Lessons from Kenosha

The only thing surprising about the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was how long it took the jury to reach it. As should be obvious to anyone who understands the law and had the merest familiarity with the facts of the case, Rittenhouse should never have been charged in the first place.

The American Bar Association establishes criminal justice standards for lawyers, among which are those pertaining to prosecutors. Standard 3-4.3(a) of the Prosecution Function reads as follows: “A prosecutor should seek or file criminal charges only if the prosecutor reasonably believes that the charges are supported by probable cause, that admissible evidence will be sufficient to support conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the decision to charge is in the interests of justice.”

Given this standard, and given the evidence they produced at trial, the Rittenhouse prosecutors either ignored the standard or proceeded to trial unfamiliar with the state of their evidence. In other words, they were either corrupt or incompetent, and a case can be made that they were both.

Witness for the prosecution.

In opening statements, the prosecutors over-promised to the jury, claiming they would produce persuasive evidence of Rittenhouse’s guilt only to have the actual testimony come up short or even prove the exact opposite. One example of this was their claim in opening statement that Rittenhouse had chased Joseph Rosenbaum before shooting him. The evidence came to prove it was Rosenbaum who in fact had chased Rittenhouse, as the prosecutors knew or should have known from viewing video that captured the event and from witness statements to the police.

Then there was the testimony of Gaige Grosskreutz, whom Rittenhouse had shot in the arm. Under cross-examination, Grosskreutz admitted it was only after he had approached and pointed a loaded handgun at Rittenhouse did the defendant fire his rifle at him, a moment in the trial that perfectly encapsulated the pathetic state of the prosecution’s case. And on and on it went, with scarcely a day going by in the trial that didn’t produce further evidence of the prosecution’s malfeasance, ineptitude, or both.

Would that the corruption and incompetence had been confined to the courthouse. The media, having already arrived at a state of decay through four years of fabricated allegations against Donald Trump and his administration, and another year of ignoring or excusing the manifest incompetence of the Biden administration, further beclowned themselves in their coverage of the Rittenhouse trial and the events that engendered it, with certain writers and on-air personalities seemingly in competition to produce the most ill-informed commentary.

No charges.

Recall that the August 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc., was found to be justified by both state and federal investigators, a conclusion that should have been obvious to anyone familiar with the simple facts of the case: Police responded to a 911 call regarding a domestic dispute involving Blake, for whom there was an active arrest warrant for sexual assault. Blake was armed with a knife, fought with police officers, and attempted to escape in a van he did not own, seated in which were his three children over whom he did not have legal custody.

And yet, how many times was Blake referred to in the media as “another unarmed black man shot by police”? Praised by then-candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (among many others), Blake became another symbol of the supposedly racist criminal justice apparatus, joining Michael Brown, who in 2014 was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Like the officer who shot Blake, the Ferguson officer was cleared of wrongdoing by exhaustive local and federal investigations, but the propriety of the shooting was obvious to any dispassionate observer within hours of the incident.

Sadly, the news media are no longer staffed by people who see their mission as informing the public of verifiable facts. Instead, today’s newspaper writers and electronic media reporters are proud purveyors of “narratives,” the details of which are crafted in the tonier enclaves of New York City and Los Angeles. The employees of these outlets are ideologically aligned and virtually interchangeable with one another, reflecting the tastes and inclinations of those predominating in those same tony enclaves on the east and west coasts.

The narrative applied to Kyle Rittenhouse was that he was a “white supremacist” and a “vigilante” with no connection to Kenosha and no conceivable motive to be there other than a malevolent desire to shoot “peaceful protesters.” None of this was true, yet these claims were repeated endlessly on CNN, MSNBC, and in countless print pieces. And, lest we forget, as committed as these news outlets are to advancing the narrative, that commitment is subordinate to their desire to expand their audience. Nothing short of international warfare achieves this purpose better than the type of widespread social upheaval and racial unrest seen after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

How else to explain the absence of evidence running counter to the narrative in the coverage of any of these incidents? How else to explain why both CNN and MSNBC aired the prosecution’s closing argument in the Rittenhouse trial but cut away from the defense’s argument? Put simply, they profit from riots, and in such selective, biased coverage they built up public expectations of a conviction even as they were losing confidence in its inevitability.

For the media elites, there were gains to be had no matter the outcome of the trial. Had Rittenhouse been convicted, the narrative of his being a white supremacist and vigilante would have been advanced. With his acquittal a slightly different one comes forth, one in which Rittenhouse is still evil but has now profited from a justice system so corrupted as to fail to recognize it, with the added benefit of potential rioting.

None of this is intended to imply that Rittenhouse is a hero, only that he is neither a white supremacist, a vigilante, nor a murderer. His impulse to defend lives and property in Kenosha, where his father and other relatives live, was noble. But even the noblest of impulses must be tempered by a measure of prudence few 17-year-olds possess.

And there was a need for lives and property to be defended in Kenosha. The Rittenhouse incident took place on the third night of rioting following Jacob Blake’s shooting, by which time it was clear local authorities were unable or unwilling to contain it. It is unsurprising that in the absence of legitimate authority others in the community would step forward and try to defend their homes and businesses from those who would destroy them in the name of some diseased sense of “social justice.”

Case closed.

