THE COLUMN: 'End of Quote. Repeat the Line'

In 2016, the only Democrat candidate Donald Trump could possibly have defeated was Hillary Clinton. And the only  Republican candidate she could have lost to was Donald Trump. In 2020, Joe Biden was able to defeat Trump because Trump was so busily engaged in the process of skunking himself that he barely took notice of Biden's candidacy. So much for the old saying that you can't beat something with nothing: the cipher Biden, a professional nonentity for exactly half a century, was a ballot placeholder who didn't bother to campaign because that would have taken the focus off Trump, which is exactly where the Democrats wanted and needed it to be. Any other candidate would have been a distraction.

The also-rans—Warren, Marge Gunderson (excuse me! Amy Klobochar!), Li'l Pete—were relatively fresh faces on the national scene. Biden's only serious rival, Bernie Sanders, was too radical for the party bosses to seriously contemplate, even though their hearts were with him. But Joe from Scranton was that old well-sprung sofa that's occupied the same place in your grandparents' living room for decades because no one could be bothered to throw it out or replace it. On such a delicate fulcrum of paralysis oftentimes teeters the fate of nations. 

Now, however, the focus is on Biden. The empty suit and the empty head that currently masquerade as the president of the United States is now subject to the one thing he never was during his undistinguished, comically malevolent, supererogatory, opportunistic career in the Senate: scrutiny. As Buster Scruggs says in the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) after observing the freshly drilled bullet hole in his white hat, courtesy of a faster shootist, "Well, that ain't good." 

Scrutiny is the one thing Biden can't handle, in part because he's never been held responsible for anything in his life. He's dined out for 50 years on the false story that a drunk driver killed his wife and baby daughter just after his first election to the Senate in tiny, corrupt Delaware—when in fact the driver of the tractor-trailer was not drunk and was never charged, and Neilia Biden's car had prematurely entered his right of way at an intersection. He wallows in the death of his son, Beau, and waves the bloody shirt every chance he gets, and consistently defends his dirtbag son, Hunter, as "the smartest guy I know" (which, frighteningly, just might be true.) Don't even ask about his daughter, Ashley, or the rest of the family.

Further, he classlessly harangued Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas in senate hearings, smearing them with the grossest falsehoods, something for which he could not be sued or held legally liable thanks to the "speech and debate" clause in the Constitution. 

They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Even though he's now president—and he is; the Democrats stole the 2020 election fair and square—Biden still acts like he's a senator. Indeed, in some of his campaign speeches, the senile figurehead even rote-repeated that he was running for the United States Senate:

But rote is all you have left when your brain has turned to mush. After a lifetime of bullying, bragging, lying, threatening, embellishing, finger-pointing, chest-bumping, insulting, brazenly lying, and outright plagiarizing, Sundown Joe has been reduced to his essence, which is nothing. Like a ham actor in his dotage, bottoming out doing dinner theater in Paducah, he relies on the accumulated tics and strategems of a lifetime of performing a script others have written for him.

During a recent speech calumniating the Supreme Court's rational and measured rejection of Roe v. Wade—a legal enormity exactly contemporaneous with Biden's own political career, which is probably one of the reasons he's so attached to it—Joe just barreled through his staff-provided boilerplate, unconscious of what he was saying, and causing some to suspect he even included a stage direction:

Biden's defenders immediately pointed out, correctly, that "end of quote" was in fact part of the speech, and that what sounds like him saying "repeat the line" may well have been "let me repeat the line," rendered unintelligible by Scranton Joe's habitually mush-mouthed eastern Pennsylvania accent, in which the speaker swallows half the words before spitting out the rest. (The claim that Biden once had a "stutter" or a "speech impediment," as his partisans claim, is absurd to anyone who's been trapped on the same planet with him for a lifetime, as I have. First I ever heard of it was just a couple of years ago, as the media began making excuses for his clearly accelerating dementia.) The point is: when the guy is this far gone, how can you tell? After all, Biden is the master of what Ed Driscoll at Instapundit has dubbed "TRUNALIMUNUMAPRZURE." Listen for yourself:

Still, "repeat the line" makes an apt epitaph for the coming end of the Biden administration, since repeating the [party] line is all Joe Biden has ever done. For nearly his entire career, this human weathervane has understood that words are only a means to end—his re-election—and he treats them accordingly. As a senator he could say anything that wandered, or was implanted, into his empty head. As Obama's vice president, all he had to do was occasionally show up and take an airplane ride to somewhere. Like Fredo Corleone, he's stupid and he knows it, but demands that others deem him smart. Hey, if he's so dumb how come he's president?

We know how. In the 2020 duel between two aging gunslingers, one of them couldn't shoot straight, and the other could only shoot himself in the foot. The first debate was a disaster for Trump; all Biden had to do was sit back, smirk, and catcall, something he can do even as a somnambulist. The second one was canceled due to Trump's Covid. And the third was a draw, since both mouths had their microphones muted when the other guy was talking. With all the election "fortifications" in place, instituted right under the Trump administration's noses, the result was in retrospect a foregone conclusion, the flip side of 2016: win in the Electoral College by narrow margins in six states, lose by narrow margins in the same six states.

Well, that ain't good. With Biden's chances of being re-nominated for 2024 next to nil, all eyes are on the Republicans, who are in the unenviable position of having to make the first move. Will they allow an enraged Trump to bluff and bully his way to the nomination, running on a platform of revenge for 2020—and run the risk of his turning out 80 millions votes against him (one way or the other), like he did last time? Or will they realize they have better candidates to hand, men quicker on the draw and surer of aim? The verdict of the voters later this year in the midterms should have a clarifying effect on all parties—except perhaps Trump, who's threatening to announce his intent to run again even before November.

