Friday, September 30, 2022

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

C. Bradley Thompson, America's Revolutionary Mind

At Amazon, C. Bradley Thompson, America's Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration That Defined It.

Hurricane Ian Makes Landfall in Southwest Florida with 'Catastrophic' Winds and Surge (VIDEO)

At the Miami Herald, "Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Cayo Costa Florida at 3p.m. Wednesday. The storm was already “causing catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding” in southwest Florida early Wednesday afternoon, the beginning of what promised to be a damaging path across the peninsula."

Giorgia Meloni's Election Victory: What the Rightward Shift Means for Italy

At Der Spiegel, "Right-wing radical politician Giorgia Meloni appears poised to govern Italy with an absolute majority after Sunday's election. But the amount of leeway she has will depend on two partners who are unlikely to be easy to deal with: Matteo Salvini and Silvio Belusconi":

In the end, it wasn’t quite enough. In the final few days of the campaign, Giorgia Meloni's opponents had suddenly appeared to have a chance. The center-left Democratic Party spoke of a shift in the mood. In southern Italy, the Five Star Movement, which had already been written off, was suddenly enthusiastically celebrated.

But soon after the polls closed at 11 p.m. on Sunday, the left’s dream lay shattered. According to initial forecasts, the nationalist alliance led by Meloni and her Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) party has secured an absolute majority in parliament.

Almost 11 years after the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi, who led his country to the brink of national bankruptcy, a right-wing government will soon be taking office again in Rome. The days when outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi stood firmly by the side of Berlin, Paris, Brussels and Washington are over.

Even before the right’s election victory, there had been much discussion about the dangers for Italy and Europe. Now, they could soon become reality.

Meloni hails from a neo-fascist splinter party that erected a monument to Italy's worst war criminal, a man responsible for genocide. She views Germany with "disgust." And she prefers to court Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán rather than German Chancellor Olaf Scholz or French President Emmanuel Macron.

The main question after her election victory is: How far will she go in carrying out her hostile agenda? Or will reality set in over the next few weeks, pushing the Meloni government to a reasonably moderate-conservative government program?

The 45-year-old now has to overcome three challenges that will come in quick succession...

Keep reading.


Russia’s Mobilization, Plunging Oil Prices Weaken Putin’s Economic Hand

At the Wall Street Journal, "Economic storm clouds come as Russian president orders more financial resources directed at war in Ukraine":

A costly troop mobilization, plunging energy prices and a new round of Western sanctions threaten to bear down on Russia’s already embattled economy and undermine the financial underpinnings of President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The economic storm clouds come as Mr. Putin orders more financial resources directed at the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin’s decision to call up more than 300,000 soldiers will require new funds to equip, train and pay the new reinforcements, analysts said. It has also spread disruption among Russia’s private businesses, which face a fresh challenge as workers report for duty or flee the country.

And it is happening as the windfall from soaring energy prices—Russia’s main economic strength—appears to have peaked. Russia’s federal government budget was in deficit last month because of diminished energy revenue. That was before the latest leg down in prices for oil and before Moscow shut down most of its remaining natural-gas flows to Europe.

“Mobilization is another serious hit on the Russian economy, especially because of the increased uncertainty,” said Maxim Mironov, professor of finance at Madrid’s IE Business School. “And it happens when oil and gas revenues are beginning to dry up.”

Wars are often won by the side that has the economic wherewithal to support fighting over the long haul. Ukraine’s economy has been battered, but receives a gusher of aid from the West to stay afloat.

Western sanctions staggered Russian commerce, but Moscow succeeded in stabilizing the economy thanks to a jump in energy prices. The ruble, which plunged at the start of the war, rose sharply against the dollar and inflation moderated. The Russian government and independent economists now predict a shallower recession this year than previously assumed.

While there is no evidence of an imminent economic collapse, business owners and investors inside the country reacted with dread to the news of the mobilization. Activists and analysts said Mr. Putin’s order opens the door to a much larger draft. Russia’s stock market, limited mostly to domestic investors, tumbled after the draft announcement.

“It’s really impossible to count,” said Mihail Markin, head of the business development department at Moscow-based logistics company Major Cargo Service. “If it’s five people in a 1,000 person company, that’s one thing, but what if it’s half?”

“And then who knows how businesses will act without the people who are drafted,” he said.

Before the draft, official data showed the government veered into a big budget deficit in August. It reported the budget surplus for the year narrowed to 137 billion rubles, or $2.3 billion, for the first eight months of the year, from about 481 billion rubles in July.

The government has come up with several measures to plug the gap, including raising taxes on the energy industry. It issued government bonds this month for the first time since February and promised to run a deficit next year. The bonds will have to be financed by local savers. Foreign investors, who owned 20% of government bonds before the war, are barred from the market. Moscow is shut out of foreign debt markets.

Russia’s economic problems are partly a boomerang effect of the country’s own policies. High energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine initially created huge revenues for Russia. Around 45% of Russia’s total federal budget revenues came from oil and gas in the first seven months of the year, according to the Institute of International Finance.

But high energy prices have put a brake on global growth and led to a widespread slowdown in demand for oil. Benchmark Brent crude has fallen by almost a third from its June high to trade at less than $85 a barrel.

Factoring in the discount of about $20 for Russian crude, Moscow is already selling its oil below the price needed to balance the budget, estimated at $69 a barrel in 2021 by S&P Global Commodity Insights. The strong ruble complicates matters for the Kremlin by reducing the value of oil exports when the proceeds are converted into Russia’s currency...



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What Does Fidelity to Our Founding Principles Require Today?

From Michael Anton, at American Greatness, "If historicism is false, then the American system can be lost. Tyranny can recur. But do conservatives see this?":

We’re all political people here, right? So we all know Senator Pat Geary? No?

He’s the Nevada senator portrayed at the beginning of “Godfather II.” He tells Michael Corleone, “I intend to speak very frankly to you—maybe more frankly than anyone in my position’s ever talked to you.” He tries to blackmail a mob boss and later ends up in bed with a dead hooker. I believe he was also a Democrat. So just about the only thing I have in common with Senator Geary is that I intend to speak very frankly to you.

What does fidelity to our founding principles require today? Let me begin to answer that question with a quote—perhaps a familiar quote to some or most of you. But it’s apt, and there’s always a chance some of you haven’t heard it, and/or that others can use a refresher.

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types—the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.

Those words were spoken by G.K. Chesterton, a Brit, in 1924. He was speaking of the British Constitution, not ours. But the words strike me as especially apt to our situation.

What have our conservatives conserved? But before we answer that—hint: almost nothing—let’s first ask: what were they supposed to conserve? What do they say they are conserving in all those fundraising letters they send out that have been netting them hundreds of millions per year for most of my lifetime?

First of all, the physical territory of the United States. OK, so far so good. That at least has been conserved. And given conservative support for the military and our posture during the Cold War, it’s at least plausible that conservatives had something to do with that.

Second of all, the people. Are they doing so well?

We actually have declining life expectancies in America. We’re the only nominally “first world” country that can say that. China, with a per capita income one-fifth of ours, recently passed the United States in life expectancy.

Birth rates here have crashed. Deaths of despair—opioids, alcoholism, and the like—are soaring. Religiosity is down. Marriage is down. Divorce at least isn’t up from its 1980 peak, but it’s still endemic.

You might say that conservatives are not at fault for all this—fair enough. But their stated purpose is to conserve—and it’s rather evident they’ve failed to conserve these aspects of decent human life. That’s before we even get to demographic transformation, one of those things that is both not happening, and it’s great that it is.

Third, I would say, is the American way of life. Some of that is covered in what I just said. But there are others, for instance the total unaffordability of housing, especially for younger people. It’s impossible for average earners now to buy, except in the very cheapest markets, which also happen to be where there are the fewest opportunities.

