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D.C. Plans Anti-Mandate Rally

It's about time the capitol city of a republican nation did something about the mandates, but is it too late?

On Sunday, January 23, just a week after the District of Columbia vaccine mandate goes into effect, opponents plan to protest the new order on the mall.

Washington’s vaccine mandate requires all indoor food and drink establishments, indoor cultural and entertainment venues, event venues, and exercise facilities to require patrons aged 12 years and older to show proof that they have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Patrons over 18 years will be required to show photo identification as well.

Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist and immunologist who invented the core mRNA technology used in the Covid-19 vaccines, announced the protest on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast on December 31. Malone has become the subject of much left-wing ire in recent weeks for his public skepticism of the Covid vaccines and how they are being implemented. Most recently, a group of medical professionals wrote a public letter to Spotify, asking the streaming service to remove the three-hour Rogan podcast episode in which Malone is featured, claiming the two are spreading “anti-vax misinformation.” Malone, for his own part, maintains the expedited measures the U.S. government took to bring the vaccines to market were “contrary to globally accepted standards for developing and regulating safe and effective licensed products,” according to his personal website.

The “Defeat The Mandates DC” website says the protest will be a march against “segregating by vaccine status,” vaccine mandates or passports, forced Covid-19 vaccination for children, and censorship. Beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Washington Monument, protestors will march to the Lincoln Memorial, where speakers will then address the crowd beginning at 12:30 p.m. According to the website, the organizers are working with the D.C. Metro Police, the U.S. Park Police, and private security to ensure the safety of those attending. The website also emphasizes that those joining the protest must remain peaceful and nonviolent at all times. The event is sponsored by the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, the Children’s Health Defense, and the Global Covid Summit.

As some have already pointed out, while protesters all around theworld have spoken out against vaccine mandates, some as near as Canada and New York City, Washington, D.C. has yet to join that list. With many conservative and pro-life Americans in town for the March for Life on January 21, the event seems to have been timed strategically. Other, smaller protests have been organized for this Saturday, January 15, when the district’s mandate officially begins.

Perhaps it’s a little late for this town to only now begin voicing dissent for imperious pandemic policies, especially when compared with countries like France, which have been protesting for months and still seen no respite. Still, late is better than never, and I like to think the American government is somewhat more responsive to the voices of its people than the heads in Paris.

At any rate, we will find out if that’s true soon enough.

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K Street’s Creepy Porn Lawyers

Peddlers of physical and psychological porn are lobbying to protect Section 230 and the immunity it provides.

OnlyFans, the online streaming-subscription platform known for creating a new generation of pornstars, is making its presence known in Washington, D.C. by hiring the lobbying firm The Vogel Group to do its bidding.

The thrust of OnlyFans’ lobbying effort is not to overtly argue against the revitalized movement of social conservatives calling for an absolute ban on porn (a debate I’m not going to wade into in this piece), but rather to oppose efforts to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. However, while The Vogel Group’s Alex Vogel, Matt Keelen, and Ali Khimji will be working to oppose Section 230 reform, rather than the growing Republican opposition to porn more generally, the two issues are deeply intertwined.

Section 230, as you may know, provides platforms and other online-service providers massive legal immunities over material posted on their sites by third-parties, and allows providers to remove offensive or obscene content “in good faith.” This implicit trust between government and corporation has been violated, or at least its nature twisted and perverted to the point of being unrecognizable. “A blessing of liberty,” the half-wits whole-heartedly proclaim.

OnlyFans and its new cohort of lobbyists understand that Section 230’s “good faith” stipulation was, in large part, always about cleansing the internet of pornographic content for the sake of end users and those taken advantage of by the porn industry. This is predominantly why OnlyFans, which once planned to ban “sexually explicit” content before balking, has chosen to enter the Section 230 fray. It’s a more tactful way to go about porn-peddling in Washington.

