THE COLUMN: Invasion of the Body-and-Soul Snatchers

Elon Musk, after me the foremost scourge of Twitter, is much in the news these days. Not only for his high-stakes poker game against the unworthy likes of Parag Agrawal—an Indian immigrant with a bad attitude toward the First Amendment, doing the job (with a handsome pay package) that Americans just won't do—but for his direct challenge to the Wokerati whose private preserve Twitter, Disney, Netflix, and just about every other aspect of the culture have become. Naturally, the eccentric multi-billionaire immediately came "under fire," as the gun-shy media likes to say, for past sins real or imagined, and immediately turned the tables on his accuser in a way that even Bill Clinton never dared to do.

But as we've all learned over the past several decades, truth is irrelevant to the Leftist project, whose two-step program for fundamental transformation goes like this. First, posit a counter-factual. Second, act on it as if it were true while browbeating the bejesus out of your opponents. Lately, it doesn't matter how counter-factual or, indeed, utterly ridiculous it is: men can get pregnant, police should be defunded, and the "right" to an abortion can be found in the Constitution. The Hive Mind pushes these precepts and many more, and if you don't agree, then the only explanation is that you're some sort of racist or bigot, now the dirtiest words in the English language. There is no longer any such thing as dispassion, and the time for debate, disagreement, and rational discussion is over. Get with the program, comrade.

Run! It's Dave Chappelle!

This is what happens when everything—sex, race, sports, politics, music, culture, pancake mix, butter, baby formula, religion, the nation-state, your Aunt Hilda—becomes political. Musk has, correctly, described such conformity as the "woke mind virus." Such a state of affairs is in fact the end-state of "progressive" cultural-Marxist thinking, which has substituted the permanent imposition of political correctness in place of what economic Marxism had initially anticipated, which in the words of Friedrich Engels was the "withering away" of the State itself. 

The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society – the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society – this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not ‘abolished.’ It dies out.

Wrong again, Freddy! What the Marxists discovered after they sandbagged the first, anti-Tsarist Russian Revolution and replaced it with their own, is that the State and its coerced minions in private enterprise come in very handy if you're a power-mad atheist bent on cultural destruction and your own supreme power. It took 75 years of Soviet communist rule, the blunt-force application of a central-European anti-capitalist philosophy promulgated by a malevolent hobo and his rich benefactor, for the Russian people to learn the partial error of their ways. In the meantime, the State never died out.

The "withering away" of the State is in fact the last thing the Left wants, especially as the Great Reset dawns in Davos. Oh, the nation-state can go once they have captured its armed forces; after all, such outmoded concepts as a "nation" only encourage such nasty concepts as nationalism, which must be stamped out by any means necessary. The communist Left didn't win its prolonged struggle with its former ally, National Socialist Germany, to countenance allegiance to something at once both higher and baser than the abstract ideal of International Socialism. That the version the Left is currently trying to impose upon us looks much more like the fascism of the Nazis than the communism of Stalin is left unremarked. But hey—omelets and eggs.

Which brings us back to Wokism -- now, amazingly, suffering a series of defeats as the Zeitgeist turns. In Florida, the thrashing of the Walt Disney Company by Gov. Ron DeSantis—the next GOP candidate for president, if the Republicans have any sense— vividly demonstrated how far the force of will, painfully applied, and an absolute refusal to accept their literally insane premises can go toward reversing the course of degenerate political correctness. DeSantis has shown that one arrogant corporation's "progressivism" is another man's sexual perversion, and that decent folks draw the line at the grooming of their defenseless children by those who can't reproduce any other way, whether by the House of Mouse or proselytizing operatives working within the taxpayer-supported public-school systems. The withering State is not so much fun when it's punching back, is it?

The quick rout of the Ministry of Truth under its nasty Gauleiterin, Nina Jankowicz, was also an encouraging sign, although technically the "Disinformation Governance Board" is only "suspended" pending an assessment by two of the most dedicated statists in recent history, Michael Chertoff and Jamie Gorelick. Naturally, the lickspittle media is furious: "The fate of the board is yet more proof that efforts to combat even clearly threatening disinformation will always be ripe targets for the purveyors of disinformation, and officials should have better anticipated and handled this obvious dynamic," huffed the once-respected Columbia Journalism Review, echoing the anti-freedom sentiments of Walter Lippmann in his 1922 treatise, Public Opinion.

Careful! It might be Nina Jankowicz!

Even more fun has been the collapse of Netflix, a company that is living proof of Erick Hoffer's maxim that "every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket." What started as a way to make movies available to everybody for a small subscription price turned into a market-cornering monstrosity and ultimately into the woke "Streaming Service," which sought to replace the studios as the principal financier and greenlighter of motion pictures. It borrowed a fortune, produced next to nothing of value, drove good scripts out of the market, and has damn near destroyed the picture business by replacing professionalism with aspirationalism.

