Elections

Clinesmith Criminal Plea Hints More Hoax Conspirators Will Be Charged

John Durham and Attorney General William Barr deserve credit for finally penetrating the deep state wall of silence.

In June 2017, the New York production of Shakespeare in the Park modified its costuming for its production of “Julius Caesar” so that the title character resembled the new U.S. president. After the actor playing a Trump-resembling Caesar pretended to succumb to the many wounds inflicted by the conspiracy of assassins, the character Brutus implored his co-conspirators to, “Stoop, Romans, stoop, and let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood up to the elbows and besmear our swords.” In doing so, Brutus forced the other conspirators to become indivisibly responsible for the coup. Nobody could turn on the other plotters if everyone had Caesar’s blood on their sword.

In an irony almost lost to history, the play-acting coup against the image of Trump had an analogue in reality. At that same moment in June 2017, Kevin Clinesmith forwarded two emails to his fellow conspirators who lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to spy on Trump campaign figure Carter Page. 

One email reflected that Carter Page worked as a source for the CIA to gather information on the Russians. That email exposed the entire Carter Page FISA spying as completely unnecessary and therefore totally illegal. 

Page had previously used the Washington Post to offer an interview with FBI agents about his contacts with Russia. Page addressed a letter directly to FBI Director James Comey shortly before the FBI certified that intrusive spying was the only way to explore those contacts. The forwarded email documented that Page had a long history of providing reliable information to the CIA on the very subject about which the FBI sought to invade his privacy. 

To hide this fact, Clinesmith created a second email by doctoring the first to read “not a source.” Clinesmith’s lawyer, Justin Shur, contends his client “did not try to hide the C.I.A. email from other law enforcement officials as they sought the final renewal of the Page wiretap. Mr. Clinesmith had provided the unchanged C.I.A. email to Crossfire Hurricane agents and the Justice Department lawyer drafting the original wiretap application.”

Thus, if you believe Clinesmith’s attorney, each conspirator was forced, figuratively, to bathe his hands in blood. By sending both the doctored and undoctored version of the same email, Clinesmith made sure each of them knew that the conspiracy would involve filing a fraudulent document with the FISA court. This may explain why, more than three years later, the conspirators never turned on each other. Like a 2017 version of Brutus, Clinesmith made sure that if he went down, he would be able to take down the other conspirators as well. 

But Clinesmith now appears positioned to cash in on that insurance policy. In a stunning development on Friday, the New York Times reported that Clinesmith intends to plead guilty to a criminal charge of falsifying a court document and that Clinesmith has made a deal with prosecutors. 

It was previously reported that “in June of 2017, the CIA sent an email to the FBI restating that Mr. Page had been an asset.” While that’s true, the charging document against Clinesmith dropped this bombshell: 

On August 17, 2016, prior to the approval of FISA #1, the [CIA] provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum (“August 17 Memorandum”) indicating that [Carter Page] had been approved as an ‘operational contact for the [CIA] from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that [Page] had provided to the [CIA] concerning [Page’s] prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers. The first three FISA applications did not include [Page’s] history or status with the [CIA].

While Clinesmith claims to have shared the two versions (the doctored email and the original) with some of the conspirators, he is also charged with lying to the supervisory special agent who was the affiant on the fourth FISA application. Nevertheless, the charging document makes clear that the CIA notified the FBI that Page was a source in 2016 before the first FISA warrant was even issued. Thus, the charging document strongly suggests that Durham is zeroing in on several other conspirators who participated in deceiving the FISA court.

Normally, former FBI Director James Comey fearlessly weighs in on developments in the Russia collusion hoax. He personally certified the necessity of the FISA warrant to spy on Page, even though Page wrote him an open letter offering to sit for an FBI interview about his Russian contacts. 

Had Comey disclosed Page’s offer to the court, it would have denied the warrant until the FBI tried the less-invasive method. The FBI ignored an offer of a voluntary interview because they were more interested in spying on Page than finding out what he knew. Why? Because Page wasn’t the real target. The FBI had a political agenda against Donald Trump and Page’s affiliation with the political campaign provided the bureau a potential source of dirt that it could use as ammunition.

All of this would have been very easy for Robert Mueller to know as he investigated the Russia collusion hoax. Why didn’t Mueller expose this criminal behavior? One reason might be that Clinesmith was part of the Mueller team

Clinesmith personally interrogated another Trump associate, George Papadopolous, helping Mueller notch the trophy conviction. As the Washington Examiner reported, Clinesmith is also the FBI lawyer who, on November 9, 2016, wrote, “My god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff,” Clinesmith said, adding, “So, who knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do?” Clinesmith (or “FBI Attorney 2”) is referenced 56 times in the 2018 inspector general report criticizing the politicization of the Clinton email investigation. 

All of this leads back to current FBI Director Christopher Wray, who has been fighting a concerted rear-guard effort to protect dirty FBI agents and lawyers from the consequences of their meddling in the 2016 election. Although he did not take the leadership position of the FBI until shortly after Clinesmith’s FISA deception, Wray is known to have consistently slowed or obstructed both the FISA court and congressional efforts to get to the bottom of what happened. 

Most recently, the president criticized Wray for obstructing Congress. This raises the question of a constitutional crisis as the FBI appears also to be defying the chief executive’s wishes to cooperate with Congress. Legally, Wray, much like Wray’s boss, the attorney general, borrows all of his authority from the president himself. 

In another example, Wray allowed Clinesmith to quietly resign in late 2019 shortly before the inspector general’s report disclosed Clinesmith’s deception to the FISA court. John Durham and Attorney General William Barr deserve credit for finally penetrating the deep state wall of silence to hold somebody accountable for the criminal actions of the men and women charged with upholding the law. The fact that Wray still has a job is a troubling sign that the FBI has become more powerful than the constitutional forces that are supposed to control it.

Great America

Reopening Schools Is Only Part of the Battle

This restrictive school climate will only exacerbate a prison-like feel, which is an ironic nod to the quip that schools and prisons have the same architects.

With blue-state Governor Andrew Cuomo signaling a desire to open K-12 schools in the fall, the tide may be swinging towards the end of widespread school shutdowns. But the battle is far from over. Lost in the debates between teachers, teachers’ unions, administrators, parents, and kids is clear communication to the public for what both K-12 schools and colleges will actually look like when reopened.

I got a first-hand glimpse of this reality as I moved toward my fall semester of teaching. Let’s just say I need to get Doc Brown, a DeLorean, a flux capacitor, and some plutonium fast.

Not that I need to say this to American Greatness readers, but I’m not writing from some self-centered, heartless point of view. If anything, I should welcome any restrictions that minimize the chance that I will get infected by my students. But I’m not afraid of a virus with at 99.97 percent recovery rate before stratifying the data. Rather, I’m more concerned for the students’ sake, because I don’t think they realize the restrictions they are coming back to. I hope I’m wrong.

As the summer has progressed and I became privy to policy changes at my own school and at other schools in the area, I found it harder to refrain from reflexively pushing back at the insanity. It does not take long to find policies for schools under the COVID-1984 “new normal.”

Forget about being able to use facial expressions to aid teaching and learning. Face coverings are mandatory for teachers and students. That will not be fun for hearing-impaired students, either. I was actually offered a megaphone to use in class. 

Forget about experiential learning as well. Students will be socially distanced in the classroom with mandatory seating charts for contact tracing. Many exams will be electronic to cut down on passing out infected paper. Mail-in voting will have nothing on the type of cheating that could take place. That’s just in the classroom. 

University students have a life, often a campus life, outside of class. That world is going to be regulated to the tune of limiting gathering in living spaces. Conflict is also likely if one roommate is on Team Mask and the other is on Team Face. I hope all deans of students are prepared to work overtime.

Maybe the students will embrace this environment. But, I wouldn’t write this essay if I wasn’t concerned.

At the root of these restrictions seems to be a blind, religious-like faith in the pronouncements of the Centers for Disease Control and their guidelines. Yet, we should be reminded that much of what the government-chosen scientists have modeled has needed revision, and even if many of their recommendations had merit, many institutions have lost sight that these are only guidelines. 

For those who like analogies, an appropriate comparison would be with the USDA’s dietary guidelines. Most people are aware of the magical 2,000-calories-a-day guidelines or the modern, colorful “MyPlate.” Could you imagine if governments took these guidelines to the level that they are taking the COVID rules? After all, given the obesity rates and the associations between obesity and health outcomes, including COVID-19, couldn’t one assert that obesity is a public health crisis?

If governors started throwing mandates around based on dietary guidelines, imagine widescale menu changes needed at most restaurants. Could anyone order fish and chips without also having to pay for a government-mandated side of broccoli? Imagine the shaming that the Karens would perform towards parents serving Happy Meals to their kids in the park.

Yes, the battle to simply open schools is important, but just like we cannot vote Republican and expect all our small government wishes to be carried out, we also cannot simply assume schools will be back to their flawed normal when they reopen unless there is a grassroots effort to push forth an anti-restriction vision.

I’m not going to sugar coat my recommendations. 

I’d summarize my views with a reference from Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Dr. Donald Henderson: “Evidence has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.” 

Local communities need to organize and push for schools to be open across the board with no restrictions for most of their population. 

For those who wish to self-identify as high-risk, their arrangements whether teacher, student, or administrator should be addressed on an individual basis, similar to accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If schools want to take some general precautions, they could look into limiting attendance at larger indoor gatherings, or move certain indoor gatherings outdoors, as the latter at this moment does not appear to be a large vector of transmission.

If this seems too utopian, it’s only because fans of liberty are so accustomed to compromising on the Left’s big government terms. 

Much of what is filtering out regarding reopening schools comes from the vantage point of having a sealed-off, sterile school and walking back restrictions a little at a time. This would only make some sense if lockdowns actually did anything, but as we’ve seen in California and recently in New Zealand, no matter what we do, the virus is gonna virus. This restrictive school climate will only exacerbate a prison-like feel, which is an ironic nod to the quip that schools and prisons have the same architects. 

Let’s start with the pre-COVID normal and force Team Apocalypse to justify their restrictions. They don’t get to impose unproven restrictions and force us to show why they don’t work. Doing so is more harmful to students than contracting COVID-19.

Elections

Whatever Happens, Kamala Harris Wins

If the ticket is successful, her chances of being president are excellent. And if the Democrats lose, the ranks of defeated vice presidential candidates include many who went on to greater things.

The appointment of Senator Kamala Harris as Democratic candidate for vice president is a suitable final step in the increasingly goofy Joe Biden campaign, prior to next week’s virtual Democratic convention. She was a catastrophic candidate for the presidential nomination, starting out as a strong rival to Marxist Senator Bernie Sanders, and like Biden himself and all the others except Mayor Pete Buttigieg, her candidacy sank like a rock. Almost every policy question was answered with a pious assertion of the need for “a national conversation.”

If her proposals had been acted upon, the country would have been swept by a pandemic of logorrhea (the inability to stop talking). Harris favors open borders and compared the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service to the Ku Klux Klan. 

She favors the entire Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Green Terror, including abolition of fracking and ultimately of fossil fuel consumption and use, and the now customary Democratic hare-brained nonsense about windmills and solar panels. (At the confirmation hearing for James Mattis as secretary of defense, she asked him how he would combat climate change.) 

She favors free full-service public healthcare for everyone, sharply increased taxes, and the confiscation of privately owned firearms—Beto O’Rourke could soon be on every doorstep in America.

Critics on the Left

Harris has many critics among the 98 percent of Democrats who did not support her candidacy for president. The Left is displeased with her performance as San Francisco’s district attorney and as attorney general of California: she always called for maximum sentences and condoned the widespread American practice of prosecutors extorting or suborning inculpatory false evidence by threats of indictment if that evidence is not forthcoming, and promises of immunity from prosecution for perjury if it is. 

Loyola Law Professor Lara Bazelon recently accused Harris in the New York Times of having “fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony, and the suppression of crucial information.” 

President Trump has made serious efforts at penal reform and sentence reduction for nonviolent offenders. By contrast, Harris sent over 1,000 marijuana users to prison but acknowledged having tried it herself. Harris’s performance as a prosecutor clashes with the general current Democratic enthusiasm for defunding and discouraging the police and turning a blind eye to urban vandalism, arson, and looting.

A Poor Field

Biden backed himself into a corner through his malapropistic aspersions of African Americans and the claims against him about molestation of women (claims Harris once endorsed), and pledged a black female candidate (or, as some have suggested, a dark-skinned person with a cervix). 

Those who met those criteria were a pretty job lot. Representative Val Demings of Georgia was promising but obscure; former National Security Advisor Susan Rice is tainted by the Benghazi fiasco and her role in the persecution of General Michael Flynn, and is sometimes unacceptably abrasive. Rep. Karen Bass of California is, on her record (including her public condolences to the people of Cuba over the hardly premature death of Fidel Castro), a Communist; and unsuccessful Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams is a deluded fabulist and would have been a preposterous choice. 

In the valley of the bumbling or belligerent African-American Democratic female politicians, the half-Jamaican, half-East Indian, chronic “conversationalist,” Senator Harris wins. The Democratic National Committee and its media allies have already warned that any criticism will be portrayed as sexist and racist, but that charade has become tiresome.   

The vice presidential nominee’s prospects are clouded by the apparent expectation (according to a Rasmussen poll) of 59 percent of Americans that, if elected, Biden will not finish his term for medical reasons (despite his well-filmed weekend bicycle ride of 75 yards). So more than half the electorate thinks a vote for the Democrats will be for both Biden and Harris to be president. There is nothing in her performance in office or as a presidential candidate to indicate that Americans would greet a Harris presidency with equanimity. 

