Dear Reader (Including those of you patiently awaiting Lord Xenu’s return),
As I’ve mentioned a few times, one of my favorite scenes in On Golden Pond is when Tony Montana is driving an assassin around Manhattan to kill a crusading politician before the do-gooder can give a speech at the U.N. Long story short, Tony has a rule about not killing kids. (After all, as Omar says in Muppets Take Manhattan, “A man’s got to have a code.”) The assassin doesn’t care, so Tony shoots him in the face, then says to the not yet suppurating maw where his face once was, “I told you, no f---ing kids! No, but you wouldn't listen, why, you stupid f--k, look at you now.”
I bring this up because I think I need to take my Prevagen® for “Memory and Brain Support”—the secret is an ingredient originally found in jellyfish! And we all know jellyfish have really terrific memories. Have you ever seen a jellyfish wandering around a parking lot after a concert or football game wondering where he parked? I rest my case.
No seriously, I’m fascinated by those ads because of the way they say “jellyfish”; they make it sound like it should have been obvious all along that there would be a memory enhancing substance in jellyfish. If the same ad touted an ingredient originally found in, say, sparrow beaks or Komodo dragon spit it wouldn’t be remotely plausible. But jellyfish? That’s the 7 Minute Abs of good ideas.
Anyway, another reason I bring this up: It occurred to me yesterday that I never had my chance to gloat about, you know, being proven right about Donald Trump. Kevin Williamson took his victory lap this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie Sykes woke up in a hotel bathtub in Cabo, covered in spooled up $100 bills from partying so hard.
For years, I waited for my moment to say, “You stupid f---s, look at you now!” Sure, I could still have my intern scour my library of receipts like Sam Tarly at the Citadel library, pulling down volume after volume of I-told-you-so fodder, so full the bindings groan like the buttons on my prom tuxedo pants when I try them on. But now it kinda feels like the moment has passed.
And, yes, I know that people who don’t want to be reminded they were wrong think all I do is gloat (and if you’re sick of hearing about Trump, feel free to scroll down to the next section). I know this, because many of them tell me as much. Well, take my word for it, I have shown heroic restraint.
One reason I haven’t unloaded is that it seemed inappropriate when the full outrage of January 6 was still to be revealed (and I suspect we haven’t heard it all yet). While Trump’s behavior was a perfect fulfillment of my “character is destiny” mantra, it felt exploitative to dunk on people before the dead were buried.
If the siege never happened, and all we had were his lies about the election and his myriad corrupt pardons, it would have been easier to dance the dance of vindication and sing the song of I-told-you-so.
But the main reason I haven’t rained honeycrisps all over the political battle space just so I could say, “How do you like them apples?” is that vast swaths of the right still don’t see that they were wrong about anything.
Nearly all the usual suspects are like little kids who like to play with matches, despite constant warnings not to, standing in front of the smoldering ashes of their own home. When you say, “Do you understand now?” They’re like, “What? What’s the big deal?”
Worse, they’re constantly whining about how everything is so unfair. Newt Gingrich is blathering about how Democrats want to “exterminate” Republicans. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are pretending they were right all along, and Jim Jordan is spewing nonsense about how impeachment is the apotheosis of unjust cancel culture. Hell, Bill Bennett is demanding that Biden “apologize” for Trump’s first impeachment (and stop the unjust and divisive second one). I am unaware of Bill saying that Trump has anything to apologize for in the events that got him impeached either time—or for anything else. My friend Bill Bennett—The author of The Death of Outrage, The Book of Virtues, The Moral Compass, The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood, et al.—looks upon Donald Trump, consults his clipboard of virtue, and says, “Yep. This checks out.”
Not since (the often unfairly maligned) Herbert Hoover has a president delivered the trifecta of losing the White House, the Senate, and the House after a single term. Yet, to listen to the primetime apologists and their enabling coteries, it is Donald Trump who is owed an apology from Democrats and unceasing effusions of praise from Republicans. And unlike Kevin Bacon saying,“Thank you sir, may I have another!” through gritted teeth, these people seem to really mean it.
