Friday, February 03, 2023

The FBI as Intelligence Unit for the Administrative State

The FBI as Intelligence Unit for the Administrative State

Today, the heroes are few and outnumbered as the FBI has become the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party, which is the party of government.

Ken Masugi, American Greatness 

Who knew, only a few short years ago, that staring in our faces in 2023 would be the crisis posed by the title of this essential guide to the politics of our times: The Fall of the FBI: How a Once Great Agency Became a Threat to Democracy, by former 33-year veteran FBI Agent Thomas Baker? 

Having followed his insightful columns on the FBI in the Wall Street Journal, I was excited to read Baker’s book and see his expanded argument, which is very much in line with my work and the work my colleague John Marini on the administrative state. Sketching his involvement in prominent cases (the Reagan assassination attempt, the downing of TWA flight 800, Whitey Bulger, various murders, and corruption cases), this model civil servant rose from the ranks to positions of great responsibility. With those achievements and experience Baker describes how his beloved agency betrayed its own standards and threatened what it was sworn to protect. This betrayal happened not by foreign subversion (though we’re seeing some signs of this beginning to happen now), but was an inside job that must become better known to a people who would govern themselves.

As increasing numbers of Americans become more aware of the collapse of formerly trusted institutions, they will need Baker’s insider account of the once-vaunted FBI for an explanation of our exasperating current condition brought on by the vicissitudes of politics. By connecting the dots he presents an ugly portrait that describes other malign bureaucracies, inflicting their damage on American political and moral character and undermining confidence in America’s future.

The FBI and Baker’s life present a sharp contrast between when America was a country that took itself seriously and the aimless, postmodern mess we see today, which seems incapable of doing what common sense demands. Borders, wars, inflation, and transgenderism are one-word reminders of this nation’s lack of seriousness about itself and its citizens. Baker’s instructive account will not reassure us.

Baker presents the FBI as “the good, the bad, and the ugly”—his own war stories, the bureau’s injustices, and finally its corruption under Robert Mueller and James Comey, unabated under Christopher Wray, another non-agent who doesn’t know what hit him or the FBI. 

Of interest to students of politics is that Baker draws on the work of AEI scholar Yuval Levin, whose 2020 book, A Time to Build, explains the contemporary crisis in terms of the culture war and the subsequent failure of institutions to produce virtuous characters. Instead, self-aggrandizing ambitions replace public-spirited servants. The successors of J. Edgar Hoover had altered the culture of the FBI, transforming it from a law enforcement agency to an intelligence agency, following 9/11. The bulk of Baker’s book explains how the “intelligence-driven” FBI would culminate “in the ugly disaster of the Russian collusion investigation code-named Crossfire Hurricane.”

It is not surprising that Baker attributes the corruption of the FBI to widespread contempt for the Constitution. Where there once was “reverence” for it and the “rights of Americans”—each agent carried a pocket copy—there is now Washington-centric overweening political ambition. This is not to overlook flaws under Hoover and other directors, but these older and eternal flaws owing to human nature could often be contained by adhering to shared principles that glorified the FBI as an institution more devoted than others by its commitment to the rule of law. In this spirit agents could circumvent Hoover’s silly rules—such as an agent must not drink coffee in public while on duty.

To appreciate Baker we needn’t summarize his earlier career, , which he played roles in  many well-known and lesser-known episodes in FBI and American history. When he was transferred in the summer of 1970 to the prestigious New York Office (NYO), for example, he successfully argued, based on his New York City background, he should not work in the security division, where new agents were typically assigned, but instead in the organized crime unit. On this decision, Baker somberly reflects, 

The entire Security Division of the NYO came under great scrutiny as the establishment turned against President Nixon. The agents and supervisors who “did something” such as searches and wiretapping of the radicals now fell under the investigative spotlight themselves. In fact, almost every agent who worked on security matters in the early 1970s became the subject of prosecutorial attention.

For all the domestic terrorism of that period, recounted so damningly in Days of Rage, it was the FBI who often paid more significantly than the bomb makers and bombers who received minimal sentences, if any at all. 

Good work and survival has its rewards. As head of security for the U.S. embassy in Paris for the fabled Ambassador Pamela Harriman, Baker became familiar with the government’s odd relationship with the CIA and its curious standards. He was astonished to see a straight-faced willingness to lie about its work, even to the ambassador and to Baker. A few years later, in the days following 9/11, President George W. Bush would praise the CIA director and chastise the new head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, for the reports they were respectively providing. The change of mission and political emphasis combined to produce the collapse and corruption of the FBI. 

Mueller’s own eccentric judgments in the Atlanta Olympics bombing, Whitey Bulger, and anthrax cases led to injustices. “Although Mueller as a federal prosecutor had worked with dozens of Special Agents—case agents—in both Boston and San Francisco he did not know FBI culture nor how the Bureau functioned . . . But Mueller wanted centralization. Everything back at FBI headquarters, all information and decision making.” Against the expertise (both domestic and foreign) and prudence of the field offices, especially those in New York and Washington, Mueller demanded centralization. 

