The American Spectator

28 Jan. 2023

A few years ago, when hard lockdowns were still in place, I took a road trip along the Ohio side of Lake Erie. I skipped the highway and instead rolled through town after town until I hit Port Clinton, where I stopped to take a photograph of a cannon, a relic of the War of 1812, still pointed toward Canada. It occurred to me then that Port Clinton happens to be Robert Putnam’s hometown, so I did what most reasonable people would do under such circumstances: I went searching for the local bowling alley. 

It was hard to find. Port Clinton’s downtown, like many downtowns in the Rust Belt these days, consists of little more than a few restaurants, consignment stores, and a Knights of Columbus hall. The rest is empty storefronts. If there ever were a bowling alley, it was long gone. After some searching, I found an all-purpose entertainment center on the outskirts of town. It advertised lanes inside, but because of statewide health neuroses the complex was closed with no definite reopening date. There was to be no bowling for me, whether in company or alone.

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At the time, I thought my strange non-encounter was the perfect incarnation of the argument that Putnam made more than twenty years ago in Bowling Alone. Putnam writes that since his childhood in the 1950s, American society has come undone because fewer people participate in community activities than did their forefathers. The example from which he draws his title is well known: more people in America than ever were bowling at the time the book was published, but the number of bowling leagues in the country had been declining for decades. A confluence of forces, including rising incomes, suburbanization, and personalized technology, made this state of voluntary isolation possible. It wasn’t until the pandemic — when, for example, in the interest of my individual safety, I was locked out of a bowling alley in a deserted town — that the nastier effects of this way of life became fully apparent. Many people had already cut themselves off from their neighbors; social distancing regulations only codified the trend. 

Even when the regulations relaxed, many people clung to their solitary habits. I’ve found myself — often to my shame — longing for those few strange months. These days shutdowns are virtually nonexistent, except at a few art house theaters in New York and some of the boutiques near my house in Georgetown. I have a soft spot for eccentric customs, especially defunct ones, and so I feel a pang of longing for the irrecoverable whenever I walk into a bookstore where the owner at the checkout counter is crouched behind a plexiglass sheet, masked and pointing to the social distancing stickers still plastered to the floor. Oftentimes, I am the only person in the store, and, as I browse the aisles, accompanied by nothing more than the hum of the radiators, I experience a strange calm. And I remember that a similar American desire to reclaim the solitude of Eden has marked our popular literature from Emerson down to Joan Didion. Even a glimpse of such complete, unattainable freedom is an intoxicating feeling, and the longing to be truly alone is as essential to the American character as the “spirit of association” Tocqueville observed in the pioneers.

Put another way, the desire to bowl alone is complementary to the impulse to form a league. One of my dearest friends, who usually bowls with friends in South Bend, Indiana, in times of crisis, when he really needs to turn a problem over in his mind, occasionally will drive down to the alley by himself. There he puts on his headphones and listens to the Brandenburg Concertos as he bowls six games straight. When he leaves, he feels refreshed, and many times the solution to the problem presents itself on the way home. For my own part, if I have a need to be alone, I drive out to the ocean or a large lake and just stare at the water for a few hours.

That’s what I did, anyway, after I left that closed bowling alley in Port Clinton. Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes, but, from a sandy embankment on the edge of Catawba Island, it appears endless. When I had my fill, I turned around to find my wife. If the pandemic — and any time of forced solitude — has taught me anything, it is that any stretch of aloneness can only be fruitful if it eventually ends.

Nic Rowan is managing editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal.

The post How to Bowl Alone appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

28 Jan. 2023

The Tafts
By George W. Liebmann
(Twelve Tables Press, 432 pages, $29)

Which is America’s longest-lived influential political dynasty? Author George W. Liebmann says it is the five generations of Taft Ohio Republicans, compared to only “four generations of Adamses, three of Rockefellers and Kennedys, and two each of Oyster Bay and Hyde Park Roosevelts.” Liebmann even contends that the Tafts had an impact on the present shape of American society that “may well be greater than that of any of the other political families” that are better known. The well-researched and captivating details about the several dozen successful family members of both sexes in his new book, The Tafts, proves him correct.

Liebmann writes to “interest conservative Republicans and independent voters who suspect that fashionable historians have provided them with only a partial and partisan version of twentieth-century history.” Readers will not be disappointed in learning about the many amazing Taft family members, although it is obviously impossible to cover that many in a review. Clearly, William Howard Taft (the president) and Robert A. Taft (the longtime Senate Republican leader) cannot be ignored, and I consider the two here as representative of the depth of consideration Liebmann gives to the remainder of his excellent characterizations.

Liebmann claims and demonstrates that President William Howard Taft “served in more significant and varied public offices than any other American.” Consider this: He was a local government prosecutor, lawyer, and judge. He took on the positions of U.S. solicitor general, judge for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, governor-general of the Philippines, and U.S. secretary of war, a resume difficult to match. But then he became president of the United States and, finally, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. And those are just the highlights, the rest of which can be obtained by reading the book itself.

The author argues that William Howard’s political career was unified by a “hostility to concentrations of power, public, private and nonprofit.” He was a principal draftsman of the progressive Sherman Antitrust Act and, as solicitor general, brought its first cases. He continued this campaign as president, when he brought more antitrust cases than Teddy Roosevelt. William supported the income-tax amendment and corporate income taxes, as well as most of the provisions of the regulatory Hepburn and Clayton acts.