While it’s true that deadly force cannot be used to defend property, who would argue that the men with whom Rittenhouse joined should have been unarmed? The 2020 protests, endlessly and absurdly described in the media as “mostly peaceful,” were marked by many instances of assault and even murder. While the media busied themselves anointing George Floyd and Jacob Blake into their pantheon of secular saints, how much time did they devote to the death of David Dorn, the retired St. Louis police captain who, during that city’s rioting after Floyd’s death, responded to interrupt a burglary at a friend’s business and was shot to death for his trouble?

Yes, Kyle Rittenhouse was imprudent in deciding to join the older men in Kenosha that night, but note that it was he, and none of those older and stronger men, who was singled out for attack, first by Joseph Rosenbaum, a convicted rapist of young boys, then by Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, both of whom had less serious criminal records. They saw Rittenhouse as weak and vulnerable, only to discover too late he was neither.

However unwise his decision to be in Kenosha that night, Kyle Rittenhouse had no obligation to meekly submit to a lawless mob. Neither he, nor any American, has a duty to be a victim. The jury agreed, as they should have.

Mother Gaia Likes it Hot

If you've noticed that the greens are in an especially reverent mood of late, it is because the holiest months of their neo-pagan religion are now upon us. What we call summer is referred to semi-officially in their calendar as "Air Conditioning Antipathy Season," and it is traditionally celebrated with the proliferation of various and sundry bits of anti-A/C propaganda whose object is to berate the unenlightened among us for preferring not to be roasted alive from June through August.

Time Magazine recently released a perfect example of this pious genre. Written by Eric Dean Wilson, author of the unpleasant sounding "After Cooling: On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort," the piece begins by mentioning the heatwave that hit the Pacific Northwest last month, with temperatures far exceeding 100ºF and department stores predictably running out of A/C units.

"Unfortunately," Wilson asserts, dutifully, "air-conditioning is part of what’s causing the unusual heatwave in the first place." He then walks us through the supposedly disreputable history of air conditioning, which he says contributed to socio-economic divides (because it was initially prohibitively expensive), was a marker of structural racism (because southern whites got it first), and, more recently, contributed to a near environmental calamity, namely the depletion of the ozone layer which was related to the use of chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants.

One of the reasons folks used to go to the movies. (YouTube)

The article is strange reading for outsiders, as is often the case with religious texts. The race and class references seem awkwardly inserted, perhaps to appease other factions within their broad church. But there are some difficult-to-comprehend passages even within the purely environmental sections.

For instance, you'd think the fact that CFCs were banned in 1987 and have been largely replaced by the much more environmentally friendly hydrofluorocarbons (or HFCs) would be a relief for Wilson, but you'd be wrong. While HFCs don't deplete the ozone layer they still contribute to global warming, he says, as does air conditioning generally, simply because it uses energy.

But if "thou shalt avoid excess energy" is just part of their decalogue, air conditioning is an odd target. As Megan McArdle explained in Bloomberg a while back," Americans still expend much more energy heating their homes than cooling them." This might seem surprising, but it makes sense upon reflection:

The difference between the average temperature outside and the temperature that is comfortable inside is generally only 10 to 20 degrees in most of America, for most of the summer. On the other hand, in January, the residents of Rochester, New York... need to get the temperature up from an average low of 18 degrees (-8 Celsius) to at least 60 or 65. That takes a lot of energy.

Heating homes often seems natural in a way cooling them does not, but this is illogical. Both extremes can (and do) kill people every year. Moreover, McArdle points out that one of the environmental benefits of air conditioning is that it has enabled Americans to progressively move in the direction of the sunbelt, where heating needs in winter are minimal, meaning that less energy overall is used in regulating temperature.

In any event, Wilson's own solution to the  "problem" suggested in his piece is not for his co-religionists to move south, but rather to drastically reduce the amount of A/C used by both elect and reprobate alike. This he would apparently accomplish by banning home air conditioners and having us all become "more comfortable with discomfort." If A/C is allowed to remain legal, it should be available only at "public cooling centers" where, presumably, rich and poor alike can gather joyfully together to gather together to avoid the scorching heat.

If you can't take the heat...

This seems about as realistic to me as the idea that there was a soul-saving spaceship following the comet Hale–Bopp -- how well would those public cooling centers have worked in, for instance, Portland, Ore., when the mercury hit 112º? More than likely people would have rioted to get in and to stay in.

But I guess that (apocryphal) St. Thomas Aquinas line holds true here -- "For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible." Happy A/C Antipathy season to our devout readers.

Connecting the 'Non-Profit' Foundation Dots

We all probably played connect the dots as kids. You know, follow the numbers in order and you see the picture. In real life countless scribblers financed through tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) non-profit outfits, themselves funded almost entirely by rich leftists and organizations who are connecting dots to imaginary bogeymen in their heads.

One such organization, the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) was the source of a Guardian article, which targeted the fossil fuel industry “as common enemy in struggle for racial and environmental justice in America.” The underlying notion is that the U.S. is and always has been plagued by systemic racism, in which the police lay a major role. In fact, there is no systemic racism and the fossil fuel industry which provides abundant and cheap energy has played a significant role in reducing pollution and poverty.

