Monday, October 2, 2023

California, the Great Destroyer › American Greatness

In 1996, the California legislature created the high speed rail authority.

In 2008, voters passed a $33 billion bond to build an envisioned 800 mile project eventually to link Sacramento with San Diego.

Fifteen years later, a scaled-down plan from Bakersfield to Merced remains not even half finished. Yet the envisioned costs will exceed that of the original estimate for the entire project.

The rail authority now estimates that just the modest 178 mile route—only about a fifth of the authorized distance—will not be completed at least until 2030. Past high speed estimates of both time and cost targets have been widely wrong and perhaps deliberately misleading.

Total costs for the entire project are now estimated at nearly $130 billion. Many expect that figure to double in the next quarter-century. Planners also concede there will likely not be much high speed rider demand from San Joaquin Valley residents willing to pay $86 to travel at a supposed 200 mph from Bakersfield to Merced.

Nine years ago voters amid drought and water shortages also passed a state water bond, authorizing $7.5 billion in new water projects and initiatives.

Some $2.7 billion was targeted for new dams and reservoirs. The current water storage system had not been enlarged since the early 1980s, when the state population was 15 million fewer residents.

So far not a single dam or new reservoir has been built. And Californians expect more water rationing statewide anytime the state experiences a modest drought.

In 2017, a $15 billion bond authorized a complete remodeling of Los Angeles International Airport—recognized as one of the more congested, disorganized, and unpleasant airports in America.

Now the cost to complete the project has grown to an estimated $30 billion, with a proposed finish date of 2028—11 years after the project was authorized.

And the ongoing LAX remake is considered one of California’s more successful public construction projects.

In 2002, California began construction on the eastern span replacement of the iconic San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge—less than half of the bridge’s total length.

It was scheduled to be finished in five years at a cost of $250 million.

The job in fact took 11 years. And it cost $6.5 billion—a 2,500 percent increase over the estimate.

In contrast, original construction of the entire Bay Bridge began in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. Yet the job was completed in a little  more than three years.

The list of such delayed, canceled, or prolonged projects could be expanded, from the proposed widening of the state’s overcrowded, antiquated, and dangerous north-to-south “freeways” to the now inert Peripheral Canal project that would have allowed the California aqueduct to transfer needed water southward by precluding the present inefficient pumping into and out of the San Francisco delta.


VDH who seems to have something against trains. Who doesn't like trains?

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Team DeSantis feels poised to surge if Trump trips | Washington Examiner

Trump has led 2024 polling for so long, and by huge numbers, that some are looking to other ways to analyze the race for cracks in his support. The pro-DeSantis group Ready to Win has seized on “anti-polling,” or studying online and social media discussions, and independent voters.

What it has found is that there is a desire for a Trump alternative, but that wish is being drowned out by more basic head-to-head polling showing the former president with a massive lead.


First I've heard of "anti-polling." Seems sketch, as the kids say.

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kavanaugh holds the middle vote as Supreme Court moves right - Los Angeles Times

The crucial battles these days within the Supreme Court are among its six conservatives, not between them and the three liberals.

And the outcome in close cases now turns most often on one justice: Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Five years after he survived a bruising Senate confirmation, Kavanaugh has left little doubt about his conservative credentials, joining the 6-3 majority to roll back abortion rights and affirmative action. He voted to expand gun rights, block climate change policies and halt student loan forgiveness.

But Kavanaugh has shown he is not always a predictable vote, especially for the most conservative positions. He often joins Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to hold the middle, and sometimes joins liberals to form a surprising 5-4 majority.


Yes, I worry about Brett.

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Ukraine Tricks Russia Into Wasting Ammunition - WSJ

Russian forces have destroyed about half the battlefield equipment that Ukrainian company Metinvest has produced for the country’s military. Managers want Russian troops to target more of it.

At a workshop in central Ukraine, workers are busy making parts for howitzers, radar stations and mortars. They are all fakes. Metinvest churns out high-quality replicas that serve as decoys, seeking to lure Russian fire.

Made from rigid plastic foam, plumbing and scrap equipment, the gear is produced based on the logic that every Russian missile, shell or drone used to strike them is one fewer targeting real equipment and troops.

“When we place these decoys along certain areas of the front, they attract the attention of the enemy,” said a worker.

One Ukrainian platoon commander said his unit had used decoys to pinpoint from where Russian artillery was firing so that other Ukrainian forces could target it.

An independent monitor last year posted video of a Russian Lancet drone striking a Ukrainian radar system that turned out to be a decoy made from a wrecked vehicle.


October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How ‘Preapproved Narratives’ Corrupt Science - WSJ

Scientists were aghast last month when Patrick Brown, climate director at the Breakthrough Institute in Berkeley, Calif., acknowledged that he’d censored one of his studies to increase his odds of getting published. Credit to him for being honest about something his peers also do but are loath to admit.

In an essay for the Free Press, Mr. Brown explained that he omitted “key aspects other than climate change” from a paper on California wildfires because such details would “dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell.” Editors of scientific journals, he wrote, “have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives.”

Nature’s editor, Magdalena Skipper, denied that the journal has “a preferred narrative.” No doubt the editors at the

and ProPublica would say the same of their own pages.

Mr. Brown’s criticisms aren’t new. In 2005 Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis wrote an essay titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” He contended that scientists “may be prejudiced purely because of their belief in a scientific theory or commitment to their own findings.”

“The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true,” Dr. Ioannidis argued. “Many otherwise seemingly independent, university-based studies may be conducted for no other reason than to give physicians and researchers qualifications for promotion or tenure.”


Fortunately, legal scholarship does not have this problem.

(General hilarity ensues.)

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

High Noon for the CFPB at the Supreme Court - WSJ

Democrats in Congress constructed the CFPB to be insulated from accountability by the political branches. This fits the progressive vision of an administrative state run by supposed experts who will instruct Americans on proper behavior whether they like it or not.

The Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB tried to insulate it from presidential control by saying the bureau’s director could only be removed “for cause.” The Supreme Court found that unconstitutional in 2020, and now the Justices will consider the agency’s funding mechanism that is intended as protection from Congressional appropriations.

Dodd-Frank requires the Federal Reserve each year to transfer whatever “amount determined by the Director to be reasonably necessary” to fund the Bureau’s operation, as long as the amount does not exceed $734 million, which is adjusted annually for inflation. Any money the director requests and doesn’t spend rolls over to the following year.

Payday lenders that have been targeted by the CFPB sued, arguing that the bureau’s ability to self-fund via the Fed violates the Constitution’s command that “no Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” The bureau’s budget is double-insulated from Congress since the Fed generates its own funding.

Congress can use its power of the purse to restrain other agencies. Not so the CFPB. Director Rohit Chopra has flaunted his independence by sidestepping the traditional government hiring process and promulgating regulations that Congress hasn’t authorized.


The CFPB is the most unconstitutional thing I have ever seen. This should not be a difficult case for the Court. It will be interesting to see how the Justices come down. I feel sorry for J. Kagan as she has got to realize what a horror the statute that created the CFPB is. The other liberal justices are probably invincibly ignorant.

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Democrats Still Publicly Back Biden for 2024. Privately, Their Fears Are Growing. - WSJ

Publicly, top Democrats say they support President Biden running for re-election and think he can win. Privately, their worries are increasing but they are resigned to the idea that he isn’t going anywhere, and there is no viable Plan B.

Polls have consistently shown that most voters, including the majority of Democrats, don’t think Biden should run in 2024, and many have deep concerns about the 80-year-old president’s age, fitness for office and leadership. Those fears have intensified as his approval ratings have declined—a recent NBC News poll showed Biden with a job approval of 41%, with 56% disapproving, compared with 46% approval, 50% disapproval in the same poll in January.


October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Alito’s First Amendment - WSJ

Justice Samuel Alito, by contrast, vigorously rejects the anything-goes theory. “The First Amendment was not intended to prohibit any regulation of speech,” he said in a Journal interview on July 7. On occasion that view has left him alone in dissent against a free-speech claim.