Yet, Liebmann also shows that the president “preserved the Republican party as a conservative force.” He supported lowering the protective tariff and strongly opposed national strikes and union secondary boycotts. He was against judges writing temporary restraining orders. He upheld the federal commerce power but opposed exercising taxing power for regulatory purposes. His Judiciary Act expanded the Supreme Court’s control over its docket, with specific limits placed on the president and Congress. He favored congressional support to declare war and a restrained foreign-policy approach with Mexico.

As chief justice, he struck down Clayton Antitrust Act provisions that barred injunctions against labor picketing, arguing that even peaceful picketing could deprive business owners of their property without due process of law. His majority opinion in Myers v. United States invalidated tenure of office acts, thus limiting the power of the president to remove subordinates.

Liebmann describes the Tafts as “examples of responsible citizenship,” with his goal being “to remove the bushel over their light” placed there by political partiality.

Liebmann throughout refers to the Taft family’s progressive aspects — presumably to appeal to the historians who he believes have underplayed the importance of the senior Taft. But that strategy becomes even more difficult for his eldest son, Senate leader Robert A. Taft. Born in 1889, Robert was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1913, worked as a businessman, and served as a counsel to food and relief administrations during and following World War I, in the Ohio House of Representatives (1921–31), and in the state senate (1931–32). He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1938 and became a leader almost from the start, raising in power when Republicans broke through the New Deal stronghold and won a Senate majority in 1947. A bit behind Dad, but not much.

Liebmann again describes several areas where the younger Taft took a more progressive stance. Robert opposed abuse of the Senate filibuster and revenue-sharing grants without national controls. Even with labor-law restrictions, he continued to support Norris–La Guardia Act private labor injunctions.  He opposed the wartime conscription of labor, seizures of industrial plants, drafting of strikers, universal military training, segregation, and legislation authorizing detention of native-born persons of Japanese descent. He favored the solution of taxation rather than borrowing to meet war expenses, and he opposed executive wars entered without the authorization of Congress.

But Robert is also shown as having one of the most-conservative Senate voting records. He supported economy in government, a balanced budget, and decreased centralization of power in the nation’s capital. He was an anti-interventionist before the Pearl Harbor attack but a moderate on foreign policy thereafter. He sponsored limited federal aid for education, health, and housing, but with two conditions: Public housing would only go to people in slums, and administration would be placed in the hands of state and local authorities. The Senate leader’s greatest achievement was the 1947 Taft–Hartley Labor-Management Relations Act, which restricted excessive New Deal union power, rewriting constraints still in force today.

There is no question that the Tafts are a remarkable family and have remained so throughout a very long period of time. William Howard’s daughter, Helen Taft Manning, was a dean at Bryn Mawr College; Robert’s son Robert A. Taft Jr. became a U.S. senator; Robert A. Taft III was governor of Ohio; John T. Taft was an author; John G. Taft has fought fiduciary abuses; William Howard Taft IV was relatively recently deputy secretary of defense; and there are many, many more.

Liebmann writes about them all as “examples of responsible citizenship,” with his goal being “to remove the bushel over their light” placed there by academic or political partiality. The book has been promoted with the explanation that it represents a “narrative of a kind of progressive conservatism not presently in vogue.” This progressive conservatism is defined very broadly as an “unusual commitment to academic excellence, personal self-discipline, and modesty in public life,” as support for “vocational education, children’s health inspections, building-level works councils, limitation of great fortunes, prudence in foreign policy, dislike of unfunded pension plans, caution about foreign adventures, a disciplined judiciary, and hostility to over-large institutions, corporations, unions and foundations.”

Liebmann’s research is impressive and teaches much, but it certainly does not make a case for Taft progressivism — even if only “in important respects” — especially for 14-year “Mr. Republican” Senate leader Robert Taft Sr., who was defeated for the Republican presidential nomination twice by more-progressive-supported GOP candidates. While President Taft was conventionally progressive in his early years, he moved right and was denied reelection by archetypical progressives Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. And of his chief-justice years, it is hard to disagree with the conservative think tank conclusion that “[m]ost of his decisions were cautiously conservative and constraining of government.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards has noted that Robert once said he was a liberal conservative but defined liberal as merely someone “willing to accept change, who believes in freedom for others, and is sufficiently open-minded to be able to consider any proposal that is made to him.” I would agree that there is some continuity among the major Tafts, but the unifying theme seems to be more that of a Midwest-Ohio-township moderate conservatism rather than that of a theoretical progressivism added to mollify critics.

Better to read the book and come to your own conclusion about a family that provided responsible conservative leadership for so long. It will be a rewarding and mind-expanding experience.

Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies. He is the author of The Enduring Tension: Capitalism and the Moral Order, from Encounter Books; America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and Constitution; and Political Management of the Bureaucracy. He served as President Ronald Reagan’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during his first term and can be followed on Twitter @donalddevineco1.

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The post The Enormous Influence of the Decidedly Conservative Ohio Tafts appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

28 Jan. 2023

You may not have heard about it, but there was a jihadist attack on two Catholic churches this week in Algeciras, Spain, which is 15 miles from the Moroccan coast.

A 25-year-old Moroccan, dressed in a djellaba and armed with a large katana, attacked the churches, killed a sacristan, seriously wounded a priest, and caused injuries to churchgoers. All the while, he issued cries of praise to Allah. The guy was arrested an hour later while strolling leisurely through the streets, machete in hand.

