Patterico's Pontifications

1/17/2022

NBA Owner: Nobody Cares about the Uyghurs [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:41 pm



[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE 1/18/22: It turns out the Warriors did release a statement on Mr. Palihapitiya’s obnoxious comments. Silly me: I was looking for it on the team’s website yesterday when I should have known that these days all this kind of stuff is exclusive to Twitter. Anyway, here it is:

—- Original Post —-
We have discussed in the past the National Basketball Association’s craven and corrupt attitude regarding their partnership with China in light of the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur people, a Turkic-Muslim ethnic group which activists claim the Chinese government is systematically trying to eradicate via internment, control of child-bearing, and perhaps even liquidation. The outgoing Trump Administration formally characterized China’s actions against the Uyghur people as genocide, and to it’s credit, the Biden Administration has not yet publicly walked-back that characterization (what the Biden Administration might be telling China privately is another matter).

It soon became clear that the NBA, as well as some of its most prominent and outspoken social justice figures such as stars LeBron James and James Harden along with coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, were not too willing to cogitate on the ethics of doing business ($5 billion worth, according to reports) with the sort of government which would treat its Uyghur citizens in such a harsh manner (not to mention China’s thuggish smothering of Hong Kong). This while they continued to yammer on about all of the far more complicated and nuanced events occurring here at home, even when their observations were proven to be premature, uninformed, and insipid. And though the NBA has quietly suffered through the criticisms of the league and its stars from within its own ranks as well as from the general public, they have yet to truly address the conundrum of being an achingly woke sports league while still doing business with tyrants and thugs — a conundrum that other billion-dollar U.S. businesses are facing, with most of them opting for profit over principle.

So it should come as no surprise that earlier today an investor in an NBA franchise, Chamath Palihapitiya of the Golden State Warriors, made explicit the notion that his own political priorities do not include challenging the autocratic Chinese government:

Golden State Warriors owner Chamath Palihapitiya suggested recently that “nobody cares” about China’s system of concentration camps, forced labor, and high-tech surveillance against the Uyghur community in Xinjiang.

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay,” Palihapitiya said during an appearance on the All-In podcast. “You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

He went on to list other issues that occupy his focus, including climate change, the potential economic fallout of China invading Taiwan, and U.S. stores not having stocked shelves. The Warriors part-owner said that if America is able to find solutions to all of its own issues then he might shift focus to the oppression of the Uyghurs.

Palihapitiya is the founder and CEO of Social Capital, a venture capital fund whose self-declared mission is “to advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems.”

One would be forgiven for assuming that instead of “solving the world’s hardest problems,” Social Capital was really only interested in finding a way to profit from the world’s most trendy and exploitable problems. Chamath Palihapitiya was born in Sri Lanka but emigrated as a small boy with his family as refugees and ended up in Canada. Trained as an electrical engineer, he instead went into investment banking and was lucky enough to land at Facebook early on where he apparently developed a reputation for controversial product developments as well as being a tyrant of a boss. Despite the impression left by the phrasing the National Review article used, Mr. Palihapitiya can’t truly be considered the owner of the Golden State Warriors; he holds a minority investment stake in the team and thus serves on the board of directors for the franchise. But given some of the controversial comments made earlier by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, it’s not a stretch to conclude that Mr. Palihapitiya’s views about the Uyghur situation are fairly representative of a large swath of NBA ownership.

You can hear Mr. Palihapitiya’s views in his own words in the video embedded below:

The entire podcast is found here. It probably won’t come as a surprise to know that Mr. Palihapitiya also pushes the debunked idea that the CDC admits 75% of all COVID deaths have been people with four or more co-morbidities, that he believes there aren’t any laws against insider trading for members of Congress, and that he holds the requisite Bay Area/Silicon Valley billionaire positions on climate change, policing in minority communities, the operations of our prisons, and the like.

Again, Mr. Palihapitiva is not a majority owner of an NBA franchise, merely a minority stakeholder and a member of a franchise’s governing board. But given his professed beliefs on a topic which has thus far vexed NBA leadership (through, unfortunately, not as much as it should) it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the league has to say in response.

– JVW

1/14/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:38 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s get started!

