It’s the Woodstock of perfidy! Hail, hail, the gang’s all here*:
*Kinda disappointed that ol’ Klaus Schwab couldn’t make it, but there’s hope George Soros will appear in animatronic form.
Fleshing out my first thoughts on the most recent election:
In Minnesota, the age-old wisdom prevails: money talks, bullshit walks. Tim Walz is sputtering fool, but he will be governor for the next four years. Unless his A1C level approaches triple digits, it’s highly likely he’ll complete his term and step aside for another sideshow act once he passes his sell-by date, some time around 2027. The DFL has the money and the infrastructure to control this state for the foreseeable future and the GOP has nothing. The DFL proved they could elect any droolbucket with a brand name when they pushed Mark Dayton across the line in 2010 and 2014. A guy with Walz’s skillset and mien wouldn’t get beyond middle management for any respectable company in the state, but he’s won twice. We can see all see it for what it is, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest — for the fourth election running, the DFL showed Team Rocks and Cows their ass. I don’t doubt they’ll find another standard bearer who is (a) absurd and (b) likely to win in 2026.
Keith Ellison is corrupt as the day is long, a 30-year grifter. He let a $250 million fraud run without interruption for the better part of two years. He’s now won statewide office twice. We’re pretty far gone if he can’t be defeated. I don’t doubt Jim Schultz is a competent lawyer, but his affect was of a guy who doesn’t get out of the conference room nearly enough and he was too nice a guy to run against a bully. To take the AG’s office back, the Republicans need a crusading litigator type who can prosecute the prosecutor and expose the rot within. There has to be one of those out there.
On the national level, it has to be said: Donald Trump didn’t help. He was and continues to be horribly wronged by what he’s gone through at the hands of his persecutors. And since civic education in this country is essentially dead in the water, most citizens can’t recognize that Trump is living example of why the Founders were against bills of attainder. Having said that, Trump will never get a sympathetic audience. He’s an obnoxious boor and he can’t get past his own solipsism; if he had even a scintilla of self-awareness, he might understand where he is, but we’ve been watching him for well over 40 years and that’s not in his skill set. Trump fancies himself the indispensable man, the conquering hero, but if he sincerely loves his nation, he’d recognize that martyrdom is a better career move. Not a chance in hell he’ll accept his fate, though.
Aside from the utter domination of Ron DeSantis in Florida, election results did not go well as one might have expected. Even so, the Republicans could still flip the House and the Senate. Based on reports from Arizona and Nevada, the Republicans could get over the line despite the Fetterman debacle in Pennsylvania. It appears likely that Adam Laxalt will win his seat in Nevada and there’s reason to believe Blake Masters may squeak by with Kari Lake becoming the governor in Arizona. Meanwhile, Herschel Walker will be going to a runoff in Georgia and has a good chance of prevailing this time. Even if the Senate ends up 50/50 again, I can imagine Joe Manchin may try to cross the aisle to save his ass in 2024. What will be interesting is whether Mitch McConnell would want him. I am not convinced McConnell enjoys being majority leader; he has more opportunities for self-enrichment in his current position.
Meanwhile, the Donks own the next two years. And they are going to hate that. There is still an urgent need for them to ease out Biden before too long, but they aren’t going to have an easy path to removing him, unless they decide to use Hunter Biden’s depredations as the pretext. Still, they will need a plausible successor. Kamala Harris impresses no one. Gavin Newsom is an empty suit. Pete Buttigieg? I don’t think so. Maybe it will be time for President Fetterman.
It’s finally Election Day and we can all breathe easier now that we won’t have to see Angie Craig’s alternating rictus grin/contorted face of rage multiple times a day on television, social media and other media. But will we see Craig going forward? While I sincerely hope not, it’s difficult to know. So let’s hazard a few guesses on how it will play out today and in the coming days.
Governor: Tim Walz deserves to be tossed out on his well-padded posterior, but I suspect he and Peggy Flanagan will survive. Scott Jensen ran a decent campaign but it’s difficult to overcome all paid advertising from Alida Messinger and the free advertising from the Esme Murphys of the local media.
Secretary of State: Steve Simon is a smooth operator and Kim Crockett is not. Should those traits matter? No, but they do. Simon wins.
Attorney General: We have had the DFL Lucys pull this football away before. Recent polling suggests Keith Ellison is in trouble and that Jim Schultz is leading. Do you believe it? I don’t, but I sincerely hope I’m wrong.
Auditor: If the Republicans are allowed to win a statewide office, it will likely be this one. Republican Ryan Wilson has run a fine campaign and you can’t spell blah without DFLer Julie Blaha. The auditor has limited power but a committed auditor can at least turn over a few rocks the DFL would prefer to keep stationary. Wilson wins.
CD-2: While there are 8 congressional districts in Minnesota, apparently only the 2nd is being contested this year. We’ve seen dozens, maybe hundreds of ads featuring the odious incumbent, Angie Craig, and her rival Tyler Kistner. It’s been a nasty race and Craig has serious money behind her. She’s vulnerable because of redistricting, but it’s not clear to me that Kistner has made the sale. A left wing veteran’s group has also run some stolen valor ads in the final weekend that may affect the outcome; I have not been able to determine if their claims are accurate, but if Kistner loses, that last-minute attack might make the difference. As an aside, I really wish we’d seen Republicans make more of an effort in CD-3, where it’s been entirely too easy for Dean Phillips.