The government, the progressive press, and a collective of particularly dim right-wingers immediately came out to condemn … xenophobia. What all of these idiots were worried about was not condemning the attack, but condemning a hypothetical xenophobia that could arise in the locality as a consequence of the attack, something that, by the way, did not happen. At the time of writing these lines, the socialist-communist government of Spain, the great promoter of illegal Muslim immigration, has not yet acknowledged that this was a jihadist attack, but assures us that all hypotheses are open; of course, police sources assure me that there is no open hypothesis, it was obviously a terrorist attack, and the guy had shortly before shown his sympathies to the Islamic State on social media.

The reason why the government tries to hide the jihadist motive is twofold: on the one hand, they are the main promoters of Christophobia, knocking down crosses and attacking the Church; secondly, the murderer, Yassine Kanjaa, was due for repatriation as an illegal immigrant since last summer. As nobody executed the order, the jihadist executed a poor sacristan, whom he killed thinking he was the parish priest.

Hours after the attack, the leader of the right-wing party Vox, Santiago Abascal, posted a tweet: “My deepest condolences to the victim’s family and relatives. Some open the doors for them, others finance them, and the people suffer them. We cannot tolerate the advance of Islamism on our soil.” Politicians both on the left and on the dimwitted right, along with the media, immediately spoke out to condemn … the tweet.

At almost the same time as the jihadist attack in Algeciras, a few miles from there, in the town of El Puerto de Santa María, someone desecrated, broke, and demolished the Cross of the Sierra de San Cristóbal, a large iron cross that some young Catholics installed last May, on private land and with the appropriate permits, precisely as reparation for the crosses that have recently been destroyed or torn down throughout Spain, often as a result of initiatives from our socialist-communist government.

France and other European countries have been the target of similar attacks, always carried out by people with the same profile: young radicalized immigrants who, frequently, had recently entered the country illegally on small boats under the protection of pro-immigration NGOs and the help of immigration mafias in the Mediterranean. But the greatest concern of European Union social democrats is the xenophobia against Muslims, that and repeating a million times that Islam is the religion of peace, a good-natured affirmation to which the Quran has something to say.

Some readers may think we get what we deserve. Perhaps that is true. We fought for centuries to expel the Moors and make the great Christian civilization emerge in Europe and now we work tirelessly to destroy the crosses and embrace Muslim immigration, which is on a whole reluctant to adapt to the culture that welcomes it. From the European Left, you can expect nothing; what is worrying is that part of the European Right is also more concerned about condemning Abascal’s tweet than the jihadist attack.

Now, the Spanish government is insinuating that Christians also kill for their faith. This is infamy and lies. What can we do? For the moment, pray. And as soon as they let us, vote.

Rest in peace, martyr of Algeciras.

The post Jihadist Attack in Spain: One Throat Slit and Two Churches Attacked appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

28 Jan. 2023

It’s always a sound idea to start at the beginning rather than in the middle — so let’s do that.

The whole push for “electrification” is based on a manufactured “necessity” — that of preventing what is styled “climate change.” The assertion itself is so vague as to be without substantive meaning. That’s a good beginning. How are we supposed to have any kind of intelligent debate when the baseline of the debate is so shiftily amorphous? It is certainly not — as the saying has it — “scientific.” That latter being defined by specificity — in order that the specifics can be examined, challenged, proved — or not.

It is telling — or at least, it ought to be so — that the claimed necessity for the extreme measures subsumed under the rubric of “electrification” is so … nonspecific.

But we all know what those who use the term as a club mean by it.

They mean the “climate” will “change” in some catastrophic way at some indeterminate point in the ever-elaborating future on account of the added carbon dioxide “emitted” by the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, as from gas and diesel-powered vehicles most of all.

It is easy to illustrate the dubiousness of this assertion by simply pointing out the fact that the totality of carbon dioxide currently present in Earth’s atmosphere amounts to just 0.04 percent of the total. The totality of human-action-produced carbon dioxide is a fraction of that fraction.

It is telling that neither of these two facts are heard much in coverage of the “climate change” issue.

Probably because if people did hear, they might not believe.

Even if carbon dioxide was the great danger the asserters assert (and it’s not — in fact, it is essential and more would green the planet) the assertion that a fractional increase in the existing fractional total threatens a “catastrophe” is even more exaggerated and hysteric a claim than the ones issued about the “deadly virus” that didn’t kill 99.8-something percent of the population.

Not one of the predicted “catastrophes” they told us were imminent ever arrived. New York is not underwater — and neither is Florida — as it was asserted both would be by about 20 years ago. Not a single “The End is Nigh” assertion has ever come to pass — and yet the asserters continue to be issued a pass. It is worth noting here the eery similarity to the endlessly wrong predictions of similar “experts,” such as Drs. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky — who were also endlessly indulged by the same shrieking parrot “media” that sounds endless alarms about “climate change” — no matter how often the not-so-good doctors were proved to be wrong.

Can anyone point to a specific/provable harm they have suffered that has been caused by a fractional increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide? If they cannot, then why are we being pushed to accept onerous “solutions” to this supposed problem?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof — especially when these claims threaten actual harm and have already caused it.

It is fundamentally exactly like the business with “masks.” There ought to have been a burden of proof on the “maskers” before they got the power to “mask” anyone (other than themselves, of course). First, prove that the “virus” is a deadly threat in general — as opposed to a narrow threat to a specific group of people (i.e., the elderly, frail, and chronically/seriously sick). Then prove that — as they constantly insisted — “masks work.” Not in the mass-hysteria-fomenting sense. Prove that they serve as a meaningful barrier to infection and transmission.