OnlyFans is by far the only porn-service to do so. In September, Politico  reported The Free Speech Coalition, a trade organization for the porn industry, hired Clarity Consulting lobbyists Keith Nelson, a former Bush administration and GOP congressional staffer, and Democrat-affiliated Shawn Delaney to do its bidding. This was the first time a group had registered to lobby on behalf of the porn industry in Washington. Their chosen fight? Section 230, of course.

And what has Section 230 wrought? Many will say the rise of censorious multinational tech corporations with market valuations larger than the GDP of some nations that control the flow of information, interfere in elections, regularly purge users without explanation or for perceived breaches of vague terms of use, and remove the sitting president and other conservative elected officials. All true. But the same provision that has given this power and immunity to the sowers of psychological porn—Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube—has given immunity to purveyors of physical porn for child pornography or revenge porn. Make no mistake–this is what K Street’s new creepy porn lawyers are trying to protect.

Maybe OnlyFans and PornHub make efforts to get rid of such content when they come across it. I don’t know for sure, but from what I’ve read, it seems they’re doing an awful job at it. This isn’t in the least surprising, because what’s the incentive to aggressively remove child and revenge porn when the platform has legal immunity?

I should add that fighting Big Tech’s psychological and physical porn machine doesn’t start and end with Section 230 reform. There’s much to do beyond it. 

But for now, like former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”

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New York’s Anti-White Triage Policy

A careful review of New York's triage guidance suggests Tucker Carlson fairly characterized the state's race-conscious policy and its effects.

COVID-19 related sign at the Target in Lansing, New York (Jpesch95 via Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday, Tucker Carlson ran a segment on the spate of new state-level triage policies that ration access to COVID-19 treatments based on race. First reported by the Washington Free Beacon‘s Aaron Sibarium, New York, Utah, and Minnesota each have triage policies that give racial minorities priority access to Covid therapeutics. From Sibarium’s report:

In New York, racial minorities are automatically eligible for scarce COVID-19 therapeutics, regardless of age or underlying conditions. In Utah, “Latinx ethnicity” counts for more points than “congestive heart failure” in a patient’s “COVID-19 risk score”—the state’s framework for allocating monoclonal antibodies. And in Minnesota, health officials have devised their own “ethical framework” that prioritizes black 18-year-olds over white 64-year-olds—even though the latter are at much higher risk of severe disease.

Carlson referenced Sibarium’s reporting and proposed the following hypothetical:

A young Haitian man could cross our border illegally today—many have. That person could show up at a clinic in New York tomorrow for COVID treatment and get preference over an elderly American citizen purely because of his appearance.

Journalists and activists were incensed—not at the state for having enacted the policy, but at Carlson for having drawn attention to it. The New York Times‘s Nikole Hannah-Jones said Carlson’s hypothetical was “nonsense” and a form of “white nationalism.” Huffington Post writer Christopher Mathias argued Carlson’s segment was “basically indistinguishable from the Daily Stormer, just straight-up white nationalist garbage.” Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP’s Legal Defense & Educational Fund, called Carlson’s remarks “deeply dangerous and racist propaganda” and “intentional and blatant lies intended to incite and victimize white people and demonize people of color.”

Nelson and others accused Carlson of lying about the policy and its implications, but a careful review of New York’s triage guidance suggests he fairly characterized the state’s policy and its effects.

According to recent guidance from the New York Department of Public Health (DPH), oral antiviral Covid treatments are only available to patients who meet all the following criteria:

  • Age 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kg (88 pounds) for Paxlovid, or 18 years and older for molnupiravir
  • Test positive for SARS-CoV-2 on a nucleic acid amplification test or antigen test; results from an FDA-authorized home-test kit should be validated through video or photo but, if not possible, patient attestation is adequate
  • Have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms [Patient cannot be hospitalized due to severe or critical COVID-19]
  • Able to start treatment within 5 days of symptom onset
  • Have a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness.