Systemic racism is counter-factual propaganda, and in this case the promoters of this nonsense on which the Guardian relies warrant some dot-connecting, too. The article relies on the Initiative's work and that, in turn, relies on the Initiative's “research database project “LittleSis." LittleSis describes its operation as “a grassroots network connecting the dots between the world’s most powerful people and organizations.”

Perhaps they ought to spend some time connecting the dots between their donors and their own work and the work of their allies.

Of all donations made to nonprofits, 71 percent comes from individuals. (The Balance) "Individuals gave more than $286 billion in 2017, according to Charity Navigator, making individual charitable contributions one of the best nonprofit funding sources."

The actual source of the money is difficult to trace as it’s listed simply as “donations.” And often one major non-profit creates subsidiaries which it then funds. So it is with the Public Accountability Initiative and its offshoot, LittleSis.

The Public Accountability Initiative is a left-of-center research organization that publishes reports on the lobbying relationships between businesses and politicians, particularly with regards to the conventional energy industry. Its central project is LittleSis.org, a left-of-center database that complies the interpersonal relationships of political and business figures, especially if they support center-right or right-of-center causes.

It was funded in its early years by the Sunlight Foundation, a left-of-center government transparency group that incubated projects through its now-closed Sunlight Labs division. [1] The group’s executive director, Kevin Connor, previously worked for the 1199SEIU labor union,[2] which has been characterized as “the union that rules New York.”

And is promoted by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union).

The PAI receives funding from a variety of foundations, nonprofits, unions, and individuals. Major supporters over the past three years include the American Federation of Teachers, the Ford Foundation, and -- of course -- George Soros' Open Society Foundation.

Certainly readers know the background of the Ford and Soros Open Society foundations, but here is the background on some of the other Initiative donors from their own online descriptions. Click on the links to find out more about each organization.

The Sagner Family Foundation is a private foundation located in New York City. The organization was established in 2017, though it had charitable trust status as early as 1961. [1][2] The Foundation supports left-progressive advocacy groups that advance social, economic, and racial issues,[3] including the Tides Foundation, the ACLU, and Congressional Progressive Caucus Center[4]

Foundation president Deborah Sagner, the daughter of former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioner and Clinton administration-era Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chair Alan Sagner, is a prominent donor to left-progressive racial advocacy associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and the radical-left Movement for Black Lives organization that purports to lead it.

So left wing donors, contribute to leftwing operations to provide leftwing publications like Guardian with copy that promotes their views. It's almost like it's one big racket.

(Wikipedia)

Is there much to the claim that oil and gas companies, private utilities and financial institutions contribute to police foundations? Probably so. In this country, unlike most statist European countries, private charities are ubiquitous and generously funded.

Most businesses try to support institutions in the communities they serve to promote worthwhile things that government resources are insufficient or unavailable to fully fund. Is there any problem with the fact that, as the article asserts, this money is used “to pay for training, weapons, equipment and surveillance technology for departments across the U.S.”? Only if you, like they, believe the police “tyrannize the very communities these corporate actors pollute.” Only if you believe that police departments are overfunded as they do.

Only if you agree with Carroll Muffett president of the Center for International Environmental Law that ‘“police violence and systemic racism intersect with the climate crisis.”’  I will concede, that for raking in dough from left wing funders, Muffett manages to hit all the hot buttons—systemic racism, pollution, and climate crisis. In a contra factual world of left wing foundations this blather should work to drive donations which seems to be the point of so many of these outfits whose IRS reports indicate most of what they rake in goes for employee compensation and travel.

In the real world, it takes capital to remediate pollution. Bangladesh, Pakistan and India lead the world in pollution in large part because they haven’t enough capital to do the job; it's easier and more cost-effective to simply pollute and let others worry about the cleanup. Moreover, it takes ample, cheap energy to lift all economic boats. The poorest 20 percent of Americans are richer than most European nations. That is due in significant part to the abundance of resources not the least of which is reasonably priced energy.

A groundbreaking study by Just Facts has discovered that after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and food stamps, the poorest 20 percent of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. This includes the majority of countries in the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including its European members. In other words, if the US “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.

(It’s just a thought, but if these Foundations were really interested in reducing worldwide pollution and poverty they’d get a better return on their money by investing in energy production and transmission in the poorest countries instead of shelling it out to people who want to reduce energy resources here.)

The Guardian asserts that “Donald Trump is deploying militarized security forces to cities such as Seattle and Chicago to quell anti-racism protests amid growing public demands to relocate some police funds into environmental, health and social services, to create safer, healthier and racially just communities. ”This is a preposterous charge, which has not worn well. There’s already significant opposition even in far left Seattle to defunding the police. The Chicago mayor has finally agreed to the deployment of federal troops to protect her city from further destruction.

Trying to track the donors to the foundations whose executives and missions the Guardian endorses is very hard. The scant IRS reports do not require much detail, but the interlocking of foundation executives, and donors, mirrors the interlocking of those outfits and their press promoters. So it is more than ironic to see the Guardian complain of the lack of transparency respecting police foundation resources, “since they are not subject to the same transparency rules as public entities such as law enforcement agencies.”

There isn't a great deal of transparency between the recipients of donations from one tax-exempt foundation to another. On the other hand, put a nice-sounding title  like “Public” or “Rights “or “Justice” in your name and you can be sure major media will not look very closely into who is actually paying you.

