

A Lesson from Texas

The arrival of the Chinese flu has given those who think of themselves as our rulers a new opportunity to exert control over those of us who are simply going about our daily lives. But in Texas, people are on to it.

My wife and I recently spent a week in the hill country of Texas. What a contrast from life in our California hometown! In Texas, at least in that part of Texas, people mostly didn’t wear masks. In fact, virtually no one did, except for employees serving the public who were required to wear them—waiters, store clerks, and the like.

When we talked with Texans about their decision not to mask up, the replies were much the same. The term “sheep” was often used. The idea was that the American people were being conditioned to get used to and to accept tyrannical rule.

I think the hill country Texans have it about right. 

My wife and I live in the California Soviet—which means a kid riding his bike to the beach will be wearing a mask as he pedals his way down a mostly empty street, and the occasional driver going by will also be wearing a mask. Around here, they take this mask business very seriously. It seems like only yesterday when failing to remember to bring your reusable shopping bag to the grocery store elicited the same level of disapproval that going out without a mask does today. The obsession with reusable shopping bags disappeared and quickly was replaced with the mask obsession. Carrying a reusable bag once meant that because you were toeing the line, you were an acceptable person, just as mask-wearing does today.

This strange new attitude of many American citizens has been developing for some time now. The 9/11 horror was used by government officials to oppress citizens just as the Chinese flu has been, and Americans knuckled under with little real pushback.

The only thing as strange as everyone wearing masks are the ridiculous “security” measures imposed on Americans at airports. 

When America was attacked by jihadis, the response of the government was to harass travelers. Soon after 9/11, I watched in amazement as TSA agents conducted themselves very carefully so as to avoid being charged with profiling. A group of obviously Middle Eastern young men who weren’t speaking English among themselves—that is, a group of men who perfectly fit the terrorist profile—were waved through while the agents, as I recall, searched for weapons on an elderly woman in a wheelchair and a middle-aged man who looked like a rancher. After 9/11, instead of profiling potential bad guys, the government imposed what has rightly been called “security theater” on American citizens exercising their unalienable right to travel in America. Everyone knows that what goes on at airports in the name of security is a fraud and a huge waste of taxpayer money, but it now seems Americans by and large accept it without question.

The arrival of the Chinese flu has given those who think of themselves as our rulers a new opportunity to exert control over the rest of us who are simply going about our daily lives. Rule-makers are running wild, giving wonderful opportunities to the kind of people who crave the power over others that “public service” provides them and also to the kind of people who, although they are not government employees, are keen to associate themselves with those who make and enforce the rules. 

Those rules lately have included imposing house arrests on American citizens who have done nothing wrong, who are simply living in America, and forcing those who dare to venture out to wear masks. People in the media, the elites who get to make the rules, and Americans who are eager to make sure their neighbors comply,  don’t seem to mind that the proliferation of rules has been wrecking the economy and destroying people’s lives. 

Of course, you already know that the “news” media are in lockstep on the Democratic panic—I mean the pandemic—and that people who challenge the pandemic narrative are being censored on social media. All this seems very un-American, and more like the way people in China behaved during the Cultural Revolution. It wasn’t safe to deviate from the party line in China back then, or for that matter, in China, and increasingly in America, today.

Great America

When Will A Prominent Black Athlete Stand Up to the Mob?

If these paragons of physical strength and skill want to show they have real courage, they should review the facts and tell hard truths.

The recent expressions of support for Black Lives Matter by professional athletes can be understood as legitimate reactions to tragic episodes of injustice that occur in the United States. But almost everything beyond that noble sentiment is flawed. “Systemic racism,” to the extent it even exists, explains very little of black underachievement, and the Black Lives Matter organization offers absolutely nothing that will help the black community.

The reality for at least the last 40 years in America is that blacks are beneficiaries of programs—college admissions preferences, incentives for minority-owned businesses, quotas towards achieving proportional representation in corporate hiring and promotions, and subsidized housing, to name a few—designed to lift up the black community. These programs have been administered at a cost that by now probably amounts to trillions of dollars. 

If black activists and the politicians who pander to them for votes truly think “reparations” are justified, reparations have already been tried and are ongoing. They’re not working. They actually may have done more harm than good.