After that last bullet, DPH adds:

  • Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

Any non-white, symptomatic Covid patient in New York who meets the minimum age requirement—regardless of income or medical history—is eligible to receive potentially lifesaving antiviral treatment solely on the basis of his race. As Carlson claimed, this would include an 18-year-old Haitian immigrant. But would the state deny the same care to “an elderly American citizen purely because of his appearance,” as Carlson suggested? Wouldn’t old-age be one of the “other factors that increase [a patient’s] risk for severe illness” from Covid?

In a statement to The American Conservative, the New York Department of Public Health confirmed that age is only considered a qualifying risk factor in New York for individuals aged 65 and older—meaning a white 64-year-old would not, on the basis of his age, be eligible to receive oral antiviral treatment for Covid, while an otherwise-healthy 18-year-old Haitian immigrant would.

“In accordance with CDC guidance, New York advises that age 65 and older be considered, among other underlying factors, when prescribing COVID-19 antiviral medication,” a NY DPH spokeswoman told The American Conservative.
The spokeswoman directed TAC to the state’s “prioritization table” and said clinicians make “decisions based upon the total knowledge of the patient as to the risks and the benefits of treatment choices.” The prioritization table, which outlines the state’s triage policies and the groups eligible for oral antiviral and monoclonal antibody treatment products, confirms that an otherwise-healthy 64-year-old white person would not be eligible, on the basis of his age, to receive scarce oral therapeutics, while the 18-year-old Haitian immigrant in Carlson’s hypothetical would be eligible because of his skin color.
According to CDC data, people aged 50-64 are four times more likely to be hospitalized with, and 25 times more likely to die from, Covid-19 than people aged 18-29. If Carlson’s critics believe people in the former group should be denied access to oral therapeutics solely on the basis of their race, they should say so. It is always good to know where people stand.

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Who Are The Real Radicals?

Radical right-wingers suggest children should be treated equally, regardless of their race.

Conspiracy-theory toting extremists are taking over local school boards, bringing with them the beyond-the-pale beliefs that students should not be treated differently because of their race and that virtual or masked learning is, and has been, detrimental to children’s development. The nation should be very concerned.

At least, so says the Washington Post. A story published Monday titled “A rural Washington school board race shows how far-right extremists are shifting to local power,” describes the race for Eatonville, Washington’s School Board District 2 seat in November of last year as a microcosm of school-board politics across the country. It follows Sarah Cole, the center-left candidate who began the race as a heavy favorite, given the years she served on the Eatonville Area Council Board of Directors and her heavy involvement in the local Parent Teacher Association, and co-protagonist Ashley Sova, a Three Percent member and homeschooling mom who would defeat the Post’s tragic hero Cole despite joining the race late.

Recalling the lead up to the election, Cole told the Post, “I kind of thought I had it in the bag.” In the end, Sova captured just over 52% of the vote, defeating Cole by a margin of 212 votes.

After Sova was convinced to enter the race to replace the candidacy of a right-wing activist who discovered his address was just outside of the district, Cole and Sova met for coffee to discuss education issues. The conversation, both women told the Post, was trying, but remained civil. Cole pressed Sova on her membership in the Three Percent, a folk-libertarian, militia-esque group that gets its name from the imprecise claim that only 3% of colonists served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Sova countered by testing Cole on her views on critical race theory. At the end of their discussion, the pair snapped a picture and promised to work together regardless of who won the race, though both walked away from the meeting thinking that Cole would emerge victorious in November.

However, in the last month of the election, national media attention zeroed in on local school boards over critical race theory and Covid-19. Eatonville didn’t receive an iota of the attention that other counties, such as Vigrinia’s Loudoun or Fairfax County, garnered over that period of time. Understandably so; Eatonville is in Washington state. It isn’t a suburb of Washington D.C.—the power center that drives our national conversations—like Loudon or Fairfax. Of course, there was also the hotly-contested Virginia gubernatorial race in which Terry McAuliffe ultimately sunk his candidacy by bringing more attention to these education issues.