We may add to this deindustrialization, the decline of the middle class, wage stagnation, falling standards of living, and the increasing necessity of a college degree in the job market—at a time when colleges teach less and less, charge more and more, and vacuum up middle class wealth to enrich what are effectively hedge funds with bad schools attached.

Fourth—and certainly not least—is the American regime itself. Have we conserved that? Does it function as it was designed to do? As a political scientist, and as a historian of sorts before that, I find the question laughable. If any of you want to make the case that we still live in the founders’ regime, go ahead.

Meanwhile, I will tell you some of what I see. A giant, unaccountable, unelected fourth branch of government that does what it wants without input or supervision from the people, and that usurps executive, legislative, and judicial power. Rights are routinely trampled. Two-track justice—one standard for friends of the regime, another for its enemies—is now the norm. Just last week a man killed with his car a teenager for the “crime” of being Republican. He’s already out on bail. Meanwhile there are still dozens of January 6 protesters in pretrial detention for ridiculous noncrimes such as “parading.”

The Justice Department, FBI, CIA—all the security agencies—are out of control in attacking American citizens. The FBI is now doing SWAT raids for misdemeanors. Earlier this month, the president of the United States gave a speech calling half the American population enemies of the state. I could go on.

What is conservatism’s response to all this? What is the response of “the weasels, compromisers, mediocrities, and losers of the Republican-conservative-libertarian establishment”? Those are not my words, but I like them. They sum things up concisely, accurately, and vividly.

Conservatism’s response is to get angry. But not at any of these abuses or the people who commit them. No, rather it gets angry at people like Mollie Hemingway, Julie Kelly, and Heather Mac Donald (and others) who point out these outrageous abuses.

Conservatives have long believed that the noblest thing they can do is “police” their own side. The Left of course never does this. The Left works overtime to ensure that its people are excused of murder, arson, and rioting. Meanwhile, the conservatives eagerly seek the death penalty for their own over parking tickets.

Now, am I saying we should be like the Left? A little. We ought to be more loyal, for instance. I am not saying we should excuse arson and rioting—but that’s moot anyway since our side doesn’t do that, walking through doors held open by the Capitol Police notwithstanding.

For “conservatives,” the most heroic act of the 20th century was not D-Day or the moon landing but William F. Buckley, Jr. purging the Birchers. Hence, they’re always on the lookout for more purges. Whole careers and institutions are now made of this. Think of the Bulwark and the Dispatch—of Bill and Steve and Jonah and David and Kevin. All of these “conservatives” are now character assassins out to destroy the lives of anyone even a click to their right, many their former friends.

One thing I’ve noticed is that conservatives really get mad when you point out that people who treat you like enemies are, in fact, your enemies. Finally, the conservatives find a backbone, and righteous indignation! To refer to someone libeling you, trying to cancel you, calling for your “extirpation” and even assassination as an “enemy”? How dare you! Civility in politics above all else!

What explains this? Let me give you another quote, this one from a movie. Try to hear this in your head with Robert DeNiro’s accent:

I’m sorry, but he knew about our gettin’ hit on three big machines in a row and he did nothing about it. That means either he was in on it or, forgive me for saying this, he was too dumb to see what was going on. Either way, I cannot have a man like that workin’ here.

The operative phrase here being “in on it,” i.e., part of the operation to ensure that the Right is forever feckless and useless, and to destroy anyone on the Right who scores real points against our anti-conservative, anti-liberal, anti-American and—brace yourselves, I’m just going to say it—increasingly anti-white regime.

Actually, this is what gets the conservatives most upset: noticing that the regime is all of the above. Quoting the Left’s own radical words back to them makes conservatives apoplectic. Not with rage, exactly. I don’t think they have enough thumos for rage. But with a kind of terror. Oh no! He said it! Now they’ll really get mad! Let’s not rock the boat! Peace above all! ...

You gotta keep reading.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Luke Mogelson, The Storm Is Here

At Amazon, Luke Mogelson, The Storm Is Here: An American Crucible.

Roxy Music Live at the Inglewood Forum September 28th (VIDEO)

I saw them play in Pasadena in 1979. Turns out they're back on tour, playing the Inglewood (Kia) Forum Wednesday night. 


At the Los Angles Times, "50 years ago, Roxy Music invented rock’s future. Now they’re taking a well-deserved bow":

Phil Manzanera, the 71-year-old guitarist for art-rock pioneers Roxy Music, is leaning into a computer camera backdropped by a nondescript hotel room. The band has assembled in Toronto, where they’re rehearsing for their first U.S. tour in two decades, and Manzanera is relearning their repertoire after a long spell away from it. “I haven’t really played those songs for 10 years,” he says with a trace of concern. “And so it’s all like coming back fresh.”

Roxy Music has come together for the first time since a run of shows across the U.K. and Australia in 2011. (The band will perform at the Kia Forum on Sept. 28.) They are venturing back to the States in celebration of being a band for 50 years, with large breaths and pauses and solo adventures peppered throughout.

“We were never going to be the Beatles, like a bunch of brothers,” Manzanera says. “Luckily we’ve come together as this unit, which you could call a band, but it is not as straightforward as that. Now it’s about the joy of rediscovering those songs and playing them live. If we don’t play them, who’s going to?”

Roxy’s permanence in music culture — they were inducted into the Rock & Roll of Fame in 2019 — belies the decades in which the band’s cachet, mainly among musical adventurers and high-cheekboned jet-setters, far outstripped its popularity.

In the fall of 1970, Bryan Ferry had lost a job teaching ceramics at an all-girls school near London, in part due to his holding frequent record-listening sessions during school hours. Having floundered a bit after finishing art school a couple years prior, Ferry put an ad in the paper, looking for bandmates to collaborate with him and an old art-school classmate, bassist Graham Simpson. Saxophonist Andy Mackay replied to the ad, bringing along his university pal Brian Eno, who could work a synthesizer and owned a tape machine. The original iteration of the group was rounded out by guitarist Roger Bunn and drummer Dexter Lloyd. In search of a name that signified “faded glamour,” Ferry chose Roxy Music.

By 1972, Manzanera had come on as the group’s guitarist, Paul Thompson had replaced Lloyd as the drummer, and Roxy Music was off and running, releasing five albums between 1972 and 1975 alone, all of them critically acclaimed while finding modest commercial success. (In the U.S., their highest-charting hit was the taut and funky “Love Is the Drug,” which reached No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.) Their albums gained praise for their inventiveness, the band being credited with pioneering a new wave of art rock, wherein the visuals and onstage stylings were just as meticulously thought out as the lush production and incisive lyrical wit of the songs.

Ferry, now 76, acts as the band’s emotional conductor, of sorts. His voice is malleable — sometimes a distinctive and melodic drone, something one might hear in a smoky jazz lounge, sometimes soaring to beautiful highs. But his writing is what most commonly stands out. Ferry is one of the great architects of the love song, a lyricist who approaches the concept of love from all angles: the inception of romance, the tentative and uncertain bridges between affection and even greater affection, longing and heartbreak and bracing for the inevitability of loss. For all of the artistic flair surrounding Roxy Music, at the core, under the care of Ferry, they were a band in constant pursuit of considerations of love.

But there was also artistic flair. Their album covers were striking and sometimes controversial (the cover art for 1974’s “Country Life,” featuring two scantily clad models, was censored in the U.S. upon its release,) and the music itself was undeniable. By 1982’s “Avalon,” the band’s consistent members were Ferry, Mackay, Thompson and Manzanera (those four are now on tour; Eno is not participating.) They took a hiatus after 1982, despite “Avalon” being the group’s most commercially successful record.