Thus, when the younger Bush ordered a change in rules that allowed retired federal law enforcement and intelligence officers to return to active duty, “Mueller was the only head of a federal law enforcement or intelligence agency who refused to enact the order.” Thus “non-agents [were] running public affairs, congressional affairs, and serving as general counsel.” He was so set on changing the culture of the agency away from the agents—whose first training involved firearms after all—and replacing them with “professionals.” (For what it’s worth, I have known and seen the effects of such “professionals” in the few dealings I’ve had with the FBI.)

Mueller set the stage for “the ultimate offender” James Comey, whom he maneuvered into the director’s office. The moralistic prig surrounded himself with unethical partisans, such as the notorious Peter Strzok and the “deceitful and dastardly” Andrew McCabe. From what we know about Comey, Trump was far too slow in firing the freak, “a celebrity who has used the institution as a stage to elevate himself . . . [who] continually substituted his own moral interpretation over established norms and precedents.” He usurped the prosecutor’s role in declining to prosecute Hillary Clinton over her email and server. To this, I add that Comey’s pride in affirmative-action recruiting, as he portrays in his self-serving autobiography, exemplifies his approach to changing the FBI culture—of course women and minority recruitment will generally drive an agency leftward. 

Contrast Baker’s ethics catechism: “First you’re good. Then you think you’re good. Then you’re no good.” This encapsulates the collapse of Comey into “The Worst FBI Director,” as his chapter 31 is titled. 

Comey thought his goodness obviated any need for a “predicate,” a reasonable supposition that Trump or anyone in his campaign had done anything illegal. Through being a part of a conspiracy of weaving a series of lies and misrepresentations, however, the FBI director attempted to incriminate the president. Instead of protecting the country from criminals, Comey played the moral zealot, inflicting his own political views on the country and criminalizing those he disliked. And, when challenged, he blamed his partisan subordinates as part of his defense, when his own agenda of culture change empowered these scoundrels. Therefore, having the FBI investigate a president, without any justification and, even worse, apparently for partisan purposes, “was the most damaging decision to the FBI’s reputation to date and has jeopardized our liberties in this nation.” Here Baker understates the evil: Comey’s zealotry wound up affecting the election and, afterward, delegitimizing the president if not the Republican Party. 

In his most touching passages Baker bemoans the loss of culture reflected in the lack of respect for the Constitution. If only they had kept the pocket constitutions every agent used to carry! But even the Constitution can be hijacked—as it has been during his lifetime, to justify the administrative state—that nexus of mentalities and public and private institutions advancing the agenda of unelected leftist elites. 

For a comprehensive analysis of the FBI understood in this way, see Glenn Ellmers’ incisive review of a scholarly history of Hoover’s FBI. Among other things, the FBI played a role in Watergate not unlike its role in the episode with Trump.  Citing the work of John Marini on the administrative state, Ellmers concludes that “the FBI is an indispensable weapon for the permanent government, which now constitutes the most powerful faction in American society.” 

Baker adds yet more horrors in discussing the role of the post-9/11 CIA: as an unintended consequence, the “FBI is now more likely to accept and act on any referral from the CIA . . .” Will the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) abuses continue? Will individual American rights be controlled by the CIA’s overseas sources, say, out of Kyiv? Recognizing the need to separate domestic and foreign investigations need not result in the “stovepiping” of information exposed in the Pearl Harbor attack by Roberta Wohlstetter over 50 years ago. 

In this connection, Baker rightly denounces a “domestic terrorism law,” which would institutionalize the recent abuses. “Say something out of the mainstream, and you may become a subject of investigation.” That is the threat in the FBI having become an intelligence agency (and a lawless one at that), rather than a law enforcement agency. Its analysts would necessarily gather far more information than they could possibly use–and that information would remain forever at the disposal of partisan abusers.  

Consider agents’ uninvestigated role in the Governor Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot and in January 6. Centralized and politicized, the FBI no longer respects the rule of law nor the judgment of its own veteran agents. Whereas gun-toting agents once respected the law, a new category of post-9/11 employee, intelligence analysts, “now play a major role in the Bureau’s mission.” Do they respect the Constitution’s liberties?

My own take on the Comey corruption is that he had more dirt on candidate Hillary Clinton, with which he planned to blackmail her should she prove corrupt in his estimation. But Trump somehow won, “requiring” him to find a way to use Hillary campaign dirt against Trump. Comey resembles a vain artist, who, seeing an imperfection in his creation then tries to fix it by creating a worse mess than what originally existed. He should have stuck to paint-by-numbers. Yet he still remains implausibly proud of his creation. 