Even so, in the vast majority of cases he’s a strong defender of the freedom of speech. He accepts Holmes’s dictum and cited it in Matal v. Tam (2017), in which the court held that the government had violated a rock band’s constitutional rights by denying its trademark application for its racially insensitive name.

In oral arguments, Justice Alito has a knack for posing scenarios that reveal the untenability of speech restrictions, particularly on political speech. In Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky (2018), the court reviewed a statute banning “political” attire at polling places. Justice Alito asked if a National Rifle Association T-shirt would be permitted.

“No, it would not,” the state’s lawyer said.

“How about a shirt with the text of the Second Amendment?”

“I think that would be viewed as political.”

“How about the First Amendment?” The lawyer said that would be OK but couldn’t explain why. He lost the case.


October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grizzly bear attack leaves 2 people dead in western Canada. Rangers kill the bear - ABC News

CALGARY, Alberta -- An attack by a grizzly bear has left two people dead in a national park in western Canada, and the bear was later killed by park rangers, officials said.

The attack took place Friday in Banff National Park in Alberta Province. The Parks Canada agency received an alert from a GPS device in the park's Red Deer River valley Friday evening that indicated a bear attack was happening, agency spokeswoman Natalie Fay said in a statement.

A response team was mobilized but was hampered by bad weather and was able to reach the site only early Saturday by about 1 a.m., when team members found the bodies of a couple. Identities of the victims were not immediately released.

“Weather conditions at the time did not allow for helicopter use, and the response team travelled through the night to the location by the ground,” Fay said.

The team found an aggressive grizzly bear in the area and killed the animal at the scene for the sake of public safety, Fay said. Authorities closed portions of Banff National Park, a popular tourist destination, as a precaution.

Kim Titchener, founder of a group that provides bear safety seminars, said she was a friend of one of the victims family members and said they were a Canadian couple. She said their dog also was killed.

“This couple were very experienced outdoor enthusiasts,” Titchener said. “They were in the back country to camp.”


I think you should be able to carry a side arm in national parks, which I believe you can't, especially in Canada. Not a guarantee of safety, but you'd have a fighting chance at least. Of course, a .45 weighs a lot and anything smaller would be pointless for a big grizzly bear. But between safety and weight, weight (or lack thereof) wins every time. Life's a risk, after all. Water is heavy; thirst is light.

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump’s Fraud Trial Starts With Attacks on Attorney General and Judge - The New York Times

The trials of Donald J. Trump began Monday in a New York courtroom, where the former president made an appearance to fight the first of several government actions against him — a civil case that imperils his company and threatens his image as a master of the business world.

The case, brought by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, takes aim at Mr. Trump’s boasts about his net worth, accusing the former president of crossing from hyperbole into fraud. In some years, the attorney general’s office contends, Mr. Trump, his adult sons and their family business inflated his riches by more than $2 billion so that they could secure favorable terms from banks and bragging rights about his overall wealth.

“Year after year, loan after loan, defendants misrepresented Mr. Trump’s net worth,” Kevin Wallace, a lead lawyer for Ms. James, said during opening statements on Monday morning. He noted that while it might be one thing to exaggerate for a television audience or Forbes Magazine’s list of the richest people, “you cannot do it while conducting business in the state of New York.”

Just outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump fired a fusillade of personal attacks on Ms. James and the judge overseeing the case, Arthur F. Engoron, even suggesting that they were criminals.


I have a hard time seeing what the actual fraud was in this case, if the lenders didn't rely on Trump's false representations and he also paid back the loans in full. Maybe there's some feature of NY law I don't know and there could well be, but it seems like a political prosecution to me.

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wettest, wildest, weirdest rainy season in nearly 20 years comes to end in San Diego County - The San Diego Union-Tribune

From the backcountry of Campo to the back roads of Ramona, firefighters were ready to roll last fall at even the hint of wildfire.

Two years of below-average rain and high temperatures had left the landscape parched. Something as small as heat from a car muffler could be enough to ignite grass. Firefighters described the region as primed to burn.

The unexpected followed.

The rainy season that ended on Saturday night was the wettest in nearly 20 years and featured a social media sensation in the form of Hilary, the first tropical storm to make a direct hit on San Diego in more than 80 years.


I don't know why this happened but I'm glad it did. Out here we worry about wildfires. All of us seem to have gotten our fire insurance cancelled and now have to buy that super-expensive, state-subsidized stuff. So rain is good in my view.

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

John Eastman Says He Plans to Stay in the Fight, Win or Lose

Donald Trump attorney John Eastman said he plans to fight what he sees as inaccurate election results “with everything I’ve got” even if he loses his California State Bar disciplinary trial and, potentially, his license to practice law there.

Disciplining and disbarring attorneys who take unpopular positions on behalf of their clients is a “very dangerous thing,” Eastman told Bloomberg Law Friday in an exclusive interview during a break from his Los Angeles trial.

A California federal judge last year found Trump, Eastman, and other Trump allies likely engaged in criminal activity after the 2020 election. The professor, the ex-president and 17 other people were indicted last month on charges of racketeering by a state prosecutor in Georgia.

Eastman has entered a plea there of not guilty.

“This thing should have never been brought in the first place,” Eastman said, “and I continue to hope that the justice process will play out properly and I’ll get exonerated.”

But if this trial doesn’t go his way, his legal team will, on appeal, raise objections “as we determine is necessary,” Eastman said, against California State Bar Court Judge Yvette Roland‘s frequent blocking of witness testimony she deems can only come from experts.


October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

EU, UN-WEF, And Trudeau Simultaneously Demand Crackdown On Independent News And Podcasting

For months, representatives of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government insisted that their plans to regulate Big Tech social media platforms wouldn’t impact independent news outlets or podcasters.

“I think we brought the necessary changes to the bill to reassure them and to make sure that platforms are in and users are out,” Minister Pablo Rodriguez told the media, echoing what he had been telling members of parliament. As a result of government reassurances, their legislation passed.

But it turns out that the government is, in fact, going to regulate content providers, not just Big Tech social media platforms.

The government regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), announced on Friday that it would require registration by independent content producers, including online news companies and “individuals that host podcasts on their own websites.”

The CRTC says that the law only covers media companies with $10 million or more per year in revenue and that the information it is demanding is minimal. “You will be able to continue to listen to and watch the content of your choice,” the government stresses. “Our goal is to better support Canadian and indigenous content and ensure it is available.”

But, notes Canadian legal analyst Michael Geist, “The takeaway from the decision is obvious: registration is the first step toward regulation…In fact, the rationale for the CRTC to include many of the services is that without such information, it is not well positioned to regulate.”

The Liberal Party plainly misled the public into thinking that platforms would only be regulated, not content providers. There are many independent media companies with over $10 million annually in revenue that will be forced to register.

And the CRTC made clear that this is just the beginning and that it has “begun to explore the concept of social media and the role, if any, that social media platforms may play in the broadcasting system.”


How do you say "Ai Chihuahua" in Canadian?

