Healing through art. That's Brian Woods' mission, a licensed mental health therapist and artist who is combining his two passions to help the most vulnerable children in the West Palm Beach area.
- The Daily Beast
Ben Birchall/WPA Pool/GettyMeghan Markle has denied detailed accusations of “bullying” her former Buckingham Palace staff and accused opponents of conducting a “calculated smear campaign” in advance of her much-hyped CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey this Sunday.If Meghan and Prince Harry had anticipated an open field to criticize the royal family and/or air various grievances, certain Buckingham Palace sources seem determined to torpedo their ambitions prior to Sunday night.Harry and Meghan Are Begged to Delay Oprah Broadcast While Prince Philip Is Gravely IllRoyal aides told The Times of London that Meghan was the subject of an official bullying complaint made in October 2018 by Jason Knauf, Meghan and Harry’s former communications secretary. The Times reported that the complaint detailed how Meghan allegedly “drove two personal assistants out of the household and was undermining the confidence of a third staff member.” Prince Harry asked Knauf not to pursue the complaint, a source told the paper.“Staff would on occasion be reduced to tears” because of the duchess, The Times reported. One aide, anticipating a confrontation with Meghan, told a colleague: “I can’t stop shaking.” Another aide claimed it felt “more like emotional cruelty and manipulation, which I guess could also be called bullying.”Knauf, in an email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary, said the palace’s head of HR, Samantha Carruthers, “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious.” He added: “I remain concerned that nothing will be done.”Knauf, who is now chief executive of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Foundation, said in his email: “I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X was totally unacceptable… The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying Y and seeking to undermine her confidence. We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behavior towards Y.”Sympathetic sources around Harry and Meghan relayed their frustration and hurt with the attitudes of palace officials in Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family.However, palace sources told The Times that the bullying allegations had not been investigated by the palace and that officials had made Meghan more “welcome” than the couple’s supporters have long claimed. One source said of the bullying complaint: “I think the problem is, not much happened with it. It was, ‘How can we make this go away?,’ rather than addressing it.”Another source told The Times: “Senior people in the household, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, knew that they had a situation where members of staff, particularly young women, were being bullied to the point of tears. The institution just protected Meghan constantly. All the men in grey suits who she hates have a lot to answer for, because they did absolutely nothing to protect people.”The paper said the sources were speaking out now in advance of Meghan’s Sunday night interview to give their view of Harry and Meghan’s royal life, presumably anticipating that it may be very different from what the couple may relay to Winfrey. The broadcast of the interview—the result of a reported two years’ worth of planning by Meghan and Winfrey—is being criticized as ill-timed given the illness and hospitalization of Prince Philip.Buckingham Palace declined to comment to The Times.The paper also details how Meghan wore earrings to a formal dinner in 2018 that were a wedding gift from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA concluded last week had ordered the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The dinner took place three weeks after Khashoggi was killed. At the time Meghan said the earrings were borrowed. “The duchess does not deny this was what she said, despite being aware of their provenance,” The Times reported.In a statement to The Times, a spokesperson for the Sussexes said of the various allegations: “Let’s just call this what it is—a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation. We are disappointed to see this defamatory portrayal of The Duchess of Sussex given credibility by a media outlet. It’s no coincidence that distorted several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining The Duchess are being briefed to the British media shortly before she and The Duke are due to speak openly and honestly about their experience of recent years.“In a detailed legal letter of rebuttal to The Times, we have addressed these defamatory claims in full, including spurious allegations regarding the use of gifts loaned to The Duchess by The Crown. The Duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma. She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Independent
John Brennan says ‘there are so few Republicans in Congress who value truth, honesty, and integrity’
- The Independent
‘Everything is made in China,’ said a business partner behind the six foot replica
The U.S. Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to head the U.S. Commerce Department, the agency that repeatedly sparred with China during the prior administration. Raimondo, a Democrat tapped by President Joe Biden, will oversee the Commerce Department and its bureaus, which have about 46,000 employees. The department includes the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Census, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service and the Foreign Commercial Service.
- Associated Press
The FBI director is declining to comment on the cause of the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed after responding to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and died the next day. FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday the agency is “not at a point” where it can disclose or confirm the cause of death. Wray was responding to a question by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley about how the officer died.