There has been a renewed interest and excitement in Roxy Music in their time away. “Avalon’s” swelling “More Than This” was memorably karaoke’d by Bill Murray in the Sofia Coppola film “Lost in Translation.” The sinister “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” from 1973’s “For Your Pleasure,” gained renewed interest after being featured in a pivotal scene in the show “Mindhunter.” The group’s consistent presence in the cultural atmosphere has a lot to do with the fact that they were, very much, ahead of their time, in terms of vision and influence. But it is also attributed to the fact that, despite not releasing an album in 40 years, their songs still sound fresh. Manzanera’s logic on this is simple.

“We always recorded on analog tape, and actually played together in a studio,” he says. “That sound seems to have quite a long life span. You listen to all the great songs that are still so popular from the ’70s, and they were beautifully constructed; they sound as if they could have been recorded yesterday.”

Not only their influence on music, but also on performance, on how bands present themselves and use the stage as a canvas, it has all endured. That influence spans decades, from peers like David Bowie in their early ’70s heydays to new wave founders like Devo, Talking Heads and Blondie. By the time they had stepped away, acts from the Cars to Pulp to TV on the Radio were charging through a new rock landscape with the style, affect and sound once pioneered by Roxy Music.

Both Manzanera and Ferry, with whom I spoke in early August from his home in London, are not explicitly focused on the band’s legacy, saying that it isn’t something they think about until someone mentions it to them. But there is the reality of time, and what time affords a band of people who have created over a long enough stretch of it. There are also, very literally, monuments to this kind of introspection, even if it is unnamed by the band members.

This year, Ferry has released a book of his lyrics, spanning both Roxy and all of his solo albums. It is a massive but joyful book to traverse, as Ferry’s lyricism comes across on the page like reading small, delightful short stories. Stories of love, or the anguish of love. Songs that unravel intimacy, sometimes finding the unraveling unsatisfying, but knowing it must be tended to. There’s an ever-present longing in the songs, but also a space where one is bracing for the impact of giving themselves over. “Preparing oneself for the worst,” Ferry says, shrugging and smiling. Forward-facing as ever, Ferry does admit that organizing the book itself, and sitting with the wide range of lyrics he’d penned over the years, did provide him with small regrets and sentimentalities.

“As you get older, life becomes more complicated and writing time becomes, I guess, precious and limited. Some of the songs, when I was compiling the lyric book, I thought, oh, I wish I’d had another week to spend on that. Or I wish I’d edited that out. But maybe it’s just as well that there was an immediacy about them. Being up against the wall time-wise can be a good thing for artists. For writers.”

Whether they feel like tangible attempts at solidifying and firmly upholding legacy, both the book and the tour gaze fondly upon the past greatnesses of the group and its most central figure. The Roxy tour setlist is a tight 20 tracks that spans just about two hours of performance. Anchored by their cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” the majority of tunes bounce through Roxy’s sprint of stunning ’70s albums.

“It was all such a rush of time,” Ferry says about that era. “We found this derelict house in Notting Hill and it was quite picturesque, freezing cold, just trying to get this program of work assembled. When we went into the studio, we did that really fast and then it all started to accelerate. That’s when it started getting really hard and I learned to write very quickly, but it was really exciting because I suddenly felt, wow, we have an audience.”

That audience extended to the States, and across generations. Roxy Music became notorious for their romanticism, the flourish in their performances, the eccentricities of future superstar producer Eno pushed up against the brilliantly calculated charisma of Ferry. Their performances, even now, unlock an elsewhere, a place to escape to that seems, to the eye of a spectator, to be fabulous. The only party you’d ever want to be at...

Still more.


Woke Librarians: A National Scourge

At AoSHQ, "Woke librarians with hot pink hair and nose-rings are absolutely determined to give your children comic books showing underaged boys putting their mouths on the pee-pees of adult men."


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Italy Votes Decisively for Nationalist-Right Coalition (VIDEO)

At the Economist, "Giorgia Meloni of the Brothers of Italy is set to be the country’s first female prime minister":

It would be hard to imagine a more satisfying result for Giorgia Meloni and her radical-nationalist Brothers of Italy (fdi) party than the one that took shape early on September 26th after Italy’s general election. With all but 2% of the votes counted, the right-wing alliance to which the Brothers belong trounced its nearest rivals, a centre-left coalition, by more than 18 percentage points.

That, or something very like it, had been foreseen in the polls. What was not fully expected was the extent of the Brothers’ dominance within the stringently conservative partnership now poised to form Italy’s most right-wing government since the second world war. Ms Meloni’s party, which uses as its logo the same symbol as the post-war neo-Fascist party from which the Brothers are descended, took more than 26% of the vote. That compares with 9% for the Northern League (half its share at the last general election, in 2018) and 8% for Forza Italia, whose leader, Silvio Berlusconi, had put himself forward as a moderating influence. In the next government, instead, the prospective role of the 85-year-old Mr Berlusconi and of the League’s Matteo Salvini—should he survive as leader following his party’s dismal result—will be to put up and shut up.

In part, the Brothers’ success is thanks to their novelty. Having taken only 4% in the election in 2018, they were the only major party to stay out of Mario Draghi’s national-unity coalition, which took office last year. As often happens in Italian politics, Ms Meloni’s star is liable to fade once confronted with the dour realities of government. Faced with a probable recession, a war at the borders of the eu and a raging cost-of-living crisis, a government headed by Ms Meloni may have little time or inclination to pursue a radical agenda. Another big question mark hangs over its capacity to deal with such a daunting array of challenges.

Ms Meloni, poised to become Italy’s first female prime minister, referred to both issues in a victory speech to cheering supporters in a hotel in Rome. “The situation of Italy, of the eu, now requires a contribution from everyone,” she said. And she issued a message of reassurance, albeit tinged with vigorous nationalism: “If we are called to govern the nation, we shall do so for everyone: to bring together a people, exalting what unites rather than what divides [and] giving to the Italian people a pride in waving the Tricolore [Italy’s national flag of green, white and red]”. Once a Eurosceptic, Ms Meloni now stresses that she wants to work with Brussels. She is a solid supporter of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

A second unexpected aspect of the results was the size of the defeat for the Democratic Party (pd), the biggest force on the left. It won 19% of the vote. That was not much worse, in fact, than its showing at the previous general election in 2018. But it was still a hugely underwhelming performance considering that the campaign became a straight duel between the pd’s leader, Enrico Letta, a former prime minister, and Ms Meloni, who Italian progressives regard with fear and disdain. Congratulations poured in from the kind of politicians who horrify those in Brussels, Paris and Berlin who aspire to a more united Europe. First off the mark was Balazs Orban, the political adviser to Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban (no relation). “In these difficult times, we need more than ever friends who share a common vision and approach to Europe’s challenges,” he tweeted. Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, issued his congratulations shortly afterwards. Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally said Italians had “decided to take their destiny into their own hands by electing a patriotic, sovereignist government”.

Aside from Ms Meloni, the main winner was populism⁠—as it was in the 2018 election. The increasingly left-leaning Five Star Movement (m5s) did significantly better than the polls had predicted, taking more than 15% (though that compared with almost one-third of the vote in 2018.) Giuseppe Conte, the Five Stars’ leader and another former prime minister, appeared to have teased out of abstention a significant number of voters in Italy’s poorer south. The right is united in wanting changes to the “citizens’ income” benefit, a Five Stars’ innovation from 2019 intended to provide a safety net for the hard-up.

Several prominent figures, including Luigi Di Maio, the foreign minister in Mr Draghi’s outgoing government, lost their place in the legislature. And in the settling of accounts that is bound to follow Mr Letta, like Mr Salvini, looks ripe for the chop.

How the votes will translate into seats in Italy’s new, smaller parliament is still being calculated...

Republicans Intensify Attacks on Crime as Democrats Push Back

 At the New York Times, "With images of lawlessness, G.O.P. candidates are pressing the issue in places where worries about public safety are omnipresent. Democrats, on the defensive, are promising to fund the police":

In Pennsylvania, Republicans are attacking John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate candidate, as “dangerously liberal on crime.”