Whatever happens, she wins. If the ticket is successful, her chances of being president are excellent. If Biden completes his term, Harris is the principal candidate to follow him. And if the Democrats lose, the ranks of defeated vice presidential candidates include many who went on to greater things: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Earl Warren, Edmund Muskie, Robert Dole, Walter Mondale, and Lloyd Bentsen.                                                   

Democratic Incompetence on Parade

The Biden-Harris tandem kicked off with Biden’s monstrous lie that Trump demonstrated his support for Nazism at the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville in 2017, one of the opening guns in the Democratic media character assassination of the president. What he actually said was that there was merit to the arguments of both sides in the original controversy in Charlottesville over what to do with the statue of Robert E. Lee, and that in the violence that ensued both sides were equally odious. 

In the ensuing false controversy whipped up by the Trump-hating media, there were some hilarious acts of moral posturing, such as corporate raider Carl Icahn resigning from a White House cultural committee. (Trump abolished the committee as redundant.) This is where the Democrats have arrived: where they began, accusing Donald Trump of every conceivable permutation of bigotry and corruption. 

The Democratic media made no reference whatever to the shooting of 21 African Americans in Washington, D.C. in one incident last weekend, but the Democratic mayor,  the egregious Muriel Bowser, ignored the shooting and complained that her ban on assemblies of more than 50 people was sometimes not observed. World-famous Michigan Avenue in Chicago was smashed up which at least caused the hopeless mayor, Lori Lightfoot, to acknowledge for the first time that some of the peaceful protesters were committing crimes, but she publicly warned her police chief not to “bait” her. 

The Big Apple naturally has the most incompetent mayor of all: Bill de Blasio blamed his city’s skyrocketing violent crime rate on the summer and the coronavirus. His abrupt chopping of the entire crime prevention unit and of $1 billion from the city police budget, of course, had nothing to do with it. And New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, ducked his own responsibility in sending COVID-19 sufferers back to homes for the elderly and blamed unspecified Trump regulations and visitors and nurses for 19,000 deaths in those facilities, a number greater than the combined total of coronavirus fatalities of Germany and Canada, countries which have a total population of 120 million. 

And in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) returned to her script of four years ago and incanted: “With Trump, all roads lead to Putin.” She said that it didn’t matter that China favors Biden in the election because the United States has no problems with China.

For nearly four years the Democrats and the self-shamed legions of their national political media accomplices have had no narrative except constant, 360 degrees, stentorian defamation of the president. It is the most protracted and despicable performance of a major American party in opposition since the Democrats betrayed their own president (Lyndon Johnson), spuriously destroyed President Nixon, and completed the trifecta by withdrawing all aid to Indochina and consigning it to the tender mercies of the North Vietnamese Communists and Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. Millions died.

In 12 weeks we will have the election result; I trust the people.

Elections

Fully Woke Joe

Not “sleepy” at all, Biden would distort the heart of American finance and transform the nation’s basic economic structure using the mantra of “civil rights” and equality.

On the identity politics that used to be known as “civil rights” Sleepy Joe is fully woke.

Just as he prioritized sex and race identity for his vice presidential pick, Joe Biden would racialize his monetary policy by remaking the Federal Reserve banking system. Biden is thereby the most identity-focused candidate in American history since the 19th century. And with the force of the Democratic Party behind him, he lacks any guard rails. 

Anyone troubled by arbitrary presidential power should beware of Biden’s ambitious plan to remake the Federal Reserve banking system, which would make the Fed even more independently powerful, but now on racial issues, and would compound the problems with both the Fed and the growth of racialized politics.

Already suspect because of its “independence” from politics—which means freedom from the fundamental principle of the consent of the governed—the Federal Reserve raises suspicions of favoring this or that special interest no matter what it does or fails to do. Trump is not the first president to heap criticism on even his own appointee as chairman. 

Biden’s radical change would channel the anger of racialized politics into the Fed’s mission of sober policymaking on interest rates and other concerns of a central bank.

Biden has proposed that Congress amend the Federal Reserve Act to “add to that responsibility and aggressively target persistent racial gaps in jobs, wages, and wealth.” To achieve this revolution, he would prioritize “diverse nominees for the Board of Governors and the regional Federal Reserve Banks.”

The economics of the Fed would become chiefly political. Its board of governors would no longer set interest rates for the common good but for particular factions in public life. The Biden proposal is a prime example of how a faction gets a hold of part of the government and bends its purpose to its own narrow good. There will be no Madisonian compromises of groups toward a common good.  

Dwarfing Affirmative Action

The radicalism of Biden’s proposal becomes clear from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s bill, introduced days after his speech. The ultra-progressive Massachusetts senator’s Federal Reserve Racial and Economic Equity Act, cosponsored by the likes of Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and, in the House, Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Al Green (D-Texas), Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). This is predictable since Warren, as a Harvard Law professor, was the prime-mover the legislation establishing the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), which supposedly protects the little people from avaricious banks, but which has grander ambitions about putting the economy under bureaucratic control

The latest Fauxcahontas-Biden bill includes three parts: first, a requirement that the Fed carry out its functions in a way that “minimizes and eliminates racial disparities in employment, wages, wealth, and access to affordable credit”; second, a requirement that the Federal Reserve chairman identify in his reports before Congress “disparities in employment, income and wealth across racial and ethnic groups”; third, a requirement that the Fed and the Open Market Committee work to foster “elimination of disparities across racial and ethnic groups with respect to employment, income, wealth, and access to affordable credit,” extending to monetary policy, bank regulation, and financial institutions.

This may sound like mere reporting of data but note the “shalls” and the requirements. This is a setup for mandated policy conclusions that dwarf affirmative action, quotas, and other old standbys. 

As Rush Limbaugh put it, “the Federal Reserve would be transformed into an all-powerful social-justice enforcement agency. Using racial fairness as a cover, Democrats want to give the Fed a new mission: force banks and financial markets to adopt the radical Left’s socialist agenda.” 

Ripe for Corruption

And of course, the Left will benefit themselves while professing to do good for others: co-sponsor Maxine Waters, Jacob Heilbrunn reminds us, was named “one of the most corrupt members of Congress,” for violating House conflict of interest rules concerning a bank in which she had a financial stake. It should come as no surprise that Warren was the genius behind the agency this new one would imitate.

Finally, the fiendishness of using the Fed for anti-democratic purposes becomes clearer in light of a Supreme Court decision from this past term, Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

The 5-4 decision permitted the Trump Administration to fire the acting head of the agency but declined to declare the oddly constructed board to be unconstitutional. The law establishing it (known as Dodd-Frank, the Dodd being former Senator Christopher Dodd, who headed Biden’s vice-presidential selection committee) made the bureau so independent of political pressure that even its funding, from the Fed itself, could not be controlled by Congress. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his partial dissent, explained the issue well: 

The Constitution does not permit the creation of officers exercising “quasi-legislative” and “quasi-judicial powers” in “quasi-legislative” and “quasi-judicial agencies.”  No such powers or agencies exist. Congress lacks the authority to delegate its legislative power, and it cannot authorize the use of judicial power by officers acting outside of the bounds of Article III. Nor can Congress create agencies that straddle multiple branches of Government.

Unfortunately, Chief Justice Roberts would not join the conservatives in finding the CFPB unconstitutional. In it Congress has created an uncontrollable monster, wielding unchallengeable powers with funding that it cannot alter. This is the ultimate progressive government dream, a putatively reform-minded agency beyond all political pressures. 

Ultimately, Warren would create an entity similar to CFPB that would, unabated by political pressure (that is, by elected officials) bring about a world of economic equality for all. Thus the last few weeks have revealed who Joe Biden is—not “sleepy” at all, this most “woke” of candidates is in a vanguard ahead of Elizabeth Warren’s radical ideas and Kamala Harris’s opportunistic rhetoric. He would distort the heart of American finance and transform the nation’s basic economic structure using the mantra of “civil rights” and equality. This is socialism camouflaged in bureaucratic garb.

Elections

Biden’s Partner in Hypocrisy

Kamala Harris has proven herself willing to do anything to climb the ladder to greater power. As such, she makes a perfect match for Joe Biden.

Joe Biden’s historic choice of Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate, the first African American and Asian woman to run as the vice presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party, is neither bold nor shrewd.

In fact, it’s the safest choice he could have made while bringing him nothing he already doesn’t have.

When New York City Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman ever elected to Congress, ran for president in 1972, she paved the way for many women of color to seek and win elected office. Chisholm was a trailblazer.

Harris, on the other hand, is a political phony whose quest for power has guided her entire career. Identity politics progressives may be taken in by her race and gender, but an examination of her record reveals a ruthless opportunist who is acceptable to the corporate overlords who have destroyed the middle class.

In the primary debates, Harris promised to scrap President Trump’s tariffs on China just as Beijing has been asking. In doing so, Harris made herself acceptable to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as General Secretary Xi Jinping.

Throughout her short-lived presidential campaign, Harris mislabeled China’s economic aggression as “Trump’s trade war.” This is a phrase the Biden campaign uses repeatedly. It puts her right in line with the empty suit at the top of the ticket. 

But it does not bode well for the ticket’s prospects in the general election. Blue-collar Americans in the Rust Belt states—crucial to victory in November—know three things: it’s China’s trade war, not Trump’s; it began a long time ago; and, until Donald Trump came along, Washington never lifted a finger to do anything about China’s wholesale destruction of American jobs, farms, and industries.

But Harris sure knows how to play the race card. In the first Democratic debate of the 2020 presidential cycle, she painted her running mate as a racist. Her hit on Biden was well-rehearsed and well-timed with t-shirts for sale on her campaign website as soon as the debate concluded.

But this is all hokum, another example of how Harris will use identity politics to obscure her record as a prosecutor locking up black people, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling her party.

As San Francisco’s district attorney, Harris prosecuted more marijuana smokers than any of her predecessors, and over 1,000 of those cases had to be dismissed. Then, as a presidential candidate, she joked about smoking pot in college. Prison for thee, not for me, sayeth Kamala. 

“Say anything to get elected” is in Harris’s DNA. She opposed additional DNA testing to make certain a death row inmate was not wrongfully convicted. Later, when it was convenient for her presidential ambitions, she reversed herself.

Harris dutifully fell in line with the radical open borders crowd calling for unlimited immigration and unlimited taxpayer-provided benefits for anyone who shows up on our doorstep. That’s fine with the cheap labor-loving corporate cartel. She doesn’t care that the jobs illegal immigrants take were once filled by native born black Americans. 

Urban voters are well aware of the competition poorly paid illegal immigrants pose, but Harris is blissfully unaware. She has lived a privileged life. Her parents were a Stanford University economist and a medical doctor, and she has spent her entire adult life on the government payroll. 

In her failed presidential run, Harris gleefully embraced the new Democratic Marxists’ radical manifesto, calling for trillions of dollars in new taxes and backing Bernie Sanders’ government takeover of healthcare. 

She also signed on to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) “Green New Deal.” The joke has it that the Green New Deal is a watermelon: green on the outside, red on the inside. This power grab would raise taxes and install government economic planners, especially but not only in the energy sector. 

Harris made clear the Green New Deal is about more than “climate change” to her, it’s about social change. Harris declared, “We need a Green New Deal based in climate and environmental justice, which means building a clean economy that protects communities that have been neglected by policymakers for far too long.” 

She makes it clear that to her this means racial quotas in all federal hiring, promotion, education, housing, transportation, grants, investments, and regulations. Such quotas would soon become the norm—and later mandates—in all of society.

The rest of the Biden-Harris agenda includes cutting police funding, taking away law-abiding Americans’ guns, closing schools, and appeasing the Chinese Communist Party.

Harris has proven herself willing to do anything to climb the ladder to greater power. As such, she makes a perfect match for Biden, another empty vessel waiting to be filled by people we will never vote for and whose names we may never know.

In choosing Harris, who brings nothing to the table, Joe Biden has now completely ceded his candidacy and his campaign to the cancel culture mobs who roam Twitter, run the streets of Seattle and Portland, and camp in the corridors of the Democratic National Committee. 

Great America

Political Football Is No Substitute For the Real Thing

Many people who are not engaged politically will recoil at pin-headed dilettantes canceling college football because of politics.

The most material political news that broke this week was not the selection of Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as Joe Biden’s running mate, but the disastrous decision of major college football conferences to cancel their 2020 seasons. Specifically, in battleground Midwest states, legions of football fans who may not be particularly politically oriented will become animated to punish candidates unwilling to vociferously defend football. 

“I cannot believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary,” legendary college football coach Lou Holtz once said. His observation certainly rings true pertaining to America. As a people, we have long embraced an exceptional view of our place in the world and our national potential. Even the games we play exemplify our exceptionalism—none quite so much as football.

More than just a game, football forms a key pillar of our national culture and consciousness. For generations, football has helped to transform American boys into men, all the while providing scintillating entertainment for fans who cannot get enough of gridiron action. 

Given this backdrop, the decision of major college conferencesespecially the Big Ten and PAC 12to abandon football this fall, understandably disgusts Americans. The soft and selfish administrators of universities and their NCAA conferences have stolen a season away from young athletes and deprived adoring alumni and fans of the rituals of autumn. 

Why? For politics. 

