The Last Time The House Couldn’t Elect a Speaker

It was exactly a century ago and there were — count them — 20 dissenters.

A scandal-prone president of tepid popularity and questionable health sits in the White House. The Republicans hold a majority in the House of Representatives, but a dissident faction of 20 opposes the establishment candidate for speaker and demands greater powers for the party conference. For the first time in living memory, the favored candidate loses election on the first ballot, then on the second, then the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.

Yes, Washington certainly was a messy place in 1923, exactly a century ago. That was when the GOP was mired in a predicament similar to the one Republican leader Kevin McCarthy finds himself in this week.

Back then, the troubled candidate for speaker was Massachusetts Representative Frederick H. Gillett. Until shortly before the first ballot, there was no reason to think he would be a controversial choice. Gillett had been in Congress for 30 years and pulled off the remarkable feat of offending no one. His only notable legislative initiative had been to propose a failed constitutional amendment to outlaw polygamy. Late in life, he’d married a respected colleague’s widow and eventually wrote a scholarly biography of her late first husband’s father. When the disputed vote came after the midterm elections of 1922, he was actually the incumbent House speaker, first elected to hold the gavel in 1919, and having sailed through two uneventful terms. A reporter summed up his mild character by writing that Gillett did not drink coffee in the morning “for fear that it would keep him up all day.”

No other House speaker had lost on the first ballot since 1859, during the extraordinary circumstances leading up to the Civil War, when New Jersey Congressman William Pennington endured 44 votes before he won. Pennington, who was elected to the top job as a freshman member, proceeded to lose reelection to the House in the fateful election of 1860 after backing a proposed amendment that would have prohibited any constitutional change to so-called “domestic institutions,” a popular euphemism for slavery. Within a year, as war approached, he died from a morphine overdose in glamorous Newark.

Pennington’s successor, Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania, technically lost on his first ballot, but before the House clerk announced the results, his closest challenger withdrew and endorsed Grow, allowing him a first-ballot win. Grow is best known for his pre-speakership exploits, which included provoking a brawl in the House chamber that involved some 50 members and, later, getting arrested by DC cops just before fighting a duel with a North Carolina congressman. Move over, Lauren Boebert. Grow’s tenure as speaker was also ill-fated. In the 1862 midterm elections, he lost his congressional seat — the last time a sitting speaker would be voted out until Tom Foley’s humiliation in 1994. (Grow returned to Congress in 1894 and served four more terms. Foley became a lobbyist and was consoled with the ambassadorship in Tokyo.)

What was Gillett’s problem? Then, as now, the Republican Party faced an identity crisis. Its traditional leadership was being challenged by an emerging progressive wing, which found common cause with Democrats advocating broad reforms. The GOP progressives became especially energized after World War I, when America was thrust into an unavoidably larger international role that the traditionalists were hard put to reject. At issue during Gillett’s renomination was the rules governing the House, with his opponents demanding a devolution of authority. Sound familiar?

Gillett did not give in, and the GOP dissidents — 20 of them, to be exact — denied him sufficient votes to win the required majority. Over the course of three tortuous days, Gillett lost eight successive ballots as the dissidents refused to budge. Facing a deadlock — and the possibility that his opponents might reach across the aisle to elect a Democrat speaker — he yielded, and on the ninth ballot won over 18 of the dissenters, enough to win a third term as speaker.

The victory of the GOP insurgents a century ago didn’t last. In 1924, the Republicans expanded their majority, allowing them to elect a speaker without having to cater to their party’s progressive wing. Gillett was elected to the Senate that year (notably the last time a House speaker won election to the upper chamber). When his successor Nicholas Longworth took over in 1925, he restored his office’s powers and purged from their committee assignments all the dissidents who had rebelled against Gillett.

The lesson endured. After 1925, House speakers of both parties suffered hardly any defections — at least until the second decade of the 21st century. In 2013, 12 Republicans voted against then-speaker John Boehner, who stared them down. In 2015, their number swelled to 24; later that year, Boehner resigned rather than face a likely vote to “vacate the chair.” His successor Paul Ryan won his bid to replace Boehner as a compromise candidate, but, increasingly challenged in a job for which he was ill-suited, announced his intention to step down months before the GOP lost its House majority in the 2018 midterms.

Nancy Pelosi won her party’s unanimous support when she first became speaker in 2007, but only narrowly returned to the job when the Democrats reclaimed the majority in 2019. In that vote, 15 House Democrats refused to support her, with other skeptics swayed only by her promise to step down after the 2022 midterm elections, regardless of the results.

Pelosi is on her way out, but the lessons of history are baleful for both sides of the Republican divide. If the Republican holdouts make a deal with McCarthy — which reports suggest is likely — he or a likeminded successor could turn on them in any future Congress with a larger Republican majority, just as Longworth did within two years of replacing Gillett. In that case, any concessions McCarthy makes now could easily be withdrawn, and the members who extracted them dispatched into the political wilderness.

Alternately, McCarthy could make a deal with Democrats to secure his election. This would effectively surrender the GOP’s hard-won majority to a de facto coalition government that would frustrate the agenda on which McCarthy has adamantly staked his leadership. After a brief, shining moment as little more than a figurehead speaker, he, too, would likely face oblivion at the hands of an outraged Republican base that might well purge the moderates who control the GOP’s establishment wing.

There is no limit to the possible number of votes the House can take. In 1855-1856, Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts was elected speaker after a mammoth 133 votes taken over a period of two months. If the GOP has any concern for its credibility, it must advance a candidate who can win as quickly as possible. Signs suggest it is not Kevin McCarthy.

Florida’s Divestment From BlackRock’s ESG Hijacking Is Sound Public Policy

Newsweek – “Florida is where woke goes to die,” says the state’s governor and likely future presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis home drove the point last week, when he announced that our free state will divest $2 billion from BlackRock, the behemoth asset management firm run by lifelong Democrat Larry Fink.

At issue is BlackRock’s use of so-called “ESG”—”environmental, social, and governance”—principles to coerce companies in which it invests to adopt policies demanded by the radical Left. Instead of maximizing investor profits by addressing standard business considerations, BlackRock’s dubious priority, in effect since at least 2018, is to use its massive financial leverage to foster “progressive” social and cultural change and, in Fink’s guilty white liberal formulation, change the nature of global capitalism itself.

“Using our cash to fund BlackRock’s social-engineering project isn’t something Florida ever signed up for,” Patronis said in a released statement, “It’s got nothing to do with maximizing returns and is the opposite of what an asset manager is paid to do.” Accordingly, Florida will immediately remove $600 million in short-term investments from BlackRock and freeze another $1.43 billion in long-term securities, pending their reassignment to new management in early 2023.

The move follows an August 2022 resolution by Florida’s Board of Administration, chaired by DeSantis, which requires financial managers to invest in a way that “prioritizes the highest return on investment” and specifically excludes ESG considerations.

In October, Louisiana and Missouri also removed substantial amounts of capital from BlackRock’s management, while a total of five states have placed general restrictions on ESG investments.

BlackRock’s ESG integration policy statement mysteriously became “unavailable” on its website in the hours after Patronis’s announcement, but other material that remains accessible should sound off alarm bells for any responsible investor. BlackRock is “committed to putting sustainability at the center of our investment process,” one such passage reads, “based on the conviction that integrating sustainability-related information into the investment process can help our portfolio managers manage risk and make better informed investment decisions.” BlackRock makes no attempt to claim that a conviction-based investment strategy has ever created meaningful financial gain for investors, but it does seem worryingly at ease telling Americans that they should entrust their retirement savings—the firm’s major asset category—to somebody else’s idiosyncratic feelings.

