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The news of Professor Williams’ passing came as a jarring blow, an unexpected loss in a year of tenacious tragedies. It is our loss, of course, and most especially for Dr. Williams’ loved ones and friends, all of whom remain in our prayers. I wasn’t privileged enough to have met him, but I felt as if I knew him and remain grateful beyond words that he took the time to write an encouraging letter to me when I was in college.
I began reading his newspaper columns in the Panama City News Herald in 1980 and was struck by his fierce independence of mind. I couldn’t quite categorize him politically, which made him all the more intriguing. He grew up in racially segregated public housing and was drafted into the Army. He was on the receiving end of racial abuse from civil authorities and military officers. In fact, as an army private, he wrote to President Kennedy, asking:
Should Negroes be relieved of their service obligation or continue defending and dying for empty promises of freedom and equality… Or should we demand human rights as our Founding Fathers did at the risk of being called extremists….I contend that we relieve ourselves of oppression in a manner that is in keeping with the great heritage of our nation.
In the fall of 1977, I proposed to my then- and long-time girlfriend, Janet. We set a date in May, over six months away, which my soon-to-be mother-in-law explained was barely enough time to make proper arrangements. That meant Janet and I would have to spend the Christmas of that year introducing the other to various out-of-town relatives. Everyone from both families was coming to Ann Arbor, MI, that Christmas to meet the other’s intended. We were both the first child from our respective families to get married – which signaled a generational shift which both of us had been oblivious to when I made and she accepted my proposal.
It meant sitting through two Christmas dinners, one in each household. Her family had Christmas dinner at noon; mine at 6 p.m. (Somehow tucking away two massive dinners was less of a challenge in your late teens and early 20s.) I met her menace of uncles and aunts at her parents’ place at midday. (All of her father’s numerous brothers were well over six feet, and wanted to assure themselves I would do right by their innocent niece. I am not sure how well I succeeded in assuring them, but I survived the dinner.) Then it was time for Janet to meet my family.
Here in the Dictatorship of Washington State, our ruler in Olympia has announced that he will join in the evil conference of Trump-hating states to require state approval of any Covid vaccine approved by the FDA and CDC. This dictator, who is head-over-heels in love with government, and who insists that we comply with all CDC-related directives (with a statewide mask mandate), is now rejecting the approval by that august body of a Covid vaccine that, according to him, will be the only way we will ever approach a normal life here in our dictatorship. Here are a couple of quotes from an article announcing this.
Inslee says this is needed because the Trump Administration has undermined trust in federal agencies.
The actor formerly known as Ellen Page recently came out in an Instagram post saying she is a man, now to be known as Elliot Page.
I have my own mixed feelings towards transgenderism but probably lean to the Ben Shapiro side more than anything. We won’t get into that here. What I want to get into are some of the problems a story like this should present to the mainstream leftist ideology. None of these are original, just a few picked up here or there I find to be especially challenging.
It was a love story centuries in the making. While Russian authors have written some of the greatest, and most beloved, love stories ever told, their personal lives tend to be far from any romantic ideal. Tolstoy tortured his wife of 48 years, forcing her to read of his numerous affairs and hatred for her in his diary, Mikhail Bulgakov was thrice wed, and Ivan Bunin invited another woman to live with himself and his second wife while in French exile. Hardly a track record that inspires confidence.
“I wanted to kill myself. If I hadn’t been pregnant, I definitely would have killed myself.” Thus, does Seema Misra begin the story of her three-year odyssey as a sub-postmistress working for Britain’s Royal Mail.
She was approved to open a postal station in her small Surrey shop in 2005, and was set up with supplies and a Horizon computer terminal to use for Post Office business. (A word to the wise: the Post Office in the UK operates differently than it does in the States, and there are over 11,000 of these “sub-post offices,” usually operating out of small general stores, chemist shops, or newsagents, dotted all over the country, often in out-of-the-way villages (think Agatha Christie mysteries) which would otherwise be underserved. The people who run them are contractors, not employees of the Royal Mail. And the post office itself is used for purposes unheard of in the US–you can go there to pay your utility bill, perform banking transactions, and get your welfare payments, as well as buy stamps and send off letters and packages.)
It wasn’t long before Seema began to notice discrepancies in her end-of-day reconciliations, between what she thought should have been the total Post Office business done, and what the computer report spat out. In every case, the computer report indicated that there should have been more money applied to the account than indicated when Seema took the receipts and transaction history and totaled them up manually. Some days, the discrepancies were in the £100 range. Sometimes, thousands.
