Thursday, April 30, 2020
University Of Delaware board members, who are keeping Biden's Senate records secret, have close ties to the former VP
Numerous top officials on the board of the University of Delaware, which is refusing to release Joe Biden's Senate records despite an earlier promise to do so, have close personal and financial ties to the former vice president, records reviewed by Fox News show -- and the chairman of the board even bought Biden's house in 1996 for $1.2 million, reportedly a "top dollar" price given its condition.
The documents suggest a significant conflict of interest as Biden faces increasing pressure to relinquish the documents that could contain information relevant to Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation against him.
Biden dropped off 1,875 boxes of “photographs, documents, videotapes, and files” and 415 gigabytes of electronic records to the University of Delaware in 2012. The university initially said it expected to make the records “available to the public two years after Biden’s last day in elected public office.” In April 2019, just hours before Biden announced his current presidential bid, the university changed its mind, and said the papers wouldn't be released until either December 31, 2019 or until two years after Biden “retires from public life,” whichever comes later.
This week, both The Atlantic and The Washington Post argued that Biden should instruct the university to turn over the records, saying they "could contain confirmation of any complaint Ms. Reade made, either through official congressional channels or to the three other employees she claims she informed not specifically of the alleged assault but more generally of harassment."
The University of Delaware’s charter states that the Board of Trustees has “entire control and management of the affairs of the university," and notes that no university bylaws "shall diminish or reduce the Board’s plenary authority over all matters related to the control and management of the affairs of the University."
The current chairman of the board at the University of Delaware, John Cochran, is a longtime Biden donor and former CEO of MBNA.
In a January 1998 article entitled "The Senator from MBNA," columnist Byron York recounted how Cochran, then MBNA's vice chairman, paid "top dollar" for Biden's home in February 1996, just prior to his Senate re-election bid, and that "MBNA gave Cochran a lot of money—$330,000—to help with 'expenses' related to the move."
FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2012 file photo, then-Vice President Joe Biden talks to customers, including a woman who pulled up her chair in front of the bench Biden was sitting on, during a stop at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
The $1.2M sale was a "pretty darned good deal for Biden," York wrote, noting that "Cochran simply paid Biden’s full asking price" even though the "house needed quite a bit of work; contractors and their trucks descended on the house for months after the purchase."
York noted that nearby houses were selling below their appraised value at the time. “It is customary for appraisers to evaluate homes in relation to similar properties in the area, or ‘comparables,''' York wrote. "In the case of Biden’s house, the appraiser compared the home to another large old house about a quarter of a mile away. That house—which was in similar condition—was judged to be worth $1,013,000. It sold in August 1995 for $800,000 (it should be noted that the house did not have a pool, which Biden’s does; on the other hand the house had central air conditioning, which Biden’s did not, and it was on a larger lot)."
The appraiser also "looked at two other newer houses in the area," York continued. "One was appraised at $1,230,000 and sold for $1,007,500. The other was appraised at $1,163,000 and sold for an even $1 million. In all three cases, the homes sold for a good deal less than their appraised value."
Asked how Cochran and Biden found each other for the sale, an MBNA spokesperson told York: "That’s a very personal question." Federal election records also showed top MBNA executives apparently made a "concerted" effort to donate to Biden's campaign, York reported.
Shortly after the house sale, Biden's son Hunter was hired on at MBNA. Rachel Mullen, a former senior personal banking officer at MBNA from 1994-2001 who later went into Republican politics, tweeted that managers referred to the younger Biden as "Senator MBNA" after he was hired into a lucrative management-prep track right after he graduated from Yale Law School.
An MBNA source who previously worked at the company told Fox News that other employees heard Biden boasting that his salary was unusually high, even for the management-prep track -- which was widely seen in the company as a way to groom and pamper well-connected executive candidates with powerful family members.