Elsewhere: Control of the House and Senate are at stake and the deep unpopularity of the Democrats will almost certainly mean Congress will be in Republican hands in 2023. A few guesses on races in other states:
Wisconsin: while the population and demographics of Wisconsin are similar to Minnesota, Wisconsin is not a blue state. Milwaukee and Madison are lefty enclaves, but their overall population is less than 40% of the total population, while the Twin Cities are about 60% of the total population here. As a result, it is easier for Republicans to win. Ron Johnson, the incumbent Republican senator, is a bit on the crusty side, but he’s a smart, effective campaigner and looks to be a good bet to win against his opponent, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, a gladhander in the Hakeem Jeffries/Barack Obama style, but less effective. In the governor’s race, Republican challenger Tim Michels is also a bit crusty, but the fluke incumbent governor, Democrat Tony Evers, is an ineffective milquetoast. Look for the Republicans to win both. Continue reading
You knew it was coming. And here it is — student loan “forgiveness,” baby:
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he will forgive $10,00 in federal student debt for most borrowers, fulfilling a campaign pledge and delivering financial relief to millions of Americans.
Biden will cancel up to $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants.
“Both of these targeted actions are for families who need it the most,” the president said in remarks from the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
I love the smell of moral hazard in the morning. But if there’s a cohort of our society that really loves this sort of thing, it’s the folks who assumed their “Studies” degree was their ticket to the carriage class. The donks long ago realized they have neither reason nor incentive to bestow other people’s resources on the working class or the small business dudes, because they aren’t picking up the check at Le Diplomate. The “S” in an S corporation now stands for suck it.
At this point, the game is evident even to those who’d rather not think about politics — helping the commonweal is right out. Higher education is the best thing the donks have going and subsidizing their efforts is the highest and best use of other people’s money. And if you look at the price tag, you’re probably a denier. And if you paid your own way to go to trade school, you’re a chump. The rewards go to Derrida, not derring-do.
The timing is crucial here — there’s no question this move will piss off millions of potential voters, but there’s also no question that we’ll all be getting a steady supply of ether from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota and the constellation of like-minded political action groups flattering the Studies majors from Olaf and Kenyon and Swarthmore (and Eau Claire and Bemidji, too) that despite everything, they are actually part of the in-crowd. The checks will clear in plenty of time for the clientele, but the unwilling benefactors will be too busy trying to make payroll to get out and door knock.
But hey, have a nice day!
Many common social-justice phrases have echoes of a catechism: announcing your pronouns or performing a land acknowledgment shows allegiance to a common belief, reassuring a group that everyone present shares the same values. But treating politics like a religion also makes it more emotionally volatile, more tribal (because differences of opinion become matters of good and evil) and more prone to outbreaks of moralizing and piety. “I was thinking about that Marx quote that religion is the opium of the people,” Elizabeth Oldfield, the former director of the Christian think tank Theos, told me. “I think what we’ve got now is [that] politics is the amphetamines of the people.”
Writing for the Atlantic (via MSN), Helen Lewis also noticed something else:
I asked Alex Clare-Young, a nonbinary minister in the United Reformed Church, whether their faith or their gender was more surprising to Generation Z acquaintances. “I think probably being religious,” Clare-Young responded. “I know a lot of LGBTQ+ young people who say it’s harder to come out as Christian in an LGBT space than LGBT in a Christian space.”
Of course it is. In our world, the wrath of the mob is more fearsome than the wrath of God. And you’re more likely to get instant karma if you don’t bow to conventional wisdom. If you see a sign in someone’s yard, proclaiming “In This House We Believe [select platitudes here]”, it’s almost certainly a leftist. I suppose it’s good when they self-identify. But as the old saw goes, the devil is in the details.
We are living in a meritocracy that is utterly lacking in merit. And our betters know it. If the current leadership in Washington were confident in their abilities and in their support, you would not see FBI raids on political opponents and political show trials on national television.
You are under no obligation to like the Bad Orange Man. Likely a plurality of the regular writers of this feature are, if not actively anti-Trump, certainly Trump-skeptical. We all know him and, in a better world, he’d be back on television pretending to fire C-list celebrities.
We don’t live in that world. We have a hopelessly corrupt federal government and, at least in Minnesota, a kleptocratic political machine built for the amusement of the parlor pinks who support them. These are the same people who especially enjoy voting for Ilhan Omar, because doing so is brave and transgressive. Ask the local gentry and they will say it’s elementary.
If you’ve read The Great Gatsby, you’ll recognize the type — there are plenty of Tom and Daisy Buchanans in the world. They like what they like and they don’t like arrivistes from the outer boroughs. And they don’t care about the damage they leave in their wake, because they are, in the main, immune from the consequences. We send people like Betty McCollum and Vin Weber to Washington to dance for the Buchanans and, if their performances pass muster, they get to stick around long enough to make bank. And when the spirit moves, the politicos send us back a percentage the money they extract from all of us. And for the most part, those of us who follow politics pretend the labels our dancers wear really matter.
This construct has lasted a long time, at least 90 years and arguably all the way back to Grover Cleveland. All of it is getting shaky now, though. And in Joe Biden, we have the decrepit embodiment of the rot that has been building since the one-time Garanimals customers started learning their Gramsci alongside the trust-fund swells.
It can’t continue. And our betters know it. They are showing force, but they are not confident. They may be able to gaslight their way past November, but the reckoning draws near.
Former Trump hand Michael Anton, writing for Compact, offers a bracing view of the various pathologies of Trump haters, whose numbers are legion, at least among the chattering classes. I am going to pull a few quotes; this article is a festival of pull quotes, truly a “read the whole thing” special. But a few of Anton’s observations deserve particular consideration, to wit:
Complaints about the nature of Trump are just proxies for objections to the nature of his base. It doesn’t help stabilize our already twitchy situation that those who bleat the loudest about democracy are also audibly and visibly determined to deny a real choice to half the country. “No matter how you vote, you will not get X”—whether X is a candidate or a policy—is guaranteed to increase discontent with the present regime.
