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.

Mikhail Gorbachev Was Not the Savior of the World

Newsweek – “He may smile, but he has iron teeth,” is one of the best remembered descriptions of the late Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday at the age of 91. The line belonged to long-time Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, a grim-faced Stalinist who offered it in March 1985 upon Gorbachev’s elevation to general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party—effectively, the country’s ruler.

More than anything else, Gorbachev embodied the hopes of a reformist faction in the Soviet leadership that realized the communist system could not survive without major renovation. An erratic burst of reforms immediately after Josef Stalin’s death in 1953 had destabilized the system to the point where the reforms’ chief proponent, Nikita Khrushchev, was ousted in a bloodless coup. He was replaced by the uninspired Leonid Brezhnev, a Stalin acolyte who imposed stagnant rigidity of action and ideology until his death in 1982. As the West and much of the rest of the world raced past the Soviet Union in every measurable category of success and prosperity, Brezhnev’s heirs faced stark choices that they were ill-prepared to make or manage.

Gorbachev came to the forefront thanks to Brezhnev’s short-lived successor Yuri Andropov, a long-time KGB chief who, by virtue of his position, knew better than anyone else how badly the evil empire was faring. He was responsible for Gorbachev’s rise from provincial obscurity to the center of power. A divided leadership eventually settled on the relatively young arriviste as the new leader, cautiously endorsing a reformist path that Andropov had already set in motion.

Contrary to the view of most Western intellectuals, who saw, and continue to revere, Gorbachev as a kind of saint, his purpose in power was to revitalize the Soviet Union and its ruling ideology. His tools of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) were not intended to grant Soviet subjects inalienable human rights, liberate them from authoritarian rule, or refashion them into Jeffersonian democrats enjoying the blessings of liberty. Instead, Gorbachev’s reforms were meant to remove or neutralize counterproductive features of the Soviet regime so that the USSR could remain a viable world power governed by a Leninist party-state apparatus unanswerable to anything or anyone other than itself.

This proved to be Gorbachev’s undoing. His reforms in Soviet economic and political life neither solved the country’s fundamental problem—that it was a communist dictatorship incapable of existing without top-down political and economic controls—nor satisfied the aspirations of the Soviet people, who for the most part hated the system, took major risks for the freedoms the regime continued to deny them, and expressed a powerful desire to govern themselves. While Gorbachev naively believed that communism was a fundamentally good idea that could be reformed into an ideology of genuine popular appeal, his people wanted it gone—and ultimately, Gorbachev himself and the party-state along with it.

Having survived resistance from the Soviet establishment, economic disaster, popular ferment, and a military coup launched by hard-liners, in the final months of 1991, political events Gorbachev could no longer control abolished the country over which he presided. The USSR’s core constituent republics, including Russia under Gorbachev’s rival Boris Yeltsin, chose independence.

Trying to reform the Soviet Union’s failing government and heinous ideology had major geopolitical consequences, as well. With their backs to the wall in economic, strategic, and military competition, the Soviets were forced to reconsider their massive military spending and unsustainable global commitments. The Reagan administration correctly perceived and exacerbated this weakness with a successful “rollback” strategy that challenged communism in countries where it was established and presented the Kremlin with insuperable obstacles to continued conflict.

Gorbachev’s Western liberal fans despised Ronald Reagan and have sought ever since to credit Gorbachev with the end of the Cold War. In 1990, he was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize—long before Barack Obama got it for doing nothing. This warped point of view, as well as a misleading “equivalence” interpretation of the Cold War’s origins, has complemented our discredited foreign policy establishment’s failed strategy of a new globalized world order, in which America could not be a winner, and no other country could be a loser.

In Russia, however, Gorbachev was a loser—and to many minds, even a traitor. When he sought the Russian presidency in 1996, he won a paltry 0.51% of the vote. His eventual successor Vladimir Putin has famously called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.” Supported by the old hard-liner camp, Putin, who perhaps understandably never consulted Gorbachev on any matter of statecraft, has reversed his predecessor’s policies in every possible way and refashioned Russia as an autocratic rogue state that accepts isolation from the international community while courting the comradeship of other rogue states. A Kremlin spokesman reflecting on Gorbachev’s death dismissed his vision of “an eternal romantic period between the new Soviet Union and the world” and praised Putin for recognizing what he called the “bloodthirstiness of our opponents” in time to take decisive action.

Internationally, Gorbachev’s failure taught the world’s dictators that they can reliably maintain power as long as they preserve the loyalty of the army and security police, and have the will to use it. As we have seen with depressing regularity, and even before Gorbachev died, in places as diverse as Lebanon, Venezuela, Iran, Belarus, China, Syria, Cuba, and Nicaragua—to say nothing of Russia itself—a violent new philosophy of government has emerged in reaction to what happened to the Soviet Union under his leadership.