The Right mocks the Jan. 6 hearings and points to their poor television ratings, lack of cross-examination, Liz Cheney's sourpuss, and wholly vengeful nature. They scoff at the Democrat's determination to indict the former president. But in fact the Democrats are doing conservatives a favor. Their smart play is to let the GOP nominate Trump in 2024, sideline potent contenders like Ron DeSantis for at least four years, and then crush Trump at the last possible moment with someone like Michelle Obama by harping on his past, his age ("one geriatric president is enough!" they'll say, with a mouthful of unmelted butter), and the fact that no one turns out the donkey vote like the Donald.

But their deracinated hatred for America has always been their weak spot. And if they bury Trump, someone like DeSantis will come riding into town and dispatch them the way the Kid does Buster in the Coen's movie. Just like Scruggs, they'll never know what hit them until it's too late. They shoulda seen it comin', but luckily for us they won't. 

THE COLUMN: Winter and the Fourth of July

Here in rural New England, at the eastern base of the Taconics and the Berkshires, with New York State just over the hills and Boston a long 150 miles away, we have a saying about the seasons. There are basically two of them: winter and the Fourth of July, which is today. (Some also subdivide them into snow, mud, bugs, and leaf.) Independence Day used to be a day of fireworks, family, flags, and fun, but in Joe Biden's America it might just as well be a time of war and pestilence, of sackcloth and ashes.

These days, the Fourth is the holiday that dare not speak its name, thanks in part to the wholly inimical and widely debunked "1619 project," brought to you by Pravda and edited by the victim brigade of Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman and Jake Silverstein. It's a "reframing" of the American story in mockery of our political origins, in defiance of actual history, and with the expressed purpose of sabotaging (via its introduction into government-school curriculums) our sense of national identity. As historian Tom Macaman, a noted critic of the project, wrote at the link just above:

Silverstein has staked his reputation on the 1619 Project. This has gone badly for him. His name will forever be associated with the secretive manner through which the project invented its false and error-ridden historical interpretation, as well as the orchestration of the cover-up that has followed.

Specifically, Silverstein bears responsibility for the exclusion of leading scholars of American history—who would have objected to the 1619 Project’s central historical claims—and the intentional disregarding of objections made by the project’s own handpicked “fact-checkers.” Silverstein penned the devious reply to leading historians who pointed to the project’s errors. He then organized surreptitious changes to the already published 1619 Project, and, when exposed, claimed that it had all been a matter of word choice.

Silverstein’s 8,250-word essay is just the latest in this long line of underhanded journalism and bogus history.

Run your boats under the guns, not in front of them.

Well, when the World Socialist Web Site is right, it's right. Never mind that slavery in the country known as the United States of America was legal only from 1776 to 1865, a total of 89 years. That's it.

As it happens, the last state to give up slavery was Biden's dead-end, dead-beat Delaware, a slave state that remained in the Union and to which the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply and "Juneteenth" was unknown and irrelevant. The bastard sliver of New Sweden finally abolished slavery, essentially at federal gunpoint, on Dec. 6, 1865, the day the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. Has Biden—who never met a Southern racist Democrat (George Wallace, Robert Byrd) he didn't want to buddy up with—ever acknowledged and apologized for his useless state's rancid history? Fat chance; instead, throughout his hacktastic political career, and in earlier delusions of running for president, he explicitly identified his state with the South during the Civil War as he pandered for support:

The same story went to quote a presidential primary campaign speech Biden had given in Alabama in which he said “we (Delawareans) were on the South’s side in the Civil War.”

Leave it to the Democrats, the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition, which started the Civil War, to nominate and elect a senile dinosaur from the last human-bondage state in the Union. Their appetite for totalitarianism is boundless, as Biden, railing in his dotage, hurling executive orders and attacking the Supreme Court in seditious terms (overseas, no less), proves every day.

Before 1776 what eventually became the U.S.A. was a collection of British colonies; in 1619, when black Africans aboard a Portuguese slave ship, taken as bounty by English privateers (aka "pirates"), came ashore in the New World, they did so near Hampton in the British colony of Virginia. At that point, there was nothing "American" about it, other than its location. (The Portuguese, by the way, were among history's worst black-African slavers, directing the  bulk of the transatlantic slave trade to their colony, Brazil. Yet somehow slavery is "America's original sin.")

Instead, slavery was a cause for which hundreds of thousands of Americans died. On these first few days in July 1863, in the midst of the Civil War that may have started as a rebellion but turned into a war to free the slaves, Union generals Ulysses S. Grant and George Meade electrified the nation with the news of their twin victories at Vicksburg, the last of the southern citadels on the Mississippi River, and at Gettysburg, a small town in southern Pennsylvania where Robert E. Lee's defective generalship finally caught up to his inflated reputation, and killed the Confederacy's hopes at point-blank range during Pickett's Charge. It was a blunder that made Grant's worst military decision, Cold Harbor, look almost sensible.

This is the same Grant who called the "cause" of the Confederacy "one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.” In a forgotten bit of history, the capture of Vicksburg also vindicated General Winfield Scott's "Anaconda Plan," which advocated choking the South to death by blockading its ports and seizing its principal waterways. Which is exactly what Grant—who served under "Old Fuss and Feathers" in the Mexican War—did.

Old Fuss and Feathers was right.

From that date, July 4, 1863, the Civil War, which had widely been thought near-lost on the Northern side -- was won. And yet it still took Sherman's capture of Atlanta the following summer to ensure Lincoln's 1864 re-election. Indeed, just 15 months before Vicksburg, Grant had nearly lost the battle, his command, and maybe even the war, at Shiloh. The defeatist Northern newspapers howled for his head and he was briefly demoted by the crown martinet and leading REMF of the U.S. military, Gen. Henry Halleck. Sometimes it's darkest before the dawn.