All along the Potomac, you can sense it: oh boy, here comes the hoi polloi. The whole point of the current January 6 show trial is to demonstrate, beyond question, that your concerns do not matter. Stay outta the 202, y’all. The enmity Anton describes began before Trump — before the MAGA hat became the visible headgear from hell, the tricorner hats of the Tea Party were not a source of great amusement to our betters, but rather an unwelcome interruption to the exciting new world on offer. The concerns of those citizens mattered not at all then and little has changed.
The Tea Party did not last; it was leaderless by design and easily coopted and dispersed by the professional Republicans who serve as junior partners in the Beltway ecosystem. So nothing changed. What did change? This time the hoi polloi had a herald, who happened to be a publicity hound from Queens.
Why did Trump get the gig? Why wasn’t the herald someone more housebroken, like Marco Rubio or “Jeb!” or John “Daddy Was a Postman” Kasich? Amazingly, it was because a carnival barker like Trump was more credible than the other worthies in the field were. Back to Anton:
The regime can’t allow Trump to be president not because of who he is (although that grates), but because of who his followers are. That class—Angelo Codevilla’s “country class”—must not be allowed representation by candidates who might implement their preferences, which also, and above all, must not be allowed. The rubes have no legitimate standing to affect the outcome of any political process, because of who they are, but mostly because of what they want.
What Tea Party/MAGA types want isn’t hegemony over their betters. Rather, they want to be left alone, without the ministrations of those who have plans for how they ought to live their lives. Can’t have that, of course. And if you are old enough to have had friendships of over 30 years, you understand and have likely experienced the following:
People I have known for 30 years, many of whom still claim the label “conservative,” will no longer speak to me—because I supported Trump, yes, but also because I disagree on trade, war, and the border. They call not just my positions, but me personally, unadulterated evil. I am not an isolated case. There are, as they say, “many such cases.”
Kevin Williamson and the NR gang, pick up the white courtesy phone. Then Anton gets to the nub:
How are we supposed to have “democracy” when the policies and candidates my side wants and votes for are anathema and can’t be allowed? How are we supposed to live together with the constant demonization from one side against the other blaring 24/7 from the ruling class’s every propaganda organ? Why would we want to?
I am not sure we can. There’s more, a whole lot more, at the link. Consider it carefully, as we are in a dangerous moment.
Deep thoughts from Chris Cillizza, circa 2015:
Joe Biden’s unique trait as a politician is — and always has been — his honesty. Sometimes that honesty gets him into varying degrees of trouble. Sometimes it makes it seem as though he’s the closest thing to a real person you could possibly hope for in politics.
This didn’t age too well, now did it? I can’t prove Cillizza’s childhood nickname wasn’t Corn Pop, or that he wasn’t at some point a classmate of Biden’s at the Naval Academy, but it’s a useful reminder that our betters have been carrying water for Ol’ Joe for a very long time now. There was more:
The Joe Biden on display with Colbert is the person who has inspired remarkable loyalty — over decades — from a tightknit group of staffers who would form the core of his presidential brain trust if he decided to run in 2016. It’s the guy who, for a time in 1987, was one of the front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination. It’s who Barack Obama saw when he decided to pick Biden as his vice president in 2008.
1987. Do you remember why Biden fell from grace all those years ago? I suppose you could ask Neil Kinnock, whose speech Biden plagiarized. You could ask Barack Obama:
One Democrat who spoke to Obama recalled the former president warning, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.”
After the last 18 months, no one seriously doubts The Leader of the Free World’s ability in that realm.
Dobbs finally arrived:
“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito for the majority. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
He was joined in the majority opinion by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Justice Roberts filed a separate opinion concurring with the majority.
“With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” wrote Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in a joint dissent.
The issue of abortion will now be returned to the individual states to regulate as each sees fit. Dark blue states are expected to impose the most radical pro-abortion policies while dark red states may ban all abortion. Many states may choose to allow abortion only under certain circumstances.
A few thoughts:
- I am Catholic. We walk by faith and reason. Both faith and reason point to why Catholics have always opposed abortion. In that sense, today is a great day.
- Now the battle really begins, and I do not mean the inevitable attacks and violence that will unfold over the coming days. The real battle is to win hearts and minds where possible. As long as Roe existed, all potential discussions about the morality and efficacy of abortion laws were always more theoretical than real, because 7 dudes said so. Now, for good and bad, the people and their elected representatives get to decide the matter.
- The Court’s decision is, at bottom, an admission of humility. Roe was always an exercise in raw judicial power, as Byron White said in his dissent nearly 50 years ago. And as is often the case, the best use of power is sometimes to refrain from wielding such power.
- Between this decision and the court’s earlier decision this week in the Bruen case, the court has at least started a necessary process of returning to first principles. And if the Court were to continue this process, I’d certainly like them to look at earlier abusive rulings. I’d start with Wickard v. Filburn.
So the economy’s in the crapper and you’re a worried Democrat? CNN has found the silver lining:
All of this could pose problems for Biden and Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.
But if there is any consolation for Biden, the market implosion during the early stages of his presidency is not as bad as those experienced by some of his predecessors, according to data from CFRA Research chief investment strategist Sam Stovall.
The market plunged 16.5% in the first 510 days of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, which was also a period of historically high inflation. Stocks were down 25% in the early part of George W. Bush’s presidency, as the market was in the midst of the dot-com meltdown and struggled to recover in the aftermath of 9/11. But both Reagan and George W. Bush wound up being re-elected.
Meanwhile, stocks soared more than 20% early in both George H.W. Bush’s and Donald Trump’s tenures in the Oval Office. Neither was elected to a second term.
Reagan had principles, a plan, and crucially Paul Volcker working with him. W, for what it’s worth, had a war and craven opposition. Biden has nothing except long knives sharpening in the background.