I was only 24 years old when I became a speechwriter for President George W. Bush in 2007 — which was weird. Even weirder: I got the job despite the fact that I had no connections, no credentials, and only the most modest experience. The man who was responsible for all of that was Bruce Herschensohn, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 88. Bruce somehow crammed the work of five lifetimes into one: he was an Oscar-winning filmmaker, a White House aide to President Nixon, a beloved broadcaster in Los Angeles, a U.S. Senate nominee, and a graduate school professor (despite the fact that he only had a high school diploma). Everything that has happened in my professional life stems from one act of kindness from him — and yet my career is the least of what I owe him. I hope you’ll read my tribute to him at City Journal, if only to be reminded that great men can be good men too. A sample:
In the days when Southern California was a power center in Republican politics, it was often said that you could distinguish the Nixon men from the Reagan men at a glance. Each were said to follow the cues of their principal: the Nixonites cold, cynical, and calculating; the Reaganites sunny, positive, and idealistic. Bruce was a walking reprimand to that thesis (though, as a member of the Reagan transition team, he arguably had a foot in both camps). If your only examples of conservatism in the 1980s were Ronald Reagan and Bruce Herschensohn, you could be forgiven for believing that all Republicans had a low resting heart rate, a quick wit, great hair, and a voice that sounded like God after a glass of wine. Lots of people disagreed with Bruce Herschensohn; no one hated him.
Grief seems almost misplaced for a life so fully lived. I can’t imagine what more Bruce Herschensohn could have accomplished — but he would have found something. There is grief nonetheless, and I confess it may be entirely selfish: I’m just a little less interested in a world without Bruce in it.
I have three little girls, who are in college now. When they were young we rarely gave them candy or soda. Those were special treats for birthdays, or travel, or holidays, or whatever. But that was not part of their everyday diet. We weren’t fanatics about it, but we avoided junk in their diet. Nothing wrong with the occasional treat, but that wasn’t how we lived every day. And we raised three very strong, healthy kids.
We lived in the mountains of Tennessee, and often would have a fire at night, out on the deck (That’s me, on just such an evening, pictured to the right.). We’d sit around the fire, look at the views of the mountains, admire the sunset, and enjoy the cool evening mountain air. It was idyllic. I enjoy bourbon, and on those evenings I would often have a bourbon and Coke. Or three. I mix them with an emphasis on the bourbon, adding Coke mainly for color, and to avoid the appearance that I’m drinking straight bourbon. Anyway, on one of these lovely evenings, the adults were sitting around the fire, and I had a beautifully potent BOURBON and coke sitting on the ground next to my chair.
My daughters were running around, catching fireflies, chasing the dogs, playing tag, and doing the things that little kids do on beautiful summer evenings. Until my middle daughter noticed what appeared to be a Coke sitting on the ground next to my chair. “What a special treat!” she thought to herself. “He won’t notice if I just take one drink!” she thought.
“There are aspects of my life that I can’t get back. But there are things that I can do now. When we were in Martha’s Vineyard this summer, Michelle and I would ride bikes. And now that we have masks on, we could ride through town and people wouldn’t know who we were. It felt pretty close to what I imagined — that sense of freedom, of being able to go wherever you wanted.” – Barack Obama, People Magazine Interview, Dec. 7, 2020
I confess that I subscribed to “People” magazine as part of a free offer from a bookstore and, despite having canceled the subscription, I keep receiving new issues. I usually don’t read beyond the cover, since the cover conveys pretty much all I need to know about who and what People thinks is interesting and important. The most recent issue features Barack Obama in “His Most Revealing Interview!” I actually read this article because of the cover’s claim that “the White House nearly wrecked his marriage.” I have been thinking a lot lately about the portrayal of marriage in literature and in culture, as well as its importance in my own life. But after reading the whole article, I wanted to focus on “that sense of freedom.”
The quote above closes out the article, which emphasizes the modern celebrity magazine’s motto of “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us!” We’re left with the poignant reflection that what Barack Obama most wants is to reclaim the freedom that his previous anonymity permitted him and his family. Let’s pretend we don’t notice that Barack Obama has just released his third memoir and has encouraged a friendly and fawning cover story on the impact of politics on his personal life, and just appreciate that Obama has found some measure of elusive freedom via the hottest fashion trend of 2020: face masks.
The Trump campaign post-election efforts to detect fraud and possibly reverse the election results were doomed to failure. In retrospect, their only hope was to block mail-in voting before it spread.
Democrats learned in 2018 how to use mail-in voting to their advantage. They were dead set on a repeat performance.
The bipartisan Carter-Baker commission had warned back in 2005 that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” Public health officials and election experts broadly agreed that Covid was not a barrier to conducting safe in-person elections. But it didn’t matter.
Is there any reason to hope? Many conservatives openly feared that Trump would be merely a blessed delay, a brief reprieve from the inevitable rise of the brain-washed totalitarians among us. Après Trump, le deluge. The destructive leftist fantasies that have been a staple of intellectuals since Rousseau invented the role of the parasitical, selfish, self-promoting but verbally adroit intellectual selling political fantasy are now in full flower. (Rousseau, Voltaire, and Diderot would have set records for numbers of followers if Twitter were around then.)
It is never rational argument that defeats the fantasists. With the conspicuous exception of Ronald Reagan, conservatives generally don’t seem to know that if listeners think the choice is between the drab reality they know versus a glowing possible future, they will trade the cow for a handful of magic beans every time. The fantasists are often only stopped cold by reality when people are dumb enough to give a fantasy regime a try–often at horrific cost.
