The Biden Adminstration

I have not said anything about the Biden administration. I knew it would be bad, but it is greatly exceeding my expectations. It makes Obama look like a JV play.

It took until June, but Bernie and Elizabeth finally popped up. Bernie with a dream list of progressive pork and Liz with nominees to obstruct or restrict every damn thing.

The Biden administration and its progressive hangers-on are providing a master class on “How to Be an Anticapitalist” and suck the air out of the economy. 

Start by paying people to do nothing—1.8 million workers, according to a recent Morning Consult poll, have turned down jobs due to generous unemployment benefits, including an extra $300 a week from the federal government in some states. Meanwhile, Burger King is offering a $1,500 signing bonus. 

Anticapitalists then shut pipelines (except Russian ones) and suspend drilling leases in parts of Alaska, helping send oil prices above $70. The government says it wants to limit carbon emissions, but then it squashes better energy options like nuclear. 

An anticapitalist would next restrict capital formation, so President Biden has proposed raising the top capital-gains rate from 23.8% to a punitive 43.4% and the top individual income-tax rate to 39.6%. Mr. Biden also wants to waive Covid vaccine patents—making pharma companies think twice before investing in new drugs—and is even pushing a series of antitrust bills that could reverse mergers, like Facebook’s 2012 purchase of Instagram, as if that would do anything good for the economy or consumers. Nothing is safe. 

Add the Federal Trade Commission’s roadblocks to mergers. It worked hard to block early-cancer-detection pioneer Grail’s merger with genome- sequencing firm Illumina, now on hold as it lets the European Commission investigate. This is moronic. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with late- stage cancer in five years, the Biden administration could be to blame. Without meddling, Grail may have found it earlier, when it was still treatable. 

Anticapitalists in Congress are pushing $3.5 trillion in spending unrelated to infrastructure with an Orwellian sleight of hand by declaring it “human infrastructure.” Big surprise, it is larded with climate provisions and other progressive party favors. 

Then anticapitalists limit speech, open the borders, mess with education (math isn’t about getting the right answer anymore), ruin healthcare, and defund the police, causing crime rates to rise. Cities and suburbs have homeless encampments and brazen daytime crime. San Francisco shoplifters limit themselves to a total haul worth less than $950 knowing that the cops won’t stop them if they commit what 2014 California ballot proposition redefined as a misdemeanor. 

My Body My Rights

Variations of “my body my rights” have been a central theme for the Left for decades.  I am all for this (as long as we are applying it to adults wholeheartedly but more restrictively to minors).  But I have argued for years that this represents faux libertarianism — the Left believes this absolutely when it comes to abortion (and more recently for gender transitions among minors) but not so much when it comes to any other issues.  You want to eat GMO foods?  Sorry, you can’t do that.  Smoke?  Sorry, no dice.  Teenage tanning salon visits?  Sorry, not without more parental paperwork than is required for an abortion.

The woke are angry, humorless, and—worst of all—vindictive.

Pride In America

This goes against the popular notion

Is pride in America a thing of the past? Not if you ask Americans. As the nation celebrates its 245th birthday, the first in a series of I&I/TIPP polls finds that 68% of adults say they are “very” or “extremely” proud to be an American, with another 15% “moderately” proud. . . .

Even among blacks and Hispanics, who are repeatedly described as victims of embedded American racism and intolerance, pride is strong. The poll found that 55% of blacks and 57% of Hispanics say they are either extremely or very proud to be Americans. Just 7% of blacks and 9% of Hispanics say they aren’t proud at all of their nationality.

So, which is the one—and only one—demographic group in the poll that is not proud to be American? It’s young people age 18 to 24.

The poll found that only 36% of this group say they are very or extremely proud, making it the sole demographic group tracked among whom pride falls below 50%. . . Pride in America rises to 59% for those 25-44; 75% for those 45-64; and 86% for those 65 and over.

Drill, Baby, Drill

Betchya didn’t know this

Remember the cringeworthy “Drill, baby, drill” slogan from the 2008 Republican Convention? Maybe they were on to something, but not what you think. We’re bombarded daily with calls for sustainable, renewable and carbon chewable technologies to meet our energy needs. But the solution may be just underfoot.

Dig deep enough and, no surprise, it’s hotter than hell down there. Isotope reactions in the mantle under the Earth’s crust generate 20 terawatts of constant heat flow. Typically, the temperature rises about 25 degrees Celsius for every kilometer, or 75 degrees Fahrenheit for each mile, and more the deeper you go. The steam wafting out of hot springs in Yellowstone National Park or Iceland, places where the Earth’s crust is thin, shows how much heat the mantle gives off.

We already have a good-sized surface geothermal industry in the U.S. For $15,000 to $30,000, you can hire someone to dig a few hundred feet and install a heat pump that circulates heated water to keep your house cozy.