If the story presented in this Wall Street Journal article is true, what happened at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, could have been prevented or greatly mitigated:
Local residents voiced anger Thursday about the time it took to end the mass shooting at an elementary school here, as police laid out a fresh timeline that showed the gunman entered the building unobstructed after lingering outside for 12 minutes firing shots.
12 minutes can be a lifetime. But it gets worse.
Victor Escalon, a regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, gave a new timeline of how the now-deceased gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, walked into Robb Elementary School, barricaded himself in a classroom and killed 19 children and two teachers.
Mr. Escalon said he couldn’t say why no one stopped Ramos from entering the school during that time Tuesday. Most of the shots Ramos fired came during the first several minutes after he entered the school, Mr. Escalon said.
And worse still:
Ramos shot his grandmother Tuesday morning and drove her truck to Robb Elementary School, crashing the vehicle into a nearby ditch at 11:28 a.m., according to the timeline laid out by Mr. Escalon. He then began shooting at people at a funeral home across the street, prompting a 911 call reporting a gunman at the school at 11:30. Ramos climbed a chain-link fence about 8 feet high onto school grounds and began firing before walking inside, unimpeded, at 11:40. The first police arrived on the scene at 11:44 and exchanged gunfire with Ramos, who locked himself in a fourth-grade classroom. There, he killed the students and teachers.
A Border Patrol tactical team went into the school an hour later, around 12:40 p.m., and was able to get into the classroom and kill Ramos, Mr. Escalon said.
Consider the implication of this timeline — Ramos essentially announced himself and his intentions from the moment he arrived, but no one stopped him for over an hour. And it gets worse:
Ms. Gomez, a farm supervisor, was also waiting outside for her children. She said she was one of numerous parents who began encouraging—first politely, and then with more urgency—police and other law enforcement to enter the school sooner. After a few minutes, she said, U.S. Marshals put her in handcuffs, telling her she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation.
The Marshals deny this happened, but there’s more.
Videos circulated on social media Wednesday and Thursday of frantic family members trying to get access to Robb Elementary as the attack was unfolding, some of them yelling at police who blocked them from entering.
“Shoot him or something!” a woman’s voice can be heard yelling on a video, before a man is heard saying about the officers, “They’re all just [expletive] parked outside, dude. They need to go in there.”
We worry, quite rightly, about the fog of war in these instances. Much of the initial reporting is wrong. I am hoping the story told here is wrong; if it is accurate, there will be hell to pay. And quite rightly so.
It’s not something I think about that much, but I do from time to time — why do Classic Rock stations sound the same, year after year? I wrote about this on my moribund blog a number of years ago and, based on recent listening to market-dominant KQRS, this list of faves hasn’t changed a bit:
In thinking about this list, a few things are worth noting:
- The majority of the songs on this list are written in a minor key. If rock and roll is supposed to be uplifting, this group of songs isn’t it.
- Of the bands listed here, the happiest band appears to be ZZ Top, who made their name initially as a bare-bones Texas blues trio, until they made their fortune hawking classic cars and leggy models. Make of that what you will.
- Think back to any of the years listed here. Would you have had any interest in listening to songs that were recorded as long ago from that moment as these songs are from today? I didn’t hear much of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys or the Andrews Sisters in 1983, for example, nor do I recall seeking such things out. In fact, I’m more likely to seek out Bob Wills today than most of the songs listed here, right or wrong.
- In my youth I was reliably informed that rock and roll was supposed to be about rebellious youth and revolution. While their politics were dodgy at best, the Clash was right about this much — you grow up and you calm down; you start wearing blue and brown. And so has the music of our youth.
Gil Scott-Heron, who doesn’t get much airplay these days, argued back then that the revolution will not be televised. But rest assured it will be monetized.
So how to stop Dobbs? Declare a sex strike:
Some on the left have come up with creative ways they think will encourage people to save Roe v. Wade.
Earlier this week on The View, co-host Joy Behar floated the idea of a sex strike.
“Women in the world have conducted sex strikes in history,” Behar explained. “In 2003, a sex strike helped to end Liberia’s brutal civil war and the woman who started it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009, Kenyan women enforced a sex ban until police political infighting ceased. Within one week, there was a stable government.”
“We have more power than we think we do and some of it could be in the bedroom,” Behar insisted.
As a general rule, restricting the supply of something that generates little to no demand doesn’t change much. And for Behar and her colleagues, their greatest output is not sex appeal, but rather self-regard. So go ahead, get on the picket line! And rest assured, we won’t cross picket lines on this one.
So we have a leak and it appears the Supremos are sending Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood to the dustbin of history. A few very brief thoughts:
- Justice Alito is right: Roe was always built on a foundation of nothing. Justice White was also correct when Roe was decided. Roe was an exercise of raw judicial power. And raw power is always used eventually.
- And if we’re in housekeeping season, now do Wickard v. Filburn.
- The Dobbs ruling, assuming it goes through, changes nothing in Minnesota. Abortion is legal by statute here.
- The leak itself is awful for the Court, but it was also inevitable. There was always an incentive to break this particular taboo and the leaker will be celebrated, not punished. MSNBC will have a corner office prepared by EOB today.
- I don’t know what Chief Justice John Roberts will do, but it’s going to be another opportunity for him to go peak weasel.
- One unanswered question — does Dobbs apply to pregnant men?
The usual caveats about interesting times are in full effect.
I’ve spent the majority of my career in the employ of Fortune 500 corporations, including my current employer. In the early years, those companies would sometimes make a show of their social goodness but they weren’t particularly wedded to a lefty agenda. That’s changed in the last 10-15 years, but recent events have some C-suite grandees thinking twice:
The fallout from the recent political spat between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has alarmed leaders across the corporate sphere, according to executives and their advisers, and heightened the challenges for chief executive officers navigating charged topics.
