Friday, October 23, 2020

Fabulous news

Jordan Peterson is back! Looking and sounding good.

There has been a great outpouring on love for him online which I am delighted to join


Conservatism Now Means Defeating the Establishment

Look around you at the smoldering ruins of American society, and it’s clear that you owe our garbage Establishment nothing.

Not loyalty.

Not respect.

Not obedience.


It has failed you. And now it is dead to you.

Tear it all down.

Rip out its rotten foundations.

Burn the poisonous debris.

Rebuild it on a foundation of the Constitution.

There was once a social contract out there that we all thought we all signed on to. You know the outlines of the implicit deal. We agreed to give up certain prerogatives and to provide prestige and prosperity to those people – who became the Establishment – who would run our institutions for us. For example, we outsourced our right to avenge ourselves to the justice system and (except for immediate self-defense) to keep order to the police. We would respect and trust the objective, neutral truthtellers, called “journalists,” who would gather and disseminate the news and information we needed to be active citizens. And, in a formal way under our Constitution, we agreed to give government officials enumerated powers and to be bound by the rules implemented via due process and limited by the Bill of Rights.

It was imperfect, as all human endeavors are, but on the whole it worked.

Until now.

Our institutions are old. Most date from just after World War II, or even further back. How about the example of academia? For the most part, in terms of practice, the only major difference between the typical college class today and one a century ago is that the person lecturing the hungover sophomores knows which bathroom to use. What is different is that it doesn’t work anymore – those mush-minded teens are not learning the info they need to be citizens, both because what they are being fed is rancid propaganda and because there are no standards anymore. Oh, and it costs more than the average American makes in a year to get young Kaden or Ashleigh that Collectivist Pottery bachelor’s degree.

And because the institutions are old, the geniuses and innovators who founded those institutions are long dead. Our institutions are run by people who didn’t build them. They inherited them, and like the vast majority of heirs, they are screw-ups. Take a look at the Kennedys if you’re unclear on how generations devolve over time. JFK captained PT 109, became president, and scored with Marilyn Monroe. This generation of Kennedys mostly scores dope. As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds says, we have the worst ruling class in American history.

Moreover, technology is disrupting the comfy university scam. I like to take long walks and listen to Audible. I like Roman history – which is super relevant right now and which has very much influenced my upcoming novel in the People's Republic series – and for about $14 I can listen to entire graduate-level courses on the subject by very best professors in the world. Who needs Harvard – except insecure people who can’t not let drop that they went to Harvard within 30 seconds of meeting you?

Other institutions have also been disrupted by technology. Newspapers still call themselves “newspapers,” but technology has eliminated the “papers” part, while their gross political partisanship has eliminated the “news” part. Hollywood used to be modeled on a few thousand big rooms showing moving, talking pictures, but technology has changed that to a few million small rooms showing moving, talking pictures. While the ability to make content has increased exponentially as the price of production has dropped, Hollywood still tries to maintain control by centralizing distribution via Netflix, Hulu and so on. This is true across the spectrum of institutions. They are trying to maintain the status quo despite their institutional obsolescence because the status quo means control. The institutions’ focus is no longer on doing the jobs those institutions were supposed to do. It is on preserving the institutions in their current, corrupt and inept form, and thereby the power of the corrupt, inept elite that runs those institutions.

What’s this mean? It means that we cannot count on the institutions to do their job – that is, to do those things we need them to do – because their real job is now perpetuating their operators’ grift.

Take the FBI, please – take it to wherever J. Edgar Hoover is buried, and even he’d be freaked out and spinning in his grave and getting all tangle in his burial gown. The FBI used to be the the gold standard, the crème de la crème of law enforcement. And, instead of being Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., rounding up mobsters, bank robbers, and commies, it’s a bunch of fugly geeks awkwardly boinking each other when they aren’t trying to frame the president. The FBI got the Hunter Biden computer about a year ago, a computer full of emails about the Democrat nominee’s crack-curious son’s adventures in influence peddling with Ukrainian robber barons and the Chi-Coms, and if some computer repair guy in New Jersey hadn’t thought to keep a copy of the contents the FBI would have deep-sixed the hard drive just like it did Weiner’s laptop in service of their Establishment masters. In fact, leakers are leaking that it’s the RUSSIANS at it again in order to actively and willfully cover up the biggest corruption story in American history. But hey, rest easy knowing the Eff Bee Eye is all over any garage door pull knots that freak out losing race car drivers.

Law enforcement is supposed to protect us by enforcing the law. Now it lets off rioters but will go gangbusters on you should you defend your family from leftist savages. We have seen that there are always cops who will choose their pension over their duty and bust your church or synagogue for illegal praying. The elite needs minions to do its dirty work and shamefully some doughnut-gobblers have proven themselves only too eager to obey. And even if you do manage to demonstrate that your prosecution is so corrupt that even our garbage DOJ wants to dismiss it, an Establishment judge won’t let you and an appeals court won’t make him even though the law says they must.

You cannot avail yourself of the law. The Establishment, which is supposed to uphold it, ignores it when it limits them and abuses it to restrict you. That seems problematic in the long term.

And then there's the media – well, we knew it was trash, but the last week has even boggled the minds of the most cynical critics. A few weeks ago, there was a collective spasm over the “losers and suckers” claims by four anonymous sources that were refuted by 25 on-the-record sources. This week, there was hard evidence of Biden business badness and the mainstream media swung into action to actively deny and excuse the evidence. The biggest corruption story of all time – a vice president running an influence peddling ring for foreigners – and the media’s response is to tell us there’s nothing to see. And then, when the tech fascists decided to suppress the news, the media actively supported this censorship.

The Establishment has failed. It failed to meet its most basic obligations. What’s this mean?

That means you’re free.

You owe it nothing, not respect, deference, or obedience.

So don’t give it any of these.

See, the Establishment succeeds in spite of its manifest incompetence and greed because of inertia. It perpetuates because we go along with it as if everything is normal. It counts on us thinking what we are witnessing are merely the occasional blips and problems inherent in any human endeavor instead of the systemic failure that it demonstrates. This rot is real and dramatic and, untreated, will be fatal to our country. Remember the Romans? You start changing the rules and sooner or later instead of a Republic you have an emperor who marries his horse.

Conservatism is no longer about conserving; it’s about ripping apart the whole corrupt system and overthrowing the garbage Establishment.


America Is Drowning in the Lies of the Left

There are conservatives who lie, and there are liberals who lie, but both conservatism and liberalism hold truth to be a supreme value.

This is not true for leftism. Truth is simply not a left-wing value.

Lying is to the left what breathing is to biological life. That is why the father of modern leftism, Vladimir Lenin, named the Soviet communist newspaper “Pravda,” the Russian word for “truth.” Truth is what a leftist says it is. It is not an objective reality.

The left has always relied on lies to gain and retain power. This is as true today in the United States as it was in the Soviet Union.

Here are examples of lies Americans are told they must hold lest they be removed from social media, shamed, ostracized and even fired from their jobs.

In no order of importance:

Men menstruate. ACLU tweet, Nov. 19, 2019: “Men who get their periods are men. Men who get pregnant and give birth are men.” If this is not a lie, the word has no meaning.

It is fair when males who identify as females compete in girls’ and women’s sports. In Connecticut, two biological men who are trans women have combined to win 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017. According to The Wall Street Journal, “19 state athletic conferences … allow athletes to compete based solely on their expressed gender identity.” No one with a passing acquaintance with truth could say this is fair.

To be colorblind is to be racist. This left-wing assertion is the opposite of the basic liberal ideal to end racism: to have everyone colorblind, meaning we are all to view and judge people solely as individuals irrespective of race. “Colorblind is racist” is not just a lie; it is an Orwellian lie. But it is actually normative on the left. See, for example, “Color-Blindness Is Counterproductive” (The Atlantic, Sept. 13, 2015) or the book “Colorblind Racism” by Meghan Burke, associate professor of sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University.