John Cochran, chairman of the Board of Trustees, on the left in a 2018 photo. (Kathy F. Atkinson / University of Delaware)
The source said Biden's "Senator MBNA" nickname was not politically motivated, but rather reflected a widely held belief among managers -- who did not work directly with Biden -- that he essentially was engaged in lobbying.
As Hunter cashed the checks, Biden was pushing successfully on the Senate floor for legislation that would make it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy protection -- benefiting companies like MBNA. In a contemporaneous interview, Tom Brokaw asked the elder Biden whether it was "inappropriate" for the then-senator to have his son "collecting money from this big credit card company while you were on the [Senate] floor protecting its interests."
In 2018, Cochran, who has supported each of Biden's political campaigns, joined Biden in attending the naming ceremony of the Biden School of Public Policy at the University of Delaware.
Further, at least seven other members of the University of Delaware's board of trustees have donated to Biden's political campaigns -- including a former Biden senior counsel from the Senate, as well as the state's governor and other senior officials.
Terri Kelly, the former president and CEO Of W.L. Gore & Associates, has served on the university's board of trustees since 2014 -- and donated the maximum legal amount to Biden in 2019.
Carol Ammon, who has been on the board since 2013, has given more than $10,000 to Biden's campaign and affiliated PACs, federal election records show.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden leans in to say something to Maggie Coons, next to her father Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., after Biden administered the Senate oath to Coons during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber of Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
John Carney, the state's governor and another board member, has also donated more than $1,000 to Biden.
Claire DeMatteis served as counsel to Biden. Since 2001, she has given over $16,000 to Democratic PACs, including Biden's, called Unite our States.
Chai Gadde, a CEO, has donated thousands to Biden.
William Lafferty, a partner at a Delaware law firm who serves on the board as well, has also given more than $2,500 to Biden's campaign.
Nov. 1, 2014: Then-Vice President Joe Biden with actress Eva Longoria in Las Vegas.
Despite some outlets calling for the release of the records held by these board members, Senate Democrats and media outlets have been mostly silent on Reade's claims, even though they called for an immediate FBI investigation into claims against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Reade, however, has presented substantially more corroborating evidence than Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
Biden himself hasn't addressed the allegation against him, and no one in the media has asked him about it during interviews. Representatives for Biden's campaign have denied the allegations, even as some Democrats have urged Biden to address the matter himself.
Earlier Wednesday, The New York Times rebuked the Biden campaign, telling Fox News that the campaign was apparently circulating talking points to top Democrats that "inaccurately" described the paper's reporting. The talking points falsely claimed that the Times had disproven Reade's accusations, when it actually found some corroboration.
Business Insider, The Intercept, and Newsbusters have separately found additional contemporaneous corroboration for Reade's claims, including footage showing Reade's mother calling into "Larry King Live" to discuss an incident involving her daughter and a prominent senator.
The Times had earlier stealth-edited its coverage of the Biden accusations at the request of the Biden campaign. The paper specifically removed a section of its reporting referring to numerous other episodes in which Biden was accused of inappropriate touching -- including one instance in which he was caught on camera touching young girls and making them visibly uncomfortable.
"I think that the [Biden] campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct," The Times' executive editor, Dean Baquet, admitted the day after the article was published.
According to a copy of the Times' article saved by the Internet archive Wayback Machine, the Times originally reported: "No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable."
That paragraph now reads: "No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden."
Baquet also struggled to explain why his paper had waited weeks to even report on Reade's allegations. Baquet implied that Kavanaugh was urgently in the public spotlight, while Biden -- who was locking up the Democratic presidential nomination as Reade's claim surfaced -- somehow was not in the public eye.
"Kavanaugh was already in a public forum in a large way," Baquet said. "Kavanaugh was in a very different situation. It was a live, ongoing story that had become the biggest political story in the country. It was just a different news judgment moment."
Biden has previously said he would change his interactions with women going forward, but stopped short of apologizing for his conduct.
Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at email@example.com.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
FBI discussed interviewing Michael Flynn 'to get him to lie' and 'get him fired,' handwritten notes show
Explosive new internal FBI documents unsealed Wednesday show that top bureau officials discussed their motivations for interviewing then-national security adviser Michael Flynn in the White House in January 2017 -- and openly indicated that their "goal" was "to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired."
The handwritten notes -- written by the FBI's former head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap after a meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Fox News is told -- indicated that agents planned to get Flynn “to admit to breaking the Logan Act” and catch him in a lie. The Logan Act is an obscure statute that has never been used in a criminal prosecution; enacted in 1799, it was intended to prevent individuals from falsely claiming to represent the United States abroad in an era before telephones.
“What is our goal?" one of the notes reads. "Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
The bombshell documents strongly suggested the agents weren't truly concerned about Flynn's intercepted contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, except as a pretext. Former President Obama personally had warned the Trump administration against hiring Flynn, and made clear he was "not a fan," according to multiple officials. Obama fired Flynn as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.
The Justice Department turned over the documents just this week, even though a February 2018 standing order in the case required the government to turn over any exculpatory materials in its possession that pertained to Flynn. Fox News is told even more exculpatory documents are forthcoming.
Flynn previously charged that top FBI officials, including McCabe, pressed him not to have the White House counsel present during the questioning with two agents that ultimately led to his guilty plea on a single charge of lying to federal authorities. One of those agents was Peter Strzok, who has since been fired from the bureau after his anti-Trump text messages came to light.
Flynn has withdrawn his guilty plea and has been seeking exoneration, saying the FBI engaged in "egregious misconduct." Flynn, who now says he did not lie to the FBI, pleaded guilty in late 2017 as mounting legal fees pushed him to sell his home. Flynn has since obtained new counsel -- and his old attorneys, it emerged this week, then failed to turn over thousands of documents to his new lawyer, Sidney Powell. Powell has charged that Flynn's old lawyers at Covington & Burling had conflicts of interest and were otherwise ineffective, including by not focusing on Strzok's evident bias.
Strzok wasn't the only top FBI official who apparently bent the rules in targeting Flynn. Comey admitted in 2018 that the fateful Flynn interview at the White House didn't follow protocol, and came at his direction. He said it was not "something I probably wouldn't have done or maybe gotten away with in a more... organized administration."
McCabe later said the interview was "very odd" because "it seemed like [Flynn] was telling the truth" to the two agents who interviewed him. Flynn, the interviewing agents told McCabe, "had a very good recollection of events, which he related chronologically and lucidly," did not appear to be "nervous or sweating," and did not look "side to side" -- all of which would have been "behavioral signs of deception."
During the interview, Flynn told the agents "not really" when asked if he had sought to convince Kislyak not to escalate a brewing fight with the U.S. over sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, according to a FD-302 witness report prepared by the FBI. Flynn also demurred when asked if he had asked Russia to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. (The Obama administration abstained in that vote, which Republicans characterized as a betrayal of a close U.S. ally.)
Flynn issued other apparently equivocal responses to FBI agents' questions, and at various points suggested that such conversations might have happened or that he could not recall them if they did, according to the 302. The 302 indicated that Flynn was apparently aware his communications had been monitored, and at several points he thanks the FBI agents for reminding him of some of his conversations with Russian officials.
A Washington Post article published one day before Flynn's White House interview with the agents, citing FBI sources, publicly revealed that the FBI had wiretapped Flynn's calls with Kislyak and cleared him of any criminal conduct. It was unclear who leaked that information to the Post.
The article offered further support for Flynn's claim that he was on notice that the FBI was aware of the contents of his communications with Russia even before the interview, and raised the question of why the FBI would want to ask Flynn about those communications. Flynn has indicated in court filings that he was apprehensive about potentially disclosing classified information to the agents.
Unsealed FBI notes reveal the intent of the FBI’s 1/24/17 interview of Flynn:
“What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute [Flynn] or get him fired?”
FBI Notes confirm it was all a pretext.