Outside Portland, Ore., where years of clashes between left-wing protesters and the police have captured national attention, a Republican campaign ad juxtaposes video of Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a Democratic congressional candidate, protesting with footage of rioters and looters. Ms. McLeod-Skinner, an ominous-sounding narrator warns, is “one of them.”

And in New Mexico, the wife of Mark Ronchetti, the Republican nominee for governor, tells in a campaign ad of how she had once hid in a closet with her two young daughters and her gun pointed at the door because she feared an intruder was breaking in. Though the incident happened a decade ago, the ad accuses Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Mr. Ronchetti’s Democratic opponent, of making it “easier to be a criminal than a cop.”

In the final phase of the midterm campaign, Republicans are intensifying their focus on crime and public safety, hoping to shift the debate onto political terrain that many of the party’s strategists and candidates view as favorable. The strategy seeks to capitalize on some voters’ fears about safety — after a pandemic-fueled crime surge that in some cities has yet to fully recede. But it has swiftly drawn criticism as a return to sometimes deceptive or racially divisive messaging.

Crime-heavy campaigns have been part of the Republican brand for decades, gaining new steam in 2020 when President Donald J. Trump tried to leverage a backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement to vilify Democrats. But two years later, left-wing calls to defund the police have given way to an effort to pump money back into departments in many Democratic-led cities, raising questions about whether Republicans’ tactics will be as effective as they were in 2020, when the party made gains in the House.

Republicans are running the ads most aggressively in the suburbs of cities where worries about public safety are omnipresent, places that were upended by the 2020 protests over racial injustice or are near the country’s southwestern border. In some of the country’s most competitive Senate races — in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Republican candidates have pivoted to a message heavily aimed at crime.

“This is something that crosses party lines and everyone says, ‘Wait a minute, why isn’t this something that is dealt with?’” said Mr. Ronchetti, whose state has experienced an increase in violent crime this year. “You look at New Mexico: People used to always know someone with a crime story. Now, everyone has their own.”

Polling shows that voters tend to see Republicans as stronger on public safety. By a margin of 10 percentage points, voters nationwide said they agreed more with Republicans on crime and policing, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released this month.

National Republican strategists say they always planned to use crime as a so-called kitchen-table issue, along with inflation and the economy. Now, after a summer when Democrats gained traction in races across the country, in part because of the upending of abortion rights, Republican campaigns are blanketing television and computer screens with violent imagery.

Some of the advertising contains thinly disguised appeals to racist fears, like grainy footage of Black Lives Matter protesters, that sharply contrast with Republican efforts at the beginning of Mr. Trump’s term to highlight the party’s work on criminal justice overhauls, sentencing reductions and the pardoning of some petty crimes.

The full picture on crime rates is nuanced. Homicides soared in 2020 and 2021 before decreasing slightly this year. An analysis of crime trends in the first half of 2022 by the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan policy and research group, found that murders and gun assaults in major American cities fell slightly during the first half of 2022, but remained nearly 40 percent higher than before the pandemic. Robberies and some property offenses posted double-digit increases.

Candidates on the right have tended to be vague on specific policy details: A new agenda released by House Republicans proposes offering recruiting bonuses to hire 200,000 more police officers, cracking down on district attorneys who “refuse to prosecute crimes” and opposing “all efforts to defund the police.”

Still, Republicans see the issue as one that can motivate their conservative base as well as moderate, suburban independents who have shifted toward Democrats in recent weeks.

In the past two weeks alone, Republican candidates and groups have spent more than $21 million on ads about crime — more than on any other policy issue — targeting areas from exurban Raleigh, N.C., to Grand Rapids, Mich., according to data collected by AdImpact, a media tracking firm.

But those attacks are not going unanswered: Over the past two weeks, Democrats have spent a considerable amount — nearly $17 million — on ads on the issue, though the amount is less than half of what Democrats spent on ads about abortion rights over the same period...


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Jonathan Butcher, Splintered

At Amazon, Jonathan Butcher, Splintered: Critical Race Theory and the Progressive War on Truth.

'Touch Me'

The best live version you'll find. My goodness.

The Doors:

Hoo Boy!

Via Instagram.

California's EV Push Hinges on More Power — and Help From Drivers

At the Wall Street Journal, "Flexibility among electric-vehicle owners in how and when they charge their cars is seen as key to avoiding stress on the electrical grid":

California aims to add millions of new electric vehicles in the coming years. Charging them without impairing an aging grid will require more power generation and help from EV drivers.

The state’s plan to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks by 2035 means more EVs will be using California’s power supplies to fuel up, adding pressure to the grid.

This summer, the state faced the threat of rolling blackouts during an extended heat wave and asked people to avoid charging and using major appliances during critical hours, raising questions of whether its electrical grid can handle the added demand from charging EVs.

The state’s success depends on a range of factors, which include influencing the behavior of many consumers who are used to accessing gasoline at any time and unaccustomed to thinking about curtailing electricity use outside of weather emergencies.

“Are people going to top off every night? Are people going to wait every few days and then charge up all at once?” asked Dan Bowermaster, senior program manager for electric transportation at EPRI, a nonprofit research group. “There are a lot of questions about customer behavior.”

To help manage the demand on the electrical grid, utilities and auto makers are offering incentives for owners to charge up at certain times and in different ways. Charging usually takes place at home over several hours, with similar kinds of chargers available at places like offices where people are parked for long periods.

Ultimately, vehicle-to-grid technology that can use EV batteries to back up power to homes or send electricity back to the grid will be adopted, analysts say.

In California, managing the stresses on the grid is important because of the expected demand added by charging. The state’s energy commission estimates that in 2030, California will have 5.4 million passenger EVs and 193,000 medium- and heavy-duty EVs, resulting in charging approaching 5% of the electric load during peak hours from less than 1% currently.

California’s strategy includes adding renewable energy supplies and limiting power demand, such as asking people not to charge EVs during critical hours, as it did this month amid the heat wave, said Liane Randolph, chair of the California Air Resources Board, the agency that sets air quality and vehicle emissions standards.

Ms. Randolph said EV charging isn’t going to break the grid because consumers can control when they charge and avoid busier times. “The reality is the grid is only stressed in a limited period, a few hours in the early evening on certain types of days. Most of the time it’s fine.”

A Stanford University study published Thursday found daytime public or workplace EV charging, instead of the more common at-home charging, would be the least stressful for the grid in Western states. With current electricity rate designs, the study also found the grid could face problems late at night—when EV drivers typically charge in home garages—because too many cars could start charging at once and create a demand spike.

“If everyone were doing that, it would cause really big problems,” said Siobhan Powell, the study’s lead author.

California is rapidly overhauling its electricity supplies, retiring older fossil fuel plants and adding more renewable resources such as solar, wind and battery projects, but the addition of new power isn’t coming fast enough to avoid potential problems.

Heat waves, drought and the slow pace to site and permit projects have made setting a target to decarbonize the power grid challenging. A crunchtime arrives on hot evenings when the West’s abundant solar power drops but demand for air conditioning remains high. California lawmakers voted in August to keep the state’s last nuclear plant online in a bid to ease anticipated electricity supply shortages.

“There’s some energy challenges in how we’re bringing on new resources to meet this new growth of electricity demand,” said John Moura, director of reliability assessment and performance analysis at the North American Electric Reliability Corp., a nonprofit that develops standards for utilities and power producers.

Mr. Moura said at-home charging sessions draw about the power of 2.5 air conditioners. He doesn’t expect the increased demand to create a problem with delivering reliable power to homes and businesses, mainly because utilities will manage the connection of new EV chargers. If they had to, utilities would delay charger connections until they could make grid reliability improvements to provide more power. It is an outcome to avoid, Mr. Moura said, because it would anger and inconvenience customers who would have EVs as their only new-car option.