For all the virtues of his book, however, Baker seems unwilling to embrace the need for political change in order to revive the FBI or at least make it less dangerous. In the era of the administrative state, attempts to restore the earlier culture without more significant political change become a futile endeavor. By the time of Watergate the FBI had already, in Ellmers’ view, emerged as “a partisan police force for the Democratic Party” This problem, in other words, is long in the making. If not Baker himself, then someone approaching his background and character needs to expose the January 6 show trials and the FBI’s role in them. They truly are, as Baker demonstrates, a “threat to democracy.”

Today, the heroes are few and outnumbered. Attorney General William Barr fought his own department and Comey’s replacement Christopher Wray in a struggle between the pre-9/11 and post-9/11 cultures. But it was not even close to enough. As Ellmers and Marini have argued, the corruption was well under way before 9/11, in Watergate. What the reaction to 9/11 added to the administrative state was an arbitrary distinction between life under war and life under peace: that is, we are governed 24/7 by “emergency.” Yesterday terrorists, today COVID, and tomorrow . . . what? A climate emergency? As Baker, considering other evils, concludes in the book, “There is much injustice in our world.”

Ken Masugi, Ph.D., is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute. He has been a speechwriter for two cabinet members, and a special assistant for Clarence Thomas when he was chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Masugi is co-author, editor, or co-editor of 10 books on American politics. He has taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he was Olin Distinguished Visiting Professor; James Madison College of Michigan State University; the Ashbrook Center of Ashland University; and Princeton University.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

The New White Supremacy

When Black Police Officers Kill a Black Man, That's White Supremacy

Ben Shapiro, Jewish World Review 

This week, tape emerged from Memphis, Tennessee of five black police officers engaging in the beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old black man. Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving according to the officers; they ordered him to get on the ground and to give them his hands; he did not comply and instead began to run. When the officers caught up with him, they pummeled him, complete with strikes to the head while his hands were being held behind his back. Nichols died in the hospital.

The five officers involved were charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. All were fired from the police department.

The national media coverage was swift — and confused. For some in the media, the narrative was clear: the police are generally brutal, and thus must be dramatically curbed. "The issue here, as plenty of people have pointed out, is not black versus white, it's blue versus the rest of us," said MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan. "You can't reform this stuff with body cameras or diversifying the police, as we just saw in Memphis." Instead, Hasan suggested, abolition of the police might be a possible solution.

This solution, of course, is no solution at all: Memphis has one of the highest crime rates in the United States. According to Neighborhood Scout, the chances of becoming a victim of violent or property crime in the city are one in 12. And we know with statistical near-certainty that high-profile cases of police misconduct generally result in police stand-downs — which in turn result in more crime. As professors Tanaya Devi and Roland Freyer found in 2020, "all investigations that were preceded by 'viral' incidents of deadly force have led to a large and statistically significant increase in homicides and total crime."

A second media narrative quickly emerged from the Nichols killing: despite the fact that all involved were black, that the Memphis Police Department is majority black, that the chief of police is black — the killing was a result of "white supremacy." The Washington Post headlined, "Black Memphis police spark dialogue on systemic racism in the US." Van Jones opined at, "The police who killed Tyre Nichols were Black. But they might still have been driven by racism." Kimberle Crenshaw, founder of intersectionality, explained, "One cannot imagine this happening in a well-heeled white community. That is a racial problem that the law has consistently said is a non-problem."

This narrative, like the first, is designed to avoid solutions. If all policing is the result of structures of white supremacy, the only answer is to abolish policing. If each individual instance of police brutality, no matter the race of the officers, is an example of racism, then the only way to alleviate police brutality is by completely restructuring American society — which is just what those like Crenshaw propose. The result won't be a safer America, but a much less safe and more fractious one.

In reality, instances of police brutality cross races. Whether it's Daniel Shaver being shot to death in a hotel while attempting to comply with police demands in 2016 or whether it's two Arkansas Sheriff's Deputies beating Randal Worcester in August 2022, white victims of police brutality aren't hard to find. Some police brutality can undoubtedly be curbed by better recruitment and training. But if we wish to actually lower the number of encounters between a given population and the police, thus reducing the number of possible violent interactions, the most obvious method would be to reduce criminal activity — which requires more policing and more law-abiding behavior.

None of this should be controversial. But solutions aren't what advocates of police abolition or critical race theory are looking for. They're looking for revolution. And all revolutions have casualties.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Stepping out into freedom


Stepping out into freedom

The FBI and other left-leaning entities have left us in our own Truman Show

 Roger Kimball, The Spectator 

Given the fire-hose disgorgement of revelations about the behavior of the FBI, the CIA and their infiltration of the mainstream media, there is ample justification for believing that we are living in some dystopian, distinctly unfunny version of The Truman Show.

In the movie, the gormless Truman Burbank grows up thinking he is living a normal, happy life in a normal, happy town. Only gradually does he realize that something is amiss. Slowly, piece by piece, the awful truth dawns on him: his entire social world is a fabrication, a gigantic product-placement concession with him as the unwitting MacGuffin.