In another odd statement, BlackRock insists “there is increasing awareness that material ESG factors can be tied to a company’s long-term performance.” Whether there is any actual evidence of such a connection is an unanswered question—likely because there is none—but the semantic sleight of hand seems intended to push woke ideology over the best financial interests of investors who might not be “aware” of where their money is going.

More mercenary considerations may also be at work. In 2021, no less an authority than Tariq Fancy, who served as BlackRock’s first “global chief investment officer for sustainable investing,” blew a whistle on the entire ESG-based investment industry and denounced it as “vacuous” and a “ruse.” He also alleged that investment firms bill higher management fees for ESG funds than for ordinary funds, thereby incentivizing their own promotion of ESG. According to figures reported by The Wall Street Journal, fees for ESG funds average about 40% higher than fees for standard funds. That’s a lot of greenbacks for green energy. But even then, as Fancy has suggested, “it’s not totally clear” if investments directed toward ESG goals, including more measurable ones such as environmental protection, make any practical difference. It could be that they only exist to signal virtue and pad revenue sheets due to the higher fees, allowing BlackRock to pay Fink his $36 million salary.

Regardless of the rationale, Paul S. Levy, who founded New York private equity firm JLL Partners and is now a Florida resident, told me that “BlackRock and its ilk are violating their obligations to the fiduciaries and should be held to account for infusing investment decisions with their personal values and political views.”

Levy’s new home state leaves no doubts on the issue. “I’m signing up to take care of the state of Florida’s money and look out for the taxpayers,” Patronis said in an accurate summary of his job description a day after his announcement.

There is ample evidence that the free market is joining with responsible state governments to reject BlackRock’s tomfoolery. Netflix, which aggressively adopted diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) principles into its corporate strategy—not coincidentally after receiving billions in investment from BlackRock—watched its stock price plummet from an all-time high of $690.31 in October 2021 to just $166.37 in June 2022. Defying projections that the streaming service would add 2.5 million paying subscribers in 2022, it instead lost 1.5 million subscribers in the first two quarters of this year.

No sane person could describe this outcome as a success, but Netflix began to recover as soon as it jettisoned DEI, embraced free speech principles, laid off hundreds of its “diversity”-minded content creators, and modified its content accordingly. As of last Friday, its stock price was back to $320.41. In the third quarter to 2022, the service added 2.4 million subscribers. BlackRock’s ownership stake has correspondingly declined, from 6.6% in March 2020 to 4.2% now. Coincidence?

Astonishingly, BlackRock still claimed to be “surprised” by Florida’s divestment. But now that it realizes not all of its investors are self-abnegating MSNBC viewers, BlackRock is clearly in defensive mode. Attempting to gaslight the third-most populous state’s investors, it issued a risible statement declaring, “We are disturbed by the emerging trend of political initiatives like this that sacrifice access to high-quality investments and thereby jeopardize returns, which will ultimately hurt Florida’s citizens.” One might wonder if “high-quality” is the same as “profitable,” or if the jeopardized “returns” are “financial” in nature, but the issue never would have arisen without BlackRock’s reckless politicization of Floridians’ investments.

“Fiduciaries should always value performance over politics,” the statement patronizingly continued. Maybe now BlackRock will do that, too.

The Banality of Good

Tabletmag.com – In his recent book, Mattias Desmet takes on a new totalitarianism not enforced by jackbooted thugs, but dull bureaucrats imposing consensus.

It might have been expected that the first scholarly study of what has happened in our society over the past few years should hail from abroad, where nonwoke discourse remains far freer. Mattias Desmet has said that his 2022 book The Psychology of Totalitarianism was received with some caution in his home country of Belgium, but he has yet to suffer any consequences in his career as an academic clinical psychologist and practicing psychotherapist. Tellingly, his book’s English translation was not picked up by any notable American or British publisher, virtually all of which are reliably woke, but by rural Vermont’s Chelsea Green Publishing, a small employee-owned and self-distributing house whose books are mainly about sustainable craft farming. From this humble entry into the marketplace of ideas, Desmet has won right-wing celebrity and attracted attention from such prominent media personalities as Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan. His book has topped Amazon’s bestseller lists in relevant political science categories, consistently exceeding sales of similar recent books by Timothy Snyder, Jason Stanley, Rod Dreher, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and even the perennially popular classics by Friedrich Hayek, Robert Paxton, and Hannah Arendt, whose Totalitarianism (1951) is the jumping-off point for Desmet’s analysis.

Desmet seeks to improve upon Arendt’s thesis with the argument that the “soft” totalitarianism she predicted would evolve after the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism is now a nightmare come true. Our current tyranny is not the menacing dictatorships of old, which were built on fear and operated by compliant functionaries practicing banalized evil, but by a subtler regime enforced by “dull bureaucrats and technocrats” convinced that they are advancing a greater good for humanity. The new agents of persecution are not jackbooted secret police thugs instilling fear, but almond milk latte-swigging university officials imposing unpleasant consensus. George Orwell’s vicious O’Brien has yielded to Ken Kesey’s passive-aggressive Nurse Ratched.

Much of the book dwells on how we got here. Desmet traces the evolution of human societies from the scientific revolution, when free inquiry battled with religious dogma to understand the natural world per se. Confirmed by the Enlightenment’s triumphant claims to have found the correct path forward, not merely for science but for society, we entered a modern era defined by what he calls a “mechanistic ideology” that held out “the utopian vision of an artificial paradise” as a perfect, and inevitable, future. The universe and everything in it, to the purely scientific mind, thus follows impersonal patterns and motions that science alone can reveal. Potentially, this offered humans immense power and insight, but it also reduced them to existence without meaning or purpose. As a result, industrial economies instrumentalized people, separating them from community, traditions, imagination, nature, emotions, the fruits of their labor, and other factors that had once made life worth living. As a result, atomized individuals developed a generalized and unmoored anxiety that could be resolved when focused on an object or scapegoat that was assigned responsibility for their plight. Collectively blaming a common object of loathing primed these populations for rule by “masters,” leaders who played to their atavism to build a new society united by little more than submission to their generalized authority.

This process of “mass formation” allowed early totalitarians to appeal to science or, more likely pseudoscience, to justify the new status quo and carry out outrages and absurdities. Those regimes, however, were isolated, short-lived, and prone to internal collapse. The new totalitarianism of which Desmet warns is far more pervasive. As science and technology exploded in recent decades, popular faith in them “tipped from open-mindedness to belief.” The values of free inquiry and spirited debate, of regarding hypotheses merely as assertions that had yet to be disproved, were overwhelmed by a new dogma determined not by priests, but by practitioners. For those who followed, “science became ideology.”

Desmet’s notion that mass formation, and consequently totalitarianism, “are in fact symptoms of the mechanistic ideology” struck him strongly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Globalized information technology not only helped spread the virus, but also united the world in what he calls a “Great Leap Forward” toward “totalitarian technocracy.” Confined to near house arrest, with strict limitation on mobility and human contact, a new and purer form of atomization seized the minds of anxious publics looking for enemies to blame and dissenters to punish. “Never before were the societal conditions so prone to totalitarianism,” Desmet argues, as they have been in the last few years. To add empirical insult to psychological injury, many establishment precepts initially advanced as irrefutably sound turned out to be exaggerated, contingent, harmful, and, in some cases, simply wrong, with little or no accountability for individuals and institutions that had erred but still clung to authority.

Despite these deficiencies, a confused and traumatized bulk of society still indulged in “a kind of intoxication” in their new sense of belonging. As we saw all too often in our own country, those who shamed the unmasked or unvaxed, who snitched on their neighbors for noncompliance, who kept schools and places of worship closed, were formed into a new mass “convinced of their superior ethical and moral intentions and of the reprehensibility of everything and everyone who resists them.”