- Associated Press
The Biden administration sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen government entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing. The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration's first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was a favorite of former President Donald Trump even during covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S.
- The Daily Beast
Susan Walsh-Pool/GettyThis week, the campaign committee for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), received ten notices from the Federal Election Commission flagging discrepancies on its books totaling nearly $3 million dollars, and dating back over two years. The campaign claims that the errors slipped through the cracks amid a record fundraising surge, and that it actually has more money on the books now, but experts say that the dollar amount — errors totaling some $2.87 million — may trigger an FEC investigation.The errors also appear connected to newly developed, largely hidden payment systems in the murky world of Republican digital advertising, where vendors not only receive direct spending, but take cuts from fundraising as well.The notices, sent in batches between Feb 28 and March 2, come in reply to more than a dozen amended reports correcting errors that the campaign caught in a sweeping review of filings, going as far back as 2018. One of the filings discloses errors in spending and raising totalling $1,470,286.48.The commission gave the campaign until early April to reply, and the letters say that a failure to “adequately respond” could draw an audit or enforcement action.Campaign spokesperson Kevin Eichinger provided the Daily Beast with a statement spinning the corrections as a positive sign and laying the blame on the campaign’s longtime treasurer, Ohio-based tax and business law specialist James Kordik, who was replaced when Jordan hired Datwyler last July.“The campaign has filed an amendment with the FEC to correct its campaign finance reports going back to 2018. There was never any money missing from the account,” Eichinger said. “In fact, the campaign’s cash balance is actually higher than previously listed on the campaign finance reports. The error occurred when the former campaign treasurer inadvertently double-reported certain fundraising expenses. When the error was discovered, the campaign hired an outside expert to conduct a comprehensive audit and file the appropriate amendments.”Kordik did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The campaign did indeed ramp up its fundraising in 2020. In the 2016 cycle, before Donald Trump was elected, the Jordan campaign received a little over $733,000 and spent about $423,000, according to FEC records. Jordan’s congressional district has long been considered solidly Republican, a seat he has won by at least 60 percent for several cycles. But his profile rose in the Trump years as Jordan regularly appeared in conservative media to burnish his brand as a fierce critic of the Democratic agenda, a strategy that opened the fundraising floodgates.His numbers increased for the 2018 cycle, pulling in $1.24 million and paying out about $1.8 million. But in 2020, they soared: he raked in $18.6 million and spent $13.2 million, and now sits on a $6 million stash. Jordan shelled out more than $12.4 million to finance his own operation, transferring only $180,000 to other committees, mostly to the Ohio GOP.Campaign finance experts say that the errors are significant enough that, if the rising conservative star can’t offer a sound explanation, the FEC will likely refer the matter to its enforcement arm. Such a move would not be publicly disclosed.“Jordan's campaign appears to have had systemic reporting problems over multiple years, and these amendments represent substantial shifts in the campaign's disclosed fundraising and spending,” Brendan Fischer, director of reform at the Campaign Legal Center, told the Daily Beast. “I suspect that the FEC will closely review discrepancies of such a significant amount.”Brett Kappel, campaign finance attorney at Harmon Curran, said that the reports appear “so substantially incorrect” that the FEC may order an audit.“The legal standard to trigger an FEC audit is high: Whether filings meet the threshold for ‘substantial compliance’ with the law,” Kappel explained. “Jordan’s FEC reports were so substantially incorrect over such a long period of time that they may meet the standard.”Jenna Grande, press secretary for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a DC-based nonprofit watchdog, said, “This is a very large amount of money in discrepancies. While there is still much to learn about this situation, Rep. Jordan’s campaign needs to provide a full accounting of what happened and why."The campaign’s current explanation is incomplete, and somewhat contradictory. For instance, it mentions spending errors, but doesn’t explain significant errors in the campaign’s fundraising, which the FEC says was off by a total $1,280,852.36 — nearly half of it in the campaign’s July 2020 quarterly report, Kordik’s final filing. Some amendments show increases in receipts, and some show decreases.Jim Jordan Refuses to Admit Biden Won, Gets Blasted by House ColleagueThe statement also doesn’t appear to account for the appearance of a $20,000 transfer to the Ohio Republican Party made in October 2018, according to one of the amended reports.The confusion may be tied to backdoor vendor payments in GOP digital fundraising setups. On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that shady consulting firms have been taking payments out of fundraising. It amounts to a sort of royalty arrangement: The more money that candidates raise, or the more viral they go, the bigger the cut for the media vendor who made that happen.Those fees were hidden via payments to WinRed, according to the report, which features consulting firm Olympic Media, a vendor that would get a portion of fundraising proceeds collected via the WinRed platform. Some campaigns only reported the WinRed fees, but didn’t separately itemize Olympic’s “royalties” on that fundraising.The report specifically mentions Jordan, who, according to WinRed, “misreported expenses paid to vendors." Indeed, one of Jordan’s amended reports details more than $200,000 in payments to Olympic Media which the original report had not itemized. The campaign’s statement to the Daily Beast points out that Kordik had double-counted “certain fundraising expenses.”According to that statement, Jordan’s massive digital marketing push overwhelmed the 65-year-old Kordik, who appears to have filed a number of erroneous reports in his final two years with Jordan. Those errors appear to overlap directly with the hiring of two firms — WinRed, and Campaign Solutions, a Republican-aligned consulting firm based out of Arlington, Va., also specializing in digital strategy and fundraising. Founded in 2003, the firm pulled in nearly $37 million from Republicans last year, with Jordan accounting for about a third of that amount — that’s about two-thirds of his own fundraising totals.Campaign Solutions also accounts for a number of spending discrepancies.For instance, Jordan tapped Campaign Solutions in the 2018 cycle, paying a total of about $279,000 over about six months, according to OpenSecrets. The FEC flagged around $253,000 combined in two of Jordan’s amended reports from that year: one of them, coverings the weeks after the 2018 election, introduces an extra $109,000 in disbursements to the firm; the other, which accounts for the last five weeks of the year, says that the campaign had actually paid Campaign Solutions $130,000 less in that period than originally reported. That amended year-end report also adds the $20,000 transfer to the Ohio Republican Party.At the time, Datwyler worked at Campaign Solutions as an accountant. He appears to have left sometime in early 2020, before he took up with Jordan, but while he was employed at the fundraising firm he also acted as treasurer for dozens of political committees. His current portfolio comprises 165 committees, nine formed this year, including groups backing high-profile conservatives Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rep. Mike Lee of Utah. In 2020, Datwyler’s firm, 9Seven Consulting, pulled in more than $1 million for FEC compliance services.Notably, Datwyler joined the campaign last July, and was there to receive an FEC notice flagging a number of inconsistencies in Kordik’s final filing. The letter told the campaign that it risked an audit if the FEC did not get a reply by September 8, but fillings indicate that Datwyler never responded. The amended version of that report ended up being by far the most egregious of the bunch, with raising and spending errors of more than $1.47 million.It’s possible that the prospect of that review was too much to undertake at the time, but that would not explain why the campaign appears to have failed even to reply. Datwyler was singled out in a report about so-called “pop-up PACs,” fundraising groups created in the weeks before an election, allowing them to avoid disclosing their donors to the public until the election is over.Caleb Burns, a campaign finance specialist at Wiley Rein, explained that the mistakes can stack up over time. “FEC reports carry-forward financial information to subsequent reports,” he said. “An error detected in an old report can require a fuller accounting and amendments to numerous additional reports.”The FEC regained its quorum — and its ability to take enforcement action — in December. “The FEC commissioners themselves must, ultimately, approve any enforcement action,” Brown said. “The lack of a quorum of commissioners until the end of last year meant that FEC enforcement had stalled. That is no longer the case, though the commissioners have a significant backlog of enforcement matters to address.”An FEC spokesperson declined to comment for this article, citing its policy of not publicly addressing specific matters “for the potential that they may come before the agency in an enforcement capacity.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Week
During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples. The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post's Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more "targeted." In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won't, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn't qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion. The survival checks are one of the most popular government programs in American history. Polls have them at something like 4-1 approval. "Moderation," for Senate Democrats, apparently means breaking their party's promises in the service of unpopular, pointless actions that make their president seem less generous than Donald Trump. More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceMike Pence comes out of hiding to nod towards Trump's election liesCuomo claims kissing is his 'usual and customary' greeting
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
On March 10, Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask mandate will be lifted and businesses can operate at 100% capacity.
- CBS News
The Senate majority leader said that the Senate will take up President Biden's $1.9 trillion relief bill as early as Wednesday night.