The deception is played for laughs, mostly. There are not many laughs in our Truman Show, the one in which the FBI hatches a fake plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, enlists some pathetic lowlifes to participate, then blows the cover and arrests the saps who joined them. One was just sentenced to sixteen years in the big house, another to nearly twenty.

In our Truman Show, various police and intelligence entities, including the FBI and the CIA, are in cahoots with Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies. We wouldn’t have known much about this except for the courageous action of Elon Musk, who everyone thought overpaid to acquire Twitter — $44 billion of the crispest — but who has been demonstrating almost daily that the deal was cheap at the price.

The journalists he has given access to Twitter’s files — including Bari Weiss, Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger — have ripped the putrid bandage off a suppurating orifice of deception, lies and politicized interference.

Glenn Greenwald provided a meticulously researched summary of that assault on his internet video show “System Update.” The episode in question exposes the FBI’s “propaganda partnership with Twitter.” Senior Twitter officials, Greenwald shows, met regularly with what amounted to FBI handlers. In the end, they “degraded Twitter into little more than a full-on Democratic Party activist machine, all while lying to the public about its function. This was a massive public fraud and 2020 election interference.”

Swirl that around in your mouth before swallowing: “a massive public fraud and 2020 election interference.” Forget about people screaming that you are a “conspiracy theorist” disseminating “disinformation.” In truth, you are acting as a documentary reporter.

Greenwald’s show aired on December 20 on the new(ish) video platform Rumble. If you don’t know Rumble, you should. It is the free-speech alternative to YouTube, that thoroughly compromised media outlet that is owned by Google, which itself is part of the surveillance apparatus of the regime.

The FBI emitted a blustering but ultimately pathetic denial that its hand-in-glove work with Twitter and other outlets was anything but normal investigative activity, designed to keep the public safe and free from “foreign influence” and perfidious “misinformation.”

The public centerpiece of this sorry development was the all-hands-on-deck effort — a successful effort — to bury the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop just weeks before the 2020 election. The FBI was there, leaning on Twitter (which didn’t require much pressure) to shove the potentially catastrophic revelation into the oubliette of pseudo-national-security censorship.

The story was first reported by the New York Post, the nation’s oldest newspaper and still its fourth largest. That didn’t matter. Twitter suspended the Post’s account and the deep state, abetted by its agents in the FBI, went to work to discredit the story. Presto, that regime media lapdog Politico pumped out a story about how more than fifty — count ’em! — senior intelligence officials dismissed the story as “Russian disinformation.”

But it wasn’t disinformation. And it had nothing to do with Russia. On the contrary, its sordid revelations were not just about Hunter Biden and his whores and drug use, but — far more damaging — Joe Biden’s possible role as “the big guy” receiving his 10 percent cut from Hunter’s business deals in China, Ukraine and elsewhere. Those deals, by the way, were secured only because Hunter was able to trade successfully on his father’s name as vice-president. Absent that suppression, there is a very good chance that Donald Trump would have been acclaimed president in 2020.

I understand there is a sense in which this is old and familiar news. If Hillary Clinton were in the room, I would expect to her to ask, “What difference at this point does it make?”

The answer is “a lot.” Yes, we’ve had warnings about what is happening now at least since Dwight Eisenhower, who in his farewell address, warned about the rise of a “military-industrial complex” whose unprecedented size and technological power could “endanger our liberties” and democracy.

Greenwald touched on Eisenhower’s warning in his video. He also mentions Senator Frank Church, who in the 1970s warned that “the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny” on American society.

We’re past the point where stage lights are falling out of the sky and landing at Truman Burbank’s feet. The question is: will we muster the wit and the courage to step out into freedom?

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s February 2023 World edition. 

Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of the New Criterion, publisher of Encounter Books and a Spectator columnist and contributing editor.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Show us Biden’s records in Delaware

Forget classified docs, show us the real haul of Biden’s records in Delaware

Jonathan Turley, New York Post

President Biden made a deal with the University of Delaware to lock away documents to protect his political name.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has repeatedly assured the public that President Biden is committed in the classified document scandal to move forward in “a very transparent way.” Putting aside the refusal to share any information beyond a desire to be fully transparent, Biden has one major test awaiting him on his pledge: his senatorial records.

There has been much discussion of a classified document being found in his personal library in Wilmington, but there is a huge library of Biden documents sitting in the University of Delaware. The university is sitting on Biden documents due to a cynical 2012 arrangement made by Biden when he was vice president and contemplating a run for the presidency.

The president effectively locked away his records by giving them to the university, which has claimed for a decade that it is still working to organize and catalog the documents. He has refused to allow the public or the press to see the documents. With the recent reports that Biden may have included classified information in notebooks found at his residence, the status of the University of Delaware documents is becoming more and more untenable for the White House.