And sometimes it isn't. On July 4, we're already two days past the halfway point of the calendar; in the northern hemisphere the days are growing shorter, and even as we're enjoying, or used to enjoy, beer (ruined by hipsters and hops) and baseball (fubared) we're aware that winter is coming. We can't say we weren't warned: in 2020, even before he took office, Biden warned of a "dark winter" ahead. Little did we know he meant that all four years of his term would bristle with defeatism, misery, and death, like Delaware but on a grand scale.

Which brings me to our present circumstances. In these darkening days of the Republic, the Left is both triumphant and morose, dreading its fate when and if the scattered forces of MAGA regroup and oust them beginning this fall with the midterm elections. The Right, meanwhile is riven between the die-hard partisans of Donald Trump and those disinclined to risk a repeat of the unnecessary turmoil of 2016-2020 when younger and better candidates are now making their presence known.

Recently, on my Facebook page, many of my readers misinterpreted the lessons of my most recent book, Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost, regarding Trump's continuing refusal to accept his loss in 2020 (however occasioned) and his disastrous behavior on Jan. 6, which led to the continuing incarceration of many supporters for their involvement in the Capitol Hill demonstration/protest/riot. One of the points of that book was that, in every battle cited, the losing side ultimately won. The Greeks lost at Thermopylae but rallied at Salamis and Plataea. The Romans were crushed at Cannae but chased Hannibal to his end at Zama.

Ultimate winners can suffer a tactical or even strategic defeat and continue to fight. Inspired by Achilles, Alexander crushed the Persians and conquered the world, in part to avenge the sack of Athens in 480 B.C. The Roman Republic rebounded from the Second Punic War and turned into the Roman Empire. After the Hungarian defeat at Szigetvar, the Turks were driven from central Europe. Custer died on Last Stand Hill, but Reno and Benteen mounted a brilliant and valiant defense on a hilltop a couple of miles away, and the Sioux lost the Indian Wars. The Soviets ate hot Wehrmacht lead at Stalingrad but held on to the turn the tide of the war and destroy National Socialist Germany.

Know when to change generals. You can still win the war.

At the start of the Civil War, Winfield Scott was 74 years old. He had fought in the War of 1812, overseen the Trail of Tears in 1838, became commanding general of the U.S. Army in 1841, captured Mexico City in 1847, and had been the Whig candidate for president in 1852, losing to the Democrat, Franklin Pierce. At the outbreak of the Civil War he held the title of Lieutenant General, the first man to hold that rank since George Washington. A native Virginian, he stayed loyal to the Union and, as Lincoln took office, was still on duty as the new president's chief military advisor, retiring in 1861 as George McClellan began to supersede him. He died in 1866, at the age of 79.

Never give up—but never hesitate to change generals when you have to. To equate the fate of our Republic with one man's loss—and, worse, to hold it hostage to his pique—is in absurd and dangerous. Scipio was a better general than Varro. Grant was a better general than McLellan. Ron DeSantis, 43, who has yet to put a foot wrong as governor of the free state of Florida, will be a far better general than Trump, who will be 78 years old in 2024. One geriatric president is enough.

Thanks to the Democrats' Jan 6 hearings, and in particular to the unforced and artless testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, Trump has been irremediably damaged. America doesn't need a King Lear, railing about loyalty among a superannuated rum crew (Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani) while a younger, stronger, better man awaits his turn on the national stage. Let us hope, and pray, that the trial balloons regarding an early announcement of a Trump 2024 candidacy, designed to cut the legs out from underneath any challengers, are just so much Fourth of July hot air, to be borne aloft and away before the last hot dog dies.

Fight on, but fight the next war, not the last one. Winter's on its way, and while the graveyards may be full of indispensable men,  we're not ready for the cemetery yet. Have a happy Independence Day, America, and many more—if you can keep it.

THE COLUMN: 'They Only Eat Rat'

UPDATED

When we Baby Boomers entered first grade back in the early/middle 1950s, it was not unusual for us to encounter forty or fifty other children competing for classroom space while a single harried nun or teacher herded us little darlings into some semblance of alphabetical order, made us take our seats, and began instruction. Crammed into newly built classrooms to accommodate our unprecedented numbers, cheek to jowl with a bunch of strangers, and constantly skirmishing with others for the teacher's attention, a place at the drinking fountain, or just a spot in the lunchroom, we hated each other on sight—and, like too many rats trapped in too small an area with not enough food, we've been fighting with each other ever since.

Now here we are, in our seventies, and we're still strapped together in this ghastly generational pas des millions. Some of us have died off, of course, but the remnants of the legendary pig in a python generation are still wending our way through the snake's entrails, tussling with each other as we pass through the intestines of the body politic. And yet, to our surprise, we still find ourselves outranked by those born years, even decades before us: our country currently has a 79-year-old president, a 75-year-old principal GOP contender, an 82-year-old speaker of the House, an 80-year-old Senate minority leader, an 88-year-old senior senator from California, an 88-year-old senior senator from Iowa, and an 80-year old junior senator from Vermont who has his eye on the White House. Meanwhile, waiting in wings like a sodden, road-company Lady Macbeth, is 2016's loser, Hillary Clinton, 74, ready to step over the bodies if and when they ever drop.

Geezer eyes still on the prize

There's no love lost among them, but like the Struldbrugs of Luggnagg in Swift's Gulliver's Travels, they can neither quit nor, seemingly, die—only keep aging in perpetuity, at each other's throats forever. 