The documents also revealed that ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page emailed Strzok concerning how to conduct the Flynn interview.
Strzok and Page regularly texted to each other about their shared disdain for Trump, and affection for Clinton, even as they worked on investigations involving both Clinton and Trump.
McCabe, who has admitted to lying to FBI investigators in a leak investigation, was fired for multiple violations of the FBI's ethics code.
He has not faced any criminal charges.
The revelations come as the Justice Department has separately revealed that the FBI's investigation into former Trump aide Carter Page was riddled with major errors -- and even featured an ex-FBI attorney doctoring an email from the CIA to make it seem as though Page's Russian contacts were nefarious.
In fact, Page was an informant to the CIA about those contacts -- a key detail the FBI omitted when it told the surveillance court about Page's overseas trips.
Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY TYLER O'NEIL | P J Media
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is facing a growing sexual assault scandal, but Americans who only watch left-leaning TV networks may not have even heard about it. Biden’s former staffer Tara Reade went public with her claims on March 25, and since then new evidence has arisen, making her accusation far more credible than Christine Blasey Ford’s claims against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Yet left-leaning mainstream media outlets have nearly boycotted the story over the past month.
The Media Research Center (MRC) analyzed the news coverage on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and PBS between March 25 and April 27. During that month-plus period, these networks devoted a paltry 27 minutes and 31 seconds to Reade’s sexual assault allegations. By contrast, ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news shows dedicated nearly six hours to Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh in the twelve days after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) went public that there was an unspecified allegation against the Supreme Court nominee.
ABC and NBC have not even spent one second on the Tara Reade story, however, according to MRC. CBS has devoted a paltry 63 seconds, while PBS gave the story seven minutes. CNN and MSNBC are all-day news networks, so they had more opportunity to cover the story, but they haven’t. MSNBC covered Tara Reade for four and a half minutes in mid-April, and CNN completely ignored the story until Saturday, when it dedicated 14 minutes and 54 seconds to it.
Perhaps these networks are too busy covering the coronavirus crisis to fit in a Joe Biden story? Hardly. Over the past month, ABC, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC all interviewed Biden on live TV, and no interview touched on the allegations. Out of 77 questions posed to the former vice president, not a single one involved Tara Reade’s claims.
CNN finally covered the story after The Intercept reported that Reade’s mother had called in to Larry King Live on August 11, 1993, to ask for advice on how to deal with the sexual assault her daughter allegedly suffered at the hands of Joe Biden. “I remember it being an anonymous call,” Reade told Ryan Grim.
The Media Research Center traced down that call, which confirms that Reade shared her story with her mother at the time of the assault.
When Ford accused Kavanaugh of having attempted to rape her at some vague point in the 1980s, she could not get one person to confirm her accusation — or even to say that Ford had been traumatized at the time. By contrast, Reade’s friend and her brother both confirmed to The Intercept that she had been torn up about Biden’s alleged abuse. Two more witnesses, a neighbor and a former coworker, also confirmed that the alleged victim had confided in them regarding the abuse.
While Ford was a liberal accusing a conservative who had been nominated for a high government position, Reade is a liberal accusing a fellow liberal who will likely be the only viable alternative to Donald Trump for the presidency.
This fact and these witnesses do not come close to proving Biden guilty, but they do add to the plausibility of the accusation. Specifically, Reade alleges that Biden shoved his hand under her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers in a Senate corridor. She filed a report with Washington, D.C., police earlier this month.
Tara Reade’s accusation may or may not be true, but it is a major news story regarding the presumptive nominee of one of America’s two major parties. It is utterly disgraceful for left-leaning news outlets to effectively bury the story.
The pro-Biden bias at these TV news outlets isn’t exactly a secret. But when the same people who shouted “believe all women” at the top of their lungs during the Kavanaugh hearings are suddenly silent about sexual assault when a woman makes a far more credible claim against Joe Biden, Americans should be outraged.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
People buy fruit and vegetables at a shop in Naples, Monday, April 27, 2020. Region Campania allowed cafes and pizzerias to reopen for delivery Monday, as Italy it is starting to ease its lockdown after a long precautionary closure due to the coronavirus outbreak. Andrew Medichini / AP
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“Italy’s problem is the EU turned a blind eye to their relationship with China.”