Most every citation of “systemic racism” either refers to policies that ended decades ago, or is based on flawed statistical analysis. Slavery was eliminated in 1863. Segregation was abolished in 1965. Redlining was outlawed in 1968. Starting in the 1960s, incalculable sums have been spent on systemic benefits and preferences designed to help black Americans. So much for institutionalized racism persisting in America. If anything, it’s the opposite: institutionalized anti-racism.

Statistics, at least at first glance, tell a very different story. Despite outlawing racist institutions and policies, and despite institutionalizing a comprehensive and extremely expensive assortment of preferences, policies, and benefits designed to compensate for the historical legacy of racism, according to nearly every statistical metric, blacks still lag behind whites in group achievements.

Black Lives Matter activists, along with most liberals, point to disparities in black achievement in academia and economically, as well as disparities relating to law enforcement, and claim this is proof of systemic racism. But a deeper look at the statistics does not justify this conclusion. BLM and a sympathetic media completely ignore statistics relating to law enforcement—the ones that matter—with tragic consequences.

The most prevalent, and incendiary, statistic heard is that black people are being disproportionately killed by police. If some of the politicians and pundits exploiting this supposed fact are to be believed, a genocidal slaughter is taking place. If the consequences of making these outrageous claims weren’t so tragic, they would be laughable. The statistic fails on every level.

As the chart below shows, using data from the FBI, the Kaiser Foundation, and Statista Research Inc., in 2018 a total of 209 blacks were killed by police, the overwhelming majority of them armed. This compares to 399 whites killed by police in that year.

The first thing to understand is that in a nation of over 300 million, these are ridiculously small numbers, although that’s scant comfort to the people and communities affected. The root of the claim of a police war on blacks comes down to this: If you’re black, in 2018 you had a one in 190,000 chance of having a fatal encounter with police, and if you’re white, your chances of the same were only one in 495,000. Hence you will hear that blacks are 2.5 times as likely to be killed by police as whites.

If that were all there was to it, perhaps there’d be a reason for more concern. But here are facts that cannot be ignored: blacks commit more crimes. In terms of arrests, blacks are twelve times as likely as whites to be arrested for murder, three times as likely for rape, eleven times as likely for robbery, and four times as likely for aggravated assault.

This brings us back to the crux of the issue, which is whether police encounters with blacks result in a disproportionate number of fatalities. If you look at the death per arrest rate, they do not. In 2018 (these statistics are fairly consistent from year to year) the chances of dying while being arrested were exactly the same for whites and blacks, a nearly infinitesimal 1/100th of 1 percent. 

Presenting these statistics is not meant to diminish the impact of any actual police misconduct, or the necessity to reduce it as much as it is possible to do so. But this brings up another sad but inevitable statistical reality. There are nearly 700,000 full-time law enforcement officers in the United States, along with roughly an additional 1 million armed private security guards.

In groups of individuals this big, no matter how carefully screened and no matter how well trained they may be, some bad actors will exist. Similarly, when there are more than 50 million individual encounters between police and citizens every year, a few of them will have an unforeseen, avoidable, tragic outcome. People are not universally good, and everyone is fallible. Just as we shall never perfect any other aspect of our society, because that is impossible, we will never perfect the art of policing.

These are the truths that the BLM movement and all of its supporters ignore. Most know better. And there are many, many sensible alternatives to the current popular agenda, which advocates defunding the police, enforcing even stricter systems of racial preferences, paying reparations, and sliding further towards socialism.

How Professional Black Athletes Can Truly Help Their Communities

The personal qualities that enable athletes to play at the level of the NBA or NFL are not the qualities that define the rhetoric or the mentality of Black Lives Matter activists. Their entire premise, that black people are victims, even if it is true, is unhealthy. Did LeBron James or Steph Curry become two of the best basketball players in history by thinking of themselves as victims?

A black conservative who has explored this theme in-depth is nationally syndicated talk radio host Larry Elder. In a recent monologue, he asked why the work ethic that an athlete would apply to his sport cannot be applied equally to academics. “If you’re willing to spend two hours a day working on your jump shot,” he asks, “why aren’t you spending that much time working on algebra problems?”