After this preface, he gave me a particular account of the STRULDBRUGS among them. He said, "they commonly acted like mortals till about thirty years old; after which, by degrees, they grew melancholy and dejected, increasing in both till they came to fourscore... When they came to fourscore years, which is reckoned the extremity of living in this country, they had not only all the follies and infirmities of other old men, but many more which arose from the dreadful prospect of never dying. They were not only opinionative, peevish, covetous, morose, vain, talkative, but incapable of friendship, and dead to all natural affection... Envy and impotent desires are their prevailing passions."

There is a certain amount of truth in the old saw that with age comes wisdom. And it's also true that our word "senate"—a body of elder statesmen—has the same root as "senility." But at this point in our nation's history, we have gone beyond mature age and into the realm of the Grim Reaper, with Washington, D.C., having replaced Florida as God's Waiting Room. A nation that was founded by young, vigorous men, most of them in their prime (in 1776, Washington was 44; Jefferson, 33; Hamilton, 21; James Monroe, 18) and with their lives on the line, has been co-opted by snarling, barely articulate, grudge-ridden rent-seekers desperately hanging onto their livelihoods, and to hell with everybody else.

Hence the cage match now being played out in the runups to the fall congressional elections. Thanks to the manifest malignancy that is the Biden administration, everyone is looking past this November and focusing on 2024, when our rancid political system could possibly stage a presidential election featuring an 81-year-old Joe Biden vs. a 77-year-old Donald Trump, both of them at that point beyond the average American male life expectancy. What do do? Take a moment and listen:

Could there possibly be a spectacle more unedifying than a (literally) terminally senile Biden scratching and clawing at a bitter, revanchist Trump, the pair of them wrestling over not the future of the country—why would they care? They won't live to see it—but over the 2016 and 2020 elections. Russian collusion! Dominion voting machines! Hunter's laptop from hell! January 6th! Get off my lawn! It would make us all remember what fun the past eight years were, and recall how little desire we should have to relive them.

Let's start with barely-there Biden, a continuing embarrassment to the country, with him the only one who's not in on the joke. He's always been a classless boor, the Fredo Corleone ("I'm smart! And I want respect!") of the Democrat Party, hitherto passed over until suddenly, two years ago, the criminal organization masquerading as a political party ran out of godfathers. By now, though, the sheer destructiveness of this man is apparent to everybody, so cue the New York Times to instruct the faithful that it's time for him to go:

To nearly all the Democrats interviewed, the president’s age — 79 now, 82 by the time the winner of the 2024 election is inaugurated — is a deep concern about his political viability. They have watched as a commander in chief who built a reputation for gaffes has repeatedly rattled global diplomacy with unexpected remarks that were later walked back by his White House staff, and as he has sat for fewer interviews than any of his recent predecessors.

“The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue,” said David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s two winning presidential campaigns.

The kiss of death from Jake Lingle is no laughing member, and a signal to the Democrats to begin greasing the skids and start prepping somebody. Anybody. Bueller? Sanders has the same geriatric problem as Biden, as does Elizabeth Warren and of course Hillary. Meanwhile, their kiddie corps of Li'l Pete Buttigieg, Gavin Newsom, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not ready for prime time, and as for Kamala Harris:

Meanwhile, the New York Post last week came out with an editorial explicitly calling on Trump to step back from his increasingly hopeless 2024 nomination quest and for the Republicans to look to the future: 

Trump has become a prisoner of his own ego. He can’t admit his tweeting and narcissism turned off millions. He won’t stop insisting that 2020 was “stolen” even though he’s offered no proof that it’s true. Respected officials like former Attorney General Bill Barr call his rants “nonsense.” This isn’t just about Liz Cheney. Mitch McConnell, Betsy DeVos, Mark Meadows — they all knew Trump was delusional. His own daughter and son-in-law testified it was bull.

Trump’s response? He insults Barr, and dismisses Ivanka as “checked out.” He clings to more fantastical theories, such as Dinesh D’Souza’s debunked “2,000 Mules,” even as recounts in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin confirm Trump lost.

This is not to underplay the former president's very real contributions to the Republic, including most notably saving it from Hillary Clinton and her flying-monkey media squadrons and black ops practitioners. Trump was the only one who could beat her, and he was the only Republican candidate she could have lost to. And there's no question that the 2020 was "stolen" fair and square by the Democrats doing exactly the things I predicted they would  in my Sept. 7, 2020 column for the Epoch Times:

The pattern is clear: In close races, the Democrats follow the totals very closely, until they know exactly how many votes they have to fabricate or manufacture, et voila! Who needs cemeteries when [a friendly judge or two] can decree extra time to benefit the Democrats? In fact, at least since the middle of the 19th century, the Tammany Party has been rigging elections, intimidating voters at the polls, having their partisans vote multiple times, and conjuring marked ballots out of thin air. 

The reality is that the Republicans must be ready to combat levels of fraud that Plunkitt and the old Tammany sachems could only have dreamed of. For it’s clear, under the guise of “protecting our democracy” that the Democrats will instead abide by their real slogan—“by any means necessary”—to rid themselves of this meddlesome president.

Trump, in fact, lost in 2020 the same way he won in 2016: at the margins in a few key swing states, where this time they knew he was coming. Paradoxically, the more Trump continues to bark about the last election, the less likely he is to win the next one. This, however, doesn't seem to be going to stop him. According to Rolling Stone, Trump is mulling announcing his candidacy even before the midterms, and doing it in Florida, to boot:

Donald Trump in recent months has been telling confidants that he may launch his 2024 presidential campaign early — and that he’s considering launching it in Florida to stick it to Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump has kicked around staging a large, flashy launch rally (with fireworks, of course) that would announce his White House bid before the 2022 midterm elections, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

People who’ve spoken to Trump say that one reason he’s eying the Sunshine State is to assert his dominance over an ascendant DeSantis, who — if they both run in 2024 — would likely be the former president’s most formidable competitor in a primary fight for the GOP nomination. One of the sources said Trump’s motivation is to show the governor “who the boss is” in the modern-day GOP.