- The Telegraph
Nicola Sturgeon chokes back tears as she rejects 'absurd' claims she was out to destroy Alex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon today choked back tears and insisted "I would never have wanted to 'get' Alex Salmond" as she rejected as "absurd" his claims of a plot among senior SNP figures to destroy him. The First Minister told a Holyrood inquiry the "simple" truth was that several women made complaints about Mr Salmond's behaviour and "I refused to follow the usual pattern of allowing a powerful man to use his status and connections to get what he wants." In an appearance spanning more than eight hours, against the backdrop of calls for her resignation, Ms Sturgeon insisted she had seen "nothing that comes within a million miles" of backing Mr Salmond's conspiracy claims. Although she reiterated it was "beyond question" that Mr Salmond had been cleared of all criminal charges, she said his behaviour was still "deeply inappropriate" and "there was not a single word of regret" from him during his six hours of testimony last week. Ms Sturgeon appeared on the verge of tears, with her voice breaking, as she was invited to apologise to the Scottish people for arguing for years they could trust Mr Salmond to take them to independence. Murdo Fraser, a Tory MSP, pressed her when she had decided he "was no longer the Charles Stewart Parnell of Scotland, and was in fact a liar and a fantasist?’"
- The Telegraph
Buckingham Palace is to investigate claims that the Duchess of Sussex bullied several members of her staff, it has been announced. A spokesman said they were “clearly very concerned” about allegations that Meghan, 39, had forced out two PAs and undermined the confidence of a third during her time as a working royal. Aides had expressed concerns about how such matters were handled by the palace, expressing concern that nothing was done at the time to investigate the situation, and that nothing had been done since to protect staff against the possibility of bullying by a member of the Royal Family. Buckingham Palace confirmed that its HR team would now look into the circumstances outlined in various allegations leaked to The Times. It said: “Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.” While the palace did not reveal a timetable for its investigation, it is understood that HR staff hope to begin soon. Any resulting change in policy or procedure will be shared in its annual Sovereign Grant report, which highlights significant changes in operations. The provenance of the leaked allegations caused the battle between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Royal Household to escalate as palace aides branded allegations they had leaked the claims as “untrue” and “disingenuous”. The revelation that Meghan faced several complaints of bullying from members of her own staff also thwarted hopes of a reconciliation between Prince Harry and Prince William. Instead, the disclosures about the Duchess’s behaviour provoked another bitter war of words, as palace aides sought to distance themselves from the leak and staff on both sides scrambled to establish who was responsible. The claims are thought to have been carefully and deliberately collated, with multiple sources briefing against her. Jason Knauf, the Sussexes’ communications secretary at the time, submitted a formal complaint in October 2018, describing her treatment of one employee as “totally unacceptable.” He added: “ The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights.” The Sussexes are convinced that senior Buckingham Palace aides leaked the allegations as part of an orchestrated defence because they are “nervous” about revelations made in their forthcoming Oprah Winfrey interview, to be broadcast in the US on Sunday. A source close to the couple said they had “no doubt” it was part of an orchestrated smear campaign. They added: “It’s not possible for this to have happened without the acknowledgement or understanding, perhaps a gentle nod or a wink, from someone pretty central or senior at the palace. “How could a junior member of staff have pulled this altogether? This was a clear collaboration. There is a motive and it is connected to Sunday.” One source noted: “There are very few people who would have had all of the information that is in this story.” The Duchess, while not denying that she did face bullying complaints, was said to be “devastated” by the revelations. Aides said that although there was no desire to deny how other people felt, the fact that former colleagues felt compelled to compile “a whole list of terrible things” that took place over two years, was understandably distressing. As furious briefings and counter briefings were made, a senior palace aide branded the allegation that Buckingham Palace had been “pedalling a wholly false narrative” as “untrue and disingenuous.” They said: “There are far more important things we have been focused on than the circus around a media interview.” The source pointed out that the leak did not reflect well on the palace, adding: “It made uncomfortable reading and we can’t deny that.” Questions were also being asked about palace employees being asked to sign non disclosure agreements. The atmosphere at Kensington Palace was said to be so "febrile" that the Cambridges chose to accelerate the planned split between the two households. One member of the Sussexes’ staff acknowledged that life at Kensington Palace at the time was “frantic” and “a bit of a pressure cooker”. In a statement released in response to the allegations, a spokesman for Meghan said: “The Duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma. "She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good." The Duchess has vowed to donate the damages from her recent legal victory against the Mail on Sunday to an anti-bullying charity. The amount she will receive has not yet been decided but, in respect of the breach of copyright claim, will be linked to the newspaper’s “account of profits” made from the publication of extracts of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. However, it will now create a dilemma for whichever charity is chosen as the recipient will be forced to decide whether it could accept the money from someone who had herself been the subject of such accusations.