One might quibble with Desmet’s arguments about the extent to which “the Science™” got things wrong, or riposte that the unknown severity of the virus excused overreach, but it is difficult to argue that the pandemic fundamentally accelerated extant trends in how our society is monitored, who has overweening authority over it, and what the consequences of noncompliance can be. The book might have enjoyed even greater success if Desmet had considered the complementary woke phenomena ushered in by the #MeToo movement, critical race theory, radical gender ideology, and their consequences for free speech and behavior. Like COVID and its performative safetyism, all of those orthodoxies advanced broad social controls based on emotion, anxiety, and shaky data, much of which have also been exposed as exaggerated or fraudulent. Strikingly, they emerged in the Anglosphere at times that overlapped with the pandemic. The technocratic authorities who enforced them were similarly bland, bureaucratized, and in most cases protected from any significant liability. We might forgive Desmet for leaving them out, however, for the collective hysteria around race, gender, and sex did not travel well outside of the English-speaking world.

The question we should all be rushing to answer, of course, is how to fight back. Desmet parrots the standard middle-class professional’s argument that dissidents should speak out, but only in polite, sincere ways that avoid antagonizing the dominant ideology. His hope is that this will penetrate the mass formation sufficiently to expose its dynamics to broad majorities who go along with it without necessarily believing in it. He would know better if that could work in Belgium, but Americans have already amassed decades of evidence showing that this spells failure, if not disaster. However strongly worded their letters may have been, polite dissenters have proved remarkably easy to ignore for at least the last 50 years. Meanwhile, increasingly powerful woke mandarins have implemented their agenda of social control, long secure in the knowledge that their opponents were little more than gracious losers. Like him or not, it took the abrasive Donald Trump and his army of “deplorables” to challenge this dismal outcome with considerable success, through aggressive media activism, the majesty of the law, and perhaps most significantly, ridicule that no tyranny can withstand.

That phenomenon might merit study if Desmet wishes to examine the question of what should come next, but he favors a far more idealistic solution. Perhaps predictably, he places a great deal of faith in his own academic discipline, advocating for a more psychological than physical or biological approach to the human condition. “The real task facing us,” he writes, “is to construct a new view of man and the world, to found a new foundation for our identity, to formulate new principles for living together with others, and to reappraise a timely human capacity—speaking the truth.” He may be comforted to know that more and more people across the Atlantic are now doing precisely that, over the furious opposition of our would-be totalitarian rulers, who believe truth is a monopoly that belongs to them.

The GOP Must Address Election Integrity Before It Is Too Late

Newsweek – On a rare visit to my Washington, D.C. place shortly before the midterm elections, an envelope in my large pile of mail read, “Official Ballot.” Inside, I found a full ballot and postage-paid envelope to ensure that my voice could be counted in District of Columbia elections. No identification or authentication was required.

It was heartwarming to know that the local election authorities were looking out for me, but I have not lived in the nation’s capital for any sustained period since 2005 and have never requested an absentee ballot there. I am registered to vote, liable for jury duty, and licensed to drive, hunt, fish, and carry concealed weapons in Florida, where I first voted in 1996.

Since I am not a criminal, I discarded my D.C. ballot and duly cast only one vote, in person at my local fire station in Palm Beach. In this, I mirrored many other registered Republicans, who typically vote in person on election day in much larger numbers than do Democrats.

This is only one person’s anecdote of failed election integrity, but those who allege the potential for abuse in mass mail-in balloting, ballot harvesting, large-scale absentee voting, and similar techniques often introduced during or just before the COVID-19 pandemic are routinely castigated as “racists,” “fascists,” “conspiracy theorists,” and evildoers nefariously determined to “undermine the integrity of our elections” and threaten “Democracy Itself™.”

Ostensibly intended to guarantee voting rights by removing perceived obstacles to reaching physical polling places, these broad and worryingly unsupervised measures have remained in effect in many states even as the pandemic has receded. Only a handful of state governments have walked some of these measures back to ensure that our elections are indeed determined by votes that count, rather than by those who count the votes.

After the 2020 elections, concerns about election integrity received little practical attention. Mainstream media disparaged even broaching the issue, and doing so became publicly taboo. It’s easy to understand why: Any challenge to the loosened system could have delegitimized the defeat of former President Donald J. Trump and imperiled future Democratic electoral success.

The federal courts almost uniformly punted legal challenges on the bases of jurisdiction or standing, which excused them from engagement with the underlying substantive issues. As it so mendaciously did with public health policy, Big Tech systematically banned or flagged dissenting posts, accounts, and even hashtags (e.g., “#StopTheSteal”) suggesting the 2020 elections reflected anything other than democracy in its purest and most unadulterated form. With those few state-level exceptions, Republican leaders largely went along with this narrative. Nobody likes to be called a racist, fascist, or conspiracy theorist—especially not bow-tied Washingtonians worried about their cocktail party invitations.

In 2022, however, the narrative fell apart. Under Governor Ron DeSantis‘s leadership, Florida had outlawed mass mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, and the use of funds offered by possibly biased third-party actors (e.g. “Zuckerbucks”) to help operate local elections. It also required photo identification to vote and vowed to prosecute individuals who allegedly violated state election laws. Criticism rained down on the governor before and after the election, but the results were undeniable as the “red wave” predicted for the entire country slammed Florida’s shores. DeSantis won reelection by 19 points, and similar margins of victory blessed Republican candidates down the ballot. Importantly, these numbers reasonably resembled pre-election polling data, taking into account the advantage of a few points that polling often inaccurately assigns to Democrats. What’s more, the Sunshine State’s 7.2 million total votes cast were counted within a mere five hours.

Compare with Arizona, where the state election system, which was questioned heavily in 2020, experienced few meaningful changes since that year. Additionally, the state’s chief election official, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, was also the state’s 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Hobbs’s Republican opponent Kari Lake asked her to recuse herself, as numerous irregularities manifested around election day. These included the reported malfunction of over 20% of voting machines in Republican-leaning areas of decisive Maricopa County, as well as the state’s general inability to tabulate all ballots for many days, even as almost all other states completed their own counts. Hobbs refused to step aside. The final results, which showed Lake and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters both losing, while many other Arizona Republicans on the ballot won, left additional doubts in many minds about the integrity of the outcome.

More analysis could be done and more evidence could be gathered, but the upshot is this: Florida’s reformed system delivered results that no one doubts, while Arizona’s largely unreformed system delivered results that many mistrust. That fact alone is highly problematic for faith in the democracy we all share, regardless of which party benefited.

What is to be done? Constitutionally, each state manages its own elections. No law passed by Congress can force states to adopt the superior Florida model, revert to the problematic Arizona variant, or do anything else. To safeguard Our Democracy™, state-level Republicans should work diligently to reform election laws to ensure that we have accurate, qualified, and verified electorates that cannot be thwarted by procedural blind spots. In states where Republicans hold legislative majorities, this process can begin tomorrow and should be motivated by the cautionary tale of Michigan, whose Republican-controlled legislature did virtually nothing to address the issue after 2020 and now finds itself controlled by Democrats.

In other states, Republican minorities should reach out to Democrats who are honest enough to admit there are structural problems and wise enough to see that unsecured and easily manipulated processes could be turned against them if Republican activists get into the mail-in and ballot harvesting business, as many are now promising to do.

For its part, the new Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives must prioritize the Electoral Count Reform Act, a heretofore stagnant piece of legislation designed to modernize the thoroughly outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887, which prescribes how state votes are to be tabulated and verified in presidential elections.