October 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 1, 2023

All the Kingdoms of the World: On Radical Religious Alternatives to Liberalism - Kindle edition by Vallier, Kevin. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @


"This splendid book has something for everyone. For religious conservatives who question the separation of church and state, Vallier offers compelling arguments against their integration, drawing from Catholic theology, Church history, and considerations of social stability. For liberals, Vallier offers a bracing view of a powerful current stream of anti-liberal thought that should shatter any complacency about taking liberal political assumptions for granted. For people of all religious and political orientations, Vallier offers a rigorous method for assessing political proposals that does not presuppose liberal principles, but can serve as a basis for all to engage each other in serious discussion. In our politically polarized age, that is a major achievement." —ELIZABETH ANDERSON, Max Shaye Professor of Public Philosophy, University of Michigan

"Kevin Vallier thoughtfully makes the case against post-liberal political doctrines, focusing on Catholic integralism. But he also pursues reconciliation with conservatives through his striking proposal for non-liberal charter cities within the framework of a liberal state. This book is a daring and original effort to adapt liberal political theory to a post-liberal era." —YORAM HAZONY, author of Conservatism: A Rediscovery

"Integralism holds that state coercion is to be used to forward a religion's vision of the supernatural good. It is deeply statist and deeply illiberal; and, yet, it arguably follows from the teachings of Roman Catholicism. In All the Kingdoms of the World, Kevin Vallier does the great service of taking this position seriously—of presenting it with care, so that its attractions are plain. He also does the great service of showing why it nevertheless profoundly fails in its own terms as an account of a just, stable political order and how its failure provides lessons for the prospects of other emerging anti-liberal statisms. The book is intellectually invigorating, theoretically rigorous, and politically timely. I am grateful that it was written, and that it was Vallier who wrote it!" —MARK C. MURPHY, McDevitt Professor of Religious Philosophy, Georgetown University --This text refers to the hardcover edition.


I haven't read this book, but it looks good.

October 1, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michelle Obama, Democrats’ Savior and Nominee? Don’t Bet on It - The Messenger

In a related story, the 2024 Democratic National Convention will be held in Chicago, the Obamas' hometown. 

As for the former first lady's staying power, despite being out of the White House for more than six years, she appears to still have it: Another YouGov survey found that Michelle Obama remains the most popular woman in the country to this day. 

All of that said, it's almost impossible to see her jumping in to relieve Joe Biden and save the Democratic Party and the country from Donald Trump. Her life is quite nice right now: She and her husband have multimillion-dollar properties on the water in Martha's Vineyard and just minutes from the White House in Washington. The Obamas enjoy the celebrity side of a post-presidential existence, having signed a huge deal with Netflix and both scoring Emmy nominations, Michelle for The Light We Carry: Michelle Obama & Oprah Winfrey. Why leave that life to enter a political environment that is as ugly and divisive as it's ever been? 

And then there's the consideration of just how bad such a move to install a candidate at the 11th hour would look to the public. To discard the entire primary process to essentially appoint a candidate on the convention floor, without that nominee having to earn one vote in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or on Super Tuesday, would be the kind of Soviet-style politics that most voters would roundly reject. 

But in the end, always follow the money. On that front, Michelle Obama was just paid nearly $750,000 for a one-hour speech on diversity and inclusion in Munich, according to a Daily Mail report. That's almost double what a U.S. president earns in an entire year. 


This sounds like famous last words to me, but what do I know. I don't know Ms. Obama's views on this issues, but I can guess. I don't think she would be worse than the other Democratic candidates would be. But she might be. I haven't seen any of that will to power one sees in Senator Warren, for example. Let us pray that she dwells on all the things she can do and places she can go with all the money she's going to be making for very little effort, and decide not to run, which, let's hope, she will remember as a god-awful experience, especially compared to her life now.

October 1, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Motorist fined after dog seen behind wheel of car - BBC News

A speed camera photo, posted on Facebook, appears to show a smiling canine in the driving seat of a Skoda.

The car owner insisted that his pet - a brown hunting dog - had suddenly leapt into his lap.

But officers in the village of Sterusy, north-east of the capital, Bratislava, said footage showed this was not the case as there was no sudden movement in the car.

It's not clear if the fine - issued to the owner, rather than the dog - was for speeding, or for failing to secure the pet in a moving vehicle.

Police have appealed to drivers to secure their pets safely when driving.

"Even a small animal can endanger your life and health while driving," police warned.


October 1, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 30, 2023

A cat wins Hambone Award after being being folded in a sofa bed | CNN

CNN  — 

Giles, a charismatic black kitty, took home a trophy and some stitches after finding himself stuck between a cushion and a hard place.

Giles won the 15th Annual Hambone Award, and this year’s competition was stiff. Some of the finalists included a Labrador that took an unexpected jump off a 36-foot-high bridge, a parrot slammed inside of a door, and a phone charger chewing pup.

The pet award program was started by Nationwide Insurance when a dog got mild hypothermia after getting stuck in a refrigerator and eating an entire ham.

“When they opened the door of the refrigerator, they found him and the bone,” Heidi Sirota, Nationwide’s pet insurance president and chief pet officer, told CNN.

“This inspired us to create the Hambone Awards for the most ridiculous medical claims that we have for the pets we insure,” Sirota said.


Congratulations, Giles!

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Curmudgeonly Catholic: Three Life Lessons from Evelyn Waugh - Crisis Magazine

Today marks nearly one hundred years since English novelist, essayist, and humorist Evelyn Waugh converted to Catholicism. Waugh is perhaps best recognized in the United States for writing Brideshead Revisited—a rich, elegiac chronicle of a fractured aristocratic family’s struggles with the Catholic faith and a young man’s hard-won discovery of the truth offered by the Church. But his work also includes classics like A Handful of Dust, Scoop, and the darkly farcical World War II trilogy Sword of Honour. Despite having died nearly sixty years ago, Waugh’s Catholicism still stands as an admirable example of devotion to Holy Mother Church, especially in times of trial and tribulation.

Born in Hampstead, England, in 1903 and raised in the Anglican church, Waugh was an aggressive agnostic by the age of fifteen and a full-fledged hedonist by the time he started studying at the University of Oxford. His time there was spent predominantly in drunkenness and homosexual relationships. His studies suffered to the extent that he was forced to leave and take a position as a schoolteacher at a ramshackle school in Wales, which served as the inspiration for his first novel, Decline and Fall, a semi-autobiographical comedy published in 1928.

As a newly-successful writer, Waugh returned to the party scene in Oxford and London, focusing his romantic interests on women now, not on men. His first marriage fell apart when his wife had an affair, rebuffed Waugh’s attempts at reconciliation, and eventually left him. Having attempted suicide once before, Waugh sought refuge this time in the pinnacle of order here on earth: the Catholic Church. 


I like Waugh and consider his writing quite humorous. The old UK version of Brideshead with Jeremy Irons et al. is pretty good too, though it is a bit dated. Waugh was no saint and spends a lot of time trying to show that Catholics have a superior claim to high social status than Anglicans, which is a tough case to make, but still rather fun to indulge.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

DEI or R&R? Part Two - by Paul Mirengoff

The low level of whites accepted at elite colleges and the unstinting race discrimination needed to attain those numbers can only be explained by the quest for reparations for blacks and retribution for whites (“R&R”). Or so I argued.

Now, Bloomberg reports that in 2021, only 6 percent of those hired at S&P 100 companies were white. The remaining 94 percent were “people of color” Blacks got 23 percent of them and Hispanics got 40 percent, according to Bloomberg’s analysis.

These numbers are obscenely disproportionate to the representation of these three groups in the population and the labor force. They would establish the existence of racial discrimination against whites to the satisfaction of any rational trier of fact.

Are the numbers somehow justified by the need to promote diversity and inclusion? One might be able to make that case if blacks and Hispanics had been excluded from entry level jobs in the workforces of S&P 100 firms. But there’s no evidence that this was the case, and it pretty clearly is not. Indeed, it’s highly implausible to imagine that firms that decided nearly to freeze the hiring of whites in 2021 in favor of blacks and Hispanics were excluding blacks and Hispanics in the immediately preceding years.

Moreover, S&P 100 companies are subject to the Executive Order banning discrimination by federal contractors. Accordingly, they must submit data about the racial and ethnic composition of their workforce to the Labor Department, along with “goals and timetables” for curing any racial imbalances.

If such companies were excluding blacks and/or Hispanics from positions to the point that a near-freeze on white hiring was necessary to cure imbalances, the Labor Department would already have stepped in. But the 2021 near-hiring freeze on whites was not the result of government intervention. It was voluntary.

Why did corporate discriminate so blatantly against whites in 2021? It did so in response to the killing of George Floyd and its over-the-top aftermath. This is clear from Bloomberg’s report. Following the Floyd killing and the mass protests, big firms “promised to hire a lot more people of color” and “[they] actually did.”