My point is that while there’s plenty to gloat about, I don’t feel like gloating (much), because these people are taking all the fun out of it by doubling down on many of the worst aspects of Trumpism, starting with an utter denial that they did—or are doing—anything wrong. It’s one thing to dance in the end zone and celebrate a win. But when the losing team and its fans call the scoreboard “fake news” and just keep bleating about how they didn’t really lose, or that the game was rigged, or that they did nothing wrong when they told their fans to storm the field and wreck the place, gloating is robbed of some of its luster. And when good sportsmanship is redefined as pretending the losers were in fact cheated, anger is hard to keep at bay.
It is a prudential question whether going through with impeachment is the right call. As for the question of principle—whether his conduct was impeachable—I hope you didn’t leave anything in that case, because it’s closed. The mob could have stood in silent vigil around the Capitol, holding Trump-musk scented candles, and what he did would still be worthy of impeachment.
We don’t need to get into all that again, but listening to the Lindsey Graham Chorus insist that the path to unity is kowtowing to the minority of Americans who don’t want him impeached makes me want to eat Tide Pods. It’d be one thing if Graham himself gave a rat’s ass about unity, but he doesn’t. Instead, he always claims the real issue is Biden’s hypocrisy because Biden says he wants unity. One wonders what Lindsey would say if Biden simply wanted justice and accountability? It’s just another example of conservatives borrowing liberal principles because they forgot their own. And I don’t mean he’s borrowing liberal principles because he believes in them. No, he just wants to use a principle he doesn’t care about to claim that someone else is hypocritical. Because liberal hypocrisy—which is real, of course—is the only thing these people know how to get angry about now.
Speaking of hypocrisy, that reminds me: One nice thing about this return to normalcy is we get to complain about normal asininity again. Like dogs returning to their vomit, liberals are returning to the argument that the legislative filibuster is racist.
Now, it’s true that the filibuster was used by segregationist Democrats to block civil rights legislation. It wasn’t, however, invented by segregationists for that purpose—it was a preexisting mechanism they exploited. But let’s say it was invented by racists to protect slavery or Jim Crow laws. Would that mean it’s still racist today?
As I’ve pointed out countless times, minimum wage laws were promulgated by progressive economists and other intellectuals a century ago for racist and eugenic ends. As E.A. Ross famously said, the “coolie cannot outdo the American but he can underlive him.” The idea was that “subhumans” could afford lower wages than “decent white folks” could. Guarantee a white man’s wage and you’ll get only white workers. Should we abolish the minimum wage?
Personally, I think the case that the minimum wage can have serious negative consequences that disproportionately affect blacks and other minorities has some merit. But that’s an argument for another time (maybe I’ll talk about it on my podcast today). But not for a moment do I think the liberals who push the minimum wage have racist intent, which is why I don’t go around calling Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders racist for wanting to hike it to $15 an hour.
The point being that an idea or policy or rule can have racist origins or history and not be racist anymore. For all I know the slaves who built the pyramids were intrinsically linked to innovations in masonry. That doesn’t mean masonry has the mark of Cain. Or let’s take the mostly ridiculous argument—that spread like wildfire last summer—that policing in America was born as slave patrolling. Let’s say it’s 100 percent true. Would that mean the Atlanta PD is a thoroughly racist institution, never mind so racist that it should be abolished? Woodrow Wilson was a racist who regretted that the South lost the Civil War. He also signed the law creating the Federal Reserve. That doesn’t make the Federal Reserve a Klavern.
So, let’s get back to the filibuster. This Jim Crow filibuster thing isn’t an argument, it’s marketing. Slap a racist label on something and ta-da! It’s no longer legitimate. Yes, it’s true Strom Thurmond set a record with his failed 24 hour, 18 minute filibuster of civil rights legislation in 1957. That was racist. You know who’s record he broke? Oregon Sen. Wayne Morse who, in 1953, spoke for longer than 22 hours against Tidelands Oil legislation. Was that racist? Do you watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and think, “Man, I can’t believe that Jimmy Stewart played a racist”?
Last summer, Democrats killed a police reform bill authored by a black Republican senator, Tim Scott, by threatening to filibuster it. Were they racists?