The Trump 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to win the election. This lie has permeated the American media for more than three years. There was never any truth to it. But those on the left — the Democratic Party and the mainstream media — found it a very useful claim, and they are doing so again in the 2020 campaign.

President Donald Trump said there were “very fine” Nazis. This is “the Charlottesville lie.” First, the media spread it, and now Joe Biden has run with it, claiming repeatedly that this was the reason he decided to run for president. Of course, what Biden said is a lie; he has wanted to run for president all his life. At Trump’s press conference on Aug. 15, 2017, right after the Charlottesville march and demonstrations, Trump made it clear he wasn’t referring to the neo-Nazis when he said there were “very fine people on both sides.” He told the press, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.” He was referring to the two sides at the protest over statues. See the video “The Charlottesville Lie” by former CNN reporter Steve Cortes at

Donald Trump is a dictator. This lie has been told since before Trump was elected. It is repeated by virtually every left-wing commentator and politician. See, for example, “10 Ways Trump Is Becoming a Dictator, Election Edition” by Harvard professor Stephen M. Walt (Foreign Policy, Sept. 8, 2020) or “Donald Trump Wants To Be a Dictator” by Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland (The Guardian, July 5, 2019). It is a lie. The fact is no conservative American politician is a likely dictator because one of the fundamental goals of American conservatives is to shrink the power of the government. A dictatorship in America is far more likely to come from the left, which seeks to massively increase government power. For example, as reported in Politico on Aug. 21, 2020, Biden has already pledged, “I would shut it down,” referring to the American economy and Americans’ freedom of movement to combat the COVID-19 virus.

America is a racist society. This is the greatest national lie since the medieval blood libel, in which Christians accused Jews of slaughtering Christian children to use their blood to bake matzo for Passover. America is, in fact, the least racist country in history. That’s why, for example, there are so many race hoaxes; the real thing is so hard to find. Jews didn’t need to concoct anti-Jewish hoaxes to prove there was widespread anti-Semitism in Germany in the 1930s.

Ferguson was an example of racist police brutality. The Ferguson lie is frequently cited by the left as an example of police racism, including by figures as prominent as Barack Obama. Yet, a grand jury, which included black jurors, declined to indict the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black man, because Brown had attacked the officer, sought to steal his gun and was in the process of a second attack when he was killed. The claim that Brown had said, “Hands up, don’t shoot” was also a left-wing lie. Brown never said it. See the PragerU video with Larry Elder.

America was founded in 1619, not 1776. This is the infamous New York Times lie for which the Times was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. This is the same prize awarded to the same newspaper in 1932 for its horrific lie that there was no famine in Ukraine when, in fact, Joseph Stalin was deliberately starving about 5 million Ukrainians to death. Leading liberal scholars of American history have condemned the Times’ rewriting of American history — that the American Revolution was fought in order to preserve slavery — as a lie.

These are just some of the left-wing lies increasing numbers of Americans believe. America’s survival depends on Americans — especially young Americans — recognizing them as such.




Thursday, October 22, 2020

Students who catch Covid may be saving lives

It is counterintuitive but the current spread of Covid may on balance be the least worst thing that could happen now. In the absence of a vaccine, and with no real prospect of eradicating the disease, the virus spreading among younger people, mostly without hitting the vulnerable, is creating immunity that will eventually slow the epidemic. The second wave is real, but it is not like the first. It would be a mistake to tackle it with compulsory lockdowns (even if called ‘circuit breakers’), whether national or local. The cure would be worse than the disease.

If you cannot extinguish an epidemic at the start, the best strategy is for the healthy to get infected first. Lockdowns ensure that the vulnerable and the healthy both get infected with similar probability. School closures, concluded a recent paper in the British Medical Journal, can paradoxically lead to more deaths by prioritising the protection of the least vulnerable.

In July the World Health Organisation said full lockdowns could be ‘the only option’ to prevent resurgence. But last week Dr David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy for Covid-19, told Andrew Neil on Spectator TV that ‘We in the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus… We really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method.’

Back in March when the pandemic first poleaxed the country, I argued in these pages that ‘there are no good outcomes from here. Many people will die prematurely. Many will lose their jobs. Many businesses will go under. Many people will suffer bereavement, loneliness and despair, even if they dodge the virus.’ That is still true. There is no course that involves zero suffering. It’s a question of minimising it.

This time, unlike in the spring, the virus has been mostly spreading among students. Places where more than 25 per cent of the population are university students have seven times the positive test rate of the rest of the country. Among students the infection is mostly asymptomatic or mild. As of last week, 70,000 students in the United States had tested positive with just three hospitalisations (one released) and no deaths.
By contrast, the effect of lockdowns on the mental health of young people is huge. Psychologists report that anxiety and depression have sky-rocketed, especially among the young, so that the highest mental impact is being felt among those least likely to die. It’s not Covid that is causing this, but lockdown and recession.

As Professor Karol Sikora puts it: ‘It’s clear that mass testing at universities has uncovered a huge amount of positive results that are largely behind some of the higher numbers. These are already on the way down in some areas. It’s not unreasonable to question whether this has been properly taken into account.’

Consider my home city of Newcastle. Roughly 50,000 students moved into Newcastle last month. On 3 October Northumbria University announced that there were 770 positive tests among its students, and just 78 of those showed any symptoms at all: that’s 90 per cent showing none. In the seven days up to 5 October, the Evening Chronicle reports, there were 609 positive tests (I refuse to call them cases) in the city centre, Shieldfield and Heaton Park — areas where students live. In Scotswood, a short distance away and where few students also live, there were 16.

It is the ability of this virus to be spread by those not showing symptoms, yet also sometimes to kill, that makes it so hard to control and so dangerous. Back in March the disease was spreading mostly within hospitals and care homes, among highly vulnerable people and their carers. Policy was based on the false assumption that most people would show symptoms, so carers could go from home to home without testing. That was a big mistake, as the medically trained entrepreneur Hugh Osmond kept telling me at the time: many fatal cases of Covid were caught after going into hospital for something else.

Locking down the whole country, schools, pubs, offices and all, did little to prevent that tragedy: health workers were not locked down. But it prevented the growth of natural immunity that happens to some extent with most viruses and thus probably made a second wave inevitable.

At the time I thought it was nonetheless necessary because of the dangerous nature of the virus. As I wrote here in March: ‘The government is now effectively admitting that even if drastic curfews lead to successive waves of the disease, that may be the least worst outcome. It is still a daunting prospect. Successive waves mean successive curfews and successive body blows to the economy. If we clamp down hard now and the infection rate drops, then we might be able, slowly and cautiously, to restart the economy in the summer but have to clamp down again when the virus resurges. Each time we do this, it will be more painful.’

Yet Sweden shows that the second wave could have been largely avoided. At the end of March, on the very weekend Derbyshire police tried to shame solitary hikers in the Peak District back indoors with drones and snide tweets, the Guardian described how ‘Malmo’s café terraces do a brisk trade. On the beach and surrounding parkland at Sibbarp there were picnics and barbecues this weekend; the adjoining skate park and playground were rammed.’ The New York Times called Sweden a ‘pariah state’. The Sun headline read: ‘Sweden’s refusal to enter coronavirus lockdown leaving schools and pubs open “will lead to catastrophe”, doctors warn.’

It did not. Sweden, a slightly more urbanised society than Britain, suffered almost as high a death rate in the first wave — it likewise failed to protect care homes — but is seeing almost no second wave. More to the point, its economy is in much better shape and therefore so are people’s lives. It ran a budget surplus in August and its economy is forecast to shrink 3.3 per cent this year compared with 5.8 per cent for the UK. Had we protected hospitals and care homes while keeping schools and pubs open, the chances are we too would be much better off.

Or look at London, where just 34 people died of Covid in the first week of October, compared with more than 1,000 a week in early April. There isn’t much of a second wave there, despite — or because of — demonstrations and crowded tube trains during the summer. This is probably because London’s first wave was already well advanced when lockdown started. Given widespread immune responses to the four kinds of corona-caused common colds, and the skewed pattern of viral infection, whereby a few super-spreaders cause most of the new cases, it looks increasingly as if the virus is already finding it harder to spread in the capital this time round.