At many companies, vocal employees have in recent years pushed bosses to take public stands on social and political issues. Florida’s pushback against Disney has raised the stakes.
Yeah, it certainly has. You have to wonder why a company would choose to make their appeal, ahem, more selective, but the instinct is strong:
“The No. 1 concern CEOs have is, ‘When should I speak out on public issues?’ ” said Bill George, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic PLC and now a senior fellow at Harvard Business School. “As one CEO said to me, ‘I want to speak out on social issues, but I don’t want to get involved in politics.’ Which I said under my breath, ‘That’s not possible.’ ”
It’s not possible. Put more simply, it’s dumb. A CEO who spends more than a passing moment thinking about social issues isn’t paying attention to what really matters. Younger employees, who have gone from participation trophies to believing their opinions are probative without much active contradiction, are difficult to manage, so the urge to mollify them is strong.
My current company has a full range of employee groups that cater to the constellation of grievances of the modern Left. These groups regularly get a moment to hold forth in the latest Zoom Town Hall or on the company intranet page. There’s not a lot of evidence these groups actually improve the conditions they decry, but never mind that. It’s a chance to wave the freak flag, and as an overall strategy it makes sense:
Some executives say they have learned to monitor issues that could consume public attention and increase pressure for some response. Some use employee affinity groups to help flag potentially troublesome issues. “You make it a safe forum where people feel comfortable talking about concerns or whatever, and out of that, there’s really a kind of responsibility on our part to pick up on things that really do demand some attention,” said Nancy Langer, CEO of Transact Campus Inc., a financial- technology company based near Phoenix. “I look at that as a feedback loop for us.”
The challenge, as always, is to ensure the loop doesn’t become a noose.
But this runnin’ with the Bidens, boy, just ain’t where it’s at:
Hunter Biden’s closest business partner made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015, including a sitdown with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the West Wing.
Visitor logs from the White House of former President Barack Obama reviewed by The Post cast further doubt over Joe Biden’s claims that he knew nothing of his son’s dealings.
If Biden claims he knows nothing about such things now, I tend to believe him. He doesn’t appear to know much of anything. That ol’ historical record is an issue, though:
Eric Schwerin met with Vice President Biden on November 17, 2010 in the West Wing, when he was the president of the since-dissolved investment fund Rosemont Seneca Partners.
The logs also reveal that Schwerin met with various close aides of both Joe and Jill Biden at key moments in Hunter’s life when he was striking multi-million dollar deals in foreign countries, including China. Yet President Biden has long insisted he had no involvement in his son’s foreign affairs. “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” he said in 2019.
Does Biden’s denial beggar belief? Of course. If Hunter Biden’s surname had been, I dunno, Doakes, a guy like Schwerin would have been as welcome roaming the halls of power as the guy with the facepaint and the Buffalo headgear was on Jan. 6. But as an associate of Biden the younger, he had the golden ticket.
”Not everyone gets to meet the Vice President of the United States in the White House. The press should be asking why Hunter Biden’s business associates — like Eric Schwerin — had that privilege and were given access to the Obama White House,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin). “This is additional evidence that Joe Biden lied when he said he never discussed Hunter’s foreign business dealings. It’s well past time for the corporate media to demand the truth from Joe Biden. The corruption of Biden Inc. must be exposed.”
Strictly speaking, the logs don’t prove Biden lied, but it’s certainly the way to bet. And while Senator Johnson is correct in asserting the press ought to be asking questions, I would not count on any investigative reporting happening any time soon. There’s a lot more at the link, including this reminder of how incestuous the power structure is in Washington:
In October 2009, just months after Hunter co-founded Rosemont Seneca, Schwerin met with Evan Ryan, Vice President Biden’s assistant for intergovernmental affairs and public liaison, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where the vice president’s office is based, according to the visitor logs.
While working in the halls of power Ryan acted as a conduit for Hunter Biden and his cronies, hard drive emails show.
Ms. Ryan is now the Cabinet Secretary for Biden. And speaking of Biden’s cabinet. . .
Ryan went on to marry Antony Blinken, who now serves as President Biden’s Secretary of State, while she herself was appointed to a plum gig as White House Cabinet Secretary in January 2021.
It’s all in the family.
An Inigo Montoya moment:
Democracy. They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.
Of course, what frightens Max Boot is having anything he says face a challenge. Content moderation is especially cool if it means you don’t have to face any discontent. Boot’s preferred usage is a Boot on the throat.
I am not sure what I think about Elon Musk generally. One could argue he’s built his fortune by using government subsidies and cronyism, as he clearly has, but it’s also undeniable he’s building useful things. And it’s absolutely undeniable that he has all the right enemies. And the cognitive dissonance is off the damned charts:
Does Musk want to take over Twitter? I don’t think so. The company’s financials aren’t great, and running social media companies is hard. The car crash that is former President Donald Trump’s social media experiment, Truth Social, is a cautionary tale for Musk. Does Musk want to name some people to Twitter’s board of directors? Maybe. That would allow him to have some say over its affairs without spending too much time or money.
That’s worrisome, because it’s not ideal to have a free speech absolutist who isn’t absolutely in favor of free speech at the helm of — or even close to — a media company.
So where is Timothy O’Brien making this argument? Bloomberg. Who runs Bloomberg? A billionaire who happened to be a presidential candidate in the last cycle. We live in an unserious world.
Let’s start with a little music:
The facts we hate
We’ll never meet
Walking down the road
Everybody yelling, “Hurry up, hurry up!”
But I’m waiting for you
I must go slow
I must not think bad thoughts
When is this world coming to?