If such proof is not forthcoming, then “masking” is fundamentally no different from hair-shirting, the medieval practice of donning a purposely uncomfortable garment to atone for one’s supposed sins.

Atoning for the supposed sins of burning hydrocarbon fuels by accepting impoverishment via “electrification” amounts to essentially the same thing. The electric vehicle being the vehicular equivalent of the medieval hairshirt in that it is a punishment. You self-flagellate by accepting endless waiting for a charge — and paying more for it, as well as for the electric car. All of it the necessary price paid to combat “climate change.” Those who pay it make a point of their willingness — their eagerness — to pay it, too.

Note the religious undertow.

Very much of a piece with the religious undertow that carried “masking” along, long after it became clear — to anyone interested in facts rather than assertions — that there was no evidence that “masks work,” except insofar as fomenting and carrying along mass hysteria. In fact, there was ample evidence they did not “work” — of a piece with the even-more-serious evidence accruing that the so-called “vaccines” do not “work,” either. At least not in terms of the original assertions that those who took them would not get and could not spread the virus.

There are two take-home points here that ought to matter to a facts-based society. The first being that assertions ought not to carry much weight and certainly no force, absent facts to support those assertions. It is both bizarre as well as dangerous to tolerate impositions based on assertions. Yet a majority wore “masks” solely on the basis of assertions that it was necessary.

Second, when assertions are proved to have been wrong, then those assertions must be dismissed — along with the credibility of those who made them. To continue to accept with polite deference the harangues of people who have been proved wrong over and over and over is bad enough. To accept your degradation and diminishment in the face of that is to show you deserve it.

Civilization cannot stand unless civilized people stand up to hysterics, the emotionally damaged, and those who manipulate them. Demanding proof before action not only matters — it is existentially necessary.

No matter how much it affronts their feelings.

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The post Electrification Is Based on Manufactured Necessity appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

28 Jan. 2023

As millions of children settle into an uninterrupted academic term, widespread classroom disorder is undermining efforts to reintroduce students to in-person learning.

This increased disorder corresponds with an increase in district-approved “restorative justice” programs, which address classroom dysfunction through nonpunitive measures. Though these programs have existed for decades, they are gaining momentum nationwide.

Examples of restorative justice programs include having a student accused of fighting deliver a speech to their class on the importance of using words and asking a child bullying younger classmates to participate in a circle of bullies who discuss the reasons for their actions.

Proponents of this indulgent approach to discipline note the racial disparities in academic expulsions and cite studies confirming that those who are repeatedly suspended from school are most likely to drop out altogether.

Yet much like the pro-criminal policies enabling perpetrators to recommit violent felonies in blue-state cities, classroom practices that prioritize the comfort of offending students over the well-being of their cooperative classmates are creating a spike in school misconduct and compromising the safety and security of both children and teachers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a study by the American Psychological Association of almost 10,000 teachers found that approximately half were planning to leave or transfer jobs “due to concerns of school climate and safety.”

There is also growing concern over classroom lawlessness from parents. In a survey last summer, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools found that a safe classroom environment was more important to parents than the quality of instruction, with 77 percent of respondents describing safety as essential when it comes to their child’s education.

In January, issues involving classroom restorative justice practices resurfaced following the shooting of 1st-grade teacher Abby Zwerner by her 6-year-old student in Newport News, Virginia. The incident at Richneck Elementary School occurred after teachers had expressed alarm over the boy’s behavior yet were told by administrators to “drop the matter.” The Washington Post reported that Zwerner became fearful after the boy wrote a note threatening to “light her on fire and watch her die.” The failure of Richneck officials to stop a preventable tragedy is indicative of the softening discipline policies permeating U.S. schools.

In the School District of Philadelphia, for example, engaging in “restorative” conversations is central to its “Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.” This framework deemphasizes punitive discipline through a “love sandwich,” which entails a teacher dialoguing with the offending student by opening the conversation with a positive revelation and concluding their talk with words of love and support. Yet in December, Superintendent Tony Watlington was forced to announce new safety measures after multiple shootings on or around Philadelphia schools resulted in a fatality and a shaken community.

Since its launch in 2018, Nevada’s Clark County School District has relied on the Clark County School Justice Partnership as a blueprint to resolve conflicts through “in-school strategies.” Unsurprisingly, permissive discipline has correlated with an uptick in violence. The district reported over 5,000 criminal episodes, ranging from sexual assaults to playground beatings, between August 2021 and February 2022. Last year, Nevada teachers felt compelled to protest the degenerative school climate after a 16-year-old was charged with multiple felonies, including attempted murder, after he allegedly attacked and sexually assaulted a teacher.

Colorado has cemented its role as the national model for applying restorative practices. Colorado was one of the first states to initiate behavioral modification exercises consisting of meditation meetings and conversation circles. Yet, post-COVID, several schools in the Denver Public Schools saw a 21 percent surge in fights. Despite proof that restorative efforts exacerbate rather than alleviate educational upheaval, Denver job listings reveal a still startling need for “Restorative Practice Coordinators.”

In addition, the Department of Education is investing $1.3 million in New York City schools to establish “restorative justice action teams” where students and adults can learn peaceful conflict resolution techniques.