In our own country, it is certainly no coincidence that Gorbachev is mourned most deeply by the same people who favor an illiberal administrative state fueled by an ideology of moral and “scientific” superiority and guided by social philosophies rooted in Marxism. We can only hope they enjoy as much success as he did.

Florida’s Primary Elections Prove the State Is Redder Than Ever

Newsweek – Along with New York and Oklahoma, Florida held its 2022 primary elections on Tuesday. At stake was each major party’s nomination for Florida’s 28 U.S. House seats, the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Marco Rubio, the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee, and other statewide offices.

Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, and most statewide officeholders ran unopposed, but in the contested national-level races, the Florida primary was a Trumpian field day. The former president, whose Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach was raided by the FBI earlier this month, endorsed 14 Republican congressional candidates running in Florida: 13 incumbents and newcomer Anna Paulina Luna, who is running for an open seat vacated by Democratic gubernatorial nominee (and former Florida Republican governor) Charlie Crist.

All of the Trump-endorsed candidates won, with most taking at least 70% of the vote. Their ranks included Matt Gaetz, who represents Florida’s 1st congressional district, even though he is currently under investigation for obstruction of justice and allegedly sex trafficking a minor. (Gaetz, who won with 69.7% of the vote, denies the allegations; the day before the primary, a federal judge sentenced a would-be extortionist, who offered to make them go away in exchange for a large payment, to over five years in prison).

A number of contests in which Trump made no endorsement witnessed fierce battles among candidates who courted his support—and his supporters’ votes—by asserting the ferocity of their “America First” credentials. In Florida’s 7th congressional district, State Representative Anthony Sabatini, who called for the arrest of U.S. federal agents involved in the Mar-a-Lago raid, lost to Cory Mills, a combat veteran whose security equipment company reportedly sold tear gas that was used on Black Lives Matter protesters. In the 11th congressional district, pro-Trump conservative activist Laura Loomer came within seven points of ousting incumbent Dan Webster—a remarkable feat, since Loomer is banned from virtually all mainstream social media platforms and says she received no party funds for her campaign (as of this writing, Loomer is claiming voter fraud and has refused to concede).

Farther down the ballot, Florida conservatism found a revealing new outlet in county-level school board elections, which are decided on the state’s primary election day provided that a candidate wins over 50% of the vote. Historically, Florida school board elections have been non-partisan affairs that the establishment Right was content to ignore, thus foolishly conceding cultural and educational hegemony to the radical Left.

No longer. Committed to making Florida “the state where woke goes to die,” Governor DeSantis boldly decided to politicize this year’s school board contests, devoting a significant amount of money, time, and his supporters’ energy to candidates who back his pro-parent, anti-critical race theory, and anti-gender ideology education policies.

This unprecedented move scored a stunning success. Of the 30 DeSantis-endorsed school board candidates, at least 20 won their races outright, while five others qualified for runoff elections that will take place during November’s general election. In most cases, anti-woke challengers succeeded with less money than their progressive opponents, who were quickly endorsed by Democrats, teachers’ unions, and other well-funded leftist adjuncts.

In majority-Democrat Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous county, two DeSantis-endorsed candidates won election. One of those winners, retired elementary school teacher Monica Colucci, denounced “dangerous, radical ideologies that have been creeping into our classrooms,” and pledged to fight them in her new role. In Republican-leaning Sarasota County, all three DeSantis-endorsed candidates won on the first ballot, flipping the school board’s 3-2 progressive majority to a 4-1 anti-woke majority. Both county school boards had been among the 13 that defied DeSantis’ 2021 executive order banning school mask mandates.

DeSantis’ school board campaign has tapped an energized state electorate. Like Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin last year, he is rapidly ascending on an issue that has significant appeal to independents and even to some Democrats, who, when mugged by the reality of disastrous education policies, will make common cause with Republicans pledging better ideas.

But even without them, Florida has gone irretrievably red. In 2020, Trump, whose midterm endorsements ran Florida’s national-level field on Tuesday, added over one million votes to his statewide column over his 2016 tally; he also won its popular vote by an absolute majority. In 2021, Republican voter registration in Florida surpassed Democratic registration for the first time in state history. Recent gubernatorial election polls show DeSantis with a comfortable lead over Crist, his Democrat-nominated opponent in November, while Rubio seems well-positioned to defeat his Democratic challenger, Val Demings. Perhaps most significant, with no Florida congressional district considered a toss-up, it is widely expected that 20 of the state’s 28 House seats will be Republican-held come January, as opposed to 16 of 27 now (Florida gained one seat as a result of the 2020 Census). Those four new Republican-held congressional seats alone are enough to guarantee Republicans a U.S. House majority, assuming no net loss of seats elsewhere.