University ‘lockbox’

The University of Delaware has been used for years to shield potentially embarrassing documents from public review for the Biden family, including allegations that the president engaged in sexual harassment or assault as a member of the Senate. The university effectively agreed to serve as a type of lockbox for the Bidens to prevent a review of his senatorial records as he ran for higher office.

At great public cost, the university has fought efforts by the media and the public to allow access to the documents. It is a troubling position for any institution of higher education to fight access to historical materials … for years.

Now, however, there is growing concern that the files may not only include incriminating information on past sexual assault allegations but actual classified information. There is already confirmation that Biden removed classified information from the Senate more than 14 years ago. It now appears he also may have transferred classified information from briefings and documents to his notebooks. That raises the question of whether such information is contained in the notebooks and papers housed at the university.

If President Biden is ready to embrace transparency, he can start by finally dropping his opposition to any review of his senatorial documents. At a minimum, the FBI should request access to determine if his violation of classified rules extends to this mountain of material given to the university.

No way to secure files

For decades, I have written and testified on why public servants should not be able to claim records from public service. This work includes a work on presidential papers published by Cornell in 2003 where I traced the flawed arguments of public servants that such documents are entirely their property.

Biden is the poster boy for how the claim of private ownership can run against principles of good government and the public interest. Biden became hugely wealthy while in public service, as did his family. The Bidens have long been accused of open influence peddling to garner millions of dollars and choice jobs or contracts for family members. These documents could shed light on that corrupt history.

More importantly, the university is actively involved in stopping inquiries into whether Biden may have assaulted a staff member or engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment of female staffers. It could also be shielding classified information from being located.

The “very transparent way” should also extend to other matters of great public interest. Even if Biden is not willing to give the public and press general access to these records, he should be willing to allow an independent third party to remove any documents related to matters of great public interest, including allegations of sexual misconduct and influence peddling.

Biden has yet to come up with a plausible reason why he is using the University of Delaware to prevent review of the documents. Indeed, the University of Delaware continues to expend public funds by making technical arguments against access while ignoring questions about the use of an academic institution to shield potentially embarrassing records.

Of course, the FBI does not need permission. It has ample reason to demand access in light of the president’s serial violations. Indeed, past discoveries form a perfect overlaid map of where the president has lived or worked in the past decade. Yet although there is new interest in searching his other residence, there has been little discussion of the largest trove of documents sitting in the bowels of the University of Delaware.

Presumably, this is one question that Jean-Pierre could actually answer. If the president is truly striving to be “very transparent,” he should be able to tell the University of Delaware that his records should be open to outside review. Otherwise, Biden’s pledge is nothing but transparently dishonest.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Five Things That Are Killing America

Five Things That Are Killing America

Cowardice, Dishonesty, Ignorance, Sloth and Mush

William Otis, Ringside at the Reckoning 

What really explains why the country is in the state it’s in, with inflation, worker shortages, propaganda replacing education, race huckstering galore, and Oprah-style gooey sentiment getting poured over everything?

I can’t answer that in one post, but I can at least begin. Our reaction to COVID is a good place to start. COVID was a new and ominous disease, and a good deal of caution was justified when we were first dealing with it. But it soon became clear that it posed significant mortal danger only to old people and those with serious health problems to start with. There was some danger to people under 60 but not much, and next to no danger to children, teenagers, and people in their twenties.

Nonetheless, we were seized with fear. We shut down schools, where COVID’s danger was minimal, telling parents that education would proceed via Zoom (or, you know, whatever). That was false. An entire generation of kids lost major ground in their education, as Paul has documented elsewhere on Ringside.

We also shut down the economy, even though for the great majority of workers and consumers, that was an obvious overreaction. Because workers were at home, and not earning paychecks at their jobs, they got sent government checks ($1400, if I recall correctly — I never got one) for doing nothing. Then they got sent a second round, also for doing nothing. The may have been sent a third; I’ve lost track.

What happens when you pay people for doing nothing? Well, two things to start with. First, they get used to getting paid for doing nothing, so they’re in no big rush to get back to work, and haven’t. Hence worker shortages from coast to coast, and masses of those still employed are still, even now, allowed to “work” from home on, say, Mondays and Fridays. If you think a loss of productivity is a big surprise when millions of people are “working” from home for 40% of the workweek, I have this bridge……….

The second thing that happens when you print of millions of fat government checks that correspond to no goods or services getting produced is inflation. No surprise there either: The very definition of inflation is expanding the money supply without a corresponding expansion of real wealth.

In other words, while alarm and caution were plainly justified initial reactions to COVID, they ballooned into something resembling national cowardice, then stuck around longer and in a more stringent form than even arguably warranted, producing disastrous effects for the education of our kids and our national wealth. A principal reason they stuck around was dishonesty. The dangers of COVID were relentlessly fearmongered and overhyped; any questioning of this orthodoxy was condemned and suppressed, including on social media; and there was never anything approaching an honest accounting of the enormous and probably years-long cost of the shutdowns, lockdowns and authoritarian stay-at-home orders.