Native Americans and the Activist 'Victim' Narrative

Well it's official -- after 87 years the Washington Redskins will be retiring their name and logo. Officially the organization is undergoing what will no doubt be a costly rebranding, one that's sure to alienate much of their fan base, in atonement for the offense they've given Native Americans over many decades.

Unfortunately, no one seems to have told the Natives. As Tim Carney explains,

The most thorough poll of Native American sentiment in the past decade found that 90% of Native Americans didn’t find the team name racist. Only 9% found it offensive. This poll was commissioned by the Washington Post, which has — before and since — been lobbying the Redskins and campaigning nonstop for the team to change its name. "The survey of 504 people across every state and the District reveals that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the same result. Responses to The Post’s questions about the issue were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservations." A more recent, less scientific poll... found that still a clear majority were not offended. The most common emotion elicited among Native Americans by the team’s name? “Pride.”

Now, despite enjoying the proposed replacement names floating around Twitter (The D.C. Swamp Creatures has been my favorite), I really don't care one fig what Washington's football team is called. However, this situation has bearing upon many others we've seen in recent years. Small (but loud) groups of activists claim to speak for the vulnerable, and shame governments and corporations into throwing their financial weight around. (As Carney points out, the movers here were not Native groups but corporations, including Nike, FedEx, and Bank of America). Executives and politicians, desperate to display their woke bona fides, do whatever the activists tell them to do.

Native Americans aren't the only victims of this play, but they are among the most common. The drama up in Canada surrounding the Coastal GasLink pipeline earlier this year is a good example -- protests erupted purportedly in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who, we were told, were having their rights trampled on by the company building the pipeline. The Wet’suwet’en, however, were broadly in favor of the pipeline's construction, which was supplying them with jobs and brought the promise of development to their territory.

Activists and their friends in the media don't want us to hear that side of the story, as it undercuts the Rousseauvian depiction of indigenous people that they want haunting our imaginations. They would prefer we think of Natives exclusively as victims, continually oppressed by the descendants of George Washington and John A. Macdonald, but still in a state of mystical harmony with nature, disinterested in all worldly concerns. But this is an embarrassing caricature of natives, both historically and in the present day.

Which is not to say that they don't care about nature or the land that they've lived on for generations. This story, for instance, about the Fort McKay First Nation's decision to develop an oil sands project on their land even in this apparently unfavorable market, makes it a point to emphasize that group's concern about all such development being responsible. It mentions that they are, concurrent with this project,

in negotiations with the province to finalize a land-preservation plan for the area around Moose Lake, the last relatively undisturbed wilderness in the territory where community members can practice their treaty rights including hunting and harvesting traditional food and medicines.

But as Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan recently explained in Canada's Financial Post, natives, in both Canada and the US, often live "far from the economic opportunities that cities provide," leading to an elevated unemployment rate in indigenous communities. Resource development and extraction are among the best opportunities to combat this problem. This is something Fort McKay understands very well.

The First Nation is surrounded by eight mines and three in-situ operations, and the vast majority of its income is derived from its own business activities, including a dozen companies that service the oil industry. Those companies employed more than 1,400 people and generated $500-million in revenue in 2018.

Job numbers like that are nothing to sniff at, especially in the present economy. Back in February, Troy Young of the Wet’suwet’en Nation gave an interview about the Coastal GasLink pipeline in which he was clearly frustrated by the way the dispute was being portrayed in the media. The pipeline would provide hundreds of jobs for his people, not to mention revenue from the 10 percent ownership stake in the pipeline held by the First Nations groups living along its path. As Young put it, "typically if people are employed, drug use goes down, because people are happy when they're making money, they feel better about themselves. They feel more confident." He was also apprehensive about what it would mean if the protesters were really successful in killing the pipeline project, saying that if that happened "Nobody's ever going to invest here again."

As in the case of the Washington Redskins, activists and the media tend to use native groups as shadow puppets in their simplistic stories. These are meant to bolster a preexisting narrative, one which is more representative of the activists' interests than anyone else's. In the real world, indigenous people aren't so reflective of their caricature. So whenever you encounter loud, angry people speaking on behalf of natives, take a moment to consider whom they're really speaking for.

Marxist Revolution's 'Satanic Mendacity'

The British public intellectual Sir Roger Scruton passed away at the beginning of this year. If you aren't familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and watch this lengthy interview he did with Douglas Murray in 2019 on the nature of conservatism, and make it a point to read a few of his innumerable books or essays.

I've been thinking of one such essay quite often of late, as we've been watching riots and general disorder overtake so many of America's great cities. Specifically his account of the intellectual journey which led him to recognize himself as a conservative.

Scruton begins by explaining that, though roughly half of the Britain of his youth voted for the Tory party, "almost all English intellectuals regarded the term 'conservative' as a term of abuse," and that conservatism wasn't an intellectual path that he or any of his fellows seriously considered. That changed in an instant, however, when he found himself watching the May 1968 riots through an apartment window while visiting Paris. From that vantage point he witnessed Parisians, mostly students like himself, smashing windows, overturning cars, building barricades in the streets, and hurling cobblestones at the police.

