Great America

Conservative Media Dance to the Same Old Racial Narrative Tune

When will mainstream conservatives who have influence stop trying to chalk up brownie points from the social justice crowd while potentially destroying people in the process?

I first heard about the death of Ahmaud Arbery as I was going through my routine checks of conservative-land by visiting my favorite online sources. On May 5 I saw this post by Rod Dreher, one of the more talented and erudite authors at the American Conservative. The title was “Ahmaud Arbery, Just a Runner.” I started reading the article and stumbled across the graphic and horrifying video of Arbery’s last seconds alive. Momentarily stunned, I had all these images of white-on-black, racially motivated violence spinning through my head.

It hearkens back to the kind of stuff I read as a student in public schools, like To Kill a Mockingbird. It harkens back to the movies I watched in my younger days, like “Mississippi Burning.” It reminded me of the music I listened to in my youth, like “Strange Fruit.” And I saw the Arbery story plastered over numerous “mainstream” media sites: the New York Times, CNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, and so on.

Gregory and Travis McMichael, the father and son who have been charged with Arbery’s killing, might be guilty of aggravated assault, manslaughter, or murder. From the evidence I have seen thus far, it will be more and more difficult to return a guilty verdict for each escalation of the charges.

But that’s for an actual jury to decide. I’m more interested isn’t what this article is about. It’s about the media circus enveloping the case.

Much of the early reporting featured an image of Arbery in his high school graduation photo. And the words typically being used to describe the incident refer to “two white men” who “hunted” Arbery and murdered him in a modern-day “lynching.” And what was the picture given of the McMichaels? A photo of them dirtied up behind a wild hog they had hunted and killed.

A couple minutes went by and after my initial shock wore off, I started to ask myself: What is Arbery’s background? What is the background of the McMichaels? And why are the images presenting these two sides so charged as to make you think that a completely innocent young man was “hunted down” and killed by two Southern, white, male rednecks who hunt hogs? Why did they all describe him as a “jogger” and almost never discuss any other potential activities?

It took me just five minutes to find several facts that were either completely omitted from the story or were passed over while being rebutted, as in this USA Today article. Here’s what the vast majority of mainstream media accounts omitted: When Arbery was a 19-year-old adult, he brought an illegal handgun to a high school basketball game. When confronted, Arbery fled. A school resource officer fractured his hand in the pursuit.

Arbery also had a history of mental illness. He was convicted of shoplifting and he violated his probation in 2018. Much of the media still hasn’t included any of this in their coverage.

In the meantime, while Black Lives Matter provocateur Shaun King was busy posting death threats against the accused on Facebook, mainstream “Conservatism, Inc.” went into high gear—yet again—trying to gain brownie points by condemning the 36-second video that started the national uproar and accepting—almost without question—the basic tenets of the left-liberal media’s narrative: Arbery was a completely innocent “jogger,” who was brutally hunted down and “murdered in cold blood” by “gun-toting, Trump-supporting white supremacists.”

On May 7, the day after the story broke nationally, former National Review editor David French said the available evidence “indicate[d] a level of violent vigilantism” that echoes and imitates “lynchings of the past.” French’s article, “A Vigilante Killing in Georgia,” had nothing to say about Arbery’s prior convictions and dismisses the idea that his trespassing on private property was justification for a group of men in Georgia to perform a citizen’s arrest—despite the fact Georgia law appears to say otherwise.

On the same day, David Harsanyi published “The Murder of Ahmaud Arbery,” at National Review Online.

Writing for the New York Post, Sohrab Ahmari titled his article, “A Blatant Citizen’s Arrest Homicide.

On May 8, conservative commentator Matt Walsh dismissed the idea that Arbery could have been anything but a jogger and insisted that what happened was not a valid citizen’s arrest—something which none of us can definitely answer even today.

President Trump’s daughter Ivanka chimed in on May 8 by asking why it took months for the two McMichaels to be arrested and why it was that it “took . . . the release of a video” to “catalyze action.”

And the Drudge Report, one of the most trafficked websites in the world—not just the conservative world—pushed out this inflammatory headline on May 8, “Father, Son Charged With Hunting Black Man.”

Now here we are and several new facts have surfaced. First, there is the release of a video that appears to show Arbery indeed trespassing on someone’s property in the immediate moments before his fateful encounter with the McMichaels. And there is the release of the audio from the 911 calls which appears to show that someone called the police while Arbery was trespassing and identified him as someone who had previously stolen from this neighborhood.

The relevant questions from day one—none of which were discussed with any clarity were:

  1. Was Ahmaud Arbery trespassing and/or burglarizing private property before his demise?
  2. Were there witnesses or is there video evidence to corroborate this claim?
  3. According to Georgia State law, one may engage in a citizen’s arrest. Indeed, one can do this “without a warrant, you may arrest anyone who commits a mis-demeanor or a felony in your presence or with your immediate knowledge.” Therefore, were the McMichaels present or did they have “immediate knowledge” when and if Arbery was trespassing and/or possibly burglarizing property in the neighborhood?

None of the coverage coming from the “mainstream media” or their surrogates in entertainment like LeBron James, Gabrielle Union, Viola Davis, Naomi Campbell, Ava DuVernay, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, or Justin Timberlake have mentioned any of these key questions. The chorus of condemnation is resounding; most of the people who play our sports, sing our songs, make our movies, teach our classes, and curate what we see on the internet who are talking about this case are piled together on one side of the issue.

Time will tell what the outcome of this tragic and sordid tale ends up being. But when will mainstream conservatives who have influence stop trying to chalk up brownie points from the social justice crowd while potentially destroying people in the process?

We’ve seen this same repetitive narrative, from Steven Pagones, to the Duke Lacrosse players, to Darren Wilson, to Brett Kavanaugh, to Nick Sandmann and the Covington Catholic boys. It is unclear if this is another example of the same, but that’s the point. It is unclear.

This is why we have due process. This is why the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is why it is the job of the courts to be the sole vindicators of one’s innocence or guilt. But the people pushing the narrative aren’t interested in any of that.

The indoctrination stemming from our public schools that teaches kids the racial-caste hierarchies of oppressors and victims is near complete. It is codified in their universities with the “diversity and inclusion” departments which have become ubiquitous today. When you are conditioned to think that every bad interaction between a white person—especially a white man and a black man—invariably is a redux of To Kill A Mockingbird, this is what we get. It’s all Bob Ewell versus Tom Robinson, as far as the eye can see.

And who would defend the former? It continues throughout one’s life with the movies pumped out by Hollywood always revisiting the ugliest episodes of America’s racial past; if every interaction between a black and white man means defending Frank Bailey from “Mississippi Burning,” you’re not going to find a lot of people rallying to his cause. Even if the man being defended is nothing like Bailey at all; the cultural narrative conditions people in this country to conflate the two. You hear it backed up by most of the most prominent comedians and entertainers. It is promoted by the mainstream internet tech giants who help promote this mainstream fake news time and time again.

I don’t know what is more disheartening. The fact people are oblivious to the leftist-dominated nexus of news media, entertainment, education, and high-tech that pushes conflict between America’s many peoples? Or conservatives who continue to fall over themselves to signal their support for the whole system? Rather than thinking critically and scrutinizing the music, they continue to dance before people who refuse to let them play the tune.

Great America

The Coming Upheaval in Education

Due to coronavirus-related economic realities, the unions demand the feds pour billions more into education. We need a more realistic plan.

There is no way to sugarcoat it. The economic impact of COVID-19 will take its toll on education funding. The National Education Association is in full freak-out mode, “calling for an additional $175 billion to stabilize education funding—the $30.7 billion authorized thus far is not nearly enough.” The California Teachers Association echoes the $175 billion figure and adds that it should be part of a $1 trillion pay-out in the next CARES Act.

Referring to the 2008 recession when class sizes increased and teachers were laid off, United Teachers of Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl insists, “We cannot go back to that.

We are currently the second-highest spending nation in the world, pouring more than $700 billion a year into education. Where do the unions think the additional billions of dollars are supposed to come from? Capital gains, withholding, corporate, and sales tax revenues are going to take a huge hit, and you can only print so much money before it becomes worthless. 

As such, education is going to have to make do with less. The question then becomes, how best to manage the cuts?

A much-too-large portion of education dollars goes toward teachers’ pensions. But at least for the time being these tax giveaways are untouchable. Another way to minimize the damage would be to get rid of the union-mandated seniority system. In California, and throughout much of the country, this antiquated quality-blind scheme leads to the last hired being the first to lose their jobs during tough fiscal times. This is unfair and injurious to both teachers and students each time it results in high-quality teachers being fired.

As reported by Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum, a recent study, consistent with many others, “shows that students entering grades where an effective teacher was laid off did worse on state tests in the future. (A teacher’s effectiveness here was measured by both principal evaluations and their impact on student test scores.) Losing an experienced teacher, rather than a novice teacher, didn’t make a clear difference.” 

Barnum adds that prioritizing experience also “requires laying off more teachers, since novice teachers are paid less.” The unions, of course, will not accept any change from their industrial-style last in/first out regimen.

Another way to mitigate the damage done by the oncoming shortfall would be to have teachers accept a salary reduction and freeze any raises for the time being. This would put a temporary end to the step-and-column method, in which teachers—no matter how talented they may be—are paid primarily by their number of years on the job. Lowering salaries could save many jobs and keep class size manageable. 

In fact, Hawaii Governor David Ige has just proposed 20 percent pay cuts for teachers and other public employees in the Aloha State. Not surprisingly, the head of the Hawaii State Teachers Association claims the idea is unacceptable, telling his members, “While we recognize the coronavirus has already started to cripple Hawaii’s economy, no one can be sure of its long-term impacts. We believe cutting salaries for tens of thousands of state workers is rash and will hurt our state even more.”

Most importantly, it’s time to reexamine Benjamin Scafidi’s study on the “staffing surge” in public education. This researcher and economics professor found that between 1950 and 2015, the number of teachers increased about 2.5 times faster than the uptick in students. Even more outrageous is the fact that the hiring of other education employees—administrators, teacher aides, counselors, social workers, etc.—rose more than seven times the increase in students.

“If the increase in ‘all other staff’ alone had matched student enrollment growth between FY 1992 and FY 2015—the most recent staffing data available—then a cautious estimate finds American public schools would have saved almost $35 billion in annual recurring savings,” Scafidi writes. “That is $35 billion every single year from 1992 to 2015, for a cumulative total of $805 billion over this time period.”

$805 billion. You might think the teachers’ unions would support their members and scream about wasteful spending. But of course, those billions are being spent on other union members, so they are mum on the issue.

The unions have had their way in education far too long, and now their traditional way of doing business is in jeopardy due to the economic ramifications of COVID-19. Automatic quality-blind teacher raises, detrimental seniority rules, and chronic over-hiring have done great damage to education. Business as usual needs to end.

Great America

No, We Can’t Wait Anymore

All of the decisions about what is happening in America are being decided by significantly older adults—not coincidentally the ones who have the most to fear from the virus.

We are now well into the third month of coronavirus lockdowns. Weeks have gone by as students fear for their futures and well-being. We have so much hanging on the line due to disruptions caused by this virus. The virus itself,  for so many facing job losses or missing loved ones or just wishing to enjoy the blessings of liberty, is less worrisome than the lasting repercussions of these lockdowns. 

Here are some things you need to understand about the generation of Americans coming of age. 

Most of us are incredibly fed up. While everyone is suffering, we are the ones risking our whole futures for this. People tell us to stay positive and to find the beauty in little things. We have tried our best to make the best out of this but, in truth, every day we watch our futures get further and further away from us. 

Please understand the pain that young people are going through. Summer is the only time for most of us to find stable employment and save for the school year. Nearly all of us have lost our jobs or have lost internships that were supposed to help us advance our future careers. We have seen it all slip away so fast and now we fear what will happen to us in the fall.

If schools do not open in the fall, it would be one of the biggest sacrifices asked of America’s youth in the history of this country. Education is vital to America’s future and we have the same rights to it as older adults across America once did. Why would we just throw all of this away for the sake of an uncertain, and probably false, sense of safety? 

If you really think the majority of students are learning well at home right now, then you are lying to yourself

I fear for myself and my fellow students because of America’s apparent lack of interest in preserving its future. We have put all our faith in one academic 79-year-old doctor who is not in touch with any of the realities beyond his narrow field and certainly cannot be expected to have familiarity with the concerns of today’s youth. 

Please, America, think of the future. Think of the time young people cannot get back if we continue to keep them latched up inside.

Look around. All of the decisions about what is happening in America are being decided by significantly older adults—not coincidentally the ones who have the most to fear from the virus. 

Perhaps they do not see the damage that silently is being done to the youth for the sake of keeping older Americans healthy? We cannot wait for this virus to go away to get back to school. We do not have forever. I came across a quote the other day that said, “Time passes quickly. Make sure you do all those things you really want for your life while you still can. Each day, do a little something to move closer to your dreams.” 

Each day that passes with our lives put on hold is one more day that our dreams and America’s future get pushed back. 

Think back to when you were in your early 20s. Think back to the things with which you were probably concerned at that age. No one asked you to shut down your lives and stop living. Even young people who sacrificed their dreams to fight in wars at least were doing something. They had some autonomy. They were living

The truth that so many older adults in America do not understand and what keeps us awake every night is that we are not living. We are replaying the last goodbyes we had with friends before our relationships were put into suspended animation. We are recalling frenzied and panicked cleaning out of once cozy dorm rooms, as we tossed most things because we had no time to sort them out and nowhere to put them. We packed up our dreams and lives into trash bags, not knowing when or if life would ever feel normal again. Most of us are home, but not at home. 

I have friends who tell me they do not see what our purpose is in life if we are going to live day to day canceling things and, truly, they are right. To say other generations knew and feared things such as poverty and war is true. But so do we. We are not fearing the next few months of vegging out and watching Netflix, but rather what doing nothing indefinitely will mean for us and our country. We know enough history to know that the great poverty that is coming will not secure for us a lasting peace. We fear the virus, too. But this fear should not prevent us from living our lives and saving our country. 