Those are pretty astonishing numbers.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hunter Biden Email About $5M Burisma Pay Corroborates FD-1023

An email apparently sent by Hunter Biden to longtime business associate Devon Archer discusses a $5 million payment from Ukrainian energy company Burisma — appearing to corroborate the FBI FD-1023 form in which a confidential human source recorded testimony from Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky that “It costs 5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to another Biden.”

“Need to determine what we consider expenses to be deducted from potential Burisma ‘pay’ before we determine true split # with Alex. (i.e. 5-.75/3= 1.42M apiece),” read an email that IRS investigators believed to be from the younger Biden, which was part of a batch of records released Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Committee. According to a slide that investigators presented to Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the “5” is a reference to $5 million that would be paid out by Burisma. Of that money, $750,000 would be subtracted — the email asked if Archer thought “750K [was] a reasonable expense # btw Wash and DC offices?”

Of the remaining $4.25 million, splitting the money between Hunter, Archer, and “Alex” (whose last name is redacted) would leave each man with $1.42 million.


Looks like evidence to me.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hunter Biden Email About $5M Burisma Pay Corroborates FD-1023

An email apparently sent by Hunter Biden to longtime business associate Devon Archer discusses a $5 million payment from Ukrainian energy company Burisma — appearing to corroborate the FBI FD-1023 form in which a confidential human source recorded testimony from Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky that “It costs 5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to another Biden.”

“Need to determine what we consider expenses to be deducted from potential Burisma ‘pay’ before we determine true split # with Alex. (i.e. 5-.75/3= 1.42M apiece),” read an email that IRS investigators believed to be from the younger Biden, which was part of a batch of records released Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Committee. According to a slide that investigators presented to Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the “5” is a reference to $5 million that would be paid out by Burisma. Of that money, $750,000 would be subtracted — the email asked if Archer thought “750K [was] a reasonable expense # btw Wash and DC offices?”

Of the remaining $4.25 million, splitting the money between Hunter, Archer, and “Alex” (whose last name is redacted) would leave each man with $1.42 million.


Looks like evidence to me.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Onward to the Hollow State

What’s going on at the border?

  • Both the US and the EU are in the midst of an ongoing and accelerating migrant crisis of unprecedented scale (in the US, over the last three years alone, there have been ~6.5m apprehended migrants and ~1.5m ‘gotaways’-- enough to become the 13th largest state).
  • Neither the US nor the EU appear to be able to contain or solve this crisis. National decision-making has broken down.
  • In the vacuum created, opportunistic corporations, non-governmental organizations, and criminal groups are exacerbating the crisis to loot the system.

We’ve seen this complex crisis dynamic numerous times (the permacrisis). The most notable previous examples are:

  • 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.
  • The financial crisis.
  • COVID.


John Robb on Patreon.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Social Media Laws Backed by GOP Draw US Supreme Court Scrutiny

The US Supreme Court agreed to review Florida and Texas laws that would sharply restrict the ability of the largest social media platforms to police political misinformation in a case that will shape the rules online in the run-up to the 2024 election.

The justices will consider whether the Republican-backed measures violate the free speech rights of social media companies by limiting their freedom to decide how material is presented and requiring detailed explanations for content-moderation decisions. The court will rule by the middle of next year.

The measures are facing challenges from two industry trade associations, NetChoice LLC and the Computer & Communications Industry Association. The groups — which represent Meta Platforms Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and X Corp., the company formerly known as Twitter Inc. — say the laws would impose onerous requirements and put platforms at risk of being overrun by spam and bullying.

The laws “pose a grave threat to how social media websites provide their services to users,” the trade associations argued in the Florida case. The Biden administration is largely backing the challenges.


Another social media first amendment case to be heard by SCOTUS. This one is not a slam-dunk IMHO.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fauci Diverted US Government Away From Lab Leak Theory Of COVID’s Origin, Sources Say

Now, the new information from multiple sources, including a CIA whistleblower, a senior government investigator, and a senior official, suggests a broad effort by Fauci to go agency by agency, from the White House to the State Department to the CIA, in an effort to steer government officials away from looking into the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from a lab.

“Fauci’s expert opinions were a significant consideration and were part of our classified assessment,” said the CIA whistleblower, a decorated and long-serving CIA officer with expertise in Asia. “His opinion substantially altered the conclusions that were subsequently drawn.”

Fauci had reasons to push scientists and intelligence analysts to believe the virus had a zoonotic origin since his agency had issued a grant to fund research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China.

The Wenstrup press release noted that the whistleblower’s information suggested Fauci was escorted in “without record of entry.” According to the CIA whistleblower, the CIA purposely did not “badge” Fauci in and out of the building so as to hide any record that he had been there.


This one makes me angry. We all have stories to tell of our losses during the pandemic. My sister's father-in-law died, my brother had a terrible case of Covid and now has (apparently) a bad case of "long Covid," and we here in California elected to go utterly paranoid and nuts and have only partly recovered. And I was provoked into using an ill-advised turn of phrase on this blog, leading many at my small and formerly cute university to temporarily (one hopes) lose their minds and call for my dismissal from a job I rather liked. (Fortunately, I endured.) This was all ultimately caused by what was essentially a conspiracy among Fauci and others to evade the federal ban on gain-of-function research by doing it on the cheap in China, which promptly let slip the bats of pandemic and killed who knows, some say up to 20, millions of people and spend trillions of dollars, causing an inflationary shock that may yet bring down our economy. I hope the tort lawyers feast like sharks on Dr. Tony's bloody carcass for one, and there are many others, who are still searching by the way for pangolins in the PRC -- except I bet they're not trying too hard by now, so compelling is the evidence of a lab leak. They belong in jail, not that any of them will spend a day there.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Of Many Spin Experiments, Biden’s Is the Worst - WSJ

It was an interesting week in spin, and I don’t use the term lightly since spin and reality can become intertwined to create new realities.

Take Donald Trump. He is famous for being unbounded in his spinning about his wealth. It was Forbes magazine—not a New York Supreme Court judge last week trying to strip Mr. Trump of his property rights—that pointed out to Mr. Trump and its readers that what he consistently claimed was a 30,000-square-foot triplex apartment in Trump Tower was 11,000 square feet.

Mr. Trump, in the case brought by New York’s highly partisan attorney general Letitia James, testified that everybody knew the valuation method employed was worthless (his word). He pointed to the standard disclaimer that such claims shouldn’t be relied upon. He might have added: No counterparty with which he dealt—bank, insurance company, independent appraiser—could have been in any doubt that Donald Trump is Donald Trump, notorious purveyor of bombast and, early in his career, of banner-headline bankruptcies.

So informed, his counterparties didn’t fail to write contracts that were realistic, even conservative, as testified by Mr. Trump’s never defaulting on an obligation or missing a payment. Even the judge admits as much: “Defendants correctly assert that ‘the record is devoid of any evidence of default, breach, late payment, or any complaint of harm.’ ”

Judge Arthur F. Engoron engages in some spin and labored breathing of his own, nevertheless finding in Mr. Trump’s hyperbolic real-estate puffery the crime of the century. The judge calls for Mr. Trump to be relieved of personal control of his assets, including his namesake Fifth Avenue tower, for the sin of overpraising them.

Happily, not everyone in the press was buying. As the

’s laudable Peter Coy points out, such an outcome would seem to “bump up against the layperson’s standard of ‘no harm, no foul.’ ”


Peter Coy, quoted above, was Editor in Chief of the Cornell Daily Sun back when I was at Cornell (Go Class of '79). He was a great guy and great journalist in the making as well.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Finally, There’s a Humane Method of Execution - WSJ

News articles often describe nitrogen anoxia as unproven as an effective and painless method of execution. In fact, inert-gas anoxia is a well-known cause of death in industrial accidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 16 Americans died from 2017-22 in workplace incidents involving nitrogen asphyxiation. In a 2003 safety bulletin, the European Industrial Gas Association warned: “Inhalation of an oxygen depleted atmosphere can cause a person to immediately lose consciousness with no warning, such as dizziness, and die from asphyxiation. Tragically, there have been many examples of fellow workers going to the aid of victims and becoming victims themselves because they were not aware of the cause of the initial incident.”