Like many lockdown charlatans, these college presidents and administrators hide behind bogus claims of “science.” But the actual reality of the virus substantiates that young people are overwhelmingly not vulnerable to COVID-19. As with any disease, there will be heartbreaking outlier cases of serious health consequences, but we never submit to societal closure to ward off manageable risks that are infinitesimally small. Accordingly, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly support in-person schooling for children and young adults. 

Looking specifically at sports, young athletes comprise the very definition of people who are nearly totally immune to dire ramifications of the virus. Not only are elite athletes like Division 1 college football players young and physically strong, but they are also beneficiaries of perhaps the best medical and physical care of anyone in society.

We are all called to be better than ordinary. Part of being extraordinary—as Americans—is celebrating our national sport of football.

Dr. Scott Atlas of Stanford’s Hoover Institution was formerly chief of radiology at that university’s medical center, and recently joined the president’s coronavirus task force. He told Martha MacCallum of Fox News that “the environment of college sports is a very, very sophisticated environment . . . they couldn’t get a better and safer environment.”  

Dr. Atlas continued: “we have to again become rational here. The risk for people that age is less than seasonal influenza . . . we need to get a grip, look at the science, understand who we are talking about here. There’s not a lot of obese, diabetic 78-year-olds playing football.”

Despite the clear scientific evidence, a corrupt campaign has largely succeeded in canceling much of college football this year. So far, among major conferences, only the SEC, Big 12, and the ACC remain committed to safely playing football, starting in just a few weeks. 

It’s clearly no coincidence that those conference maps largely overlay with red states in America, while the inverse is true of the now-canceled Big Ten and PAC 12 conferences. What seems clear here: politics drives this dreadful decision-making.

University officials overwhelmingly lean to the left. For example, a Harvard Crimson survey of that school’s faculty reports that 80 percent of professors identify as liberal while only 1.6 percent identify as conservatives.  Students acknowledge this reality, as a 2019 College Fix poll found that 73 percent of conservative students hide their politics from professors for fear of retribution via poor grading. It is not a reach to conclude that liberal university officials, with the constant support of a highly left-leaning sports-media complex, aggressively embrace a position of paranoia that will depress our society, economically and psychologically.

President Trump quite correctly ascertains this reality and argues strenuously for college football to play on. Trump recognizes that young people in our country can largely return to normal routines of school, extra-curriculars, and sports. College athletics represents a pageantry and affinity like no other sport. Many people who are not politically engaged understandably will recoil at pin-headed dilettantes canceling college football because of politics. 

In fact, once the mostly-southern SEC and ACC schools pull off a safe and fun season of football, I predict Donald Trump will rightly earn the electoral support of many of the bitterly-disappointed football fans in the upper Midwest. The faithful fans of the Gophers, Badgers, Wolverines, Spartans, Buckeyes, and Nittany Lions will know that they were robbed of their football Saturdays by dishonest and conflicted political actors. 

Thankfully, the military academies promise to play football. Perhaps those games will gain an elevated status this season? Trump the commander-in-chief could attend all three of those contests and showcase our country’s ability to appropriately handle health risks while still maintaining our way of life and enthusiasm for the great game of football. Perhaps these games will even be played in these Midwest states suddenly deprived of football by inept college administrators? 

After all, as Coach Holtz exhorted us, we are all called to be better than ordinary. Part of being extraordinaryas Americansis celebrating our national sport of football.

Great America

Why Is Desperately Poor India Beating New York’s COVID-19 Response?

For some reason, Andrew Cuomo and Anthony Fauci have become the faces of responsible COVID-19 policy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

New York spends more money per capita on healthcare than any other state in the Union. It ranks third in the country in physicians per 100,000 population at 375.1. In terms of raw infrastructure and medical resources, New York should have been one of the best places in the world to receive treatment for COVID-19.

Yet analysis of New York’s COVID-19 statistics reveal it to be one of the most deadly places in the world for a COVID-19 patient. Consider that the tiny country of San Marino reports the worst “deaths per 1 million population” for COVID-19 at 1,238 per million. Belgium, which is the second worst, reports 852. New York is a disaster compared to even those grim numbers. New York is second in the nation at 1,688 deaths per million. If it were a country, it would lead the world. 

The numbers don’t lie. New York should be the poster child of what not to do. Because whatever it’s doing to respond to COVID-19, it’s not saving lives. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci somehow learned the opposite lesson from these morbid statistics. He said, “Many parts of the United States didn’t do enough to combat the coronavirus—but New York state did . . . New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly by doing things [that are recommended to fight the disease].” One of those recommendations was to ban or severely restrict the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. This ban came quickly in response to President Trump endorsing the drug.

India, many warned, would become a humanitarian disaster. With a population density of over 75,000 people per square mile in Mumbai, for example, it triples the density of Manhattan, New York. India has only 0.9 doctors per 100,000 population. It spends only $69.29 per capita on healthcare. 

Indeed, India is now third in the world for recorded cases of COVID-19. But India is 126th in the world for tests per million so it’s reasonable to assume that the real infection rate in India is far higher than the 2.2 million cases it currently reports. While India has had 45,888 deaths attributed to COVID-19, greater than New York at 32,847, India’s deaths per million population is an astonishing 33 (compared to New York’s 1,688). New York reports a total of 451,025 cases and 32,847 deaths. India seems to have a much more favorable ratio of 2.2 million cases and 45,000 deaths. 

Again, if testing in India were more widespread, it would likely show an even more favorable ratio of infections to death. 

India has also approached the use of hydroxychloroquine differently. In June, the journal Nature warned that India was ignoring “safety concerns” over hydroxychloroquine. Noting a study in the Lancet, the journal warned, “that the drug offered no treatment benefit, and that people who took it were more likely to die than those who didn’t.” But the authors were forced to correct the Nature article when the authors of the Lancet study withdrew it after questions emerged about the data. 

Nature further warned, “Despite the lack of clear evidence that the drug is safe or protects people from coronavirus infection, on 22 May an Indian health ministry task force released the advice for front-line workers, including the police and people conducting door-to-door surveys to estimate the COVID-19 burden to take hydroxychloroquine to prevent infection. The advice expands on a similar recommendation, made in March, in which the task force said that health-care workers caring for people with COVID-19, and household contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19, should also take the drug.” 

In July, the Indian Express credited the widespread early intervention with hydroxychloroquine for reducing COVID-19 mortality by half. The authors wrote, “HCQ is obviously not a panacea for severe cases of Covid-19. Given early, it helps reduce mortality by about half, compared to those not given HCQ. In India the drug is widely available and not expensive. A number of Indian states have already incorporated a short course of HCQ in their Covid-19 treatment protocol, and states that have not done so will do well to implement this quickly.”

In the United States, the media vigorously combats accounts of hydroxychloroquine reducing COVID-19 mortality. As I wrote here, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube joined forces to censor American doctors who claimed to have observed positive outcomes from hydroxychloroquine. 

There remains a great deal of controversy over hydroxychloroquine. Nevertheless, it seems illogical to hold up New York—an undeniable failure—as a model to be imitated. With higher population density in its larger cities, fewer doctors, and less healthcare spending, India seems to be beating New York’s outcome for COVID-19. If hydroxychloroquine does not get the credit, then what does? 

For some reason, Cuomo and Fauci have become the faces of responsible COVID-19 policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both have advocated policies which seem to have made the pandemic worse in the areas that most faithfully followed their advice. The New York Times faulted Cuomo’s policy on sending COVID-19 positive patients back to nursing homes for 6,200 deaths. For Fauci to praise these actions causes one to also question his judgment.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has become another “get-Trump” project. Legacy media like CNN and MSNBC relentlessly terrify viewers with hyped stories of a murderous plague decimating the population. While the total U.S. deaths approaches 200,000, the disease continues to trail other causes of death in the United States such as heart disease, smoking, and abortion. If COVID-19 deaths top out at around 250,000, it will have been a fraction of the deaths from the 1918 Spanish Flu which claimed 675,000 Americans at a time when the U.S. population was much smaller. 

Trump derangement syndrome is silencing real scientific debate and glorifying bumbling autocrats at the expense of public health. There’s something behind India’s success when compared to New York’s failure. We need a fact-based approach, because public health is more important than the 2020 election.

Elections

Mike Pence Is Right to Campaign in Wisconsin During the Democratic Convention

The vice president’s duty is to remain in the arena, to campaign responsibly and with due deference to local, state, and national public health guidance, but above all to continue to engage with the American people.

Recently, Sleepy Joe Biden made the allegedly “responsible” choice to remain in Delaware throughout the Democratic National Convention, to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 17-20. That’s right—Biden will be the first presidential nominee since Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 (who was at death’s door) to skip his own party’s convention. He will instead hide in his basement, as is his wont.

Vice President Mike Pence, however, sensing an opportunity, will campaign in Wisconsin on August 19, the same day that Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, will accept the vice presidential nomination.

The Democrats’ reaction to Pence’s announcement was as swift as it was predictable. They called Pence’s decision “disgraceful,” insofar as he will be going to Wisconsin despite the fact that COVID-19 infections in the state are, according to them, rising. 

Never mind that the actual numbers, according to the seven-day moving average reported by the state’s Department of Health Services, are trending slightly downward. And never mind that the Democrats themselves have not canceled their convention in Milwaukee, which, despite being slimmed down, will still draw hundreds of people to the state’s biggest “hot zone.” 

In fact, recently several workers helping to prepare for the DNC tested positive for COVID-19. Did the Democrats scrap their plans and opt for a virtual convention instead? No, but they expect Mike Pence to hole up in his basement, all the same.

The truth, of course, is that Joe Biden is staying put in Delaware, and making only a perfunctory appearance via satellite at his own nominating convention because his handlers fear the awful consequences of allowing the public near the ticking time bomb that is Sleepy Joe. 

Next to the presidential debates—which more and more Biden allies are advising him to skip—the national convention represents the biggest test the candidate will face on the road to the White House. That Biden and his inner circle do not believe their man is up to the challenge, even if he made his acceptance speech from a Milwaukee television studio or hotel suite, tells us everything we need to know about Biden’s fitness for office. It also tells us just how much confidence his key advisers place, or don’t place, in the “man who would be king.”

Pence, on the other hand, is traveling the nation, doing his utmost to convince the American people that four more years of conservative, God-fearing, liberty-affirming, “America First,” and constitutionalist leadership is infinitely preferable to turning the country over to socialists, anarchists, moral relativists, apologists for criminals and rioters, and “woke” authoritarians. 

Even if the Democrats weren’t preparing to nominate a ticket featuring a babbling, skeletal has-been, and an unqualified upstart chosen to put a fresh and agreeably non-white face on a party actually run by warmed-over hippies and special interests, it would still be utter madness to vote for the Democrats. 

Pence knows this better than anyone, and thus he owes it to America and to every one of us to exert himself to ensure that he and Donald Trump succeed in November. His duty, in other words, is to remain in the arena, to campaign responsibly and with due deference to local, state, and national public health guidance, but above all to continue to engage with the American people.

The Democrats appear to believe that the way to win the presidency is to hide from the voters and to rely on the media to do their dirty work for them. Given their stumbling, fumbling candidate and the undisguised Trump-hatred of most journalists, they may be right.

Republicans, though, cannot afford to hide from anyone. We must work harder than ever to persuade the electorate to do the right thing, which is to defeat the Left’s brand of America-hating Marxism once and for all. 

If it takes a trip to Wisconsin to seal the deal, then Mike Pence would be foolish not to go.

Elections

Russian Collusion Perps Target Johnson

With Republicans at risk of losing control of the Senate in November, Senator Ron Johnson (R.-Wisc.) needs to work fast. Fortunately, it appears for now that Johnson is undeterred by the Democrats’ attempted character assassination of him.

Still unpunished for the first go-around, Russian collusion perpetrators are taking aim at a new target this time: Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The news media and Democratic lawmakers are accusing the two-term senator of acting as an agent of Russia for continuing to pursue his investigation into the Biden family’s shady ties to Burisma, the troubled Ukranian energy company that paid Hunter Biden millions of dollars while his father was vice president and Obama’s designated “point person” in Ukraine.

The onslaught began last month when Politico reported Johnson planned to subpoena Biden associates after they refused to voluntarily testify. 

“A Senate committee is eyeing subpoenas for current and former advisers to Joe Biden as part of an investigation into the former vice president’s son, an escalation of GOP scrutiny of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and his family,” wrote Natasha Betrand and Andrew Desiderio on July 16. The pair accused Johnson of doing “just what Trump wants.”

Johnson and Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) reportedly started closed-door depositions last month; the Senate’s probe had been delayed first by impeachment then the coronavirus crisis. Johnson, however, is moving ahead and promised to issue a report in September that details how the Bidens and a Democratic-tied public relations firm leveraged their connections during the final few years of the Obama administration to lobby on Burisma’s behalf.

Since impeachment failed to permanently closet the Bidens’ Ukrainian skeletons, Democrats are calling their Hail Mary play—Russian collusion!—to thwart Republican efforts to expose the presidential candidate’s dirty dealings before election day.

In July, at the same time Johnson ramped up his inquiry, top Democratic lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested an FBI briefing over alleged fears that “Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who has yet to be censured for misleading the American public for more than three years about evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, ironically warned that “we all learned that we need to call out foreign interference early and often [and] if it continues, there needs to be repercussions for it.”