That evening he found himself chatting with a friend who had spent her day on the barricades and was elated by the whole thing, which she believed to be "the artistic transfiguration of an absurdity which is the day-to-day meaning of bourgeois life." From her perspective, "The bourgeoisie were on the run and soon the Old Fascist and his régime would be begging for mercy." (The "Old Fascist," it should be noted, was Charles de Gaulle, one of history's great ANTI-Fascists, as demonstrated by his political leadership of la Résistance during World War II.)

Scruton found all of this troubling, and he challenged his friend's embrace of the bedlam in the streets:

What, I asked, do you propose to put in the place of this “bourgeoisie” whom you so despise, and to whom you owe the freedom and prosperity that enable you to play on your toy barricades? What vision of France and its culture compels you? And are you prepared to die for your beliefs, or merely to put others at risk in order to display them? I was obnoxiously pompous: but for the first time in my life I had felt a surge of political anger, finding myself on the other side of the barricades from all the people I knew.

She replied with a book: Foucault’s Les mots et les choses [published in English as "The Order of Things"], the bible of the soixante-huitards, the text which seemed to justify every form of transgression, by showing that obedience is merely defeat. It is an artful book, composed with a satanic mendacity, selectively appropriating facts in order to show that culture and knowledge are nothing but the “discourses” of power. The book is not a work of philosophy but an exercise in rhetoric. Its goal is subversion, not truth, and it is careful to argue—by the old nominalist sleight of hand that was surely invented by the Father of Lies—that “truth” requires inverted commas, that it changes from epoch to epoch, and is tied to the form of consciousness, the “episteme,” imposed by the class which profits from its propagation.

The revolutionary spirit, which searches the world for things to hate, has found in Foucault a new literary formula. Look everywhere for power, he tells his readers, and you will find it. Where there is power there is oppression. And where there is oppression there is the right to destroy. In the street below my window was the translation of that message into deeds.

Scruton goes on to explain that, while his friend is now "a good bourgeoise," like so many of the grown-up '68ers, Foucault's books have come to be enormously influential in the Western academy. "His vision of European culture as the institutionalized form of oppressive power is taught everywhere as gospel, to students who have neither the culture nor the religion to resist it." Unsurprisingly, this has inspired what our editor Michael Walsh has called (in his indispensable book The Devil's Pleasure Palace) a "lack of cultural self-confidence" in Western man, leading to

[H]is willingness to open his ears to the siren song of nihilism, a juvenile eagerness to believe the worst about himself and his society and to relish, on some level, his own prospective destruction.

This is, of course, what we are seeing play out in our streets today -- unemployed, but over-educated, young people, having been indoctrinated into the nihilistic belief that there are neither heroes nor principles, and that reason is merely a tool of oppression -- have given themselves over to iconoclasm, howling at anyone who disagrees with them on any point. You would feel bad for them if they weren't attempting to obliterate the memory of better men than themselves.

The Sorbone, '68: lift every voice in song.

True, lockdown fatigue has likely contributed to the protests and riots, but I can't help thinking that a lot of the young rioters who felt the thrill of throwing a brick through a store window or a molotov cocktail at a cop car are going to have trouble going back to living normal lives. Partly, of course, because the lockdowns are technically still in effect, and protests are the only place anyone's allowed to party these days. But also because the resentment and nihilism that animate these events are self-sustaining and self-justifying.

Still, there are reasons for hope. For one thing, there's a real possibility that the pandemic is going to bring about the long-expected destruction of America's education racket. It likely won't take down the Ivy League, unfortunately, (though the Ivyies will have to deal with their own unique challenges), but a lot of mid-tier colleges will probably close. Which means that the young adults who would have given them $80,000 in borrowed money in exchange for worthless degrees in grievance studies will, instead, have to go out and get jobs, make friends, start families, and get involved in their communities. As "bourgeois" as those things might seem, they have provided lives with meaning from time immemorial. And, who knows, maybe they'll even enjoy the occasional good book without having some Marxist professor ruin it for them.

For another, as much as it seems like the world is collapsing right now, there's some evidence that normal people are disturbed by these events. The events of 1968 drove Americans into the arms of Richard Nixon and (after a brief interlude) Ronald Reagan. They also, as noted above, motivated a young Roger Scruton to rebel against their mendacious, destructive spirit. It may well be that many young people out there are similarly disturbed by all of this pandemonium. Perhaps that will ultimately impel them to embrace instead a worldview based on that sentiment which is at the heart of conservatism, namely gratitude.

Here's hoping.

Gov. Blackface and the Greening of Virginia

You're forgiven for still thinking of Virginia as a conservative state. If you went to school before the Leftists leveled our educational system, you'll know that securing the buy-in of steady, aristocratic Virginians like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson helped convince the colonists that the dispute those rowdy New Englanders were having with Britain wasn't just a regional affair. But as a matter of more recent history, between the elections of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and Barrack Obama in 2008, Virginia was only won by one Democrat in a presidential contest. This isn't to say that the Old Dominion has been governed exclusively by the GOP -- when Linwood Holton was elected governor in 1970 he was the first Republican to hold that position in a century -- but no matter the party power in Richmond, they had to conform to the small 'c' conservative culture of the state.