The alternative to lockdown is not ‘letting the virus rip’, as Boris Johnson puts it. The Great Barrington Declaration, signed by over 20,000 doctors and medical scientists (but disgracefully censored by Google’s search engine), calls for focused protection: help the elderly and vulnerable stay at home, but let the young and invulnerable go out and achieve immunity for us all, while earning a living. The extraordinary truth is that a student catching Covid might be saving Granny’s life rather than threatening it.


Democrat Ballot Harvesting in California Backfiring

It is perfectly legal in the State of California for Democrats to send campaign workers and volunteers door-to-door to collect absentee ballots and bring them to the clerk’s office to be counted. Democrats have made an art form of ballot harvesting and credit their efforts with flipping 4 House seats in Orange County.

The individual harvesting the ballots doesn’t have to identify himself or sign his name on each ballot. Some workers have handed in hundreds of absentee ballots they collected. Republicans were at a distinct disadvantage.

But then the California GOP started their own ballot harvesting efforts. They put absentee ballot drop boxes at gun ranges, churches, and GOP offices.

This was not what the Democrats had in mind at all. They only want to make it easier for Democrats to vote. So the Democratic secretary of state and the Democratic attorney general sent cease-and-desist letters to several local GOP chairmen telling them to stop because the drop boxes weren’t “official.”

Republicans gleefully told the Democratic officials to go hang.

Wall Street Journal:

“We believe that temporarily holding [vote by mail] ballots in a locked box at a church or local Party headquarters is more secure than a Party volunteer or paid operative holding harvested ballots collected from voters at a senior center in the back seat of his or her car—though both are legal,” GOP leaders wrote.

They’re right. The GOP’s ballot depositories don’t threaten election security any more than Democrats’ door-to-door operations. Both entail voters entrusting their ballots to third parties. Why are Democratic and union canvassers more trustworthy than churches and gun shops? The GOP drop boxes also present less of a public-health risk.

Democrats can’t complain that the boxes aren’t “secure” (as if they care about how “secure” their own drop boxes are). The GOP boxes are locked and supervised just like “official” drop boxes. What’s really happening is a big dose of hypocrisy.

Republicans noted that Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda, who faces a tough re-election fight, has encouraged supporters to establish “neighborhood hubs” outside their homes to collect ballots. This didn’t stop Mr. Rouda from demanding an investigation into the GOP drop boxes and implying that Republicans may be discarding Democratic votes.

Meantime, Democrats are as usual accusing Republicans of voter suppression. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2022 re-election campaign blasted out a message declaring “the GOP is terrified of losing—so they’re willing to lie, cheat, and threaten our democracy all for the sake of gaining power.” When Democrats harvest ballots, they are increasing voter access. When Republicans do it, it’s cheating. Glad we cleared that up.

Ballot harvesting seems like a good idea on the surface but there are six ways from Sunday to commit fraud. There has to be a balance between ballot security and ease of access so that everyone who wants to can vote safely and securely. Democrats don’t want balance and don’t believe that fraud is a problem. Using ballot harvesting, it wouldn’t take much organization or intelligence to alter the outcome of an election by committing fraud.



Supreme Court will hear Trump appeal to exclude illegal immigrants from census (CNBC)

Hypocritical obstructionist Nancy Pelosi gives Trump 48-hour deadline to compromise on COVID relief (The Daily Wire)

NBC debate moderator partisan cheat took father to Obama's Christmas party and family donated thousands to Democrats including Joe Biden (Washington Examiner) | Video surfaces of moderator "tipping off" Hillary Clinton campaign on interview questions in 2016 (The Daily Wire)

Biden town hall attendees identified as ex-Obama speechwriter, wife of prominent Democrat (Fox News)

Chris Coons says his "mind is open" to packing the Supreme Court (Washington Examiner)

Biden granddaughter "couldn't agree more" that Joe will implement "agenda of the far left" (The National Pulse)

Ten counties account for 22% of COVID-19 fatalities, 11% of population (The Daily Signal)

Study: 1/3 of excess COVID-19 deaths were not due to the coronavirus (Washington Examiner)

NYPD woes mount: Patrol chief's sudden retirement part of "troubling" exodus (Fox News)

Record number of Seattle cops leave force in September (The Washington Free Beacon)

Protesters fill casket outside nursing home with thousands of copies of Andrew Cuomo's new book (Washington Examiner)

Time to pay the piper: Chicago ranks "rattiest" city for sixth year in a row (actual rats, not politicians) (Washington Examiner)

Feds withheld $4 million from 9/11 health program over NYC debts (National Review)

After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S. (Reuters)

Midwest derecho in August was historically costly, with damage reaching $7.5B (Fox Business)

Mexico's corrupt former defense minister arrested in Los Angeles (The New York Times)

China threatens to detain Americans if U.S. prosecutes Chinese scholars (The New York Times)

Gretchen Whitmer caught with controversial sign after claiming "lock her up" is inciting "terrorism" (The Daily Wire)

Policy: Biden's economic policy will kill two million jobs (The Washington Free Beacon)

Policy: How not to respond to alarming social media censorship (Foundation for Economic Education)




Wednesday, October 21, 2020

2020 US election: Big Tech pulls on censor’s jackboots for the left

The biggest, and long term the most consequential, story of the US election so far is the shocking decision by Twitter and Facebook to outright censor any story promoting the New York Post’s exclusive revelation of emails concerning Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China.

This grotesque decision by Big Tech is the most shocking breach of democratic norms the US has seen in decades. Here is a looming threat of authoritarianism in America, but it doesn’t come from Donald Trump.

Trump is not an authoritarian. At worst, he’s an administratively incompetent populist very ragged around the edges. He does not have the support of most media, doesn’t control congress, the military, the intelligence agencies, the courts, state governments. He is constrained and hemmed in on all sides. Nor is he popular.

The threat of authoritarianism from the left liberal ideological establishment, however, is strong and growing. Big Tech political censorship is both a symptom, and an accelerant, of this.

If Biden wins the presidency, and the Democrats win the Senate and hold the House of Representatives, this will concentrate power massively. And it will validate ideological coercion.

It would mean the left liberal movement, with Democrats far left of where they were under Barack Obama, will hold executive government, the legislature, the administrative state, the political sympathies of the leadership of the intelligence agencies, the chief centres of cultural power in Hollywood and most of the media, and now the massive, coercive power of Big Tech companies.

All that power would be propelled by immense self righteousness and a determination that people who seriously disagree are not just wrong but commit a crime against human decency.

A few years ago, I was one of countless commentators worldwide calling on Big Tech companies to clean up social media. By this, almost everyone meant ending expressions of violent hatred, of incitements to violence, of foul abuse, of incitements to direct ­action against individuals.

No one envisaged direct partisan censorship of mainstream political debate.

Big Tech companies have long had a cultural left liberal bias and made it difficult for conservatives to have big success on social media. But I don’t think their political convictions run very deep, as their long history of co-operation with the Communist Party government in China suggests.

However, they are expert at sniffing the wind and avoiding efforts to reform their unaccountable power. They have taken a big bet on the Biden administration, and on the left generally.

Censoring the New York Post stories is truly outrageous. The Post revealed emails that it claims came from the hard drive of a laptop that it says Hunter Biden left at a repair shop and never picked up. The Post is a mainstream newspaper, bearing all the constraints of such an institution.

It can be sued, it can suffer meaningful reputational damage, readers can turn away from it. It should not be censored.

Twitter and Facebook banned the Post from promoting its story, and then banned anyone else from linking to it, unless of course they were condemning it (this is truly Big Tech learning from the Chinese state on social media policy) on grounds that the story was perhaps unreliable, or may come from hacked documents.

This is a double standard so grotesque as to be beyond parody.

A million stories about Trump have been printed in mainstream media and promoted all over ­social media which have come from sources later discredited. The stories often turned out to be untrue. Big Tech companies had no objection to any of those.