There are serious arguments for getting rid of the filibuster. I’m not persuaded by them, nor am I persuaded by the claims by Ezra Klein and others that doing away with it will cure polarization. But it’s certainly true that the filibuster wasn’t part of the Founders’ original design. Though that’s a hard data point for people screeching about the eternal transitive property of racism to deploy in their favor. After all, they use similar flimsy claims to argue for the abolishment of the Electoral College—the same allegedly racist Electoral College that Democrats boasted about being on their side until 2016. They say the Founders created the Electoral College to protect slavery, and that therefore it’s illegitimate. Again, that’s not true. But if you think it is, how far down the field do you get by boasting that the same racist Founders never intended the filibuster?
I spent five years pushing back on the bogus claim that the system was rigged if it didn’t yield the results Trump wanted. I see no reason to show any more sympathy for the bogus claim that the system is racist if Democrats don’t get what they want.
Various & Sundry
Animal update: Okay, I have a story. Yesterday I came home after a brief trip out to write my column and smoke a cigar (heated seats, baby!). I had forgotten to lock the door to the back yard, which I rarely do because Pippa has figured out how to, velociraptor-like, pull the handle down and open it. So I came home to a very cold house, with the backyard door open. I greeted the welcoming committee and closed the door.
Some of you may recall me telling you about the very masculine Chester, our neighbor’s cat. Chester is the alpha cat of our block, though Gracie would never concede any questioning of her sovereignty. Chester loves to prowl around our house and troll our cats like Frank Burns taunting Hawkeye when Hawkeye was confined to quarters (“I can go in, I can go out”). It’s gotten worse of late because the Fair Jessica has taken to giving him treat.s (My wife is one of the toughest women I’ve ever known, but give her an opportunity to feed an animal and she turns into a 5-year-old girl).
Anyway, about 40 minutes later, I hear the sort of “meeeeooooowwr” that is usually prelude to a wine-soaked donnybrook on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, i.e., a cat fight. I leapt up, which instantly ignited the dogs into the sort of frenzy you’d expect at the basement office at the Pentagon when responding to an alien invasion: long tedium suddenly interrupted by “It’s happening!” mayhem. I look over in the corner of the kitchen to see Chester inside the house, with a full, “What are you gonna do about it?” expression. I have no idea how long he was inside the perimeter since I don’t know when Pippa opened the door in the first place. Both cats—presumably the source of the “I can’t believe you slept with my pool boy!”-quality “meeeeeooowwrr”—were 10 feet away wondering why I hadn’t tazed Chester yet. I ran to the back door, opened it, and—defying thousands of years of accumulated civilizational wisdom—tried to reason with Chester. “Go!” I pleaded. And, as if on command, Pippa immediately ran out, expecting to play fetch.
The unfortunate consequence of this was Chester’s only exit was now blocked, Pippa playing the unmovable canine Scylla, to Chester’s Charybdis, or Odie to Chester’s Garfield. Chester leapt up on the windowsill and tried to escape along the back of the bench. Zoë, who I had by the collar, was fuming. She glared at me like she was Bruce Wayne when the Joker crashes his party, and I was Alfred whispering, “Don’t do it, Master Wayne.” I grabbed her by the collar and decided to take advantage of what my wife’s bleeding heart had wrought and dragged the Dingo with me—lest she exercise her duties as Lord Protector of the Treat & Scritch Givers—as I sprinted to the counter to get some cat treats in the hope I could entreat Chester to follow them after flinging them outside. But when I turned back, Chester was … gone. I hoped he vanished out the door, but I didn’t know.
I had to delay taking the dogs out for a half hour search as I turned into Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. I told all four quadrupeds: “What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard target search of every couch, cabinet, bathroom, bedroom, playroom, litter box, and scratching post in the area.” The dogs were into it. The cats were fine with delegating. I didn’t find him. But all night I worried that Chester was John McClane-ing it in my own Nakatomi Plaza, peeing “Ho Ho Ho” on my best suits. I expected to wake up to Chester splayed, legs akimbo, shouting “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Biped!” as he pounced on my face.
I spotted him this morning on our front step, wondering where my wife was.
Other than that, everybody is fine. They don’t know that the Fair Jessica and my daughter Lucy are returning in the morning, a fact that has me so giddy that Morgan Freeman should be narrating my day.
And now, the weird stuff