In an article for National Affairs, Daniel Buck compares New York City’s “broken windows” response to the 1980s crime wave, which focused on police responding to “minor disruptions” such as illegally parked cars, to the “no-excuses” approach favored among charter school administrators who set boundaries that address peripheral infractions, such as not complying with a dress code. Incidentally, a firm response to low-level misconduct blunts the proliferation of more serious lawlessness, yielding safer communities and productive schools.

Reflective of the deleterious effect that justice systems create when they emphasize a delinquent’s protection over a victim’s welfare is the two-fold jump in the number of underage accused killers in New York City between January and September of 2022 compared to the same period in 2019. The increase followed the 2019 implementation of the city’s Raise the Age statute, which increased the age at which a teen can face adult charges from 16 or 17 years old to 18.

A weak-kneed approach to fighting crime is a reliable indicator of misbehavior at U.S. schools. While monitoring activist curricula permeating education remains critical, it is equally crucial that restorative justice policies are addressed and remedied.

Irit Tratt is a writer who resides in New York.

The post How Restorative Justice Endangers Students and Teachers appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

27 Jan. 2023

An elected official in Michigan with a “D” suffixing her name received no jail time as part of a plea agreement in which her lawyer admitted that she tampered with a ballot box after an especially close election in an effort to complicate a recount.

In the summer of 2020, Kathy Funk called in a report of a break-in to the Flint Township Hall in the room that held the ballots that showed her winning by 79 votes on the initial count. The cops allege that she inadvertently alerted them to her own crime.

Funk moved to a higher position within the county after committing the crime within the town. “Funk, a Democrat, was the Flint Township clerk in 2020 with responsibility over elections,” the Associated Press reports. “She was accused of sabotaging a ballot box after the August primary that year, an act that would make those ballots ineligible for a recount.

That disturbed, hirsute guy wearing Viking horns and facepaint as though attending a sporting event or a Halloween party? He still sits in a prison cell within the Gadsden Purchase for his crimes against democracy, which essentially involve taking an unauthorized tour of the U.S. Capitol.

This lady from Michigan? Her sentencing occurs in March and precludes incarceration.

Subscribe to The American Spectator to receive the entirety of Dan Flynn’s Spectator A.M. newsletter.

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The post Democrats Can Get Away With Anything appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

27 Jan. 2023

The United States agreed to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine this week.

The aid comes in coordination with the United Kingdom’s announcement that it will send 12 Challenger 2 tanks and Germany’s donation of 14 Leopard 2 tanks. As significantly, Germany lifted its prohibition that blocked countries from granting German-made tanks to Ukraine. Sweden, Norway, Poland, and several other European countries operate Leopard 2s and appear eager to help the beleaguered nation.

“Together with our Allies and partners,” President Joe Biden explained in announcing the tank aid, “we’ve sent more than 3,000 armored vehicles, more than 8,000 [800] artillery systems, more than 2 million rounds of artillery ammunition, and more than 50 advanced multi-launch rocket systems, anti-ship and air defense systems, all to help counter Ukraine’s [Ukraine counter] brutal aggression that is happening because of Russia.”

The list, when looked at chronologically, indicates escalation. The tanks, all of which appear superior to the capable Cold War–era T-72s used by the invaders, represent the latest floor reached by the escalator.

Where is the ceiling?

Last month, the Biden administration dismissed the idea of providing tanks. This month the White House pledged to eventually provide 31 M1 Abrams. If the tanks do not prove difference-makers and Ukraine begs for fixed-wing aircraft, do we say no? The more advanced and potent the weaponry, the more provocative this all appears to Russia. The more provocative this appears to them, the closer we come to transforming from ally to combatant. When one country pays for the weaponry and munitions that kill another country’s sons — no matter the less visceral, more intellectual question of who fought on the side of the angels — then the country with dead sons might seek vengeance.

Nations often establish clear lines in the sand as warnings for other nations to cross under the penalty of war. One thinks of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s “line of death” in the Gulf of Sidra.

But nations must also establish boundaries on their own behavior to prevent themselves from fighting in wars they never intended to join. These lines, mostly blurry and faint, exist. But they do so without names because leaders rarely consider their actions provocative enough to induce war.

History shows this hubris as deadly.

A casus belli of Napoleon invading Russia involved his former ally no longer participating in a blockade against the United Kingdom. The U.S.’ placement of oil and other embargoes on Japan and its extension of the Lend-Lease program to China precipitated Pearl Harbor.

Our involvement in the Russia–Ukraine war surely represents something of a greater magnitude than our involvement in World War I prior to the German sinking of the Housatonic, Vigilancia, Aztec, and other American merchant ships.

So, precedents abound in wars starting over much less. Only one ignorant of history denies this but those ignorant of history unfortunately amount to greater than only one.

Putting Ukraine’s war on our credit card involves several downsides. Smaller concerns involve our $31 trillion debt and Ukraine’s rampant corruption. The primary concern involves provoking the wielder of most of the planet’s nuclear weapons.

The horror of a nuclear war or any smaller conflict with a global military power allows political actors to easily dismiss the prospect of it. But a horrible scenario should make us pay heed, not laugh it off. However unlikely, war with Russia is worse for U.S. interests than victory for Ukraine is good for them.

This necessitates internal red lines. Putin periodically calls this or that action by the West a crossing of a red line. What red lines do we impose upon our own conduct? What is a hard no?

We want Ukraine to win. What potential measures taken by the U.S. government that enable the Ukrainians to win do we rule out because they harm U.S. interests?

The escalation of our aid, in terms of money spent and the potency of the weaponry, indicates that we do not know the answer to this question.