Faced with a subscriber exodus, a shareholders' lawsuit, and a loss of some $200 billion in market capitalization, and finally paying the financial penalty for trying to force endless remakes of Moonlight and other woke sermons down everyone's throat, Netflix has suddenly had an attitude adjustment: 

More significantly, the document adds a new directive for employees to act with fiscal responsibility — a change that comes as Netflix in Q1 saw its first decline in subscribers in more than a decade. The updated Netflix Culture memo also includes a new section called “Artistic Expression,” explaining that the streamer will not “censor specific artists or voices” even if employees consider the content “harmful,” and bluntly states, “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

And then there's Nancy Pelosi and her effective excommunication from the Catholic Church. Who says there's no good news? Would that Robinette—just banned from entering Russia— could be next. 

Still, in the aftermath of the Great Covid Panic of 2019-22, the American economy continues to crater. Soaring gas prices at the pump, occasioned by Biden's cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline and all the anti-energy policies that have since followed, are only the most outward manifestation of the rot at the heart of the American experiment. Not just content with your body, the spirit-sapping demons unleashed by the Frankfurt School hunger for your soul as well. They want their passionate desire to kill children in the womb to remain uncensured by society and have not only protested but threatened violent riots should the Supreme Court stick to its convictions and overturn the moral enormity of Roe v. Wade this term. 

Just close your eyes and everything will be all right.

The stock market also recently has had one of its worst weeks ever, and polls show most Americans have utterly lost confidence in the Biden administration. Even worse, Biden's crack foreign-policy team is now encouraging historically neutral Finland to join a superfluous and outmoded NATO and thus fall under the alliance's Article 5 provision of "collective defense" should the Finns, as they often do, get into a spat with the bear next door. For those scoring at home, this is essentially how World War One started, but who reads history any more?

To add insult to injury, the country and its nursing moms are suffering through an absolutely predictable, government-created shortage of baby formula, apparently on the moral principle that if you can kill babies in the womb right up to the moment of birth, you might as well go the extra mile and starve them to death after they're born. In a reversal of the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift, airmen from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany have shipped over pallets of Nestle Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula: Operation Fly Formula.

The formula shortage will eventually ease. But something else will take its place. The litany of potential disasters under Joe Biden is endless, each baleful new development replicating like the pod people of Don Siegel's classic 1956 film, sucking the life out of human beings and institutions, absorbing mind and memory, and leaving nothing but husks behind. They never stop, they never sleep, they never quit.

You wanted "malaise," America? You "voted" for it—and you got it

By the way, have you heard about monkeypox? Not a worry for you, you say? After all, "most initial cases of monkeypox have been among gay or bisexual men who have had sex with other males." Silly fellow. The Disinformation Governance Board, currently disguised as a giant watermelon, would like a word with you. As Kevin McCarthy (the actor, not the politician) warns at the end of Body Snatchers: "You're next!

THE COLUMN: The Shadow President

Under the British parliamentary system there is something known as the Shadow Cabinet, which consists of the leadership of the Out party, whichever it may be. Right now, with Boris Johnson having hung onto his prime ministership despite ample reason for the Tories to have dumped him when they had the chance, and should have, the shadow PM is Keir Starmer, the former editor of a radical Trotskyite magazine Socialist Alternatives, although he seems to have modified his fire-breathing leftism since his college days and is now considered "soft Left." As such, Starmer is Leader of the Opposition, and stands at the head of an entire replacement cabinet; should the current government fall or be voted out at the next scheduled election in May of 2024, the British public already knows who's going to be in charge and what they're going to get.

Here in the U.S., the picture is far less clear. Our cumbersome presidential election system, which now begins the day after the midterms and drags on for nearly two years of jockeying and primaries and media flaps and get-out-the-vote shenanigans, and even then doesn't end on Election Day, produces nothing but a single candidate by the spring of the election year. Then more mystery: who will be the running mate? Which rivals or friends or party hacks might wind up in the prospective cabinet? Nobody knows for sure until the announcements are made, the veep before the vote and the others afterward if the ticket is successful. Even then, there is still a nearly three-month "transition" phase before any of this can legally take effect; by the time Inauguration Day rolls around, half the country is already heartily sick of the new guys and the media is openly wondering who'll be running four years later.

The clock is ticking, Joe.

This cycle, things are a bit different. With the Biden administration visibly failing—the hero's welcome given to former president Barack Obama recently spoke volumes about where the real power in Washington lies these days—and speculation rife about whether or even how quickly a senescent, feeble president can be replaced and by whom, the time has never been riper for the Republicans to have a shadow president of their own. As it happens, they have two. 

First, of course, is Donald Trump, the recent president, who appears to be determined to get his old Oval Office back, running on a campaign of I-wuz-robbed grievance. The final three months of the Trump administration were an epic mess, beginning on Election Night when the nation went to bed with Trump comfortably ahead in all the swing states he needed to win to put him over the top, and waking up to one of the most extraordinary reversal of fortunes in our history. 

The mishegoss continued with the flurry of rejected lawsuits seeking in effect to overturn the posted results, including the Supreme Court's disgraceful refusal to hear the one constitutionally based suit, brought by the state of Texas contesting the results in four battleground states (Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin), they were absolutely obligated to hear. But the Roberts Court dodged the issue, saying that Texas "lacked standing" to bring the case.