But that’s just scratching the surface. There is huge upside to digging down miles and injecting water into underground reservoirs—think radiators—and then the heated water is pushed back out to generate steam and electricity. It’s carbon-free—clean, green and mostly unseen.

The trick is to get a large enough surface area to do the heat exchange. A typical vertical oil well might have 1,000 to 10,000 square feet of surface area. But it turns out that the same thing that’s been perfected over the past 30 years to make America energy independent can also increase that surface area—horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

I called one of the industry pioneers, University of Texas engineer Mukul Sharma, who is sometimes called the Frack King (get it?) and has a startup named Geothermix that develops enhanced geothermal systems.

Mr. Sharma walked me through the process. Millions of oil and gas wells have been drilled in the U.S. over the past century. Maps exist that show the thermal conductivity of underlying rock by region—suggesting how deep you’d have to drill to get a temperature hot enough to generate cost-effective electricity, typically 0.5 to 4 miles down. After drilling down you can then drill horizontally and hydraulically fracture the rock to create an underground reservoir. With this technique you could get 10 million to 20 million square feet of surface area for the heat exchanger, thousands of times more than a standard well.

Mr. Sharma thinks we’ll have several commercially viable deep geothermal systems operating in the next five years, maybe costing $10 million to $15 million each, from his company and others like Sage Geosystems and Fervo Energy. He thinks by 2030 we’ll have second- and third-generation systems operating much more efficiently, just as fracking constantly gained in output as technology improved.

The promise of geothermal energy keeps getting better. The deeper you drill, the hotter the rock, and at maybe 10 kilometers, temperatures can reach 373 degrees Celsius or higher. The water that emerges is what physicists call “supercritical,” which means it holds more energy and can be 10 times as efficient doing heat exchange. A lot of invention is still required, especially for high-heat materials and drills that can operate at such high temperatures—not a trivial problem, but not insurmountable. For now, Mr. Sharma says, “the costs go up exponentially as you dig deeper and hotter.” A supercritical-water geothermal system might cost $50 million. But it might be worth it. Some scientists even think drilling into volcanoes might make sense.

Further in the future, we may not even need to fracture the rock, but instead use horizontal drilling and pipes to run fluid through closed-loop systems, with the heat exchange done through the pipes. You could do this anywhere if you drill deep enough, under New York or any other city.

So why are so few talking about deep geothermal? Eco-warriors seem to pine only for solar panels, carbon sinks and bird-slicing wind turbines. Maybe because anything having to do with drilling is considered dirty, even if deep geothermal is carbon-free. The knock on enhanced geothermal systems is the same as for fracking: Critics go on about the risk of seismic activity. But according to Mr. Sharma, that’s a canard. He says seismic activity from fracking wells is “fairly uncommon” and would be even less so with deep geothermal, because the wells are much deeper and you’re merely “circulating fluids” after the initial drilling to create the underground hot reservoir.

It’s early but, like fracking, this technology could change the energy industry over the next 20 to 30 years. Those that can absorb the risk could see huge rewards. Mark Twain once said, “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” Maybe toward hell for both. Drill, baby, drill.

Andy Kessler for the Wall Street Journal

Liberals Choose Racial Catharsis Over Progress for Blacks

By Jason L. Riley for the Journal – June 1, 2021 

President Biden traveled to Tulsa, Okla., Tuesday to mark the 100th anniversary of a race riot that destroyed a prosperous black community and is estimated to have left hundreds of people dead. The trip recalls President Obama’s 2015 trip to Selma, Ala., where police had beaten and tear-gassed peaceful civil-rights protesters 50 years earlier.

These historical milestones are certainly worthy of commemoration. Properly understood, they demonstrate how much racial progress has been made in this country in a relatively short time. Yet for progressives and their friends in the media, the events are also an opportunity to push for racial preferences and bigger government. The goal is to link today’s racial disparities to past wrongs and to play down or ignore the far more significant role that contemporary black behavior plays in social inequality.

When a National Public Radio reporter asked George Patrick Evans, Selma’s mayor, how events of 50 years ago fit into the “current conversation about race relations,” he balked at the question. “I’m not sure how it fits,” Mr. Evans, who is black, replied. “We have a lot more crime going on in 2015 all over this country than we had in 1965. Segregation existed but we didn’t have the crime.” Asked about the city’s high black unemployment rate, he still refused to racialize the issue: “Well, from the standpoint of jobs, we have lots of jobs. It’s just that a lot of people do not have the skill level to man these jobs. And that’s the biggest problem we have.”

In the run-up to Mr. Biden’s Tuesday address, the White House announced several new initiatives to “combat housing discrimination” and increase the amount of federal contracting with minority-owned small businesses. Putting aside the dubious legality of race-based government assistance, it’s worth noting that the black residents of Tulsa 100 years ago didn’t wait around for the federal government to come to their rescue. Within two decades of the riots, homes and churches had been rebuilt, and black-owned businesses again anchored the community.