As the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-MA) said, all politics is local. And it can start on your county school board.

The Mar-a-Lago Raid Is the Desperate Act of a Corrupt Establishment

Newsweek – “These are dark times for our nation,” former President Donald Trump declared in response to the FBI‘s Monday morning raid on his Mar-a-Lago club and private residence in Palm Beach, Florida. He compared the event to “an assault” that “could only take place in broken, Third-World countries.”

Startled during the slow summer season, when Mar-a-Lago is closed and Trump resides at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the staff complied with a search warrant. Ostensibly, the warrant applied to documents that Trump is alleged to have improperly removed from the White House in possible violation of the Presidential Records Act, which requires official records to be transferred to the National Archives. Trump also claims that the feds cracked his personal safe. Further reports suggest that unrelated documents were removed, in some cases without review. To many, the raid appeared to be a clear fishing expedition for potentially incriminating documents about Trump’s alleged role in the January 6, 2021 demonstration at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump claims to have been complying with the FBI. In January, he turned over 15 boxes containing such vitally important records as a birthday party menu, a cocktail napkin, and a list of telephone numbers, among other items best described as memorabilia from his administration. Unconfirmed reports suggest that he may have removed classified material, though as president he had ultimate authority for the declassification of any and all White House documents.

Normally, a raid by federal law enforcement is the last resort when all other options for obtaining evidence have failed. It is typically used against drug dealers, mafia bosses, and other dangerous criminals—not people suspected of failing to properly deposit documents with the National Archives. Despite a court order authorizing the raid, there is no indication that any seized material had been subpoenaed, the proper intermediary step before dozens of heavily armed FBI shock troops storm one’s home. Even Richard Nixon had the courtesy of a subpoena for his infamous Watergate tapes. When Bill and Hillary Clinton improperly took gifts and government-owned furniture from the White House, no legal action was forthcoming. As secretary of state, Hillary notoriously exported to her home internet server over 33,000 government emails, which she then deleted and scrubbed in what appeared to be an attempt to avoid an FBI subpoena. The FBI did not raid her house, however, and accepted her and the propagandistic regime media’s characterization of the incident as a peccadillo unworthy of law enforcement’s attention.

Leftists are crowing that FBI Director Christopher Wray is a Trump appointee, but the imprimatur for the Mar-a-Lago raid almost certainly came from Wray’s boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland. Garland was appointed by President Joe Biden, who will likely face Trump in a rematch in 2024. When asked, the Justice Department, FBI, and White House all fueled suspicion by neither confirming nor denying Garland’s personal involvement in authorizing the raid.

This is the same Merrick Garland who implied in an official memorandum last October that parents speaking out against critical race theory at school meetings were domestic terrorists, leading the FBI’s counterterrorism division to assign them a “threat tag.” Earlier this year, Garland refused to provide home security to the U.S. Supreme Court justices identified with the leaked ruling that eventually overturned Roe v. Wade, even when those justices were violently threatened—and, in the case of Brett Kavanaugh, the object of an assassination plot.

Trump has all but announced that he will seek a second term come 2024. A criminal conviction on even a minor, peripheral charge could prevent him from returning to the presidency. The Democrats already tried and failed to disqualify him via conviction at his second impeachment trial. Most recent polls show Trump with a commanding lead for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024; many also show him beating Biden in a hypothetical general election rematch. The Democrats rightly fear catastrophic losses in November’s midterm elections, including those to Trump-endorsed candidates who have proved remarkably successful in Republican primaries. What better way to dispose of this powerful rival than to score a conviction following the flex of law enforcement muscle like those flaunted in the dramatic arrests of Trump associates Roger Stone and Peter Navarro, or in Steve Bannon‘s recent conviction?

Like so much else in the Biden administration, public reaction suggests a serious backfire is in the works. Trump supporters—and even a fair number of Trump skeptics and opponents—have taken to the airwaves, social media, and the pavement abutting Mar-a-Lago and New York’s Trump Tower to decry dangerous overreach by a weaponized federal law enforcement apparatus. Thereby, they affirm Trump’s narrative that he is a persecuted victim of the regime fighting to prevent worse fates befalling his millions of more vulnerable supporters. With improper procedure, no evidence of probable cause, and radical partisan leadership at the Justice Department, it is hard to see it any other way, especially as the IRS potentially gears up to hire 87,000 new agents—foot soldiers in the administrative-managerial caste’s increasingly desperate campaign against Americans who resist that caste’s corruption.