This mentality—that individual resolve and self-discipline can overcome adversity—is something a professional athlete can explain with the credibility of his own accomplishments. Other groups in America—Chinese, Indians, Jews, Nigerians—have proven time and again that character can overcome all manner of disadvantages. All of them have aggregate group achievements in academia and household income that surpasses that of whites.

As for changing the institutions that are harming the black community, why aren’t athletes like LeBron James and Steph Curry taking an honest look at public education in the inner city? Why don’t they watch the closing arguments in the Vergara case, where Marcellus MacRae, a black attorney, proves that work rules forced onto school districts by the teachers’ union have had a disproportionate negative impact on low-income communities? Why don’t these athletes demand school choice? Why don’t they denounce the teachers’ unions, which have monopolized and all but ruined public education, especially in the inner cities?

A final argument, considered the clincher, made by social justice advocates and members of BLM is that it is the low-income status of blacks that itself explains their high rates of crime, substance abuse, broken homes, and academic underachievement. This dubious assertion is contradicted by the successful upward mobility of so many other nonwhite communities. An exhaustive data analysis on the website Random Critical Analysis makes a convincing case that racial differences in group achievement are poorly explained by economics. But so what?

Staying sober, staying married, finding a job, studying diligently, obeying the law—these are all choices that people make, and priorities that communities choose to embrace or reject. Why aren’t black athletes going into their own communities and challenging them all to make choices that will help them instead of hurt them? Why are they instead encouraging their brothers and sisters to consider themselves victims? What benefit do they see in placing the blame for black underachievement on whites, when the basis of their accusations is not well supported by data, and the cure is worse than the disease?

LeBron James, Steph Curry, and all the rest of these athletic stars have real power and influence. They are paragons of physical strength and skill. But for them to have real courage, and offer genuine help to their communities, they should review the facts, tell the hard truths, and stand up to the mob.

Great America

The Democrats Hold the Nation Hostage

The Democrats are taking the American people hostage, holding a proverbial gun to their heads and issuing a thinly veiled threat to vote for them to make the bloodletting stop — or else the carnage will continue apace.

As America’s cities literally burn to ashes and violent crime spikes to its highest level in decades, Joe Biden, the Democratic Party and their media apologists have coalesced around their talking point. “This is happening in Donald Trump’s America,” they bellow in unison from the command posts of high society.

Let’s be blunt: This is an offensively stupid talking point. The rubes and yokels in flyover America — the river valley dwellers that the bicoastal elites love to hate — may lack the hoity-toity social norms befitting SoHo or Haight-Ashbury, but they have their own pair of eyes intact. And they can see just as well as anyone else that the current scourge of anarchic savagery tearing asunder urban and suburban America seems to be the exclusive phenomena of leftist, Democratic Party-controlled jurisdictions.

They can see just as well as anyone else that the feckless leaders in charge of these jurisdictions often ruinously defy federal assistance, opting for the sort of banal “Orange Man Bad!” taunting better suited for echo-chamber Twitter plaudits than the type of selfless statesmanship required by a proper politics. And they can see just as well as anyone else that nary a single prominent elected Democratic official has unequivocally and forcefully condemned the insurrectionist antifa-Black Lives Matter coalition seeking to burn down the republic in one great act of civilizational arson.

They can see that these are, as Matthew Peterson of the Claremont Institute recently put, the Democratic Party’s riots.

But Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris and the Democrats are not content with merely gaslighting the American people into questioning whether they can believe their own lying eyes. They are not content with merely abetting — sometimes tacitly and sometimes actively — the calamitous, murderous ruination of large swaths of America’s urban corridors.

Rather, through the constant drumbeating of their farcical “this is happening in Trump’s America” talking point, the Democrats — the puppet masters of our present anarchy — are offering a quid pro quo to the American people: This violence is happening because Trump is president, so vote for us and we will stop the violence. The unstated but remarkably clear implication is that the looting, rioting and violence will go on if Trump is reelected. If Trump is reelected, the puppet masters will permit the antifa and BLM puppets to continue their free rein, driving a riven nation ever closer to a lethal abyss.

This is a hostage situation. The Democrats are taking the American people hostage, holding a proverbial gun to their heads and issuing a thinly veiled threat to vote for them to make the bloodletting stop — or else the carnage will continue apace.