So do not tell us we don’t understand. We are not heartless. We just want our lives back and our country back. We want to get our education and have our right to pursue happiness restored.

Please, America, think of the future. Think of the time young people cannot get back if we continue to keep them latched up inside.

Great America

The Moral Busybodies Strike Again

Have we learned nothing the past three years?

There’s a weird cognitive dissonance happening right now that is as revealing as it is alarming.

Just as we learn more details about all the ways Barack Obama and his henchmen weaponized powerful federal agencies to punish Donald Trump, Americans, oddly, are surrendering their own power to the same type of god-like government authorities under the guise of the common good.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive,” C.S. Lewis wrote. “It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

The effort to stop coronavirus, much like the attempt to stop Donald Trump, has been presented by ardent defenders as their call to duty, a selfless act undertaken not to gratify their lust for power but to protect the public’s best interest.

There is no discernible difference between the high-minded hectoring of former FBI Director James Comey and that of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer—their decisions are above scrutiny because, as they often scold their lesser subjects, these decisions are made for your own good. (“Everything I’m doing is trying to save your life,” Whitmer just said in an interview.)

Lies, Lies, and More Lies

Let’s begin with what now is appropriately called Obamagate.

Americans were warned, starting in the summer of 2016, that Donald Trump’s campaign was in cahoots with the Russians to rig the outcome of the presidential election. The basis for that claim, the media and top government officials assured us, was that Russian hackers working on behalf of Vladimir Putin breached the Democratic National Committee’s server, stole thousands of emails, and gave the trove to WikiLeaks.

Then Julian Assange, the story goes, dutifully published those damaging documents on his site the week that the Democrats would coronate Hillary Clinton in July 2016. It all was part of a Trump-Russia plot to hurt Clinton and help Trump win, the intelligence community later asserted.

After Trump won, all the smart people warned that the incoming president posed such a threat to the country that any and all measures to mitigate the spread of his Kremlin-tainted rule would be necessary. (See where this is going?) Investigations into the Trump campaign, the Trump family, the Trump Administration and the president himself were necessary to save the republic.

At first we were assured that the FBI did not spy on the Trump campaign—then we found out it did. Top lawmakers insisted evidence of collusion was in plain sight; then Special Counsel Robert Mueller, after two years and $36 million, concluded there was no evidence of collusion in plain sight or anywhere else.

Obama loyalists, many of whom once held the most powerful and influential offices in the country, promised cable news hosts that they knew for a fact Donald Trump conspired with the Russians to influence the 2016 election. But when questioned under oath by congressional Republicans, those same professionals—so bold and confident in front of the camera—confessed behind closed doors that they never saw any proof of such a conspiracy.

The so-called dossier was raw intelligence carefully collected by a respected former British spy, the media reported. That material, Comey  later explained, did not comprise the bulk of the evidence presented before a secret court to obtain permission to spy on Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide that the FBI accused of acting as a foreign agent of Russia.

But then we found out that the dossier actually wasn’t real intelligence but fabricated propaganda collected by a foreign political operative who was paid by the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Oh, and by the way, the dossier did in fact represent most of the evidence in Comey’s FISA application on Carter Page. And Page wasn’t a Russian agent after all.

Unmasking U.S. citizens, top intelligence officials solemnly promised, was a rare occurrence and was only allowed when the circumstances were the most worrisome for the security of the United States. Now, those same officials admit that unmasking the identity of U.S. citizens, including close advisors to an incoming president, is of course a “routine” affair—especially when that advisor endangers the well-being of the nation!

Joe Biden didn’t know anything about the investigation into Lt. General Michael Flynn—but oops, turns out the former vice president made a request to unmask Flynn in January 2017.

And according to recently released testimony from an executive of CrowdStrike—the Democrat-connected cybersecurity firm that everyone swore had proof the Russians indeed hacked the DNC server—actually never had proof the Russians hacked the email server. Whoopsie.

Everything—and I mean everything—government officials and their media scribes promised was true about Russian collusion was not true. In fact, it was a big fat lie. All of it.

Why Do We Keep Trusting These People?

So it’s greatly discomfiting, in the face of this massive and destructive sham, to see millions of Americans submit to the whims of government bureaucrats, elected officials, and “experts” who—much like the collusion hoaxsters—have misled us on the coronavirus threat every step of the way. They’ve leveraged fear and panic to bolster their own power grabs. And as with the collusion ruse, the media breathlessly chases every horror story and doomsday scenario while again predicting the end times for Donald Trump.

Dr. Anthony Fauci insisted in January we shouldn’t be too worried about coronavirus. The lethality of the disease, he wrote in February, was about the same as a bad flu. By March, Fauci claimed the fatality rate was 10 times worse than the flu.

Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx showed President Trump two scary models that predicted widespread death and disease, nationwide shortages of hospital beds and ICUs, and a woefully inadequate supply of ventilators. They urged the president, as he admits, to “shut everything down” and extend unproven “social distancing” orders that subsequently crashed a red-hot economy.

But the model issued by Imperial College has been roundly condemned by scientists as “crude mathematical guesswork”; the academic responsible for the now-debunked model has resigned in disgrace. The other model—produced by Dr. Chris Murray—has been way off and subjected to multiple iterations with wildly modified projections.

Americans initially were asked to help “flatten the curve” so as not to overwhelm the healthcare system. That seemingly reasonable demand then morphed into “slow the spread” and then “stop the spread.” Now many experts claim our lives cannot return to normal until a vaccine or a cure is available.

Inexplicably, as those grave mistakes and shifting goalposts are exposed, government commands for compliance become more oppressive and destructive—yet many Americans are playing along. Even though Fauci and other “experts” assured us several weeks ago that face masks wouldn’t prevent us from infecting others; that, too, has changed. Americans, either willingly or for fear of being shamed, are wearing useless homemade masks including while driving a car . . . alone.

Have we learned nothing the past three years?

My hunch is that once we find the truth about coronavirus, nearly everything we’ve been told to do will turn out to have been wrong. As with Russian collusion, the dire predictions will never materialize.

And the public’s trust, once again, will have been shown to be not just misplaced but exploited for political purposes. The moral busybodies working under the pretext of the common good, as C.S. Lewis warned, will have prevailed once again. And we will have been fooled—again.

Great America

Tally-Ho? The Left’s Fox Hunt Draws Blank

Left-leaning cable news networks fail to see the danger in a politicized lawsuit against Fox News.

Oscar Wilde once observed, “fox hunting is the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.” This explains, in part, why fox hunting has been banned in England since 2004.

Yet, this ban has not ended the fox’s peril. Illegal poaching abounds; and within the statute itself are exemptions for legal fox hunting. One of these exemptions holds: “The first condition is that the stalking or flushing out is undertaken for the purpose of preventing or reducing serious damage which the wild mammal would otherwise cause.”

Fashioning himself “Master of the Foxhounds,” Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman has doubled the horn that a fox is afoot—specifically, a fox of the cable news variety.

“With a blood curdling ‘Tally-ho!’, [he] charged into the ranks” of the MSNBC idiocracy to unleash and cast the leftist hounds: “If it actually winds up being proved that people died because of [their coverage of COVID-19], this is a new terrain in terms of Fox being possibly held liable for their actions.”

In the Pacific Northwest, the whelps raising their cry are the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics. (Curiously, WashLITE’s commitment to transparency doesn’t extend to disclosing their donors.) This Fox hunting party has assembled their field masters, huntsmen, whippers-in, and joint masters—i.e., their legal team—to find the line and drive Fox News out of its cable covert.

Filing in a state court under Washington’s consumer protection statute, this regressive hunting party doesn’t view its lawsuit over Fox’s COVID-19 coverage as a babble or lark. As the Times of San Diego reports, WashLITE believes the First Amendment has its own Fox News hunting exemption: “Fox is not a newspaper and is not sued in this action for the programming on its broadcast television stations.”

Further, the group contends the U.S. Supreme Court “has long recognized that cable programmers do not have First Amendment rights on the cable medium . . . Rather, the law is that only cable operators, such as AT&T, Comcast, and Spectrum, enjoy First Amendment rights on their privately owned cable systems.”

As for the harm to the plaintiffs, all four of which coincidentally are members of WashLITE—and perhaps its only members who have watched Fox News for any purpose other than ratting it out to Media Matters and Oliver Darcy—one claims that the University of Alaska canceled classes right after she’d closed escrow on a $185,000 home in Fairbanks for her son to live in while he attended the school; moreover, she’d also “purchased a new pickup truck for $32,000, which [she] cannot now reasonably use or drive back to Washington through Canada.”

Another, claiming to be a regular viewer of Fox News, alleges that she “failed to buy protective masks and other supplies while they were still available and had to go to extreme lengths to obtain paper products, hand sanitizer and, at times, food.”

Yet another alleges his business’ efforts to “develop and market a ‘novel blood oxygenation system’ therapy for Covid-19” was harmed because “potential partners, investors or supporters were uncertain if there was actually a significant problem to begin with, and were reluctant to commit”; and, thus, a “potentially lifesaving new method of Covid-19 treatment” was prospectively impaired.

Finally, a plaintiff alleges Fox News “led me to ignore a significant health threat and to fail to take precautions against infection . . . I believe it contributed to my becoming infected with the disease.”

Not to be outdone, the leader of WashLITE, Arthur West, “filed his own eight-page declaration in which he said he was a pre-COVID investor in Evolving Medical Solutions—and also took a potential financial hit.”

Labeling Fox’s COVID-19 pandemic coverage deceptive and misleading, WashLITE is demanding the court order the network to cover the matter in a manner the nonprofit deems suitable; and further demands the network issue sundry retractions.

It remains to be seen whether Fox will countersue and demand the plaintiffs be mandated to complete a rudimentary civics class and be compelled to exhibit a passing acquaintance with the concept of personal responsibility, lest they receive a court-appointed guardian.

That this lawsuit could potentially open the floodgates against left-wing cable stations is lost upon said stations. After all, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s thoughtfully enumerated a laundry list of elitist press failings regarding the pandemic. One would think they’d recognize their stake in the matter. (Indeed, as in hunting parlance, the fox is also known as a “Charlie” or “Todd,” this should be rather salient to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.)

Nonetheless, at best, the elitist media remains blissfully ignorant of the threat WashLITE’s Fox hunt poses to themselves; or, at worst, they are gleefully rooting for WashLITE to destroy their competition, which is something these lefty outlets cannot themselves do in the ratings. Why?

First, the elitist media thinks conservatives are too committed to the First Amendment to file such lawsuits. Second, in spite of the historical record of radicalism, the elitist media thinks such regressive left-wing groups will only attack conservative organizations. Third, the elitist media believe their own balderdash to the point they think they’re telling the truth. Fourth, all of the above. Regardless, in this rare instance, their silence is deafening, rather than welcome.

For its part, Fox News refuses to go to ground or to heel. It has hired the legal powerhouse firm Jones Day, whose lawyers have argued:

Fox’s commentary on the coronavirus is core political speech on a matter of public concern—how dangerous the coronavirus is, and how society and the government should respond to it . . . Under both the First Amendment and state law, the value of this type of speech must be resolved through free and open debate in the marketplace of ideas—not through litigation seeking to impose legal penalties on statements alleged to be “false” or contrary to official government pronouncements.

In a perfect world, this politicized, frivolous case should be dismissed swiftly. WashLITE’s legal argument—that how a news organization reaches the public (in this instance, via cable) dictates whether or not it is a news organization—is imbecilic and injurious. But WashLITE must try to fabricate this silly argument because a state statute cannot supersede the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, they must endeavor to strip Fox of its constitutional protections.

Ultimately, this will fail; and there is a distinct chance a court will find this lawsuit frivolous and award Fox News legal fees, damages, or both.

When WashLITE draws blank and fails to find the Fox, the network will hoist the stirrup cup, giving best for all cable network news programs.

No, they will not be thanked.

The Left’s Fox hunt will go on, for as Shakespeare’s Duke of Gloucester noted in “Henry VI, Part I”: “’Tis not my speeches that you do mislike, but ’tis my presence that doth trouble you. Rancor will out.”

Tally-ho!

Great America

Data Quality Matters More Than Data Analysis

Making decisions based on bad data is worse than making decisions with no data.

When we read the official data reporting the daily increases in new cases of COVID-19 and deaths, we tend to believe them. We are not China, our data must be correct, right?

The evidence seems to say otherwise.

For example, half of U.S. states said they could not provide data on nursing home deaths (or declined to do so) and some states said they do not track these deaths at all. To have an idea of how many uncounted deaths this could represent, NBC News tallied 2,246 deaths associated with long-term care facilities—that’s only from the states that provided the data, and it probably represents a floor to the number of real deaths in such facilities. In Italy and France, nursing homes have been a large source of undercounted deaths, sometimes because the management of the facility does not want to tarnish its image. It seems reasonable to expect that the United States might suffer from the same problem.

In addition, we already know that official data was not correct. In February and early March, the United States lacked the capacity to perform tests in most of its territory. The official count of cases was extremely low, and probably it wasn’t because the virus was contained, but because testing was. Data is only as good as the consistency with which it is collected.

There are other reasons to question official data. For many European countries, “today’s confirmed new cases” refers to the tests whose results have been transcribed to the database today, not to the new infections that took place today. The difference is significant, considering that in Italy it might take up to 20 days to take a swab, process it, and record the result in the central database.

Moreover, swabs are mostly taken from symptomatic patients, and conservative estimates tell us that it might take anywhere from three to 14 days for an infected patient to show symptoms. Put the two numbers together and it turns out that official data could lag the real number of cases by up to 34 days! These numbers refer to Italy; other countries might be faster but the point stands: official data on case count lags reality by weeks.

The Larger Problem

The larger problem is that the delay is not constant across results. If all results were delayed by the same number of days, we would still be able to extract trends. Delayed ones, yes, but still trends. The delay, however, is not constant. One test might have a three-day delay and the next one 20. Trends based on official data might be wrong.

One could argue that the delay could be “averaged” and, over large numbers, it can be approximated to constant. The problem is that delays tend to cluster. One county might be processing data faster and another one might be slower. One week we might have timely tests and the other week we might lack reagents and incur large delays.

