A Bonfire of Ignorance and Hypocrisy
Plus: The planets align.
As we begin the week, all the planets are aligning:
On Xitter, it’s Alex-Jones-Elon-Musk-Andrew-Tate-Vivek-Ramaswamy. “Nothing to see here,” noted David Primack, “just the owner of this site and a presidential candidate chatting it up with a man indicted for rape/human trafficking and another who lied about dead kids to harass their grieving parents.”
In “think-tank” world, it’s Viktor Orban-the Heritage Foundation-and the pro-Putin GOP.
Allies of Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán will hold a closed-door meeting with Republicans in Washington to push for an end to US military support for Ukraine, the Guardian has learned.
Members of the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs and staff from the Hungarian embassy in Washington will on Monday begin a two-day event hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank.
There’s a better-than-even chance that Congress will leave town without approving critical new aid for Ukraine and Israel, two staunch U.S. allies locked in bitter wars. And the House is on track to formalize its impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
In Dictatorland, it’s a gathering of the deplorables. “The chairman of an Austrian political party founded by ex-Nazis, the conservative Twitter star behind the anti-trans Bud Light backlash and former President Donald Trump all walked into a bar. Seriously.”
“You know why I wanted to be a dictator? [Trump said]. “Because I want a wall, and I want to drill, drill, drill,” Trump said, adding that Democrats’ “newest hoax” is to label him a threat to democracy.
The former president was preaching to his base Saturday, as a mix of firebrand conservative media icons, siloed far-right lawmakers and wealthy MAGA-loving donors chanted his name and cheered pro-Trump speeches from carefully-plated banquet tables.
And, finally, the polls. All the polls. “Trump Takes 2024 Lead as Biden Approval Hits New Low, WSJ Poll Finds.”
Biden lags behind Trump by 4 percentage points, 47% to 43%, on a hypothetical ballot with only those two candidates. Trump’s lead expands to 6 points, 37% to 31%, when five potential third-party and independent candidates are added to the mix….
Unhappiness with Biden is pervasive in the new survey, though much of it appears among Democratic-leaning groups who might still back the president on Election Day.
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On our weekend podcast: Is the Almighty, who made heaven and earth, also biting his nails over next year’s election? Tim Alberta joins me to discuss his new book and the evangelicals who worship America, the 500-year moment for Christianity, and the organized crime syndicate Jerry Falwell built.
You can listen to the whole thing here. Or watch us on YouTube.
A bonfire of ignorance (and hypocrisy)
ICYMI: One in five young Americans think the Holocaust is a myth - The Economist.
Young Americans—or at least the subset of them who take part in surveys—appear to be remarkably ignorant about one of modern history’s greatest crimes.
Some 20% of respondents aged 18-29 think that the Holocaust is a myth, compared with 8% of those aged 30-44 (see chart). An additional 30% of young Americans said they do not know whether the Holocaust is a myth.
Many respondents espouse the canard that Jews wield too much power in America: young people are nearly five times more likely to think this than are those aged 65 and older (28% versus 6%).
By any measure this is a colossal failure of the education system, which is related to the colossal moral failure that we see playing out in higher education.
Over the weekend, the president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned; while her counterparts at Harvard and MIT are hanging on by a thread after last week’s disastrous congressional hearing fumble.
Andrew Sullivan has little sympathy. He writes in “The Day The Empress' Clothes Fell Off”:
In the hearings, [Harvard] President Gay actually said, with a straight face, that “we embrace a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful.”
This is the president whose university mandates all students attend a Title IX training session where they are told that “fatphobia” and “cisheterosexism” are forms of “violence,” and that “using the wrong pronouns” constitutes “abuse.” …
The critics who keep pointing out “double standards” when it comes to the inflammatory speech of pro-Palestinian students miss the point. These are not double standards. There is a single standard: It is fine to malign, abuse and denigrate “oppressors” and forbidden to do so against the “oppressed.”