The Biden campaign, in what is actually election interference in order to protect the Democratic candidate and his son from appropriate congressional government oversight, also is assailing Johnson. In a July 22 primer intended to sway media coverage and intimidate journalists who dare to cover the committee’s investigation fairly—a tactic often used by Team Biden that reporters dutifully heed—deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield accused Johnson of chasing “a long-debunked, hardcore, right-wing conspiracy theory” about then-Vice President Biden’s efforts to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Burisma.

Bedingfield further hinted that Johnson is part of a “foreign influence operation” intended to reelect the president.

Hyperbolic headlines and breathless coverage on cable news now have the smear on repeat. “Russia is actively working to quote ‘denigrate’ Joe Biden. Ron Johnson, senator from Wisconsin, is actively working to denigrate Joe Biden. Are they in cahoots?” asked Nicolle Wallace, one of MSNBC’s many hopeless collusion queens, during a panel discussion last week.

Thus the newest “Russian stooge”—Johnson—has been born.

Unfortunately, Johnson’s Democratic hit squad received a boost last week after a top intelligence official issued a vague statement that claims foreign actors, including Russia, are plotting to meddle in the 2020 elections. Like so many highly-touted documents in Russian collusion history—the October 2016 statement on Russian meddling, the January 2017 intelligence community assessment, the Steele dossier—the one-pager was long on speculation and short on details, with a detectable political bent.

“We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment,’” concluded William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on August 7. 

“This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”

Before I go further, let me say this: Evanina, once a top aide to both former National Intelligence Director James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, should not be in any position of power in Donald Trump’s intelligence community. Not only did Evanina also work directly with Andrew McCabe at the Washington FBI field office prior to his promotion to Brennan’s CIA in 2013, his name appears in text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, which is one reason why Grassley held up Evanina’s full Senate confirmation for two years. (He finally was confirmed by the full Senate in May.)

No one with close ties to the chief Russian collusion architects, no matter how sterling his or her credentials, should have a place in the Trump administration.

Further, Evanina’s claim is silly on its face. Putin’s criticism of Joe Biden when he was vice president years ago is evidence of election interference in 2020? That’s the sort of lame excuse Jim Comey used to justify his suspicions that Putin wanted Hillary Clinton to lose. And the notion that pro-Trump commentary on social media or Russia Today is straight out of Brennan’s bogus “intelligence community assessment” on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But no matter: Evanina’s dubious warning is fueling the outlandish notion that the accountant-turned-senator from Oshkosh is acting as an agent of the Kremlin.

“The warning lights are flashing red. America’s elections are under attack,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), citing Evanina’s statement, claimed in an op-ed over the weekend. “Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is moving ahead with an investigation into presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s family using documents provided to the senator by the son of a former KGB officer.”

Blumenthal is referring to Andriy Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian parliament who apparently has the goods on the Bidens. Derkash has released what he insists are phone call recordings between Biden and the former Ukrainian president that confirm Biden’s quid pro quo to release U.S. aid on the condition a prosecutor investigating Burisma was fired.

Derkach’s name—coincidentally or not—appears in the Biden campaign memo, a “classified” addendum to Pelosi’s July letter, Evanina’s election meddling statement, and in several news articles blasting Senator Johnson. (More on Derkach in a follow-up piece this week.)

Johnson, to his credit, is not backing down. In a lengthy letter posted August 10, Johnson articulated the history of his committee’s investigation into the Biden-Burisma scandal, listing several questions that both Bidens should be compelled to answer.

“In their current attempt to circle the wagons around Biden, they have once again decided to weaponize a false ‘Russian disinformation’ narrative as a tool for attacking their political opponents,” Johnson wrote. “We didn’t target Joe and Hunter Biden for investigation; their previous actions had put them in the middle of it.” Johnson also subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray to appear before the committee on August 20 and produce all documents related to his agency’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

With Republicans at risk of losing control of the Senate in November, Johnson needs to work fast. Fortunately, it appears for now that Johnson is undeterred by the Democrats’ attempted character assassination of him.

As for Joe Biden, as I will explain later this week, his Ukrainain problems are far from over.

Great America

Cotton to Higher Ed: Loosen Up or Lose Your Money

This is a campaign issue that frightens the Left, and with good reason. Republicans should move swiftly.

This is how bad higher education has gotten: Republican Senators who worry about federal overreach and don’t wish to harm large institutions in their own states have decided that colleges and universities have fully abandoned their Ivory Tower mission and can only be repaired from the outside. The remedy is called the “Campus Free Speech Restoration Act,” which was introduced by Tom Cotton. Stanley Kurtz explains the salient elements of the Act here

The proposal is simple. “Under CAFSRA,” Kurtz writes, “public colleges and universities that promulgate restrictive speech codes, so-called free-speech zones, and other unconstitutional speech policies will lose their eligibility to receive federal student loans and grants through the Higher Education Act.” Private universities will face lesser scrutiny, required only to disclose their rules for free speech and adhere to them or else face lawsuits.

That’s it: Protect free speech or the federal faucet is shut off. College leaders will have a decision to make. They can maintain illiberal practices such as the sequestered free speech zones (which cabin free speech to postage-stamp areas of campus and have even led the ACLU to protest them) and thereby see federal dollars disappear, or they can dismantle those practices and keep the money coming. They can revise their speech codes to fit the First Amendment and lose no funding, or they can maintain those codes and suffer at the bottom line.

The law has several provisions that Kurtz enumerates regarding complaint procedures and review processes, the role of the U.S. Department of Education, etc. that might slow down its passage. A few Republican legislators may claim discomfort with federal intrusion into state and private entities, although massive federal subsidies to higher education happen all the time and, currently, support these unconstitutional practices. Democrats likely will oppose it for the obvious reason that higher education has become a liberal stronghold and pipeline. The censorious campus has worked very well for the Left. Democrats won’t want to change it.

We’ve seen reform efforts in the past fail, too, such as David Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights campaign. But past history doesn’t matter, nor do the old debates. Today, life on campus has changed dramatically. Ten, 20, 30 years ago, conservatives complained about liberal bias, but liberal bias doesn’t describe the mood in higher education in 2020. If you are privy to emails circulating among the professors, proposals and pledges issued by presidents, provosts, and deans, ramped up diversity and “systemic racism” training programs, and organized malicious campaigns led by activist students such as the ones who got the UCLA business professor suspended last term, you know that the problem is not merely the tipping of the ideological scales to the left. 

Things have gotten more aggressive and insidious. The atmosphere is coercive and intimidating. Accusations of racism and white supremacy are loud and shameless, and hardly anybody raises a voice of challenge. (Classics professor Joshua Katz at Princeton is one of the very few exceptions.) It feels like a soft version of Girondins giving way to Montagnards, Mensheviks to Bolsheviks. The infamous demand letter signed by hundreds of Princeton teachers was no statement of liberal bias. It was a direct threat to academic freedom and disinterested inquiry and instruction. It put identity politics at the center of personnel and professional practices. No benign gestures toward “diversity” here, but rather outright insistence on preferential treatment for some and surveillance of the rest. With the subsequent criticism the letter has received from liberals as well as conservatives, some signers regret their participation. But if such proposals come up for an open vote in a college faculty meeting, will they stand up in opposition? No way.

Amelioration cannot come from within. Even our more timid Republican legislators understand this. They know, too, that the issue is a political winner. In March 2019, after President Trump announced his Executive Order securing free inquiry on college campuses, McLaughlin & Associates published the results of a poll on the issue. The tally was a surprise. Nearly three-fourths of respondents (73 percent) stated that they favored the edict (42 percent “strongly favor,” 31 percent “somewhat favor”). 

That means a whole lot of liberals backed the effort. Even some college students who lean left believe open expression is in jeopardy, 41 percent of the overall student population telling the Knight Foundation in 2019 that “Freedom of speech” is “Threatened” or “Very threatened.”  In 2016, the rate was only 27 percent. If we were to ask that question of all students today, now that the Woke Revolution has grown so much more voluminous and impatient, the rate would go significantly higher. (Overall, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, liberal and Left students make up just more than one-third—36 percent—of all college students.) 

Republican politicians, in other words, have no political reason for opposing Senator Cotton’s bill. As for Democratic politicians, they must face the many Democratic voters who acknowledge the problem. They can’t deny it when liberals such as Bill Maher and Michael Bloomberg have experienced it firsthand, or when comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock won’t do campus visits any more. President Obama himself criticized it. 

Senator Cotton’s proposal couldn’t come at a better time for Republicans. I have heard that Senator McConnell has signed on—a clear sign that this is a political winner. It puts Democrats in a bind: either vote against one of your best constituencies or defend an unpopular situation. Imagine how a Republican candidate can paint a Democrat rival who opposes Cotton’s bill. A campaign video might record his “Nay” and then show images of mobs at Berkeley setting fires to keep Milo Yiannopoulos and others away, the Turning Point USA guy socked while manning a table at Berkeley, Heather Mac Donald hounded by chanting dunces at Holy Cross, the infamous episode of Charles Murray at Middlebury, and then present several liberals who decry the censorship such as Jay Leno and President Obama himself. Show the hysterical girl screaming obscenities at her professor on the quad at Yale and calling him “disgusting.” Finally, the Republican candidate can say, “My opponent won’t do anything about this. I will.”

The censorious crusader cutting off free speech in higher education, whether the speaker be student or professor, president or trustee, has few supporters off-campus. They’re not likable. They turn college into a zone of scolds. People already hate the cost of college, and they know what professors think of average Americans. The woke craze of the present time only further estranges ordinary men and women on the street. They are ready to see it curtailed. 

Those of us who have witnessed one reform after another peter out have learned that the only method of ending censorship is to stop the flow of funds. College leaders, in fact, are primarily evaluated on how much money they bring in. A loss of cash will stiffen the spines of those leaders who otherwise appear so craven and conciliatory in the face of the shouters and marchers. One might note the immediate benefit of this bill by turning once again to the case of Professor Katz at Princeton, who will be spared any official rebuke by the administration because the school adopted the University of Chicago’s Principles of Free Expression a while back, and New Jersey courts will honor that commitment should Katz’s colleagues fail to do so.

 This is a campaign issue that frightens the Left, and with good reason. Republicans should move swiftly.

Great America

The Singularity Is Near

Can we, for the sake of our children’s children, find at the last moment a way to reverse course, to step back from the brink, to find a future timeline that avoids the dreadful singularity of civil war?

It’s obvious to all, at this point, that factional division is reaching a breaking point in America. Like a pair of locked-together tectonic plates pulling slowly in opposite directions, the strain has been increasing for a long time now—and when seismic ruptures finally occur, they happen suddenly, and release enormously destructive energies.

Some years back, John Derbyshire referred to this pent-up tension as a “cold civil war,” and here in 2020 more and more of us are getting the feeling that the term is apt. Is it? (The question has also been the subject of an ongoing weekly discussion between the radio host John Batchelor and historian Michael Vlahos.)

Scholars have argued over the nature of civil wars since the Romans first gave us the term. As described in David Armitage’s fascinating book Civil War: A History in Ideas, they have settled, over time, on a three-way taxonomy: 

Secessionist civil wars are those in which one part of a nation wishes to separate itself and go its own way. Both of the wars fought on American soil, it could be argued, fall into this category: not only the one we now call “the Civil War,” but also the one we proudly refer to as the American Revolution.

Successionist civil wars are conflicts in which factions vie for control of a nation’s political system. In these conflicts the form of the nation is not at issue, just who shall occupy the throne. History is rich with examples.

Supersessionist civil wars are those in which two factions, with incompatible visions of what the form of the nation should be, vie for sovereignty over the nation’s territory. The French and Russian revolutions were of this type. 

Throughout history, civil war has been regarded as uniquely evil. It pits neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother. It is the form of war in which, no matter who wins, the nation loses. Charles de Gaulle once said, “All wars are bad . . . But civil wars, in which there are brothers in both trenches, are unforgivable because peace is not born when war concludes.” Montaigne said, “Civill warres have this one thing worse than other warres, to cause every one of us to make a watch-tower of his owne house.”

One of the peculiarities of civil war is that it is hard to say, except in retrospect, when a nation has passed the point of no return. There is rarely anything so distinct as Caesar’s fateful crossing of the Rubicon. It is, rather, like falling into a black hole: there is an “event horizon,” at some distance from the singularity, beyond which nothing can escape. To a space-traveler falling through it, there is no visible difference, no noticeable boundary—but once you have crossed that fateful border, there’s no possibility of turning back. All future timelines must pass through the singularity.

Is that where we are today? For the answer to be “no” means either that one side in this great political conflict will simply admit defeat, or that there will be some softening of grievances, some sort of coming together in a newly formed political center. Does that seem likely?

Looking at the yawning rift in American politics—the fundamentally incompatible visions of society and government that the two factions hold, the dehumanizing mutual antipathy that finds freer expression every day, the unforgettable damage already done, and the implacable fury with which they grapple for every atom of power—can any of us imagine some way forward in which Right and Left just “bury the hatchet” and “hug it out”? 

Which Way America?

Comity requires a minimum of commonality—but the social and political axioms of “blue” and “red” have moved so far apart as to be wholly incommensurate. Even the most basic axiom of all—that the United States of America, for all its flaws, is essentially good and worth preserving—is now the subject of acrid, even violent, disagreement. (Our nation’s “newspaper of record” has even gone out of its way to insist that the premise is not debatable, but false.)

If we have crossed the event horizon, then what sort of singularity—which of the three forms of civil war—are we falling toward?