Though Eatonville’s school board race went largely undetected by the media, the national focus on school-board politics had a profound impact on the race’s top issues. Discussions over funding and extracurriculars were out. Conversations on teaching students about critical race theory, or critical race theory-lite, were in. Of course, Covid-19 still played its predictable role, but the national hysteria about the need for more school closures, virtual learning, or hybrid options in the face of “spiking” Covid cases roused a previously silent majority of Eatonville parents who had enough of forcing their children to wear masks for five to seven hours a day. In this political landscape, Sova had a path to victory and took it.

Cole doesn’t say the election was stolen per se, just that it “was basically sabotaged by the national narrative.”

The Post is right insofar that what happened in Eatonville is part of a broader national trend, though for the wrong reasons. In a predictable attempt to defend Cole’s characterization of the election, the Post went to their well of so-called experts and watchdogs to suggest that Sova’s election to Eatonville’s school board is part and parcel of the rapid right-wing radicalization sweeping across the United States à la Jan. 6. As Jan. 6 looks more and more like petty, mobbish thuggery either ignored, or possibly encouraged, by the FBI, and less like the insurrection to topple American democracy Democrats and the corporate media have made it out to be, they would now have the public believe that Jan. 6 has continued in the form of states attempting to pass election integrity laws or critical race theory bans, or electing anti-critical race theory candidates to local school boards (democratically, I might add).

The Post’s chosen experts proved eager to prop up Cole’s account of the election. One such expert, the Western States Center’s Kate Bitz, claimed that groups like the Three Percent are taking over local school boards through an “inside/outside” strategy that encourages members or allies to run for office, and provide pressure through implicit threats of violence if their candidate doesn’t come out on top.

“They are hoping that they can advance the inside part of the inside/outside game without having to take on the cost of the intimidation, the harassment, the undermining of democracy that they are also engaging in,” Bitz said.

But Sova’s recount of her experience with the Three Percent is much different than the Post’s experts claim is characteristic of the organization and others like it. Sova told the Post she joined the Three Percent for its “constitutionalist” beliefs and to learn survival skills. “We have bonfires over here where the music is loud and the neighbors don’t care. Where we’ve got a big fire going, kids jumping on the trampoline and everybody’s running around and having fun,” Sova told the Post. “That, to us, is Three Percent.”

Sova also said she was harassed throughout the campaign because of her involvement with the Three Percent. She claimed that strangers would take photos of her and her car in parking lots before she took the Three Percent stickers off of her car. Others would sneak onto her property to take photos; someone even stole the family’s five-month-old German Shepard puppy after cutting through the fence in their backyard.

“I’m not what people assume that I am. I love the fact that I’m different, and maybe that makes me scary to some, but I don’t know, I’m not this gun-toting, right-wing extremist that they all think I am,” Sova told the Post with a pistol holstered to her hip. “I’m not waving it around, you know what I mean,” Sova added with a laugh.

Though the Post tried to make Sova look sympathetic by suggesting she is one of many Americans that have unknowingly entered into some radical cult because of the influence of Fox News and conspiracy theorists, Sova’s election is not about the creation of swaths of right-wing radicals. It’s about parents rising up to take back control of what their children are learning in the classroom. Four consecutive generations of parents have witnessed liberal public schools do away with the traditional mores of American life. Sex ed has replaced school prayer. Critical race theory has destroyed the legacy of our Founding Fathers. Students now pledge allegiance to the pride or progress flag, not Old Glory. Remind me, who are the radicals again?

In the face of this insanity, parents are willing to tolerate electing someone who previously may have expressed some pretty out-there views if that candidate understands the nature of the true threat that faces the United States. Sova, despite lacking Cole’s credentials, struck the right tones on voters’ most important issues and won the election. Sometimes, politics really is just that simple.

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Cosmic Vaccine Irony

A new study indicates vaccinated Americans might be more susceptible to Omicron than those who remain unvaccinated.