These problems are in addition to others regarding testing, notably that the number of tests made does not equal the number of people tested. To be discharged from the hospital, people might require multiple tests to validate their recovery; moreover, healthcare workers frequently undergo routine tests. If we do not know who gets tested and how data is reported, we cannot know whether curves about new daily cases represent new daily cases or testing policies or operational capabilities.

Finally, official data does not include the number of indirect deaths—those who die of unrelated medical conditions because they cannot be treated with the usual responsiveness by a local hospital clogged with COVID-19 patients.

Put all of this together and it’s a mess. Official data is incorrect and we do not know by how much. I do not understand how people can still look at charts and trends without asking themselves how good the data is.

The habit of analyzing data without first validating it is an instance of ludic fallacy, in which, as in an exercise from a statistic textbook, we begin with the implicit assumption that the data is correct.

This is the real world, however, and data cannot be assumed correct. Some investigative work is required. Making a chart without first validating the integrity of the data is a purely hedonic performance, an expression of scientism—the ritualistic display of competence which has become the backbone of those institutions whose members don’t know what they are talking about but are very good at not giving a damn about it.

The root problem is that when people do not understand a field well enough to be able to discern competence, they have to resort to proxies to evaluate it: credentials, jargon, charts, and the ability to perform similar superficial rituals.

Unfortunately, schools have long since given up teaching any skill whose related exam cannot be passed through sheer imitation. Scientism is the dangerous result.

“Let’s Use the Data We Have”

No. Making decisions based on bad data is worse than making decisions with no data.

If you have no data, at least you either take the conservative choice or you realize the need to go get some data upon which one can rely. Making decisions with bad data is dangerous. It might lead one to underestimate the danger caused by the virus and to underreact.

The first rule of models is that you spend time discussing them only after having protected the population from immediate risks. Protect first, measure second, model third. Not the other way around. Not when one person infected might infect others and the situation can grow out of hand before we know it.

We made enough dangerous choices in January, February, March, and in April. Let’s play it safe in May. Let’s go dig up some good data, and let’s not use charts and models until we have it.

Great America

Tara Reade Skirts the Media Monopoly

Television news is often so rife with bias that many Americans can’t stomach it. We aren’t stupid. We don’t need news hosts telling us how to think.

We should take note of Megyn Kelly’s recent interview with Tara Reade—and not just because it was the first time Joe Biden’s accuser agreed to an on-screen interview since making her allegation that the presumptive Democratic nominee for president sexually assaulted her in 1993. The ability of the former Fox and NBC hostess to bypass mainstream media channels and reach millions of viewers through social media and the internet speaks volumes about a shifting media landscape.

No major media outlet controlled the information Kelly released to the public. Instead Kelly’s interview transmitted right to the American people without mainstream monopolization. They didn’t control the information the public received and they didn’t get to tie a nice little bow around their perfectly framed story or line it up in such a way that suited their own interests.

Social media, when not being censored by tech executives, has enabled political leaders and public figures alike to bypass traditional means of sharing information and instead speak directly to the people—whether that’s through Twitter, YouTube, or another platform.

That’s exactly what Megyn Kelly just pulled off.

And that’s why mainstream media appears to be throwing a tantrum reminiscent of a spoiled toddler who didn’t get his way.

Liberal news channels cannot twist Tara Reade’s story with any semblance of credibility, though they have tried. The bias is blatant as we all have access to the interview itself without media outlets controlling the narrative or, through careful editing, the extent of the information we receive.

Online news magazines and other platforms that allow for direct-to-viewer content seem to be the way of the future. Reade saw this as a preferable alternative to sitting down with a mainstream news outlet. For one thing, she knew it would reach just as many people—the interview received as much coverage and views as any story on a major news outlet.

It’s likely that Reade viewed this method as an opportunity to share her story freely without the “gotcha” questions she might expect from pseudo-journalists or the ever-constant need for channels to stop a guest’s line of argument midway through just because they’re up against a commercial break.

The adage from the song “Waiting on the World to Change,” has never been more true: “When you own the information, you can bend it all you want.”

People on both sides of the political aisle are fed up with the spun narratives on television news. Television news is often so rife with bias and hard commercial breaks that many Americans can’t stomach it. We want to know what is going on, plain and simple, without any fancy packaging. We aren’t stupid. We don’t need news hosts telling us how to think.

News broadcasting like what we just witnessed allows us to take a step back and rethink our news consumption. We could all learn some lessons from Megyn Kelly’s interview with Tara Reade.

Great America

Doing It Wrong

It should have been the lockdown of those predicted to overwhelm the medical facilities, not the whole economy.

We have done everything wrong. We shut down major portions of the private economy when, in fact, the private economy was, and is, our best weapon to get us through this pandemic.

How so? Because the private economy provides the funds for food, shelter, and health insurance coverage for the vast majority of our citizens. If that economy is crippled, it puts many of these citizens a month away from defaulting on rents and mortgages, and puts them one step away from living on the street with no money to buy food and no health insurance.

Why would we ever risk that result to fight a pandemic which is primarily concentrated among an easily defined group of people who are over 65, and who are, for the most part, no longer employed, already have permanent health insurance through Medicare, and already have permanent significant living expenses met through Social Security without lifting a finger to change a federal program? Many also have pensions or IRAs from their working years that give them a continued good lifestyle, and they will react quickly if the value of their assets start going down with the economy. These parties include unions and other groups with significant clout.

For small businesses especially, a lockdown is not a temporary condition. Some reports say as much as 40 percent of small businesses will be destroyed permanently.

Did we know this basic paradigm before we started to shut down the private economy? Yes, we did. The one chunk of factual knowledge we had from the start was who was being hospitalized and who was dying from COVID-19. It was the same group in every country in the world from the very beginning. It was, and is, primarily the elderly. And one further breakdown, it was, and is, the elderly with comorbidities, high-blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, compromised respiratory systems, and compromised immune systems caused by cancer or other illness.

On February 7, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) put a study online of 138 patients at a primary Wuhan hospital in China who had what was then called the 2019 novel coronavirus. The median age was 51. Thirty-six moved on to the ICU with a median age of 66, of which 72 percent had comorbidities. Six had died as of February 3, 2020.

Fifty-seven of the 138 were “presumed to have been infected in [the] hospital;” 17 were patients admitted for other illnesses and 40 were health professionals in the hospital itself. Thus, the pattern was set for a highly contagious pandemic, concentrated in the higher age groups, and especially severe for those with comorbidities. It was a pattern that was reinforced as the virus spread to Italy and finally to an elderly care facility in Seattle, Washington, where the first concentration of deaths appeared in the United States.

As the virus spread, the conventional wisdom was that hospitals and medical facilities were in grave danger of being overwhelmed, and we needed an immediate way to “flatten the curve,” i.e., to spread out the rate of the infection over a longer period so that hospital and medical facilities could handle the influx of seriously ill patients. This led states and cities to consider isolating or locking down their citizens to delay transmission, and thus, ”flatten the curve.”

But lockdown whom?

It should have been the lockdown of those predicted to overwhelm the medical facilities, not the whole economy.

Thus, the age of 65 would have been a sound hard-line number to select for a total lockdown, causing minimal damage to our unique economic structure. (Currently, the CDC says that 8 out of 10 deaths are among people 65 and older.) And further limited lockdowns could have been carved out for those below 65 with obvious comorbidities.

Masks, good hygiene, and revamping some workplaces could have been instituted to protect the remaining workers. Moreover, it would never have required the feds to pump $2.6 trillion into the economy with more on the way, a drag that will affect the fiscal health of the nation for several years to come.

Yet none of this begins to touch on my now total contempt for the agencies that should have been on top of this issue: the FDA, the CDC, and WHO.

What more serious existential mandate do these agencies have than to prepare us for the treatment of pandemics that seem to come down the road, often more than once in a decade—think SARS, MERS, H1N1 (swine flu), all respiratory, and others such as AIDS, Ebola, and Zika.

I had written out a couple of paragraphs about gaming pandemics when an opinion column appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Frank Keating titled “War-Gaming The Next Pandemic,” in which he said that war-gaming could help us devise the best response to the next pandemic. What amazed me was how calm he was, instead of being totally irritated like me. Why hadn’t the health agencies already done that before the pandemic hit? Transmission, cohorts affected, and economic damage are central to all serious pandemics.

We have the most creative agency in the world for creation and innovation to meet extraordinary events, an agency that no one has been able to duplicate—DARPA (the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). I would wager that if we had given DARPA the challenge to war-game a response to COVID-19 in early February, starting with the early insight of the AMA study cited above, it would have had a game plan ready to go before the first lockdowns in mid-March, a plan tracking the factors that I have mentioned here among others, only it would have done it much better and in greater detail.

In less than five or six weeks, DARPA would have done what the FDA, CDC, and WHO should have been doing years ago, a plan they should have had ready to implement with a new weighing of factors in February-March 2020.

Indeed, DARPA could still help. It could start with correcting the botched job that we and many other countries have engaged in to-date.

There is a reason that economics is called the dismal science—because it ultimately gets down to survival in the literal sense. Ignore its lessons, and devastation can follow threatening the lifestyle that we have assumed could not be challenged. Keep spending those trillions using the printing press, and our currency will no longer be the reserve currency of the world, and we will be heading down a path we will deeply regret.

Great America

America, Interrupted

By living in fear, we are psychologically, culturally, and even spiritually distancing ourselves from a uniquely American space.

Ever since President Trump declared a state of emergency over COVID-19, the whole affair has felt like a slow-moving dream, or better yet, a banal nightmare. Everyone is exhausted for a variety of reasons: physical, economic, and existential. People are feeling voiceless, confused, and most of all, uncertain. They feel betrayed by the floundering leadership of many state governors.

At the beginning of this global mess, the intent (at least in the United States) was to “flatten the curve” (a phrase I’ve come to detest wholeheartedly) of rising COVID-19 cases. This meant that the objective was to prepare the hospitals for the incoming cases, dealing with the worst-case scenarios. We have certainly moved beyond that, and at this point, many state governors (especially those in New York and California) are using this situation as a way to exert ever-growing authoritarian control.

Every American was willing to cooperate in the beginning, doing what needed to be done to protect our hospitals from an unmanageable onslaught. But now? It has become clear that state officials are more interested in their own power than in getting people back to work.

I miss America. I miss the possibility of long travel—of getting into the car and just driving, and not worrying about some absurdity of wearing a mask. I think of the sheer size of this beautiful and often haunting country, and the possibilities it offers. Right now, all of that is in suspended animation.

There are also worries of a different but palpable type  these state governments have thrust upon us. We may ask, but we will be dismissed for asking, when can we touch each other? When can we embrace? When can we stand side by side? When can we celebrate?

What the government leaders are asking us to do is to stop being human.

Being cooped up inside our homes is not easy because we are not experiencing the fullness of being an embodied America. It’s the mere fact that it is impossible to see the sights and embrace the fullness of being in this country that’s causing the sadness. It’s the mere fact that freedom is limited.

I find strange comfort in the radical return to the essence of America. I find comfort in America as a land, a concept, a possibility, a presence, even if all of these visions are not exactly securing and preserving comfort. If anything, an American idea is rarely about sitting on your laurels but about a constant forge. The land can be giving but also taking. It can be beautiful but also brutal.

No writer has expressed the possibilities and paradoxes of America more beautifully than Willa Cather (1873-1947). In her best-known masterpiece, My Ántonia (1918), Cather takes us through the American forge as seen by the narrator, Jim Burden, who tells us the story of Ántonia Shimerda, a Bohemian immigrant who ends up spending her entire life trying to tame the prairie land of Nebraska. Of course, it’s also Jim Burden’s American story because he, too, was looking for the American Dream.

Throughout the novel, the presence of uncertainty is weaved into the striving of both characters. There is a desire to move toward something bigger than ourselves that nags and drives. At the beginning of Cather’s novel, Burden reflects:

I tried to go to sleep, but the jolting made me bite my tongue, and I soon began to ache all over. When the straw settled down, I had a hard bed. Cautiously I slipped from under the buffalo hide, got up on my knees and peered over the side of the wagon. There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made. No, there was nothing but land—slightly undulating . . . the wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not whither. I don’t think I was homesick. If we never arrived anywhere, it did not matter. Between that earth and that sky I felt erased, blotted out. I did not say my prayers that night: here, I felt, what would be would be.

Jim’s words are words of faith, even if he didn’t exactly say his prayers in a way that we might expect him to do. As I look through this beautiful description in which the landscape and a human being become one, I cannot help but wonder whether our beloved country is in our sights. Do we see this nation anymore? Do we recall the rough “material” that is its essence and embodiment? Do we see anything beyond the four walls of our rooms as we dutifully participate in these absurd restrictions?

As the days of these imposed quarantines drag on, what we’re really distancing from is the possibility of encounter with that constant forge, not to mention our more intimate encounters. It’s not merely our lives that are interrupted. The opening of America’s soul is interrupted as well.

The crisis has divided people even further, and what’s worrisome (especially now) is that fear is ruling the day. By living in fear, we are allowing only one thing to thrive and flourish: authoritarianism. By living in fear, we are psychologically, culturally, and even spiritually distancing ourselves from a uniquely American space.

By living in fear, we are saying no to the life-affirming verve that is not only American but quite simply, human.

Great America

The Natural: MLB Legend Recalls His 27-Strikeout Game

Ron Necciai’s story is not a story about baseball; it is a story about being the best there ever was in whatever you do.

BELLE VERNON, Pennsylvania—As Ron Necciai recalls, the first two batters both went down in strikes. The third guy got lucky—sort of. The ball got away from the catcher, who quickly got the batter out at first.

It was May 13, 1952, a cold, damp Tuesday night for 1,100 people at Shaw Stadium in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Necciai was pitching for the Bristol Twins, a Pittsburgh Pirate-affiliated Appalachian League farm team, against the Welch Miners.

The gangly 19-year-old from Gallatin, Pennsylvania, had no idea he would not leave the mound again that night. Nor did he know that his name and what he did in that game would be forever etched in baseball history books.