Nitrogen anoxia is painless. It requires no drugs, poisons or medical procedures, and its effects are well-understood, consistent and reliable. Its first symptom is loss of consciousness.

The electric chair, the gas chamber and lethal injection were all invented with the goal of making executions more humane by instantly inducing unconsciousness. The hope was that the condemned wouldn’t feel pain. But none of those methods reliably cause unconsciousness as an initial effect.

Nitrogen anoxia is different. The urge to breathe that develops when a person holds his breath isn’t caused by the depletion of oxygen from the body; rather, it’s due to the buildup of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, which changes the pH balance of the blood. Skin divers have to be careful not to hyperventilate to “blow off” CO2 and stay under longer: Their blood oxygen may deplete before CO2 buildup prompts them to breathe, causing them to black out before reaching the surface, so that they drown.

When someone breathes pure nitrogen, he exhales carbon dioxide even though he takes in no oxygen. Since CO2 isn’t building up in his bloodstream, he never realizes that anything is wrong, nor does he experience any discomfort. When his blood oxygen falls, he loses consciousness as his body attempts to limit oxygen consumption by reducing brain activity. Soon thereafter, all body tissues shut down and start to die for lack of oxygen.


Sounds like progress to me.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Ibram X. Kendi Broke Boston University - WSJ

The debacle that is Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research is about far more than its founder, Ibram X. Kendi. It is about a university, caught up in cultural hysteria, subordinating itself to ideology.

After suddenly laying off over half his employees last week and with his center producing almost nothing since its founding, Mr. Kendi is now facing an investigation and harsh criticism from numerous colleagues complaining of financial mismanagement, dysfunctional leadership, and failure to honor obligations attached to its millions in grant money.

Such an outcome was entirely predictable. In June 2020, the university hired Mr. Kendi, created and endowed his center, and canceled all “classes, meetings, and events” for a quasi-religious “Day of Collective Engagement” on “Racism and Antiracism, Our Realities and Our Roles,” during which Mr. Kendi and his colleagues were treated as sages.


David Decosimo.

The truth is what Professor Kendi did to BU, he could have done to nearly any college or university in the country, just for the asking. We would have been happy, I would guess, to take the donated money and bask in the virtue signaling. Maybe Harvard, Yale or Stanford would have declined the opportunity for scholarship reasons, maybe, but the vast majority schools would have said, sure, come and embarrass us. Except, as this op-ed explains, BU isn't even embarrassed for the right reasons.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Peak TV Is Over. A Different Hollywood Is Coming. - WSJ

Fewer new shows in production. A higher bar to get shows renewed. Rich paydays going only to an elite few.

The labor pact writers struck with studios and streamers this week, ending a five-month strike,  will likely accelerate the retrenchment that was already under way in Hollywood for more than a year. It represented a formal end to “peak TV,” a decade that included an explosion of programming for viewers—and job opportunities for talent in Tinseltown.

Writers won major concessions in the deal, including new bonus payouts and higher royalties. Those hard-won victories are especially important given the hard financial realities of the entertainment business. 

A combination of debt-laden mergers, mounting losses in streaming, and the fast-shrinking cable TV bundle, has led to a push on Wall Street for entertainment companies to rein in spending. 

The streamers will have to find a way to pay increased talent costs—from the writers’ settlement, along with an earlier deal with directors and whatever is finalized with actors—without adding to their overall production costs.


This is a sad, sad day. The cornucopia of bingeable TV is coming to an end, if cornucopias can do that. There are so many things to watch on TV you couldn't possibly watch them all. I was once talking to a colleague about how productive my other colleague Gail was. "She told me she wants to get certain things done; she doesn't have time to do anything else," he said, more or less. "Well, that's good," I said. "What else is she supposed to do?"
"Well, for one thing, there's a lot of TV to be watched."

It's true. I suffer from a different malady than productivity: A very short attention span. I want to watch all of Babylon 5 or the last season of GOT, but after 15 minutes I just can't watch anymore. I also suffer from the knowledge that it is fictional anyway, and therefore just brainwashing of one kind or another. When I come across something really good, like Barkskins, I can log the requisite hours pretty well. Also I can watch 1 hour of British mystery every night, which is pretty good. I do my part. I do try to bear in mind that cops in the UK cannot possibly be as clever, detail-oriented and hardworking as they are on TV. In the end, they are just bureaucrats, not with guns, but with the power to call for armed police if the malefactors do not immediately surrender and confess their crimes, as they often do. American TV cops have to frequently resort to their sidearms.

I have also yet to see the UK episode in which the lawyer for the suspected or accused makes any sort of meaningful objection during police interrogation. I suspect we are just watching Law and Order with better writing and acting.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden’s Social-Media Censorship Harms Us All - WSJ

The Supreme Court will decide as early as Wednesday whether to stay the lower courts’ injunction against the administration’s social-media censorship in Missouri v. Biden. One of the solicitor general’s arguments in the government’s defense is that the well-documented injuries to the plaintiffs, who were direct targets of the censorship, don’t justify a broad injunction that “covers the government’s communications with all social-media platforms . . . regarding all posts by any person . . . on all topics” (emphasis in original).

But the censorship harmed all Americans, and the injunction is fully justified. Government officials repeatedly made public statements demanding censorship from the platforms. The announced policy was grossly overbroad. It thereby has directly tended to chill the speech of vast numbers of Americans, quite apart from the suppression that the government obtained through the platforms. Anyone with views opposed to the administration has had reason to temper what he says to avoid being deplatformed, demonetized or deboosted.

The chilling of speech has been doubly unconstitutional because it affects the freedom to read opposing views. The First Amendment protects not only the right to express views but also the right to hear what others have to say. Although often presented as a distinct right, the right to hear can be considered an essential element of the right to speak.

People can’t develop their views with any sophistication unless they can consider opinions that enlarge, refine, moderate or challenge their own. So, when government demands the suppression of some speech and chills even more, it reduces the diversity, value and moderation of opinion—and thereby diminishes the opportunity for every individual to develop and express his own considered views. Censorship inhibits the output of critical voices, which lessens Americans’ intellectual input, which in turn limits their intellectual output. Reading and speaking are inextricably linked in conversation.


Phillip Hamburger.

I dearly hope the Court upholds the injunction. This case seems not only like a no-brainer in terms of the law of the First Amendment, but it is also about the most foundational issue really of our times. If the government can manage our thought sphere just by farming it out to Big Tech companies, they might as well be doing themselves. Indeed, Big Tech would be far more efficient about nudging or shoving our thoughts around than would any public body. We would get the worst of both worlds.

SCOTUS might seem well disposed towards the AG's suing the Biden administration and Big Tech companies. Perhaps they will turn out to be. But I worry about Roberts, Kavanaugh and perhaps Barrett. Whatever the extra-judicial pressures there are to bring to bear on the Court, will be hauled out for this one. It's "national security," don't you know.

September 30, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 29, 2023

Government Shutdown: Right Wing Pushes Government Toward a Shutdown - The New York Times

Hard-line conservatives on Friday tanked Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s long-shot bid to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown, in an extraordinary display of defiance that made it clear that Congress would almost certainly miss a midnight deadline on Saturday to keep federal funding flowing.

It appeared evident even before the vote that the stopgap bill was bound to fail, as several hard-right Republicans had declared that they would not back a temporary spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, under any circumstances. And the measure — which would slash spending and impose severe immigration restrictions — never had a chance of preventing a shutdown, since it was regarded as a nonstarter in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

But Mr. McCarthy, bracing for political blowback for a government closure, had scheduled it anyway in hopes of showing he was trying to avoid the crisis. And the decision by right-wing lawmakers to effectively blow up his one final effort to seize some political leverage in the shutdown fight dealt the speaker a stinging defeat while leaving politically vulnerable Republicans fuming.