(For those who might think that this is easy enough for me to say because I’m young, well………..ummmmmm………..I’m actually 76 and immune-suppressed because of a transplant. I also had my own bout with COVID. Too bad. People need to grow up and understand that when you get old, you’re going to have health problems and some of them are going to be serious. That’s a good reason to be cautious. It’s no reason to live your life in fear, much less try to force others to live theirs in fear).

In future posts, I hope to say more about the astronomical cost we’ve paid for cowardice, dishonesty, and the other vices I noted in the sub-head. But what I’ve said up to now is only by way of introducing a piece by Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. Sullivan is far to my left on policy questions, but wonderfully honest and straightforward in calling out the devastation Wokeism has wreaked and is wreaking.

It will come as no surprise to Ringside readers to hear that Wokeism lives on dishonesty, ignorance, race huckstering, and bullying. What may come as a surprise is the extent to which children, and black children in particular, are its victims. What Sullivan shows is that our inability or unwillingness to quash Wokeism has betrayed black children, first by the mushy Leftist propaganda we shove at them as “education,” and then by murdering them in grossly disproportionate numbers.

Here’s how the Sullivan piece starts:

In my web-reading this week, I stumbled across two statistics that made me sit up straight. The first came from a devastating story last September about my home city’s public schools. I had just watched a slick new video from DC Public Schools about their new “equity” push, which aims to go “beyond students’ academics” and “call out inequities.” The video is full of vague-sounding pabulum — they never define what they mean by “equity,” for example, apart from invoking Ibram X Kendi’s term “antiracism” — but the message is very clear: “equity” is now the central focus of the school district. And it’s a bright new day!

Now check out the data on how the DC Public School system is faring. A key metric is what they call “proficiency rates” — a test of whether the kids are passing the essentials of reading and math at every stage of their education. Overall, only 31 percent of DC students have proficiency in reading and just 19 percent have proficiency in math. Drill down further in the racial demographics and the picture is even worse: among African-American kids, the numbers are 20 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Among black boys, it’s 15 percent and 9 percent. Which means to say that DC Public Schools graduate kids who are overwhelmingly unable to do the most basic reading and math that any employer would need.

Moral of story: You won’t learn long division or reading, but you’ll learn that white people are rapacious oppressors and black people are entitled victims. In other words, you’ll learn stuff that’s even more poisonous than it is false.

This is not a function of money. In the most recent federal analysis: DC spends far more per student — $30,000 a year — than any other state, double the amount in many states across the country.

Let’s put it this way: if this were a corporation, it would be in liquidation. If it were a house, it would be condemned. But since it’s a public school system, it can avoid this catastrophic failure by emphasizing “equity”!

There are more important reasons the country is 30 trillion or so in the hole, but spending $30,000 a year per student to learn essentially nothing useful has to be on the list, too.

Call this the woke dodge. As they fail to educate kids in the very basics, they brandish a shiny object over there — “Diversity! Equity! Inclusion! ” — to distract us. Or they claim that these scores are caused by “white supremacy” or “systemic racism.” Or they argue that now, they are educating “the whole child.” From the DCPS video: “The racial equity lens is a critical component of ‘whole child’ for us because being a ‘whole child’ means thinking about all of your identities, but certainly the racial identity is a gap in what we’re discussing as a country.” Anything but do the basic job of teaching math and reading as they are supposed to do.

That nails it as well as it gets nailed.

Still, there’s something even worse than keeping children, and black children in particular, ignorant of anything that might help them succeed in the adult world. There’s killing them before they reach the adult world.

Then there’s the other stat that blew my mind — on the post-BLM surge in murders of African-Americans, including many children. The rise in homicide has cooled off somewhat, as Robert Verbruggen notes. But check this out:

Between the 2018–2019 and 2020–2021 periods, the black homicide rate went up by about 40 percent and the white one by 15 percent — already a glaring disparity. But since the black homicide rate started out so much higher than the white one, this translated to an increase of just 0.4 per 100,000 for whites and 9.7 per 100,000 for blacks — nearly 25 times as large. The increase in the black homicide rate was greater than the total homicide rate for the nation as a whole.

Read that last sentence again….

[W]hat is the response of the DC Council to this sort of crisis? Roughly what the completely broken school system has done in the face of its catastrophic failure: distract the public by getting even woker, by lowering sentences for violent crimes, and giving alleged murderers more tools to dodge or delay justice. The woke dodge again.

It’s all true. Over the very liberal Mayor’s veto, and in the face of some of the ugliest crime statistics in the country, the DC City Council enacted bill going even softer on criminals than is the (scandalous) case now.