Although the 2020 election will be bitterly contested—it may even turn out, in retrospect, to have been the singularity itself—the stakes here are much larger than who gets to spend the next four years in the White House. No matter who wins, the underlying strain will only increase. (Indeed, it will probably increase sharply: if you think things are tense in America now, just wait till mid-November or so.) If civil war is coming, then, it isn’t of the “successionist” variety.

Will the conflict be of the “secessionist” type? Alas, no. Would that it were!

If we look at the current state of American affairs as a failed marriage, the best solution would be some sort of divorce. A secessionist solution might very well be welcomed by all, and avoid civil war altogether. The problem, though, is that, unlike our previous civil war, the two sides do not occupy distinct and contiguous geographical regions, but are, rather, mixed together county by county, or even house by house. Nobody has yet arrived at any plausible plan for the factions to disaggregate—and without physical separation, it is hard to imagine a realistic means of political separation. 

That leaves the “supersessionist” type, which seems closest to the mark.

An Existential Fight

“Red” and “blue” have profoundly different visions of the scope and structure of the federal government, and of the role of government in American life generally. They differ also on fundamental questions of religion, ethics, morals, and even human nature. Red believes that the American founding was a work of astonishing insight and inspiration and that it represents the best compromise yet struck by the minds of men to enable the possibility of ordered liberty and the individual citizen’s pursuit of happiness and prosperity.

Blue seems to believe increasingly that the whole thing was a sinister power-grab by a cadre of rich white males, designed to preserve and consolidate their immoral supremacy, and that the whole thing is so rotten that it should be torn up by its roots and replaced with something fairer and nobler. (Blue has already revealed that it wishes to see the Second Amendment, the Senate, the Electoral College, and our nation’s borders abolished—and its grievances hardly end there.)

We are fighting, then, not over who shall rule over the existing system, nor about whether the United States should be broken up into two distinct nations, but about whether the United States as currently constituted should continue to exist, or should be wholly replaced with an entirely new regime.

Yes, the idea of civil war is always repugnant. But there is another form of conflict that is very closely related to civil war—indeed they are often quite the same thing—that has exactly the opposite emotional polarity, and is especially well-related to civil wars of the supersessionist type: revolution.

Consider the difference. As David Armitage reminds us, “Civil wars, by the conventional understanding, betoken the blighting and collapse of the human spirit, while revolutions affirm and actualize it.” Civil war is a sickening thing, a noisome evil—but revolution is something to stir the heart, a pathway to fame and glory. (That the latter is so often just what the victors later call the former is quite beside the point.)

A Narrowing Presentism

A characteristic of revolutions is that they rupture the fabric of history. In periods of high civilization, however, that fabric is strong: healthy societies exist not only in the present, but extend both backward and forward in time. The citizens of a robust and prosperous polity are taught from childhood to have a reverent appreciation for what their ancestors have bequeathed them, and a sense of duty to preserve, cherish, and build upon it for generations yet unborn. (Just so was my own generation raised, long ago in mid-20th-century America.) 

To rupture that fabric is far easier when it is already weakened—and this is precisely what has happened in America, and in the West more generally, over the past half-century. Insofar as the American past is taught or remembered at all today, it is as a litany of sins, deserving not propagation, but denunciation. The result is that American culture has, to a very great extent, lost its extension in time, and exists in an increasingly narrow present.

Roger Kimball has called this, in a lovely coinage, “temporal provincialism.” We might also call it historical “stenosis”: a pathological narrowing of the channels through which the life-blood of the past flows into the present and the future. And in the sense that the present is always being born from the womb of history, it brings to mind the tying off of an umbilicus—though that is really far too optimistic a metaphor. A better one is the cutting of a flower.

This narrowing presentism tears at a fundamental requirement of civilization: that its citizens see themselves as a living bridge between past and future. If the past is rejected or forgotten, then we have no estate to bequeath to posterity, other than what we can build, ex nihilo, in the present. To create a viable nation from scratch, however, is a daunting task, and one that rarely succeeds. Revolution may make for an exhilarating present, but it destabilizes the future. 

Civilization depends also on high “time preference”: we defer present consumption to profit from the increased relative value of the things we build for the future. But too-rapid technological and social changes, and of course the deliberate obliteration of history, work to diminish confidence in the surety of the future and drive time-preference toward the present. This in turn manifests itself in hedonism, anomie, present consumption, loss of social cohesion (why pull together when there’s nothing to pull for?), and declining birth rates. This all feeds back upon itself in an intensifying, destructive cycle.

These are dangerous times. Civil war is nothing to wish for. But under the name of “revolution,” it can be a powerful attractor, especially in an era of pathological presentism. Have we already crossed the event horizon? Can we, for the sake of our children’s children, find at the last moment a way to reverse course, to step back from the brink, to find a future timeline that avoids the dreadful singularity of civil war? Only future historians can answer that question. But one thing is certain: things that are falling tend to accelerate. Time is short.

Books & Culture

A review of “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All,” by Michael Shellenberger (Harper, 432 pages, $29.99)

‘Apocalypse Never’ Takes Direct Aim at Consensus Climate Alarmism

This environmental humanist agenda that prioritizes love for humanity is a direct challenge to climate alarmists, who must now answer the question, as Michael Shellenberger writes “are they motivated by love for humanity or something closer to its opposite?”

An important new book by Michael Shellenberger, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us Allattempts to counter the common belief that climate change poses an imminent and existential threat to humanity and the planet. At 285 pages, this is a relatively short and very readable book, but it covers a lot of ground. And with an additional 125 pages containing over 1,000 footnotes, Shellenberger’s arguments are well documented.

The book should be required reading for politicians. It should also be required reading for Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, and the handful of other online communications titans who exercise almost total control over what facts and opinions make their way into public discourse. This book also belongs in the hands of climate activist journalists, for whom a 16-year-old truant is an oracle with unassailable credibility, while contrarian scientists and economists are only targets for smear campaigns.

Needless to say, Shellenberger’s book has attracted furious rebuttals—this one in the Yale Climate Review is typical—but it is unlikely many of these critics read the book all the way through or approached it with an open mind. One of Shellenberger’s primary points is that while climate change is occurring, it is not the biggest global environmental threat and that policies to “fight climate change” are causing some of the most harm to the environment. So-called “renewable energy” is a prime example of this.

Renewable Energy Renews the Power of Special Interests

To debunk the supposed environmental benefits of renewable energy, Shellenberger makes frequent reference to the concept of power density. In this analysis, nuclear energy comes out on top, generating the most power while consuming the least amount of space. Power density takes into account the footprint of the generating plant, as well as the area required for extraction of construction material and fuel, the distribution grid, and the subsequent waste storage. Following nuclear is hydroelectricity, then fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources bring up the distant rear. In order, they are solar, wind, and biofuel/biomass.

The extreme amount of land consumed by renewables is only part of the problem. Because renewables supply intermittent power, backup has to be provided either in the form of grid-scale batteries or natural gas power plants. Shellenberger exposes the links between fossil fuel interests and the pro-renewable-but-anti-nuclear lobby and makes a convincing case that there is a synergy between the two. By blocking nuclear power, which offers a continuous supply of electricity, expansion of quick-start natural gas power plants become necessary to fill in when the sun is down and the wind falters.

In a section that constitutes a goldmine for political foes of California’s aristocratic families headed by the Brown, Getty, Newsom, and Pelosi clans, Shellenberger spells out exactly how this clique used its influence to protect their oil and gas interests at the same time as they have steadily worked to eliminate nuclear power. This is a scandal ripe for further investigation.

Renewables don’t just consume land and cause increased use of fossil fuel to provide the necessary backup power, they’re killing wildlife. Lots of wildlife. Defenders of wind power make the stunningly deceptive claim that “house cats kill more birds than windmills.” This knowingly ignores the fact that cats don’t kill endangered raptors, they kill common sparrows. Windmills, on the other hand, are slaughtering raptors at alarming rates, along with bats and insects. In all three cases, this is no joke. Any competent ecologist will explain the threat of extinction posed by windmills to these species, as well as how essential their survival is to ecosystem health.

Land Use Impact and “Sustainable Agriculture”

To dwell exclusively on Shellenberger’s takedown of renewables would not do justice to the rest of his book. One of his primary themes is the land use impact of various policy choices, not only in the context of renewables but also with respect to agriculture and livestock. He explains that adopting modern agricultural practices is a more significant variable, by an order of magnitude, than climate change in affecting crop yields. He explains the potential of indoor agriculture, aquaculture, and mechanized agriculture to dramatically reduce the land required for global food production. He even cites studies that find “industrial beef” requires “fourteen to nineteen times less land than pasture beef.”

This point, that “renewable” energy and “sustainable” agriculture are causing far more harm than benefit to the environment, is lost on the climate activist lobby. Shellenberger devotes a chapter in his book to explaining how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has become politicized, and that the “Summary for Policymakers” they periodically release often misrepresents the source reports to highlight worst-case scenarios. These hyped summaries are then selectively quoted by activist journalists and agenda-driven politicians to exaggerate the IPCC findings even more. Pursuant to this message, no price is too great. If climate change is going to destroy the planet any day now, it doesn’t matter if the forests burn to fuel cooking fires, or windmills and solar farms destroy habitats and species.

For those of us who already are convinced that climate change is not an existential threat, but a manageable one that may take its place among a host of other serious challenges, no further discussion is required. Politicians are corrupt, business investors are opportunistic, scientists are politicized, socialists exploit the climate agenda, and ordinary people find meaning in the climate crusade that previous generations found in religion and patriotism. Enough said.

The Case for Big Infrastructure

Something else Shellenberger highlights, however, bears special emphasis. He makes a case for big infrastructure. Not only nuclear power plants but also hydropower and power grids. He describes the plight of Africans for whom reliable supplies of water and energy would completely transform their lives. Big infrastructure in Africa would enable prosperity, political stability, and space-efficient agriculture. It would eliminate the need to forage for wood or hunt game. It would take pressure off nature preserves. It would allow African nations to acquire the development and demographic trajectory already achieved or well underway in the rest of the world; a stabilizing population, female emancipation, lower infant mortality, higher life expectancy, increased literacy, better public health, urbanization. Instead, Shellenberger writes, “sustainable” development aid rarely funds infrastructure in Africa.

An example of a project that attracts almost universal condemnation from the global environmentalist is the Grand Inga Dam complex on the Congo River. If completed, these hydroelectric dams would generate far more power than the Three Gorges Dam in China; possibly exceeding 40 gigawatts of continuous electricity. Overall, Africa’s hydroelectric potential has barely been tapped. Africa also lacks a reliable electricity grid, or a natural gas pipeline network. With the exception of South Africa, there are no nuclear power plants in Africa.

The economic and environmental benefits of big infrastructure in Africa not only would accrue to Africans, greatly improving their standard of living and quality of life. It is also an opportunity that American investors and civil engineering firms ought to seize, with the full support of the U.S. government. This not only would extend American influence in Africa and offer remunerative opportunities to American businesses, but it would also be a way to revive America’s nuclear power and civil engineering industries. Moreover, it would preclude other nations, most notably China and Russia, from stepping in to fill the vacuum.

Shellenberger’s Credentials Defy Cancellation

America’s response to the “climate crisis,” is set to go into overdrive if Biden becomes president next year. If it does it will make all of life’s essentials less affordable, especially for low-income Americans, and diminish America’s ability to do good in the rest of the world.

Virtually all climate skeptics attempt to stress this moral foundation, from the irrepressible Marc Morano to more nuanced “lukewarmist” experts such as economist Bjorn Lomborg or scientist Judith Curry, but they face an overwhelming political and cultural momentum that marginalizes their voices.

The consensus enforcers may have a tough time shoving Shellenberger into that box.

Shellenberger, who acknowledges climate change is a problem, just not an existential crisis, has impeccable credentials as an environmentalist. He has spent his entire life fighting for environmental causes and was one of the pioneering “ecomodernists,” a school of thought that sought ways to decouple economic growth from environmental destruction, and promoted practical and optimistic solutions. Shellenberger’s earlier book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, co-written with fellow environmentalist Ted Norhaus, earned him the distinction of becoming one of  Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment 2008.”

To answer the deep need for meaning that apocalyptic environmentalism offers, Shellenberger concludes his book with a discussion of environmental humanism. As he puts it, “we need to go beyond rationalism and re-embrace humanism, which affirms humankind’s specialness, against Malthusian and apocalyptic environmentalists who condemn human civilization and humanity itself . . . we must ground ourselves first in our commitment to the transcendent moral purpose of universal human flourishing and environmental progress, and then in rationality.”

This environmental humanist agenda that prioritizes love for humanity is a direct challenge to climate alarmists, who must now answer the question, as Shellenberger writes “are they motivated by love for humanity or something closer to its opposite?” To emphasize his point, Shellenberger notes that saving the African gorillas, or, for that matter, the California condor, was not something we did because we needed the gorillas, or the condors, for our survival. We saved them because we love them. Surely we can find a way, in the beliefs and crusades that animate us, to do the same for our fellow humans.

Books & Culture

Scorch the Field

It is good for us to play sometimes, and not fight. In reality, people are united by what the political utilitarian cannot recognize: by play and song and worship.

In 1947, a few months after Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier in the National League, the Cleveland Indians jumped into the ring, signing Hall of Fame outfielder Larry Doby, who was in the middle of his career, and Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige, who was 41 years old and had spent what looked like a full career in the Negro Leagues. Paige quickly became one of the most beloved athletes in American sports.