“The disaster kind of comes from the rally cries from the public that utilities aren’t connecting their EVs fast enough,” Mr. Moura said. “And now that bumps up against EV mandates. That’s the train-crash scenario.”

EVs won’t arrive all at once, or even by 2035. Cars typically last more than 15 years, which means the fleet turnover in California will take place over many years, analysts say...


Fighting the Culture War Through Christ

 Allie Beth Stuckey makes the case:

I know this is going to be controversial, even (especially?) for many conservatives. Sorry. This is Twitter. You have to endure my takes & I have to endure yours 😜 Anywho -

We can say, scientifically, that a unique human life is formed at conception. This is a fact. But that fact doesn’t tell us why that human is valuable, why she should be protected, and why it’s wrong to kill her.

We can employ logic & look at history to tell us that dehumanizing any person based on arbitrary reasons like size, age, or location leads to dehumanization of other kinds of people. But this doesn’t tell us why dehumanization or even murder is wrong.

We can look to biology to tell us that humans are sexually dimorphic, that the categories of male & female are fixed. But this doesn’t tell us why these facts are more important than how a person feels.

We can talk about the negative consequences of men identifying as women on girls’/women’s rights, safety & fairness, but we still don’t know why these rights matter more than the rights of men who want to enter women’s spaces.

We can point to economics & history to tell us why socialism and communism are failures. But we are defining “failure” with the assumption that mass starvation & poverty, the murder of dissidents, etc. are evil. Where does that assumption come from? We can say the state shouldn’t go after political opponents. Justice should be impartial. Bad behavior should be punished, good people should be left alone, & the innocent should be protected. But every single one of those words must be defined. Where do we get those definitions?

Admit it or not, our “why” behind the above arguments is the Bible. It’s wrong to kill a baby in the womb because God, who is the creator & authority over the universe, says he made us in His image & therefore it’s wrong to murder (Gen 9:6). There is no substantive, ultimate reason for the existence of human rights of humans are just accidental clumps of matter. The basis for innate humans rights is that humans are uniquely valuable above plants & animals. Christianity insists we are because God says we are.

This God says He made us not only in His image, but as male & female. Feelings don’t override physical reality because we were God-created, not self-created. We don’t have the power to self-declare & self-identify, because God told us who we are when he made us. The right to & legitimacy of private property comes from God (“you shall not steal,” “you shall not covet”). The authority of a government comes from God & He gives its duties to punish evil & reward good (Romans 13).

Good & evil exists because God says that they do and He defines them. “Murder is bad because it is” “women’s rights & privacy matter because they do” will not ultimately be enough against secular progressivism, which is a religion in itself with its own rigid doctrines.

You don’t have to be a Christian to acknowledge the necessity of its worldview in holding together everything that has ever made the West or any civilization lastingly good. There is ultimately no secular way to justify any anti-progressive or conservative argument.

Progressives understand this in a way conservatives don’t. They’re constantly attacking Christianity, because Christianity is and always has been the fundamental threat to their total control. We’ve always been a boil on the back of wicked tyrants and we still are.

God is a God of order, and progressivism constantly seeks disorder. Christians are always to be agents of order, in every place & age. Therefore we will always be - & rightly so - enemies of progressive ideology.

So - while I am happy to link arms with people of all backgrounds to push back against the chaos of today’s leftist lunacy, at the end of the day, simple anti-wokism will never, ever be a match for the threat this ideology poses. No secular movement will. The biggest failure of the conservative movement is thinking we are fighting for neutrality. Meanwhile, the left is playing for keeps knowing every space is for the taking, and nothing is neutral. Everything will be dominated by a worldview. The question is only ever, which one?


Pot Legalization Fails in California

Well, it hasn't failed in making weed available at your local dispensary, it's failed to meet up with the claims of Proposition 64 proponents from back in 2016.

An interesting piece, at the Los Angeles Times, "Inside California’s pot legalization failures: Corporate influence, ignored warnings":

SACRAMENTO — Architects of the effort to legalize pot in California made big promises to voters.

But six years later, California’s legal weed industry is in disarray with flawed policies, legal loopholes and stiff regulations hampering longtime growers and sellers. Despite expectations that it would become a model for the rest of the country, the state has instead provided a cautionary tale of lofty intentions and unkept promises.

Compromises made to win political support for Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative to legalize cannabis, along with decisions made after it was approved by voters that year, unleashed a litany of problems that have undermined the state-sanctioned market.

At the root of the failure: an array of ambitious, sometimes conflicting goals.

California officials vowed to help small farmers thrive but also depended on the support of big cannabis operators backed by venture capital funding, who helped proponents of Proposition 64 raise $25 million and won a key concession after its approval. The result was a licensed recreational cannabis system that benefited large companies over smaller growers who are now being squeezed out of the market.

The state set out to simultaneously cripple illegal operators and reduce marijuana-related criminal penalties to address racial injustices imposed by the long-running “war on drugs.” Far from reducing illegal weed, those efforts instead allowed the black market to flourish after legalization with the help of organized crime operations that run massive unlicensed farms and storefront dispensaries in plain view, bringing crime and terrorizing nearby residents. And those raided by police are often up and running again within weeks or days.

While making legal pot available across the state, officials created regulatory loopholes that allowed large swaths of California to ban marijuana sales. Though voters approved legalization, cities and counties have been skittish: Most rejected allowing cannabis businesses in their jurisdictions, resulting in only a fraction of the predicted number of licensed dispensaries operating.

A glut of cannabis produced by licensed and unlicensed farmers has driven down what small farmers can get for their crops, resulting in many facing financial ruin. Licensed businesses complain of stifling taxes and high overhead costs.

Many of the serious problems the state now faces were predicted seven years ago by a blue ribbon commission chaired by Gavin Newsom, then California’s lieutenant governor.

The commission urged restraint on taxing the legal market and limits on licensing to prevent big corporate interests from dominating the industry. The panel, which included law enforcement and civil liberties activists, also recommended robust enforcement, particularly against large illegal growing operations.

This is the story of how the promise of Proposition 64 went so wrong, and how the state’s grand vision proved so elusive...

Israel's Choice: Independence or Appeasement

From Caroline Glick, "For 12 years, under Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud, Israel pursued a foreign policy based not on dependence on the U.S. but on Israeli economic and military power. The results speak for themselves. The results of the Benny Gantz-Yair Lapid U.S.-reliant appeasement policies also speak for themselves":

Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his supporters in the media went berserk Tuesday after Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out against the gas deal the Biden administration is mediating between Israel and Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon."

Since Hezbollah launched two drones against Israel’s Karish gas platform in July, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly threatened to blow up Karish if Israel brings Karish online without first surrendering to Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon large swathes of sovereign Israeli land underneath Israel’s recognized maritime economic zone, including the Qana gas field.

Rather than stand with Israel against Hezbollah, the Biden administration is siding with Hezbollah—Iran’s Lebanese foreign legion against Israel. U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein has pressed Israel to surrender to most of Hezbollah’s outrageous demands. And Israel has folded to the combined U.S.-Hezbollah extortion. Lapid has agreed to give “Lebanon” the Qana field. Together with his partner in strategic collapse Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Lapid insists that with the Qana field, “Lebanon” will be economically saved and once that happens, the Hezbollah-controlled country will magically free itself from Hezbollah’s grip and sign a peace deal with Israel.

Netanyahu’s statement popped their balloon. Summarizing the negotiations to date, Netanyahu warned, “Lapid has entirely collapsed to Nasrallah’s threats. Nasrallah threatened him that if we operate the Karish platform before we sign a gas deal with Lebanon, he’ll attack Israel. Lapid got scared and didn’t bring Karish online.