Good Lord, what a terrible idea. Trump's last, greatest, and noblest service to his country would be to announce, shortly after the mid-terms, that he will not be a candidate in '24, but will crisscross the land to campaign for the party, starting at the top with DeSantis, 46, for president of the United States. He might even quote John F. Kennedy: "the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans." 

Otherwise, the Boomer cage match continues, the country slides further into the python's bowels, and all we have to eat is rat. 

ESG and the Road to Fiscal Hell

Over at The American Conservative, Kevin Stocklin has a disturbing piece on state pension fund managers investing workers' pensions in progressive ideological projects under the guise of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance). That's the hot trend in money management, wherein money is invested based on supposedly "ethical" criteria, rather than solely on profitability projections. In other words, the ethical evaluations of the elitist liberals working in finance are being funded in part with the hard earned money of police officers, firemen, bus drivers, garbage men, and other city employees, and all without their consent. Of course, environmentalism is a key consideration for these E.S.G. enthusiasts. Here's Stocklin:

State pension fund managers who have declared that they will include environmental and social justice goals in their investment decisions collectively control more than $3 trillion in retirement assets and include the five largest public pension plans in the U.S.... Perhaps their most high-profile success came in June 2021, when CalSTRS, CalPERS, and NY State Common Retirement Fund joined three of the world’s largest asset managers, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, in voting to elect clean-energy advocates to the board of Exxon and divert its investments away from oil and gas and toward alternative fuels. All of these pension fund and money managers except Vanguard are members of Climate Action 100+, an initiative dedicated to making fossil fuel companies “take necessary action on climate change.”

As big as that $3 trillion figure sounds, it is just the tip of the iceberg:

Many state pension funds outsource asset management to firms like BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard, which are among the 236 asset managers who signed on to the Net Zero Asset Management Initiative. These signatories, which collectively control $57 trillion in assetspledged to achieve “emissions reductions” and to cast shareholder votes that are “consistent with our ambition for all assets under management to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.” Signatories also pledged to “create investment products aligned with net zero emissions.” True to their word, they created a lucrative industry of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) investment funds, ESG rating agencies, and ESG consultants.

That's a lot of scratch backing green energy projects that already have the financial and regulatory might of the federal government in their corner. You'd think that that might give them the ability to successfully compete with oil and gas, but that is not the case. Not by a long shot. The biggest problem with this, from an investment point of view, is that these ESG funds haven't done particularly well relative to the market:

A study by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research in October 2020 found that for state pensions, ESG investing reduced pensioners’ returns by 0.70 to 0.90 percent per year.... In addition, an April 2021 report by researchers at Columbia University and London School of Economics found that... that “ESG funds appear to underperform financially, relative to other funds within the same asset manager and year, and charge higher fees.”

Moreover, the Columbia/L.S.E. study also concludes that "ESG funds have 'worse track records for compliance with labor and environmental laws, relative to portfolio firms held by non-ESG funds managed by the same financial institutions.' So much for ethics.

These are big problems, especially as the states are in the midst of an unfunded pension liability crisis, a slowly unfolding disaster. To remain solvent, the states need these funds to grow. Consequently, some states, like Florida, have been working hard to impose rules which "clarify the state’s expectation that all fund managers should act solely in the financial interest of the state’s funds," in the words of Governor Ron DeSantis. Hopefully others follow suit.

Luckily for us non-public workers, Congress passed the Employee Retirement Investment Security Act (ERISA) in 1974, which banned exactly this type of misappropriation of private pension funds. However, says Stocklin, while some lawmakers have called for ERISA to be extended to public funds, the Biden administration has announced that it will cease the enforcement of ERISA rules on managers who use private pension funds towards, "environmental and social goals."

Which is to say, we're screwed.

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. 

THE COLUMN: 'There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men'

While the country holds its breath awaiting the next Joe Biden disaster or the next supererogatory Donald Trump rally, or the next quixotic Mike Pence 2024 presidential campaign event, beneath the surface the political tides are running at Shakespearean levels. Seeking to enlist Cassius in his plot to assassinate Julius Caesar, Brutus says:

We at the height are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

From our current vantage point, it looks as though the 2024 election might come down to a rematch between Trump and whoever survives the coming Democrat bloodbath this fall. Can senile Joe Biden continue to impersonate a sentient being behind the Resolute desk for another three years? Or will the likely loss of both houses of Congress to the unworthy Republicans motivate the donkey party to find fresh-faced replacements for both Biden and his manifestly unsuitable vice president, Kamala Harris? As I noted last week, it's not impossible to replace both halves of a winning ticket in mid-stream: the Democrats pulled it off between 1972 (historic Nixon/Agnew landslide) and 1974 (Watergate) and saddled the GOP with two candidates it never wanted or even nominated, Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller. So if you think it can't be done, think again.

Lean and hungry looks all around.

The only question is whether the Democrats have the guts to do it to themselves. Back then, the Howard Baker Republicans labored under the impression that the Democrats wanted the same ends for the nation as they did; they were only arguing about means. They also believed that the media played things straight down the middle and, faithful to their constitutional role in a free Republic, didn't take sides, cut corners, or manufacture stories from whole cloth. In the end, the GOP bonzes even did the Dems' dirty work for them, sending a delegation of senior leadership to the White House to tell Tricky Dick the jig was up and it was time for him to go. From a 49-state, 520-electoral vote tsunami to the bum's rush in less than two years; the bloodless coup really was a remarkable achievement and a first in American history.