I am not concerned with the substance of the emails here, or even in a sense with the Biden-Trump contest. But citizens who value democracy in any Western society should object in the strongest way to Big Tech deciding it can censor politics and interfere to promote the fashionable ideological view and exclude the side of politics it doesn’t like.

Nothing is more likely to destroy faith in democracy and create eventually a huge anti-democratic backlash. This is the real outrage of 2020.


Sick Britons avoid hospitals, driving up deaths at home during the pandemic

London: People are dying at home from cancer, heart disease, dementia and other illnesses in unusually high numbers as the sick avoid hospitals and nursing homes despite assurances the health system has capacity to care for them.

New figures reveal some 116,282 people died in their own homes in England and Wales between January and early September - about 27,000 more than the five-year average.

However, COVID-19 accounted for just 2490 of those 27,000 "excess" deaths.

There was a significant spike in excess deaths in hospitals, care homes and private homes while the pandemic raged in March, April and May. In the months since, excess deaths in hospitals and nursing homes have actually fallen below the five-year average but fatalities at home have remained at levels well above normal.

Deaths in private homes for men suffering heart diseases are up 25.9 per cent in England while heart-related deaths in hospitals decreased by 22.4 per cent. There has also been a 53.5 per cent increase in deaths at home from prostate cancer.

Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's disease among women are 75.0 per cent above average in private homes in England but 40.6 per cent lower in hospitals.

The National Health Service was not overwhelmed during the first outbreak but there was a waiting time blowout for cancer treatment and other services such as elective surgery. The system has had plenty of capacity over summer and still does despite the UK's worsening second wave.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday warned the virus was again "on the offensive" in the United Kingdom and deaths were now doubling every 12 days.

"The best way to protect cancer treatment and all the other treatments in the NHS is to keep the prevalence of coronavirus down," he said. "We are doing everything in our power to suppress the virus, support the economy, support education and the NHS until a vaccine is available. That is the right strategy: charting a path that allows for the greatest economic and social freedom while protecting life."

The excess death data was released by the Office for National Statistics as Wales announced a strict-two week lockdown in a bid to curb a second wave of infections.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has responsibility for England's strategy, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland run their own health and education systems.

Restaurants, bars, cafes, non-essential shops, libraries and tourism attractions will close for a fortnight under a "fire break" strategy outlined by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Primary schools will stay open but students above year eight in secondary schools will have to stay home from this Friday.

"This fire break is the shortest we can make it, but that means that it will have to be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus," Drakeford said.

The Wales strategy is among the strictest to be introduced in Europe during its second wave.

Ireland has also announced tough COVID-19 constraints, going to a "level five" lockdown and shutting non-essential retail, limiting restaurants and pubs to take away service and telling people not to travel more than five kilometres from their home.

Johnson has previously cited the need for people to continue their usual medical and hospital appointments as a reason for not ordering a new lockdown in England.

Doctors believe the government's pledge to 'protect the NHS' during Britain's first wave blocked or discouraged people from accessing life-saving diagnoses and treatments in public hospitals.

There are also concerns that major outbreaks in care homes earlier this year have caused families to keep their elderly relatives out of those homes for as long as the pandemic continues.

The ONS figures suggest people were reluctant to use these facilities even when the daily number of infections plummeted over summer. In July - when the spread of the virus was at its lowest in Britain - some 10,936 people died at home in England compared to the five-year average of 8358. Just 102 of those people died from COVID-19.

People aged 70 to 89 accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the overall excess deaths in England and Wales


Soros-Funded Prosecutors Put ‘Social Justice’ Above Law and Order, Analysts Say

Self-styled progressive political activists who win election as district attorneys with financial support from wealthy donors have made “social justice” initiatives more important than public safety, legal analysts say.

George Soros, the Hungarian American billionaire investor, stands out as the big donor behind a super PAC that helped elect district attorneys who have overseen a dramatic increase in crime.

The Justice and Public Safety super PAC feeds into a larger network of local political action committees. Some of the district attorneys elected with its support have attracted media attention for their antipathy toward law enforcement.

“I refuse to call them progressives,” Charles “Cully” Stimson, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said in an interview with The Daily Signal, adding: “There’s nothing progressive about what they’re doing.”

In July, Fox News reported on St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who benefited during her 2016 campaign from advertising funded through Justice and Public Safety in her 2016 campaign.

Conservatives criticized Gardner for announcing her intention to pursue felony charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who stood outside their St. Louis home with firearms in June as Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched past after breaking through a gate.

A grand jury indicted the McCloskeys on weapons and evidence-tampering charges Oct. 6, USA Today and other outlets reported.

Gardner, a Democrat who previously was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, assumed office as circuit attorney in January 2017. She reportedly benefited from more than $190,000 in contributions from the Missouri Justice and Public Safety PAC.

The Daily Signal left a voicemail seeking comment from Gardner’s office, but had not received a response by publication time.

‘Huge Contributions’
The Soros-backed effort to alter America’s established criminal justice system by investing in local district attorneys appears to have been in motion for at least five years, according to Capital Research Center, a Washington-based group that traces how foundations and charities spend their money.

Over those years, Soros has spent more than $17 million on district attorney races, among other local races, in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona, California, and New York.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, Soros has helped to elect progressive prosecutors not only in major metropolitan areas, but also in the suburbs.

In contrast to conventional political action committees, Justice and Public Safety and other super PACs may absorb unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations, and individuals such as Soros and then spend the money to advocate or oppose political candidates. Unlike conventional political action committees, super PACs are not allowed to make direct donations to candidates.

But as Shane Devine, an investigator with Capital Research Center, explains in a recent article, the “huge contributions” put into circulation by Soros through his PAC “makes it almost impossible for other candidates to compete because district attorney elections are on such a small scale.”

And, Devine wrote, the campaigns that get such PAC money typically “do not need to raise millions to run local ads and mobilize voters.”

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat, benefited from about $1.7 million spent by the Soros-backed Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety PAC during the 2017 campaign.

Since Krasner took office in January 2018, aggravated assault with a firearm increased by 18%, and, in one year, violent crime overall rose 5% and robberies climbed by 7%, according to a report in June from the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit based in Alexandria, Virginia.

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund compiled figures for its report, titled “Prosecutorial Malpractice: Progressive Prosecutors, Public Safety, and Felony Outcomes,” that the organization says show “dozens of experienced frontline prosecutors have been fired or resigned under Krasner’s watch.”

What is the result of Krasner’s follow-through on his campaign commitments to alter criminal justice practices?

“Violent crime in Philadelphia is out of control,” Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told The Daily Signal




Tuesday, October 20, 2020

UK: A lockdown on dissent

The attempt to shut down debate on Covid infantilises the public.

It’s not just pubs, restaurants and gyms that are being shut down in response to an increasing number of people testing positive for coronavirus. Debate is being curtailed, too. When the government’s chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer held a press conference last month to show off graphs with exponentially rising red lines, they left without taking a single question. Science had spoken: there was nothing more to discuss.

Yet, from the time news first broke of the Covid-19 pandemic, the science has been anything but settled. There have been protracted public disputes about the role of children in spreading the virus, the efficacy of face masks, the benefits of ventilators, how long people have immunity post-infection, and even the nature of coronavirus symptoms. There is still no real consensus on how best to respond to this new threat.

Back in April and May, despite knowing that much of the science was uncertain, the overwhelming majority of people kept to the strict lockdown rules. But now, as some parts of the UK face a return to full lockdown, it seems government ministers and their advisers, as well as many journalists, have decided that the public can no longer be trusted with uncertainty and we must be protected from any disputes over ‘the science’.

Last month, following the Whitty and Vallance fear-fest, a group of 32 scientists – led by Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan from Oxford University and Professor Karol Sikora, former chief of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme – penned an open letter calling on the government to reconsider its approach to suppressing the virus. They warned that lockdowns led to ‘significant harm across all age groups’ and asked the government to focus instead on more targeted measures. In response, they were accused of ‘spoiling for a fight with the establishment’. Sections of the media were criticised for giving their views a platform and for having ‘a tendency to amplify minority positions, particularly if they appear to confirm the right-libertarian worldview’. Challenging the apparent consensus was a ‘dangerous distraction’, which would do ‘damage to public discourse’.