In a relatively short time, however, that Virginia has been fundamentally transformed. After the most recent gubernatorial contest, which saw the election of the fourth Democrat in the last five cycles, journalist Matthew Continetti wrote a piece about his home state entitled 'How States Like Virginia Go Blue.' In it he paints a picture of modern day Virginia as "a hub of highly educated professionals, immigrants, and liberals," with an exploding population comprised of both the wealthy and educated and the comparatively poor, both key Democratic constituents:

Over the last 29 years, Virginia has become wealthier, more diverse, and more crowded. The population has grown by 42 percent, from 6 million in 1990 to 8.5 million. Population density has increased by 38 percent, from 156 people per square mile to 215. Mean travel time to work has increased from 24 minutes to 28 minutes. The median home price (in 2018 dollars) has gone from $169,000 to $256,000. Density equals Democrats.

The number of Virginians born overseas has skyrocketed from 5 percent to 12 percent. The Hispanic population has gone from 3 percent to 10 percent. The Asian community has grown from 2 percent to 7 percent. In 1990, 7 percent of people 5 years and older spoke a language other than English at home. In 2018 the number was 16 percent.

If educational attainment is a proxy for class, Virginia has undergone bourgeoisification. The number of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher has shot up from 25 percent of the state to 38 percent. As baccalaureates multiplied, they swapped partisan affiliation. Many of the Yuppies of the ’80s, Bobos of the ’90s, and Security Moms of the ’00s now march in the Resistance.

Which is to say that, in that time, Virginia has been culturally and demographically tugged away from the rural, southern states and towards the urban, mid-Atlantic states. As one might expect, these trends are significantly more pronounced in the DC suburbs of Northern Va., especially Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. The populations of these counties have exploded in that time. Fairfax gets more press, but Continetti points out that the population of Loudoun has more than quadrupled since the early '90s. Immigration is an important factor, but the expansion of the federal government during the Bush and Obama administrations might be more significant. Bureaucrats and defense contractors have to live somewhere, and they vote according to their interests.

Transformations like the one Continetti describes have consequences. In 2017, Virginians elected Democrat Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, as its governor. A lot of ink has been spilt on Northam's expanding abortion access in Virginia (including his controversial comments related to post-birth abortion) and his war on guns (as well as the extremely civil protests against his anti-2nd Amendment initiatives, which were nevertheless vilified by the mainstream media), as these have particularly enraged the Old Virginians. And who could forget his racist yearbook photo, which he originally claimed did not depict him until he eventually apologized, though without clarifying whether he's the Klansman or the guy in black face. Somehow Democrats are always able to survive these things, while Republicans have their careers ended over more ambiguous incidents.

As Politico noted at the time:

In a bid to salvage his job, the Democratic governor of Virginia denied he was one of the men dressed up as a Klansman or in blackface in a picture on his medical school yearbook page — after admitting the night before he was, in fact, in the photo.

In a different yearbook at Virginia Military Institute, Northam was nicknamed “Coonman.” Why? He wasn’t quite sure, he said. “My main nickname in high school and in college was ‘Goose’ because when my voice was changing, I would change an octave. There were two individuals, as best as I can recollect, at VMI — they were a year ahead of me. They called me ‘Coonman’. I don’t know their motives or intent. I know who they are. That was the extent of that. And it ended up in the yearbook. And I regret that.”

Right.

A less publicized aspect of Northam's agenda has been his environmental extremism. Last September he signed an executive order setting a goal that the state produce 100 percent of its energy via "carbon-free" sources by 2050, and 30% within the next 10 years.

Chris Bast... of the [Department of Environmental Quality] told The Center Square that he did not have an estimate on how much the executive order will cost consumers or taxpayers, but said that investments to fight climate change are necessary. “The cost of inaction outweighs the cost of action,” Bast said.

Of course.

After the state elections in November flipped both legislative houses to the Democrats, they set about turning that goal into a mandate, and this spring -- in the midst of the pandemic and Virginia's lengthy and onerous lockdowns -- Northam signed the Green New Deal-inspired Virginia Clean Economy Act, which did exactly that. He also approved the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act which puts Virginia on the path to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This multi-state compact imposes new regulatory burdens on Virginia's oil, natural gas, and coal power plants, and introduces a cap-and-trade scheme on the 30 largest of them.

As Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, told The Daily Signal, “Virginia could hardly have picked a worse time to join RGGI,”

Everywhere RGGI has gone, higher electricity prices have followed. In Virginia’s case, however, membership will coincide with trying to recover from the self-imposed economic collapse of the statewide lockdown. At a time when millions have lost their jobs, many of them from small businesses that may never reopen, Gov. Northam and his supporters in the General Assembly are knowingly adding to the burdens of families trying to recover from the COVID-19 lockdown. It is a direct assault on the disposable incomes of the state’s most vulnerable residents by an out-of-touch political elite. Absurdly, with natural gas abundant, reliable, and cheap, the governor chooses this moment to hitch Virginia’s fortunes to taxpayer-subsidized wind and solar power, which are intermittent, unreliable, and expensive.

Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, adds that this push will ultimately be harmful to the environment and ignores the fact that the fracking revolution has led to a significant decrease in America's carbon emissions.

“If you’re going to require all of the state’s power to come from 100% carbon-free sources by 2050, this will require a lot of [the] state’s land, which probably means impacting the state’s agricultural lands or cutting down some forests and probably both... So much for the environment.”

“It’s also completely unnecessary,” he said. “If the goal is to stop climate change, the U.S. is already the global leader in carbon dioxide emission reductions. Between 2005 and 2018, CO2 declined 12%. The free market is already taking care of the environment.”