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The post First Guns, Now Tanks, Then What? appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

27 Jan. 2023

On Thursday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a letter, on behalf of 16 state attorneys general, to U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The letter, which pertains to Biden administration policy on COVID-19, is both important on its own merits, insofar as what it urges the new Congress to do, and more broadly significant insofar as the spotlight it helpfully shines on the American ruling class’s insatiable desire to govern via perpetual crisis.

The letter, which cleverly cites President Joe Biden’s own September 2022 admission that “the pandemic is over,” decries the administration’s continued reliance on “emergency” powers to implement various COVID-related policies — especially those pertaining to the “emergency-use authorizations” that have enabled the government to develop, mass-produce and mass-distribute the COVID vaccines despite the fact they have still not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Things have changed,” the attorneys general argue, since “emergency authorization was granted two years ago to get the first vaccines distributed.” They continue: “In short, things have changed. The American people, in their characteristic spirit of resilience, have learned to live with COVID-19. Even President Biden noted that people generally are no longer wearing masks, and mandates to do so have disappeared from all but the most sensitive areas. Schools, shops, restaurants, and businesses are open. City streets are bustling. The idea that we are still in the midst of a medical emergency flies in the face of the facts on the ground. Yet, (Health and Human Services) and FDA continue to perpetrate the myth that an emergency exists to aggrandize their power at the expense of people’s freedom.”

The letter ultimately concludes: “We encourage the new Congress to move quickly to limit HHS’ and FDA’s ability to unilaterally declare an emergency and approve unproven drugs that could cause harm to Americans, override any remaining emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines, consider reforms to the sweeping liability shield created in 2005, and ensure that our liberties and system of government are robustly protected against any such future attempts at medical tyranny.”

The letter follows on the heels of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R-FL) similar recent successful petition to the Florida Supreme Court to empanel a grand jury to investigate COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for potential wrongdoing and consumer fraud. (Notably, former President Donald Trump continues to be an enthusiastic advocate for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.)

The attorneys general are wise to amplify DeSantis’ recent move with an additional shot across the bow at the “unproven” mRNA vaccines, which are largely defective products that do not prevent viral transmission. Even more important, they are correct to call out the Biden administration’s unyielding desire to govern via continual crisis, as was also evinced by the administration’s farcical recent decision to seek an appeal — nine months after Judge Kathryn Mizelle’s initial district court ruling — to restore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s feckless, since-discarded public transportation mask mandate.

“This is not about an urgent matter of public health,” Brant C. Hardaway, the lawyer who represented the initial plaintiffs who successfully sued to overturn the mask mandate last April, said upon hearing last week’s news that the Biden administration would now seek an appeal. If this were an “emergency,” he reasonably observed, then the Biden Department of Justice would have acted with more urgency after Judge Mizelle’s ruling last April, including seeking an emergency stay at that time (which, notably, it did not do).

Hardaway is correct that the Biden administration’s actions are not about an “urgent matter of public health” — or any other type of legitimate public “emergency,” for that matter. Instead, the entire act, as this column has previously noted, is emblematic of progressivism’s overarching ethos, best encapsulated by former Obama-era White House Chief of Staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s infamous exhortation: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” From the perspective of the American ruling class and the progressive elites who comprise it, the only relevant incentive is to continually — indeed, perpetually — latch onto any “emergency” fig leaf in order to justify “enlightened” rule, typically imposed in top-down, anti-democratic fashion.

This broader societal dynamic, of a sizable (often outright majority) right-leaning portion of the body politic facing constant roadblocks from an insular, progressive elite, is hardly unique to these United States. Just last week, this column highlighted the intense judicial reform debate now roiling Israel’s politics — a shockingly similar situation overall, albeit with elites represented not by the biomedical security state but by an equally unaccountable judicial oligarchy.

Other global examples abound. But whether the means are “enlightened” juristocracy, cloistered bureaucracy, or some grotesque combination thereof, progressivism’s loathing of “We the People”-rooted popular sovereignty and zeal for rule via unaccountable diktat has helped define the terrain on which today’s civilizational struggles are fought. Here, there and everywhere, especially in today’s more populist times, it ought to be the goal of conservatives and nationalists to re-politicize as much as possible the law and policy that have been previously de-politicized via administrative or judicial fiat. The re-politicization and democratization of our most pressing societal debates, away from the hands of unaccountable elites, is a worthy counter to globalism’s top-down, homogenizing modus operandi, personified by jet-setting elites’ recent rendezvous in Davos.

Our 21st-century civilizational battles, in other words, are those waged between the popular sovereigntists and the globalist progressives who cling to every would-be “crisis” or “emergency” in a desperate attempt to attain and weaponize ever-more power. I happen to like the popular sovereigntists’ odds of ultimately prevailing. But for now, kudos to the 16 state attorneys general for admirably underscoring the battle lines.

To find out more about Josh Hammer and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2023 CREATORS.COM

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The post Progressivism Versus Popular Sovereignty appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

27 Jan. 2023

Paul Bedard relays a hilarious story Mike Pompeo apparently tells in his book. 

As secretary of state, Pompeo made a request to the department’s inspector general. “I told them that my wife flies to foreign countries to give speeches for a fee of $500,000 each, all of it paid for by foreign governments, with the proceeds going to the ‘Pompeo Foundation,’” he explained. “Some of the people working for the ‘Pompeo Foundation’ might well be current department employees. I needed to know if this whole setup caused any ethical problems for me or the department. In deadpan style, I told them I needed a memorandum from them confirming that this activity was lawful.” 