“The thing is, the game didn’t really stand out in any way when I was on the mound. I mean, I hit a guy, had a couple of walks and an error or two,” he told the Washington Examiner from his home, just eight miles south of the house he grew up in.

What the right-hander from a smoky coal town along the Monongahela River did not point out until prodded was that he struck out 27 batters in nine innings.

“I didn’t realize that 27 guys had struck out until after the game was over,” he recalled. “George Detore, who was the manager, came up to me and said, ‘Do you realize what you did?’ I said, ‘No. No. Why?’ And then he said, ‘Well, you struck out 27 batters.’ And always being a wise guy, I said, ‘So what? They’ve been playing this game for a hundred years. Somebody else did, too.’ Come to find nobody else ever did before or after.”

“I guess I lived a lifetime of baseball in one night,” said Necciai.

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues called the 27-strikeout game “the greatest individual performance in the history of baseball.”

And he did it while battling a bleeding ulcer that had him throwing up blood in the dugout before the game and drinking glasses of milk between innings to drown the heat that was burning his insides.

It is a record that has never been broken.

His 1952 minor league season on the mound remains one of the most dominant ever. In his next start a few nights later, he struck out 24. He got called up to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates in August 1952 and played until the end of the season. By the time he was 22, he was done in by a torn rotator cuff, something doctors did not know how to repair back then.

“The big doctor that they sent all the baseball players to was in Johns Hopkins,” he says. “I still remember his name to this day. It was Bennett. I got down there, and he knew what it was. He said, ‘This is your problem here, but we don’t know how to fix it. We’ve tried to stitch it. We’ve tried to staple it. We’ve tried to do everything.'” Necciai recalls everything with clarity, in particular the doctor’s next sentence: “Son, go home and buy a gas station. You’re never going to pitch again.”

Rocket Ron was no more.

Necciai says his life turned out all right after baseball. He missed the sound of the ball flying out of his hands, the smell of the park, the camaraderie of his teammates and the dirt kicking up when his curveballs hit the ground. But he never lost his love of the game.

There are no stats for the speed of his pitches since there were no radar guns back then. But the legendary Branch Rickey (the famed baseball executive who signed Jackie Robinson) measured it perfectly: “I’ve seen a lot of baseball in my time. There have been only two young pitchers I was certain were destined for greatness simply because they had the meanest fastball a batter can face. One of those boys was Dizzy Dean. The other is Ron Necciai. And Necciai is harder to hit.”

Necciai reflected, “I gave baseball a nickel and came out with a million when it was over, so I can’t complain.” He eventually had success owning his own business (no, not a gas station), a sporting goods company that specialized in hunting and fishing supplies.

There is no timer in baseball, no clock, no quarters or halves to suspend the play. Its perfection is its slow pace. Its ability to give someone who comes from nothing a chance to earn his way to the top is a constant. For the haves and have-nots to sit on the same bench and work individually and together for a common purpose is a reflection of the exceptionalism that is America.

“We used to always say we come from Gallatin,” he says. “If you ever drove through Gallatin, you can’t blink twice because you’d miss it. But a lot of people that came out of there did real well.”

There are children all across this country who come from places like Gallatin and go on to earn their way up in his world as carpenters, artists, welders, scientists or parents. Necciai’s story is not a story about baseball; it is a story about being the best there ever was in whatever you do.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Great America

Lying Media Can’t Be Trusted on Ahmaud Arbery Story

On the specifics, there is no reason to be any less skeptical of this story than all of the media’s other lies.

The media lies all the time. We have seen it on Russian collusion, Covington Catholic, the coronavirus, and a host of other subjects. When they are not lying, they engage in a kind of willful distortion of the facts, focusing on unrepresentative stories of the “man bites dog” variety without providing useful context. This is especially common when a racially charged crime happens.

It is not a coincidence that the national media recently latched onto the Ahmaud Arbery story from Brunswick, Georgia. Video has emerged of the event itself, and the story doesn’t sound good: a good boy out for a run gets profiled and murdered by two crazy white racists.

Is this story even plausible? Video, after all, can be misleading, as it doesn’t show what happened before the camera started rolling. And while the white suspects have been reviled as “dumb rednecks,” one of the allegedly crazed maniacs is a former cop turned investigator. He and his son, according to their account, were in hot pursuit of a neighborhood burglar. At least one other 911 caller told police Arbery was trespassing in a home under construction.

There are other reasons to be skeptical of the media narrative. First, the initial prosecutor on the case, before the national media outcry, offered a detailed justification for his decision not to prosecute.

Second, giving credence to the robbery theory, Arbery has a felony criminal record—for bringing a gun to a high school football game and a later probation violation for shoplifting. He was said to have been seen by one of the suspects days earlier casing the neighborhood.

Third, Arbery may have been confined involuntarily for mental health reasons, as the D.A.’s letter mentions. “Arbery’s mental health records & prior convictions help explain his apparent aggressive nature and his possible thought pattern to attack an armed man,” the prosecutor wrote. The video shows him, without hesitation, attacking one of the men who were blocking his way. No media reports have followed up on this interesting tidbit.

Finally, while Arbery is indeed running on the video, was he actually just a jogger out in the neighborhood? He was wearing what appear to be long jean shorts and high-top basketball shoes—not exactly jogging attire.

A Familiar Story To Encourage Racial Disharmony

It is funny how these stories seem to emerge and get national coverage so regularly during election years. We’ve seen this movie before: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and the trigger-happy maniac Sean Reed in Indianapolis. In every case, the facts and background of the victim, as well as the perpetrators, were distorted to fit a narrative.

With Trayvon Martin, we got this picture, not this one. Similarly, we heard a lot about Martin getting “iced tea and Skittles,” just as now we learn about Arbery’s love for jogging. When inconvenient facts emerge—like Ferguson’s “gentle giant” Michael Brown engaged in a strong-arm robbery—we are told that revealing these facts is somehow an injustice.

If we know the media is lying all the time about these sorts of incidents, there is no reason to believe them without question regarding this one.

It’s true the shooter and his father were indicted in the Arbery incident, but so was George Zimmerman. Before it became a national story, the regular prosecutor in the Arbery case declined to prosecute, just like the Seminole County prosecutor didn’t indict Zimmerman. Without a media-driven racial frenzy, the prosecutors could just look at the facts, as well as whether reasonable doubt rendered any prosecution unethical and unwinnable.

Focus on Interracial Crime Turns Reality Upside Down

This local news story is now national news. It is interesting because it is unusual: a white-on-black homicide. By contrast, black-on-white crime, as well as black-on-black crime, is frequent and predictable, boring even. It is so common that such stories barely make the local news.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of the nearly 607,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites in 2018, blacks initiate 547,000 of such encounters, while white-on-black crime only numbers around 56,000. This is the case even though whites make up over 60 percent of the population.

Among homicides, in total numbers, about 500 whites are killed by blacks and about 240 blacks by whites. In other words, the media excitement over these stories is so disproportionate to the statistical reality that it amounts to a type of lie. It’s analogous to the media focus on “assault weapons,” even though handguns are used in the vast majority of the homicides in this country. In both cases, demonization is needed to uphold the narrative.

Exaggerating White Racism Is the Foundation of Leftism

The Arbery story is not becoming widespread because it is a mere human interest story. Rather, it is an archetypal tale of white villainy, the foundation of the broader leftist narrative of America’s illegitimacy.

That narrative says, roughly, we are not such a good country and that our ideals were not merely imperfectly realized, but rather were a sham, a tool of “white supremacy.” In other words, for the Left, our nation is illegitimate because of racism and needs to be radically changed. This is what the 1619 Project is about.

The racism narrative was the foundation of the 1960s civil rights revolution. This revolution soon gave birth to a parallel “constitution” within which the federal government knows no limits and runs roughshod over our historical freedoms and way of life, to include the authority to tell businesses how they ought to be run and how school districts should be drawn.

As Christopher Caldwell has argued,

the emergency mechanisms that, in the name of ending segregation, were established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . gave Washington the authority to override what Americans had traditionally thought of as their ordinary democratic institutions. It was widely assumed that the emergency mechanisms would be temporary and narrowly focused. But they soon escaped democratic control altogether, and they have now become the most powerful part of our governing system.

This is also why trillions have been spent to little effect in America’s ghettos. This is why corporate America and the government openly and unapologetically discriminate against whites in the form of affirmative action. And this is why, when enthusiasm wanes, recurrent tales of “white racists trying to kill blacks” are trotted out every few years. Without these demoralizing stories, the revolutionary constitutional order would be in jeopardy.

In other words, the truth or falsehood of the Arbery story is mostly irrelevant to the media and the establishment. The story instead functions to bring about results in which the truth—and an honest sense of proportion—is totally immaterial. These stories are propaganda tools used for propaganda purposes.

The media and the deep state lies all the time. On the specifics, there is no reason to be any less skeptical of this story than all of the media’s other lies. If these men are guilty of a crime, they should be punished. But the broader narrative of white racism that requires us to “redouble our efforts” is a lie regardless of what happened in Brunswick, Georgia.

Great America

Rethinking College Education in America

A perfect storm has hit America’s universities. To adapt to new economic realities and to serve the needs of the American people, we need to make some dramatic changes.

In an interview last month at the Hoover Institution, the estimable Victor Davis Hanson, speaking in character, made a typically provocative comment. “For what we are paying for every provost of diversity and inclusion,” he said, “we could probably hire three professors of electrical engineering.”

That can be fact-checked. And the results are illuminating.

On the Public Records Act-enabled online database “Transparent California,” take a look at these 2018 search results for job titles that include the word  “inclusion,” or “diversity.” Note that taxpayers funded a position for Jerry Kang, UCLA’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion, that bestowed a total pay and benefits package worth $468,919 in 2018.

Compare that to the faculty of UCLA’s School of Engineering, where two assistant professors (Jonathan Kao and Ankur Mehta) along with an associate professor (Chi On Chui), altogether collected pay and benefits in 2018 of $564,123. That’s pretty close. At UCLA, at least, you can definitely hire two electrical engineering faculty members for the price of one diversity don, and quite nearly three.

To be fair, perhaps an apples-to-apples comparison would be to look at UCLA’s top engineering faculty member. The chairman of that department is Gregory Pottie, who made $312,027 in 2018, only two-thirds what Kang made. But Pottie is running an engineering department. That takes technical expertise and produces graduates who keep the world running. What does Kang do?

Read UCLA’s “Sample Candidate Evaluation Tool.” Or read UCLA’s “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Statement FAQs” that presumably comes from Kang’s office. It’s toxic drivel, undermining UCLA’s ability to hire the most qualified applicants for faculty positions or admit the most qualified students.

These departments of “equity, diversity, and inclusion,” now operating in every major college and university in America, and at stupefying taxpayer expense, are indoctrinating students to equate their academic failures to systemic discrimination, a preposterous lie that only serves to weaken the character of anyone who believes it, while at the same time lining the pockets of the diversity bureaucrats who spew such filth.

Experts on this topic include not only Victor Davis Hanson but Heather Mac Donald, scholars whose impeccable research drives stakes through every seductive shibboleth ever conjured by the diversity careerists who are worse than useless; they are destroying academia. In a recent column for the Wall Street Journal titled “Would You Care if a White Man Cured COVID-19,” Mac Donald wrote:

Mandatory diversity statements are now ubiquitous in hiring for science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs. An Alzheimer’s researcher seeking a position in a neurology lab must document his contributions to ‘diversity, equity and inclusion.’ At the University of California, Berkeley, the life sciences department rejected 76% of the applications it received last year because they lacked sufficiently effusive diversity, equity and inclusion statements. The hiring committee didn’t even look at the failed applicants’ research records.

Rethinking “Diversity,” Rethinking College Education

The COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of what you may think about its origins, its lethality, or the response, has delivered a body blow to business as usual in American higher education. The economic model that operated up until a few months ago is broken forever.

During the now fatally disrupted 2019-2020 academic year, over 20 million students were enrolled in American colleges and universities. More than 1 million of them were foreigners, and nearly 370,000 were from mainland China.

Typically attending the most prestigious schools and pouring billions in tuition into them, Chinese enrollment had already begun to decline as U.S.-China relations have deteriorated. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned that trickle into a flood. It’s probably a good idea that Americans aren’t training Chinese scientists anymore, but it’s a financial disaster for many of these posh institutions.

The irony is deep: premium tuition rates paid by Chinese students have been funding, among other things, a bloated and overpaid diversity bureaucracy that bends all of its considerable powers toward undermining everything good about higher education in America, and in doing so, dangerously weakens America’s ability to hang on to its now tenuous lead in global technological innovation.

Higher education in America is at a crossroads. Foreign enrollment, with all the premium tuition rates it guaranteed, is diminishing. Meanwhile, growing numbers of Americans are realizing not only that they are never going to be able to pay off their student loans, but that the educations they received have only qualified them for “nonessential” and low-paying employment.

And through all the years leading up to this, the diversity bureaucracy successfully agitated to admit into college members of “protected status groups” and “underrepresented minorities,” despite the fact that their SAT scores and other critical indicators of academic aptitude clearly indicated they were not sufficiently qualified. Many of those who did not drop out received watered down degrees.

Data backs up these assertions. National Center for Education statistics on college enrollment show that in 1970, 31 percent of college-age Americans attended college. By 2017 (most recent data), that had risen to 45 percent. The actual number of degrees granted in 1971 was 839,000; by 2017 there were not quite 2 million college graduates. What they studied is even more revealing.

Using data from the National Center for Education, college degrees can be divided into three general categories. The first is STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—for which, in the United States, there is a chronic shortage of graduates.

Next, there are what might be termed “practical and vocational” degrees—agriculture, business, education, law enforcement, legal professions, health care, and public administration.

Finally, there are the degrees for which few good jobs exist—English literature, ethnic and gender studies, history, liberal arts, and social sciences.

America’s class of 2017 graduates earned 1.1 million practical degrees, and apart from business majors (381,000) of which there is an oversupply, most of these graduates are going to find a decent job. But the number of unmarketable degrees, 479,000, greatly exceeded the number of STEM degrees awarded, 377,000, and about 17 percent of those STEM degrees were earned by foreign students.