This is extraordinarily immoral behavior completely unbecoming of a major political party. Alas, it is hardly the first time that leading Democrats have taken the nation hostage and threatened bloodshed if they do not get their way. Fort Sumter comes to mind.

The Democrats may think they can fool the American people, hoodwinking them into believing that those woebegone denizens mugging bystanders and vandalizing storefronts are MAGA hat-clad neofascists. But the Democrats are wrong. The American people are simply not that gullible, not that easily misled and not that easily duped. They know that the violence is happening in decades-long progressive bastions such as Portland, Oregon, and Seattle. They know that leading national Democrats, such as Biden and Harris, have utterly failed to condemn the antifa-BLM wellspring of the present barbarism. They know that these same Democrats could call off their street-thug jackals if they wanted to do so — and that their failure to call them off belies their desire to see the mayhem continue.

The stakes this November are very, very high. The election is a referendum on many things. It is a referendum on whether America is a systemically racist and irredeemably flawed nation. It is a referendum on the goodness and justness of the American idea. And now we can add one more to the mix: It is a referendum on whether American voters are as offensively stupid as Democrats seem to believe they are.

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Great America

We Have Had Enough Lockdown

Take off the masks and remove the “social distancing” circles from the floors. Open the schools, liberate college campuses, fill the restaurants and the gyms and the churches and the salons. Enough.

If 2020 wasn’t twisted enough, the current political imbroglio centers around a verboten visit to a California boutique for a routine blow-out. Americans are lining up either behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who claims she was “set up” to visit the San Francisco salon, or the salon’s owner, a woman struggling to keep her business alive amid cruel and unscientific edicts issued by her governor months ago.

The incident is the latest in a series of “rules for thee but not for me” gut punches from the ruling class; whether it’s mask-free trips to the park or crowded funerals for anointed heroes or casual meals munched indoors, the government-ordered shutdowns apply to everyone except the sadists running government who order said shutdowns.

But here’s the rub: No one should be talking about Pelosi’s coif controversy because it should not even be a story. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Erica Kious should never have been forced to close her business, fire her stylists, and sneak in customers like some 1940s underground operation hiding from the nation’s modern-day face covering and social distancing Gestapo. Pelosi should be able to get her hair done whenever and wherever she pleases without concocting a preposterous excuse that she was framed for fluffy follicles.

Almost a half a year ago, Americans were asked to suspend their personal freedoms, business pursuits, and schooling for 15 days to “flatten the curve” of rising cases of the novel coronavirus. Americans, fearful of the unknown and willing to do what they imagined was the right thing to protect themselves and their family, acquiesced.

That was 172 days ago. What has happened since will be studied and debated for decades with one likely conclusion: Global lockdowns, particularly in the United States, were one of the costliest man-made disasters of all time. The decision was rooted in unscientific hocus pocus that resulted in economic, educational, mental, physical, and emotional catastrophes on a scale that can never be fully quantified—not to mention the way stay-at-home orders fueled racial and civil unrest across America months before a national election.

A very small handful of us recognized this horrific mistake at the onset; we were shunned by both the Left and Right as heartless grandma-killers and “armchair epidemiologists” with no place in the debate. It was clear from the start, however, that the “experts” were winging it. The data was totally unreliable; the suggestion a virus could be stopped defied science and common sense. Initial models, based on untested inputs promoted by hucksters with an agenda, were prima facie garbage.

“This is a dangerous time and not just because of the threat of a treatable disease,” I wrote on March 19. “Americans are willingly surrendering to government their freedom, their livelihoods, their long-term economic security, and their mental well-being over unjustified panic about a virus that might have already spread and now is abating. If this is the new normal, where incomplete data and media-fueled panic rule the day, that is an even more frightening prospect than what’s happening right now.”

Now, nearly six months later, the oppression of the “new normal” is baked into daily life. 

Kindergartners cry at computer screens instead of navigating those first wobbly days away from mommy, a rite of passage critical to human development. Remote learning strains the mental faculties and physical tolerance of teenagers now forced to stare for hours at virtual classrooms with no engagement or socialization. High school athletes who have suited up for football and soccer and cheerleading and cross country every season since grade school are sidelined; lifelong dreams of college scholarships, gone.