It’s Monday morning, and by the end of the week the capitol city will begin operating under a vaccine passport system. The new mandate will require patrons to show proof that they have gotten sufficient Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson shots before entering most public areas in the district, including restaurants, bars, gyms, and areas of public entertainment. Churches, grocery stores, and museums remain exempt under the new mandate, which will take effect on January 15 and is purported to stop the spread of the latest Covid-19 variant, Omicron.

We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric about vaccines in the last year. From the Democrats’ gunshot opener that they wouldn’t take any drug produced under the Trump administration, to the golden era of vaccines are safe and effective at preventing transmission, with a pit stop at free donuts if you get just get the shot, please, we’ve finally arrived once again at the you must be a granny-hater phase, except this time it applies to all ages. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan last week, defending mandating the Covid-19 vaccine for hospital employees, “‘Basically, the one thing you can’t do is kill your patients.'” Presumably, if you don’t take the shot, that’s precisely what you’re doing.

Unfortunately for Justice Kagan, a new study on the vaccine’s effectiveness against the Omicron variant shows exactly the opposite. Not only did the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines show no statistically significant positive effect against Omicron after 30 days, their effect even went negative after 90 days. According to this preprint study of Danish nationwide databases of vaccine effectiveness, vaccinated people were more susceptible to infection by Omicron than were unvaccinated people within three months of taking the shot.

While the vaccines did offer more lasting protection against Delta, according to this study, the current “booster shot” offered by the big three pharmaceuticals is simply another dose of the original strand—in other words, old software for a new malware attack. And, as the Wall Street Journal points out, the mandates don’t require a booster.

Putting aside our concerns with mandates—and there are many—if you’re requiring a vaccine to prevent a transmissible disease, the lowest bar for that vaccine must be its ability to prevent at least some transmission. (This isn’t rocket science.) The Covid-19 vaccine no longer does that. We hardly even need a study to demonstrate this. Case numbers are climbing above pre-vaccine heights, and most Omicron cases have been among vaccinated people. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wollensky herself has admitted the shots do not prevent transmission.

Does this mean we can expect a return to sanity? I wouldn’t count on it. Public officials won’t use this as an opportunity to change course, even if we are coming up on election year, until they have a new bogeyman to blame. When you can’t point your finger at the unvaccinated for all pandemic-related problems, you may have to stop and notice your other three fingers are pointed the opposite direction.

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Chaos In Kazakhstan

Mass protests in Kazakhstan quickly took on a life of their own, resulting in some of the bloodiest unrest the country has experienced since Kazakhstan declared its independence.

Mass protests broke out in Kazakhstan Sunday in response to surging fuel prices, but quickly took on a life of their own and turned to calls for wholesale reforms, resulting in some of the bloodiest unrest the country has experienced since Kazakhstan declared its independence just over 30 years ago.

The unrest spread in several cities throughout Kazakhstan, but centered on Almaty, the country’s largest city and former capital, where anti-government rioters overran the airport and surrounded two hospitals. Almaty’s City Hall, formerly the headquarters of the Communist Party, had been set ablaze by arsonists, as was a presidential residence, other businesses, and several vehicles. Videos posted on social media and elsewhere also showed rioters, some of them armed, looting local businesses and other establishments en masse. The chaos resulted in upwards of 40 deaths, including that of at least 18 police officers or other security personnel members—two of which were found beheaded. Another 750 security officers were injured. As for the demonstrators, 1,000 or so were injured, 400 of whom were hospitalized, and nearly 4,000 have been detained.

Several consecutive days of destruction and devastation wrought by these rioters left Kazakhstan’s government with little options. With already politically repressive tendencies, the Kazakh government determined the rioters had to be repelled with force.

A statement from Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev Wednesday night effectively declared that Kazakhstan was under attack and called upon the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Russian foil to NATO, to intervene. The Kazakh president invited the aid of the Russian military, as well as the aid of other Central Asian countries, to stop the “band of terrorists,” which Tokayev suggested may have received training abroad. In total, the CSTO sent approximately 2,500 troops to assist Kazakhstan in protecting government and military buildings and installations as part of what it called a temporary peacekeeping mission.