The inspector general’s office, apparently not overflowing with quick intellects, immediately damned the plan as damned unethical. 

Pompeo says he then let them in on the joke. They didn’t find it funny. He responded that he didn’t find it funny that the Clintons actually did what Pompeo laid out as a hypothetical. He then asked the inspector general to produce the document that enabled Bill Clinton to generate millions from foreigners while his wife served as secretary of state. 

Pompeo plays a rigidly serious man on television. In real life, he apparently possesses a sense of humor.  

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The post Mike Pompeo Has a Sense of Humor appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

27 Jan. 2023

We’re back on the 5QT with this entry. It’s been a minute. And this time we’re mostly staying out of politics because culture is both more interesting and more important.

So here we go, starting with our very clickbaity headline…

1. No Healthy Person Wants To Play With a Porcupine

That’s the last line from a very interesting Substack entry from Dr. Mike McDonald, the author of a couple of very interesting books about fear and society, which has percolated a good bit over the last month or so. McDonald’s post is entitled “Why American Women Are Undatable,” and it makes some good points. You should obviously read the whole thing, but quickly I’ll just note three of the items inside.

First, he offers this assessment of single women in America today:

American women today suffer from a combination of emotional and characterologic pathology that renders them unfit to be romantic partners to men. On the emotional side, they are angry, anxious, and dysregulated. Men find them exhausting and not at all fun to be around. In addition to their unpleasant emotions, men must also contend with their toxic personality traits: narcissism, ingratitude, and an overbearing and judgmental attitude that appears to be constant. American women approach dating as a fact and fault-finding mission, with a degree of arrogance that can only come from a profound absence of self-awareness. They have no idea what their role is in the encounter or how to properly support the man who is leading the date. They act as saboteurs rather than facilitators. Most men have tired of this.

It’s harsh, to be sure, and yes, there will be those out there who call it unfair. What I can say is that the sense of entitlement commonly found on a first date is breathtaking and exhausting; I’m still single and I run into it over and over again ad nauseam. And I’m not alone. One reason this thing became so viral is that so many men matched it to their experience.

There used to be such things as “charm schools” at which young women were taught the finer points of femininity. Those are gone, and it’s too bad, because McDonald also notes that both men and women are losing the virtues that made us attractive to each other.

He borrows a definition of masculinity from Jack Donovan, author of The Way of Men, that is pretty spot-on: strength, courage, mastery, and honor, and notes that all four are falling away. But on the feminine side, McDonald quotes Donovan as saying that all men really want out of women is that they be pretty, carefree, and charming, and he says there’s a big shortage of that out there. Unfortunately, he’s right about that as well.

People look like crap these days. Compare what you see in a neighborhood restaurant or on a subway train station or at an airport with what you’d see 50 years ago, and the decline is appalling. That even shows up when folks go on dates. With men, it’s kind of a problem, but men are success objects to women while women are sex objects to men, and men have a lot less potential ruin in their wardrobes in any event. So it’s far worse to see the fairer sex giving up on being fair.

And one more point McDonald makes is the obvious one, which is that this is environmental. Which is to say the culture. American women are bombarded with so much in the way of poisonous messaging that it almost seems like a deliberate attack. Per McDonald:

Women in this country have been taught that looks don’t matter, that career is more important than family, that men are either dangerous or weak and incapable, and that the world would be a better place if only women were in charge. Everything they are taught is wrong. Everything they are taught is a lie. And the fault lies with schools, media, feminism, and parents. These institutions and individuals have corrupted their minds, their emotions, and their characters. They have trained women to live in a fantasy world of us vs them, where the “me” is more important than the “we,” where one’s feelings dictate truth and goodness, and even virtue itself. These toxic teachings have rendered women developmentally arrested and incapable of adult partnerships with men.

Again, it isn’t a misogynistic screed. He’s highly critical of the decline in men as well.

What’s worth noting, as a response, is that this is accurate in describing single women, not all women. Those who don’t exhibit the unpleasant traits he’s talking about generally get snapped up in no time flat, which is why single guys will so often covet, openly and otherwise, the wives of their married friends and complain about not finding “somebody like Nicole.”

But this is a real thing, and it’s worth remembering when you hear the growing chorus of complaints from women that “there are no good guys out there.” There are, but if they’re not finding you, it’s probably because you’re driving them away, and that’s probably because McDonald has described you perfectly.

And now that I’ve surely started a fight in the comments section, we can move on to…

2. No, I Will Not Eat Your Fake Meat or Ze Bugz

At RVIVR, Nathan Koenig has a somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about the new cultural aggression emanating from the Davos class, namely that we’ve all got to Eat Ze Bugz, or else it’s “plant-based meat” for us.

Koenig notes that it was about 10 years ago that you started seeing the promotion of the Eat Ze Bugz nonsense at the UN, and since then, you’ve had a whole bunch of high-profile leftists getting involved in various commercial iterations of Eat Ze Bugz.

And this “plant-based meat” crap. My Facebook feed, as I’m sure yours does as well, swells with sponsored posts extolling the virtue of hamburgers made from seaweed and other sub-standard sources.

Koenig says this is about money, but it’s also about power. The elites are busily inflicting scarcity and a lower quality of life on regular folks across the board (go and look at California, if you don’t agree, and get back to me), and Ze Bugz are a good example of that.

So is soccer, but that’s a different topic.