Barring a legislative solution, legal action could also prevail in federal courts with the power to require states to abandon election practices that are fraudulent, discriminatory, or otherwise fail to secure constitutionally guaranteed equal protection. Like so many other issues affecting our polity—from abortion to gun rights to affirmative action—election integrity may ultimately be a matter for the Supreme Court to decide.

Time will tell whether Republicans have the organizational skill, attention span, or courage to take on these dull and difficult tasks in the branches of government where they still have a say. But if they don’t, they will become a permanent minority party in most states that don’t start with “F,” and much of the Union will become a banana republic.

Hate and hoaxes at Twitter headquarters as Musk takes over

The Spectator – The media were camped out in San Francisco as sullen employees learned their fate.

“The bird is freed,” tweeted Elon Musk last Thursday, when he acquired full ownership of Twitter. The day before, he strode into Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters carrying a white ceramic wash basin to impart the message that his new ownership should “sink in.”

Musk has repeatedly signaled his intention to liberalize the platform by relaxing its limits on free expression. Since taking over, he’s stated that Twitter protocols and account bans will remain in place pending review by an internal, ideologically diverse “content moderation council.” Recently, however, he has also stated that the platform should be an open virtual public square with minimal controls on expression, that “comedy is now legal on Twitter,” and even that the most controversial user of them all, former president Donald J. Trump, would be welcome to return.

Left-wing Twitter threw its predictable tantrum. Many users compared Musk to Adolf Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan, the apartheid regime of Musk’s native South Africa, and other well known proponents of free speech. Some prominent leftists have vowed to leave the platform with the same dubious fervor with which they promised to move to Canada after Trump’s election.

But the most fanciful reactions of all were on display at Twitter’s headquarters. It had been a long time since I’d visited San Francisco, which now lives up to its dismal reputation as a progressive nightmare come true. But I happened to transit overnight in the City by the Bay on my way home from a two-week sail through the South Pacific, just as Musk’s possession of Twitter was being confirmed. After landing, I was fresh enough to enlist my host, the scion of an old San Franciscan real estate family, to take a ride downtown to see what was happening.

Twitter’s headquarters is in the city’s historic Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart Building, a splendid art deco edifice where Twitter has been an anchor tenant since 2012. Augmented only with a small rectangular column that says “@twitter” and features the company’s iconic blue bird logo, the building rests on a section of Market Street at the beginning of a “car-free zone.” My friend tells me this redesignation has devastated traffic patterns so the city can appear to look greener. A gaggle of French tourists was there Friday morning mocking a bike share facility, which dutifully reports the number of bicycles that have passed by (nearly 400,000 so far this year). The occasional derelict city resident ambled by to heap abuse on Twitter’s new owner, while another tolerant progressive had spray painted “FUCK MUSK” on the sidewalk nearby.

Much of the building’s interior has been stripped down to a functional brutalism, with bare concrete pillars soullessly standing guard as millennial tech workers flit to and from a bank of restricted elevators. A usually alert security guard unsurprisingly told us Twitter was not welcoming unannounced visitors, but the lobby remained open to the general public. It features an upscale market/takeout joint frequented by Twitter employees that boasts healthy Asian food, a wide selection of products described as “Alternative Milk,” and an ample supply of Astroglide. Periodic signs remind patrons, “Smile, you are on camera.”

A side entrance attracted a sizable contingent of serious-looking media types. The day before, Musk had summarily fired Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal, general counsel Sean Edgett, and head of “legal policy, trust, and safety” Vijaya Gadde, with the top executives reportedly ejected from headquarters in haste.

Rumor held that lesser employees, reportedly including an entire team of data engineers, had also been fired and could be expected to spill out at any time. Two dejected figures were spotted doing just that later on Friday, carrying the requisite cardboard boxes of personal effects. One lamely raised a copy of Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming, in what looked like a limp act of solidarity with a progressive ideology literally on its way out. “Michelle Obama wouldn’t have happened if Elon Musk owned Twitter,” said one of the men, identifying himself as “Rahul Ligma.” The other, “Daniel Johnson,” claimed to be feeling “shitty.”

Local and legacy media diligently reported their sad stories. “It’s happening,” tweeted CNBC tech reporter Deirdre Bosa. “Entire team of data engineers let go. These are two of them.” The Washington Post’s resident crybully Taylor Lorenz quickly responded, tweeting that she was “gutted by their firing and what it means for Twitter.” “Please tell Mr. Ligma to connect w[ith] me on LinkedIn,” she exhorted her 343,000 followers. Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who was acquitted of shooting assailants during an August 2020 Black Lives Matter protest, also reacted, tweeting “these two guys were part of the effort to ban anyone who dared defend me in the public square. They silenced public debate and promoted hate against me and my family.”

As it turned out, they were victims of a hoax. Once reported, complete with video feed and abundant photos, Twitter employees denied any knowledge of these individuals. “Ligma,” others observed, is a well known internet meme originally referring to a fake disease but more recently used to initiate sophomoric “gotcha” jokes among tech bros since it sounds similar to “Lick my.” “Johnson,” of course, is an old-fashioned but still recognizable slang term for the male appendage. Musk himself played along, tweeting “Ligma Johnson had it coming,” followed by the eggplant emoji and the splash emoji. Later, he congratulated the imposters on their trolling skills and mocked CNBC for its “ace reporting.”

Theatrics aside, there was a palpable undercurrent of doom surrounding Twitter’s downtown digs. Recent press reports have held that Musk would lay off 75 percent of Twitter’s workforce. Musk has denied that the numbers would be that high, but his immediate purge of the company’s C-suite did not dispel their apprehensions.

Sullen employees entering the building during our visit had nothing to share. None made eye contact as they plodded by. Those who presented as female performed determined “take back the night” walks, delicately balancing cold avoidance with an unconvincing pretense of fearlessness. Musk seems to be following a methodical course as he reshapes social media, but one might wonder how many of his employees will still be on the payroll next Friday.

NYU sacks a professor because his class is too hard

The Spectator – Maitland Jones Jr. was an award-winning teacher of organic chemistry — then his students complained.

Just before the start of the fall semester, New York University fired the distinguished professor in organic chemistry Maitland Jones Jr. NYU’s dean for Science Gregory Gabadadze informed Jones in a terse letter that his work “did not rise to the standards we require from our teaching faculty.”

Jones is a legend in his field who literally wrote his subject’s 1,300-page textbook Organic Chemistry. He had been teaching at NYU on a renewable one-year contract since his retirement, in 2007, from a forty-three-year career at Princeton University. During his time at NYU, Jones won teaching awards. In 2017, he was named one of NYU’s “coolest” professors, a distinction he shared with only seven of his nearly 10,000 colleagues.

Jones’s offense? His class was too hard. Earlier this year, eighty-two of Jones’s 350 students signed a petition denouncing the difficulty of his organic chemistry course and bemoaning the high failure rates on his examinations.

Although more than 75 percent of Jones’s students did not sign the petition, and although the petition itself did not demand his dismissal, NYU scrambled to placate the disgruntled minority. Every NYU undergrad is, after all, a precious little bundle worth over $300,000 in tuition payments — in addition to potential alumni donations down the road. The students are also far more skilled in social media kvetching than any fortysomething Snopes who works in NYU’s recruitment operations. A bad class, a martinet professor — these things can easily become that afternoon’s widely shared Instagram post or TikTok reel.

NYU’s chemistry department offered to review the exams of Jones’s aggrieved students and, unusually, to allow students to withdraw from his class retroactively. The goal, its director of undergraduate studies explained to Jones shortly before he was fired, was to “extend a gentle but firm hand to the students and those who pay the tuition bills,” presumably their parents, though such reactionary terminology may no longer be acceptable at NYU.