- Business Insider
The Trumps are trying to sell a Florida home for $49 million after buying it from the former president's sister for $18 million in 2018
Eric Trump tweeted a listing for a home that the family is trying to sell through a limited liability company for more than twice its 2018 value.
- Associated Press
Capitol Police say they have uncovered intelligence of a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's victory. The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4. The announcement comes as the Capitol police and other law enforcement agencies are taking heat from Congress in contentious hearings this week on their handling of the Jan. 6 riot.
- Miami Herald
The arrest of Paul Nicholas Miller by FBI agents at his Fort Lauderdale home Tuesday morning on a pedestrian charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon seems a minor thing for the feds to make a point of announcing.
Trevor Lawrence is widely expected to be selected first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. After that, things get interesting.
In some of his most extensive remarks since Jan. 6, former Vice President Mike Pence wrote an op-ed Wednesday condemning House Democrats' sweeping election and anti-corruption proposal as an "unconstitutional power grab" by "leftists."Why it matters: Pence has largely stayed quiet since the Capitol insurrection, during which rioters were heard chanting "hang Mike Pence" after former President Trump promoted the claim that the vice president could block the certification of the Electoral College.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.The big picture: Writing in The Daily Signal, Pence repeated dubious claims that the 2020 election was "marked by significant voting irregularities."Be smart: While some irregularities occur in every election, state and federal officials have vouched for the election's security and integrity.Lawsuits challenging election results have been rejected by courts across the country, including the Supreme Court.What they're saying: "Polling shows that large numbers of Democrats did not trust the outcome of the 2016 election and that large numbers of Republicans still do not trust the outcome of the 2020 election," Pence wrote.Pence called the Democrats' reform bill, which the House will pass on Wednesday, "an unconstitutional, reckless, and anti-democratic bill that ... could permanently damage our republic." "Leftists not only want you powerless at the ballot box," wrote the former vice president, "they want to silence and censor anyone who would dare to criticize their unconstitutional power grab."Details: The Democrats' "For the People Act" first introduced in 2019, has provisions to restore voting rights for felons, expand early and absentee voting, set national standards for early voting and voter registration, allow voters to register online or on Election Day and prevent voter purges.Pence argued that the bill would undercut efforts to reform elections at the state and local levels. He wrote that the bill "mandates the most questionable and abuse-prone election rules nationwide, while banning commonsense measures to detect, deter, and prosecute election fraud."The bottom line: Pence called the events of Jan. 6 "tragic" and said they "deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America." He did not once mention the name "Trump."Go deeper: Democrats' sweeping reform bill Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
- National Review
If, in 1987, the editorial boards of the major newspapers learned that a fanatical cult of angry moral scolds, representing a small sliver of the population, was successfully campaigning to remove books from the public eye with the not-so-subtle encouragement of the president and his political allies, they would have been outraged. In fact, liberal pundits were outraged — by far-less disturbing developments than these — and in the Nineties, they were re-enraged by suggestions that even the most deliberately offensive art should not enjoy a public subsidy, nor scarce space among museum displays. So, what changed? The Left used to be against banishing books, banning books, burning books. Now, scarcely a week goes by without some breathtaking new advance in its campaign to bury this or that book in order that the public might never be infected with its ideas. Just six years ago, when Barack Obama was publicly praising Dr. Seuss on March 2, Read Across America Day — a day specifically chosen by the National Education Association to honor Theodor Geisel’s birthday — you would have called me a paranoid wingnut if I had told you that books such as On Beyond Zebra! would soon be yanked from bookshelves across America at the behest of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yesterday, that’s exactly what happened. The memory of (perhaps) the single most beloved author in America was insulted by having that title and five others pulled as an anti-birthday present and the traditional presidential mention of Dr. Seuss on a day built around his work was absent. It was as if all mentions of George Washington were