Worse, the DC Council is clearly sending a signal not only that we are not in a crisis, but that, if anything, we need to be more lenient on criminals, and let the kids fare as best they can. Because “equity.” And for good measure, the woke dismiss or try to cancel anyone who dares to make these obvious points. Or they accuse us of bad faith. Or even being racists because we care about this stuff. (You are racist if you don’t care about this, but also racist if you do — see how that works?) Or that the color of our skin means we have no standing to talk or write about this at all.

But hear this racist out: wouldn’t it be an improvement if schools focused on reading and math to the exclusion of almost everything else, if crime against black people were treated like crime against white people, and if there were a focus on “equity” for black victims of crime rather than for the criminals themselves?

You can say I’m a dreamer — but someone’s got to be.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Biden family = 'The Sopranos'

Want to understand Joe Biden and his family? Just watch 'The Sopranos'

Tony Soprano and his fictional family would be very proud of the Bidens, their real-life Delaware copycats

Newt Gingrich, Foxnews 

Biden’s problems will only get bigger

Finding Biden’s classified documents is the beginning of the unraveling of his criminal family operation.

Watching HBO’s "the Sopranos" can really help you understand the Biden family. 

Between Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal, and the Bidens’ various shady private-equity schemes with foreign fraudsters, it’s not too hard to make the analogy.

President Joe Biden is clearly the head of a family. He has repeatedly exploited his public offices to make money. His son, Hunter Biden, is like the ambitious-but-dull son who wants to inherit the family business but always screws up. 

Some of what the Bidens have done is clearly inappropriate. Even more of what they have done is an abuse of public office. Most of what they have done is simply secret.

The best example of Bidens’ manipulation of the system for profit surrounds the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania. The center has given the Bidens remarkable access to Chinese Communist Party money. According to reports in the New York Post, the university, "raked in a total of $54.6 million from 2014 through June 2019 in donations from China, including $23.1 million in anonymous gifts starting in 2016."

As the paper reported, about $15.8 in anonymous Chinese gifts came after the Biden Center was announced in 2017. As soon as Biden left the White House as vice president, he was tapped to lead the center and given a professorship. Shortly after the center fully opened, another $14.5 million in anonymous Chinese gifts were delivered in May 2018. 

In another report about this flood of money, The Free Beacon said $61 million in Chinese donations went to the university from 2017 to 2020.

The numbers vary because there is virtually no public accountability or transparency about the money trail. It’s a given that Chinese sources aren’t going to share any information. And the University of Pennsylvania is simply refusing to obey the law and report the foreign donations.

I worked with the Trump administration’s Department of Education on this for several years, and we simply could not get the University of Pennsylvania to open its books and explain where all the Chinese money was coming from. 

Consider that now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the manager of the Penn Biden Center. Several other Biden team members were paid by the University of Pennsylvania in the period between Joe Biden’s vice presidency and presidency. 

Meanwhile, in apparent appreciation for setting him up at the center, Joe Biden appointed former University President Amy Gutmann to be U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Similarly, David Cohen, the former chairman of the university’s board of trustees, is now the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

As Jonathan Turley wrote for the New York Post, the Biden family corruption is exceptional – even for Washington: "Even in a city where influence-peddling is a virtual cottage industry, the Bidens took the corrupt practice to a truly Olympian level," he said.

Turley asserted that the traditional news media, for some reason, is still bending over backwards to protect the Bidens. The elite media spent months pretending that the laptop fiasco was Russian propaganda. They have repeatedly parroted Joe Biden’s claim that he doesn’t know anything about Hunter Biden’s business dealings. But it’s all not true. As Turley pointed out: 

"Dozens of emails, pictures and witness accounts prove the president was not just aware but a possible beneficiary of this corruption. His personal interactions with his son’s business associates include at least 19 visits to the White House by Hunter’s partner, Eric Schwerin, alone from 2009 to 2015, when Biden was vice president.

"Emails on Hunter’s laptop make repeated reference to not only Joe’s knowledge but efforts to hide his involvement. … Emails used code names for Joe Biden such as ‘Celtic’ or ‘the big guy.’ In one, ‘the big guy’ is mentioned as possibly receiving a 10% cut on a deal with a Chinese energy firm. There are also references to Hunter paying off his father’s bills from shared accounts.

"Code names, cuts for ‘the big guy’ and millions in mysterious foreign transactions would ordinarily send the media into a frenzy."

As Turley lays it out, the elite legacy media has become Biden’s – and the larger Democrat Party’s – de facto state media.

The Sopranos would be proud of their Delaware copycats. The Biden family is an influence-peddling center of corruption worthy of HBO fantasy. Unfortunately for America, it isn’t fiction.

Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-1999 and a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He is chairman of Gingrich 360. 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Biden pushing trans indoctrination with kids

This is partially what I was talking about the other night at our January LCMB meeting… our kid’s education!

I seldom agree with Bill Maher, but here I do… ‘Dems and allies have completely lost control’ 

Bill Maher says Biden administration 'all in' on pushing trans indoctrination with kids

HBO host says Democrats 'have to answer for' how they 'completely lost control' over schools

Joseph A. Wulfsohn | Fox News. 