In other words, talk of disagreement may lead people to question and challenge the restrictions they are asked to endure – and that cannot be permitted. So now, with the publication of the Great Barrington Declaration, written and signed by infectious-disease epidemiologists and public-health scientists who are concerned about the physical and mental-health effects of lockdown, the gloves are off.

Of course, anti-lockdown scientists should be subjected to the same rigorous criticism as pro-lockdown scientists. But this is not what is happening. As Fraser Myers has pointed out on spiked, the Great Barrington Declaration has prompted a barrage of censorship and smears. It has been ‘signed by fake experts!’, shrieks the Guardian, which finds much hilarity in ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’ and ‘Prof Cominic Dummings’. Another yawn-inducing piece points out that the think-tank backing the declaration, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), is ‘part-funded by right-wing American billionaire Charles Koch’. The Observer, meanwhile, points to the AIER’s libertarian leanings, complaining that science has been ‘co-opted by shady ideological interests’. This is not advancing a scientific critique – it is simply an attempt to discredit by association. The aim is to present any dissent from lockdown as coming from a ‘fringe group of scientists’ who are out of sync with ‘most of the public-health experts in the world’.

We have been here before. Prior to coronavirus dominating every headline, we were told that the ‘scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming is likely to have passed 99 per cent’. Questioning this ‘consensus’ was – and still is – heresy. When it came to Brexit, if you challenged the experts you found yourself labelled mad, thick and low-information. The exact same urge to label Brexiteers as stupid plays out four years later in the bid to discredit the Great Barrington Declaration. All the same assumptions are there. The little people can’t be trusted with ambiguity and uncertainty. They need stark and simplistic messages. They need to be told not to kill their granny. Any hint of dissent must be removed from public discourse or the idiots will ‘let the virus rip’.

There are real problems with this approach to public debate. Scientific progress, like all knowledge, advances through challenge. Besmirching the reputations of those who don’t fall into line, or implying they have spurious motivations, chills debate. Important questions will go unasked. And rather than promoting trust in experts, squashing dissent in favour of one consistent message has exactly the opposite effect: it promotes conspiratorial thinking. For a time over the weekend, the Great Barrington Declaration was removed from the first pages of Google in a number of countries. This plays into people’s fears that facts are being withheld and they are being manipulated. Yet when a safe vaccine against Covid-19 is developed, people will be expected to trust scientists.

Not even the most watertight scientific conclusions can tell us how to deal with coronavirus. Our response is shaped by a host of ethical, economic and political considerations. The people whose lives are impacted most by lockdown restrictions need to be allowed to participate in these debates. This means trusting us all to cope with ambiguity and scientific uncertainty.


Conservatives Must Fight Big Tech or Lose

Facebook and Twitter’s desperate attempts to block a damaging story about Joe and Hunter Biden is the culmination of four years of work to transform social media into the media. Under the guise of false claims about disinformation, foreign election interference, bots, networks, deepfakes, public health risks, and assorted tech paranoia, free speech died on the internet.

The moment when the White House Press Secretary had her account locked for tweeting a damaging news story about Joe Biden brought home the Big Tech reality to most Republicans.

Just like the media, Big Tech is the Democrat Party, and the Democrat Party is Big Tech. But, unlike the media, Big Tech controls the marketplace of ideas to an unprecedented degree.

Facebook controls 80% of social media and Google controls 80% of internet search traffic.

And that’s bad news because Democrats see the internet in the same terms as Xi, Putin, or your average dictator just about anywhere in the world, as a dangerous system spouting disinformation, damaging social ideas, and disruptive political rhetoric that must be controlled using a combination of economic and social pressures, along with government regulation.

Republicans and Democrats are both unhappy with the internet. Republicans are upset because there’s too much censorship and Democrats are upset because there isn’t enough censorship.

That Democrats, who once championed a free internet, now view it the same way all totalitarians do, speaks volumes not only about the death of liberalism but also about the transformation of the internet from a vox populi to a walled garden controlled by a handful of Big Tech monopolies whose cultural views and politics closely align with those of the Democrats.

‘Bigness’ has its own political and economic gravity. Big cities are more likely to have big governments and their inhabitants are more likely to vote for big government policies. They’re also more likely to use and generate the core companies and cultures that make up Big Tech.

The old political alignments based on questions of philosophy are being tossed aside and replaced with a new alignment based on the primevally simple questions of size and power.

The struggle is less defined by abstractions, than by the question of how much power you have.

In the Trump era, the more proximity to power you have, the more likely you are to be a Democrat, and the less proximity to power you have, the more likely you are to be a Republican.

The most striking thing about the Never Trumpers and the Rust Belt and Southern Democrats voting for Trump is how much power the former have and how little power the latter do.

Politics is being reduced to naked power.

Democrats shifted their stance on the internet because they gained control of core national institutions, in no small part through the growing fortunes pouring out of Silicon Valley which have tilted elections, financed political movements, and transformed public perspectives on social issues. And they are using their newfound power to do what the powerful always do, dismantle the safeguards of an open society so that there are no more threats to their power.

They’re doing this under the guise of fighting for equality and justice, and of waging a revolution for the oppressed, but so did most modern tyrants from Stalin to Hitler to Mao.

The Democrats are no longer interested in a free internet, for the same reason that they’ve tossed away free speech, the filibuster, or any institution or procedure that isn’t serving their interests this very minute. This isn’t due to a new progressive enlightenment, Republican obstinacy, grave new threats to democracy, or any of the other talking points they serve up.

The simple answer is that they won.

The Democrats of the 90s who welcomed an open internet were waging an uphill struggle against the open institutions of a generally conservative country. The country is now much less conservative, the institutions are much less open, and every major institutional force, from the biggest companies to the media, is unreservedly and uncritically backing them every step of the way, while suppressing any suggestion that they shouldn’t rule unopposed for all eternity.

All that’s left is collecting their winnings by shutting down the opposition.

Support for free speech is a matter of principle and practical politics. America was built on principle, but the Founding Fathers had a common-sense assessment of human nature. Free societies may be built on principles, but they survive through a balance of power. Every major faction must go on believing that it is in its interest to maintain free speech, checks and balances, and other protections against tyranny because it might end up needing them.

The Democrats have accumulated enough power that they no longer think that they need firewalls because if they play their cards right, the future, the right side of history, is their own.

That’s the fundamental development that explains the current crisis, not only of free speech, but of free elections, and a free country. The internet, like any society’s marketplace of ideas, is a symptom. Free countries have a robust marketplace of ideas. Unfree ones are obsessed with censoring speech and monitoring their citizens, all the while spinning paranoid fantasies about foreign interference, the threat of dangerous ideas, and the risk to political stability from speech.

Anyone who came out of a coma and spent an afternoon listening to CNN (owned by AT&T), reading the Washington Post (owned by the CEO of Amazon), and perusing the latest round of Democrat complaints about election interference and disinformation would know what we are.

The problem isn’t simply radicalism. It’s power.

Democrat radicalism isn’t being driven by the powerless, but by the powerful. That’s why Democrats with PhDs are more radical than those with a high school diploma. The problem of Big Tech can’t be separated from the problem of a political movement with too much power.

The culture of political censorship isn’t merely radical, it’s powerful. Cancel culture by college students or Big Tech censorship aren’t disparate phenomena, they’re the same phenomenon, often practiced on the same platforms by members of the same inbred ruling class.

America has been reconstructed to favor some classes at the expense of others. This new machine combining political institutions, activist groups, and corporations controls public life.

Conservatives can combat it or, like Soviet citizens, make jokes, and wait for it to collapse.

Big Tech is at the nexus of the political, economic, and cultural power of this new machine. That’s why breaking its power must be the objective of any winning conservative movement.