The political left is much more interested in black suffering than in black accomplishment, but black history is about more than victimization at the hands of whites. It’s also about what blacks have achieved notwithstanding that victimization. And in the first half of the 20th century, long before an expanded welfare state supposedly came to the rescue, blacks accomplished quite a lot. Incomes rose, poverty fell dramatically, and education gaps narrowed. Blacks entered the skilled professions—medicine, law, accounting, engineering, social work—at faster rates in the years preceding the 1960s civil-rights legislation than they did in the years afterward. Among racial and ethnic groups rising from similar circumstances, historians have described the rapidity of these gains as unprecedented.

Black Tulsa residents of a century ago would also be shocked to learn that it is no longer racist white vigilantes but black criminals who pose the bigger threat to safety in black communities. Liberals blame today’s disproportionately high black criminality on the “legacy” of slavery and Jim Crow. But violent crime among blacks declined in the 1940s, then dropped even further in the 1950s, while remaining relatively stable among whites. In other words, blacks living during Jim Crow segregation, and much closer to the era of slavery, experienced significantly lower rates of violent crime and incarceration both in absolute terms and relative to whites.

The Biden administration would much rather discuss white criminal behavior in Tulsa 100 years ago than black criminal behavior in Chicago, Baltimore or St. Louis today. Likewise in his Selma address, Mr. Obama invoked high-profile police shootings, “unfair sentencing” and “voter suppression,” giving the impression that little had changed in the past 50 years, his own election and re-election notwithstanding. Liberals focus on this history of black suffering rather than success because it helps Democrats get elected and activists raise money. What’s less clear is how any of this helps the black underclass improve its situation.

This country’s racist past should never be forgotten or sugarcoated, but neither should it be used as a blanket explanation for present disparities. History teaches us that the progress of blacks and other minorities in the U.S. is not conditioned on racial tolerance. Asian-Americans are one of any number of groups that have faced racism and mob violence. One of the largest mass lynchings in U.S. history targeted Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, and Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps during World War II. Today, both groups outperform whites academically and economically and have for decades.

The left’s focus on the past behavior of whites, while ignoring the present behavior of blacks, might offer some people catharsis, and it might help groups like the NAACP or Black Lives Matter stay relevant. But where is the evidence that such an approach facilitates black upward mobility?

Voter Suppression?

Before we get to today’s topic. I want to say that inflation like you have never experienced will be eating your wallet. There are consequences when a government continues to print money. The money supply is higher now than any time in recent history. It’s going to get grim.

An article with facts to counter continuing lies.

Voter Suppression? As the Duke would have said “Not hardly”.

‘We have classic voter suppression,” declared Kamala Harris last fall, and Democrats keep making the charge. Yet new Census voting data show these claims are as meritless as Donald Trump’s that the election was stolen.

Census figures released Thursday show that turnout in 2020 reached a near-historic high for a presidential election, with 66.8% of voting-age citizens casting ballots—0.9 percentage-points shy of the 1992 record.

Turnout was 5.4 percentage-points higher than in 2016, and 3.2 points higher than in 2008 when Barack Obama drove scores of young people and minorities to the polls. The share of Hispanics (53.7%) and Asians (59.7%) of voting age who cast ballots also hit new peaks. Black voting (62.6%) surpassed any presidential year save 2008 and 2012.

Notably, GOP states with stricter voting rules didn’t experience significantly lower minority turnout. Black turnout was highest in Maryland (75.3%) followed by Mississippi (72.8%) and lowest in Massachusetts (36.4%). Liberals have lambasted Georgia for “purging” voters and restricting ballot access. But Georgia had a smaller black-white voting gap than Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia and California—all states controlled by Democrats.

The states with the biggest black-white voting gaps? Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado. Three allow same-day voter registration (Wisconsin, Iowa, and Colorado), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Good luck trying to discern a link between a state’s voting rules, partisan control and minority turnout.

Perhaps no state has done more to make it easier to vote than California. It allows same-day registration, ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting. Arizona doesn’t allow any of these practices, yet it had higher turnout among all minority groups and smaller voting disparities with whites than California.

The Supreme Court has heard a case this term brought by Democrats challenging Arizona’s ban on ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting. Democrats claim without evidence that Arizona’s rules disproportionately affect minorities and violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The 2020 election shows otherwise.

Democrats also say the Supreme Court unleashed voter suppression by striking down a Voting Rights Act provision that allowed the Justice Department to block changes to voting rules in states with histories of discrimination. But the high minority turnout in states like Georgia and Mississippi reaffirms the Court’s ruling that the provision was outdated.

Democrats know their complaints are false, but they repeat them to energize apathetic voters. The top reasons Americans gave for not voting last fall: Not interested (17.6%), did not like candidates/campaign issues (14.5%), too busy/conflicting schedule (13.1%) and forgot (13%). Few cited an inconvenient polling place (2.6%) or registration problems (4.9%). Differences across racial groups were small.