Freedom of speech in the Ivy League extends exclusively to the voices of the oppressed; they are also permitted to disrupt classes, deplatform or shout down controversial speakers, hurl obscenities, force members of oppressor groups — i.e. Jewish students and teachers in the latest case — into locked libraries and offices during protests, and blocked from classrooms. Jewish students have even been assaulted — at Harvard, at Columbia, at UMass Amherst, at Tulane. Assaults by woke students used to be rare, such as the 2017 mob at Middlebury that put Allison Stanger in a neck brace — but since 10/7, they’re intensifying.
If a member of an oppressor class says something edgy, it is a form of violence. If a member of an oppressed class commits actual violence, it’s speech. That’s why many Harvard students instantly supported a fundamentalist terror cult that killed, tortured, systematically raped and kidnapped Jews just for being Jews in their own country. Because they have been taught it’s the only moral position to take. They’ve diligently read their Fanon, and must be puzzled over what the problem is. Palestinians are victims of a “colonial,” “white,” “settler-state” and any violence they commit is thereby justified.
As a professor who favors free speech on campus, I can sympathize with the "nuanced" answers given by U. presidents yesterday, about whether calls to attack or wipe out Israel violate campus speech policies. What offends me is that since 2015, universities have been so quick to punish "microaggressions," including statements intended to be kind, if even one person from a favored group took offense.
The presidents are now saying: "Jews are not a favored group, so offending or threatening Jews is not so bad. For Jews, it all depends on context."
We might call this double standard "institutional anti-semitism." University presidents: If you're not going to punish students for calling for the elimination of Israel and Israelis, it's OK with me, but ONLY if you also immediately dismantle the speech policing apparatus and norms you created in 2015-2016.
1. The Stop-Trump Effort Has Been Abysmal
He may never have been beatable. For all the obsessive coverage about who wealthy GOP donors fancy, it’s Republican primary voters without college degrees who are the defining bloc in this race. Trump’s enduring grip on them is why he’ll be so hard to defeat and why GOP leaders are so reluctant to cross him.
However, if one was to take brush to canvas for that impressionistic portrayal of how he did it, it would include the following.
The senior officials who worked in Trump’s administration would mute themselves, disagree on whether to go public with their fears about a restoration or just not work in the coordinated, strategic and relentless fashion that’s needed to get through to voters. (With apologies to John Kelly, a former general officer who is willing to speak out, a single and solo statement isn’t enough.)
Republican officials who have little appetite for Trump’s return would stay mum and enable Trump’s comeback, each of them finding a rationale for their silence, some more compelling than others.
Those GOP lawmakers who did step up to try to block Trump’s path wouldn’t coordinate their efforts, would disagree on who the best alternative is and thereby muddy their effort and undermine their mission.
And the lackluster field would, in the last full measure of their timidity, prove unable to rally to a single alternative because they were unwilling to summon the capaciousness necessary for the cause of stopping Trump.
Oh, and Trump’s top alternatives would bicker with one another in most every debate and spend their negative advertising dollars on attacking one another rather than on targeting the former president.
Disagree if you want, but, as the kids say, where’s the lie?
2. Hunter Biden’s New, More Serious Indictment
ON THURSDAY, SPECIAL COUNSEL DAVID WEISS secured a federal grand jury indictment in California charging Hunter Biden with nine criminal counts—three felonies and six misdemeanors—allegedly arising from “a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019.” The indictment claims that Biden didn’t pay his taxes while simultaneously spending money “on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature”; that he repeatedly failed to file federal tax form 1040; and that he failed to identify a slew of personal expenses that were wrongfully paid with corporate funds. (He reportedly paid these owed back taxes—plus penalties and interest, reaching a total of about $2 million—in 2021.)
The indictment feels like an unmistakable “eff you” from Weiss after a deal to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors fell apart in open court in July, with Hunter Biden’s lawyer heard saying to prosecutors, “Rip it up.”