The massive monopolies control political discourse and as they tighten the noose around conservatives, political speech on the internet will consist of media narratives, a few tame conservatives, and little else. Imagine the high point of media dominance with no talk radio or cable conservative news. That’s the future. And it’s not going to arrive a year from now, it may already be here by Election Day. And if not, certainly when the next presidential election arrives.

But Big Tech also holds the key to the radical money machine. AOC and the Squad wouldn’t exist without a founding engineer from Stripe. The founder of eBay is responsible for everything from The Intercept to The Bulwark, the former is the media arm of the Sanders campaign and the latter of the Never Trumpers. The Washington Post was transformed from a fussy government paper into a den of furious radicals by the CEO of Amazon. Google money financed the Bernie Sanders campaign. Big Tech has poured a massive fortune into Black Lives Matter, from Steve Jobs’ widow, to Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, to Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg considering Facebook’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.

The cultural power of Big Tech is even vaster. Google and Facebook determine what most people see on the internet. Amazon and Netflix are swallowing the entertainment industry. In a decade, a handful of vast, mostly, tech companies, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Disney, Google, Netflix, and Verizon will control the culture far more than the old entertainment industry ever did.

By then it will be much too late to do anything except huddle in a few dark web outposts and mutter hate speech like the controversial words of the First Amendment.

If conservatives don’t fight Big Tech now, they will lose. And they will lose everything.

Big Tech’s power is growing exponentially, but it’s still vulnerable. The companies that will become immovable oligarchies in a decade can still be brought down and broken up. The internet and the marketplace of ideas can rise again from the ruins of those monopolies.

Now is the time. If we don’t fight Big Tech now, America has no future.




Monday, October 19, 2020

Uniquely Bad—But Not Uniquely American

For much of history, slavery was as fundamental to society as agriculture.

The 1619 Project has not been having an easy time of it. Ever since the Pulitzer Prize-winning essays first appeared in the New York Times in August 2019, historians have been chipping away at some of the central claims. No, they’ve shown, protecting slavery was not the primary motive of the American revolutionaries when they broke away from Britain in 1776. No, the arrival of 20 African slaves at Jamestown was not when the country “began.”

The project’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was at first boldly dismissive of the attacks, but she has more recently been going through contortions to insist that she didn’t say what she demonstrably said; she has even erased her Twitter feed. The New York Times has likewise done some stealth editing of its own, altering some of the more controversial assertions in the online edition. A few weeks ago, President Trump himself went on the attack.

I’d like to propose adding another reason to close the book on the 1619 Project: it is based on a twisted notion of American exceptionalism. America’s “brutal system of slavery [was] unlike anything that had existed in the world before,” Hannah-Jones writes. “Enslaved people were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently.” Brutal? Yes. Unlike anything that existed in the world before? Seeing how far this is from the truth is the only way to make sense of the contradictions and perplexing compromises of the American Founding that trouble us so much today.

In fact, slavery was a mundane fact in most human civilizations, neither questioned nor much thought about. It appeared in the earliest settlements of Sumer, Babylonia, China, and Egypt, and it continues in many parts of the world to this day. Far from grappling with whether slavery should be legal, the code of Hammurabi, civilization’s first known legal text, simply defines appropriate punishments for recalcitrant slaves (cutting off their ears) or those who help them escape (death). Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament take for granted the existence of slaves. Slavery was so firmly established in ancient Greece that Plato could not imagine his ideal Republic without them, though he rejected the idea of individual ownership in favor of state control. As for Rome, well, Spartacus, anyone?

In the ancient world, slaves were almost always captives from the era’s endless wars of conquest. They were forced to do all the heavy labor required for building and sustaining cities and towns: clearing forests; building roads, temples, and palaces; digging and transporting stone; hoeing fields; rowing galley ships; and marching to almost-certain death in the front line of battle. Women (and often enough boy) slaves had the task of servicing the sexual appetites of their masters. None of that changed with the arrival of a new millennium. Gaelic tribes took advantage of the fall of the Roman Empire to raid the west coast of England and Wales for strong bodies; one belonged to a 16-year-old later anointed St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. “In the slavery business, no tribe was fiercer or more feared than the Irish,” writes Thomas Cahill in How the Irish Saved Civilization.

Today, of course, the immorality of slave-owning is as clear as day. But in the premodern world, no neat division existed between evil slaveowners and their innocent victims. Once the Vikings arrived in their longboats in the 700s, the Irish enslavers found themselves the enslaved. Slavery became the commanding height of the Viking economy; Norsemen raided coastal villages across Europe and brought their captives to Dublin, which became one of the largest slave markets of the time. The Vikings thought of their slaves as more like cattle than people; the unlucky victims had to sleep alongside the domestic animals, according to the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. Norsemen rounded up captured Irish men and women to settle the desolate landscape of Iceland; scientists have found Irish DNA in present-day Icelanders, a legacy of that time. The Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe were an especially fertile supplier for Viking slave traders as well as for Muslim dealers from Spain: their Latin name gave us the word slave. Slavs were evidently not deterred by the misery they must have suffered; when Viking power waned by the twelfth century, the Slavs turned around and enslaved Vikings as well as Greeks.

Slavery was a normal state of affairs well beyond the territory we now call Europe. The Mayans had slaves; the Aztecs harnessed the labor of captives to build their temples and then serve as human sacrifices at the altars they had helped construct. The ancient Near East and Asia Minor were chockfull of slaves, mostly from East Africa. According to eminent slavery scholar Orlando Patterson, East Africa was plundered for human chattel as far back as 1580 BC. Muhammad called for compassion for the enslaved, but that didn’t stop his followers from expanding their search for chattel beyond the east coast into the interior of Africa, where the trade flourished for many centuries before those first West Africans arrived in Jamestown. Throughout that time, African kings and merchants grew rich from capturing and selling the millions of African slaves sent through the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean to Persians and Ottomans.

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the North African Barbary coast was a hub for “white slavery.” This episode was relatively short-lived in the global history of slavery, but one with overlooked impact on Western culture. Around 1619, just as the first Africans were being sailed from the African coast to Jamestown, Algerian and Tunisian pirates, or “corsairs” as they were known, were using their boats to raid seaside villages on the Mediterranean and Atlantic for slaves who happened in this case to be white. In 1631, Ottoman pirates sacked Baltimore on the southern coast of Ireland, capturing and enslaving the villagers. Around the same time, Iceland was raided by Barbary corsairs who took hundreds of prisoners, selling them into lifetime bondage.

Large stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were emptied as those inhabitants who hadn’t been sent to slave markets fled to safety. Miguel Cervantes was one of those captured; enslaved by Algerians for five years, he returned repeatedly to the trauma in his writings, including his masterpiece Don Quixote. In Robinson Crusoe, the fictional hero is captured by pirates and enslaved in Morocco for two years, before escaping and, with no apparent hesitation, deciding to become a slave trader himself. One 1640 investigation estimated that more than 5,000 English citizens were being held as slaves in North Africa. Amazingly, ten American ships were seized and their passengers enslaved after the nation was founded. The American abolitionist senator Charles Sumner wrote a remarkable short treatise about the white Christians enslaved along the Barbary coast, speculating that outrage over the practice inspired some Americans to notice the evil that they were perpetrating on Africans in their own country.

Some of the few who have noticed this history protest that American slavery was more vicious than other forms. It’s true that some of the ancients and the Barbary Coast masters had a kind of slavery lite for a fortunate few: house slaves could sometimes marry freeborn women and work as skilled artisans or tutors for the children of their owners. Manumission was fairly common among the Greeks and Romans, though that was a minor decision for them; there was always more territory to seize for their empires, and they could quickly repopulate their slave quarters.