Can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s tough avoiding bad thoughts these days. The larger question isn’t having bad thoughts, but whether you can express them. John Hayward, a/k/a Doc Zero, notices something important — the calls are coming from inside the house:
There is a part of the conservative sphere that has always felt populism is the ultimate sin, only the Left should be allowed to fight culture wars, and genuine conservative grassroots movements should be immediately run down with rhetorical lawn mowers.
There are different reasons why some conservatives gravitate to this way of thinking. Some are paid grifters. Some live deep inside the left-wing information sphere and inherit its prejudices, such as the notion cultural combat is toxic for conservatives but OK for lefties.
It’s always about the rice bowls. But there’s more:
For these timid elements of conservatism, the worst offense of the Right is questioning the motives of the Left. Nothing makes them spring into action against other conservatives faster than insinuations of bad faith or sinister motives against the Left.
Bad faith has been a growth industry on the port side since, I dunno, Rousseau maybe. It’s certainly not a recent development. Continuing on:
Run through the list of top issues: if you want border security, you must be a xenophobe. If you oppose abortion, you must be a blind religious fanatic or misogynist. If you want smaller government, you’re cruel and greedy. Question global warming? You’re a tool of Big Oil.
We are rat bastards, aren’t we? I must not think bad thoughts. But there’s more:
But as soon as any head of steam builds among grassroots conservatives for questioning the motives of the Left on similar grounds, the timid conservatives leap into action. Tut tut! That language is out of bounds! How dare you imply Lefty’s agenda is deliberately destructive!
They’ll tell you it’s paranoia and slander to talk about the destructive agenda of the Left even as hyperventilating lefties are busy laying out their agenda with hundreds of social media videos and vowing to destroy anyone who gets in their way.
I believe Mel Brooks had a number in Blazing Saddles about this, calling it the French Mistake. In modern parlance, that would be David French. But we’re not done:
Too much of the conservative commentariat is exactly that: commentators. They were comfortable remarking on the passing scene, not changing it. “Activism” was a dirty word, something the OTHER guys did. Tossing harmless Nerf footballs of theory around op-ed pages was good enough.
Change is hard and things are pretty cozy in the covens along the Potomac. And most of all, dudes wearing tricorner MAGA hats are not our kind, dear. We must not think bad thoughts. I’ve pulled a lot out of Hayward’s thread, but there’s even more. You should read it in full. But while his cri de coeur is compelling, it is clear our betters remain in their sinecures. And we’ll come back to that topic in the coming days.
Given the glacial pace of John Durham’s investigation, it’s easy to assume that nothing is really going to come of his efforts; it’s a drill we’ve all seen before. Before Lucy pulls the football away yet again, let’s note that Durham did establish something long suspected:
John Durham released a potential smoking gun in the case against Michael Sussmann on Monday night, as he published documents showing the Democratic cybersecurity lawyer messaged the FBI general counsel that he was not working on behalf of any client, when in fact he was working for the Clinton campaign.
So what did Sussman say?
On Monday evening, however, Durham revealed Sussmann conveyed that lie in a text message to [FBI general counsel James] Baker on Sept. 18, 2016 — the night before their meeting at the bureau.
“Jim – it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss,” Sussmann wrote to the FBI top lawyer. “Do you have availibilty [sic] for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own – not on behalf of a client or company – want to help the Bureau. Thanks.”
Except he wasn’t. He was indeed representing the Clinton campaign. As the linked article from the Washington Examiner explains:
Sussmann’s lawyers have said Sussmann met with the FBI in September 2016 “to pass along information that raised national security concerns” and characterized this as simply “to provide a tip.” The lawyers contended that Sussmann was “charged with making a false statement about an entirely ancillary matter — about who his client may have been when he met with the FBI — which is a fact that even the Special Counsel’s own indictment fails to allege had any effect on the FBI’s decision to open an investigation.”
Durham countered that “the defendant made his false statement directly to the FBI General Counsel on a matter that was anything but ancillary: namely, the existence … of attorney-client relationships that would have shed critical light on the origins of the allegations at issue.”
“The defendant’s false statement to the FBI General Counsel was plainly material because it misled the General Counsel about, among other things, the critical fact that the defendant was disseminating highly explosive allegations about a then-Presidential candidate on behalf of two specific clients, one of which was the opposing Presidential campaign,” Durham wrote.
Do I have any reasonable expectation that Sussmann will ultimately be brought to justice, let alone his clients? Forget it D, it’s Chinatown. And as Sussmann’s client famously said in yet another context:
What difference does it make? We know. And while stories are soft pedaled or buried entirely, they are out there to know. And in the case of the Clintons, it means they won’t be coming back.
It’s almost impossible to put enough lipstick on the porcine Biden administration. All the polls are in the crapper and the only numbers that are going up are in the grocery aisles. Meanwhile, as Joel Kotkin notes, Biden and the rest of the party are doing their best Thelma and Louise imitation, especially where the environment is concerned:
The cave-in to the greens has increased the Democrats’ economic vulnerability, particularly in the wake of Russian aggression and the continued role of China as the world’s dominant greenhouse-gas emitter. The well-funded American environmental elite lack the grudging sense of realism of their German counterparts, who have been forced to reconsider some of their energy policies in light of the invasion. But in resource-rich America, the green grandees still oppose boosting fossil-fuel energy supplies, despite 80 per cent of voters, and an equal percentage of Democrats, favouring the use of both fossil fuels and renewables. Public support for Net Zero / the Green New Deal hovers around 20 per cent.