Keeping America’s Public Universities Financially Solvent

A perfect storm has hit America’s universities. To adapt to new economic realities and to serve the needs of the American people, dramatic changes have to be made. And in publicly funded colleges and universities, these changes could be made overnight by changing the conditions of receiving public funds. What needs to change isn’t complicated.

First, fire all diversity, equity, and inclusion employees. Nationally, this will save billions in taxpayer money. Second, remove all references to race and ethnicity on college applications; maybe even devise a way to eliminate the ability of admissions offices to know the sex of the applicant.

Next, set a ceiling on admissions and degrees awarded in English literature, ethnic and gender studies, liberal arts, and social sciences. Make this new ceiling reduce the number of degrees available in these majors by at least 50 percent.

In order to restore academic excellence to these still vital fields of study, make SAT scores the sole criteria for student applicants to compete for these limited spots. Since the faculty will also have to be reduced in these disciplines, require all faculty to reapply for their positions and evaluate them based on their knowledge of the Western Canon. Perhaps better yet, just make all of them take an SAT test, to eliminate those with marginal scholastic aptitude.

Finally, with some of the money that is saved, expand the capacity of America’s STEM departments across the nation. Admit all those students with high SAT scores who, to date, have been passed over in favor of foreign applicants or lower scoring members of protected status groups.

This is an anti-racist solution. It calls for blind college applications using objective criteria. If members of “underrepresented groups” believe their SAT performance is substandard because of discrimination, they need to understand that an entire parasitic bureaucracy has developed to nurture this useless narrative, and it hurts them more than it helps them.

Some racism no doubt remains here and there in America. But did racism stop Asian Americans from logging academic and household income achievements consistently exceeding those of white Americans? Does racism explain why Nigerian immigrants are the most successful ethnic group in the United States?

Underrepresented minorities can believe that they are victims, but perfect proportional representation in all aspects of society will never be achieved, and the harder you try to enforce it, the more tyrannical and corrupt society will become. They need to look to the things within their own communities and within their own lives that they can change, such as rates of single-parent households, which is a critical factor in predicting a child’s success later in life.

Overall, Americans are realizing that college is not necessarily a wise choice for everyone. There are trades that pay exceedingly well, yet have trouble attracting new apprentices. There is military service. And there are ways to use online resources to get educated these days that don’t require four years of college, and cost a pittance by comparison.

Near the end of his discussion at the Hoover Institution, Hanson offered a disturbing warning. He said, in reference to the American economy, “I don’t think we’re prepared yet in the areas we need to be to be autonomous from China.” He is right. Tough choices are ahead. But for those willing to work hard, it is also a tremendous opportunity.

Great America

Why Are People Still Afraid of the Wuhan Virus?

If people are moved by fear of the virus, perhaps it is time for them to fear the consequences of shutdowns even more.

As Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and other states reopen their economies after shutting down for the last month and a half, polls show that the majority of Americans have serious misgivings about it. They believe the reopenings are happening too soon and would rather continue staying home even if this means more people lose their jobs and food runs short.

Even though “science” and “data” are regularly invoked to justify their reluctance, the facts suggest that continuing these shutdowns will do little to nothing to mitigate the effects of the Wuhan virus, which has proven far less deadly than initially believed. The curve has been flattened and the flood of infected overwhelming hospitals never came to pass.

Studies have shown that the virus has passed through parts of the country before testing was done and shutdowns were ordered, yet few people even noticed because the low mortality rate of the virus was similar to other maladies and affected the same vulnerable populations.

And these facts are not coming from greedy businessmen and anti-science crackpots; doctors and public health scholars have stated this—that is, when they aren’t being censored. Besides imposing a host of social ills upon a community, ongoing shelter-in-place orders will delay the only current method of overcoming the virus through herd immunity. Sweden has enacted this strategy all along—which the WHO now endorses, for whatever that’s worth—and has refrained from shutdowns, instead allowing the virus to circulate among people less likely to suffer from it and develop immunity while encouraging vulnerable populations to practice social distancing and self-quarantine.

Inevitably, this is what happens with every influenza and coronavirus, since vaccines, when they work, appear only years after an outbreak—and even then only work part of the time since the virus mutates over time. The only difference with Wuhan virus is that the media has given it far more attention than other viruses and has thus emotionalized the issue for many people.

Irrational but Understandable 

Many may not know much about the virus, but they definitely have strong feelings about it, mainly negative ones like fear, anger, and despair. Even with experts explaining that there is little to fear, most Americans still insist on hiding under the covers until the virus goes away.

By this point, this stance is mostly irrational, but it’s understandable. As with many other issues, the media (which includes the mainstream news outlets, internet news outlets, social media platforms, and most popular entertainment) have overwhelmed common sense and scientific evidence with narratives. For the past six weeks or so, Americans have been inundated with stories of the Wuhan virus killing thousands of people, baffling all experts, defying all treatments, and crowding intensive care units across the country. Each story supported the unshakeable feeling that the virus was unstoppable, that everyone is a potential carrier, and that a return to any kind of normalcy is instant death.

When narratives prevail over arguments and facts, emotion takes over and puts reason into doubt. It becomes much easier for a person to give into the hysteria and conform to the narrative. Moreover, he can feel informed, despite actually being misinformed, because of the sheer number of headlines supporting him.

The rise of digital and online media has only strengthened the power of the narrative. For all the possibilities that exist for better educating people, most media outlets now barrage people with endless images and videos, transforming sensibility into sensitivity. This means that instead of learning the details on topics such as climate change or healthcare, most people will react to heart-rending stories of koalas trapped in burning forests in Australia or a teary-eyed Jimmy Kimmel using his child as a prop for socialized healthcare. These things are sad and moving, but they say nothing about the issues under discussion.

Even patently false or misleading images, like the caged children in ICE detention facilities during Barack Obama’s presidency used to suggest President Trump was caging children or a demonstration at a gun show in Kentucky have determined most people’s positions on Trump’s immigration policy and the war in Syria.

The same thing has happened this past month as one outlet showed images of a hospital overrun with COVID-19 patients, claiming it to be New York when it was actually Italy. As usual, the truth eventually came out, but the stories had already done their work and settled the minds of many Americans on the matter.

Toward a Compelling Counter-Narrative

Because narratives generally succeed in making the population less informed and more emotional, they also foster dependence on experts.

While arguments require people to think through ideas, process logical sequences, and evaluate evidence, narratives require no such work. Arguments are empowering and demand intellectual self-reliance on the part of those who follow them, which is probably why most conservatives prefer them.

Narratives are easy and only demand sympathy from audiences, which is why they prevail among progressives. Consequently, many people in conservative circles have worked themselves into knots analyzing the minutia of virology and public health while their progressive counterparts “do their part” by loafing around at home and reporting neighbors who fail to comply with quarantines.

In order to return to some kind of normality, it falls then on those following the facts to confront the false narrative that has taken such a firm hold in so many people. The only way to do this is not through more arguments or even more protests, but through having the courage and wherewithal to create a counter-narrative.

This wouldn’t necessarily consist of positive feel-good stories. If people are moved by fear of the virus, it would be more feasible to have them fear the consequences of shutdowns even more. They should hear about the people who can’t have surgery or receive critical treatment because hospitals won’t do elective procedures. They should see images of the long lines at stores, the empty shelves, and people living on the streets because they can’t earn enough money for rent. They should see the footage of innocent people being harassed and bullied by police for going to the beach, or the playground, or to a friend’s house.

More importantly, these counter-narratives should be framed within the context of reality. Those who harbor doubts about the virus and the subsequent shutdowns may not have as many platforms and outlets as the media elite, but they do have facts. They can accompany each narrative of tragedy and outrage with the truth that the virus has been overhyped and that most people are at very low risk of dying from the Wuhan virus.

Over time, as cities and states reopen, the narrative of fear and doom can gradually transform into a narrative of hope and recovery. And, with any luck, people will come to stop relying so heavily on feelings and start using their reason once more. Only then will long-term solutions emerge.

Everyone has now experienced the Wuhan virus through and through. Now it’s time to learn from it.

Great America

Truth, Not Politics, Is at the Root of the Left-Right Divide

Media Matters created a lie out of whole cloth about me. I invite them to come on my radio show to defend the accuracy of their claims.

Three years ago, I wrote a column explaining left-right differences on 35 different subjects. Any one or two of them would make for a major political/cultural divide. Thirty-five make the divide unbridgeable.

As the thesis itself is not really debatable, what is more difficult to explain are the roots of this divide.

I believe it is commitment to truth.

Since I began studying the left as a graduate student of communism at the Russian Institute of the Columbia School of International Affairs, of one thing I was certain: Truth is not a left-wing value. It is a liberal value, and it is a conservative value, but truth has never been a left-wing value. From Lenin to today’s left, lying, especially about opponents, is morally acceptable as long as it serves the left’s goals of defeating opponents and attaining more power.

Once you realize this, the divide becomes explicable.

Why has YouTube taken down the video of two emergency room physicians who argue that the lockdown may not be called for? Because the left does not argue with opponents; it shuts them down. And that is because it has no interest in truth. That’s why the left is pressuring YouTube and Facebook to prohibit anything the left differs with from appearing on their platforms. Just as the Soviets labelled everything in the Western press “imperialist propaganda,” the left labels everything with which it differs “misinformation.”

That is also why virtually every university does whatever it can to prevent conservatives from speaking on their campuses.

And why has The New York Times just received a Pulitzer Prize for what leading liberal historians have labelled its “mendacious” rewriting of American history, known as “The 1619 Project”? Because to The New York Times and the Pulitzer Prize committee, truth is less important than smearing America.

When it cannot stifle opponents, it smears them. Every prominent conservative or liberal opponent of the left has been smeared—which is just another way of saying “lied about”—as being sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, bigoted, misogynistic, white supremacist, transphobic, etc.

Allow me to use an example I know well: me.

In the span of just this past year, I have written about Newsweek‘s lie claiming I “mocked” Anne Frank. To Newsweek‘s credit, they revised the column and published a corrected headline.

Then I wrote about Purdue University’s “vice provost of diversity and inclusion,” who told a Purdue newspaper that I said in a speech I gave at Purdue, “Slavery was not bad.” I sent this person a recording of my speech proving I never said anything remotely like what he charged. After many of my listeners and readers protested to the vice provost and to Purdue’s president, the vice provost wrote me a private letter saying he was sorry if he “misunderstood” me. His charge was public, but his apology was private.

This past week, as pure a lie as the previous two was manufactured by Media Matters—a left-wing organization whose sole purpose is lying and smearing conservatives—and then picked up by various media.

This is what I said—word for word—on my radio show:

“How many names have blacks gone through in my lifetime? ‘Colored,’ ‘Negro,’ ‘African American,’ ‘black.’ That’s four different titles for the same human being. What was wrong with ‘Negro’?

What was wrong with ‘colored’? There’s no problem with any of them. Do you know that the NAACP is still the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? And then ‘African American’—that changed, too. Does it have a dash or hyphen, or not? I don’t remember what was connoted by having a hyphen or not.”

Media Matters declared the comments “racist.”

And the allegation was dutifully picked up by the New York Daily News, which headlined: “Conservative Talk-Radio Host Dennis Prager Bemoans Loss of Racial Slurs, Gets History Lesson.”

And by the Daily Mail, which headlined: “Conservative Talk-Radio Host Dennis Prager, 71, Bemoans the Loss of Racial Slurs in Society to Describe Black People.”

The article, by Daily Mail writer James Gordon, a Media Matters follower (he actually appended a link to Media Matters at the end of his column), claimed:

“Prager … used his show to bemoan society no longer using racist language coined during eras of slavery and segregation.”

Everything about these articles is a lie.

Not one of those titles for blacks is racist. Therefore, I could not possibly “bemoan” the fact that society no longer uses these words.

The term Martin Luther King Jr., every other black leader and every nonblack anti-racist through the 1960s used to described black people was “Negro.” There is, to this day, a major black organization called the United Negro College Fund.

A variant of the term “colored” is regularly used by liberals to this day—”people of color”—to describe nonwhites.

“Black” is used by everyone, including most blacks—except liberals afraid of not using “African American.”

And “African American” is not only not a “racist slur,” but it is also the contemporary left’s preferred term for blacks.

Media Matters created a lie out of whole cloth about me. And those who rely on Media Matters—such as James Gordon at the Daily Mail and Nancy Dillon at the Daily News—repeated it, word for word. I invite both of them to come on my radio show to defend the accuracy of their articles.

Given how many people read or watch left-wing reports and study under left-wing teachers, the world would be a much finer place if the left valued truth.

For the record, my view on race is taken from Viktor Frankl. There are only two races: the decent and the indecent.

If you wish to send either or both of these writers this column and/or your own thoughts, I can only tell you that your doing so in the cases of Newsweek and Purdue was immensely helpful. We need to fight back.

Nancy Dillon: ndillon@nydailynews.com; twitter.com/NancyDillonNYDN.

Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/contactus/article-3701145/Factual-Inaccuracies.html.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

Great America

The Growing Backlash Against Female-Only School Programs

The charges of anti-male discrimination may soon balloon as advocates expand their campaign to K-12 schools that receive federal funding and are subject to federal regulatory compliance and Title IX oversight.

Coding camps for girls. Scholarships for women only. Grants for female faculty. Mentorships for women and “femme-identified” undergrads.

Such same-sex exclusive perks are a staple of academia’s mission to achieve an equitable society. Some colleges go further and offer women’s only hours at the campus gym, weight room and swimming pool.

Created to counter sexual harassment and discrimination, these programs are now being reviewed by the Trump administration’s Department of Education. The federal department’s Office for Civil Rights has opened more than 90 investigations of the programs to date, in all 12 of the office’s regional branches nationwide, and the total grows nearly every week as complaints are reviewed and accepted for investigation.

The complaints started off as a trickle, lodged mostly by men who found the programs offensive, and have come fast and furious in the past few years. Nearly 300 complaints now await resolution.

The charges of anti-male discrimination may soon balloon as advocates expand their campaign to K-12 schools that receive federal funding and are subject to federal regulatory compliance and Title IX oversight. In April, the Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation against New York City’s Department of Education, based on a Title IX complaint that public schools are hosting single-sex Girls Who Code after-school camps. One advocate predicts this could lead to hundreds more complaints against public school districts.