When Russian and troops from other nations in the CSTO descended upon Almaty, they found a city in utter pandemonium. Kazakh security forces, now reinforced with allied troops, opened fire on certain groups of demonstrators, some of whom were armed. Throughout the night, sporadic gunfire echoed throughout the city.

Galym Ageleulov, an eyewitness to the events and director of the human rights center Liberty in Almaty, told the New York Times that he believed criminals had co-opted the demonstrations. Ageleulov claimed that those on the streets late into the night, those responsible for most of the damage and violence, were predominantly young men—some of whom posted on social media posing with riot gear they had taken from security officers. “These gang members marched through the city looting stores and setting cars ablaze as they moved; they stormed the City Hall,” Ageleulov told the Times in a phone interview.

But Ageleulov also suggested that what unfolded in Almaty was far more than petty criminals attempting to seize the moment and make a quick buck. He claimed that these agents of chaos were organized by the likes of gang leaders and other criminal elements.

On Thursday morning, Almaty residents emerged from their homes to a shell of what the former capital once was. Kazakhs scrambled to ATMs to withdrawal enough tenge to last the mandated closures of commercial banks. The fortunate businesses that were not looted remained shuttered, causing breadlines the likes of which Kazakhstan hasn’t seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. Intermittent cessations in telephone and internet services compounded the broader disruption.

The Kazakh interior ministry later announced in a televised statement that the government had regained control over all the city’s major government buildings.

To many, the unrest in Kazakhstan comes as quite a shock. Since declaring its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has been relatively stable compared to other countries in the region. While it remains autocratic and well within Russia’s sphere of influence, Kazakhstan has managed to turn its large oil reserves and other resource deposits into a lucrative industry that helps prop up the nation’s economy and treasury. It’s GDP per capita is far higher than other countries in the region. Though it has enjoyed more political and economic stability than its neighbors, economic inequality has continued to rise, causing a ripple effect especially prevalent in the attitudes of Kazakhstan’s urban elites versus that of its working poor.

Certainly, the major task of the relatively-new Tokayev administration is to put proper reforms in place if Kazakhstan wishes to avoid more bloody unrest in the future. However, if calls for liberal reforms are brought with the destruction of cities, mass looting and bloodshed, and alleged extrajudicial executions of police officers by a mobocracy, they shouldn’t be surprised if their pleas fail—because they deserve to.

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Chicago Teachers’ Union Holds Students Hostage

If there is a school district in the United States whose students can least afford to be kept out of the classroom, it is Chicago. And yet.

Near North Career Magnet High School, Chicago(DeezTick via Wikimedia Commons)

Only 18 percent of students in Chicago’s public high schools can read at grade level. Only 19 percent are proficient in math. More than 60 percent of students in the district rely on their school for free or reduced-price lunches. If there is a school district in the United States whose students can least afford to be kept out of the classroom, it is Chicago.

And yet.

Chicago’s vast network of public schools have been closed for the past three days after members of the Chicago Teachers Union first refused to report to school on Wednesday. Seventy-three percent of those who voted in the union’s internal poll Tuesday supported moving to remote instruction until local infection rates drop or January 18, whichever comes first. In a New York Timesreport, union members cited “unsafe” conditions at the schools.

Chicago Public Schools have spent $100 million improving ventilation in their school buildings. More than 90 percent of its employees are fully vaccinated. Every employee who wants to receive the vaccine has had ample opportunity to do so. The notion that Chicago schools are particularly “unsafe,” at least as regards the transmission of the coronavirus, is not credible.