“Now he plans to turn over to Lebanon, with no Israel control or oversight, a gas field valued at billions of dollars that Hezbollah will use to purchase thousands of missiles and rockets that will target Israel’s cities.”

Netanyahu was right, of course, and that is the problem for Lapid and Gantz. For months the media have hidden the dangers implicit in the deal, and sufficed with parroting government talking points. Lapid intended to avoid public scrutiny, ram the deal through before the Nov. 1 elections and declare himself a genius statesman. When Netanyahu exposed the bluff, Lapid threw a tantrum, accusing Netanyahu of harming Israel’s national interests by interfering with the talks.

The gas deal with Lebanon—and Netanyahu’s decision to tell the public the truth about the deal—is one of three Lapid-Gantz foreign policies that have come under the full gaze of the public this week. Together they highlight the disparity between the Lapid-Gantz foreign policy they will continue to enact if elected Nov. 1, and the foreign policy Netanyahu and the Likud enacted during their 12 years in office, and will restore if they form the government after the elections.

On Tuesday, Lapid let it be known that in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly, he would announce his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state. On the face of it, Lapid’s PLO advocacy makes no sense. There already is a de facto Palestinian state in Gaza. It is an Iranian-backed terror state which has waged five separate missile, rocket and terror campaigns against Israel since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

As for Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority, which is supposedly the responsible adult of Palestinian governance, controls little of the territory it ostensibly governs. It uses its sparse resources to prosecute a legal, diplomatic and economic campaign against Israel and to facilitate and participate in terrorist operations by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah against Jews.

To the extent U.S. funded Palestinian security forces take action against Hamas, they do so not to prevent terror attacks against Israel, but to prevent Hamas from taking over the P.A. Of course, the easiest way for Hamas to take over the P.A. would be through elections. Hamas has led P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party in every poll since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006. This is why Abbas keeps cancelling scheduled elections, stretching his four-year term into its 16th year without end in sight. Abbas knows that any elections will oust him and his Fatah cronies from power.

Leaving aside the fact that Israel’s rights to Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem are far stronger than the Palestinians, the fact is that there is absolutely no prospect that a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem could possibly live at peace with Israel today or in the foreseeable future. So Lapid’s advocacy is at a minimum ill-timed and irrelevant.

But it is also devastating. In opting to advocate for the awarding the P.A. with a state, Lapid is legitimizing and empowering Israel’s enemies at Israel’s expense.

And Lapid isn’t alone. While Lapid does PR for a Palestinian terror state at the U.N., his partner Gantz is building one on the ground in Judea and Samaria. Over the past two years, Gantz has given the Palestinians and their European funders free rein to build illegal villages and seize agricultural land throughout Area C, which is administered entirely by Israel under the Oslo peace deals. Gantz has simultaneously barred Israelis from building in the areas and ordered the IDF to block all Israeli construction efforts. Thousands of acres of Area C, which were slated for Israeli settlement have been seized under Gantz’s watch by the Palestinians. These wholesale land seizures now threaten to turn flourishing blocs of Israeli communities like Gush Etzion into isolated enclaves.

Likewise, Gantz has been permitting Palestinian security forces to operate in areas where they are barred from operating under the peace agreements. He has even turned a blind eye to the illegal deployment of Canadian military forces in Area C. As Regavim documented last week, Canadian military forces which operate under the authority of the U.S. Security Coordinator in Jerusalem have been seen in uniform in Gush Etzion and the south Hebron hills harassing Israeli civilians and attempting to enter closed military zones. These operations are breaches of both Israeli and international law. But Gantz has been enabling them.

Gantz has renewed political contacts with Abbas and violated Israeli anti-terror laws by shoveling hundreds of millions of shekels into P.A. coffers. Gantz justifies his illegal policies by proclaiming them part of a strategy to “limit the conflict”—a euphemism for unilateral concessions to Palestinian terrorist groups.

For 10 years, Netanyahu worked quietly to render the P.A. irrelevant on the ground and in the region. This week, we marked the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords, the greatest demonstration of his success. Reached despite Palestinian opposition, the Abraham Accords showed that Israel does not need to appease Palestinian terrorists to end the Arab conflict with Israel. Through their Palestinian-centric policies, Gantz and Lapid not only legitimize Palestinian terrorists, by returning the Palestinians to center state, they undermine the Abraham Accords by forcing Israel’s Arab partners to stand with the Palestinians against Israel.

This brings us to the third disparity between the Lapid-Gantz foreign policy and the Netanyahu-Likud policies...

Still more

A New Counterculture?

From N.S. Lyons, who writes "The Upheaval" Substack page.

At City Journal, "If the Right captures some of the Left’s youthful energy and rebellious cachet, it would represent a tectonic cultural and political shift":

In July, the New York Times posted a job announcement seeking a reporter-cum-anthropologist to cover an important new beat: infiltrating the “online communities and influential personalities making up the right-wing media ecosystem” and “shedding light on their motivations” for the benefit of Times readers. Establishing this “critical listening post” would not be a role for the faint of heart. The daring candidate would have to be specifically “prepared to inhabit corners of the internet” where “far-right” ideas were discussed, all for the higher goal of determining “where and why these ideas take shape.”

You could be forgiven for questioning why the paper needed yet another reporter to shape the narrative about the political Right, given its constant focus on Donald Trump and the populist MAGA movement since 2016. But the timing of the announcement seemed to suggest that the Times had something else in mind. It arrived amid an explosion of media interest in understanding a strange new tribe, discovered suddenly not in the wilds of Kansas but right under their noses.

Back in April, an article by James Pogue in Vanity Fair revealed the emergence of a collection of “podcasters, bro-ish anonymous Twitter posters, online philosophers, artists, and amorphous scenesters”—sometimes called “‘dissidents,’ ‘neo-reactionaries,’ ‘post-leftists,’ or the ‘heterodox’ fringe . . . all often grouped for convenience under the heading of America’s New Right”—who represented the “seam of a much larger and stranger political ferment, burbling up mainly within America’s young and well-educated elite.” That last bit about the demographics of this so-called New Right may have been what got the Times’s attention. But Pogue had even more striking news: these dissidents, he wrote, had established “a position that has become quietly edgy and cool in new tech outposts like Miami and Austin, and in downtown Manhattan, where New Right–ish politics are in, and signifiers like a demure cross necklace have become markers of a transgressive chic.” This may have been the most alarming news of all for the paper of record: somehow, traditionalist right-wing conservatism had perhaps become cool.

Is it true—and if so, how is it possible? For at least a century, the Left has held a firm monopoly on “transgressive chic,” profitably waging a countercultural guerilla war against society’s hegemonic status quo. For the Right to capture some of the Left’s youthful energy and rebellious cachet would represent a tectonic cultural and political shift. We shouldn’t be shocked if it happens.

Few things are more natural for young people than to push back against the strictures and norms of their day, even if only to stand out a little from the crowd and assert their independence. A counterculture forms as a reaction against an official or dominant culture—and today, it is the woke neoliberal Left that occupies this position in America’s cultural, educational, technological, corporate, and bureaucratic power centers. In this culture, celebration of ritualized, old forms of transgression is not only permitted, but practically mandatory. Dissent against state-sponsored transgression, however, is now transgressive. All of what was once revolutionary is now a new orthodoxy, with conformity enforced by censorship, scientistic obscurantism, and eager witch-hunters (early-middle-aged, zealously dour, tight-lipped frown, NPR tote bag, rainbow “Coexist” bumper sticker, pronouns in email signature—we all know the uniform).