“Banana Republic,” tweeted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in disgust at Trump’s treatment. Indeed. And even as these words were written, legacy media was already loyally changing “raid” to “search.”

Embattled Penn Law Professor Amy Wax Deserves Our Support

Newsweek – Academia’s assault on free speech continues this week, with the revelation that University of Pennsylvania Law dean Theodore W. Ruger has asked Penn’s faculty senate to impose “major sanctions” on his colleague Amy Wax, the Robert Mundheim professor of Law. At Penn, “major sanctions” can include termination, suspension, and other severe measures with irreparable consequences for the recipient’s reputation and career.

What has Wax done to deserve such treatment? In August 2017, she courted controversy by stating in The Philadelphia Inquirer that traditional values produce happier and more successful societies, and that their absence is a root cause of many of America’s ills. This alone was enough to generate a petition signed by over 4,000 people demanding that she be fired from her job, as well as an open letter in which 33 of her Penn Law colleagues condemned her.

Wax doubled down, observing the following month that, in her teaching experience, black students rarely finish in the top half of graduating law school classes. However unfortunate, her observation is nonetheless supported by substantial empirical evidence that no one has refuted. In a swirl of outrage, she was again condemned by campus groups and by Ruger, who removed her from teaching mandatory first-year courses. At the time, Penn was widely condemned for these punitive actions. Paul Levy, a trustee of the university and overseer of its law school, resigned and upbraided the administration, accusing it of “suppressing what is crucial to the liberal educational project: open, robust, and critical debate over differing views of important social issues.”

Since then, critics have derided further statements of opinion by Wax, including statements made entirely outside the university context, as “racist.” Yet up to and including Ruger’s recent letter requesting “major sanctions,” Wax has never even been accused—still less, found culpable—of any discriminatory action taken against a student or colleague. To the contrary, according to an anonymous source with personal knowledge of the internal university process, an independent investigator “found no evidence of bias in Wax’s dealings with students,” and instead suggested that “there is reason to believe that students have mischaracterized or reported faulty recollections of statements Wax allegedly made.”

This objective assessment appears to have left no impression on Ruger. For him, it is enough that Wax has allegedly violated the spirit of Penn’s “mission,” which includes a commitment to “a diverse and inclusive community”—apparently except for views dissenting from woke orthodoxy. In the twisted logic of Ruger’s ridiculous letter to the Penn faculty senate, merely questioning diversity-related shibboleths is sufficient for severe sanction if it upsets people on campus. Wax, Ruger maintains, deserves punishment for having created suspicion of what he calls a “discriminatory animus,” for allegedly causing other faculty members to view her mere “presence” as “demoralizing and disruptive,” and for making statements on public policy issues that he equates with “harassing” behavior.

There is little doubt about what Ruger would like to have happen next. Over the course of the controversy, he has personally denounced Wax’s views as “racist,” “white supremacist,” and “repugnant.” At a 2019 student “town hall” meeting to which Wax was pointedly not invited, he reportedly said, “her presence here…makes me angry, it makes me pissed off.” He added, the fact “she still works [at Penn]…sucks.” Finally, Ruger admitted that “the only way to get rid of a tenured professor is this process…that’s gonna take months.”

Ruger’s biased statements should already have called into serious question both his objectivity and his professional ethics. He has diligently helped along the process of Wax’s defenestration as best he could under what are undoubtedly byzantine university procedures.

Perhaps most chilling is the final paragraph of Ruger’s letter. Noting that sanctioning a faculty member is a “rare event,” he concludes that “the increasingly negative impact that her conduct has had…constitutes a major infraction of University standards.” Requesting a further hearing, he implores Penn’s faculty senate to “review” her “conduct” and what he calls “the severe harms she has caused to our community.” Presuming a negative finding from that hearing, he calls for the faculty senate “to ultimately impose a major sanction on her.”

After the pro forma “fair trial,” in other words, Ruger expects that Wax will be led to the proverbial firing squad.

Wax is not taking her treatment lying down, as many academics in her position would. Seeing the writing on the wall, she rightly anticipates an outcome as unjust as it will be absurd. A fundraising campaign she launched earlier this week on GoFundMe.com has, as of this writing, raised over $30,000 for her legal fees, which could easily run into six figures to contest a wrongful termination or other unlawful sanction. Anyone concerned with basic American freedoms should contribute. If the totalitarian forces at work in our society can do this to a tenured professor of law holding an endowed chair at an Ivy League university, they can do it to anyone.

The link to the GoFundMe campaign can be found by clicking this link.