Elected Democrats realize—at a date far too late for both their electoral prospects and the well-being of children under their rule—that school closures are a non-starter for all but the most neurotic voters. They’ve changed their tune accordingly. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is “tired of the Groundhog Day appearance of everything that goes on with the Chicago Teachers Union leadership,” and called on teachers to defy their leaders. “I will not allow them to compromise the future of this generation of CPS students,” Lightfoot said. “That is not going to happen.”

Unfortunately for Lightfoot and public-school students in Chicago, the teachers’ union holds the cards. If its members don’t show up to school, there will be no in-person learning, no matter the mayor’s protestations.

Like every other major institution in American society, the Chicago Teachers Union is pandering to the most-unstable wing of its already-unstable membership. The neurotics are the tail that wags the dog.

The last time Chicago Public Schools went remote, there was a three-fold increase in failure rates among elementary-school students. If the union continues to hold Chicago’s students hostage, expect more of the same in the coming weeks.

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Rosen and the FBI on January 6

In anticipation of January 6, acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen pre-deployed 500 FBI and Justice Department troops to Capitol Hill.

Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Wikimedia Commons

In “The Capitol Riot: The Road to January 6,” Newsweek’s wall-to-wall January 6 coverage this week, one article stood out. In an exclusive report on the days leading up to January 6, the journalist writes that three days before things got out of hand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen had prepared to deploy the Justice Department and the FBI to the capitol in anticipation of some sort of attack. Rosen’s actions were, reportedly, unilateral; neither the U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, or any agency issued a formal request for the backup forces.

Per the report:

The contingency units meeting on January 3 included the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, the FBI’s national “Render Safe” team, an FBI SWAT team from the Baltimore Field Office, Special Response Teams from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Marshals Service Special Operations Group.

The groups were prepared the weekend prior, and given shoot-to-kill authority, so they could be helicoptered from the FBI Academy in Quantico to the sight of a potential terrorist attack, according to the report.

A week after January 6, 2021, Rosen delivered a video statement on the “Seizure of the U.S. Capitol,” in which he proudly lauded the more than 500 law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI, ATF, and the U.S. Marshals who “rushed to the Capitol” to meet the challenge.

One week ago, our Nation collectively watched in horror as a violent mob stormed the Capitol grounds, broke down crowd control barriers, assaulted Capitol Police Officers, and overran the Capitol complex. Lives were lost. The storming of the Capitol was an intolerable, shocking, and tragic episode in our Nation’s history.

I am grateful, however, that order was restored at the Capitol and the Congress was able to fulfill its duties under the U.S. Constitution. That afternoon, from the Justice Department, more than five hundred law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI, ATF and the U.S. Marshals rushed to the Capitol. As I watched the events unfolding, I spoke multiple times with DOJ personnel who were onsite, and coordinated with my counterparts across the government. I also heard from Leaders of both the House and Senate.

In addition, our agents worked with the Capitol police and the Metropolitan police, as well as the other federal, state and local officers who responded on that day to do several things: to neutralize improvised explosive devices (or IEDs), to clear the mob from the Capitol, to search every office for explosives and other dangers, and to return the Chambers to Congress so that they could discharge their duties.

Newsweek’s report is a little different. On the morning of January 6, Newsweek writes that FBI tactical teams arrived on Capitol Hill early in the day to assist with collecting evidence, including at the Republican and Democratic party headquarters, where two pipe bombs were later discovered—rather than rushing to the scene after the action began. (While the bombs have remained a key piece of evidence in the debate over how violent the day’s events actually were, no further information has been made public in the year since about who may have been responsible for placing them.) Moreover, while it seems clear that Rosen’s operative groups ultimately worked with the Capitol police and other police officers on site, their initial presence on site was neither requested nor communicated, according to these new findings.

While much remains unclear, even at this distance, about who was responsible for what on January 6, it seems we can say safely that most partisan accounts are, at best, reductionist. It also raises an important question: With 500 additional troops on the ground, pre-deployed before anything had begun to happen, in addition to Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan police, how on earth did things manage to get out of hand?