Everybody had stories about Satch. He was a prodigy of agelessness. Whitey Herzog, who got to know him 10 years later, said that one day he and Paige were on the infield before a game, and Paige pointed to a hole in the center field fence, more than 300 feet away. 

“Wild Child,” said Paige, “how much do you want to bet I can throw the ball through that hole from here?” 

Herzog knew better than to lay down any money. Paige did the trick. He was over 50 at the time. It was no one-time trick: as a 49-year-old, he went 11-4 for AAA Miami, with a 1.86 ERA. When people asked him what his secret was, Paige said, “Never look back, because something might be gaining on you.” When they asked him what made his arm so strong, he joked that he’d gotten a lot of practice when he was a kid, throwing rocks at white boys.

He had unusual talent on and off the field. When Paige joined the Indians, his catcher Jim Hegan asked him if he could sing—a skill that seems to come from a different world entirely. Sure, Satch could sing. So Hegan, who had learned the art from his father, got together a barbershop quartet. Paige sang bass. Hegan, Paige, and two other teammates would go behind the backstop before games at home, to regale the fans with song.

Players were a lot closer to the fans in those days, in more ways than one. Most of them had served in the military during World War II (Ted Williams, perhaps the greatest hitter the game has known, gave three full seasons to his country during that war, and then the greater parts of two seasons during the Korean War). Many came from the working class, using their athletic talent to get free of the coal mines and steel mills (Stan Musial). Others came from farms and ramshackle towns that had yet to shake off the Great Depression. Others came from big and crowded cities. 

Most players made good but not great wages, so that they had to work in the off-season, too, and the work they did might have made them less prone to injury on the field. Whitey Herzog, for example, went south for the winter to work on a construction crew.

By no means do I mean to suggest that all was daisies and good feeling in those days. Let one story stand as an exemplar. 

The Saint Louis Browns signed Willard Brown, a Negro League star, in 1947. Brown, who liked to swing a heavy bat, felt that the Browns’ bats were too light, until he came upon one that belonged to the fiery outfielder Jeff Heath. It had been discarded, because the knob had broken off. Brown slugged a home run with it—the first home run hit by a black man in the American League. When Brown got back to the dugout, Heath took the bat and smashed it to splinters against the wall.

That action did not cost Heath his career, which was winding to its close anyway; it was his last season with the Browns. Heath’s sin was the inverse of catcher Jim Hegan’s good deed. I do not mean that Heath was a vicious racist and Hegan was a lover of all mankind. I do not know enough about the men to make those summary judgments. I mean that what Jim Hegan did brought people together and was wholly good for his team, and what Jeff Heath did fired up enmity and was bad for his team. 

If you ask which action was more political, the answer depends on what you mean by the word. If you mean having to do with a common good, then Hegan and Paige and their singing pals were more political, and not because they wanted to show that white men and black men could sing together. The races had nothing to do with it. They were making no such point at all. The good was in the singing. But if you mean acting in a politically partisan way, then wrecking a bat because a black man hit a home run with it was more political—more political, and, ironically, more destructive of the goods for which we have political systems in the first place.

And here I come to the behavior of ballplayers in recent days: kneeling together at the national anthem, in honor of Black Lives Matter. I find it to be more like what Heath did than it is like what Hegan and Paige did. Let me explain. I am not speaking about the intentions of the ballplayers, which probably run the full range from piety and charity through indifference and timidity to envy and enmity. Nor am I making any point, here, about what the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is taken to mean, or about the objectives of the group.

I am saying that the intrusion of highly partisan politics onto the ballfield hurts what the ballfield is for, and inverts the order of goods. For politics must always be subordinate not only to the highest things, such as faith in God, but to ordinary human things, as C. S. Lewis saw: a couple of friends talking at their ease, a man reading a book he enjoys, a family at dinner. 

The motto of the fascist Mussolini denied this healthy subordination: “Everything within the State,” he said, “nothing outside of the State, and nothing against the State.” As we might put it now: everything is politically charged; the personal is political; silence is violence; hate has no place here, and so forth.

In Mussolini’s Italy, there was no haven from roving fascist informants, listening to your conversations to see if they might arrest you for expressing the wrong opinions. In the old Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wondered whether he might safely talk about his own life, let alone about the Communist Party. In America right now, many people do not dare to say what they think, or even to notice what is right in front of their noses. Everywhere we turn, we see the blaring banners of political posturing and strife: at the dinner table, in the local choir, at school, in shop windows, and now on the ballfield. 

Look beyond the absurdity that men who knock a ball around a field will have some great insight into social problems that people who do not knock a ball around a field lack. I would say the same about almost all college professors, scientists, journalists, lawyers, and politicians. The ballplayers are compromising the essential work that they do towards the common good. It is good for us to play sometimes, and not fight.In reality, people are united only by what the political utilitarian cannot recognize: by play and song and worship. 

We need you to play, you baseballers, not to make political gestures. Your job is more important than that. Be like Satchel Paige and Jim Hegan. Don’t be like Jeff Heath—no matter what you think of the cause.

First Principles

Twilight of the Founders

In our arrogance, we imagine that it is we who are disdainfully rejecting America’s Founders. They would want nothing to do with us.

You can tell about the soul of a people by looking at who they honor. It used to be that America, more or less universally, admired its founders. But Americans today increasingly fancy themselves more evolved than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We imagine that these founders have been “found out.” Their great secret—their hypocrisy and “racism”—enables us, indeed requires us, to tear them down. It’s time to leave them in the past now, and find new heroes.

But where is this rage of pride leading? No sane, healthy society would elevate a person like George Floyd, and yet it would be difficult to name a person more revered in the country today. 

While many Americans are still unable to have funerals, Floyd received a send-off fit for a statesman. And that was just the start of his strange apotheosis. Having first become an angel, he has taken on more godlike proportions. In cities across the South, his colossal, digitized visage lights up the sky.

While it’s bad form to speak ill of the dead, we may make exceptions when the departed are wrongly beatified. This perverse exaltation reflects a timidity and self-loathing that increasingly defines the American soul, qualities revealed by months of acquiescence before unprecedented attacks on the freedom and dignity of the American people. 

These attacks are part and parcel of a radical effort to transform the country politically, historically, psychologically, and culturally. No less than Barack Obama expressed the necessity of starting over again, calling John Lewis a “founding father” of “that fuller, fairer, better America” that could very well take “centuries” to build.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, few men have a better claim to inclusion in the pantheon of this new America, whatever that entails, than George Floyd.Floyd, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, is an omnipresent figure who has played a corresponding role in ushering our creepy, despotic “new normal.” Arguably the most powerful doctor in human history, it is heresy to question Fauci’s mere utterances. Despite obvious evidence of his political motivations, he receives the unyielding adulation of millions of Americans. He is benevolent, unfireable. Even his mistakes are somehow proof of his perfection.

These new founders aren’t necessarily good founders, but they are the founders we deserve. An America with more confidence, self-respect, and jealousy of its liberty would not have lifted them to such prominence.

The original American Founders appealed to “manly firmness.” What would they make of Americans today?

Over the last few months, Americans have faced an unrelenting barrage of commands and insults. We have been ordered to give up work, business, and religion—to suspend human relationships under penalty of law. We have been ordered to hate ourselves, to celebrate the erasure of our heritage, and welcome whatever price America’s “guilt” requires. We have seen Americans denied the basic protections of law. 

To be sure, many protest these things, although many are too afraid to do so publicly. Others may be just credulous. But countless others have been active, willing participants in their own disenfranchisement. For many Americans, it seems, the highest virtue is to be perceived as obedient to unelected bureaucrats and their elected intermediaries, or else appropriately sensitive to the call of “social justice” and its advocates. No matter how arbitrary, absurd, or humiliating, the orders of these two classes of rulers must be followed, and with zeal.

A pandemic of self-righteousness and fear has turned many into willing subjects of the elite. For these, no activity, no matter how “essential” or sacred, that has not received the sanction of “experts” can be countenanced. What’s most remarkable is how many Americans have accepted living under these conditions indefinitely. There is no command too degrading or irrational for them to accept, and some go even further than is demanded. 

Perhaps you have seen people walking around in face shields lately. Eager to obey, they are just as eager to inflict punishment—gratuitous punishment—on those who contradict the superstitious authority of “science.” A deep distrust in the ability of ordinary people to use common sense, to think for themselves and direct their own lives, has led to a large part of the public identifying with an aristocracy of scientists, embodied in the august figure of Anthony Fauci. At bottom is a terror at the thought of risk and of the responsibilities of citizenship, which are readily abdicated to bureaucrats.

The whole spectacle is obscene and un-American, but it does not begin to capture the full extent of America’s abasement. Enjoined to honor as some kind of martyr a career criminal who pointed a pistol at a pregnant woman’s abdomen, many Americans have obliged that command as well. 

The deification of Floyd is a remarkable achievement of the politics of ritual humiliation and a spectacular victory for the new cultural revolution. With stunning rapidity, Americans over the last few months have been led to reject their heritage and accept Black Lives Matter as the nation’s conscience. 

The country has descended into ecstasies of self-flagellation that only intensify, with no sign of stopping. Americans kneel in penance for their skin color, while elected officials surrender entire cities to mobs of racial extortionists. America is condemned, its history rewritten, almost without opposition. An entire race has been judged as essentially evil. Some have been prosecuted for defending their property while white. None of these incursions have found any kind of organized response. Rather, they are advancing. Americans now support kneeling to protest the national anthem.

So what is this new America that we are all being told to welcome and celebrate like? It combines the worst features of unaccountable aristocracy with mob tyranny. In it, people with lots of letters after their name, and the so-called protected classes (sometimes both), tell everyone else what to do. Anyone who disagrees with them is a bad person who must be destroyed. 

What about the countless people in the middle: people who don’t have Ph.D.s and can’t claim victimhood under the rules of the new game? Simple: they have no part in our politics today, except perhaps to foot the bill. 

Whatever you’d like to call this, it isn’t freedom.

America’s proper founders understood that republics, no less than any other form of government, are not built to last forever. They require people to be patriotic, brave, and guarded of their liberty. But for decades, Americans have lost confidence in America and in their own ability to govern themselves. Self-rule was exported to a class of “experts,” while generations of schoolchildren were taught to hate America and its past. 

Finally, Americans have lost their courage and their esteem for their own capacity to be self-governing. Many seem eager to lighten the burdens of self-governance and follow orders. Others seem, strangely, to enjoy being told how racist and awful they are.

In our arrogance, we imagine that it is we who are disdainfully rejecting America’s Founders. They would want nothing to do with us.

Great America

Kick the ‘1619 Project’ Out of Schools

The federal government is more than justified in preventing students, parents, and teachers from being subjected to anti-American “history.”

America needs to get the “1619 Project” curriculum out of its schools. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has introduced a new bill that would go a long way toward that goal—the Saving American History Act of 2020 (SAHA 2020).

The New York Times introduced The “1619 Project” last August. The “1619 Project” mainstreamed the anti-American ideology of a new generation of woke activists, who have graduated from college radicalism to careers in progressive institutions such as the Times. The “1619 Project” seeks to rewrite American history with the claim that it is based on slavery and oppression, rather than on liberty and democracy, in order to delegitimize the American republic. 

The “1619 Project” claims to be “revisionist” history—but many of the best scholars of American history swiftly demonstrated that it was nothing more than a shabby, fact-free polemic. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning mastermind of the “1619 Project,” recently admitted that the effort never had a historical basis—and never even intended to be history. 

“I’ve always said that the ‘1619 Project’ is not a history,” Hannah-Jones said in a series of tweets. “It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is the past.”

Nevertheless, the “1619 Project” has had a profound impact on America’s schools. 

School districts in cities ranging from Buffalo to Chicago to Newark to Washington immediately announced that they would incorporate the “1619 Project” into their school history curriculums—using a1619 Project” curriculum that the Pulitzer Center posted to the internet as soon as the Times published the special edition of its Sunday magazine last year. The Pulitzer Center claims more than 3,500 classrooms have adopted their curriculum. 

Clearly, the project’s creators of the “1619 Project” had coordinated with the Pulitzer Center and school district leaders to transform the nation’s curricula immediately—without bothering to wait for input from parents, school boards, or historians. 

The “1619 Project” was meant to be a revolution from above, imposed on America’s children to teach them to despise their country.

We know that 1619 is a symbol of hatred for America. Wherever Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters succeed in defacing monuments or buildings, they leave behind graffiti—grotesque obscenity, hammers and sickles, every sort of slogan of hatred of America—and 1619. What 1488 is to neo-Nazis, 1619 is to the America-hating Left.

The federal government is more than justified in extending a helping hand to students, parents, and teachers, to prevent them from being subjected to the anti-American “history” foisted on them by woke infiltrators in the progressive establishment.

SAHA 2020 thoughtfully prevents carefully described sources of federal funding from reaching school districts that support the “1619 Project.” School districts won’t be allowed to use federal funds for direct support for teaching the “1619 Project” initiative. Nor will they be allowed to receive any funds for professional development. 

But Cotton carefully tailored SAHA 2020 to avoid measures that would harm students who are the victims of woke administrators. No school lunch funding would be affected, nor would funding for students with disabilities—no funding would change except for these two specific funding streams.

Indeed, Cotton would be warranted in strengthening SAHA 2020 considerably, to deal effectively with the challenge posed by the 1619 Project curriculum. Cotton might amend SAHA 2020 to:

1) Define what is meant by the 1619 Project curriculum, by reference to the contents of the Pulitzer Center’s the 1619 Project Curriculum.