Should the Democrats wish, or be forced, to keelhaul Biden, however, such a decision will come with a hefty price tag. They'll have to explain to their black voters why Harris was discarded without ever being able to articulate the reason that dare not speak its name: she's simply too stupid to function:

Another problem is that the Democrats have no plausible replacements ready to step in should the need arise. So dedicated are they to the woke doctrines of their lunatic-Left base, they are saddled with the box-checking likes of Pete Buttigieg, Lloyd Austin, Xavier Becerra, Miguel Cardona, Alejandro Mayorkas, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Anthony Blinken, none of whom belongs anywhere near a cabinet meeting unless it's held in a water closet. Further, the Democrats' program of crazy nostrums such as Modern Monetary Theory—just print money!—and Green Energy (free wind and solar!) have resulted almost overnight in rampant inflation, severe energy shortages and skyrocketing prices.

So it should be a simple matter for the Republicans to point out the manifest real-world flaws in the Leftist program, sit back, run a bunch of guys named Moe, and wait for the election returns in 2022 and '24. The only problem is the elephant party has its own elephant in the room in the form of Trump, who seems bound and determined to run again and avenge his tainted loss to Biden in 2020. To that end, he's already embarked on a campaign of waving the bloody shirt in anticipation of settling the score in '24.

The problem is, while Trump still has an enormous, if shrinking, following, the former president's candidacy could easily galvanize the Democrats to turn out at least as many votes against him as the GOP will get for him. This is not the place to debate the details of the "stolen election," which at the very least was held (right under the Republicans' noses) under highly irregular circumstances, including the unconstitutional changing of election law in several swing states and the mysterious hiatus in the wee hours of Election Night that screamed "hinky" at the top of its lungs.

For this, however, Trump and the Republicans are partly to blame. The Democrats took advantage of Trump's fatal credulity about the alleged dangers of Covid-19, as well as the Republicans' habitual indolence when it comes to poll-watching. If the election was indeed stolen the Tammany Party stole it fair and square, and all the GOP needs to do is look in the mirror to find the real culprits.

History is against the former president; only one man has come back from a re-election loss to win again the following cycle and that was a Democrat, Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War (in 1884), defeating James G. Blaine. He lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but defeated Harrison in the rematch of 1892. The Republican who bears the closest resemblance to Cleveland is probably Nixon, the sitting vice present who lost the election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy, spent some time in the wilderness (losing a California governor's race in the process), and then returned from the political graveyard to beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Despite the unfairness of his loss, Trump is not entitled to a second term simply because of it.

Talk about a trick shot.

Can Trump pull it off? Maybe, but unlikely. Outrage over the election-night shenanigans will fade, and Trump will be 78 years old in November 2024, just a year younger than the superannuated Biden is now. The White House is no country for old men, especially one who never forgets a grudge and will spend much of his time seething and seeking revenge. The most a Trump primary candidacy can do is block the path for younger, more viable candidates, some of whom will steer clear of him and thus pre-emptively tank their own prospects.

Further, even a senescent wreck like Joe Biden can still make trouble for the former president, wounding him again even before the presidential campaign season officially kicks off the day after the midterms. Biden is reportedly pushing his attorney general, Merrick Garland, to go after Trump because, well, when you have Irish Alzheimer's, you only remember the grudges.

Finally, even should Trump somehow get through the primaries (he won't be unopposed) and then win, who among us wants to relive 2016-2020? The endless witch hunts, the two impeachments, January 6... the Democrats will never give up their Nixonian pursuit of him, in part because he's just too easy a target. Throughout his term, every slight had to be answered, every dig repaid not in kind but in tweets that served no purpose other than to rally the base. Policies were announced, then abandoned. The Wall never got built; a massive wave of illegal immigration is about to wash over the southern "border" -- which for all practical purposes has ceased to exist. Meanwhile, his personnel choices were almost uniformly terrible (Rex Tillerson? John Bolton?), opportunities were squandered, and most of MAGA was gone before the end of the first year, including Steve Bannon, Rich Higgins, and Sebastian Gorka.

And don't even get me started on the colossal blunder that was Jan. 6, a stench that still lingers in the country's nostrils and which alone should doom a second Trump candidacy, and for which he has shown no remorse even as the poor fools who heeded his words languish in prison.

Sure, it felt great to watch Hillary Clinton and her flying media monkeys melt down on that stunning election night, but what good has come of it? After just a year of Joe Biden, the country is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and dissolution; would we have been any worse off under Hillary? The sorry truth is, probably not.

The awful truth is there's no time to waste, no time to fantasize about a Trump restoration with a potent vice president who could, in dreams, win two terms outright in the years 2028 and 2032. The country, bound in shallows and in miseries, simply doesn't have the time. The right man has made his entrance: why compel him to waste four years on the sidelines as Trump's veep and then be forced to run on Trump's record in 2028? It makes no sense.

On such a full sea are we now afloat. The decline has long since begun. So whom should the GOP nominate in 2024? I think we all know the answer to that. More on him next week.

THE COLUMN: The Specter That Haunts America

A specter is haunting America—the specter of the Democrat Party. Like an evil spirit that cannot be exorcised, the Democrats have been plaguing the United States since Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Ferociously pro-slavery, the Democrats divided the country practically from its inception, blocked the path to abolition and eventually took up arms against the nation after the election of the first Republican president, firing on Fort Sumter and seceding en masse from the Union. And, a week after they had lost that war, one of them assassinated Abraham Lincoln, elevating a Democrat from a Confederate state to the presidency, and plunging the country into more needless turmoil.

With a track record like this (read all about it) it's a wonder the party is even still legal. And yet, after the bloodiest war in our history—and with a sizable component of "peace Democrats" in the North actively rooting and voting against Lincoln in the election of 1864 while supporting his opponent: the failed Union general George McClellan—they're still around to plague us. It wasn't until the arrival of Ulysses S. Grant as commander of all the Union armies in 1864 that Honest Abe found the right man for the job: someone who would mercilessly crush the life out of the Democrats and their armies, destroy slavery, and reunite the states.