Italy is a story that parallels America’s industrial Midwest a few decades ago. As China ascended as an export power, joblessness and despair grew in America’s manufacturing heartland. This self- destruction festered after decades of liberalized trade polices, over-unionization and government regulation. This was the recipe for business and investors to export labor to China, and import their products back into the U.S. These cheap prices pleased consumers, but killed U.S. manufacturing.
For years, Italians had received a steady diet of negative agitprop about Chinese products. They had been convinced cheap imports from China were inferior knock-offs of “made in Italy” products. Beyond national pride, consumers were told their jobs were at stake if they did not buy everything that was “made in Italy.” But that changed rapidly in 2014, when, Matteo Renzi, the leader of the Partito Democratico (Italian Communist party), was questionably elected Italy’s new prime minister.
Shortly after he took office, banks started failing, unemployment spiked, and the VAT tax rose from 18% to 22%. There was economic chaos in Italy. Italian business owners were desperate for cash and Renzi romanced the Chinese fiscal invasion of Italy. They started buying everything that wasn’t tied down! And this was done in violation of the EU Trade Pacts with the U.S. and U.K. Neither President Barack Obama nor Prime Minister David Cameron of the U.K. said a word as they watched Chinese investors rape and pillage the nation of Italy.
"You might not see the evil, but you can see its handiwork.”
– Allison Brennan
By the time Renzi left office in 2016, China owned over 300 companies and 27% of Italy’s industry. The Bank of China owned five major banks that funneled Italy’s wealth to China. Today according to Bloomberg, they own Telecom Italy’s largest communication network and major utilities ENI and ENEL. They are the majority owner of Fiat-Chrysler, Prysmian, Terna, and of Pirelli tires. But it was purchasing Italy’s world famous fashion industry factories that topped their pizzas with chow mien.
For centuries, Prato, the medieval city outside of Florence, produced the world’s finest fabrics. But Prato, feeling the economic pinch, needed an influx of capital, and China waltzed in and bought up every major Northern Italian garment maker. They now own Miss Sixty, Pinco Pallino, Roberta di Camerino, Sergio Tacchini, and the Mariella Burani brands. And that’s what brought thousands of legal and illegal Chinese immigrants, from Wuhan and Wenzhou, China to work in Prato factories.
Over night, northern Italy’s textile hub was transformed into the low-end garment producing capital of the world. Today, the city is home to the largest concentration of Chinese in Europe. In the heart of Tuscany, Florence the laborers work round the clock in garment factories making clothes, shoes and accessories with materials imported from China – sold to low-end retailers all around the globe.
“The Chinese have blurred the line between 'Made in China' and 'Made in Italy.'”
– Andrea Frattani
By now, thousands of Chinese had migrated into Italy illegally and quietly vanished into the shadows of Milano and other cities of Lombardy. Others came to steal technology and shuttle it to China. It was not until Matteo Salvini, representing the Lega Nord party, a conservative party from the north, that the sweatshops and the illegal entry and departure of Chinese were stopped. Salvini closed Italy’s ports to immigrants and started deporting illegal immigrants. And that was his demise. The communists swiftly impeached Salvini to cut their losses, and compromised to support the unproven Giuseppe Conte.
In January 2020, the first two cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Rome by travelers from China. Three weeks later, in the northern province of Lombardy, a garment factory worker showed up at a hospital with respiratory problems. He was not tested for coronavirus for 36 hours. During that time, he visited with friends and family.” The Feb 19 incident raises obvious questions: Why wasn’t this a red flag for Lombardy physicians? They knew two Chinese tourists had been diagnosed in Rome? Could it be they were influenced by mafia garment bosses to keep a lid on this? Or was it stupidity?