Myriad factors including the candidates, a person’s political and civic engagement as well as education are bigger determinants of voting than the ease of casting a ballot. Cynicism fed by politicians of both parties may also disillusion would-be voters. The good news is that most voters don’t see voter suppression—and their turnout proves it.

Wall Street Journal – May 4, 2021

If you can handle a long article on what’s wrong with our culture read this one by Mark Steyn Our Increasingly Unrecognizable Civilization

Seven Thoughts

Whatever you believe you might be wrong.
Bill Clinton
Edit, added today: AOC wants a Civilian Climate Corps. (CCC get it) A diverse group of 1.5 million Americans over five years will complete federally-funded projects that help communities respond to climate change. To be paid a minimum of $15 an hour and full health benefits.
Corporations don’t pay taxes. They are vehicles for collecting taxes that are ultimately paid by some combination of customers in higher prices, workers in lower wages, and shareholders in lower returns on investment.
Lower corporate tax rates result in higher wages. Higher after-tax profits mean more corporate investment, which means more productive workers, whom companies can afford to pay more.
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.”
Churchill – The River War
Disaffection, racism and misogyny – Really?
Former President Barack Obama released a statement on the Boulder shooting saying recent killings are being driven by “disaffection, racism and misogyny” — despite Colorado officials identifying the gunman who slaughtered 10 inside a grocery store as mentally ill.
The shooters brother told the Daily Beast he was “very anti-social” and suffered from paranoia and possible mental illness.
But other recent mass shootings were committed out of religious zeal — which went unmentioned by Obama — by radicalized Muslim Americans whose families recently immigrated to the United States.
Barack Obama has been labeled ‘a racial arsonist’ by Tucker Carlson, with the Fox News host accusing the former president of emerging only to foment societal tension. Carlson said that the former president ‘took a break from becoming one of the richest men in the world’ to weigh in.  ‘More than any other contemporary American leader, Barack Obama is a racial arsonist,’ said Carlson. ‘He emerges at our most vulnerable moments to deepen the wounds that divide us. He sows hate.’
“One of the most common fallacies is so old that it has a Latin name from centuries ago: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc—in other words, “After this, therefore because of this.” For example, one of the damning claims against the insecticide DDT, during the successful campaign to get it banned in many parts of the world, was that it caused cancer. In places where DDT had been widely used, cancer rates had in fact gone up. Many of these were countries subject to devastating ravages of malaria, which killed off vast numbers of people. In the wake of using DDT, which killed mosquitoes that transmitted malaria, that disease was drastically reduced, almost to the vanishing point in some places. Now millions of people, who would otherwise have died young, lived long enough to get cancer in their later years. But the DDT did not cause cancer, and its banning led to a resurgence of malaria that took millions of lives around the world.”
— Economic Facts and Fallacies: Second Edition by Thomas Sowell
Annoy The Annointed
Those things that help human beings be independent and self-reliant—whether automobiles, guns, the free market, or vouchers—provoke instant hostility from the anointed.”
— The Thomas Sowell Reader by Thomas Sowell
Shut Up
“What each of these thinkers wanted from authority was an argument-ender that would cut off debate and silence disagreement. They wanted something that, in the liberal view, would shut down politics itself, because politics to liberals meant unending dispute in a diverse society. The liberal side of Burkeanism could eventually come to terms with that picture of politics as argument.”
— Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition by Edmund Fawcett
Plain Reason
“There cannot be anything so disingenuous, so misbecoming a gentleman or anyone who pretends to be a rational creature, as not to yield to plain reason and the conviction of clear arguments.—JOHN LOCKE

I Got Your Clean Energy Right Here

If spending trillions will not get the world green, ask yourself where will the money go? Who will benefit?

This appeared in the Wall Street Journal May 13.

The International Energy Agency, the world’s pre-eminent source of energy information for governments, has entered the political debate over whether the U.S. should spend trillions of dollars to accelerate the energy transition favored by the Biden administration. You know, the plan to use far more “clean energy” and far less hydrocarbons—the oil, natural gas and coal that today supply 84% of global energy needs. The IEA’s 287-page report released this month, “The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions,” is devastating to those ambitions. A better title would have been: “Clean Energy Transitions: Not Soon, Not Easy and Not Clean.”

The IEA assembled a large body of data about a central, and until now largely ignored, aspect of the energy transition: It requires mining industries and infrastructure that don’t exist. Wind, solar and battery technologies are built from an array of “energy transition minerals,” or ETMs, that must be mined and processed. The IEA finds that with a global energy transition like the one President Biden envisions, demand for key minerals such as lithium, graphite, nickel and rare-earth metals would explode, rising by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900% and 700%, respectively, by 2040.