Come back, Ulysses, your country needs you.

Then, as now, the media was the enemy of the Republicans. The southern newspapers were rabidly supportive of the rebel cause, but the northern press was rife with naysayers, crybabies, and bedwetters for whom no victory was good enough, and every defeat proof positive that Lincoln was an ape and Grant was a drunk. Nonetheless, Grant shook off fierce media criticism of his bloody but critical victory at Shiloh in 1862 and a few years later accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Va.

Who is our Grant today? Rather than being ashamed of their explicit anti-Americanism, the modern Democrats have doubled down on betting against the U.S.A. Their shambolic, cognitively crippled president shuffles through one executive order after another, signing anything his handlers in the exiled Obama administration up in Kalorama shove under his nose. The domestic energy industry has been at least temporarily hobbled, our woke armed forces are an international joke, career criminals like George Floyd are elevated to secular sainthood, and behavior that not long ago would have gotten you arrested for child abuse, such as "transgender"  hormone blockers for toddlers, or for contributing to the delinquency of a minor with explicit homosexual propaganda in grade school. Democrats hail these "advances" with their usual blather about "breaking barriers" and "pushing boundaries" but anyone with an ounce of common sense knows what they're really up to

The midterms are still eight months away but Real America is crying out for succor right now. Gasoline, home heating oil, electricity, natural gas—the prices continue to soar, already past the point of recent plausibility and heading into economic terra incognita. Millions of illegal aliens pour across the nearly erased southern border. A befuddled Joe Biden threatens to sleepwalk us into an armed conflict with the ghost of the old Soviet Union in the form of Vladimir Putin's Russia, and disinformation is rife on both sides of the conflict in the Ukraine. In a parliamentary system, Biden's government would have fallen right after the debacle in Afghanistan—but barring a miracle we've got another three years to suffer.

For just over a year, Americans have watched with admirable patience as their economy collapsed, their legal system was perverted to serve the interests of a few, their nation's military degraded, and their freedom of speech subverted via the government's fascistic and unconstitutional co-opting of the social media sites. Meanwhile, woke corporations and a thoroughly compromised media crack down on the commercial and personal privacy of anybody that runs afoul of the New Normal while manic Greens demand a return to the days of three-masted schooners and windmills. Such relentless cultural and economic sabotage would be considered an act of war if done by anyone else—but here it goes by the fellow-traveler names of "dissent," "patriotism," and "progressivism."

Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

For a time, it seemed as if Donald Trump might be the answer. Deeply flawed personally, Trump had everything break his way in 2016, including the good fortune of running against the most repellant figure in the Democrat Party at that time, Hillary Clinton. But with Covid-19 weaponized against him, first in a Chinese lab, then by the CDC and a bona fide madman named Anthony Fauci, Trump was unable to overcome his provoked overreaction to the phantom Covid menace, the unconstitutional changes made to swing state electoral systems, a senescent Biden, and his own inability to control his mouth, and shamefully lost in 2020.

As we learned in the back alleys of Berlin and Moscow during the Cold War, the way to fight shadows is with other shadows; America could do worse if we had some semblance of the British shadow-cabinet system. British election campaigns are short, and the transition time between governments brief, because the voters already know who would take over if and when the current government falls. Instead, we prolong our nominating processes for a year or eighteen months before getting to the endless campaign itself. After which we waste two months "transitioning" and then suffering through a honeymoon period (except in the case of Republicans) during which the new Man of the Hour can do no wrong, but much damage can be done to the nation. The first thing Biden did, for example, was trash the Keystone XL pipeline from the oil fields of Canada to refineries in and around the Texas Gulf Coast—which is one of the principal reasons gas is now pushing five bucks a gallon.

We don't have shadow cabinets, but we do have two shadow presidents. One is Trump, who is making noises about running again, largely on a platform of grievance and revenge for his loss in 2020. Whether this would be enough to boost him back into the White House is questionable; while he may have received more than 70 million votes, the fact still remains that even more people voted against him. He lost the 2020 election as he had won the 2016 election: narrowly. But Trump will be 78 years old in 2024, one year younger than the tottering Biden is now. 

The other is Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Smart, pugnacious, and unflappable, DeSantis has emerged as the chief thorn in Joe Biden and the Left's side. After his narrow win over a guy who was later found dead drunk in a Miami Beach hotel room he was sharing with a gay porn producer who had overdosed on crystal meth, DeSantis has cemented his hold on the former swing state, turning it solid red. Unlike Trump, who at the moment is powerless, the squeaky-clean DeSantis upstages Biden and the Democrats on a regular basis; his canny and unflappable handling of the "pandemic" has given rise to a new nickname for the Sunshine State: the Free State of Florida.

Message to China: up yours.

DeSantis, 43, can make no public noises about seeking the presidency at this point. He must get past his re-election for governor in the fall first and hope the voters rally to take back control of Congress from the narrowest-of-narrow Democrat majorities. With his wife, Casey, now seemingly recovered from a bout with cancer, he is sitting pretty.

It's widely thought that if Trump declares, DeSantis will wait his turn in 2028. But why should he spend four years on ice behind a lightning rod with no further political future? Polls already show him creeping up on Trump and a smashing re-election victory will only gain him more prominence. Lots can happen in three years, especially when his possible primary opponent is getting on in years. After Biden, will America want another geriatric president? Or will the voters prefer a guy 32 years younger, with nothing but upside?

The chances of Biden's running again are next to nil. If the Democrats could figure out a way to get rid of him without elevating the albatross known as Kamala in his place, they'd have already done it. Further, there's no apparent successor to Biden on the donkeys' side; should Biden somehow stumble toward a second term, a Biden-DeSantis matchup would be worth putting on pay-per-view. We could retire the national debt on the debates alone.