The size of the group of defectors was striking, reflecting both Mr. McCarthy’s weak hold on his conference and the influence of the far right in the House. The bill failed by a vote of 232-198, with 21 Republicans joining all Democrats to oppose it.



September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Magpie swooping: Inside the Australian bird's annual reign of terror - BBC News

Don't run. Travel in groups. Carry an umbrella and wear sunglasses on the back of your head.

These are some of the ominous warnings issued in Australia each spring, as magpies and humans begin their annual turf war.

Streets and parks become a battleground, as the birds - descending from above and attacking from behind - swoop down on anything they fear poses a threat to their offspring.

High up in their nests, they rule over their kingdom with an iron claw, while on the ground, humans dust off their protective hats - traditionally a plastic ice-cream container - and duck for cover.

At times drawing blood, their ambushes can cause serious injuries, and in a handful of cases, death.

But experts claim magpies are misunderstood and humans are the aggressors.

And they want you to know peace is possible.


Even the magpies in Oz are dangerous.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Canada Nazi row puts spotlight on Ukraine's WWII past - BBC News

But this is not the first time that Ukraine's role in WWII has sparked a debate in Canada, which is home to the largest Ukrainian diaspora outside of Europe.

Several monuments dedicated to Ukrainian WWII veterans who served in the Galicia Division exist across the country. Jewish groups have long denounced these dedications, arguing soldiers in the Galicia Division swore allegiance to Adolf Hitler, and were either complicit in Nazi Germany's crimes or had committed crimes themselves.

But for some Ukrainians, these veterans are viewed as freedom fighters, who only fought alongside the Nazis to resist the Soviets in their quest for an independent Ukraine.



September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justin Trudeau’s Self-Immolation | The Free Press

Now, the promise of Trudeau—the young, strapping progressive born into political royalty, with his ostensibly forward-looking ideas about medically assisted suicide, puberty blockers, and the suspension of truckers’ civil liberties—is on the brink of imploding. 

Late Tuesday night, limousines clustered outside Parliament, as senior officials from Trudeau’s Liberal Party feverishly debated how to right this ship and save the prime minister.

That emergency powwow took place four days after Canada’s Parliament honored 98-year-old Ukrainian Yaroslav Hunka. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, introduced Hunka as a “Ukrainian hero” and “Canadian hero” who fought against the Soviet Union during World War II. The whole of Parliament rose to give him a standing ovation. It later emerged that Hunka did indeed fight the Soviets—or, as Rota put it, the Russians—but alongside the Nazis.

Hunka’s appearance came as part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s trip to Canada, where he hoped to bolster support for the war against Russia. Zelensky seemed unfazed by Parliament’s honoring Hunka (he gave a fist pump in support)—even though he is Jewish and lost family in the Holocaust. (It’s unclear how many people in Zelensky’s family were killed. The president has said that his great-grandparents were murdered when the Nazis burned down their village, which was common practice during the war.)

But afterward, pretty much everyone else seemed horrified, and on Monday, Rota (like Trudeau, a member of the Liberal Party) apologized to the Jewish community, and on Tuesday, he resigned.

Trudeau refused to accept blame. Instead, he sought to link the controversy to Russia’s “disinformation” campaign against Ukraine while acknowledging that the Hunka affair was “deeply embarrassing” to Parliament—the leader of which is Justin Trudeau. Then, yesterday, he gave a short speech in which he blamed Rota for this “horrendous violation”—which, he noted, hurt Jewish people as well as “Polish people, Roma people, 2SLGTBQIA+ people, disabled people, racialized people.” 

That debacle is competing for headline space with Trudeau’s other recent catastrophe: his decision to blame India for an extrajudicial murder on Canadian soil.


Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. If none of these things were actually his fault, it would only be just.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The $20 per hour burger flipper – HotAir

That may be a conversation you hear before too long at your local fast-food joint, assuming you live in California. This week, Gavin Newsom thrilled the liberal Democrats in his state by signing a bill that will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 per hour beginning on April 1, 2024. Choosing April Fools Day to have the law take effect was probably intentional since the joke will wind up being on the consumers. But Newsom declared that he was “proud” of the work the legislature did on this project and predicted that fairness and equity were sure to follow. (AP)


In-N-Out already pays $20/hour and their burgers and fries are better too. Of course, they cost more.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Britney Spears video of her dancing with knives prompts police wellness check – NBC 7 San Diego

Authorities performed a wellness check on Britney Spears after fans expressed concern over a video of her dancing with knives, a source close to the singer told NBC News on Thursday.

Spears, 41, is "fine," the source said, adding: "This is overblown. She was expressing her freedom as she continues to do."

The "Womanizer" singer posted the video on Instagram on Monday, writing in the caption, "I started playing in the kitchen with knives today." Spears added that fans shouldn't worry and that they weren't real knives.

She posted again later saying she was simply copying Shakira, who danced with knives at her MTV Video Music Awards performance earlier this month.


At least it wasn't snakes.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

San Diego Humane Society prepping legal action over 250 missing pets sent to Arizona – NBC 7 San Diego

The San Diego Humane Society still does not know what happened to 250 of the 318 small pets it transferred to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona Aug 7, and now, SDHS leaders plan to take legal action.

“Where our animals went is the easiest question you can ask any organization — that’s why it’s so perplexing that we’re not getting the answers from this one,” exclaimed the San Diego animal shelter's president, Gary Weitzman.


1. They were set free in the great outdoors.
2. They were fed to cats and dogs.
3. They were given to loving homes, but no records were kept.
4. They forgot what they did with them.
5. Any other explanations?

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Villa Where a Doctor Experimented on Children | The New Yorker

One night in March, 2021, Evy Mages, a photojournalist in Washington, D.C., opened her laptop and, with trembling fingers, typed into Google the address of a villa in Innsbruck, Austria. For decades, Evy, who was fifty-five, had been haunted by memories of the house, where she had been confined for several months, starting when she was eight. She could still picture its pale-yellow exterior and the curved staircase and dark-wood panelling inside, but she’d kept what happened there a secret—even from a therapist whom she’d credited with saving her life. Evy’s memories of the place had become dreamlike, simultaneously vivid and vaporous.

She remembered being wrested from bed in the middle of the night at the home of her foster family, in the Alpine valley of Kleinwalsertal. She was hustled into a stranger’s car and driven through the mountains to Innsbruck. Nobody told her what kind of place the villa was, or how long she’d stay. Perhaps two dozen children were living there. Adults in white lab coats regularly administered shots and pills, and when it was time to eat the children were required to use weirdly abbreviated language: “bitte, Löffel” (“please, spoon”); “bitte, Gabel” (“please, fork”). In the morning, Evy attended school in the villa. At night, she had to sleep with a blanket pulled tight under her armpits, her arms ramrod straight by her sides, to insure that her hands couldn’t wander. She was terrified of wetting the bed, because whenever she did the white coats would awaken her, even from deep sleep, and march her to the bathroom for an ice-cold shower; she would then have to stand in a corner for the rest of the night. She’d be shivering and it would be dark, except for the murky green light from a fish tank, which she was forbidden to look at.


Those darn psychologists. Always experimenting on children.

Nature calls Dr. Whatshername "sadistic but respected."

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Social Media Laws Backed by GOP Draw US Supreme Court Scrutiny

The US Supreme Court agreed to review Florida and Texas laws that would sharply restrict the ability of the largest social media platforms to police political misinformation in a case that will shape the rules online in the run-up to the 2024 election.

The justices will consider whether the Republican-backed measures violate the free speech rights of social media companies by limiting their freedom to decide how material is presented and requiring detailed explanations for content-moderation decisions. The court will rule by the middle of next year.

The measures are facing challenges from two industry trade associations, NetChoice LLC and the Computer & Communications Industry Association. The groups — which represent Meta Platforms Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and X Corp., the company formerly known as Twitter Inc. — say the laws would impose onerous requirements and put platforms at risk of being overrun by spam and bullying.