Since it is customary for the Chinese to travel back to China for the Lunar New Year celebrations which fell on Jan. 24, and the incubation period for coronavirus is about two weeks, this is more than a red flag. With the multitudes of Chinese factory laborers in northern Italy traveling to China in late January (mostly to Wuhan and Wenzhou) and returning to Italy, it is not rocket science to conclude many of them returned to Italy without symptoms. But they were infected with the virus in early or mid February.
“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”
– Robert A. Heinlein
By mid-February, a multitude of coronavirus cases were being reported in Lombardy from factory workers that lived in segregated Chinese neighborhoods. By the end of February new cases were being recorded throughout the region. This vast number of virus patients seriously overloaded the Lombardy hospitals and medical clinics. Their state medical system was collapsing because it was caring for the thousands of illegal immigrants brought in to work in Prato’s garment factories. Italian medical officials finally admitted there were no doubts, and reluctantly revealed this virus came from China.
This virus spread so rapidly because of travel to and from China, and lack of testing and isolation. Additionally, the Italian socialized medical system was vastly under-funded since they have no clue how many illegal immigrants were/are in the country. When COVID-19 hit, it broke a broken system. It was so widespread, tourists and businessmen returning to China from Italy were bringing it back to China.
“There is a virtuous cycle to transparency and a very vicious cycle of obfuscation.”
– Jeff Weiner
Specialist Dr. Marizio Pecconi, said, “Our low investment in public healthcare led to our downfall.” Although no reports indicate how many virus patients are Chinese, Lombardy, Italy’s worst-affected area, has the largest concentration of Chinese in Europe. World Health Organization figures as of the end of March recorded the death rate at 11%. While in China, the second hardest hit nation, it was 4%. Israel who has the toughest immigration laws in the world, has the lowest death rate at only 0.35%.
America must learn from Italy’s experience, especially during an election and a Census year. Any candidate that pitches Medicare for All, socialized medicine, student loan forgiveness, or expanding social entitlement programs, gun control, or relaxing immigration laws, run far away from them! We pay for these with our taxes and our liberty. It’s also vital to know how many people live in America, legally and illegally, so we have the medical facilities to treat everyone if another crisis breaks out. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, can infect anyone, and then everyone can infect everyone else.
Italy lost control of their nation one bad law and one bad election at a time. Let’s all hope we never forget that.
“This should hopefully be a warning to Americans while they work to rid themselves of the China Virus, they should just as vehemently endeavor to rid their government of every politician that circumvents the Constitution and ignores their laws … plain and simple.”
– Giacomino Nicolazzo
By William Haupt III | Contributing Columnist William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.
Monday, April 27, 2020
By Victor Davis Hanson | American Greatness
“War is a violent teacher.”—Thucydides
Before this virus has passed, those of the New York Symphony, like the defeated Redcoats at proverbial Yorktown, will be playing the real “The World Turned Upside Down”:
And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament,
you see the world turn’d upside down.
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament,
you see the world turn’d upside down.
Before the virus, apparently we were prepping for our brave new progressive, centrally planned dystopia.
During the Barack Obama years, government agencies had begun to chart a new inclusive future for hoi polloi Americans. We were lectured frequently that the Obama arc of the moral universe was long, but it always bent toward his sense of justice. Translated that meant, like it or not, we Americans had a preordained moral rendezvous with a progressive destiny.
Suburban lifestyles, yards, grass, rural living, and commute driving were to be phased out. High rises, government run-buses, and high-speed rail were in: more people in less space, with less energy consumed, meant less trouble. Granny was better off in a green rest home, not the back bedroom.
Ohio was over; the EU was our future. Clean coal was a 20th-century embarrassment; the next and future Solyndra would be cutting-edge. The idea that the United States ought to be self-sufficient in energy and food seemed worthy of yawns.