Unfortunately these trends seem unlikely to turn around any time soon. The Virginia Republican party is made up of factions which seem to despise each other more than they hate the Democrats, but it just might be the case that the numbers to change course just aren't there. Northam's opponent in 2017 was the GOP establishmentarian Ed Gillespie, a two-time loser in state elections, who attempted to appeal to nationalists by focusing on issues like crime and immigration. He received only 45% of the vote.

Perhaps the only solution might be a proposal which started gaining steam during the Second Amendment battles earlier this year -- secession. Specifically secession for those counties in western and southern Virginia disturbed by the direction of their state and interested in joining the more conservatively inclined West Virginia. And the free state of West Virginia, which itself seceded from the slave state of Virginia in 1863, seems ready to welcome their separated brethren with open arms. Should that transpire, and the size and relative importance of Virginia decrease on Northam's watch, his face will no longer be black or even green. It will be red.

Why the Fuss over the Coronavirus Is Familiar

If you think the apocalyptic concern over the coronavirus seems familiar, it is -- because you've been hearing Doom and Gloom and The End is Near hugger-mugger from the Left regarding that elusive monster, "climate change," for decades. We've all been pounded daily by the climate cult to believe that the world is burning up, that much of it is our fault (the Western democracies that is; the peace-loving, pre-industrial vegans of China and India are wholly innocent), and the only solution is an immediate lowering of Western standards of living and a huge cash transfusion to the Third World -- which, as usual, is hardest hit, along with women and other minorities.

In The Hill, Rupert Darwall makes the comparison:

Today's coronavirus pandemic puts into some perspective the climate emergency, which has been running for nigh on 32 years. The climate emergency was first announced in June 1988. “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war,” the Toronto climate conference declared that month.

One way of assessing the reliability of a body of science with major policy implications is whether the experts in the field are prone to over-predicting the severity of the problem. Take smoking: In 1953, Richard Doll, one of the pioneer epidemiologists in discovering the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer, predicted that, in 1973, the number of deaths from lung cancer in Britain would be as high as 25,000. The actual number was 26,000. Doll’s prediction passed a hard test.

By contrast, the Toronto climate conference predicted global temperatures would increase by between 1.5 and 4.5°C (2.7°F and 8.1°F) by the 2030s. Since 1988, average global temperature has risen at a rate of 0.177°C (0.32°F) per decade, less than one-half the 0.36°C (0.65°F) per decade implied by a 1.5°C rise by 2030 and only one-sixth of the rate of a 4.5°C rise. If there’s been a mainstream climate scientist who has under-predicted global warming, he or she must have taken the scientific equivalent of a Trappist vow of silence.

Not such a great track record, but never fear: they'll continue retailing the same nonsense for as long as the Western media lets them get away with it, which will be forever. But on the theory that a single event, anywhere in the world, proves the existence of  "global warming" or "climate change," the coronavirus has become part of the quasi-religious mania that has put the "mental" into the "environmentalist" Left. Just as Godzilla was a furious Nature's revenge on the world for atomic testing, so is the WuHan virus Mother Gaia's attempt to restore the natural balance, by showing us who the real virus is.

For proof, note this story in Britain's ultra-left-wing publication, The Guardian:

Government responses to climate breakdown and to the challenges of poverty and inequality must be changed permanently after the coronavirus has been dealt with, leading scientists have urged, as the actions taken to suppress the spread of the virus have revealed what measures are possible in an emergency.

The Covid-19 crisis has revealed what governments are capable of doing and shone a new light on the motivation for past policies and their outcomes, said Sir Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, and chair of the commission of the social determinants of health at the World Health Organisation.

“With Covid-19, everything [on austerity] went out of the window. It turns out austerity was a choice,” he said. “The government can spend anything [in the context of the coronavirus crisis], and they have socialised the economy.” The urgency with which the government had acted showed that the response to an emergency could be swift and decisive, he said. But the climate crisis has been viewed as a “slow-burn” issue and had not elicited such a response. “Coronavirus exposes that we can do things differently,” Marmot said. “We must not go back to the status quo ante.”

That's the new game plan: once the battle against the virus has been won, there's no need to remove the restrictions on personal freedom that have marked the political response to the coronavirus. Also, kiss your old lifestyle good-bye:

Some people have pointed out that the response to the current crisis has reduced emissions and air pollution in the short term. But Jason Hickel, lecturer in economic anthropology at Goldsmiths University, warned of taking too many lessons from that.

“When you scale down energy use and industrial production, it does have these ecological benefits but the crucial thing to observe is that this is happening in an unplanned, chaotic way which is hurting people’s lives,” he said. “We would never advocate such a thing. What we need is a planned approach to reducing unnecessary industrial activity that has no connection to human welfare and that disproportionately benefits already wealthy people as opposed to ordinary people. There are much more equitable, just and carefully planned ways to approach this kind of problem.”

Right... As Darwall, the author of Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex (2017) and The Age of Global Warming: A History (2013), observes:

The coronavirus pandemic shows what a genuine crisis looks like. No one has to catastrophize it; the facts speak for themselves. Inducing fear and panic is counter-productive.