scrubbed from the official celebration of President’s Day. (That’ll never happen, though. Not until at least 2022.) Geisel’s illustrations sometimes strayed into awkward racial stereotypes, but it is a massive stretch to label them “racist.” “Racist” implies racial hatred. As Geisel’s stepdaughter put it, “There wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body.” The body of his work identifies him as a progressive humanist, undoubtedly a man of the Left, who lampooned various kinds of prejudice. Some of his stories, notably The Sneetches, are brilliant allegories about the stupidity and vileness of racism. Dan McLaughlin points out in his excellent essay that most of the six books yanked by Dr. Seuss Enterprises seem to have been targeted for trivial details that only the most hypersensitive hysteric would deem “hurtful and wrong,” as the Seuss outfit now labels them, declining to specify exactly what it finds offensive. McElligot’s Pool seems to have been nixed simply because of a harmless drawing of an Eskimo; On Beyond Zebra! for its depiction of a proud-looking camel-riding Arab nobleman, dubbed Nazzim of Bazzim. The Dr. Seuss books stand accused both of depicting too many white people and for including non-white people in its blithe comical sensibility. Our friends on the left are ridiculing conservatives for defending Dr. Seuss’s work; this tendency isn’t censorship, they point out. (No, but it was college roommates with censorship, and they played a lot of hacky sack together.) It’s a private company’s decision, they say. Yes, but it’s a private company whose strings are being pulled by an alarming cultural regime that wields immense power despite being opposed by most people. You racists only like Dr. Seuss now that he’s been revealed to be racist, racists. But Geisel very obviously wasn’t a racist, and ordinary sensible people object to huge swaths of imagery and speech being retroactively classified as racist, just as we find it ridiculous that it is becoming hard to have a mature discussion about anything from math to Muppets without some hysteric poisoning the wells of discourse with a claim of racism. This isn’t cancel culture, it’s a company withdrawing its legal property from circulation, and anyway there are 50-odd Seuss books that remain in print. Though the word “cancel” is, like “snowflake,” becoming so trite as to be on the verge of uselessness, what single better word is there for forcing books out of print because they supposedly offended someone, rather than due to lack of sales? This is simply good cultural hygiene, and slippery slopes are a myth, critics say, as the mountain turns to mud and slides into the ocean. Reports the Los Angeles Times: “The Cat in the Hat, one of Seuss’ most popular books, has received criticism, too, but will continue to be published for now.” For now. Note that the six withdrawn Seuss books are lesser titles; the Woke Brigades for Cultural Sanitation haven’t come for the really beloved ones yet. But they’re just getting warmed up, aren’t they? No one who acquires immense power ever says, “I’ve had enough of control now.” Babar the Elephant, Curious George, Little House on the Prairie, et al. are now in the crosshairs. The progressive Left enjoys greater control over the educational establishment than any other institution, and it senses an opportunity to revise the canon of young people’s literature so that every title in it advances the propaganda imperatives of today. The Sneetches, for instance, rings with Civil-Rights-era idealism by saying it’s silly to pay attention to race when we’re all the same underneath the skin. Today, that is now a right-wing vision of race. The Left today obsessively focuses on race with the purpose of apportioning good things according to the accident of skin color rather than the content of people’s character. Once the educational establishment has fully turned its guns against Laura Ingalls Wilder, it’s a short step to getting her removed from libraries, then bounced from Amazon. As the shelf of America’s children gets emptied of the classics and the boringly nonpolitical stuff, it is being busily restocked with books that overtly advance the activist Left’s agenda on illegal immigration, “white privilege,” capitalism, and everything else. I’m old enough to remember when liberals saw looming Christian theocracy as the most pernicious threat to liberal values, and when banning books was the single most horrible manifestation of that tendency that they could imagine. Now that we’re in the early days of the establishment of a woke theocracy, they’re eagerly looking for more books to throw on the cultural bonfire. Look out, The Cat in the Hat. There’s a fable promoting Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax that’s eager to take your place.
- Business Insider
Dr. Fauci has a stunningly simple way to explain how Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine differs from Pfizer's and Moderna's shots
All three of the COVID-19 shots authorized for use in the US train the body to recognize the coronavirus, but J&J's uses a cold virus instead of mRNA.