Moreover, young people living under the permanent revolution of today’s cultural mainstream often tend to be miserable. Their disillusionment opens the door to subversive second thoughts on such verities as the bulldozing of sexual and gender norms, the replacement of romance by a Tinder hellscape, general atomized rootlessness, working life that resembles neo-feudal serfdom, and the enervating meaninglessness of consumerism and mass media. In this environment, the most countercultural act is to embrace traditional values and ways of life—like the vogue among some young people for the Latin Mass. We shouldn’t be too surprised if at least a subset of those youth seeking to rebel against the Man might, say, choose to tune in to Jordan Peterson, turn on to a latent thirst for objective truth and beauty, and drop out of the postmodern Left...

He's good. 

Keep reading.



California to Allow Composting of Human Remains (VIDEO)

This makes me sick.

Watch, at KCBS Los Angeles, "California legalizes eco-friendly human composting."


Linked there, "Decades ago, movies imagined a futuristic 2022."

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Full Fixed-Blade, Mossy Oak 14-inch Bowie Knife

At Amazon, MOSSY OAK 14-inch Bowie Knife, Full-tang Fixed Blade Wood Handle with Leather Sheath.

Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation

This book is hilarious.

At Amazon, Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation.

Isn't It Common Sense to Protect Our Borders (VIDEO)

Here's Will Witt, for Prager University:

9 MM vs. .45 ACP – A Different Kind of Comparison


The Day After One of His Cultists Murders What He Claims Is an 'Extremist Republican' 18-Year-Old Boy, Joe Biden Urges His Demented Followers to ... 'Fight Extremist Republicans'

 At AoSPHQ, "Via Twitchy, despite having just incited one of his crazed followers to murder a teenager in the name of "fighting Republican Extremists," Joe Biden put out a statement telling his cultists to... fight Republican extremists some more."

Fentanyl Crisis Is an International Attack on America

From Greta Van Susteren, "Fentanyl crisis is an international attack on America. We must fight back":

Nearly 3,000 people were murdered on 9/11 by terrorists who entered the United States. Immediately, our government took action to prevent future attacks and protect Americans. We tightened security. We put checkpoints in our airports – and we began special screening procedures for people entering America from overseas. We changed our cockpit access. We created "no fly" lists. We didn’t just sit there and hope that the threat would go away.

After COVID-19 surfaced in January 2020, it was quickly apparent that our nation was again under attack, very much like that sunny Tuesday morning in September 2001. Except that this time the culprit was a virus from abroad. To respond, our government – and governments around the world – took similar decisive action to slow the spread. The United States and other nations temporarily closed their borders and restricted international travel until we could fully identify the problem and get this enemy under control. When travel reopened, we created new checks and tests to try to prevent infections from overwhelming our health care systems, until we had treatment options and a less lethal form of the coronavirus.

Yet when it comes to a third enemy coming from abroad, one that killed more than 71,000 Americans last year – many of them young people – our government is relying on outdated tactics and old ideas.

Fentanyl kills 195 Americans every day

I am talking about the fentanyl crisis, which is killing 195 Americans a day – one of those is country singer Luke Bell, who recently died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lethal dose may be as small as 2 milligrams.

When used illicitly, it can kill on the first use. The raw ingredients for illegal fentanyl come from China and are then sent to Mexico, where they are often pressed into pills – including what appear to be legitimate prescriptions like Xanax and valium or prescription pain medication. They could also be made into a powder, or combined with other illegal drugs to lower the cost and create a bigger “high” – a grisly imitation of putting fillers into foods to cut costs.

In one weekend, Sept. 17-18, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Nogales, Arizona, confiscated about 400,000 fentanyl pills arriving from Mexico.

Are fentanyl deaths 'overdoses'? Or 'murders'?

Legitimate fentanyl is used in medical settings, but illicit fentanyl is different. We politely label fentanyl deaths “overdoses,” but a truer term would be “poisonings” – or, given the explosive rise in deaths over the past few years, “murders.”

Fentanyl kills far more Americans each year than gun violence. More and more schools around the nation have “Narcan stations,” the rescue drug that can reverse a fentanyl overdose.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, law enforcement seized nearly 10 million fentanyl-laced pills last year, an astronomical rise from the fewer than 300,000 pills seized in 2018.

And what is our federal response to this deadly killer coming into our country?

When it comes to fentanyl, drug control is too late

The Biden administration is asking Congress for $42.5 billion for drug control programs – $3.2 billion more than this year. But when it comes to fentanyl, drug control – which is predominantly a combination of prevention and rehab strategies – is too late.

Fentanyl poisoning is often a one-time mistake. A teenager ingesting a fentanyl-laced pill does not simply become an addict needing rehab. Too often, tragically, all we can offer their family is a funeral home.

Last January, a 16-year-old high school sophomore and junior varsity basketball player in Bethesda, Maryland, died in a bathroom in his home after taking what turned out to be a counterfeit Percocet pill, laced with fentanyl. The pills were sold to him by a 23-year-old, according to Montgomery County police.

What about interdiction? The administration did set aside $275 million to disrupt drug trafficking across the nation through law enforcement programs. But by that time, fentanyl is already inside the USA.

It’s past time for all of us, Washington included, to uncover our eyes and see the situation for what it is: an international attack on our people...


Lucy Pinder Television X (VIDEO)

Old Lucy's still got it going!


Is it October yet, dang?!!

On Instagram.

Where Online Hate Speech Can Bring the Police to Your Door

It's Germany, which obviously has good justification for suppressing online right-wing extremism.

At the New York Times, "Battling far-right extremism, Germany has gone further than any other Western democracy to prosecute individuals for what they say online, testing the limits of free speech on the internet":

When the police pounded the door before dawn at a home in northwest Germany, a bleary-eyed young man in his boxer shorts answered. The officers asked for his father, who was at work.

They told him that his 51-year-old father was accused of violating laws against online hate speech, insults and misinformation. He had shared an image on Facebook with an inflammatory statement about immigration falsely attributed to a German politician. “Just because someone rapes, robs or is a serious criminal is not a reason for deportation,” the fake remark said.

The police then scoured the home for about 30 minutes, seizing a laptop and tablet as evidence, prosecutors said.

At that exact moment in March, a similar scene was playing out at about 100 other homes across Germany, part of a coordinated nationwide crackdown that continues to this day. After sharing images circulating on Facebook that carried a fake statement, the perpetrators had devices confiscated and some were fined.

“We are making it clear that anyone who posts hate messages must expect the police to be at the front door afterward,” Holger Münch, the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office, said after the March raids.

Hate speech, extremism, misogyny and misinformation are well-known byproducts of the internet. But the people behind the most toxic online behavior typically avoid any personal major real-world consequences. Most Western democracies like the United States have avoided policing the internet because of free speech rights, leaving a sea of slurs, targeted harassment and tweets telling public figures they’d be better off dead. At most, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter remove a post or suspend their account.

But over the past several years, Germany has forged another path, criminally prosecuting people for online hate speech.

German authorities have brought charges for insults, threats and harassment. The police have raided homes, confiscated electronics and brought people in for questioning. Judges have enforced fines worth thousands of dollars each and, in some cases, sent offenders to jail. The threat of prosecution, they believe, will not eradicate hate online, but push some of the worst behavior back into the shadows.

In doing so, they have flipped inside out what, to American ears, it means to protect free speech. The authorities in Germany argue that they are encouraging and defending free speech by providing a space where people can share opinions without fear of being attacked or abused.

“There has to be a line you cannot cross,” said Svenja Meininghaus, a state prosecutor who attended the raid of the father’s house. “There has to be consequences.”

But even in Germany, a country where the stain of Nazism drives a belief that free speech is not absolute, the crackdown is generating fierce debate:

How far is too far?

A Turning Point

Walter Lübcke was a well-liked if unassuming local politician in the central German state of Hesse. He was known among constituents more for his advocacy of wind turbines and a bigger airport than provocation. But as a supporter of then-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies, he became a regular target of online abuse after a 2015 video of him had circulated in far-right circles. In the video, he suggested to a local audience that anyone who did not support taking in refugees could leave Germany themselves.