The world doesn’t have the capacity to meet such demand. As the IEA observes, albeit in cautious bureaucratese, there are no plans to fund and build the necessary mines and refineries. The supply of ETMs is entirely aspirational. And if it were pursued at the quantities dictated by the goals of the energy transition, the world would face daunting environmental, economic and social challenges, along with geopolitical risks.

The IEA stipulates up front one underlying fact that advocates of a transition never mention: Green-energy machines use far more critical minerals than conventional-energy machines do. “A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car, and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired power plant,” the report says. “Since 2010, the average amount of minerals needed for a new unit of power generation capacity has increased by 50% as the share of renewables has risen.” That was merely to bring wind and solar to a 10% share of the world’s electricity.

As the IEA notes dryly, the transition is a “shift from a fuel-intensive to a material-intensive energy system.” That means a shift away from liquids and gases whose extraction and transport leave a very light footprint on the land and are transported easily, cheaply and efficiently, and toward big-footprint mines, the energy-intensive transport of massive amounts of rocks and other solid materials, and subsequent chemical processing and refining.

Spooling up production can’t happen overnight. The IEA observes something every miner knows: “It has taken on average over 16 years to move mining projects from discovery to first production.” Start tomorrow and new ETM production will begin only after 2035. This is a considerable problem for the Biden administration’s plan to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.

In what may become the understatement of the decade, the IEA concludes that such long lead times “raise questions about the ability of suppliers to ramp up output if demand were to pick up rapidly.” The conditional “if” is a discordant qualifier given the IEA itself has endorsed, and nearly all its member states have already pledged, a rapid transition. The clear consequence is that “deployment of clean energy technologies is set to supercharge demand for critical minerals.”

Credit the IEA for acknowledging that this will require a global mining boom that leaves in its wake all manner of environmental implications. “Mining and mineral processing require large volumes of water”—a serious issue when around half of global lithium and copper production takes place in areas of high water stress—and “pose contamination risks through acid mine drainage, wastewater discharge and the disposal of tailings.”

The IEA falls backs on the usual admonition that mitigating these risks will require “strengthening international collaboration” for everything from pollution to labor practices. But the history here isn’t promising. IEA data show that expanded ETM mining will occur mainly in countries with “low governance scores” where “corruption and bribery pose major liability risks.”

The IEA may be the first major agency to flag the geopolitical risks of the energy transition, again with copious data. Today the oil-and-gas market is characterized by supply diversity. The top three producers, among them the U.S., account for less than half of world supply. The top three producers for three key ETMs, however, control more than 80% of global supply. Here we find China utterly dominant while the U.S. isn’t even a player.

Well buried in the report is a warning about the “high emissions intensities” of ETMs. Energy use per pound mined is even trending up. This is no arcane nuance. It’s the key hidden factor that determines whether, or to what extent, a clean-energy machine actually reduces carbon-dioxide emissions on net. The IEA data show that, depending on the location and nature of future mines, the emissions from obtaining ETMs could wipe out much or most of the emissions saved by driving electric cars.

Worse yet, radical increases in demand will raise commodity prices, which reverberate throughout the global economy. When it comes to batteries, the IEA notes this could “eat up” the anticipated reductions in manufacturing costs expected from the “learning effects” of increased production. It’s an outcome that runs counter to the narrative of inevitably cheaper green-energy machines over time.

If such a report had come from a pro-hydrocarbon organization, the group would be dismissed, if not canceled outright. Credit the IEA for boldly going where few policy makers have gone before. As President Obama might say, we can’t dig our way out of this problem.

Mr. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a partner in Montrose Lane, an energy-tech venture fund, and author of “The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s,” forthcoming in October.

The First 100 Days

Policies of de facto open borders, blanket amnesties, cancellations of pipelines and fossil fuel leases, planned radical increases in corporate, income, and capital gains taxes, identity politics and Green New Deal rhetoric, along with his appointments and resets in the Middle East, are the most left-wing agendas since [Franklin D. Roosevelt]. Their common denominators are utopian globalism, redistributionism, criticism of America’s founding, traditions, history, and values, and identity-politics tribalism.  VDH

No Education

Ever wonder where the young ones get ideas that defy all logic? From professors. This website features some of the more egregious. Pick a few and see what they think and what they teach instead of knowledge.

Schools want to teach critical race theory rather than accelerated math. They probably are not qualified to teach math.

Reparations? If any group is liable to Blacks for enslaving them it would be the Islamists. And since they enslaved whites as well as blacks, I am due compensation.

Students on Chauvin


Perhaps there is some hope that enough students are getting an education and learning to think critically rather being fed crap. Here are three students.