- National Review
‘In Scandinavia, we have no poverty,” a Swedish economist once told Milton Friedman. “That’s interesting, because among Scandinavians in America we have no poverty, either,” Friedman supposedly responded. I think about this interaction whenever I see progressive arguments about imaginary Scandinavian utopias, such as this one from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: It is utterly embarrassing that “pay people enough to live” is a stance that’s even up for debate. Override the parliamentarian and raise the wage. McD’s workers in Denmark are paid $22/hr + 6 wks paid vacation. $15/hr is a deep compromise – a big one, considering the phase in. — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 3, 2021 The most obvious problem with Ocasio-Cortez’s contention is that Denmark, like other Scandinavian nations, doesn’t have a statutory minimum wage. Industries and workers engage in sector-by-sector salary negotiations, which might well undermine intra-industry competition, but which is a much better idea than the flat national-wage floor being peddled by Democrats. So, this popular progressive talking point about Denmark’s miracle middle-class fast-food worker doesn’t make much sense to begin with. Especially when one considers that the per-capita median income in the United States is virtually the same as in Denmark — quite a feat given that we’re a pluralistic nation of around 330 million people that naturalizes another 900,000 people every year, many from poor nations, and that Denmark is a homogeneous country of fewer than 6 million citizens that, in recent years, has effectively shut down its borders to poor immigrants. Denmark’s generous welfare state is propped up by shared social and cultural norms, and institutions that are habitually reviled by American progressives: unimpeded international trade, low regulatory burdens on business, and sometimes oil and gas checks — Denmark and Norway are Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producers. (On that note, I have a book coming out later this year debunking many of the left-wing’s mythologies about European supremacy.) Then there is the matter of what exactly $45,000 — the salary an employee making $22 an hour on a full-time basis would earn — means in each country. Denmark can afford its system because high taxes are paid by all its citizens, not just the wealthy. Not only do Danish fast-food employees making $45,000 hand over around half their earnings to the government, they pay a 25 percent value-added tax on most purchases, as well as a number of other levies. In return, Danes are afforded all kinds of government-provided services. Presumably, Ocasio-Cortez approves of this arrangement. Either way, Americans whose eyes light up at the prospect of making $22 per hour should know that nearly $11 of that goes straight to the state. Further, how much does a hamburger cost in Denmark? Spoiler: considerably more. If the federal government forced fast-food chains to start paying employees $22 per hour, and giving them six weeks paid vacation, and health care, and all the other goodies that progressive want to compel companies to offer, American consumers should be prepared to pay more for food or to be served by robots. The last time there was a push for a $15 minimum wage, in 2015-2016, McDonald’s quickly rolled out a touchscreen self-service kiosk makeover. Since then, that technology has only gotten better — and cheaper. Big chains like to offer up rhetoric that pleases the activist Left, but in the end, they are not charities but businesses with stakeholders. And profits matter. Now, I understand that socialists would be happy creating a permanent proletariat that is reliant on government to fix their wages and dictate all benefits. And, certainly, there is nothing demeaning about taking a job at a fast-food restaurant. For many young people it’s a temporary stop where they can take on responsibility for the first time and earn some money. For others, who need these jobs, it offers flexible hours and part-time work. Most people do not make careers out of working at Wendy’s. Fast-food chains have massive employee turnover rates. Some experience a 100 percent turnover every year. The other day, Ocasio-Cortez, argued that, “[w]hen we keep the minimum wage artificially low, it’s at a huge cost to our government . . . they’re essentially enormous subsidies to Walmart.” The notion that Ocasio-Cortez is apprehensive about government subsidies is, of course, risible. But she’s also wrong. Walmart, which revolutionized shopping by offering millions of low-income Americans affordable goods (progressives never mention that part of the equation), recently increased its internal minimum wage to $13-$19 per hour for most workers, while Amazon, Target, and Costco have raised their minimum wages to $15 per hour. Is this a good idea? We’ll see. As Thomas Sowell once pithily noted, all public policy is about tradeoffs. The increases will help some workers, no doubt. But they will also cost jobs, either by leading to less overall hiring or by forcing consumers to pay “artificially” high prices, rather than spending the difference elsewhere. Ocasio-Cortez’s rhetoric implies that there is something artificial about a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour but nothing artificial about a minimum wage of $15. This is ridiculous. The only non-artificial minimum wage is zero — which, incidentally, is what the 1.4 million people the CBO says would lose work due to a $15 national minimum wage will be making if AOC’s side of the argument wins.