One thing hasn’t changed and won’t change: Catastrophizing climate change for political ends. At one of the secretive meetings in 1987, limited to only 25 key participants that led to the formation of the IPCC, it was recognized that climate change had to be catastrophized to persuade politicians that they should embark on damaging emissions cuts. Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres complained about the attention being given to COVID-19: “Whilst the disease is expected to be temporary, climate change has been a phenomenon for many years, and will remain with us for decades and require constant action.”

Two lessons can be drawn. The first is the importance of governments and responsible international bodies focusing on genuine threats that can rapidly overwhelm our capacity to handle them. Something has gone very wrong when the World Health Organization, the lead institution coordinating the response to global pandemics, climbed on the climate bandwagon and called the Paris Agreement “potentially the strongest health agreement of this century” and listed climate change as the No. 1 threat to global health.

The second is resilience. Richer societies are better able to handle a pandemic than poorer ones. Since 1992, South Korea’s carbon dioxide emissions have more than doubled and it is planning to grow them under the Paris Agreement. Unlike House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her colleagues, South Korea has no intention of sacrificing its economy on the altar of climate change. Nor should America.

In other words, when reality hits the fan, the morbid preoccupation with imaginary problems is the first thing out the window. All of the social-justice causes of the past decade -- the fixation on "gender," the sighting of "racism" everywhere, and "climate change" -- suddenly seem if not totally irrelevant then very small beer indeed. They were luxuries we could afford, because deep down we all knew -- even the Left, which wields these monomanias like clubs against civilization -- that they didn't really matter. That, at the end of the day, we could turn the lights out and go to sleep, secure in the knowledge that there were no monsters in the closet or under the bed.

The climate isn't changing, but the times certainly are.

I Got Those Intersectional Reds, Whites, and Blues

In the hierarchy of victimhood/hurt feelings/ general wokeness, does "racism" outrank the crusade to save Mother Gaia? This is the terrible dilemma Karin Louise Hermes faced when trying to balance her identity as a half-Filipina, half-German with her desire to fight for "climate justice" as an activist. When a typhoon hit the Philippines seven years ago (not an unheard-of event in that part of the world), it took three days before Ms. Hermes got the happy news that an aunt, uncle and cousin had survived. But still she became aggrieved -- not about the wind and the rain, but the racism of other climate activists. (Emphasis in bold is mine.)

As a climate activist in Berlin, I felt required to tell my Filipino family’s experience during speeches and rallies because this form of “storytelling” was the only thing that would move a mostly white European audience to an emotional response of climate urgency—even though it was exhausting telling the story, especially since any mention of hurricanes in the news gives me anxiety.

I would hear “great speech,” “so emotional when your voice cracked.” But after a while I realized I would only be called upon when climate organizations needed an inspiring story or a “diverse” voice, contacts for a campaign, or to participate in a workshop for “fun” when everyone else on the (all-white) project was getting paid.

Here an uncharitable soul might point that that her relatives all lived and so, despite the loss of property, the story had a happy ending. One might also inquire what "climate change" has to do with a typhoon hitting the Philippines, which gets an average of five destructive typhoons a year, and is known as the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms. As Wikipedia notes: "The frequency of typhoons in the Philippines have made the typhoons a significant part of everyday ancient and modern Filipino culture." Which is to say, for hundres and perhaps thousands of years.  So, plus ça change, hein? 

Mox nix, as we say in Bavarian. Forget the typhoons: what really didn't sit well with Ms. Hermes was the reaction of her audiences, and that fact that she wasn't getting paid for her activism in front of "white" audiences:

Whenever I would question the whiteness of these spaces and how strategies didn’t take race into account, I would be met with uncomfortable silences. The last time, at a nationwide movement-building workshop last April, I was asked, “Well then, why are you even here?”

[Click on the link above to learn more about the pressing need for more "diversity" among environmental groups.]

So I decided not to be there anymore. After four years of helping organize direct actions, speeches, workshops, and countless video calls, I started hiding and declining requests. I was burned out.

And so, like a spent typhoon, our heroine has had enough. "I stopped talking to people who didn’t relate, including friends who were telling me to come join them now that the marches were becoming more popular. I was also in bed sick a lot. I stayed at home from climate marches telling people my knee was injured and kept to myself, needing to regain all the energy I had put into organizing."

Because, you see, it's all just too, too much:

Climate activism in Germany is mainstream thanks to the longevity and popularity of the German Green Party, which was formed in 1980. But generally the German climate movement is a white space, where there is little awareness of global inequality in the climate crisis. Sometimes it’s the seemingly little things, like climate action meaning “die-ins,” lynching reenactments, or dancing in the street to disrupt public transport. Sometimes it’s being asked time and again what whiteness, capitalism, and inequality have to do with climate change.

Other times it’s more major, like how activists here promote veganism as the single biggest way to reduce their carbon footprint, but ignore how people have been killed after protesting against the sourcing of plant-based foods like palm oil on Indigenous lands. The movement’s failure to address these inequalities is ultimately why I found myself needing to walk away. Anti-racism and anti-capitalism need to be made part of organizing. If “Green” policies fail to consider anti-racism and migrant rights, how is any person of colour supposed to feel voting for them or organizing in the same spaces?

'Tis a puzzlement. In the meantime, typhoons will continue to batter the Philippines and other island nations in east Asia, whether activists get paid or not.