It isn’t going to work, though. Yes, you might well get a bunch of stupid white leftists, the people the Chinese derisively call “Baizuo,” eating Ze Bugz and pretending to enjoy the experience while virtue-signaling about how much protein they’re ingesting while saving the planet.

But the rest of us would rather beat the living hell out of some elite moron demanding we Eat Ze Bugz and then put some steaks on the grill. And that isn’t going to change. Wars have been fought over less.

3. We’re Finally Getting the Body Cam Footage From the Paul Pelosi Attack

At least, that’s the word:

On Wednesday, a judge in San Francisco ordered the release of body cam footage from the October 2022 hammer attack against Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after a coalition of media outlets sued for the footage and other evidence to be released publicly.

Waiting on pins and needles for this is suspended NBC News reporter Miguel Almaguer, who simply reported what was in court documents — that Paul Pelosi opened the door for the police with his attacker just nearby, and then was beaten in the head with a hammer. The body cam footage should either vindicate Almaguer or damn him.

And he isn’t alone in that.

4. Pro-Lifers and the Privatization Of Policing

James Varney had a great piece this week at RealClearInvestigations talking about how the pro-life movement, which has suffered hundreds of attacks by psychotic criminals on pregnancy care centers in the past several months that law enforcement agencies have shown shamefully little interest in investigating, is essentially Going Pinkerton.

Aside from last night – news of the federal indictment of two in Florida for acts of vandalism – no arrests have been made in any of the scores of similar attacks that have damaged other crisis pregnancy counseling offices and churches coast to coast since word first leaked in late May that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning abortion laws to state legislatures.    

CompassCare CEO Jim Harden says this inaction has forced the pro-life movement to do the work of law enforcement on its own. His organization has teamed with the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit libertarian law firm in Chicago, to hire their own private investigators. The home of the firm’s president, Thomas Brejcha, was damaged by abortion supporters last July. 

Neither the Thomas More Society nor CompassCare elaborated on the private investigators hired to look at the attacks by abortion supporters — who they are, how many or where deployed. But Brejcha said no price limit has been put on their services.

The development comes at a time when many, especially on the right, are warning of the politicization of justice. A few of the examples they point to are the SWAT team arrest of Trump adviser Roger Stone; the armed search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in pursuit of classified documents (along with the multiple lawsuits specifically aimed at Trump); and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s ordering the FBI to track possible threats of violence or intimidation after parents began confronting school boards about what their children were being taught in public schools.

They say such heavy-handedness contrasts with law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels turning a blind eye to obvious lawlessness not identified with the right. Examples include the nationwide George Floyd riots of 2020; smash-and-grab thefts at retail stores from New York to Los Angeles; homeless camps turned open-air drug bazaars; and city prosecutors declining to enforce laws because of concerns regarding “systemic racism.” 

This was inevitable. When law enforcement doesn’t do its job, chaos results. But chaos isn’t sustainable; people react to it in ways designed to remove it.

In the Wild West, when there was little functional law enforcement, people who could afford it would hire Pinkerton detectives. In chaotic cities a century ago, businesses would pay protection money to the mafia to keep criminals at bay. In lawless Baghdad, there are street militias in charge of vast swaths of the city.

So when politicized agencies like the FBI or the police in Democrat-run cities aren’t willing to apply justice across the board, someone else will. The pro-life movement isn’t going to hire hitmen to take out Jane’s Revenge terrorists, at least not anytime soon, but, as this trend continues, it will not be a surprise to see retribution begin taking the place of justice in more and more situations.

That isn’t a good thing, obviously, but it isn’t the worst thing. Outright chaos like there is in New Orleans is the worst thing.

5. The Best Show on Netflix Is Back (And It’s Awesome)

Sure, other shows offer some competition, but not really. For sheer enjoyment, Fauda is where it’s at on Netflix. And the fourth season just dropped a few days ago. It’s great.

If you’re not familiar with Fauda, it’s an Israeli show co-written by and starring Lior Raz, who’s something like a Hebrew Charles Bronson. Raz plays a member of an Israeli special forces unit that is tasked with dealing with the waves of Palestinian terrorists constantly attempting to inflict mayhem on his country, and each season contains one or two extended plotlines that play out to a big finish in the final episode.

It’s melodramatic, and it’s a fairly simple badass action series. You lose a little in the fact that practically every scene in the show contains multiple languages spoken, so there’s some dubbing and some subtitles. But forget about that. The action is great, and the characters are surprisingly human.

Especially, interestingly enough, the Arab bad guys. The Palestinian terrorists in the show are monsters, and they aren’t coddled — they do monstrous things and meet monstrous ends. But Fauda’s writers make them into people. They have families, they have grievances, and they operate based on their own interests. The plot of the show is reasonably simple, but the conflicts the plot is built on are certainly not.

That’s a theme that runs through the show, and it’s one reason its title is so appropriate. “Fauda” is an Arabic word for “chaos,” but it’s also the word Israeli Special Forces uses for when a mission goes wrong. And what the show conveys is that the entire Arab-Israeli mess is “fauda” — they’re inextricably linked, they live practically on top of one another, they’ve got so many long-standing grievances against each other that reconciliation is practically impossible, and there is no end in sight.

But despite all of that, you don’t get a hopeless feeling watching it. The lives of the men and women in the unit are more than just strapping on the body armor and shooting up jihadists, and somehow they manage to make their way through.

At least … well, I’ll stop now. Watch through season four and you’ll understand.

The post Five Quick Things: Are American Women Undatable? appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

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