“It’s now a new era of civil rights for all, and not the past practice of civil rights for some,” said Mark J. Perry, a University of Michigan professor of finance and business economics who has filed 129 complaints against universities since 2016. He said female success in academia is so “overwhelming” that the notion that women face disadvantages is “outdated.”

Defenders contend that bias persists despite such arguments, likening them to attacks on affirmative action as a form of reverse discrimination.

“Let’s look at the reality: We still have these persistent challenges in our society, so let’s make it easier for women to access and thrive in STEM or other areas,” said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, referring to the common acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

The allegations of anti-male bias in education touch on conflicting understandings of fairness, and raise the question of whether policies used to redress discrimination come with an expiration date. They also raise a more fundamental point that goes beyond the regulatory definition of discrimination: To what extent are disparities between men and women shaped by society or by genetics? And at what point do well-intended social policies become rigid social agendas?

In a legal strategy some see as ironic and others consider cynical, the complaints are based on the federal Title IX anti-discrimination law enacted in 1972 to give women a fair shake.

Perry, a self-described libertarian and an American Enterprise Institute scholar, is occasionally tipped off by professors and others about female-only programs at their institutions. He wasn’t the first to allege anti-male discrimination when he lodged his first objection in 2016 before Donald Trump’s election – against a women-only lounge at Michigan State University – but he escalated the allegations to a systematic nationwide campaign.

He said the same issues are playing out in the private sector, with many companies favoring employees by gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, along with a diversity push to boost women in technology that some quietly resent. “What starts in higher education often filters out or metastasizes in corporate America,” Perry said.

And Perry is comfortable using the language of social justice activists to describe his motivations and to impugn the motives of his critics.

“Women’s groups and feminists are clinging to their special preferences as a way to maintain power and privilege, and a disproportionate share of campus resources,” Perry said.

While women’s rights advocates say such single-sex programs are necessary to counter discrimination women face on campus, the Department of Education has stated they are illegal unless the university provides equivalent opportunities for men.

Women were once grievously underrepresented in universities, but since the early 1980s they have accounted for most undergraduate degrees, according to federal data. The projection for this year’s graduates is that women will represent 57.4% of bachelor’s degrees, 59.9% of master’s degrees and 53.8% of doctorates. Those projections are expected to remain stable for the next decade.

But despite years of efforts, women account for only 20% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science and 22.2% of bachelor’s in engineering. Much of the disagreement over the Title IX complaints relates to these two STEM disciplines, where the disparity is so lopsided it is reminiscent of universities a century ago.

In response to the Title IX complaints, several dozen universities have voluntarily opened their single-sex programs to males or created parallel programs just for men.

For example, Eastern Michigan University last November supplemented a Digital Divas computer camp for middle school and high school girls with a Digital Dudes camp for boys. Institutions that agreed to open up programs to males include Grand Valley State University with its Science Technology & Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) Camp for Girls, the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Girls in Engineering and Science Camp (GEMS) and the WISE Summer Camp at Clemson University, which has been operating more than 20 years.

Tulane University even agreed to provide remedial training to campus administrators who oversee financial aid and other programs, to teach them that Title IX prohibits all sex discrimination, “including discrimination against men,” according to the 2018 agreement between Tulane and Office for Civil Rights. That concession was part of Tulane’s agreement to alter 16 women-only fellowships, grants, mentorships and other programs.

At the same time, some universities are “aggressively challenging” the complaints, said Phil Catanzano, a who worked as an OCR lawyer in Boston for a decade until 2015 and now represents about a dozen universities that have been accused of anti-male discrimination. Catanzano, who would not disclose which universities he represents, said at least some of the programs can be saved by arguing they are necessary to counter discrimination, and by demonstrating they don’t limit opportunities for male students and faculty. A number of the computer camps are hosted on university campuses but attended by middle and high school girls.

“This is the best and most direct way to provide equal participation, an open door. It’s one of those things where, if you build it, they’ll come,” Catanzano said. “If you don’t provide opportunities at a younger age for girls because you’re relying on some stereotype, and then you complain they don’t perform as well when we assess them in middle school, high school and college, you’re kind-of cooking the books to start with.”

Race-based affirmative action likewise faced legal challenges and advocates were able to maintain the policy by reframing it as a way of fostering diversity and inclusivity, rather than a system of institutionalizing racial preferences.

Exactly how many of these single-sex programs exist is anybody’s guess, but it could well be in the thousands. A number of the Title IX complaints allege that universities offer dozens of such programs, and some institutions have 50 or more.

“It’s just a stunning inequity of these scholarships,” said E. Everett Bartlett, president of SAVE, which stands for Stop Abusive and Violent Environments. To date, the Rockville, Md.-based organization has filed 164 Title IX complaints since 2019 that have resulted in more than 100 federal investigations.

“People are being harmed,” Bartlett said. “Every student is trying to pay for college tuition without going into debt. And you’re saying to a large portion of the student body: You don’t qualify so there’s no need for you to apply.”

The SAVE Title IX Equity Project complaints focus on single-sex scholarships that benefit women, but as part of its efforts, the organization has filed complaints against several universities’ male-only scholarships, too. SAVE has challenged eight scholarships at the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, that it says are for minority men or with a preference given to minority males.

In March, SAVE issued an analysis of 319 universities in all 50 states that found that at 85 institutions female scholarships outnumbered male scholarships by 10 or more.

Perry said hundreds of K-12 school districts could be violating Title IX, based on the fact that the nonprofit Girls Who Code organization’s web site states that it operates 8,500 programs worldwide. The organization says in its annual report it has served more than 90,000 girls in all 50 states in this country, and its signature program is open to girls from the third through 12th grade. Girls Who Code programs are hosted in public schools and at universities.

“Universities are for the first time being challenged for violating Title IX by offering single sex programs/scholarships, as they continue to live in the past, as if we’re still in the 1960s or 1970s, by pretending that women are handicapped and disadvantaged,” Perry said in an email. “Now that those programs and scholarships are being challenged for the first time, universities have a 100% record of losing.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman who provided information on the condition of anonymity explained by email that the department’s Title IX regulations do not permit the creation of academic programs or financial assistance to members of only one sex.

But there are exceptions, such as cases where “the same opportunities are available for members of the excluded sex.”

For example, university donors can use a will or trust to set up a scholarship that’s restricted by gender “so long as the overall effect of the award does not discriminate on the basis of sex.”

Title IX allows for single-sex private universities, like women’s colleges, and facilities, such as residence halls.

Still, for women’s rights advocates, the flurry of Title IX complaints and the favorable reception at the Department of Education signifies a dangerous trend that threatens to undo years of gains women have made in academe.

Pasquerella said women face “persistent structural barriers,” particularly in STEM fields like engineering and computer programming, where they still represent about 1 in 5 undergraduate degrees.

“There are not just subtle but overt pressures for women not to participate,” Pasquerella said. “Women and girls don’t have a sense of belonging in STEM. One way to address that is by creating communities where people can come together and say, ‘Yes I do deserve a place in STEM disciplines in the academy in other areas where women have been traditionally marginalized or excluded.’”

Feminists don’t agree on every point regarding gender disparities. Pasquerella, for example, is not troubled by the lopsided overrepresentation of women in nursing, she said, because there is no evidence men face stigma or discrimination in that field.

Erin Buzuvis, a professor at the Western New England University School of Law and a Title IX expert, said that “occupational segregation” in nursing and other fields where women predominate is a social problem and should be corrected.

“As long as you agree that the environment is shaping our choices, then why would we pick something less than equal as our goal?” she said.

Adriana Kugler, a professor of Public Policy and Economics at Georgetown University who dismissed Perry as misinformed and driven by an agenda, has found that discrimination is difficult to isolate as the decisive factor for low female degrees and jobs in STEM fields, but said implicit bias and stereotyping are real problems. A paper she co-authored for publication this year — “Choice of Majors: Are Women Really Different From Men?” — reports that girls respond to a variety of influences and are more likely than boys to change majors when they get poor grades in STEM classes. Ironically, female-only programs may diminish their interest and confidence.

“The numerous government and other policy initiatives designed to get women interested in STEM fields may have the unintended effect of signaling to women an inherent lack of fit,” the paper states.

Invoking discrimination as a defense of single-sex initiatives is no longer the slam-dunk argument it once was, some say. Brett Sokolow, president of ATIXA, the Association of Title IX Administrators, said that Title IX has historically allowed for affirmative action exceptions, but they are increasingly harder to justify.

“Mark’s primary thesis is the historical justification for single sex programs doesn’t exist anymore,” Sokolow said. “I think that basic premise is basically true for most schools and most programs.”

In cases where it’s not true, Sokolow said, many universities are ill-equipped to mount a defense.

“They’re not making the effort to. They’re just assuming that there’s a historical exclusion,” he said. “For most of these schools, they aren’t going to jump through those hoops of doing all that data collection and assessment to save one program.”

Still, some institutions are fighting back. A common defense is that programs advertised as female-only don’t exclude men.

The Ohio State University made that argument to the Office for Civil Rights in January in response to a complaint by Perry.

“When the College states that ‘We serve all female students,’ it is not to the exclusion of men, but to be inclusive of all females including minoritized women – women of color, LGBTQ women, and women who are first generation,” OSU said in a letter to the OCR. “The intent is to address the historical and current marginalized and underrepresented groups in engineering as well as foster the success of students anywhere on the gender spectrum.”

Ohio State University agreed to open seven women’s programs to “all genders and gender identities.” It said it is reviewing one female-specific program to see if it needs to be changed or if it can be kept as is, said OSU’s letter written by Title IX Coordinator Kellie Brennan.

Perry said such responses are disingenuous because men are not likely to apply to a program designated for women.

University of California, Berkeley, spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said its Girls in Engineering summer camp for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students “is open to all genders.”

The university has since clarified the program’s web site and handouts to explicitly state that openness, in response to Perry’s complaint, Gilmore said. But Berkeley is proposing to the Office for Civil Rights to allow the College of Engineering not to change the name of the program “because doing so would likely result in a disproportionately low number of girls in the program.”

Gilmore said she did not know how many boys were among the roughly 350 students who have attended the camp the last three summers because UC Berkeley doesn’t track the gender of participants as part of its effort to “to avoid making any gender assumptions based on how someone presents themselves.”

At the University of Michigan, Perry is challenging 53 different programs and scholarships. Many are designed to address STEM enrollment disparities, but not all. Among the Michigan programs Perry is challenging: the Michigan Business Women BBA and MBA Programs at the Ross School of Business; the Center for the Education of Women Scholarship Program; three Sarah Goddard Power awards for “recognizing the status of women within the University of Michigan”; and the Commission for Women at the Dearborn campus that works on “providing an advocacy role in issues of concern to women employees of the campus” and “promoting women’s professional opportunities and toward providing opportunities for women’s personal growth.”

In his Title IX complaint, Perry said such programs suggest totalitarian impulses.

“This effect is akin to a German campus rejecting Jewish applicants in excess of the maximum quota or state-sanctioned hate speech against non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia or an Asian-majority firm discriminating against a white employee or indeed, the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine struck down in Brown v. the Board of Education.”

Perry filed the Title IX complaint in 2018 and OCR opened an investigation in January 2019, nearly a year and a half ago, as the University of Michigan continues negotiating. A UM spokesman said the university doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Perry said he became interested in disparities against males during the Great Recession when he noticed that men were disproportionately affected by the economic downturn. Men tended to work in hard-hit industries like construction, manufacturing and finance, whereas women were shielded from the worst effects because they were concentrated in fields like education and public health.

He filed his first Title IX challenge in 2016 over the women-only lounge at Michigan State University after he read about it in a college newspaper. He complained to MSU’s Title IX officer and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Then he leaked the story to journalists and it got picked up by the Washington Post. That summer the university renovated the lounge, which dated back to the 1920s, and reopened it for all genders that fall.

MSU spokesman Dan Olsen said by email that the lounge was converted to a study area to comply with Title IX, but not in response to anyone’s complaint.

The change was not popular on campus among students who organized to restore the lounge to its former status, Perry recalled.

“They went ballistic. There were sit-ins, protests,” he said. “That generated tons of hate mail.”

This article was originally published in RealClearInvestigations.

Great America

Why America’s Extreme Reaction to the Coronavirus Was Predictable—and Why It Must End

America did what it always seems to do when presented with a threat to the homeland: the most extreme thing possible.

America is truly an exceptional nation, I would argue, for a nearly forgotten reason: geography.

Our place on the globe, positioned between Canada and Mexico to our north and south and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans east and west means that for centuries we have been immune to many of the basic problems every other powerful nation must face—past or present.

But our geographic exceptionalism has not always been an advantage—especially when it’s threatened from time to time. Americans don’t react rationally when our homeland comes under threat. History shows that many times we resort to extreme coping strategies—sometimes justified, sometimes not—to not only mitigate but destroy potential threats.

And yet, by and large, that strategy has been successful. During World War I and World War II, we transformed our nation into what amounts to a giant munitions factory, waging war against Imperial and then Nazi Germany and other fascist powers. Not only did we win those wars, but we crushed our adversaries in historic fashion. We then occupied them, rebuilt them in our democratic image, and then turned them into allies—on multiple occasions.

Then there are the clear mistakes that will haunt us for generations.

America’s reaction to the 9/11 attacks was neither proportional nor strategically sound by any objective measure. More a response to our shattered sense of security—and the destruction of an iconic symbol of American power and influence—the George W. Bush Administration spent trillions of dollars on a so-called “war on terror” while creating entire new government bureaucracies, invading Afghanistan and then Iraq, and dramatically increasing defense spending and our national debt in the process. 2,996 murdered souls—as tragic as that was—have resulted in trillions of dollars in spending, new national security commitments, and now “forever wars” that have no end date in sight.