The icing on the cake was the Jan. 6 demonstration during which Trump said: "We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard." And the rest, as they say, is ongoing history. Trump may feel he is "owed" support because of his loss or his endorsement of various candidates, but as they say in Washington, if you want a friend, get a dog. 

I wuz robbed.

The other is Florida governor Ron DeSantis, a former Congressman who won a squeaker election against, in retrospect, a manifestly unsuitable Democrat candidate in Andrew Gillum, whom DeSantis beat by half a percentage point. Following the election, "Gillum was found inebriated and with a man, who had identified himself on websites as an escort, who was treated on scene for a possible overdose. Crystal meth also was reportedly found at the scene." Florida thus dodged a bullet, DeSantis got a leg up on the other politicians of his generation (he's 43, Trump is 75), and in just a couple of years has transformed himself into a national figure. How did he do it?

As the old saying goes, it's better to be lucky than good, but DeSantis has been both. Practically since he took office, events have broken his way, starting with the unnecessary hysteria over Covid-19 that, in the final analysis, was the thing that destroyed the Trump administration. After briefly flirting with lockdowns, DeSantis reversed course, bit the bullet, ignored media flapdoodle over "cases," and made Florida the free-state alternative to such draconian fascist entities as New York and California. Florida boomed as its rivals faded, hemorrhaging population and losing economic and political clout while the Sunshine State and also Texas happily welcomed the refugees.

DeSantis has been lucky in his enemies as well. Incredibly, the now-"woke" Walt Disney Company—the embodiment of family friendly entertainment since its founding in 1923 through its founder's death in 1966 and up until recently—has decided that the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill (which DeSantis enthusiastically signed) preventing state teachers from discussing human sexuality, sexual orientation and "gender identity" with children in kindergarten through third grade is the hill the company wants to die on

“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” the statement reads. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

Disney’s public opposition to the law follows an employee walkout in protest of CEO Bob Chapek’s mishandling of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Don't say it. Don't even think it.

Disney, however, is a private company operating under an extremely generous sweetheart deal with the state of Florida regarding its theme park and environs in Orlando, so you'd think its corporate executives like Chapek wouldn't want to poke the alligator that protects them. But Woke is just another name for Stupid, so naturally Disney blundered right into the governor's wheelhouse.

An escalating fight between Disney and Florida over the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill has pushed state lawmakers to threaten to strip the company of special privileges that essentially give it the sovereignty to act as its own government. Backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, some Republican lawmakers have called for the repeal of a 1967 law permitting the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The legislation affords Disney the authority to act as its own county with the ability to impose taxes, adopt ordinances and provide emergency services on land that’s home to its sprawling theme park resort, among other powers of self-government.

“As a matter of first principle, I don’t support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful,” DeSantis said March 31 at a news conference. “They’ve lost a lot of the pull that they used to have, and honestly, I think that’s a good thing for our state. You should not have one organization that is able to dictate policy in all these different realms, and they have done that for many, many years. If that stops now, which it should, that would be a good thing for Florida.”

That's not all. For years, Disney has been given super-duper-special treatment in Congress over its copyrighted characters like Mickey Mouse, which should have reverted to the public domain as long ago as 1984, but have been steadily extended through 2024 as an act of favoritism to Disney. Now Congress is taking another look

A number of Republican lawmakers have signalled they may block Disney from renewing copyright on an iconic Mickey Mouse cartoon as punishment for the company’s stance on Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Rep Jim Banks, chair of the Republican Study Committee, is circulating a letter among the GOP caucus in which he tells Disney CEO Bob Chapek of his intention to oppose any future extension of Disney copyrights, National Review reports. Disney’s rights to its Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse, first seen in a 1928 short film, are due to expire on 1 January 2024, although more recent depictions will remain protected by separate copyrights.

No matter how agitated Disney's woke workforce is, this is a fight Disney can only lose and DeSantis can only win. Disney and other work corporations exist in a fantasy-fueled Twitterverse in which nothing is more important than extending the Left's fetish about sexual license unto the generations. That Disney's core audience—the suckers who shell out a fortune to partake of the dubious joys of Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida—is dead set against the sexualization of children is just another reason to do it. The usual suspects in the media, naturally, are overwhelmingly in favor of the law's repeal, as a glance at Google will readily confirm, and as can be seen by their insistence on siding with the Democrats and calling it the "Don't Say Gay" bill—three words that aren't in the bill and certainly not in the title.

With enemies like the company that bought Harvey Weinstein and the mainstream media, DeSantis doesn't need friends. Meanwhile, the governor has the wind at his back: more than a dozen states are considering similar bills, putting the Florida governor in the de facto driver's seat on the issue. From Covid to the Chinese suborning of America's institutions to the sitting daffy duck called Disney, DeSantis has staked out positions in direct opposition to the Biden Democrats—exactly what you'd expect from a Shadow President who's looking forward, not backward. 

Obama was 47 years old when he became president; DeSantis, should he run, and win, would be 46. Trump will be 78. You do the math.