"Real Time" host Bill Maher took Democrats to task on the 21st season premiere of his HBO show over how they have "completely lost control" over schools across the nation.

"I thought a great subject to talk about would be schools, because they're in the news a lot," Maher began the panel discussion on Friday. "We live in a prison yard in this country, which is everything is tribal. And like anything that has to do with schools or education is something really the Democrats have to answer for because they control it. I mean, when you look at the Democratic Convention, it's like three-quarters of them are teachers. My sister's a teacher. I'm a big defender of teachers, but what's going on in schools is outrageous, and somebody needs to answer for it."

Maher highlighted a recent incident in Virginia where a six-year-old brought his mother's gun to school and shot his teacher and how the school librarian told the press how "routine" teachers, students and other staff are assaulted. 

"How did we completely lose control?" Maher asked. "How could any kid learn in this atmosphere when you can't even survive? And these are all schools. This is not just inner-city schools. I hear this anecdotally from people. We've completely lost control of our schools."

The HBO star suggested it's the parents who are ultimately the "problem" with how children behave in school but "no one wants to go after" them since they're voters. 

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., shared how she was labeled a "bad mom" by her kids for taking away their iPhones and called on children to be off of social media, namely TikTok, since it's "literally ruining our kids' brains."

"One thing we used to tell kids was that there is someone in authority. And at some point, you have to take note of that person in authority," Substack writer Andrew Sullivan said. 

"Children who are taught there's no such thing as authority, the most important thing is expressing yourself at all times, are never held responsible for anything or constantly being excused for everything, they're gonna end up this way. They need direction. People need authority."

"Especially kids!" Maher exclaimed. 

"Why does a four-year-old come in, instead of teaching them the colors, you're telling them, ‘Pick your pronoun’? Where on earth did that come from? And who told us it was going to be imposed on children?" Sullivan asked. "More and more, when you look at this curriculum, it's all about that stuff. It's all about identity, it's all about being queer or trans. Children can't understand that stuff, not in kindergarten."

"And you say that as a queer," Maher pointed out with a chuckle.

"I don't want to teach five-year-olds about being gay. I think wait a little bit, and they'll pick it up anyway. It's not like they can't watch the TV," Sullivan quipped. 

He added, "They're not telling them that, they're telling them something worse. They're telling that people can choose to be a boy or a girl or neither or both or something else entirely. That is a lie. You can't. And it's done in order to placate certain special interests in Washington, mainly the LGBTQIA+ people who've also been captured by the far left. We should say no to this."

"I just don't understand why this is the hill the Democratic Party wants to die on," Maher said. 

"Because they're too scared. Both parties are too scared," Sullivan responded. "They're bullied by the extreme right, they're bullied by the extreme left, and no one has the balls to say no."

Maher said this argument isn't "anti-trans" and that "most people" who agree are "liberal people" who accept the trans community, but also stressed that actually being trans is "rare."

"We all seem to have to pretend that we're born- I don't know, jump ball," Maher joked. "It's just bulls---. It's just bulls---."

After the panel blasted how kids are being encouraged to "identify as a tree" and being taught that "boys can menstruate" and that "girls can have penises," Sullivan took aim at the younger generation, who claim he's a hater for opposing the woke ideology. 

"It sometimes gets to me when the younger ones tell me that I'm the dinosaur. Do you know what we of our generation went through as gay men or women? Do you know what we really did?… Do you know the actual oppression of dying in the streets, of dying of AIDS, of fighting for basic civil rights and how they turn around and tell us you are an old has-been, you need to just go away, and not only that you hate trans people. ‘F--- you’ is what I'd say," Sullivan said. 

"But I'm tired of it. I'm tired of it. And the way they can't debate you. They say immediately you hate people. I don't hate people. I would cherish a trans kid. I just don't want a little gay kid to be told suddenly he might be a girl inside. I don't want kids who are not able to make these kinds of decisions decide to have medication, medicalization, sterilization, drugs before they even hit puberty. It's just wrong."

Mace shared how parents back in her state of South Carolina were "bragging" that their kids started transition at ages four-six and pointed to the case of Chloe Cole, the teenage girl who at 15 had her breasts removed because she thought she had gender dysphoria and at 16 realized she made a mistake. 

"And I think the Biden administration is all-in on that," Maher reacted. 

Sullivan pointed out that European countries are more restrictive when it comes to allowing minors to transition and that even the legacy media like The New York Times has expressed skepticism over whether children should receive medical treatment, yet the Biden administration will say "this is essential."

"I don't think Biden is behind this, but he's certainly controlled by people who are," Sullivan added. 

"Well, medical schools are behind this actually," Mace said. "We read stories. They're training these medical students to say that puberty blockers are reversible." 

"And that's, and this is coming from the ‘We're the science people,'" Maher mocked the left. 

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to and on Twitter: @JosephWulfsohn.