Millions of nursing home residents in some states remain neglected from the life-sustaining touch of a son or daughter. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis broke down during an emotional press conference September 1 when he announced the reopening of nursing homes to visitors. Loved ones would just “like to say goodbye or to hug somebody,” the first-term Republican explained. After composing himself, DeSantis wondered aloud whether the decision to shutter the eldery was the right one. “I think it’s difficult to think that some of our action may have . . . prevented that.”

Every age group is tortured by the inhumanity of quarantine. College dormitories, a place where new adults get the first glorious taste of grown-up liberation, resemble solitary confinement units. At a time when Democratic mayors are releasing criminals from prison, simpatico university deans are criminalizing young people for . . . acting like young people. Students were at first promised a few in-person classes and some semblance of a regular campus atmosphere—until tuition was paid.

Those of us parenting college students already know about the punishing rules and penalties imposed on our children; those who don’t should take a moment and read this collection of campus horror stories gathered by journalist Jordan Schachtel. The accounts are heartbreaking and infuriating. 

“My son is a Freshman,” one parent wrote. “All his classes are online. In his giant dormitory, his room is only one with three guys. They have knocked on doors in their hall trying to meet people, and have been chastised and hassled by the RAs for being ‘radicals’ for simply reaching out to others.”

We now live in a “Black Mirror” dystopia—as evidence proves how nonthreatening this disease is to the overwhelming majority of Americans, threats to comply with punitive commands from above escalate. Remedies are dismissed while moneyed interests plug forced vaccinations so we can “get back to normal.” Other serious health issues go ignored or untreated as we fixate on a virus that already has burned out in most parts of the country. 

The federal government just canceled contracts to buy more ventilators; nearly 120,000 machines are stockpiled and probably will go unused. Mandatory testing is rising at the same time studies show roughly 90 percent of positive results are meaningless. 

Students and teachers are back to school in Wuhan, the source of the plague, while our kids prepare to remain secluded and chained to laptops for the rest of the calendar year.

Meanwhile, grown adults argue over a stupid freaking visit to a hair salon.

This must end. At a Pennsylvania rally Thursday night, President Trump detailed the negative outcomes of the shutdown. He reminded Americans that he once warned the cure couldn’t be worse than the disease and warned prolonged lockdowns in Democratic states are politically motivated.

The president is right—he should now declare the “war on coronavirus” is over. Yes, there are battle scars but the country won. Now, the reconstruction must begin. Take off the masks and remove the “social distancing” circles from the floors. Open the schools, liberate college campuses, fill the restaurants and the gyms and the churches and the hair salons.

Enough.

Great America

Know Your Enemies

American citizens have to recognize that whether they like it or not, they are in a moral war, not just a “war of ideas” or a political debate against the coalition of the extreme Left.

Mainstream Americans are about as harmless as they come. Focused as we are on work, family, church, sports, hobbies and recreation, we celebrate our holidays and special moments and mourn our loved ones when they pass. Who would want to overthrow a system that allows so many people to live, be free, and pursue happiness as they see fit?

Of course, every system has its enemies and ours is no exception. It used to be simple to identify who hated us. The English back in the day. The Nazis in World War II. The Soviet Union a generation ago. 

But we have been coping with a different kind of adversary for a long time—a set of people and interests who see a free, constitutional, patriotic, old-fashioned moral America as the biggest obstacle to achieving what they want. Power in some cases. Radical self-actualization in others. General basic welfare. Whether we like it or not, we have been in a war of ideas and values for a long time, and we have been ill-equipped to fight it on multiple levels. We have to understand the enemies of American liberty in order to even be able to begin to fight back.

First, most people don’t think this way. It’s really hard to get your head around the fact that someone who hates you, doesn’t just want to punch you out, they want to change the way you think. But that’s exactly what the Italian neo-Marxist Antonio Gramsci outlined so clearly in his Prison Notebooks. (If you don’t think this is relevant to today, keep in mind that Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s dad was one of Gramsci’s English translators.) Gramsci talked about how it is important for a ruling class to establish “cultural hegemony” to shape the way that people think. This could be accomplished through what he called “the long march through the institutions”—the takeover of academia, media, and the organs of culture. 