“In short he was hired to teach, and wasn’t successful,” barked an NYU bureaucrat when challenged. This ignored that Jones had risen to the top of his profession over decades of employment at a much higher-ranked university, had his NYU contract renewed annually for fifteen years without issue, and won teaching awards. The idea that NYU students could not be successful is apparently unthinkable.

Organic chemistry is a vitally important course for determining medical school admissions. A good grade in it can go a long way. A bad grade can blight an aspiring doctor’s record so badly as to destroy any chance of admission. This likely accounts for why so many NYU undergrads lamented their poor grades in Jones’s class. But firing Jones goes so far beyond parody as to reveal something much uglier about academia.

In short, for all his accomplishments, Dr. Jones is dispensable, as are all of his colleagues at all American universities, regardless of their field. Every university administration knows full well that for every available teaching position, there are scores, if not hundreds, of acceptably credentialed people willing to do the same job. Savvier administrators have long realized that full-time professors, especially those protected by tenure, are also dispensable, and that their jobs can be done by so-called “contingent” faculty. That broad category includes people like Jones, who teach on temporary contracts, as well as adjunct instructors, who might be engaged for one or two courses on a semester basis, or graduate students, who can hold teaching responsibilities as a condition of receiving financial support or as part of their training.

Whether a class is taught by the preeminent scholar in a field, a first-year hire just out of graduate school, or a doctoral candidate who barely speaks English is immaterial. Students will pay the same tuition regardless. And since what most students really want is the piece of paper at the end, barely anyone ever complains. The only serious objections are limited to obscure industry publications in which a handful of insightful but powerless academic professionals whine about “adjunctification” diminishing career opportunities. Like so many betrayed Cassandras, they have idly looked on while the proportion of contingent faculty increased from 30 percent in 1982 to over 75 percent today.

All the administrators have to do is make sure the students pay, attract new students to pay more next year, and preserve their monopoly on issuing educational credentials in a society that continues to valorize them at a huge premium. The most effective way to run that racket has been to shift education to a disastrous “student-centric” model, which treats students — who are ironically on campus because they are insufficiently educated — as the proverbial customers who are always right. If the administrators do this even somewhat well, largely passive trustees will avoid asking any hard questions, happily approve higher executive pay and perks, and congratulate themselves at shitty retreats on the great “leadership” and “vision” they discovered in whatever bloated riverboat shyster they installed in a wood-paneled president’s office.

Professional education, meanwhile, has been reduced to little more than an at-will service occupation staffed by a poorly paid corpus of low-level paper-pushers who obediently process information. Even tenure is no longer much of a guarantee. In May 2022, Princeton fired the award-winning tenured classics professor Joshua Katz, ostensibly for not having fully participated in a university investigation, but more likely for having publicly opposed racist faculty demands. In July, University of Pennsylvania law dean Ted Ruger recommended “major sanctions” — possibly including termination — against Amy Wax, also award-winning and tenured, for alleged public statements of opinion that Ruger claims caused “harm” to his Ivy League university community.

As for Jones, a group of his departmental colleagues complained to NYU that his dismissal has set “a precedent, completely lacking in due process, that could undermine faculty freedoms and correspondingly enfeeble proven pedagogic practices.” They are certainly right, but there is no indication that NYU cares, or should have any reason to care. That’s even though the woke boomer hypocrites who edit the New York Times are apparently worried enough about the quality of their future health care providers that they ran a front-page story about Jones.

Within the campus gates, however, Jones’s supporters can simply be ignored. If they are unhappy with their former colleague’s mistreatment, they can leave at no great loss to NYU. Indeed, losing senior professors presents a net gain for universities, which can replace them with lower paid junior faculty hires, even lower paid contingent faculty, or, as is increasingly the case, not at all. Losing award-winning teachers is even better, for they command loyalty outside the administration and can communicate effectively in the media. For virtually all salary-dependent faculty members, the only lesson of Jones’s sad fate will be to sit down and shut up.

“I don’t want my job back,” Jones, who is eighty-four, told the Times. “I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.” But it will. Over and over again.

Scarface lands on post-woke Netflix

The Spectator – Subscribers are finally getting better content — along with a healthy dose of toxic masculinity.

“I always tell the truth — even when I lie,” says Tony Montana in Brian DePalma’s 1983 cult classic gangster film Scarface, which on September 1 became available for streaming on Netflix. The line resonates well in a post-truth world.

In the film’s climactic scene, Tony, the drug kingpin played by Al Pacino, has just started his slide to rock bottom. His wife, Elvira, played by a young and then-unknown Michelle Pfeiffer, has publicly dumped him in an embarrassing scene at a high-end restaurant as well-manicured bourgeois types look on aghast. His erstwhile business partner in the drug trade is closing in after Tony failed to dispose of a troublesome investigative journalist. The feds are not far behind, having gathered videotaped evidence of money laundering and tax evasion certain to send him to prison.

Aware that his end is near, Tony proceeds to tell off his impromptu audience of gawking restaurant patrons with near-Shakespearean self-awareness, courtesy of Oliver Stone’s screenwriting long before he became a deranged Putin apologist. “You don’t have the guts to be what you want to be,” Tony declaims. “You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers and say ‘that’s the bad guy.’” Casting that proverbial stone doesn’t make them good, Tony informs them, it just makes them able to hide and lie. In a world of hypocrisy, all that’s left for him to do is retreat to his decadent mansion and await an army of assassins, who take him down in arguably the bloodiest shoot-out in the history of film.

Loosely based on Howard Hawks’s 1932 film of the same name, which itself loosely followed a novel based on the nefarious career of Al Capone, Scarface relocates the setting to Miami in the early 1980s. Its anti-hero is not an Italian immigrant but a Cuban refugee from the Mariel boatlift, in which Fidel Castro’s regime released some criminals along with a much larger population who had relatives among the Cuban exile community in the United States.

Awash in sex, drugs, blood, misogyny, and profanity — the F-bomb is dropped 226 times according to one count — Scarface practically called out for censure even before woke sensibilities plagued our ailing civilization. Prior to its release, the Motion Picture Association of America gave it an “X” rating, the classification used for pornography, only softening to the adult “R” after DePalma edited it three times. A chainsaw murder early in the film reportedly caused the novelists Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving to walk out of the premiere. The Cuban-American community objected to ethnic stereotypes so strenuously that the city of Miami refused filming permits, forcing much of it to be done in Los Angeles. Then, as now, people objected that the principal roles are, with only one exception, played by non-Cubans and non-Latinos. Pacino’s severely overdone Cuban accent makes Ricky Ricardo sound like George Plimpton.

In the four decades since the film’s premiere, its tropes of sexualized violence have suffused all subsequent gangster media, along with organized crime, gang culture, hip-hop, video games, and the vocabulary of anyone who has ever borrowed Tony’s most famous line, “Say hello to my little friend,” now a cliché to refer to some helpful item that is invariably far less impressive than the character’s home-defense grenade launcher. Saddam Hussein named his own money laundering operation “Montana Management,” after a front business Tony sets up in the film to conceal his drug profits.

It may seem a paradox that now, in our immeasurably more sensitive times, Netflix has added Scarface to its offerings without any of the disclaimers that competing streaming services like HBO Max and Disney have added to Gone With the Wind and The Muppet Show. The decision follows Netflix’s commissioning of a comedy special by Dave Chappelle, which was criticized for “offensive” and “harmful” content, both publicly and within the company, because the comedian had the temerity to defend Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for being insensitive to the transgendered.