When President Trump pulled us out of the Iranian deal, also known as the JCPOA, it was one of the most sensible and appropriate actions of his Presidency. The deal, which was supposed to “slow” the Iranian development of a nuclear weapon, was a sham from the start: they refused to adhere to certain inspection guidelines from the beginning, then violated others as time passed; the IAEA figuratively and repeatedly threw up its hands in frustration. When we pulled out, the Iranians used our lack of support as a further excuse to continue to ignore the limitations of the agreement.
Now with the opportunity to manipulate the latest version of an Obama administration (also to be known as the Biden administration), the Iranians know that Biden has stated he will sign on again to the agreement. Biden’s goal is not only foolish but meaningless, since the Iranians have significantly progressed in their nuclear bomb development. What in the world will our re-engaging provide? Here are some of Biden’s ideas about re-joining the JCPOA:
In an op-ed in September, Biden said as president he would ‘make an unshakable commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.’ He argued the best way to achieve that was for the U.S. to re-enter the deal.
I experienced Christmas 1987 through 1989 in West Germany, in the heart of Bavaria, serving as a young Air Defense Artillery officer in the Army Reagan rebuilt. This was just before the influx of disillusioned East Germans and other relatively lawless former Warsaw Pact people, corrupted by the poison of living compromised lives under communism. West Germans were rule-followers. Ordnung muss sein! There must be order! The affirmative answer to “is everything alright?” “Alles ist in Ordnung.”
Everything is in order. One result was that private and public spaces were clean, neat, in order. At the same time, we and the British Army of the Rhine (by its name still an occupying force) had our boots firmly on the backs of a people who had shown a particular penchant for mass violence against others. So, I got to experience German culture and society at its best. I remember two German traditions and an American military tradition.
As many of you are aware, a young lady and seemingly a first-rate female athlete got on the same field as Vanderbilt’s men’s football team and proceeded to kick a rather unexceptional 35-yard squib.
I have nothing to add to this spectacle. I would like to query if any of you know the answer to the following. There has been much debate here in Connecticut (which is really just a thinking man’s Vermont) directed to whether biological males that identify as women should be permitted to compete against biological females, most notably in track and field events. It seems a given that biological males that identify as male cannot compete against women. In short, no one argues that men should be allowed to compete with women – only men that are women (or is it women that are men?) are afforded such an opportunity.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
I live in an apartment complex. It has great advantages. Something breaks? Call maintenance. Grass needs cutting? Someone else does it. There are pretty flowers on the grounds spring through autumn, and I never have to lift a finger to dig in the hard ground. (It would probably do me a lot of good to do it, but it’s not going to happen.) It’s nice to have things taken care of.
Ted Cruz came out last night with a highly cogent argument for the Supreme Court taking up the case in Pennsylvania that would disqualify the mail-in ballots.
“Today, an emergency appeal was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the election results in Pennsylvania. This appeal raises serious legal issues, and I believe the Court should hear the case on an expedited basis.
Although it’s impossible to say for sure, Trofim Lysenko probably killed more human beings than any individual scientist in history. Other dubious scientific achievements have cut thousands upon thousands of lives short: dynamite, poison gas, atomic bombs. But Lysenko, a Soviet biologist, condemned perhaps millions of people to starvation through bogus agricultural research—and did so without hesitation. Only guns and gunpowder, the collective product of many researchers over several centuries, can match such carnage.
Lysenko forced farmers to plant seeds very close together since, according to his “law of the life of species”, plants from the same “class” never compete with one another. Lysenko played an active role in the famines that killed millions of Soviet people and his practices prolonged and exacerbated the food shortages. The People’s Republic of China under Mao Tse-Tung adopted his methods starting in 1958, with calamitous results, culminating in the Great Chinese Famine of 1959 to 1962. At least 30 million died of starvation.
Powerline recently linked to a an extraordinary article from The Non-Partisan New York Times, entitled, “The Rich Kids Who Want to Tear Down Capitalism.” If you haven’t read it, you really should. The author of this piece, Zoe Beery, is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn who has previously enlightened her readers with pieces like, “What Abortion Access Looks Like in Mississippi,” and “Global Quest for ‘Green’ Concrete Goes On, as Researchers Ask if it Can Be Done,” and “Climate Inaction Means Children Born Today Will Face Severe Health Risks, New Report Warns.” You know that The New York Times is really trying to shed its reputation as a leftist rag when it hires writers such as this.
A little over 18 months ago, we interviewed author and columnist Douglas Murray about his then new book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity. That show was one of our most-watched interviews of 2019, so we thought it was time to sit down with Douglas again and get an update on where things stand with regard to, as Douglas describes in his book, “the interpretation of the world through the lens of ‘social justice,’ ‘identity group politics’ and ‘intersectionalism’ . . . the most audacious and comprehensive effort since the end of the Cold War at creating a new ideology.” We also discuss European politics, examine Boris Johnson’s tenure as UK prime minister, and take a sobering look at American politics from the perspective of a very sharp observer.