Make no mistake, though: slaves were always considered property to be traded, bought, and sold. For millennia, wherever people were buying and selling things, slave markets existed. “Slaves were the closest thing to a universal currency in trading centers,” observes Steven Johnson in his recent book about piracy, The Enemy of All Mankind. Joseph Pitts, an English boy seized by Barbary pirates in the seventeenth century, wrote of a Cairo market: “The slaves are examined much like animals; buyers are allowed to check their teeth, muscles, and stature to get an idea of the overall health of a slave.” David Brion Davis explains: “While African slaves did grueling labor on sugar and cotton plantations in the Americas, European Christian slaves were often worked just as hard and as lethally—in quarries, in heavy construction, and above all rowing the corsair galleys themselves.”

Slavery’s long, cosmopolitan history is ignored by the architects of the 1619 Project. That oversight matters, but not because it would ameliorate the horror of the practice in the United States. No one can erase slavery’s lasting impact on our politics and identity or ease contemporary racial inequalities, entwined, however distantly, with the country’s slave past.

But slavery’s history does suggest two facts that can bring more clarity to how America, the land of the free, tolerated bondage: first, slavery, brutal and repulsive as we rightly believe it to be, was as much a part of ancient and early modern history as farming. And second: widespread revulsion against slavery came relatively late in the human story.

When the first African slaves were stepping off the boat onto American soil in 1619, and as Europeans were being steered into the slave markets of Algiers, there had been only scattered, regional, and temporary gestures toward abolishing the global practice of human bondage: a Greek philosopher here, an Indian emperor there; prohibition against trading in one area, edicts against owning a co-religionist in another. Slavery had been gradually disappearing from France and England by the twelfth century, but less because those civilizations were developing a modern conception of universal human rights than because tribes were coalescing into cities and nations that were finding less appalling ways to harness cheap labor. The spread of Christianity may have played a role in some areas. Urged on by his archbishop, the otherwise ruthless William the Conqueror freed Saxon and Welsh slaves. Still, the early Church’s record on slavery was erratic at best. And centuries later, the English and French, like other Europeans, had little compunction about putting West Africans in chains and transporting them to their colonies in the Americas.

It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that anti-slavery sentiment became enough of a moral force to exorcise the practice on a large scale in the West. Historians generally trace the origins of this revolution to two forces: first, secular, Enlightenment notions about the natural rights of man; and second, religious fervor among Quakers and later on, evangelical Christians. Quakers, the earliest abolitionists in both England and the American colonies, introduced the “Gradual Abolition Act of 1780,” the first such legislation in the West. Though it took more than a century and a horrific civil war to emancipate slaves in the United States, the abolitionist movement was a white Western invention. Other parts of the world remained wedded to slavery well into the twentieth century: slavery was legal in Ethiopia until 1942, in Saudi Arabia until 1963, and Mauritania until 1980. Today, one reads reports of slavery in Mauritania, Sudan, and in Islamist quasi-states in Iraq and Nigeria. As much as 15 percent of the population of Mauritania may be enslaved, according to the BBC. Estimates of those in bondage today run as high as 1 million people, mostly women and children.

What set America apart from other slaveholding societies, and what continues to curse the country to this day, was not slavery per se but its racialization. Slaves had always been inferior “others” in some way meaningful to each society: Greeks only used foreigners, or “barbarians,” as slaves; Christians justified enslaving pagans; Muslims did the same with infidels, even as they spared fellow Muslims; the Chinese enslaved Koreans, Turks, Persians, and Indonesians—and now the Uyghurs—but not ethnic Chinese. But after a brief, unsuccessful attempt to use smallpox-prone Indians as slave labor, Americans turned to a different “other”: Africans, who, thanks to the growing transatlantic slave trade, would now be available in huge numbers.

The advantage for slaveowners—but the affliction for both blacks and the country as a whole—is that race is a highly visible and tenacious dividing line between peoples. Escaped and freed slaves could not simply blend into the local population as they could in other parts of the world. Only 4 percent of the Africans who suffered through the middle passage across the Atlantic ended up in what would become the United States. The rest were sold in the Caribbean and Latin America, where, with the area’s large indigenous and Mestizo population, race was less binary than in the U.S. and the divisions between groups more flexible. Hereditary slavery was not unique to the U.S.—children were born slaves in the Roman empire and early on in the Caribbean and Latin America—but once color became the defining distinction between bonded and free, hereditary slavery made a certain awful sense.

So what should be our stance toward the immorality of our past? After a trip to Dublin in 2007, Danish culture minister Brian Mikkelsen scoffed at the idea of apologizing to the Irish people for the Vikings’ savagery in the Dark Ages, saying “we don’t apologize for what the Vikings did 1,000 years ago. That was the way you acted back then.” That position may make sense for an older civilization whose founding sins are hidden in the mists of ancient tribal history. In the relatively young, racially divided United States, it is inadequate.

But the minister hints at the reality that history presents us with a numbing array of opportunities for indignant judgement: wars of conquest, tortures, massacres, infanticide, beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, coercive and brutalizing labor, gulags, death camps, and so on. While we can and should condemn it all, that judgment has to be tempered by a certain knowing detachment, even humility, especially when we think about the more distant past. Consider that as the American Founders pondered the design of their new country in the 1770s, they were caught between two worlds—a past where human servitude was an unremarkable fact and a future, just taking shape, that condemned the idea as grossly immoral. James Madison grasped the contradictions of the moment: “We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man,” he wrote. Deeply in debt, Madison couldn’t see his way to freeing his own slaves upon his death. It’s a decision deserving our censure. But it is hubris for any person today to assume that they themselves would have had the foresight, the freedom of mind and heart, or even the moral vocabulary, to side with the angels. Remember: even freed black slaves were known to purchase and own slaves.

In an excerpt in The Atlantic from his new book Breaking Bread with the Dead, Alan Jacobs describes Frederick Douglass’s struggle to come to grips with the achievement of the American Founding. No one knew better than this former slave the boundaries of that achievement. No one better understood the limits of the virtue of these men. But the self-taught Douglass understood the omnipresence of human cruelty and the rarity of freedom. Painful as it must have been for him to do so, he conceded about the men who had compromised away his freedom, that they “were great in their day and generation.”

To understand the truth of that qualified praise is to understand the complexities of our history—and of any history. And it is another level on which the 1619 Project fails utterly.




Sunday, October 18, 2020

US election 2020: Why Christians will vote for Donald Trump

The vast majority of churchgoing Christians, Protestant and Catholic, and the overwhelming ­majority of Orthodox Jews, will vote for Donald Trump on ­November 3, just as they did four years ago.

This is surely a paradox. Trump is thrice married and was a self-proclaimed libertine in the past. He sometimes tells lies and is frequently boorish in his personal behaviour, mocking and insulting opponents. And he praises some dictators.

He has been shabby about keeping his presidency and the ­financial interests of his business empire separate, as well as keeping presidential diplomacy and his domestic political interests separate.

The ethical case against Trump is substantial, yet the most religiously conscientious and morally scrupulous people will vote for him overwhelmingly. What explains this paradox? And are they right to do so?

According to exit polls, in 2016 Trump won a majority of those who identify as Protestants and a majority of those who identify as Catholics.

Within each category, there were big differences. Trump’s religious support, according to Pew Research Centre, has declined a very little. Its polls now show Trump winning 78 per cent of white Evangelical Protestants, 53 per cent of white non-Evangelical Protestants, but only 9 per cent of black Protestants.

Trump will again win white Catholics, with 52 per cent supporting him, but because he only secures 26 per cent of Hispanic Catholics he is likely to narrowly lose the Catholic vote overall — to his opponent Joe Biden, who is himself a Catholic.

Most surveys suggest Trump will win the votes of nearly 90 per cent of Orthodox Jews, though he will lose among Jews overall.

However, Trump will win the majority of churchgoing Catholics. Among Christians who attend church weekly, Trump will win 60 per cent or more. That is a striking figure.

It suggests an underlying collision of philosophies, of civic and life philosophies, which is tearing America apart.

The qualified support for Trump by Christians is not irrational, illogical or unjustified.

Part of what voting Christians hope to get from Trump is on display in the Senate confirmation hearings for Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Barrett is surely admirable. She is a conservative Catholic and has been a longtime member of a charismatic Catholic group.