In June 2019, he was shot and killed by a neo-Nazi on the terrace of his house at close range, shocking the public to the depths of far-right extremism in the country and how online hate could lead to grave real-world violence.

Publicly displaying swastikas and other Nazi symbolism is illegal in Germany, as is denying or diminishing the significance of the Holocaust. Remarks considered to be inciting hatred are punishable with jail time. It is a crime to insult somebody in public.

But authorities struggled to translate the speech laws to the internet age, where the volume of toxicity is seemingly endless and often masked by anonymity.

At first, policymakers in Germany attempted to put more pressure on internet companies like Facebook to crack down. In 2017, the country passed a landmark law, the Network Enforcement Act, that forced Facebook and others to take down hate speech in as little as 24 hours of being notified or face fines.

Companies beefed up their content moderation efforts to comply, but many German policymakers said the law did not go far enough because it targeted companies rather than the individuals who were posting vile content. Hate speech and online abuse continued to spread after the law passed, as did the rise in far-right extremism.

The assassination of Mr. Lübcke represented a turning point, intensifying efforts to prosecute people who broke the speech laws online. And in the last year, the government adopted rules that made it easier to arrest those who target public figures online.

Daniel Holznagel, a former Justice Ministry official who helped draft the internet enforcement laws passed in 2017, compared the crackdown to going after copyright violators. He said people stopped illegally downloading music and movies as much after authorities began issuing fines and legal warnings.

“You can’t prosecute everyone, but it will have a big effect if you show that prosecution is possible,” said Mr. Holznagel, who is now a judge...


Louise Mensch on Putin's War

From September 16th, on Twitter:

1/ I don’t think this war, or Putin, are going to make it to next summer.

in case you haven’t been paying attention, Putin just went to China and was snubbed. Tiny Eastern European countries are making him wait around.

He’s finally being treated like the dog he is.

2/ It’s tempting to say I think the war will be over by the end of the year. That certainly possible, but sources say Kherson itself is going to take a little while. Most likely Ukraine is thinking about the push to Crimea. Ukraine WILL be retaking Crimea. cc @Dominic2306

3/ Putin enjoys being hated and feared. Instead, he’s now being hated and mocked. that’s a lethal combination. And the first whiff of future rationing has just hit Russia.

4/ Militarily, I would expect all Ukrainian territory to be liberated by spring 2023, however, if there is a coup in Moscow, (and there is a significant chance of that) before then, I would expect the war to end immediately afterwards with total Russian withdrawal

5/ in any event, surely no serious person can now envisage anything other than the utter defeat of the Russian Federation, and the total victory and complete liberation of Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine. 6/ following the complete victory of the Armed Forces of Ukraine @DefenceU over the Russian Army @MOD_Russia, I believe a coup against Vladimir Putin is inevitable. The only question is whether it will come before, or after, Russia’s total military defeat in Ukraine

7/ the coup, in my view, is marginally more likely to happen after Russia is driven out of Crimea. The reason for this is that Ukraine is going to insist on retaking Crimea, and it would be very difficult indeed, for any Russian president, domestically, to give Crimea back.

8/ it is another thing entirely, if your predecessor has “lost” @Crimea (Crimea is Ukraine, but the Russians lie that it is part of Russia), than if you, the new guy, “surrender” it back to the Ukrainians. Putin’s replacement may want that loss to be on Putin, not them.

9/ I cannot see Putin, surviving this situation, and I take great pleasure in knowing the fear that he must feel every morning when he wakes up. He is a dog. He is utterly despicable. I have often been told by more than one source that there is worse behind him.…

10/ … that Putin cares only about Vladimir Putin, and real Russian nationalists are waiting in the wings, but I’m not going to ‘be careful what I wish for’.

I want justice done against Vladimir Putin, and I want justice to be seen to be done. #смертьворогам

11/ Vladimir Putin is the enemy of the free world, he invaded Ukraine, he committed war crimes against civilians, he propped up Assad’s genocidal regime, he interfered in a sovereign election in the United States, and in two British referendums; all, imo, acts of war.

12/ Putin committed information warfare against every democracy in the world, spreading anti-vaccination propaganda during the Covid pandemic. It’s unacceptable to me that he end his life with nothing worse than humiliation.

*Whoever* is behind him: fiat iustitia ruat caelum.

13/ after Russia is driven from Crimea and Putin is violently deposed in Russia, there must be war crimes trials at the Hague. And large amounts of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund must be simply given to Ukraine as compensation. Glory to Ukraine. Destruction to the Kremlin. Ends.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Nicholas Eberstadt, Men Without Work

At Amazon, Nicholas Eberstadt, Men Without Work: Post-Pandemic Edition.

Jonathan Tobin on Martha's Vineyard

He's a very thoughful man.

On Twitter.


On Instragram.

'A Brutal, Needless War ... Chosen by One Man': Biden, at United Nations, Slams Putin's Invasion of Ukraine (VIDEO)

Following-up, "Putin Orders Draft of Reservists for War in Ukraine, Threatens Nuclear Response."

At the Los Angeles Times, "The president says Putin ‘attempted to erase the sovereign state from the map’ and urged the United Nations to add additional members to the Security Council to weaken Russia’s influence":

NEW YORK CITY — President Biden excoriated Russian President Vladimir Putin and announced another $1.2-billion aid package for Ukraine during his annual address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

“Let us speak plainly: A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded, attempted to erase the sovereign state from the map,” Biden said, calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “a brutal, needless war” that was “chosen by one man.”

Russia and China’s standing as two of the five Security Council members is undermining the U.N.'s ability to fulfill its mission, Biden went on to argue. Intent on signaling to allies and adversaries alike that the United States will not waver in its defense of Ukraine and support for other sovereign nations, the president urged the United Nations to add additional members to the Security Council to weaken Russia and China’s influence. But he did not go as fas as to call for revoking their Security Council membership, and with it, their veto power.

“The time has come for this institution to become more inclusive,” Biden said.

The annual week of meetings at U.N. headquarters, the first in-person gathering in three years, comes as Putin, his military having suffered major setbacks in recent weeks, has indicated he now plans to annex occupied regions of Ukraine. Moscow-aligned puppet governments there are preparing to hold sham referenda on joining Russia.

“The world should see these outrageous acts for what they are,” Biden said of the planned votes.

Just hours before Biden’s speech, Putin announced an immediate partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists in a pre-recorded address airing on Russian state television. Characterizing the conflict as a war with the West, he went as far as to threaten to deploy nuclear weapons.

“To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all weapons resources at our disposal,” Putin said. “This is not a bluff.”

Putin’s remarks won’t come as a surprise to the White House, where national security officials continue to believe the war is nowhere near a resolution despite Ukraine’s success in pushing back Russian forces from formerly occupied territories in the country’s east.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Biden’s guiding principle has been keeping the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization unified and out of any direct confrontation with Russia. Speaking to the world some seven months later, he looked to bolster the resolve of the world’s leading democracies in continuing to stand behind Ukraine, even as the drawn-out conflict has upended energy markets and exacerbated inflation, creating domestic issues for leaders in London, Paris and Berlin.

He will hold his first meeting with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss later Wednesday.

At the same time, he is trying to ward off a potential attack on Taiwan by China. In an interview Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Biden said he would respond militarily to any act of aggression by Beijing that violates Taiwan’s sovereignty — the kind of response he took off the table from the get-go when Russia was getting ready to invade Ukraine.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, in his remarks Monday, implored world leaders to rally together in support of the principles enshrined in the organization’s charter, offering a bleak summation of a world where democratic principles and institutions are increasingly under attack and multilateral organizations have been unable to muster the responses necessary to combat climate change, food insecurity, diseases, human rights violations and other challenges...

Watch the full speech is here: "Biden denounces Russia in speech to U.N. General Assembly."