Scarface also arrives on Netflix only a few months after the company fired 290 employees, many of whom were hired to create and steward content that would promote diversity and wokeness. Those who were spared received a curt memo telling them that “you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. …If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.” The company then proceeded to cancel several woke projects in development. They included Meghan Markle’s ill-fated cartoon series featuring a socially conscious young woman of color based, predictably, on herself — part of a rumored $120 million bath the company has taken on content from the empty-headed and perpetually annoying Sussexes. Two planned animated series based on the works of noted racist and MacArthur “genius” fellow Ibram X. Kendi also got a well deserved ax (or was it a chainsaw)?

So why has Netflix, once as progressive a media outlet as any, migrated to the counterrevolutionary right? The answer appears to lie in its suffering bottom line. After years of griping among subscribers about its mediocre content, political preachiness, and rising subscription fees, the company has become a textbook case of the new aphorism “go woke and go broke.” After hitting an all-time high of $690.31 in October 2021, its share price is now down to $234.55, with some $70 billion in market capitalization disappearing since January 1. Defying projections that the service would add 2.5 million paying subscribers in 2022, it instead lost 1.5 million in the first two quarters of 2022 alone.

The Australian comedienne Hannah Gadsby, who has released two specials via Netflix, turned on the service over the Chappelle controversy, deriding the company that promoted her work on an international platform as an “amoral algorithm cult.” Tony Montana might reply to her that in America, “when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, you get the women.” For the moment, however, Netflix subscribers are getting better content, along with a healthy dose of toxic masculinity.

Martha’s Vineyard Residents Wallow in Their Disgusting Hypocrisy

American Greatness – It will be a long time before many Americans can pronounce the words “Martha’s Vineyard” without the pained eye roll once reserved for the now funereal adjacent island of Chappaquiddick.

“VINEYARD HYPOCRITES!” announced a banner towed by a light aircraft for about 45 minutes earlier this week over the Martha’s Vineyard hamlet of Aquinnah, which until 1997 was known as “Gay Head.”

The demonstration was just one of many hard knocks Vineyard residents have endured since 48 mostly Venezuelan migrants were removed from the “sanctuary” island by the National Guard last Friday. After receiving basic support, but no invitations to stay on an island where 63 percent of homes are vacant in the offseason, the migrants now reside at Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC), a military installation in mainland Massachusetts.

Critics have been relentless in calling out Vineyard hypocrisy. As a “sanctuary” jurisdiction in a self-proclaimed “sanctuary” state, Martha’s Vineyard joined other such places, which promise never to inform on migrants to immigration authorities. Yet it did precisely that the second even a small number of them appeared in their midst.

The Vineyard community allowed the migrants to sleep in a church hall and gave them basic meals before the military took them away in the presence of cheering crowds of well-off locals who sincerely believe they did a good and honorable deed.

From the moment their “humanitarian crisis” began, Vineyard residents congratulated themselves and lectured an incredulous world on their monumental virtue and inexhaustible compassion. The church where the migrants stayed, now styling itself “St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Sanctuary,” has advertised a service of “prayer, reflection, gratitude, and visioning” to celebrate the Vineyard’s resident “angels,” but not the “Venezuelan friends” they sent away a week earlier.

It was unclear if any migrants would attend, but they are now so far away it is hard to imagine how they could. The Vineyard’s status as an affluent resort island, where nearly 80 percent of residents voted for Joe Biden, and where signs purportedly welcoming immigrants, refugees, and indigenous peoples abound, enhanced the delicious irony.

Unsurprisingly, no major publication has ventured any feature-length defense of the islanders. Only their local rag, the Martha’s Vineyard Times, has denounced the widespread “‘Vineyard hypocrites’ line” as a “false narrative,” the standard term of dismissal now used for any assertion that contradicts leftist values and claims. The paper also questions the use of the word “deported” on the curious grounds that the military base to which the migrants were removed offers “access to bathrooms, showers, and food.” How humane. What generosity.

While some commentators have criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for sending the migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a social media search of every major platform now reveals much larger numbers blasting away at Vineyard shamelessness. Despite the best efforts of leading Democrats, it is simply too hard to convince any sane person that being sent by private plane to a beautiful New England hideaway resort is “cruel,” “sick,” “wrong,” “criminal,” or “un-American.” This is especially true when the well known alternative is homelessness and despair in impoverished border towns already overwhelmed by millions of other migrants who have been allowed in under policies advocated by those same Democrats.

The migrants haven’t helped the leftist narrative by praising the Vineyard’s beauty, suggesting that they would like to go back to the island, and—as reported by MSNBC—some even thanking DeSantis for sending them there. A “class action” lawsuit filed by only three of them against DeSantis and Florida transportation officials has offered the spectacle of people who entered our country illegally suing American public officials within days of their arrival under constitutional and civil rights laws that do not apply to them as noncitizens or residents. Media sources were quick to point out that an advocacy organization sponsoring the lawsuit received nearly $1.4 million from George Soros, the most hypocritical do-gooder of them all.

As the reenergized American Right peals with laughter, anti-Vineyard memes abound. One mocks a smiling and stylish Vineyard beauty watching the migrants leave. Another features an old Ku Klux Klan group photo featuring “Women of the Democrat Party” standing beneath a superimposed “Martha’s Vineyard” banner. Still another shows an island sign decorated with colorful diversity symbols proclaiming “Hate Has No Home Here,” with an asterisked note reading “and neither do migrants.” Several other memes transpose photos of Trump’s border wall construction to Vineyard vistas. The hip-hop artist Bryson Gray quickly released a single mocking Vineyard residents, with lyrics including “Let ’em stay at Obama’s house. No child left behind” and “They say they want open borders, but that’s really a lie.”

The Wall Street Journal flip-flopped from dismissing DeSantis’s airlift as a “stunt” to publishing a sober op-ed by Republican strategist Karl Rove observing the disparity between the massive number of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border and the comparatively few sent to Democratic-governed “sanctuaries.”

The comedic Onion, which mostly mocks ideas and public figures on the Right, could not resist satirizing Vineyard residents as spoiled, pompous, overprivileged fools suffering from an embarrassing lack of self-awareness.

In a rare moment of integrity, even the humorless New York Times admitted that the “progressive reaction was beyond parody.” The former paper of record conceded that DeSantis’ airlift “succeeded politically,” perhaps enough that it might persuade the Biden Administration to do better on border and immigration policy.

After many years of inattention, numerous political and civic leaders have publicly called for comprehensive reform in those areas, which are now at the center of national discussion, thanks in significant part to clueless Vineyard liberals uninterested in being the change they wish to see in the world.

The story won’t die. “Martha’s Vineyard remains in national spotlight,” announced a chagrined  Martha’s Vineyard Times in a headline. Escalation of the war in Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth II’s era-ending funeral, Biden’s frightening gaffe over Taiwan, a hurricane in Puerto Rico, persistent inflation, a looming global energy crisis, and seemingly unavoidable economic disaster have all failed to eclipse a relatively minor event involving four dozen strangers who spent less than 48 hours among people very different from themselves on an 87-square mile island.

And it’s still hilarious!

When the “Vineyard Hypocrites!” banner appeared over Aquinnah, island residents melted down all over again. “I was so upset, understandably so,” Aquinnah denizen Sarah Melkonian presumptuously told the Boston Globe. Her neighbor Liz Whitman denounced the plane banner as “absolute idiocy,” observing that the land below is owned by the Wampanoag Tribe, a Native American community graciously permitted to remain on the island, which is about 90 percent white but hosts some sort of “Native American” festival to look like it embraces diversity.

In an online residential discussion group that was initially “closed” but has since been security-upgraded to “private,” Melkonian denounced the “continuing harassment” inherent in having to see an upsetting airplane banner for less than an hour, which she comically called a “national disgrace.”