Charismatic Catholics pay special attention to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To simplify things pretty spectacularly, they are the Catholic cousins of Pentecostals (although there are some theological differences between charismatic and Pentecostal). Just as Scott Morrison is the first Pentecostal leader of an OECD nation, so Barrett will be the first charismatic justice on the bench of the US Supreme Court.

Barrett, now 48, has been married since young to the one husband, and has five biological children with him. The youngest has Downs syndrome. When informed of this, the Barrett parents decided to proceed with the birth. They have also adopted two children from Haiti. There is no suggestion the Barretts are other than a happy family. This is her private business and doesn’t make her better or worse as a judge.

It does, however, suggest that she lives the values she espouses. Barrett is also an immensely distinguished legal academic, becoming at a young age a professor of law at Notre Dame University. Notre Dame is not Ivy League, but is a very prestigious university.

She is a legal conservative. That doesn’t mean she will rule for the right-wing option in any contested case. It means her approach is to interpret the constitution, and the law, as it is written. This does have a profound conservative consequence. Judges with this philosophy are much less likely to discover secret, hidden, implied new rights in the Constitution which accord with contemporary left-liberal ideology and compel people and institutions to abide by that ideology.

American Christians are concerned by assaults on religious freedom. Thus a court could ­decide that traditional Christian views of marriage or morality or the meaning of human life threaten or contradict some element of contemporary identity politics and then penalise institutions — schools, universities or hospitals — that teach traditional Christian views.

Barrett, in her confirmation hearings, declined to express a view on contentious legal cases because it would be wrong for a judge to do so outside a courtroom. However, she said she personally abhors discrimination and would never discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sex or sexual orientation. But the left-liberal political and legal movements have argued that merely to teach traditional Christian doctrine, at school or university, that marriage is between a man and a woman, is to discriminate against gay students. It is a concern for rulings of this kind that motivates Christians to be obsessed with judges.

In the US, countless ­issues that should be up to legislatures are determined by judges. Trump has appointed hundreds of ­legally conservative judges. That was a huge issue in the serious, conscientious debate so many Christian journals and groups conducted about whether to support Trump four years ago.

Way back in the 2000 campaign, it was revealed at the last moment that George W Bush as a young man had been convicted of drink driving. More than a million Evangelicals were so unhappy about this that they stayed away from the polls. Yet now they support Trump, who makes Bush look like Abraham Lincoln.

Some American Christians do indeed enjoy Trump’s crudity and combativeness and seeing voting for him as a gesture of cultural defiance against the dominant left-liberal ideology. But from reading bits and pieces of many American Christian journals, I think tens of millions of Christians vote for Trump despite his bad character, not remotely because of it.

The choice in an election is ­binary. Hillary Clinton was herself guilty of misconduct in office, and she and her husband grew personally very rich off the back of notionally philanthropic activities. The same is true of Joe Biden and his family.

Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, made huge money in Ukraine and China in large part because his dad was vice-president.

That is not a joyful reflection, but it diminishes the moral choice between Trump and Biden. More important, there is not a single contentious issue on which Biden sticks with the teachings of his own Catholic Church against the dominant zeitgeist.

Thus Biden says that he believes that human life begins at conception and abortion is wrong, but he would not seek to impose this view on society. That’s fair enough. But he then goes on to support, with Kamala Harris, legal abortion at every stage of pregnancy.

These are complex and difficult issues and it is wrong to assume bad faith by anyone. But while many people would reject the idea that one second after a conception there exists a human being with human rights, most are very reluctant to accept abortion up to the point of birth — the idea that an unborn baby is not a human being one minute before he or she is born.

Extreme late-term abortions are very rare. But that doesn’t mean that they are not an ethical issue. Peter Singer is an extremely useful atheist philosopher because he thinks through honestly the logical end point of atheist moral assumptions.

In Rethinking Life and Death, he argues: “Human babies are not born self-aware or capable of grasping their lives over time. They are not persons.” He has argued that if they are born handicapped and their parents don’t want to keep them, they should be allowed to die.

When this position aroused controversy, he replied with compelling logic that if it was OK to kill a baby 10 minutes before it is born, why is it so wrong to kill a baby 10 minutes after birth?

Trump has issued a presidential executive order entitled Born Alive. It requires that if a baby survives a botched abortion attempt, doctors and nurses must render lifesaving assistance, which is not the practice now.

Christians, Evangelicals and Catholics alike regard such babies as human beings, and terminating them as taking innocent human lives. They may be wrong to hold those views, although they were the consensus Western view over most of the past 2000 years. But if they do hold such views, it is certainly not unreasonable to vote for a President who will try to give some limited effect to them.

As Barrett commented during her academic career, it is vanishingly unlikely that abortion will ever again be generally illegal in the US. But there are live questions over restrictions at the margin. It is not hypocritical, nor irrational, for Christians to choose to cast their vote on the basis of such considerations.

American Christians are nothing like the Obama stereotype of them as hillbillies bitterly clinging to guns. The most generous givers to charity among all US demographics are Evangelicals. Domestic violence is much rarer among churchgoing Christian families than in general society. Religious practice in the home is a strong indicator of both spouses feeling that family decision-­making is mutual and consensual.

The sociological evidence is overwhelming that religious belief, combined with regular church attendance, predicts human happiness.

There is a split in Christianity, of course. Christians whose chief theological rhetoric is social justice generally oppose Trump. But liberal Christianity has consistently shown itself to be a self-­destroying movement. Theo­logically orthodox Christians believe their faith impels them to acts of charity — often sustained and heroic acts of charity. But if your sole purpose in life is social action, then you don’t need God.

Historically, liberal Christ­ianity first marginalises God, then finds it doesn’t need him at all. In a very short time, this moves from theologically anaemic to no theology at all.

There are other issues that lead Christians to support Trump. His administration has made a big issue internationally of freedom of religion. This includes defending persecuted Christians. The Pew Centre reports that Christianity is the most persecuted ­religion in the world today.

Conscientious Christians could vote for Trump or Biden or not vote at all. Neither candidate is so bad as to make them unconscionable, as it would be for a Christian to vote, say, for a communist or a Nazi.

But when you examine the ­issues that motivate American Christians, it is not irrational that so many vote Trump. A paradox, yes. A contradiction, no.


SCOTUS Ends Left's Attempt to Delay Census

Leftists have milked the coronavirus excuse for all their worth, including taking advantage of a novel event to further tilt the electoral map in Democrats’ favor. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court has at least slowed the effort to drag out the 2020 Census until a Joe Biden administration takes power.

On Tuesday, the justices ruled that the Census Bureau had the authority to end its data collection on October 31. The Court’s ruling overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of leftist groups that have dubiously contended the Census Bureau’s ending date would jeopardize producing an accurate population count. As noted above, the real goal for Democrats and the Left was to push back the census completion date in order to secure greater redistricting power.

However, as noted by Ninth Circuit dissenting Judge Patrick Bumatay — with whom the justices agreed — the constitutional mandate for administration of the census does not mention “accuracy” in the count. The Census Bureau must “balance the need for accuracy against the statute’s hard deadline,” Bumatay observed. “Determining what level of accuracy is sufficient is simply not something that the judicial branch is equipped to do.”

Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal reported, “The Supreme Court’s unsigned order Tuesday stays the lower-court injunction and allows the bureau to immediately wrap up its data collection. The stay might not have a large practical effect since the bureau has already enumerated 99.9% of the population in 47 states with the exceptions of Louisiana (98.3%), Mississippi (99.4%) and South Dakota (99.8%).”

In short, SCOTUS stepped in to prevent another instance of the judicial branch acting as the legislative. And it stepped in to stop just one more avenue leftists are using to stack the deck in their favor. Whether it be the Census, the Electoral College, adding DC and Puerto Rico as states (to pack the Senate), or packing the Supreme Court, today’s Democrat Party is all about “fundamentally transforming” American institutions with the end result of giving Democrats unassailable power.