Liberals and Democrats expressed relief at the verdict, while many conservatives criticized it. Many on both sides seemed to believe they knew the “right verdict” in advance, and then reacted to the jury’s decision accordingly. Few showed any inclination to trust the jury’s deliberation and judgment on their own terms. Since judicial bodies are designed to be authoritative sources, this is highly concerning. If Americans no longer hold any special reverence for institutions of jury and court, the legitimacy of the entire legal system is at risk.—Thomas Brodey, Amherst College, history

Even in the U.S., the rule of law is challenged by the desires of the mob. . . . In Book Eight of “The Spirit of the Laws,” Montesquieu warns that when the people “fall into a spirit of extreme equality,” they “want to manage everything themselves, to debate for the senate, to execute for the magistrate, and to decide for the judges.” . . . After the trial, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned against viewing it as an example of the system working, because it doesn’t and it needs to be torn asunder. But all is not lost. The Constitution establishes appellate jurisdiction and due process. With a renewed commitment from the people, these achievements can be secured.

—Micah Veillon, Georgia Institute of Technology, history, technology and society

(Betting AOC has never heard of Montesquieu)

The 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade had Americans glued to their televisions, witnessing the mercilessness of police commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor. . . . In 2020 the world watched Derek Chauvin murder George Floyd. Alongside three other police officers, Mr. Chauvin pinned Floyd face down, knee on his neck, neglecting to administer aid as Floyd pleaded for his life.

In both cases, the crimes were so inhumane and the evidence so damning, America had to pay attention. . . . America rejoiced when Mr. Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges.

Diana D’Souza, Dartmouth College, government and economics

Big Brother

The Biden administration is considering using private firms to track the online activity of American citizens in order to get around the Fourth Amendment and other laws that protect Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures and surveillance. The report says that the Biden administration wants to monitor “extremist chatter by Americans online” but can’t do so without a warrant, and thinks private firms can get around the legal restrictions.


Saturday Again

Three thoughtful articles this week.

The Democrat Fighting H.R.1

An attempt to federalize state and local elections

By Kimberley A. Strassel

Behind the Democrats’ push for their federal take-over of congressional elections is their insistence that it will sweep away “racist” voting laws and increase voter turnout. No wonder they had no interest this week in hearing from a Democratic legend who knows—and can prove—that they are full of it.

That Democrat is Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s secretary of state. Mr. Gard- ner has been overseeing Granite State voting since Dec. 2, 1976, a week before Stacey Abrams’s 3rd birthday. In December, a bipartisan vote of the New Hampshire Legislature elected him to a 23rd two-year term. The longest-serving secretary of state in U.S. history, he’s an institution, famous for his apolitical commitment to the state’s constitution and its first-in-the-nation primary.

Mr. Gardner was invited (by Republicans) to testify at Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which the Democratic majority titled “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote.” Ms. Abrams got most of the headlines; the media and Senate Democrats barely acknowledged Mr. Gardner’s presence. And no wonder. It isn’t only that Mr. Gardner vehemently opposes his party’s H.R.1 bill, which would federally impose procedures such as early and absentee voting on the states. He also has incontrovertible evidence that the narrative behind it is a crock.

“Just because you make voting easier, it does not raise turnout automatically,” Mr. Gardner told the committee. It can have the opposite result by undermining “the trust and confidence voters have in the process.” He called it a “fine balance.” The New Hampshire evidence makes the case.

By Democrats’ definition, New Hampshire has some of the most “suppressive” voter laws anywhere. In the hearing and in a subsequent interview with me, Mr. Gardner explained that some of these rules are part of the state’s constitution. That document requires that residents show up to vote in person unless they are physically disabled or out of town. That means no mail-in voting. The state constitution requires that the final vote tally for each candidate be publicly declared at each polling place the night of the election after the polls close. This is one reason New Hampshire doesn’t allow early voting, which can cause the counting to stretch for days.

New Hampshire is one of four states that don’t allow provisional ballots—again, because it would derail the public reading of tallies. The state requires voter identification. It also requires in-person registration at a town hall or at a polling place on Election Day; it went out of its way to become exempt from the 1993 federal “motor voter” law that allows registration by motor vehicle offices and other bureaucracies.

Racist? Suppressive? Onerous? Hardly. For the past five presidential elections, New Hampshire has been in the top five states for voter turnout. It’s been third in the past four presidential elections, last year pulling 72.2% of its voting-age population to the polls. That exceeded U.S. turnout by nearly 11 points; in 2016 the figure was 14.5 points.

New Hampshire’s experience aside, Mr. Gardner offered the committee a contrasting (and more honest) history of voting in Oregon, the first state to shift to voting by mail. He recalled that New Hampshire’s secretary of state blows up the claims of ‘voter suppression.’

in the early 1990s, Oregon’s secretary of state pitched him on joining him in that move. Mr. Gardner declined. Before Oregon introduced all-mail voting in 1996, it had routinely been in the top 11 states for voter turnout in presidential elections, and often beat New Hampshire. It has never topped New Hamp- shire since, and in 2012 fell as low as 17th.