2) Extend the federal government’s financial sanctions to prohibit funding that supports any third-party organization or curriculum that incorporates substantial elements of the 1619 Project Curriculum, such as the Zinn Education Project or Facing History.

3) Extend the federal government’s financial sanctions to prohibit funding that supports any state-level standardized assessment that incorporates substantial elements of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

4) Draft standard procedures by which individuals and organizations may report to the Department of Education that a school district has adopted some or all of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

5) Require the Department of Education to report annually to Congress which school districts have adopted some or all of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

6) Restrict eligibility for further carefully defined Department of Education grants and programs to school districts that the Department of Education certifies as free of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

Legislation to restrict the 1619 Project Curriculum should be as rigorous as possible.

America’s future depends on knowing our true past. We must get rid of the 1619 Project Curriculum to save our children from the anti-American lies of the woke establishment.

First Principles

Who Elected Twitter and Facebook to Censor Speech?

Banning anyone’s political speech, left or right, is wrong. Once the speech of one party is significantly constrained or even erased, any speech opposed to the powerful will be steadily eliminated.

I have spent my professional life defending the First Amendment and the free-speech rights it enshrines. It is the bulwark of all our freedoms.

The attacks on it are proliferating alarmingly. Now, the most powerful social media platforms—which function as today’s public square—are arrogantly silencing a U.S. president.

If a president’s right to be heard in the public square may be freely assaulted, who is safe? This is extremely dangerous to self-government and the perpetuation of our civil rights.

Yet politicians, many of them bought off by those social-media giants, do nothing. And the news media, which in the days of more objective journalism boldly championed free speech, say little or nothing if Republicans or conservatives are the targets. The same is true of former civil-liberties organizations.

The Latest Flap

The latest flap involves a Fox News interview with the president. Facebook and Twitter removed re-posts of it.

In the video, the president says children are “almost immune” to COVID-19 and should be back in school.

A Facebook spokesperson, leaving out the word “almost,” said President Trump’s statement is not true and violates the platform’s COVID-19 policies.

“This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois told Fox News.

Dr. Andrew Bostom, a Brown University associate professor of medicine, internist, and epidemiologist, insists that Mr. Trump’s statement is, in fact, true.

The above chart recently issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appears to provide confirmation. The blue line at the bottom shows the deaths of people ages 0-24.

While young people are not technically “immune” from COVID-19, one can certainly say accurately that they are almost immune to its effects. Particularly in the context of a political debate about reopening the schools.

The Trump campaign also shared the interview. That was retweeted by the president.

According to Twitter, the tweet was “in violation of the Twitter rules on COVID-19 misinformation.” With regal hauteur, Twitter pronounced that the Trump campaign will “be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again.”

Censorship Isn’t Authorized

Who elected Twitter or Facebook to control the political speech of Americans?

They were granted special protections by the U.S. government decades ago to simply provide platforms for the political speech of all — as a kind of utility. They were not supposed to censor political speech and use the platforms to promote their own views. Now that they have effectively killed off newspapers and come to dominate the marketplace for information, they are adopting censorship, for possibly nefarious reasons.

The silencing of speech by these media giants—which, victims assert, includes “shadow banning” that limits the ability of consumers to access certain people—seems to be aimed mostly at conservatives and Republicans. Critics charge that is part of a deliberate strategy to interfere with the coming election—to a massively greater degree than Russia’s much-touted tampering in 2016.

Banning anyone’s political speech, left or right, is wrong. Once the speech of one party is significantly constrained or even erased, any speech opposed to the powerful will be steadily eliminated.

We will no longer be free.

This article originally appeared on EdAchorn.com

Elections

Floyd Bodycam Leak Highlights Press Collusion With Government

It’s not just “self-censorship” and it’s no conspiracy theory. The politicized U.S. news media is working hand-in-glove with the permanent bureaucracy in the Department of Justice.

As the last wisps of smoke still curl up from the ashes of the widespread destruction left behind by the “mostly peaceful” social justice warriors who burned, smashed, and looted in the name of promoting tolerance and harmony, new details emerge regarding the catalytic death of George Floyd. It now turns out that the authorities in Minnesota have been holding back bodycam footage of the minutes leading up to Floyd’s death, which appear to corroborate the hypothesis that Floyd may have died of a drug overdose, not police brutality.

The British Daily Mail on Monday scooped American news media with the leaked police body cam footage. To be clear, the footage does not exonerate the police officers although it provides considerable context not previously available. Floyd refused several police orders including not making his hands visible during the initial traffic stop to resisting entering a patrol car.

In the video, Floyd complains about difficulty breathing before the infamous knee-on-the-neck pose. His shortness of breath may have been a symptom of an advancing drug overdose that ultimately may have contributed to his death. The autopsy indicated a quantity of 11 ng/mL of fentanyl in Floyd’s blood. One study of 143 postmortem analyses of fentanyl overdoses found a median level of 9.8ng/mL in the blood of people believed to have died from overdosing on the drug.

Setting that aside, the way in which the new information came to light is further indication that American news media cannot be trusted to cover and report facts. Why would a whistleblower need to find a foreign news outlet to publicize the highly newsworthy videos of the minutes before Floyd’s death?

The answer, of course, is that American news media work together to advance a shared political agenda. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. This is a project the New York Times wrote openly about in 2017. In the view of the writers and editors, history calls upon the American news media to oppose this president.

In early 2017, the media entered into a fragile agreement not to publish the infamous Steele dossier. Buzzfeed broke the agreement which ended the anti-Trump whisper campaign as the Steele fairytale could be subjected to the disinfecting sunlight of public scrutiny.

In the aftermath, CNN criticized Buzzfeed for not sticking with the program. Buzzfeed pushed back on the criticism, stating the publication was “not going to participate in an attempt to divide the media against each other.” The New York Times wrote an editorial complaining that the disunity of the press created an opening for the president, “And so, Mr. Trump won again, by succeeding in doing just that. It was all part of a show in which he used news organizations as props in their own lampooning while he played them off each other with labels of good and bad and selectively answered their policy questions. A united front would have given the reporters stronger footing.”

And since then, readers outside of the mainstream media have noticed a palpable “united front” within the media. Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of the The Intercept, tweeted this montage of supposedly independent news agencies using the same phrases like, “bombshell,” “tipping point,” “the walls closing in,” and “beginning of the end.”  Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh routinely compile such videos to mock the journalistic “united front” against President Trump.

But their unity is evident not only in the get-Trump effort. Plenty of other evidence exists.

In November 2019, ABC and CBS worked together to hunt down a reporter suspected of exposing media suppression of the Jeffrey Epstein story. And one should not overlook the fact that the entire theory of “Russian interference” in the 2016 election involved hacked and leaked emails containing embarrassing revelations that the media had coordinated with the Clinton campaign.

More alarming is the fact that the Department of Justice has joined in an effort to suppress foreign sources of information that might contradict the media narrative.

As I’ve written elsewhere, the now-abandoned prosecution of the Russian social media case was just an effort to block foreign news and opinion from reaching American voters. The Russians, the government warned, were introducing “divisive” political speech into the public discourse. “The case against Concord,” I noted at the time, “rests on the idea that if a foreigner publishes ‘divisive’ political speech critical of an American presidential candidate (but only if it’s not Trump), that person must first seek permission from the [Justice Department] and the [Federal Elections Commission], disclose his true identity, and reveal his source of funding.”

Thus, under the Justice Department’s theory of prosecution in the Concord case, it may now bring a criminal case against the Daily Mail for undermining American media unity by introducing “divisive” information to Americans. Indeed, authorities in Minnesota have already launched an investigation to find and punish the leaker.

This “united front” project so successfully orchestrated by American media has dire implications for our freedom. Beyond the obvious editorial bias that infects virtually all of journalism, the industry has suppressed the competitive impulse of reporters to scoop each other when the otherwise newsworthy story might harm the political objectives of the colluding outlets.

This should be seen for what it is: a conspiracy to restrain trade within the news industry. It’s anti-competitive, anti-democratic, and dangerous to our republic.

If the Department of Justice were not itself colluding to maintain the “united front” of the press, we would expect an antitrust investigation to be opened. Until that stops, Americans suffer with a politicized and united media that the Chinese Communist Party can only envy.

First Principles

The Strength of Strength and the Strength of Weakness

Many people claim to be fighting to create the world they would like to live in, but an astonishing number appear content to win on a technicality or disqualification rather than in a fair fight.

In the small Southwestern Pennsylvania coal-mining town where I grew up, the locals kept to themselves and were notoriously tight-lipped when it came to praising anyone for anything. The elderly residents—mostly descendants of Slovak and Croatian immigrants who came to the town to work the mine—were pessimistic people, distrustful of the Democratic politicians they voted for and resentful of the pretensions of the younger folks who had moved away to bigger cities, such as the 20,000-person county seat 30 minutes east on Interstate 70.

But men like my maternal grandfather did have one particular compliment they doled out as sparingly as the chipped ham or sardines they arranged on slices of white bread: they would note with approval when someone could “handle himself.” This person, usually a taciturn mine worker reminiscent of the cart-horse from Orwell’s Animal Farm or a stout widow who kept her tiny company house in immaculate condition for decades after her spouse’s demise, demonstrated considerable strength in the face of the decay and decline of their dwindling piece of the world.

They matched their personal force, such as it was, against the impersonal force of socioeconomic change. And whether this was right or not, seemingly able-bodied people who complained or even asked for assistance may have received it but were despised for their weakness.

Walter Stechly, the author’s grandfather, in 1942.

Walter Stechly, the author’s grandfather, in 1942.

I spent many summers with my grandfather. My half-brother, older than me by a decade, helped him lay bricks, insulate walls, wire and then test electrical circuits, and replace outdated lead plumbing pipes with PVC. I, by contrast, was given the simpler task of smashing aluminum cans with a rubber mallet. Since he drank 20 or 30 “lite” beers a day—Stoney’s was his preferred brand—the supply of cans never diminished regardless of my efforts.

After I had smashed several hundred cans, he took them to an aluminum recycling facility in exchange for a small sum of money, which he shared with me in proportion to the quality of my efforts. He rarely approved of the way I smashed the cans because the results were usually asymmetrical. He preferred an even crush as he could do himself merely by placing his massive hands on the top and bottom of the can and exerting pressure. “Look at your brother out there shoveling like he has a steam engine,” he’d tell me, proud of the hulking adolescent laborer who wasn’t even his blood relative. “He’s OK. Your brother can handle himself.”

Handling Oneself in Strength

All through my youth, I approached problems and challenges through this lens. Could I “handle myself” against peers, siblings, and abusive parents? The point, as I understood it, was to bear up under the unbearable—not to invite this pain out of some misguided lust for martyrdom, but to endure it for as long as necessary to escape.

For my grandfather, who had served as a medic during World War II and witnessed considerable carnage during the invasion of Italy, there were no victims in life, only survivors. Surviving, by extension, conferred only a limited right to continued existence: you lived to fight another day, for what that was worth. “Still sucking wind,” in his words.

I went on to endure my own hardships, absurd, and avoidable difficulties precipitated by my parents’ criminal behavior, and I tried to overcome them with ceaseless exertion. Strength, I reasoned, had to be met by strength. As I listened to lectures on early Christianity during college—a period when I worked 40 hours a week to pay my way—I contemplated those rich Romans who, upon discovering the religion in the wake of blood-soaked contributions made by its original martyrs, had sought to acquire their patinas of saintly suffering in the marketplace of public religiosity.

I puzzled over those patricians who gave away or sold their luxurious country villas and accompanying latifundia to journey to Asia Minor and set up residence in a cave or atop a high pillar, punishing themselves in various ways to resist what they perceived as their basest animal urges. Their decisions to openly embrace weakness, as contrasted with those humbler martyrs and hermits who had no choice but to suffer for their faith, gave them a special status during a time of imperial decline: they were “athletes for Christ,” experiencing intense privations to showcase their spiritual mettle even as their civilization declined in power due to plague, warfare, and bureaucratic mismanagement.

I recount all of this backstory because, at least in this case, the shortest way home—meaning to that home described in my first few paragraphs—happens to be the long way round. There, the distinction was made between those members of the community who could “handle themselves,” often in spite of insurmountable odds, and those who begged for assistance even when presumed capable of standing on their own. Help was always given to the latter by relatives, grudgingly of course, with the assumption that those in tight spots eventually wouldn’t be.

In other words, these “victims” of life itself were thought to occupy a temporary position. They might have fallen short, but the belief was that they could regroup, redeem themselves, and restore their lives to whatever status quo ante was in place before their troubles. That didn’t always work out in practice back in the 1980s, and with the town’s population in 2020 half of what it was then while opiate intake is probably many orders of magnitude greater, it likely works out even less often now.

Nevertheless, “handling myself” was the mental construct that carried me through a significant stretch of poverty and mental anguish. I wasn’t absorbing blows for the sake of absorbing blows, like a flagellant in a medieval procession or wrestler Cactus Jack in a blood-soaked hardcore wrestling match, but rather to reach the other side, wherever that was.

I would meet strength with strength, whether competing at a powerlifting event, arguing my case in a moot court tournament, or debating with peers in a graduate seminar. I harbored no delusions of grandeur but intended to hold my own. If I received criticism, I would address those issues and improve my performance. Much of my early adolescence, lost in a fog of ill-considered Child Protective Services actions, amounted to one loss after another, but that simply afforded me a deep foundation from which to rebuild.