You don’t want to get crosswise of the ol’ 80/20 rule, but somehow the Donks have pulled it off. And it’s got the old Clinton hands up in arms. Back to Kotkin:
Cultural issues represent another fault line between the bulk of the electorate and the tin-eared elites of the party. Democrats’ have embraced what former Bill Clinton strategist James Carville scathingly labels ‘the politics of the faculty lounge’, such as support for the increasingly discredited Black Lives Matter movement and its calls to ‘defund the police’. This idea may be beloved at places like Harvard, but among the less elevated mortals it is widely unpopular, even among minorities, including two of the nation’s Democratic African-American mayors, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and New York City’s Eric Adams.
Voters view crime as the second-most pressing issue, after the economy and inflation. Here again the survey results are equally distressing for the progressive agenda. Voters, according to one recent survey, blame the Democrats for the current crime wave by a margin of two to one. Moderate Democrats, like retiring Florida congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, herself a refugee from Vietnam, found her support for legislation that would penalise undocumented criminals got her labeled as ‘anti-immigrant’ by the party’s dominant progressive mob.
Now it may surprise those of us in Minnesota that Black Lives Matter is increasingly discredited; Esme Murphy and the KARE Bears haven’t mentioned it much. But it should surprise no one that someone like Stephanie Murphy would lose support of the party apparat; on the bright side, she has thus far avoided being called a Russian operative, but it’s early and she might still get the full Tulsi if she’s not careful. Closer to home, it will be interesting to see how self-styled moderates like Dean “Everyone’s Invited” Phillips navigate the electorate.
There’s a long time between now and November, but it’s difficult to envision a reversal of the trends. One should never underestimate the ability of the Republican Party to blow it. Still, the Donks find events in the saddle and all the narrative engineers at their disposal can’t change the prices at Hy-Vee or Holiday. For nearly half a century, Joe Biden has wanted to be president in the worst way. And he’s getting his wish.
Most readers of this feature knew the truth in 2020 — Hunter Biden, the uber-prodigal son of the now Leader of the Free World, abandoned a laptop computer at a repair shop in Delaware. The laptop was filled to the brim with embarrassing and yes, incriminating evidence of financial malfeasance and videotaped debauchery. It was real and yes, it was spectacular. And the New York Post was on the case.
But you weren’t allowed to know any of it, and if you tried to tell anyone what you weren’t allowed to know, you were in for a banning:
Twitter went so far as to lock users out of their accounts if they shared this piece of journalism that was clearly in the public interest. It locked the Twitter accounts of the actual White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, and the New York Post itself. Here we had the spokesperson for the democratically elected president of the United States and the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in America being cast out of social media for the crime of sharing a story that was true. This was surely the most egregious, arrogant interference in democratic politics and press freedom carried out by corporate elites in recent times.
Recent times? I think the term we’re looking for here is ever. And as Brendan O’Neill discusses in the piece linked above, the implications are chilling:
This was a truly extraordinary moment in the political life of the United States of America. A free-thinking daily newspaper published a fascinating report on the emails and behaviour of the then vice-president’s son and it found itself shamed, blocked and defamed for doing so. Californian oligarchs, former members of the American deep state and virtually the entire opinion-forming set of the East Coast clubbed together to denounce the Post, ban it from Twitter, and rubbish its reporting as the handiwork of evil Ruskies. Yet some of them now admit the story was actually true, a fact that has been clear since at least December 2020, when federal authorities started investigating Hunter. What took place following the Post’s breaking of the laptop story was a terrifying assault on media freedom, the right to dissent and truth itself.
We are free, theoretically, to express our views. From the founding of the republic, we have been able to drag a soapbox to the public square and hold forth. Twitter isn’t the only public square available; in form and in fact, it’s an upholstered cesspool. But it is the realm where our betters and minders, coextensive as they are, disgorge the received wisdom of our age. And it’s where the game is played. And the game is rigged. Back to O’Neill:
But it was the elites’ brutal stomping on this story that should worry us more. It confirmed that the new woke elites will do whatever it takes to crush inconvenient facts, to bury stories and ideas and beliefs that pose a threat to their power or their interests. And it confirmed that Big Tech billionaires will happily engage in explicit political censorship to protect their allies and sponsors from scrutiny. If an established newspaper like the New York Post can be forcefully locked out of the 21st-century public square, just imagine what could be done to you or me if we ever happened upon some facts the elites would prefer to keep hidden.
There’s a chilling line in the 1939 French film La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game). The character Octave (played by Jean Renoir, the film’s director) says:
You see, in this world, there is one awful thing, and that is that everyone has his reasons.
Those who control the game and the general discourse in the country have their reasons as well. The reason is power, nothing more and nothing less. If we are to play the game, we’d better understand that.
The Soviet Union, as formidable as it once appeared, has been a dead letter for over 30 years. While Vladimir Putin may have one reliable client state in Belarus, the rest of the former Soviet republics and the entirety of the Eastern Bloc have little interest in getting the band back together, so while the endgame remains in doubt, it’s highly unlikely Putin’s latest gambit will redound to his benefit.
If your day is gone, and you want to ride on, Ukraine
Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back, Ukraine
Apologies to J. J. Cale. But have you noticed the near lockstep unanimity on social media about Ukraine? Something about it seems, I dunno, off. Victor Davis Hanson offers a few thoughts about the narrative:
On cue, an embarrassed Left now offers some surreal takes on why Putin went into Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014 and again into all of Ukraine in 2022—while mysteriously bookending the four invasion-free Trump years. We are told that hiatus was because Putin got all he wanted from Trump and rewarded him by not invading any of his neighbors.
And Hanson is just getting started:
Were Vladimir Putin and his advisors more or less delighted that their poodle Trump thankfully flooded the world with price-crashing oil? They were thankful Trump at least had killed Russian mercenaries in Syria?