Instead of the backyard barbeque and a lawn, apartment dwellers would enjoy shared green belts around their communal towers—albeit not as large as the Martha’s Vineyard estate of Barack Obama or the palazzo of Nancy Pelosi.
Universities were to speak truth to power in new race/class/gender missions and diversity/inclusion/equality agendas. The old boring curriculum of math, science, engineering, literature, language, history, and Western Civ were sputtering out, or recalibrated to include social activist themes.
After all, China and India would supply the world’s next boring generation of rote engineers. But they could not invent, compute, or formulate without our brilliant peace studies and ethnic studies geniuses to give them moral instruction.
“Knowledge” became a relative construct, not an absolute that could be roughly calibrated. Students needed to appreciate that traditional curricula and grades were merely models of leveraging power by arbitrarily setting “standards”—pathologies that could only be understood by appreciating how the marginalized “Other” was victimized by them.
Being “woke” meant fathoming how unmet personal expectations ought always to be attributed to the fault of someone else—and, even worse, that “someone else” might be dead or alive. The Squad just told us so. Now Chairman Xi agrees.
Billions of dollars of university capital and budgets were diverted to new administration and faculty investments that might focus on how young people thought of themselves rather than what they actually knew. Everyone understood the job of vice provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion might easily disappear in a nanosecond and never be missed. No one dared to hint at the suggestion.
All were cynically aware that the vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion made enough money to avoid living in a “diverse” neighborhood, put his own kids in a school where all were equally not poor, and wanted to be included among the elite.
There were new winners and losers in a transnational United States, and such university administrators were among the winners.
Globalization was to be seen as some sort of ultimate talent meter that finally told us not only who was talented but, more important, who was worthy. The dumb un-globalized losers could not figure out how to code, or lacked a communications major or international relations degree, or had not spent a semester abroad in China, or did not understand global investment. They clung to some ancient shibboleth—“Made in America”—as if producing stuff here really mattered.
So the deplorables and Lysol drinkers more or less deserved the hollowed-out manufacturing landscape, closed assembly plants, and industrial wasteland of the nation’s interior that anachronistically and foolishly had bet that muscular labor still had a place in the postmodern world.
Dummies! Fitness comes from the Peloton, not mastery of masonry or welding. Drones, artificial intelligence, and robots could easily crawl under the house and fix the drainpipe, or shimmy into the attic to wire a new kitchen. No more need for plumbers or electricians.
In the minds of the new citizens of the world, the ossified working classes, when they were not smelling up Walmart or hiding their missing teeth with corny smiles, were written off as a basket full of deplorables and irredeemables, or the dregs of the earth, or the clingers who always retreat to their guns and religion—the worst nightmare of Robert Mueller’s dream team and all-stars.
The more refined and bigger winners in the global crapshoot were unafraid to tell us that our fates really had been predetermined by “grey matter” (as in lots of theirs) that adjudicated who did “anybody-can-do-them” rote things like dropping seeds in the ground—or, in contrast, who excelled in capitalizing Chinese Communist companies.
The ancient principles of autarchy and autonomy—economic self-sufficiency and political independence—became passé. Borders, fair trade, and the U.S. Constitution paled in comparison to models like the Schengen Agreement, outsourcing and offshoring, and transnational organizations.
After all, who could ever imagine a time when you might need a constitutionally protected gun? Even if one could ever conceive of the unlikely act of letting prisoners out en masse, they were likely to return to productive lives, proving they never belonged in jail in the first place.
And we were assured by experts and science that the World Health Organization would warn us in plenty of time if a dangerous flu-like bug popped up 7,000 miles away.
Inventories were old and in the way. Just-in-time supply chains needed just enough Chinese products to arrive the day before they were sold out in stores. Who wished to pay for useless stuff stacked sitting on shelves for an excruciating 72 hours?
The idea that the United States might wish to be self-sufficient in pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and rare earth minerals was written off as an update of Bonaparte’s failed continental system.