Many Marxists were dismayed when the proletariat of Germany and the other major industrialized countries did not rise up against the elites before World War I. It did not fit their model. A faction of them concluded it was not enough to seize the “commanding heights” of industry and government. Gramsci helped them understand that if they could first capture hearts and minds, the power they craved would fall into their hands organically. 

A One-Sided War

In some ways, World War I marked the beginning of the Left’s division into the “beer track” and the “wine track.” 

The beer track-thinkers continued to champion unions and the working class as their main vehicle to seize power. The wine-track thinkers, which included Jurgen Habermas, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Max Horkheimer (otherwise known as the Frankfurt School), went down very different roads—they looked at the psychology of the disaffected, studied the emotive power of music, criticized analytical reason and elevated the importance of emotional truth. For them, the road to power and social transformation was to be achieved by organizing students, women, minorities, and the marginalized of all kinds.

This philosophical deconstruction of Western Civilization was complemented and reinforced by the work of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault. The power of sexuality and the subconscious were elevated as being truly authentic, and the veneer of self-control and civilization were seen as artificial and inhibiting the true realization of what it means to be human. The idea was not to reward social cohesion, but emotional self-actualization. We see this all the time now in terms of the importance of people to “be real,” to be “woke,” to see through the trappings of existing order. (If you want a conservative history of this movement, check out Cry Havoc!.)

These leftists make Saul Alinsky look like a piker. They didn’t just attack Christianity and western traditional thinkers, they attacked the Enlightenment, instrumental reason, capitalism, and democracy. Their value system in many ways is neo-primitive (one suspects that they would like nothing better than to see people banging on their drums, howling at the moon, and having an orgy as a nightcap), but the intellectual warfare they have engaged in is the most advanced and sophisticated ever developed. 

They attacked language (linguistics, semiotics, epistemology); they weaponized sexuality, drug culture, sociology, music, and literary criticism. They built up new understandings of organizational behavior, bureaucracy, and even urban planning. Meanwhile, very few, if any, defense mechanisms were developed. The period from 1968 to the present will be studied by future scholars as a case study in one-sided cultural and intellectual warfare.

How Leftism Flourishes

But the enemies of free America would not be nearly as successful without the aid and support of certain transnational elites. 

Many people rail at George Soros because of his funding, but very few people actually understand his purpose. Read On Globalization:  

Our international arrangements are based on the sovereignty of states; and their own interests do not necessarily . . . coincide with the interests of humanity as a whole. These latter interests need to be better protected than they are at present. 

In other words, for Soros, the United States is the enemy of his view of human morality. The United States, as a champion of state sovereignty, must be taken down, for these views to flourish.

Transnational leftism is not a single ideology. It is an ideological coalition bound together by a common hatred of mainstream America and shared emotional bonds. It could never maintain power in a democratic system because the different factions ultimately would conflict with each other. 

The goal, for those who understand its dynamics clearly, is to set up a form of soft despotism based on providing a universal basic income or welfare system (sound familiar?) that justifies the concentration of economic and political decision-making power in an unaccountable, protected transnational elite. (The European Union is a kind of training wheels operation for this project). 

What these elites don’t understand is that just like the progressive aristocrats who lost their heads to Madame Guillotine, once unleashed, the sansculotte factions of the Left think that all of their enemies look the same. The Clintons, Obamas, and Soroses of the world are playing with fire. Look how Nancy Pelosi and progressive mayors have been treated by immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter supporters. That’s just a foretaste of what is to come.

A Quasi-Religious War

But what does this mean for the United States? It means that American citizens have to recognize that whether they like it or not, they are in a moral war (almost to the level of a religious war if these folks had any transcendental beliefs), not just a war of ideas or a political debate against the coalition of the extreme Left.

The enemies of the American way of life are super smart. They are well-funded. They are ideologically and intellectually doomed to fall apart because they hate each other too, but they could take a lot of people down with them before they crack up.

The first step is to know and understand the enemies of the American way of life and liberty and what’s at stake. Then, we can follow the immortal example of John Paul Jones and begin to fight back.