33 Million Americans Out of Work

That brings us to America’s quite predictable response to the coronavirus. While there were many possible strategies that could have been employed to mitigate its impact—Sweden has been panned and praised, for example, by keeping large segments of its economy open and avoiding large-scale business closures—such ideas were largely ignored. America did what it always seems to do when presented with a threat to the homeland: the most extreme thing possible. And that meant shutting down most of the economy and asking nearly every American to shelter in place for weeks on end—no matter the cost.

While the reasons for such a policy were clear and, indeed, noble—to save as many lives as possible—the ramifications of that policy now are becoming clear. We have unleashed economic carnage on a scale that could rival or surpass the Great Depression. More than 33 million Americans—nearly the size of the entire population of Canada—have filed for unemployment insurance. That’s 1 in 5 Americans overall since mid-March. Iconic retailers like J. Crew and Neiman Marcus have filed for bankruptcy. Entire cities, towns, and states have been suggested to be next.

Looking just a little further downfield, things will likely get even worse. U.S. GDP could contract in the current quarter by as much as 30-40 percent. That means trillions of dollars of economic output, jobs, and national wealth will be wiped out for months—maybe years if economic recovery is not robust and quick.

Then there is the debt that has been and will be created. Overall U.S. debt will grow by trillions of dollars to mitigate the economic damage created by our coronavirus response. At an already staggering $23 trillion before the crisis began, the sheer size of the money owed creates the potential for slower economic growth when the current crisis passes. Worse still, massive interest payments will cannibalize future U.S. government budgets and potentially even lead to a future debt crisis if interest rates were to rise.

A Shift in Mindset

Clearly economic suicide is not and cannot be our strategy for trying to defeat the coronavirus, a threat that will surely be with us until a vaccine is found, something that could take two years or more if history is any guide. We must move to a more balanced approach, one that seeks to save as many lives as possible, mitigates the public health threat while keeping the economy moving as smoothly as possible.

To do that, Americans will need somehow to shift their mindset, to understand that no matter the extreme approach we take, our scientists and health professionals will need time to develop a vaccine but also therapeutics to help alleviate the symptoms of the disease. That means we must come to embrace the virus as a challenge we will need to make a part of our daily lives, not something that must be defeated—no matter the cost or sacrifice.

History tells us we know as a society how to make such a transition, to take the fear we have inside, cope with it, and make confronting it part of our daily lives. We transformed after the 9/11 attacks—we did not shut down the airlines forever, close our national monuments months on end, or lockdown every potential target that could be tempting to Osama Bin Laden. We decided that as a society that life must continue, that a new normal could be forged. There was a natural recognition that we must adapt and include this new threat into our lives—not stop our lives. We did what humans do best as a species: adapt and prosper.

Looking for Political Courage

That is why we must begin to recalibrate our approach to the coronavirus. We must find a balance between seeking some sort of total victory that may not come for many months, saving lives, and ensuring economic survival.

The easiest way to start is to continue work on increasing the amount of federal and state resources on contact tracing, testing for new infections, and testing for those who have coronavirus antibodies. We then must seek to protect those who are the most vulnerable—those who are elderly or have chronic health conditions.

This also means we will have to make hard choices that require true political courage. We can and must roll back lockdowns in areas of the nation that are not as impacted by COVID-19. While entire states might not be ready to roll back restrictions just yet, small counties or towns could see restrictions lifted much sooner. For example, why does a county in Western Maryland need to have the same restrictions as Baltimore where there are few to no cases? Or why does a county that borders Canada in New York State that has very few cases need to have the same restrictions as say New York City?

Ultimately, we can and must find a more balanced and nuanced approach to tackling the coronavirus threat. If we don’t, our nation will not only have lost tens of thousands of lives but be left in total economic ruin that may take generations to repair—if it can be repaired at all.

Great America

Unbearable Truths About Our Current Political Moment

What happens to a people when it can’t handle the truth?

“You can’t handle the truth!”
Col. Nathan R. Jessep, “A Few Good Men”

Sometimes the truth is like mythical kryptonite. It radiates power and yet promises great destruction. And so reality is to be left alone, encased in lead, and kept at bay.

Take the Chinese genesis of the COVID-19 epidemic. We started in February with the usual Chinese deceptions about their role in the birth, transmission, and worldwide spread of the virus.

No one, apparently except Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates, was surprised by the accustomed politically correct prevarications of the Chinese-purchased World Health Organization, whose transparent lies were passed off as truth—and led to tens of thousands of deaths.

On cue, our own obsequious media accepted Chinese and globalist myths—their shared antipathy for President Trump meant whatever he is for or says, they are against and deny.

But by late March the bits and pieces of the truth had emerged. All that gobbledygook talk of a Chinese wet market, of patient-zero bats, snakes, pangolins and such, were likely ruses to deflect attention from a conveniently nearby level-4 Chinese virology lab.

We are beginning to learn that Chinese scientists were conducting research on—surprise, surprise—coronaviruses in general, and in particular, methods to enhance their lethality, all for the ostensibly exalted humanitarian aim of discovering cures and vaccinations, although how that was to be so was never quite disclosed.

China’s patient zero almost weekly was backdated by communist party officials from late January to mid-November. When the lying is exhausted, we may well learn the virus was known to the Chinese even earlier.

In addition, we learned that China variously threatened to cut off medical supplies in transit to the United States. It stopped all flights in and out of Wuhan on January 23, but called America racist for waiting a week until January 31 to issue a travel ban on China—including, but not limited to, ending direct flights to the United States from Wuhan. Consider the Chinese communist logic: running-dog American capitalists mimicked Beijing in forbidding Chinese from flying—but only after a week-long interlude of bourgeoise debate and puerile reflection.

Were the Chinese embarrassed that they had accused Washington of being racist for belatedly doing exactly what they had done earlier? Of course not. In their eyes, weak decadent Westerners welcome such help in aiding their own self-abnegation and debasement.

Unbearable American Weakness
in the Face of a Growing Chinese Lie

China went on to spin lies that the U.S. military deliberately had created the virus to harm the poor noble Chinese. They seemed intent on peddling to the Trump-hating leftist media the talking points that China as the victimized “other” served as a convenient object of racial hatred by the deplorables and clingers, who, of course, nurse their racism on “conspiracy theories” about viral labs.

China destroyed the original data concerning the discovery of the virus. Brave, gullible and naïve scientists who were willing early on to speak up about the existential danger of an epidemic ended up “disappeared” or were silenced. News censorship stopped critical early foreign knowledge of the Chinese epidemic. On various online metrics, China’s case numbers and fatalities from the virus calcified, as if the country with the most cases magically now had suffered among the least. If it was good to lie about the Wuhan virus’s birth, then all the better to lie about its adolescent spread and mature lethality.

China’s behavior follows years of patent and copyright theft, forced technological appropriation, dumping, currency manipulation, crackdowns on Hong Kong democracy, and sophisticated espionage within the United States. It now threatens sovereign nations in Asia and the Pacific, if they dare blame China for the pandemic. Its military embarks on more aggression in the South China Sea, as rumors swirl of its stealthy violations of nuclear proliferation agreements.

Americans began grumbling that China almost seemed to have made war against the United States, in a peremptory fashion that dwarfed Pearl Harbor. At least it seems so when tallying up the over 80,000 dead, the trillions in destroyed market equity and GDP, and, most importantly, the likely larger human toll from suicides, family and substance abuse, lapsed medical procedures and tests, and wrecked businesses and lives from the lockdown.

So that was an unbearable truth. But what to do?

Cancel U.S. debt held by China? That is likely a terrible idea that would undermine the world’s entire financial system.

Cut off all relations? Embargos, sanctions, social distancing on a transnational scale? Expel all Chinese students? Bring home every American business in China? Seems unlikely.

The truth is that Americans know that to restore deterrence they must do something. But that “something” is equally difficult in the case of a 1.4-billion-person nuclear nation, which has systematically leveraged and compromised many of America’s own corporate, entertainment, media, and academic elite.

The result is that everyone from Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates to the CNN/MSNBC crowd know the truth that China despises the United States, feels that America is a spent and increasingly toxic society, and is ever more emboldened to humiliate its rival. Yet Beijing wagers that we will not do much, even if we could. It sees that weakness as laxity to be exploited, not at all magnanimity to be appreciated, much less reciprocated. So, for a while longer we know the truth, but apparently it is unbearable and preferably should not be known and just go away. And it probably will.

The Unbearable Democrat Hypocrisy on #MeToo

Consider also Joe Biden. Most Democrats have long known that Biden was a blowhard, a plagiarist, and a serial fabricator. Take Bernie Sanders out of the race, and Biden would have offered little utility, and his candidacy likely would have sputtered to an end.

“Handsy” Joe Biden was also creepy. Most prudent associates in his social and business circles kept their wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters as far away from his breathing, probes, and squeezes as possible.

The truth is not that any complainant, such as Tara Reade, who makes a career-ending accusation—fraught with contradictions and well beyond any fair notion of a statute of limitations—should be believed automatically. She shouldn’t at all ruin a life without compelling evidence.

Nor is the Democratic dilemma just that the progressive write-off of Tara Reade has essentially destroyed the #MeToo movement, and exposed left-wing feminism as a cynical method of obtaining power, unconcerned with gender justice for the oppressed.

The point instead is that Joe Biden’s accuser should be believed—but according to Joe Biden’s prior own standards, statements and sermonizing. Tara Reade, playing a stronger hand than Christine Blasey Ford, has lodged a sexual assault charge against a far more likely suspect offender than Brett Kavanaugh. Biden, in most other circumstances, would be cheering her on to pursue her charges and pursue her truth were it not against himself.

The Democrats know all this, but the truth too is unbearable. In other words, so what?

What is the remedy? Have a long inquiry in which women come out of the woodwork to describe Biden’s squeezing, sniffing, breathing, and whispering with dozens of victimized young and teenage girls? There are many.

Does the donor class abort Biden’s candidacy to avoid hypocrisy and save its feminist credentials—so buffeted by Harvey Weinstein and fallen liberal media superstars?

Or do they appoint investigators, as they did for months in the manner of the Mueller investigation, to examine and to leak to the media Reade’s accusations and supporting testimonies, as Joe Biden daily bleeds out, nicked by a thousand cuts as a sexual pariah?

So, the truth is again intolerable. The fact is that Reade could be privately believable, given what one knows of Joe Biden’s wayward hands and unbridled narcissism. But such a reality certainly is publicly unpalatable.

So watch as Tara Reade disappears into a media decompression chamber, designed to let her vent to mute walls, and thus be contained until she is recalibrated, exhausted and inert and the danger passes.

The Unbearable Truth of Biden’s Cognitive Impairment

There is another unendurable truth: Joe Biden himself is not cognitively able to run a presidential campaign. Even if successful, he is not prepared to serve as president.

Biden proved more exhausted in seclusion at home than in public on the campaign trail. He is neither seen nor heard much anymore.

His planned series of fireside snarky critiques of the president’s handling of the virus imploded when he could speak neither with or without notes, nor with or without the teleprompter, nor with or without friendly media prompts from his progressive interlocutors, nor with or without his wife’s encouragement at his side.

His party pros know that if turned loose on the campaign trail, Biden will give us another spooky squeeze, one more bizarre Corn Pop or hairy legs story, still more biographical myths and plagiarisms, and daily lying dog-faced pony soldier incoherence.

Names, dates, places, things?

They have become shapeless ripples in Biden’s mental river of Lethe, flowing by and changing shape, before finally disappearing in a nothing stream of forgetfulness.

The Democratic Party also knows that Biden cannot schedule a rendezvous with Dr. Bandy X. Lee and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test, given the result would terrify his handlers.

On any given day, at any given moment Biden can say something not just controversial in the manner of Donald Trump, but something that simply cannot be deciphered or translated into any known language.

So, what does one do with kryptonitic truth?

Nothing.

What would one instead suggest? Hand the nomination over to the runner-up and, in theory, most deserving candidate Bernie Sanders—and see the Democrats lose the presidency, the House, and the Supreme Court for a generation?

Or do they keep Joe in the basement, outsource his campaign to future cabinet picks, his vice-presidential candidate and his family? Do they cancel the debates, seek to postpone the election or do it all by mail—and thereby confirm the albatross around their necks?

Or still again, do they have a therapeutic “intervention” and tell Joe to take one for the team, stand aside and allow non-candidate free-riders like Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, or Michelle Obama to usurp his delegates? Do they simply shaft the runner-up, nutty socialist Bernie Sanders and his legions of true believers?

No, of course, not. The truth is simply too foreboding even to contemplate.

Instead, we will hear that Joe is fine, in the manner that FDR was in great shape in November 1944. He will run not against Trump and his record, but against a fantasy who, they will say, fiddled while an unfettered and non-quarantined America was consumed by viral fires, and yet somehow as Herbert Hoover incarnate also fiddled while America ossified in an amber lockdown.

When the legend of a hale Biden is belied by the fact of his impairment, print the legend—but first get the necessary holograms, photoshopping, and testimonials to get him across the November 3 finish line.

A Final Thought on Obama

Add up Michael Horowitz’s inspector general’s report. Review the wreckage of the Mueller investigation. Collate the evidence that Christopher Steele was an utter fraud and dupe. Remember that Hillary Clinton destroyed her hard drives and communication devices, that the FBI liquidated hundreds of text messages of Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, and that Christopher Steele destroyed all his emails and data about “Russian sources.”

Compute in the new discoveries that all the principles who fueled the “collusion” hoax had long ago, when pressed in secret and under congressional oath, confessed they had no evidence for the lies they spread in the media. Recall the pseudo-summaries of Susan Rice to whitewash an Oval Office session. Then, finish off these revelations with the reality that Barack Obama was always privy at best, and at worst orchestrating the effort to destroy a presidential campaign and transition. And where does it all lead?

To the unendurable truth that a sitting president unleashed his intelligence agencies to warp an election, feigned ignorance of his central role, and yet finally was so furious about the winner that he sought to sabotage his successor’s transition and, by association, his presidency.

How could the media, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the bureaucratic state, academia, and entertainment ever process that reality: that a deity was likely the most corrupt president in a generation?

Great America

The Heart of Liberty and the Right to Feed One’s Family

Any unreasonable regulation that indefinitely prevents people from caring for their families is unjust.