“[I’m] horrified by the ugly targeting you are experiencing there,” wrote seasonal resident Mary Williams Montague, who had already left her now presumably vacant Vineyard property but wasn’t sufficiently “horrified” to offer it to the migrants or rush back to take any other role.

“We did not simply ship them off the island,” Melkonian insisted days after the migrants were simply shipped off the island. “If you believe the hatred and lies in your lying news,” she admonished imaginary antagonists, “you know nothing about our island or our people.”

Melkonian also insisted that her critics know nothing of the “plight” of the migrants, who had to endure nearly two days of life in one of America’s wealthiest communities due to the actions of what she described as “right winged Republicans.” She might have asked how much fun it is to be around people with her apparent neuroses.

Judging from other comments in the online island discussion groups, whose posts have been published by the maverick New England journalist Aidan Kearney, and elsewhere, it could be that we know all too much about the Vineyard and its people.

In the finest tradition of American liberalism, irate Vineyard residents immediately set about trying to discover who was behind the airplane incident, who authorized the plane’s flight, and even who manufactured the banner. An inquiry that islanders apparently placed with the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that the offending plane is too small to require federal tracking information.

This sat poorly with Joe Hill, who wondered in a hyperbolic media comment, “What would stop this pilot from bombing the area?” and called for the Department of Homeland Security to “track down and arrest those involved” in exercising free speech in Vineyard skies.

According to Geoff Freeman, director of the island’s only airport, numerous residents phoned him demanding to know where the flight had originated. He claimed “no knowledge,” though he could deduce that it had not taken off from the Vineyard’s airport due to its lack of clearance for banner-towing aircraft. Perhaps the islanders foresaw such grave consequences and adopted an ounce of prevention.

Like any group of beleaguered radicals, aggrieved Vineyard people soon began a hunt for traitors in their midst.

Beth McElhiney observed that “in the past few days there have been [sic] a bunch of people [in the online discussion group] who have no connection to the island.” She also wanted to uncover how Kearney, who had posted the cringe screenshots, “got into MV groups.” Ironically, McElhiney herself appears to have moved off the Vineyard some years ago, after her craft design business failed there.

Speaking for the island’s many Karens, avid birdwatcher and Black Lives Matter supporter Karen Swift-Shannon suspected Kearney uses an alias to infiltrate their embarrassing, but not very private, discussions. Mitch Klingensmith, an “author” of no readily accessible published work who seems to have even less commitment to openness and transparency, replied, “I don’t know but this could be bad for everyone.”

When Boston Globe reporter Britt Bowker asked Melkonian for permission to use her photographs of the airplane banner, she received an emphatic, “NO! Unless I review and approve the story.” Just who’s trying to control the narrative now?

More idealistic Vineyard residents wondered why anyone would do something so terrible as to point out the yawning chasm between their words and actions on an issue of national importance. “It’s because we made them look bad,” imagined Sascha Wlodyka, subscribing to the mistaken impression that the situation has harmed DeSantis’ prospects in November.

Chilmark resident Robert Skydell, a retiree who writes the occasional ornery piece for the Vineyard Gazette, a dull island magazine, thought it would be productive to invite “right-wing media pundits” for “a tour and show them what a safe, diverse, and multicultural community actually looks like.” I’m already in Palm Beach, but the Vineyard might not be as safe as he imagines. In 2014, his town’s police department arrested none other than Sascha Wlodyka on three counts of larceny and one count of forgery after she stole cash from an organic farm. She admitted guilt, paid $2,100 in restitution, and served no jail time, but what else would happen to a privileged white Vineyard woman with an uncertain grasp of ethics.

The last word should go to Wes Nagy, a Vineyard church music director and reported “believer in karma,” who estimated that the cost of the airplane banner “could’ve fed the immigrants for a month.” It did not occur to him that they might have been fed for an even longer time by the $43,000 raised via GoFundMe under the call “Urgent plea to help Martha’s Vineyard migrants.” Astonishingly, that collection was not forwarded to cover their further needs. According to the GoFundMe page, it has instead gone to the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation, a self-described “$16-million organization,” for use in ”building up a reserve to assist situations like this” the next time DeSantis sends migrants to the island.

Now that the Vineyard is ready, let’s hope DeSantis sends more soon and often. Whether he does or not, it will be a very long time before many Americans can pronounce the words “Martha’s Vineyard” without the pained eye roll once reserved for the now funereal adjacent island of Chappaquiddick.

Behind Closed Doors, Martha’s Vineyard Liberals Reveal Their Hypocrisy

Newsweek – At some point in time, they have to move somewhere else,” Martha’s Vineyard homeless shelter coordinator Lisa Belcastro told local media after two planes carrying illegal immigrants landed at her “sanctuary destination” island’s only airport, courtesy of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “We don’t have housing for 50 more people,” Belcastro implausibly claimed for an island community of 17,000 permanent residents that houses as many as 200,000 people every summer.

In the island’s offseason, 63% of its homes, whose median value is $1.35 million, are vacant. Former President Barack Obama‘s property alone reportedly has 10 bedrooms. As of this writing, Airbnb offers 355 vacancies. Nevertheless, not one of the Vineyard’s residents, nearly 80% of whom voted for Joe Biden, is on record having offered an extra bedroom, guest cottage, pool house, basement, unclaimed rental, gazebo, or tent to accommodate the migrants, who slept in a church hall. Instead, liberal residents congratulated themselves on their “compassion” for providing basic services for less than 24 hours before soliciting donations on the internet and demanding government solutions.

A GoFundMe campaign collected $43,000, enough to buy each migrant a new moped. If you haven’t heard of a “Mopeds for Migrants” program, don’t be surprised. Within 36 hours, the new arrivals were gone, deported by bus and ferry to the mainland—perhaps past a now-ironic official sign proclaiming that Martha’s Vineyard residents “stand with IMMIGRANTS, with REFUGEES, with INDIGENOUS PEOPLES.”

These indigenous refugee immigrants, however, were speedily “offloaded” at Joint Base Cape Cod, a military installation now housing them in “dormitory-style accommodations.” They were “escorted” by 125 Massachusetts National Guardsmen, mobilized to address the “humanitarian crisis” posed by four dozen poor people of color. That’s 2.5 Guardsmen for every man, woman, and child—ensuring that even the most delicate petal in any Vineyard flower bed wouldn’t be disturbed during the affluent and overwhelmingly white island’s ethnic cleansing. Video of residents gathered to see the migrants off shows them cheering the restoration of pale normality as the buses departed.

If these sobering facts suggest Vineyard liberals are hypocrites unwilling to be the very change they wish to see in the world, a dive into their internal chatter confirms it. Nobody with Vineyard connections agreed to speak on the record for this article; all of those in contact feared retaliation from neighbors who sound far less tolerant than their “In This House, We Believe…” signs might suggest. Vineyard informants and the New England journalist Aidan Kearney, however, have provided screenshots from “closed” online island discussion groups, where residents revealed their true feelings.

The “not-in-my-backyard” contingent was amply represented by Esther Caroline Deming, a matron of the Martha’s Vineyard Ballroom Dance Society, who literally looked forward to when the migrants “will no longer be in our backyard.” Generously conceding that “we should treat them like human beings,” she sent them extra groceries from her fridge.

Fellow progressive islander Deb Dunn announced a fund for the migrants “to get transport to family members in other states,” far away from anything she might hold dear.

Leslie Finnegan was “sure that once transportation can be arranged, they will be taken to Boston,” a hundred miles away from her. When someone asked “why not keep them” and invited Finnegan to “show the world what opening your home looks like,” she replied “the wonderful MV community has welcomed them with open arms”—if only for a few fleeting hours before a military detachment removed them.