The Granite Stater says he believes deeply in making voting straightforward and accessible, and New Hampshire does that in many ways, including same-day registration. “But I’ve seen what ways to make it easier actually work and what ways don’t work,” he says. They aren’t all equal, and H.R.1’s provisions would likely do the opposite of what Democrats claim.

Mr. Gardner also provided the committee a chart showing U.S. voter turnout in presidential elections since 1952. He tells me he doesn’t think it is an accident that five of the six highest-turn- out years were in the 1950s and ’60s, before the beginning of federal efforts to meddle in state elections with laws like the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. People lose trust, and even pride in their unique state systems. (Another factor might be the 26th Amendment, ratified in 1971, which lowered the voting age to 18.)

Mr. Gardner has also issued a statement blasting Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for their “attack” on his state and pointing out that the California system she wants to impose on the country has resulted in her state being ranked 46th, 49th, 49th and 43rd for turnout in the past four presidential elections. “There are 435 members of Congress; New Hampshire has two of them,” he tells me. Just five or six big states “have about half of all the members, and they’ll be writing our voting laws. I’m not telling them how to vote. Why are they telling us in New Hampshire how to vote? Especially given our record.”

And that’s the real question. Democrats’ “Jim Crow” claims are completely at odds with the evidence. If they are going to continue with H.R.1, they should at least be honest that the goal is to rig the system.

The Maxine Waters Problem

When America’s officials desert any standards for public or personal behavior, expect violence.

The emptiest, most meaningless statement in American politics in our time is: “No one condones violence.” That weaselly default word, “condone,” may be one reason the violence now never seems to stop.

It was astonishing in the runup to the guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial to see reports of cities preparing for more riots, not only Minneapolis but New York, Philadelphia, Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Washington. But as with Covid, social distancing from violence is mandatory.

When Rep. Maxine Waters of California (Los Angeles) was asked whether she was inciting violence by telling the demonstrators arrayed around her in Brooklyn Center, Minn., to “get more confrontational,” she responded with the politician’s user-key response that she isn’t “about violence.”

Don’t bother looking, Ms. Waters, but you—like all the rest of us today in the United States—are engulfed in violence: the political violence of street protests, the violence of rising urban crime, the violence of cops either shooting suspects or getting shot by suspects, and the violence committed routinely by homicidal shooters.

In the largest U.S. cities, the number of murders is rising. This is only the fourth month of 2021, and in New York City there have been more than 100 murders, nearly 180 in Chicago, at least 97 in Los Angeles. Minneapolis’s 21st homicide victim, a teenager, was found dead the day of the Chauvin verdict.

These are all individual deaths, but they’ve become banal and barely noted. Urban killing and other crime runs as background noise to the more publicized street protests, cop incidents and serial shooters.

It might seem like a stretch to conflate political riots, violent inner-city crime and individual shooters, but I’m not so sure they aren’t related. Obviously something is spinning out of control in the U.S. Whatever status quo exists to mitigate each of these forms of violence, it isn’t working anymore. It is failing.

There used to be widely shared boundaries on personal and public behavior. Not anymore. A lot of people no longer know how to behave or where the lines are that one shouldn’t cross.

Or, as with last summer’s political street protests, the former lines and limits have been erased. That July’s Democratic National Convention passed without one person addressing the destruction in numerous cities was a big event, a turning point, for U.S. society generally.

We are paying a high price for this transition to few limits. Derek Chauvin is about to pay a very high price for not knowing when to let up on George Floyd.

Most striking is how many people have become unconscious of or psychologically detached from the consequences of what they are doing.

In Wisconsin last weekend, the Kenosha tavern shooter got angry, went home, got a gun, and went back to the tavern to kill three people. What did this formerly free man think was going to happen next?

On the same day, an Austin, Texas, shooter, a former cop, went to an apartment complex, killed three people, and was next seen on TV standing on a highway with his hands on his head while the police put him in handcuffs—basically forever.

How could the post election Washington mob that invaded the Capitol think that was no different than attending a rally on the Mall?

Whatever happened to the thought, “Maybe I don’t want to do this?” Or shouldn’t do this.

Somehow, that internal brake on behavior eroded, and now we too often find ourselves dealing with the grim, out-of-control results. An epitaph is the awful phrase of the mother of the FedEx shooter in Indianapolis, who informed the authorities that she feared her son was going to commit “suicide by cop.”

The system let him fall through the cracks, as it did in 2018 in Parkland, Fla.—as it has with other shooters. Made passive by its own rules, the public mental-health system—the so-called administrative state—has proved incapable of providing basic protections for individuals and communities. Whatever the reasons, the resulting catastrophes proliferate. More gun-control inevitably will be another such administrative failure.

There is a pattern here of misgovernance and misjudgments. Black Lives Matter and its advocates argue, correctly, that the criminal-justice system arrests and jails too many young black men. Their solution is de minimis policing and prosecution, explicitly to repair “systemic racism.”