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Justice Anthony Kennedy mused, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Apparently, Dallas district court Judge Eric Moyé never read that case.

During a May 5, 2020 hearing, Moyé sentenced salon owner Shelley Luther to seven days in jail and fined her $7,000 for daring to operate her business in defiance of shelter-in-place restrictions enacted in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

While castigating Luther during sentencing, Moyé unwittingly echoed Justice Kennedy’s oft-repeated words, when he insisted that society cannot function “where one’s own belief in a concept of liberty permits [others] to flaunt … disdain for the rulings of duly elected officials.”

In her defense, Luther insisted she needed to work to feed her children and pay her delinquent mortgage. She assured the judge that she had taken all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of her customers and coworkers. Earlier, she told officials that her salon was safer for people to visit than Walmart or Home Depot, where people roam freely.

Judge Moyé would hear none of it. Apparently that highfalutin heart-of-liberty, define-one’s-own-concept-of-existence thing Justice Kennedy espoused protects abortion, but all bets are off when it comes to mothers who need to coif a few heads of hair to buy groceries.

Perhaps even more outrageous than the sentence itself was the Faustian bargain Moyé dangled in front of Luther during the hearing. The judge enticed Luther by saying she had the “keys to the jail” and invited her to “utilize them now.” To avoid jail time, she merely needed to admit that:

  • Her actions were “selfish” and put her “own interests ahead of those of the community”;
  • She had “disrespect for the executive orders of the state, the orders of the county and this city”;
  • She sees “the errors of [her] ways”;
  • She owed an apology to “the officials whom [she] disrespected”;
  • She understands “the proper way in an ordered society to engage concerns . . . is to hire a lawyer and advocate for [sic] change”;
  • This isn’t the way citizens should behave.

Moyé’s offer gave away the game. The goal was to make an example of Luther. Either she would be locked up, or she would be forced to wear her Scarlet Letter for all to see. And there was one final condition Judge Moyé sought to impose: Luther would have to agree to cease operation of her salon and “not reopen until further orders of the government” permit her to do so.

There was no evidence in the hearing on the matter of whether the state’s indefinite lockdown order, which is preventing millions of people from providing for their families, remains necessary at this point. There was no effort to find a middle ground that might protect people while permitting Luther to earn an honest living.

That was never the goal. Moyé’s hearing was about putting a head on a pike. To avoid the clink, Luther would be required to take a long “walk of shame” and promise never to open her business again unless and until the government said she may.

What is happening in this country, when judges think they have this kind of power? How does a judge come to believe this is the role of government?

It is particularly sad and ironic that Judge Moyé, who is African American and has a long history of advocating civil rights, would callously disparage Luther’s act of civil disobedience. While the import of this episode cannot be compared to the long struggle for equal rights for African Americans in this country, we would do well to remember the words of Martin Luther King after he was criticized for his “willingness to break laws.” In his letter from the Birmingham jail, King explained:

One may ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. . . .  One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.

It is highly questionable at this point whether these strict, seemingly indefinite shelter-in-place laws pass constitutional muster as the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling state interest. But leaving aside the constitutional issues, the reality is that this mother believed she must work to put food on her table and keep a roof over her family’s head.

The duty to care for one’s family is precisely the type of moral law that underlies all civil law.

An unreasonable regulation that indefinitely prevents people from caring for their families is unjust. It is, in the words of Martin Luther King, “no law at all.” And a concept of liberty that denies people the freedom to pursue their livelihood to support their families is no liberty at all.

Great America

The ‘New Normal’? Ridiculous

Is the president right? Will we quickly revert to the status quo ante? No one knows.

Crises, even if they are manufactured ones, are great producers of linguistic mutation. Thucydides noticed this. In one of the most famous bits of his History of the Peloponnesian War, the great historian wrote that in a time of civil war certain words changed their usual meanings and took on new ones. For example, “reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question inaptness to act on any.”

It’s not only civil war that produces such linguistic deformations. Any crisis will do.

Our part of Connecticut was badly damaged by Hurricane (or, for the weather pedants among you, “Superstorm”) Sandy in 2012. Like many families, we had to move out of our house for months and were subjected to seemingly endless meetings with various local and FEMA officials who eagerly seized the chance to tell us huddled masses what we could and couldn’t do with our property. Just as every public official and talking head now is an amateur epidemiologist, so back in 2012 they were all expert meteorologists.

I remember one meeting in particular when it was explained to us that storms like Hurricane Sandy were “the new normal.”

“The new normal.” Is there a more nauseating flake of smug linguistic presumption? I think that the imperative “stay safe,” born of our coronavirus panic, comes close. But “the new normal” is worse because it pretends to knowledge not just solicitude. That wretched town official who was telling us serfs what we could and could not do with our homes did so on the hollow authority of knowing, or pretending to know, what the future would bring.

So it is now. At one of President Trump’s near-daily coronavirus press rallies last month, a media mouth began a question by noting the “new normal in which, you know, there’s [sic] smaller crowds in restaurants and bars and—” The president cut him off.

“Oh, that’s not going to be normal,” he said.

There’s not going to be a new normal where somebody has been having for 25 years 158 seats in a restaurant and now he’s got 30 or he’s got 60 because that wouldn’t work. That’s not normal. No, normal will be if he has the 158 or 68 seats, and that’s going to happen and it’s going to happen relatively quickly, we hope. . . . Our normal is if you have 100,000 people in an Alabama football game or 110,000 . . . we want 110,000 people. We want every seat occupied. Normal is not going to be where you have a game with 50,000 people.

Is the president right? Will we quickly revert to the status quo ante? No one knows.

As we warily uncurl ourselves and peek sheepishly over the parapets of our imposed isolation, we see governors and various local officials beginning to open, or at least talk about opening, for business. The general rule of thumb so far is that Republican-leaning localities are opening up more quickly than Democrat-leaning locales. The reasoning is, this pandemic has been an economic disaster. Who knows how many thousands of businesses have shuttered, how many millions of jobs have been lost. In a matter of weeks, unemployment has shot up from an historic low of some 3.5 percent to a near-historic high north of 17.5 percent.

The new normal? Incumbents are generally blamed for bad tidings, even if they happen because of factors beyond their control. So Democrats are eager to perpetuate the people’s misery long enough to assure they can destroy the people’s choice. The Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, for example, just announced that he is keeping the state shut down until June 4, two days after the already-delayed primary election.

Here are some questions to which we do not know the answers. Will people flock back to airplane travel? Will you? Will they crowd into theaters to listen to music or watch plays? Will they be allowed to? Will the old normal ever become the new normal, as the president suggested it would?

A California friend tells me that the restaurant trade association there has presented a reopening plan to Governor Gavin Newsom that, to me, looks more like an instruction manual for economic hari-kari. “Only family members or people who live together would sit at the same table. Buffets, salad bars and shared bread baskets would be out. Salt and pepper shakers could be replaced by bottles of hand sanitizer. And meals could arrive from food servers sheathed in face masks.”

My friend asks: “Only family members or members of the same household? Seriously? No dating couples (only cohabitating ones)? No friends visiting from out of town? Ridiculous.”

Ridiculous, indeed. Back in April—it seems like ages ago—President Trump said he was shifting from a blanket shutdown to an effort to protect “the highest risk individuals,” especially the fragile elderly people with relevant preexisting conditions. That message didn’t seem to get through to many Democratic Governors and some Republican ones. Yet with every passing day, the populace is becoming more frustrated and more angry. I think it is about to get a lot angrier.

The word “unprecedented” has been bandied about a lot to describe the unfolding of the coronavirus. The idea is that the virus is unprecedentedly lethal, but that is clearly not the case. What is unprecedented is our response. We cut off society’s oxygen because we were afraid more people would die if we didn’t. But what if we were wrong?

Last week at American Greatness, Julie Kelly raised a question that has to have been on the minds of many people. What if “social distancing” doesn’t work?

“We have,” she notes “been assured by the credentialed class that keeping a distance of six feet between healthy people for weeks on end was the only tried-and-true way to prevent the deadly spread of the novel coronavirus.”

But what does the evidence show? We’ve shuttered the economy for almost two months. We’ve destroyed trillions in wealth. We’ve put millions out of work. We’ve denied tens of thousands of people access to medical care for anything except treatment of the coronavirus. We’ve imperiled hospitals across the country. Yet we really do not know that “social distancing” has “slowed the spread” or “flattened the curve” of the virus.

In fact, Kelly argues, the practice of “social distancing” is “untested pseudoscience particularly as it relates to halting the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On its website, the CDC provides no links to any peer-reviewed social distancing studies that bolster its official guidance.”

So: What if the whole rigamarole—the masks, the social distancing, the “sheltering in place,” the forced shutdowns of “nonessential” services—what if it was all theater instead of therapy?

I think I wrote my first piece on the Wuhan Virus towards the end of February. I drastically underestimated the number of lives it would claim (though it is worth noting that the number of COVID-19 deaths is artificially inflated because the government provides an incentive if the virus is listed as the cause of death). But I continue to think that the arguments of epidemiologists like Knut Wittkowski, Dr. Jonathan Geach, and Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, urgent care doctors in Bakersfield, California, are correct.

Towards the end of their interview, Erickson and Massihi say, “If you’re going to dance on someone’s constitutional rights, you’d better have a good reason.” They note that an extreme national emergency might provide justification for extreme action. As I wrote, I think they are right that the new coronavirus, however nasty it can be for vulnerable parts of the population, is not an existential emergency but “just the vicissitudes of ordinary life.” Indeed, we should, as they all advise, “treat it ‘like the flu,’ not the Black Death.”

I do not know when the “new normal” will fade back to the old normal, when people will crowd into bars and restaurants, theaters and stadiums, planes and trains and schools. I suspect it will happen a lot quicker than currently predicted.

But I am much less sanguine about the resiliency of our national psyche. Our reaction to the coronavirus revealed the inner Gauleiters of many governors, mayors, judges, and sheriffs across the country. More worrisome was the inner Eloi it uncovered in a not insignificant part of the population.

Great America

Confessions of an Imperfect Mother

Never has an office provoked so many feelings of failure, so much discouragement, so much questioning of our own abilities.

I looked at my hands the other day and saw my mom’s hands.

There was a time when the realization that I was somehow like my mother would have caused me extreme discomfort. Now I marvel at it: I stretch out my fingers, turn over my palms, and see the direct reflection of my mother’s DNA so obviously in me.

Most of us remember a time when, to our way of thinking, our mothers were not people to be admired or emulated, but people to disdain and resist. As teenagers, many of us rebelled against her rules, her suggestions and advice, and even her attempts at conversation and affection. At some point, however, if we are very lucky and our moms were good ones, we realize how much respect and love we have for her. Such has been the experience of my life.

When I was young, my mother was the gatekeeper keeping me from all joy and every good thing in life. As I aged in both wisdom and experience, I began making the slow discovery that not all of those desired freedoms would have been good for me.

Mom was the schedule executor, meal planner, warden, psychologist, chauffeur, one to both judge and to grant immunity. She ruled over all with an iron fist gloved in velvet. Her backbone is made of the strongest steel, and yet she was the first to shed a tear in shared pain with the heartbreak experienced by a teenager in love.

A highly imperfect mother though? Sure, you bet. So am I. I’d be willing to lay a wager that your mother was and, if you are a mom, then you are, too.

One of my children accused me last week of being too hard when he was young. My first instinct? “Suck it up, buttercup.” My second? Thoughtful repose as my memories took me back over the years.

I remember grubby, fat fists bearing bouquets of dandelions. I remember the down of a toddler head against my cheek. I remember wiping tears away as a booboo was kissed and made better. I remember playing card games with rowdy teenagers, the conversation flying fast and furious. A curly-haired child bowed over his food, thanking God for His provision, a happy young child grinning furiously at me from a too-high perch in a tree, a victorious wave from first base, a contemplative girl with a half-ton beast following behind, bumping her rear with her head.

Oh, poignant! Oh, sweet! Oh, times gone like the whisper of the wind!

Do I also remember, then, times like those my son remembers of my being too hard? Of course. I was too hard, too tough, too impatient in a thousand different ways over thousands of days. I can also see, however, that the years may soften his judgment, as they have with my judgment of my own mother. Life and its experiences will teach him that sometimes there ought to be more mercy in his criticisms than rigor.

But how do we weigh the value of motherhood on our lives, on our person? That institution, created by a holy God in order to provide foundational strength and to assist in teaching His laws and to provide for the love and nurturing of our babies; the profession referred to by Erma Bombeck as “the second oldest”; the title many yearn to achieve and yet fail at day after day after day? Never has an office provoked so many feelings of failure, so much discouragement, so much questioning of our own abilities.

How, then, are we to judge our ways? How do we find praise for the imperfect souls who raised us? How do we teach our own daughters to be better mothers than we were?

It seems to this mother, this too-hard, too-impatient, too-exacting mother, that if our grown children still desire a relationship with us, that can be counted a success. If we receive a random text (“Hey, Mom, I miss you”), if a child calls to discuss a problem and get advice, if he wants to play a game with us on a Friday night with some of his friends, that all counts as a victory. If we hear similar values to the ones we hold most dear escape from their young lips? Success. There is no sweeter a moment in my life than realizing an adult child wishes to spend some of his time with me.

And what of mercy and forgiveness? Ought they not to play a role both in how we weigh the actions of our mothers, and in how we deal with our own children? From my life’s testimony, forgiveness was requested and granted both by me and for me, and the ensuing peace played a role in healing old scars and hurts.

It seems the apology-humility path might also teach our daughters to be wiser mothers themselves. If they can see an example of how to admit failure, might they not be quicker to reach for resources, to ask more questions, to look for guidance than we ourselves were?

As for me, I sat back recently and crossed my arms over my chest in great satisfaction when I heard an adult child of mine recite to another adult child of mine a line all my own that had been repeated to them since childhood. Inwardly, I laughed and thanked God for the chance and the ability to hear some effect of me on them. For when we see those reflections—the good or even just the humorous ones—imprinted from us on our offspring, those are moments of confirmation that not all our efforts were wasted or failures. In this way, more than any other, our “children rise up and call (us) blessed.”