The laws “pose a grave threat to how social media websites provide their services to users,” the trade associations argued in the Florida case. The Biden administration is largely backing the challenges.


The ultra-double-plus-conservative 5th Circuit.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden, Menendez, And Michelle: Birds Of A Bribery Feather – Issues & Insights

Just as Democrats were ramping up calls for Menendez to step down over bribery charges filed against him, and as House Republicans started their impeachment inquiry into whether Joe Biden used son Hunter to bribe foreign officials, Obama was reportedly getting paid an obscenely large amount of money for a one-hour talk on “diversity.”

These are all variations on a theme. Call it bribery, or extortion, or abuse of power, or whatever you want. This is how Democrats get rich these days. They expand the size and power of the federal government, then sell access and favors to the highest bidders.

Think about Michelle’s speech for a minute. According to the Daily Mail, she was paid $741,000, which means that by the time she was six minutes into her speech, she’d made more money than 50% of households in the United States make in a year.

This reported fee is also more than three times the already criminally large amount she normally gets paid to read words someone else wrote for her.

So, what makes Michelle suddenly three times more valuable? Did she discover a cure for cancer? A limitless, free, source of clean energy? An end to world hunger? Did she unlock the secrets of faster-than-light space travel? Or announce a plan to bring world peace?

Hardly. She is a talentless woman who happens to be married to a former president. The organizers of the event and 5,000 people in attendance most likely have already forgotten whatever it was she said.

The one and only reason she commanded that price is because of the current buzz that she might run for president next year, given that Biden seems unlikely to last until November 2024, let alone January 2029. The organizers of the event were buying political influence, not insights.


H/t Mark Tapscott, Instapundit.

I'm still reeling from the announcement that Sen. Elizabeth Warren now has a net worth of $73 Million. That's just something I saw on the web, but holy smokes, that's a lot of paper the accumulate on what, $200K-ish per year. But then, I'm sure she didn't build that. We all contributed to that, rich and poor, bald and hairy, short and tall. We all pulled together, good soldiers that we are, to hand over our money to that cherished descendant of our oppressed Native American former land owners. Only in America, which should not, however, exist.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

‘Ignore your professors,’ Jordan Peterson tells Buckley Institute crowd | The College Fix

NEW YORK — “How do you have the adventure of your life?” Canadian psychologist and professor emeritus Jordan Peterson said Wednesday evening in a keynote address at New York’s Plaza Hotel.

“Tell the truth,” Peterson said.

“And then…it’s so bloody interesting and engaging and exciting that it justifies the misery of your existence,” he stated.

“What I can tell you: there’s great books,” Peterson said. “Read them. Ignore your professors.”


H/t Instapundit.

This is one of the reasons why so many people love Jordan Peterson.

But, don't ignore your professors if they tell you to read the great books.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fan who tried to bring emotional support alligator denied entry into Phillies game

PHILADELPHIA (Gray News) – A fan was denied entry into a baseball game Wednesday night after he tried to get in with his emotional support pet.

But this pet wasn’t an emotional support dog or cat. It was an alligator.

The fan, identified as Joie Henney by the Philadelphia Enquirer, has Wally the alligator to help him battle depression.

Henney attempted to take Wally with him as he entered Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Phillies’ official website says certain pets are allowed, but that does not seem to include alligators.

“Guide dogs, service animals, or service animals in training are welcome. All other animals are prohibited,” the website says.

Unfortunately, Wally does not appear to fit into these categories and was not allowed into the ballpark.


H/t Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.

I hope this doesn't indicate a general discriminatory attitude towards reptiles. A large iguana would be, for example, welcome at a Phillies game, I hope. Alligators are, of course, a different sort of thing, because of their aggressive disposition. They would gladly eat not just Pirate fans, but any fan, I suppose.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Poland Becomes a Defense Colossus - CEPA

Poland was rearming even before Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine was launched in February 2022; the program went into overdrive once all-out hostilities were underway.

Poland and Ukraine immediately strengthened their relationship, with the former serving as Ukraine’s leading political supporter, logistics hub, refugee sanctuary, as well as a significant weapons provider (the current grain export dispute notwithstanding.)

Poland also focused hard on what the war meant for its strategic position and the risks it now faced — not just the possible spill-over from Ukraine, but also its long border with Belarus, which has become very largely a Kremlin puppet state with Russian short-range nuclear weapons on its territory.

The conclusions were grim and led to rapid decisions. Poland was already spending 2.4% of GDP on defense by 2022, ranking third in NATO after the United States and Greece.

The government decided much more was required. In 2023, Poland estimates it will spend more than 4% GDP on defense, which would be the highest proportion in NATO, as well as the highest proportion of the budget spent on equipment (over 50%.)

As Europe’s sixth-largest economy, by far the largest on the Eastern Flank, these figures translate into very substantial increases in personnel and hardware.


Poland, pros and cons.

Friendly people and fierce it turns out as well.

Traditionalist old people like me; younger people not so much, but what can you do.

Warsaw is a cool, historic city but also feels like a big graveyard, which sadly it is.

Supposed to have some biggish mountains somewhere.

Big forests.

Great food and vibrant restaurant scene in Warsaw and other cities as well I hear.

Language so difficult no sense wasting your time trying to learn it, aside from Hello, Goodbye, Can you direct me to the restroom?, etc.

Possible refuge if US descends into civil war. Portugal and west of Ireland also worth looking at. BION France (south of) also a possibility; lots of Catholics there I hear.

Close to Ukraine where evidently my son and daughter in law live.

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden Preaches Democracy as House Begins Impeachment Inquiry | RealClearPolitics

Nothing stood still as President Biden told supporters that democracy, properly defined, “means rule of the people, not rule of monarchs, not rule of money, not rule of the mighty.”

As he spoke in Tempe, Ariz,, a federal court was denying former President Trump's request to delay his trial in a civil fraud case, House Republicans were alleging that Biden was at the center of a multi-million-dollar influence scheme, and the federal government moved closer to a shutdown.

“We lose these institutions of our government,” Biden warned in Arizona, “at our own peril.” But the sermon is late. The public has already lost faith in federal institutions. It has been that way for more than two decades.

Only 20% of Americans, according to Pew Research, trust Washington to do the right thing. And thousands of miles away from where Biden spoke, Rep. Glenn Grothman worried on Capitol Hill that “Americans are beginning to think that this behavior by the Biden family is normal.” In committee, the Wisconsin Republican warned that the public was susceptible “to just say, ‘this is how it works.’”

Out west, Biden delivered his fourth teaching on the importance of democracy, the preservation of which he now describes as his defining mission and the motivation for remaining in office even as his poll numbers plummet. Concurrently, in the House Oversight Committee, Republicans appealed to similar democratic norms while launching their first presidential impeachment inquiry hearing.

The president never mentioned this. Instead, he read aloud from the social media account of his predecessor. Biden condemned Trump for saying that NBC was guilty of “treason,” and he condemned Trump for calling for the execution of Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mostly Biden condemned Republicans for not condemning Trump. “The silence,” he said, “is deafening.”

“There is something dangerous happening in America,” Biden said. “There’s an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy.” He explained that what he meant by this was “the MAGA movement,” and he qualified that “not every Republican” adhered to this ideology, “but there's no question that today's Republican Party is driven and intimidated by MAGA Republican extremists.” The sermon wasn’t complete. Biden didn’t provide any examples of Republicans he didn’t consider extremists.


Didn't the ancients think democracy was particularly liable to corruption?