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Stopping by I-95 on a Snowy Evening

Some thoughts on snow, and government incompetence, after the snowstorm that fell on Northern Virginia yesterday.

I was going to write something today about the beauty of how snow forces a modern world in the fast lane to slow down, but the cars still stuck on I-95 for now 24 hours made me think better of it, for some reason.

As a native Tennesseean, I have absolutely no right to mock. Still, having spent enough years in Michigan to experience, and even appreciate, true winter, I’ve begun to have opinions about ploughing. Maybe that’s just part of growing up, or maybe I can blame my Pennsylvanian parents for instilling in me a distaste for one, and only one, southern tradition: absolute incapacity when it comes to winter weather. But really, once you’ve seen how fast the streets are cleared in places with real snow and ice, you can’t help but pile on.

I’m sure you saw what happened on I-95 yesterday afternoon, or at least heard about it today. While the snow piled up, the highway shut down for a 50-mile stretch, leaving hundreds of cars stranded, some for more than 24 hours. The pile up began with a crash involving six tractor-trailers, but it seemed there was more to the problem than the snow and wreck. As the night wore on and the interstate-turned-parking lot remained frozen in place, the drivers were left in their idling cars without food, gas, or water.

After hours of silence, Governor Ralph Northam posted on Twitter this morning that drivers finally would be connected with support. He added that “sunlight is expected to help @VaDOT clear the road.” I can only imagine the thoughts of anyone still stranded at this point: Wonderful, thanks a bunch. I sure wish machines and salt worked in the dark. 

Perhaps the more poetic recalled Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. While idling on the road for 20-plus hours, they may have composed a parodic rendition.

Whose road this is I think I know.   
His house is in the city though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch the road fill up with snow.
My little car must think it queer   
To stop without an exit near   
Between Glenn Ruther and Dumfries
The whitest evening of the year.
I give my weary head a shake   
And ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the beep   
Of countless cars stuck next to me.
They say the sun has melting powers
But I have waited hours and hours,
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
The VDOT has since begun to detour some traffic and reopen the northbound side of the interstate, but countless are still stranded. Stay safe out there, folks.

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A Professor Attacks John Madden

Quick—and without looking at your notes: Can you think of a difference between professional athletes and chattel slaves?

(Public Domain)

A history professor at Dallas College sent a since-deleted series of tweets to interrupt what he characterized as the “veneration” of the late John Madden following the legendary coach’s death on Tuesday.

The professor wrote:

I have lots of opinions on John Madden. The creation of the Madden video game was not a great development for the U.S. It further glamorized violence and dehumanized Black athletes, helping to establish plantation cosplay that has grown worse in the era of fantasy football.

The video game distanced the reality of the violent sport from fans, and transformed human behaviors into artificial numbers and simulations. It glamorized athletes, using their name for profits while encouraging fans to disregard the humanity. Madden built a digital plantation.

Sure, there is a lot of significance to his life and his impact. But it’s pretty clear most of his accomplishments were not beneficial or healthy for athletes, (particularly) non-white athletes. John Madden made a life in football, one of the most violent and exploitative sports.

When your entire life is based on expanding and profiting off of one the of most violent and exploitative games, veneration is not exactly something that you deserve.

It is first of all urgent to observe that no one—not a single, solitary person—cared whether this professor had “lots of opinions about John Madden,” much less what those “opinions” were.

Second, consider the substance of the professor’s argument: Madden lent his name to a video-game series that depicted professional football. People get injured while playing professional football. The majority of professional football players are black. The Madden video game uses metrics to rank players. Slave owners in the antebellum American South relied on data of one kind or another to assess the capacity of slaves. Therefore—and this is a leap larger than almost any I’ve ever seen—Madden “built a digital plantation,” “dehumanized [black] athletes,” and “establish[ed] plantation cosplay.” Quick—and without looking at your notes: Can you think of a difference between professional athletes and chattel slaves?

Mourn, not only for Madden, but for one who would defame a dead man before his body hit the earth.

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