The Strength of Woke Weakness

But this intellectual beau monde for which I had rebuilt myself, with books and barbells and 12 years in graduate school, is not one that prizes the ability to “handle oneself.” No, this brave new marketplace of ideas is monopolized by those who exhibit the strength of weakness, a strength of weakness that might be somewhat familiar to those late imperial Romans who were thinking of selling the estate and riding off into the high desert to drop some denarii on the salvation of their immortal souls. I write somewhat for a variety of reasons, most notably that a Roman circa 400 A.D. was still convinced that his soul would transmigrate somewhere after death, whereas today’s aggrieved peddlers in this “wokeconomy” propelled by the tail-winds of outrage are very much concerned with their life in this world.

I had not anticipated the development of a world in which status in some agreed-upon, academy-determined category of victimhood would prove sufficient to foreclose discussion of a particular subject. I failed to realize that mere reference to weakness, in particular to having and showcasing the most unimpeachable and immutable weaknesses, would confer such profound discursive advantages. The classic appeal of the late 18th- and early 19th-century abolitionists—“am I not a man and a brother?”—was how my father, who in spite of his myriad other faults had always embraced his own interracial family, explained human relations to me. Anthony Hopkins’ classic line from David Mamet’s script for the 1997 movie “The Edge” stuck with both of us, too: “What one man can do, another can do.” And Jacques Rancière’s emphasis on “the equality of intelligence” in his book The Ignorant Schoolmaster had carried me through my later years, fueling me with the conviction that anyone can teach anyone else anything, provided both parties are sufficiently motivated and open-minded.

Moreover, much of this boasted-about weakness was feigned. The truly disadvantaged—the invisible or less visible poor, disabled, “BIPOC,” what have you—had no stall or kiosk in which to sell their wares in the marketplace of ideas.

Their actual weakness, in many cases, had been assumed by well-educated spokespeople, who claimed to “do the work” on their behalf. Much of this “work,” insofar as I could understand it at all, consisted of accusing other people of not doing the work, not “organizing” (organizing what?), not “doing the reading” (reading what?), not educating themselves (you weren’t “paying them to educate you,” and believe me, I wouldn’t have). Such peremptory statements were meant to function as the end, not the beginning, of a conversation.

In fact, most conversations with others, even others ostensibly allied under the same political “big tent” who conceivably might support a project such as Medicare for All, were no longer possible at all. Only the divisions, which multiplied alongside the contradictions, mattered.

Social media in general and Twitter in particular are not reflections of life itself, the real life in which most good people live and die, but they do provide a cracked-mirror image of the life of the mind. And the life of the mind, insofar as it exists on Twitter, is enfeebled. You might even say that Twitter serves as the life support of the mind. “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful . . . how true that is,” former Vice President Dan Quayle told the United Negro College Fund three decades ago, though these incoherent remarks would certainly have more salience if applied to the ad hominem tweets exchanged between two journalists attempting to “do the work” of getting each other fired from the same legacy media publication.

I don’t believe these people, enraptured by the power afforded them through frequent resort to the strength of weakness, are engaged in “grifting” any more than I believe that some Roman senator who elected the life of an ascetic was some kind of secret atheist looking to score social brownie points for his sacrifice. When they call each other “grifters”—an overused term I used to think applied solely to the kind of schemes depicted in Jim Thompson pulp novels—that is vulgar projection on their parts; it is weakness talking to weakness, insecurity at its most profound. They are enraptured by the strength of weakness, but this over-reliance on that form of power has shaken their belief in even the “woke” morality they profess so cheap and hold so dear, and thus they end up pretending to believe in the amorality of everyone else. It is a mug’s game, turtles all the way down.

Not Handling Themselves

The larger problem is that the strength of weakness, regardless of its merits as a tool for advancing up the intellectual or bureaucratic ladder, is profoundly destructive. It turns its adherents into parasites, after a fashion: their weakness draws power from and is only relative to the strength of others, which must, in turn, be leveled. Everything high must be laid low.

The strength of weakness can topple any social structures in its path, which is perfect for austerity-obsessed bureaucrats and politicians looking to outsource the running of the country to Amazon, but it cannot build them anew. Rome preserved and enriched the inheritance of primitive charismatic Christianity, but as a polity, it eventually became Greek in the East and fractured into a thousand pieces in the West. The “boy who cried wolf,” as shop-worn a fable as they get, allowed the boy to draw the villagers’ attention to his phony plight up until the moment he couldn’t, the moment when an actual wolf attacked his flock.

Of course, this state of affairs, like any other, cannot last forever. The country faces a wholesale financial collapse, with foreclosures, evictions, and a wave of small business closures looming as summer turns to fall, events likely to forever alter the American economy. Out of so much uncreative destruction, precipitated by incoherent and frankly schizophrenic policy-making related to pandemics and protests, we may have the opportunity to rebuild the razed country from its deepest foundation.

Such work cannot be done by those who “do the work” of purporting to speak for the weak, yet in actuality cannot afford for the weak to become strong lest they lose their hard-earned roles as their mouthpieces (“Pity would be no more, if we did not make somebody poor,” wrote poet William Blake, “and Mercy no more could be, if all were as happy as we”).

No, this is hard labor for hard people—people who can shoulder the load and carry the weight, who would even the playing field by strengthening the weak instead of weakening the strong. It is all we can do, those of us who believe we are all men and brothers and strong in both body and spirit, because we must.

Books & Culture

A review of “Capitol of Freedom: Restoring American Greatness,” by Ken Buck with Shonda Werry (Fidelis Books, 208 pages, $27)

A Blueprint for American Greatness

Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-Colo.) new book provides the blueprint for correcting the progressive curricula infecting our schools.

You can’t fight somethin’ with nuthin’, as the old saying goes.

The “something” I refer to is the progressive curricula populating so much of what passes for our education system these days.

Speech codes and safe spaces are multiplying like rabbits on our college campuses. The Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” has franchised its “America is a racist concept” conceit to classrooms. Loudon County Virginia mandates indoctrinating kindergarteners with the approved narrative on slavery.

In response to the social justice warriors’ narrative of American history, traditionalists have offered . . . nothing. 

Now, Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.) has given us something with which we can fight. 

Early on in his new book, Capitol of Freedom, he asks, “Can we expect future generations of Americans to protect and preserve America’s exceptional greatness if they don’t even understand it?”

Buck wants to make sure they do, and in Capitol of Freedom he uses the U.S. Capitol’s art, architecture, and artifacts to tell the story of America’s heritage and history of liberty.

As he puts it, “I want every American to understand the meaning behind this magnificent building and its unique architectural features, paintings, inscriptions, and statues. Within these walls, too, are deeply moving stories about our origins as a nation—the American Revolution, concepts important to our founding fathers, their optimism about our country, and this bold experiment in which we are involved…the building represents the foundational institutions that make America great.”

The decision to locate the capital along the Potomac serves as an object lesson in compromise, so necessary to the functioning of a republic. The capital Mall represents the right to petition the government. The fact that Congress occupies the highest point in the district—what’s now known as Capitol Hill—signifies the supremacy of the legislative branch in the Founders’ design. Buck rubbishes the notion of coequal branches—the legislature is first among equals.

As for the Supreme Court, well, “All we need to do is walk over to the Old Supreme Court Chamber [a cramped room in the Capitol] to understand the judiciary was never envisioned to be a runaway branch of government, with unelected and unaccountable justices empowered to discard laws.” 

The story of how President Washington fired Pierre L’Enfant for demolishing the home of Daniel Caroll because it got in the way of the urban planner’s grand design speaks to another essential right—private property. (Hello, Kelo.)

Statuary Hall eminences, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg and Stephen Austin, testify for freedom of religion and the right to bear arms. 

Buck draws on his personal experiences in Congress. He has fun telling the story behind the red-white-and-blue AR-15 hanging in his office in the chapter on the Second Amendment.

He explains the importance of Congress’ investigative function with the Benghazi inquiry. The fight over a War Powers Resolution vote on America’s involvement in the Yemen war illustrates checks and balances, particularly Congress’ (seldom exercised) check on war-happy executives. 

John C. Calhoun shows up in the discussion of the nullification doctrine, but his is more of a cameo appearance. The starring role is reserved for contemporary progressives’ shenanigans to nullify the transfer of authority from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration. 

Comparing current Trump derangement to the Civil War is prescient in light of reports Democrats are wargaming 2020 election scenarios where Biden refuses to concede despite losing the Electoral College vote and West Coast states threaten to secede if President Trump remains in office.

Buck hammers progressives’ identity politics and their assaults on free speech, private property, and federalism, but he doesn’t spare spineless Republicans. He slams House Republican leadership for short-circuiting his War Powers Resolution and colleagues who choose expediency over principle.

The good congressman from Colorado concludes with a call to action “for individuals and families to help keep our nation on track.” 

Tone down the rhetoric, he says, in personal and social media interactions—“we can’t let the hate drown out the debate.” Get involved in your community whether by serving on a recreation board or volunteering for a campaign—and bring your kids along to learn how our system works. 

We also need to keep our eyes on our schools and demand more of them, he says. Do they still pledge allegiance to the flag? What else are the schools doing? Last year the Colorado legislature passed a mandate requiring third-graders to be taught about abortion. The bill applies to homeschoolers and private schools as well as public schools. It was written by Planned Parenthood.

A useful corrective to the progressive curricula would be a study guide on the principles and heritage of individual liberty that built American greatness. 

Capitol of Freedom provides the blueprint for the project.

And that’s not nuthin’. 

Greatness Agenda

Poland’s Geopolitical Future and America’s Role In It

Germany and Russia will do everything they can to overturn the existing pro-American balance of power. Is the United States ready to confront that?

The greatest significance of the recent victory of President Andrzej Duda of Poland in the presidential election over his liberal and pro-German opponent is international, not domestic. Poland is where the clash of geopolitical futures is occurring right now among the top world powers.

Russia dominated Poland until the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and it is trying to preserve remnants of its influence. Germany acquired a position of dominance in the early 1990s. It made many business investments in Poland to produce inputs for German industry, and 28 percent of Polish trade is with Germany. It also invested in the politics of Poland with numerous grants to Polish organizations, scholarships, and cultural programs. This symbiosis was agreeable to both countries and peaked with Poland’s 2004 admittance to the European Union. It was a great boon to Poland’s economic development but now the EU increasingly is regarded as a heavy-handed tool of Germany. 

The biggest disagreement between Poland and Germany concerns Russia. This conflict demonstrates itself in numerous issues such as NATO, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and many others. Poland pays its 2 percent of GDP NATO requirement, loves America, and is positive about the presence of U.S. troops, while Germany spends little on defense, has an army that is far from fighting status, and fosters anti-Americanism. Germany is constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to become a distribution hub of Russian natural gas in Europe, which will increase its vulnerability to Russian blackmail. Poland is constructing pipelines and LNG terminals within the Three Seas Initiative to free Eastern Europe of the Russian natural gas monopoly and to import it from elsewhere, mainly the United States.

Polish people also remember the 1981 German support for the imposition of martial law in Poland and its lack of contribution to overcoming communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. 

All this was tolerable until Russia invaded Ukraine and the Law and Justice Party won the parliamentary election in 2015. Poland felt very insecure and demanded that NATO establish a real presence in Eastern Europe—not just a formal membership—and resolutely oppose Russian machinations on its western borders. In view of the German attitude toward Russia, the Polish government turned to the United States, especially after the election of Donald Trump as president. 

During his term in office, Trump significantly strengthened NATO, opposed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and endorsed the Three Seas Initiative to build infrastructure in Eastern Europe. He also supported including Poland in the Visa Waiver Program to allow Poles to visit and do business in the United States. Currently, the Polish government is negotiating a new Defense Cooperation Agreement and terms of transfer of some U.S. troops from Germany to Poland. 

The reelection of President Duda allows the continuation of a generally strong Polish-U.S. relationship, strengthening of the Western alliance and building up Eastern Europe as an independent entity between Germany and Russia.

This does not fit well with German designs and Germany does not consider the matter closed. Though Germany is disappointed that the pro-German opposition candidate did not win the presidency, despite the subtle assistance provided to him (German corporations own 80 percent of Polish local press, and other media outlets), they are not giving up on other possibilities of influence. The first question they asked after the election is whether President Duda will remain aligned with the Law and Justice government and its policies. 

A few years ago, precisely after 45 minutes of telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Duda vetoed key government legislation on judicial reform. Obviously, he could be persuaded again to undercut the Polish government agenda. Further, after his last term in office, he might desire to have a career in the European Union institutions and only Germany can assure him of that, just as they appointed former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to high-level EU jobs.

Another avenue for German influence is the recent appointment of a new German ambassador to Poland who is a former deputy chief of the BND, Germany’s intelligence service, and former head of NATO intelligence. His father was a Wehrmacht officer during World War II who served on the Eastern front in Poland and Russia and was airlifted out of the siege of Stalingrad to become an officer in Hitler’s command headquarters. One would think this appointment might seem a bit insensitive to the Poles. The appointment of such a high-level official from intelligence services shows Germany means business.

Thus, the reelection of President Duda is a vote for a close relationship with the United States and the strengthening of NATO, as well as national and regional independence. But will it stay this way? Germany and Russia will do everything they can to overturn the existing pro-American balance of power. Is the United States ready to confront that?