September 29, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2023

New revelations about Bidens include China payments, Delaware coverup

Here are the top five revelations contained in the committee’s 1,600-word report and 31 new exhibits tabled by IRS criminal investigators Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, who allege DOJ obstruction of their five-year investigation of Hunter in Delaware:

  1. Uncle Jim Biden told the FBI and IRS in an interview last September that he and his nephew Hunter tried to help Chinese firm CEFC buy a US liquid natural gas facility in Louisiana — and that they did so in the knowledge that the company was directly linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hunter told his uncle that CEFC chairman Ye Jianming “was a protégé of President Xi,” the FBI report says. But investigators were instructed not to ask Jim Biden if his brother, then-former Vice President Joe Biden, was involved in the ultimately unsuccessful CEFC deal or to follow “normal investigative leads,” says the committee.
  2. IRS public affairs officer Justin Cole emailed the chief and deputy chief of IRS criminal investigations a report of conversations between a CNN producer and Hunter Biden, in which Hunter said that he was “not willing to accept” a plea deal and that he “expected all of this ‘stuff’ would go away when his dad becomes president.”
  3. The FBI was investigating Morris for campaign finance violations. “These violations pertain to a wealthy Hollywood lawyer, Kevin Morris, who was enlisted to help the family, and who paid millions of dollars to help Hunter around the time that Joe Biden becomes president,” says the committee. But Leslie Wolf, Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney, told investigators that she was not “personally interested” in the Morris investigation and that “she did not want any of the agents to look into the allegation.”
  4. Wolf refused multiple requests by Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady to brief Delaware investigators about an FBI FD-1023 report alleging that Joe Biden was paid a $5 million bribe by an executive of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, as was his son Hunter. The allegation came from a trusted FBI confidential human source during a June 2020 interview. But Wolf “had already concluded no information from that office could be credible, stating her belief that it all came from Rudy Giuliani,” Shapley said, even though the FBI report had nothing to do with Giuliani. On October 22, 2020, the Justice Department ordered the Delaware US Attorney’s office to take the Pittsburg briefing, but Shapley said his investigators never saw the FD-1023, nor were told what it contained, despite the fact it was directly relevant to their case.
  5. Wolf instructed investigators seeking a search warrant of a Biden property to “erase” any mention of “Political Figure 1” — who was Joe Biden.

These damning new details come on top of the House Oversight committee revelation Tuesday of two more bank wires to Hunter Biden from Chinese nationals, totaling $260,000.


September 28, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Drones Everywhere: How the Technological Revolution on Ukraine Battlefields Is Reshaping Modern Warfare - WSJ

CHASIV YAR, Ukraine—Wearing video goggles, a Ukrainian trooper crouched on the top floor of a gutted high-rise and piloted a small drone into the nearby Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut.

With a swoosh, the first-person-view drone—which cost roughly $300 to assemble—sped after a target of opportunity, blowing up a pickup truck full of Russian troops.

“Before we started flying here, the Russians had so much movement that there were traffic jams in Bakhmut,” said the pilot, a member of the Special Operations Center “A” of the Security Service of Ukraine. “Now, all the roads in Bakhmut are empty.”

With thousands of Ukrainian and Russian drones in the air along the front line at a given time, from cheap quadrocopters to long-range winged aircraft that can fly hundreds of miles and stay on target for hours, the very nature of war has transformed.

The drones are just one element of change. New integrated battle-management systems that provide imaging and locations in real time all the way down to the platoon and squad levels—in Ukraine’s case, via the Starlink satellite network—have made targeting near instantaneous.


September 28, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Live from Simi Valley: A Hot Mess of a Debate | The Free Press

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library sits on a stately, sun-dappled perch enveloped by green hills and gorgeous vistas. It is a magical place that evokes the fortieth president’s boundless optimism and feels a lot like the movie sets where he made his name. 

The knock against the Republican debate that took place here last night is that it was just that: make-believe. 

That was the subtext of former president Donald Trump—who enjoys the support of nearly 60 percent of GOP voters versus the 16 percent who back his closest rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis—skipping the debate.

While Trump was thousands of miles away in Michigan, the other seven candidates seemed a little like people playing president—debating fentanyl and the southern border and China and mental health care—not running for the presidency.

Trump said as much Wednesday evening during a speech to auto workers near Detroit.

“All over television this speech, you know, we’re competing with the job candidates. They’re all running for a job,” Trump said, not bothering to name any of the Republicans trying to wrest the nomination from him. “Now they’re job candidates.” He added: “They’ll do anything. . . secretary of something, they even say vice president. Has anybody seen a vice president in that group? I don’t think so.”


I listened to about 5 minutes of the debate on the radio. The format was just ridiculous. I thought DeSantis sounded good, but that doesn't seem to make much a difference.

September 28, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Trump Pledges to Investigate Comcast for “Country Threatening Treason” – JONATHAN TURLEY

In a chilling message, former President Trump pledged to investigate Comcast if he is elected in 2024. Trump insisted that the parent company for NBC and MSNBC “will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events.” The stated grounds are “country threatening treason.” The pledge is not simply a threat to these news organizations but to the Constitution. While Trump has a history of reckless rhetoric, the statement on Truth Social is an attack on core First Amendment values that define us as a nation.

I have been highly critical of the network for bias and sometimes flawed analysis. It is often the focus of my warnings that we have drifted into a type of de facto state media by consent rather than coercion. Much of this challenged coverage concerns Trump. The vast majority of the public views the media as biased.

I have also long criticized Trump for reckless rhetoric, particularly his repeated reference to the media as the “enemy of the people.”

I have also criticized Democrats who have pressured cable providers to drop Fox and attacked journalists challenging Biden policies.

This is a further escalation of that rhetoric and it is wrong regardless of the complaints over the coverage at NBC/MSNBC.


This is why Trump should not be our next president. Support DeSantis instead, you Trumpites. It's just one of the reasons.

September 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Proposed law could protect academic freedom across Europe

In response to crackdowns on academic freedom in eastern and northern Europe, a member of the European Parliament has proposed a law to safeguard research freedom across the continent.

The proposal was presented to the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) on 18 September by Christian Ehler, a German Christian Democrat in the European People’s Party. It suggests that Europe needs a solid legal basis to protect the freedom of researchers and to prevent further erosion of academic freedom. Threats to research freedom have been seen in some countries in the European Union, such as Hungary, Poland and Sweden, over the past decade.


Sounds like a good idea. You'd need to see the fine print.

September 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The New Moral Order Is Already Crumbling - WSJ

The new moral order our secularist elites have been busy constructing since the end of the Cold War is collapsing around them.

Over the past 30 years, the values of Judeo-Christian belief that had inspired and sustained Western civilization and culture for centuries have been steadily replaced in a moral, cultural and political revolution of the postmodern ascendancy. But the contradictions and implausibilities inherent in this successor creed have been increasingly exposed, and its failure to supply the needs of the people is discrediting it in the popular mind.

This new edifice has been built around three principal pillars: First, the ethical primacy of global obligation over national self-interest, in economic and geopolitical terms, but most directly and consequentially in a rejection of the morality of national borders and an embrace of something like open-door immigration. Second, a quasi-biblical belief in climate catastrophism, in which man’s essential energy-consuming sinfulness can be expiated only by massive sacrifice of economic progress. Third, a wholesale cultural self-cancellation in which the virtues, values and historic achievements of traditional civilization are rejected and replaced by a cultural hierarchy that inverts old prejudices and obliges the class of white, male heterosexuals to acknowledge their history of exploitation and submit to comprehensive social and economic reparation.

This fall, throughout the West, on three continents, each of these three pillars is crumbling,


Gerard Baker.

September 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times readers let Ibram Kendi have it – HotAir

Come to think of it, this is pretty much the same hokum that is central to Kendi’s own work. His great insight is that all differences in outcome between groups are proof of a systemic problem (racism) which needs to be opposed and rectified. Goldberg has simply applied this thinking to Kendi’s personal failure as a boss and manager. Only instead of blaming the collapse of his antiracism research center on racism she’s blaming something like celebrity culture.

But Goldberg’s readers just aren’t buying it. There are so many good responses here I’m not sure where to begin. Let’s start with the idea that Kendi’s ideas are only seen as failed ideology by people on the right.


Kendi has done a lot of damage, ending up with a failed institution. So his work is done.

September 26, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)