This is a consequentially dangerous error of judgment. They are absolving young men of personal responsibility for acts of violence against their neighbors.

The reality across the U.S.—on the streets of protest, in the toughest neighborhoods or in the minds of the homicidally deranged—is that the simple and utilitarian concept of behavioral “pushback” has lost consensus support.

Without pushback’s demarcation of limits—whether with accepted norms of behavior, a basic police function, or the credible defense of limits by public officials (not least U.S. presidents)—the future will bring more crude violence. Which no one will condone.

This was the original meaning behind the idea of maintaining social guardrails. They’ve been taken down—again.

Appeared in the April 22, 2021, WSJ

The Left Brightens GOP Midterm Chances

Democrats won’t have a leg to stand on if they keep shooting themselves in the foot.

A perception that’s long haunted Democrats—that they’re antipolice and weak on law-and-order—hurt them in 2020 and is likely to inflict even more damage on their electoral prospects in 2022.

Take Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D., N.Y.), who’s charged with protecting his party’s House majority as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. That’s a difficult job for any party in possession of the White House; since World War II, the average loss in the House for a president’s party in his first midterm has been about 28 seats. If that happens next year, Republicans will have 241 seats to the Democrats’ 194 and Nancy Pelosi will be out as Speaker.

But Mr. Maloney made his task more difficult during a recent interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The host, a former GOP congressman who spends most of his airtime attacking Republicans, lobbed a softball. How would the DCCC chair “counteract” Republican charges that Democrats favor “defunding the police, cancel culture, socialism” and “packing the court”?

Mr. Maloney offered a three-word response: “lies and demagoguery.” He then veered off into hammering the need to emphasize racial justice, before calling Republican accusations “cheap political points” aimed at “whipping up white resentment.” The New Yorker finished off by decrying “racist voting laws” and saying we can’t go “back to the Jim Crow era.”

Mr. Scarborough was taken aback by Mr. Maloney’s inartful reply and asked again, “What do you say” to Republican arguments, for example, that “Democrats wanted to defund the police?” The congressman repeated that Democrats are “fighting for racial justice” while GOP favors what he termed “racist voting laws.” He triumphantly declared that Republicans “got their butt kicked in November,” and followed up with a diatribe about “the ugliest racism and Jim Crow era laws.” Mr. Maloney then demanded: “What the hell is the Republican Party doing?”

When Mr. Scarborough asked a third time how Democrats would respond to GOP claims, Mr. Maloney accused him of “repeating a Republican talking point for reasons I don’t know.”

Here’s the question: What in Mr. Maloney’s rant would convince a single swing voter to support Democrats in 2022? And that wasn’t the end of the Democrats shooting their own feet.

Last week, Michigan Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted: “Policing in our country is inherently and intentionally racist. . . . No more policing, incarceration, and militarization.” The police chief in Ms. Tlaib’s hometown, Detroit, called for her resignation, but the representative’s fellow Democrats only mumbled. All Speaker Pelosi could manage was to assert that not all police can be painted “with the same brush,” while White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Ms. Tlaib’s tweet was “not the president’s view.” Which do you think swing voters will recall more readily: Ms. Tlaib’s screed or the milquetoast reactions of the speaker and White House?

Then on Saturday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) told protesters that if Derek Chauvin wasn’t found guilty, “we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice. . . . We’ve got to get more confrontational” so “they know that we mean business.”

Mrs. Pelosi defended Ms. Waters, saying the Californian didn’t need to apologize, as her call for confrontation was “in the manner of the civil-rights movement.” The second-ranking House Democrat, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, said “I don’t think she meant violence.” That won’t fly with swing district voters, especially if Republican candidates denounce all violent protests.

Even President Biden and his White House seem tone-deaf in ways that’ll drag his party down in the midterms. After Mr. Biden in a post golf gaggle with reporters Saturday used the word “crisis” to describe the southern border, he was corrected Monday by his press secretary. Ms. Psaki said Mr. Biden wasn’t referring to “children coming to our border” when he used the forbidden word “crisis,” but to conditions in Central America, where the “influx of migrants” was coming from.

Most Americans see what’s happening on our border even through the Democrats’ disingenuous spin. A sophisticated criminal enterprise is reaping millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking to make their way into the U.S. illegally. It’s overwhelming border security, but the Biden administration is afraid to call it a crisis, not wanting to give offense to the left.

But progressives can’t carry the party through the midterms. A campaign dominated by statements such as Ms. Waters and Ms. Tlaib’s will be a twofer, driving GOP turnout and shifting swing voters to the right. Republicans must do more to win, starting with offering their own agenda. But so far Democrats are making it easy to portray their party as too extreme for everyone right of Marx.

Appeared in the April 22, 2021, WSJ