“Can we just come and give them nice clothing?” asked Debra Marlin, whose career appears to involve painting pictures of dogs. One migrant was later spotted wearing a Ruth Bader Ginsburg T-shirt, so Marlin may have contributed something—if not the use of her beautifully appointed canine art studio, which looks spacious enough to house a migrant family.

Pat Nagi—whose tweets (now “protected”) have called for the deaths of gun rights advocate Kyle Rittenhouse, former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, and former President Donald Trump—noncommittally asked, “What else do they need?” A neighbor reminded Nagi that she owns two Vineyard rental properties that are now presumably vacant, but her militant leftism does not appear to have accommodated further initiative or even the courtesy of a response.

When Amy Lemieux, a woman of no discernible occupation who seems to spend a lot of time skiing, was challenged to welcome migrants into her Vineyard home, she replied that she had “been looking all day for how I can support the efforts.” Somehow, she just couldn’t figure it out before their deportation from her idyllic island.

Carole W. Saucier, whose website advises on proper care for reptiles, made no public offer of assistance to her island’s new human arrivals, but posted that she could not “believe they delivered these poor people to one of the most expensive places to live.” What a faux pas!

Yoga and walking enthusiast Maria Schneiderman Cheevers (she/her/hers, in case you were curious) also betrayed no humanitarian inclinations but condemned DeSantis for allegedly wanting to “rob” women of what she called their “bodily autonomy” [sic]. She might have watched MSNBC‘s coverage, which reported that the migrants are “not angry with Ron DeSantis” and “are actually thanking him for having brought them to Martha’s Vineyard.” Maybe she was too busy learning how to spell.

The final word goes to a Vineyard “author” and self-identified Democratic voter whose Facebook name is “Sy San.” “Now the illegal immigrants are being transported to us because our votes agreed to support them,” Sy posted in a singular resort to reason, “I can’t understand how anyone can formulate a logical argument as to why we shouldn’t receive these folks.” At least one state governor agrees with Sy San and promises to send more. Let’s hope he does, and then make popcorn to watch how Sy’s hypocritical neighbors react to embracing greater diversity.

Martha’s Vineyard and the fraud of the rich white liberal

The Spectator – Where’s their compassion? Where’s their inclusion?

“We have talked to a number of people who’ve asked, ‘Where am I?’ And then I was trying to explain where Martha’s Vineyard is,” said befuddled Edgartown, Massachusetts, police chief Bruce McNamee of the 50 illegal immigrants who landed on two charter flights at the island’s only airport on Wednesday.

According to local reports, the airport officials believed the planes were delivering corporate guys on a late-season golf retreat, before suffering the crushing disappointment that the arriving passengers were, in fact, poor people of color.

The illegals arrived courtesy of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who sent them there using a $12 million budget set aside by our free state’s legislature to transport illegals to sanctuary jurisdictions. He joins the governors of Texas and Arizona, who have sent thousands of illegals by bus to New York, Washington, and Chicago, to protest the Biden administration’s catastrophic failure to secure our southern border.

According to a DeSantis spokesman, “states like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals whom they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration.” “What would be best,” DeSantis himself said in a press conference, “would be for Biden to do his damn job and secure the border.”

In the current fiscal year, immigration authorities have detained nearly two million people who have crossed the border illegally. The number who have not been apprehended is unknown, but very few of them were probably bound for Martha’s Vineyard, which virtue-signaled itself a “sanctuary destination.” Its largely seasonal population likely believed they would never have to host anyone other than affluent white liberals and the Obamas, who own a 29-acre, $11.75 million property on the island.

Those white liberals are now entertaining the world with the most amusing mass meltdown in some time. As natural hypocrites whose commitment to diversity ends where their pebbled driveways begin, they don’t like the idea of the Vineyard’s newest residents any more than Democrat mayors like Eric Adams of New York and Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC appreciate their migrants. Both mayors declared states of emergency after the arrival of only a small fraction of the illegals whom their counterparts on the Texas and Arizona borders must address on a daily basis.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren scolded that sending in the illegals was “repulsive and cruel.” Supine and penitent former Republican columnist Max Boot of the Washington Post denounced DeSantis’s “heartlessness and cynicism” and warned that his future presidency will be “dangerous.”

DeSantis’s electoral opponent, Charlie Crist, who trails him by eight points and likely regrets that the illegals won’t be in Florida to vote for him in November, called the move “disgusting and vile.” He suggested that DeSantis is “not in control of his faculties,” hilarious from a man with no principles who has managed to run for statewide office as a Democrat, Republican, and independent and lose in all three guises.

Self-proclaimed “experts” have accused Florida’s governor of human trafficking. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre hysterically declared that the illegals “deserve better than…to be left in Martha’s Vineyard.” Touché? In a CNN interview the morning after the illegals arrived, biased journalist John Berman and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns — a past guest of the island’s boring film festival — compared the free inbound flights to the Holocaust.

The infuriated liberals are, however, reluctant to admit exactly where the illegals arrived. That’s understandable considering that their island idyll, where Biden won 77.6 percent of the vote, is well beyond the means of almost all their fellow Americans, “deplorables” whom they would also prefer not to see or be around. Martha’s Vineyard boasts a median home sale price of $1.35 million.

MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes, who has held book signings on the Vineyard, found it “deeply dehumanizing to fling human beings somewhere vindictively.” Somewhere? Could spelling out the “where” cast doubt on the sincerity of his convictions? And if he really believes in sanctuary destinations, how is sending migrants to an especially pleasant one for free a vindictive act?

Warren, meanwhile, promised to “keep working with local, state, and federal partners to ensure we have the necessary resources to care for people with dignity,” again without saying where those deserving individuals are and how inconveniently close they might be to the vacation homes of those who were “all in for Warren.” Yet it was Massachusetts state senator Dylan Fernandes who might have tossed the most colorful word salad. He denounced DeSantis’s “secret plot to send immigrant families like cattle on an airplane…to a place they weren’t told where they were going” [sic]. Would his indignation convince anyone if he had named the luxurious locale where the illegals ended up? When cows fly!

The world outside left-Twitter, however, knows that the illegals have had the good fortune to land in one of the richest communities in America after having violated our country’s laws by illegally crossing its borders. Now that Vineyard liberals must endure the sight of them on their doorsteps, they and their confederates can only fly into narcissistic rage. Their shallow, priggish commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and open borders is exposed as a shameless fraud. It is, after all, the same reaction — possibly from some of the very same people — whose caviar liberalism morphed into vituperative opposition when Adams’s failed predecessor Bill DeBlasio moved scores of charming homeless men into empty hotels on the Upper West Side.

Vineyard residents claim to have responded with “compassion” — so much compassion that they provided basic support for less than 24 hours before begging the internet for donations from even guiltier white liberals. That’s more than a bit rich, so to speak, on an island where an estimated 63 percent of the million-dollar homes are unoccupied outside of the summer months. But this did not occur to Lisa Belcastro, coordinator of the island’s homeless shelter, who informed the local media that “at some point in time [the illegals] have to move somewhere else. …We don’t have housing for 50 more people.” That’s doubtful, but even if the summer residents don’t want to open their doors or wallets, surely no high-minded Vineyard worthies would mind if the four children reportedly in the group made generous use of their many swimming pools. What could be more compassionate? What could be more inclusive?

“We embrace you,” tweeted Warren’s Senate colleague Ed Markey from the comfortable remove of his Capitol Hill office. If Markey is being honest, DeSantis should charter Cape Air’s entire fleet and send hourly flights carrying more new Massachusetts residents to enjoy the sunsets from East Chop Lighthouse. No doubt Markey will be right there, making sandwiches and telling them how to vote in their new country.