Meanwhile the shadows cast by DeSantis are lengthening, the clock is ticking, and all he has to do is wait. Now, a specter is haunting the Democrats. It's about time.

Listen to the author speak about this article and other things at the CutJib Newsletter podcast with CBD and JJ Sefton from Ace of Spades.

About Time: O'Toole Gets the Boot

By a vote of 73 to 45, Erin O'Toole has been ousted as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He had served only seventeen months in the position. Rumors of an anti-O'Toole revolt have been going around for days, along with whispers that O'Toole was working frantically behind the scenes to convince (some would say "bully") members of his caucus to sign loyalty pledges in the hopes of warding off the impending challenge. But to no avail.

The definitive vote was forced by 35 MPs unhappy with O’Toole’s leadership after last year’s disappointing election results. But the root of the anger goes back much further. O’Toole won the leadership claiming to be a “True Blue” conservative — a contrast with Peter MacKay, who despite holding senior cabinet roles in Stephen Harper’s government, was labelled by the O’Toole campaign as a red Tory.

Yet once the leadership was secured, O’Toole took the party in a much different direction. After pledging to scrap the Liberals’ carbon levy, O’Toole promised a version of his own — which he steadfastly denied was a “tax,” despite it applying a surcharge on purchases like gas.

A look back on all of The Pipeline's coverage of O'Toole, from before he was elected leader until today will point you in the right direction. As we wrote in our final piece before last September's federal election (entitled "But is O'Toole Any Better?"), O'Toole had won the "race for Conservative leader running as 'True Blue O'Toole,' a patriotic military man who was going to take the fight to Justin Trudeau. But ever since, he's gone out of his way to remake the CPC in his own Red Tory image." He'd softened his party's position on abortion, guns, conscience protections for healthcare workers, and environmentalism, and generally adopted the characteristic views of the Laurentian Elite, views that were already well-represented in parliament, specifically in the Liberal Party, the NDP, and the Green Party.

Erin, we hardly knew ye.

His flip-flopping on these points were egregious, and on environmentalism most of all. While running for leadership O'Toole had signed a pledge saying:

I, Erin O’Toole, promise that, if elected Prime Minister of Canada, I will: Immediately repeal the Trudeau carbon tax; and, reject any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.

But when it came time to for him to actually run for prime minister, he put forward his own carbon tax in all but name, part of a jam-packed, all-in, environmentalist plan that included an electric vehicle mandate, a net-zero by 2050 pledge, and which "finalized and improved" the Trudeau government's Clean Fuel Standard (also known as the second carbon tax). This was a particular own-goal for the leader of a party whose base of support is located in the areas of the country that are most dependent upon the oil and gas industry.

And if it didn't win O'Toole much support among his base, it downright frosted his colleagues in Parliament, most of whom found out about it from the press. They weren't even briefed on this massive change in party policy. It's a good bet that all these months later, a large number of MPs who voted against O'Toole had that fact in mind.

In the end, however, he lost the election, largely because he failed to give Canadians anything to vote for. Especially since he wasn't all that against the Trudeau policies regarding energy and the environment in the first place.

Indeed, throughout his tenure as party leader, O'Toole struggled to find any kind of a footing that would enable him to resist Trudeau's agenda. His feeble response to the Freedom Convoy has encapsulated his problems these past several months, at once desperate to hold onto power and terrified of offending the sensibilities of, well, Liberal voters. For the first time since he became leader, there was energy on his side of the ideological spectrum, and Trudeau's Liberals were off balance. But O'Toole was anxious about being too supportive of what you might call the wrong sort of Canadians, eventually agreeing to meet with some of the truckers, but not the organizers of the protest, which Carson Jerima rightly points out was "a transparent attempt to get credit for supporting the rally and also credit for not supporting it." Of course, no one was fooled.

Au revoir, O'Toole.

As the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, O'Toole has richly deserved his fate:

Mr. O’Toole’s chief mistake was gambling the September 2021 election on an opportunistic shift leftward. He lost anyway, spoiling the best chance to toss Mr. Trudeau from office. Post-defeat, Conservative Party fundraising crashed...Mr. O’Toole has met with truckers but warned late Monday night that his Conservative critics, some of whom have embraced the protest, offer a “dead-end” and are “angry, negative, and extreme.”

Canada needs a better opposition. The Liberals, long considered Canada’s “natural governing party,” won’t be defeated by mimicry. Unseating them typically requires a formidable Conservative leader. So far, Mr. O’Toole hasn’t shown the right stuff.

Before the vote John Robson wrote:

[O'Toole] stands for nothing but office. And his caucus has had enough because it’s bad being an unprincipled winner, but pathetic being an unprincipled loser.

That's as good a summation of his leadership and its end as anyone could come up with.

What comes next for the Conservatives? John Williamson of New Brunswick has announced his intention to stand for interim leader. He seems like a solid choice. Then there will be a race for a permanent leader, and The Pipeline will be all over it. With Justin on the ropes, now was precisely the right time for the CPC to depose its ineffectual leader. Canada is reeling from fascism disguised as Covid mitigation, and its critical energy industries are suffering from elite contempt and malign regulation; a new strong, forceful, and patriotic leader is precisely what's needed now.

The various aspirants who emerge should take a page from Florida governor Ron DeSantis' book and effectively and immediately form a kind of shadow cabinet or even a government-in-exile against the fleabagging Trudeau to give traditional Canadians something to rally 'round besides the Maple Leaf flag. Hopefully they will have learned from the Erin O'Toole experience, though I wouldn't put it past them to get into office and make all the same mistakes all over again.