For the global Right, the market would adjudicate borders (when entry-level wages dropped below sustenance level, immigrants would wisely stay home).
For the Left the greater the number of the “Other” who arrived illegally, and the poorer they were, the more fodder they’d have for flipping those bad-people red states into good-people blue states.
If there ever was some sort of zombie apocalypse-like collapse, the survivors in New York would show the doomed yokels in Texas the consequences of being Texas and not New York.
No one was supposed to want his children to be a skilled plumber, a master electrician, an effective teacher, or a heroic nurse. Better it was instead to owe $100,000 in student loans to land an environmental studies degree, branded by a supposedly hard-to-get-into college. Even our Hollywood geniuses knew that—and were willing to go to prison to prove it.
Slick, shiny modern living magazines advertised the latest stone counters, metal refrigerators, and wood floors. Today’s in-brands and tastes became, in a blink, tomorrow’s proof of mundanity. Rarely did our elite wonder, much less care, from where the stone, the ores, and the timber came—much less who were the miners, the smelters, and the ax-men who harvested the stuff of their kitchens.
The Violent Teacher
Then the virus hit.
Panic ensued. Former madness was declared genius. More were needed in overalls, fewer in yoga pants. A Chevy van was preferable to a year’s pass on the metro. A first-class ticket to Milan was nothing but a trip to nowhere.
Roomy yards were again correct, nice elevators not so much. The bigger and more “mine” the car, the better to get away from “them” and “theirs” in the subway.
Driving wasn’t all that bad; flying apparently was. The quaint country cabin three hours from Manhattan was now a brilliant last redoubt. But living in Utah was even cooler than in Brooklyn Heights.
For some reason no one wished to vacation in Tuscany or see the Great Wall; all dreamed of an isolated lake at 7,000 feet in the Rockies, or the Sierras.
Vegas odds-makers, independent stock junkies, and the expert toilet-paper finder were deemed savvier than Ph.D. modelers from the Imperial College and the University of Washington. When the former’s numbers were screwed up, they at least paid in real-time and money, when the latter’s did, they sighed and screwed up again.
Toilet paper became bitcoins, hand sanitizer more valuable than Chanel.
Bankers were stuck in apartments trying to figure out a circuit breaker from a toilet baffle, and in Shakespearean fashion cried to spouses, “A handyman, a handyman, My kingdom for a handyman!”
For this moment at least, a ventilator producer, a bleach brewer, and a mask maker were our hoplites. The “I wouldn’t want to be him” slob with a big belly and big arms was abruptly needed to drive all night to get arugula and asparagus in Whole Foods by morning—and did.
Travel bans, the “wall,” and passport control were OK. Not so politically correct caravans of thousands of foreigners crashing through decrepit wire border fencing, nor those recently inaugurated direct flights from Wuhan. Take-out from MacDonald’s, grease and all, was wiser and safer than a choice reservation at Le Coucou.
Our best and brightest policymakers now said it would have been nice to trust China less, and Western Pennsylvania more. Just having Augmentin seemed wiser than did the chance of paying less for it.
Some 360,000 Chinese children, mostly of Communist elites, in American universities were no longer touted by universities as proof of their diversity, but shamelessly lamented as a vanishing herd no longer to be targeted and price-gouged.
Zoom, Skype, and online courses proved to be the little boy who looked at the parading gaudy professors and asked why they went naked? Was it all that bad to see just the professor’s videoed head without his strut?
There likely won’t be much of a “new normal.” Because when all the data is in, all the panic ended, the antivirals appearing, all the vaccinations working, the herd immunity growing, and the real lethality rate dropping, most of us, despite the tough barroom talk of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the dreams of governors Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom, will go back to business as normal.
Yet we should hope not quite normal, either.
For a brief season in time, we glimpsed from the awful epidemic what was wheat and what was chaff, what was mahogany beneath and what a scrapped thin veneer above, who were the V8s and who the mere gaudy, tail fins—and how America ultimately got by and how it almost didn’t.