Putin himself was content that the United States got out of his own advantageous missile deal? Was he thrilled that Trump sold once-taboo U.S. offensive weapons to Ukraine? Did the Kremlin grow ecstatic when Trump upped the U.S. defense budget? And was Russia especially thankful that Trump jawboned NATO into spending another $100 billion on defense? Did Putin clap when Trump killed Soleimani and Baghdadi, and bombed ISIS out of existence?
About that oil. . .
It’s not a coincidence that Russia, an oil-producing country, was pretty flush in 2014, which made Putin’s adventurism at that time cost-effective. Things changed after the Light Bringer left office; while the price of oil fluctuated in the first two years of the Bad Orange Man administration, prices dropped thereafter, before the huge drop in 2020 which was entirely related to the world economy grinding to a halt. Since 2021, the trajectory has been back toward the price levels of the Obama years. We all see the impact at the pump and energy costs are a huge factor in inflation generally, even beyond the Fed making the money printers go brrrrrr. So if the money is flowing into Russia and the current administration has shut down the pipelines and the frackers, are we particularly surprised that ol’ Putin has gauged this moment as the time to make a move?
There’s more, of course. Back to Hanson:
Joe threatened the toughest sanctions in history that on Wednesday would deter an invasion and by Saturday were never meant to at all. But Biden promises someday a “conversation” to decide whether at some time he still will issue the toughest sanctions in history. Until then, he invites Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy safe passage out of Kyiv—the quickest way to destroy the dogged Ukrainian resistance.
Left unsaid are the years of rapacious Biden family profiteering in Ukraine, a decade of leftist passive-aggressive love and hate of Russia, from obsequious reset to greedy Uranium One to pathetic “tell Vladimir . . .” to unhinged vetoing of sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Oh, there’s more to be said, a lot more. But for this moment one thing seems to be clear — the fog of war is less from the battlefield and more from the fog machines all around us.
P. J. O’Rourke died yesterday at the age of 74. He was one of the best conservative pundits of the last 50 years and certainly the funniest. He also had a keen eye. In his 1990 classic Parliament of Whores, he provided a spot-on synopsis of the people you meet at a protest rally. Tell me if these descriptions from 30+ years ago still don’t ring true:
World Council of Churches sensible-shoe types who have self-righteousness the way some people have bad breath
Angry black poverty pests making a life and a living off the misfortunes of others
Even angrier feminists doing their best to feminize poverty before the blacks use it all up
Earnest neophyte Marxists, eyes glazed from dialectical epiphanies and hands grubby from littering the Mall with ill-Xeroxed tracts
College bohos dressed in black to show how gloomy the world is when you’re a nineteen-year-old rich kid
Young would-be hippies dressed exactly like old hippies used to dress (remarkable how behind the times the avant-garde has gotten)
And some of those old hippies themselves, faded jeans straining beneath increasing paunches, hair still tied into a ponytail in the back but gone forever from the top
His powers of observation set him apart from other writers, especially those who tried their hand at satire. He understood his targets better than the targets understood themselves.
As O’Rourke grew older, he softened the sharp edges and some of his thinking got a bit pear-shaped. He drew the ire of conservatives everywhere when he endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. I was not a fan of Donald Trump either, but O’Rourke’s powers of observation betrayed him that time:
Dorothy and Toto’s house fell on Hillary. I endorse her.
Munchkins endorse her.
Donald Trump is a flying monkey.
Except what the flying monkeys have to say, “oreoreoreo,” makes more sense than Trump’s policy statements.
Not that Hillary makes much sense either.
Hillary is wrong about everything. She is to politics and statecraft what Pope Urban VIII and the Inquisition were to Galileo. She thinks the sun revolves around herself.
But Trump Earth™ is flat. We’ll sail over the edge. Here be monsters.
O’Rourke was wrong about that. Hillary is more of a monster in real life than anything O’Rourke could imagine over the edge. We’ll leave that aside. Where O’Rourke made his mark, and where his legacy will reside, is in being a proto-Mencken for our age. And let’s say it — his bon mots were pretty bon:
There are probably more fact-finding tours of Nicaragua right now than there are facts— the country has shortages of practically everything.
The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors— psychology, sociology, women’s studies— to prove that nothing is anybody’s fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you’d have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.
Even the bad things are better than they used to be. Bad music, for instance, has gotten much briefer. Wagner’s Ring Cycle takes four days to perform while “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by the Crash Test Dummies lasts little more than three minutes.
But above all, this:
The American political system is like a gigantic Mexican Christmas fiesta. Each political party is a huge piñata — a papier-mâché donkey, for example. The donkey is filled with full employment, low interest rates, affordable housing, comprehensive medical benefits, a balanced budget and other goodies. The American voter is blindfolded and given a stick. The voter then swings the stick wildly in every direction, trying to hit a political candidate on the head and knock some sense into the silly bastard.
We all need our sticks and few wielded a more elegant brickbat than the Irish kid from Toledo. RIP,
The backpedaling has begun. Politicians throughout the U.S. are winding it all down and hoping (against hope) that the blowback won’t be anything approaching what is happening in Ottawa.
Mind you, it’s been peaceful thus far, despite the increasingly manic sputterings of Justin Trudeau, who didn’t think much of those who would suggest a course correction:
“Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives, it has to stop,” Trudeau said in a speech to Canada’s parliament on Monday evening. “People of Ottawa don’t deserve to be harassed in their own neighborhoods. They don’t deserve to be confronted with the inherent violence of a swastika flying on a street corner or Confederate flag.”
Are there actually swastikas flying in the streets of Ottawa? Here’s a recent photo:
Looks like a maple leaf to me, but one never knows.
Trudeau, like many other politicians, senses a reckoning is nigh. And perhaps there will be violence. But don’t count on it coming from the maple-flavored C.W. McCalls currently deployed in the streets of Ottawa.