First news item

What a time to be alive:

TikTok stars are dancing their way to the bank. Some are making more than America’s top chief executives.

Charli D’Amelio, who started posting videos of herself dancing on TikTok in 2019, brought in $17.5 million last year, according to Forbes, which recently ranked the highest-earning TikTok stars of 2021. With 133 million followers on TikTok, she makes her money from a clothing line and promoting products in TikTok videos and other ads…Ms. D’Amelio’s compensation was higher than several CEOs of big publicly traded companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. ’s Darren Woods ($15.6 million in 2020), Starbucks Corp.’s Kevin Johnson ($14.7 million), Delta Air Lines Inc. ’s Ed Bastian ($13.1 million) and McDonald’s Corp. ’s Chris Kempczinski ($10.8 million), according to the Journal’s analysis of their recent compensation figures.

Second news item

Here it is:

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, and 10 other members or associates have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, authorities said Thursday…The indictment alleges Oath Keepers for weeks discussed trying to overturn the election results and preparing for a siege by purchasing weapons and setting up battle plans. They repeatedly wrote in chats about the prospect of violence and the need, as Rhodes allegedly wrote in one text, “to scare the s—-out of” Congress. And on Jan. 6, the indictment alleges, they entered the Capitol building with the large crowds of rioters who stormed past police barriers and smashed windows, injuring dozens of officers and sending lawmakers running…Authorities have said the Oath Keepers and their associates worked as if they were going to war, discussing weapons and training. Days before the attack, one defendant suggested in a text message getting a boat to ferry weapons across the Potomac River to their “waiting arms,” prosecutors say.

Rhodes’ attorney, John Mosely, said the group was under the “fanciful idea that Trump was going to activate them as a militia under the insurrection act.”

Third news item

President Biden’s strategery in action: attacking the Senators whose votes he desperate needs:

“Will you stand against election subversion? Yes or no? . . . Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace ? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor ? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

Observation:

When national Democrats talk to the country they always seem to be talking to themselves. They are of the left, as is their constituency, which wins the popular vote in presidential elections; the mainstream media through which they send their messages is of the left; the academics, historians and professionals they consult are of the left. They get in the habit of talking to themselves, in their language, in a single, looped conversation. They have no idea how they sound to the non-left, so they have no idea when they are damaging themselves. But this week in Georgia Mr. Biden damaged himself. And strengthened, and may even have taken a step in unifying, the non-Democrats who are among their countrymen, and who are in fact the majority of them.

Biden’s polling has certainly taken a hit, and his latest attack hasn’t helped matters:

It’s hard to know how this all factors into Biden’s job approval rating, but broadly speaking, the public is dissatisfied. And it has been for a while now, too, as Biden’s approval rating has hovered in the low 40s for nearly three months, with roughly 42 percent of Americans currently approving of his job performance and 51 percent disapproving, according to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker.

Looking back at recent presidents, this development is particularly troubling for Biden, as he has the second-lowest approval rating of any president one-year in. Only Donald Trump, whose approval rating was in the high 30s, had a lower rating.1

Also:

[A] new Quinnipiac poll showed the usual low Biden numbers, but, most pertinently, that 49% of respondents say he is doing more to divide the country, and only 42% see him as unifying it.

You can read the White House’s pushback against the Quinnipiac poll here.

But clearly, no matter what nonsense President Biden spouts, Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema aren’t playing:

Also, thinking of JVW – here is his Little Aloha Sweetie’s response to Biden’s divisive speech as well:

Fourth news item

Cyberattack in Ukraine:

A massive cyberattack warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect the worst” hit government websites late on Thursday, leaving some websites inaccessible on Friday morning and prompting Kyiv to open an investigation.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters it was too early to say who could be behind the attack but said Russia had been behind similar strikes in the past.

The cyberattack, which hit the foreign ministry, the cabinet of ministers and the security and defence council among others, comes as Kyiv and its allies have sounded the alarm about a possible new Russian military offensive against Ukraine.

Related:

The US has information that indicates Russia has prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine, a US official told CNN on Friday, in an attempt to create a pretext for an invasion.

The official said the US has evidence that the operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces.
The allegation echoes a statement released by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense on Friday, which said that Russian special services are preparing provocations against Russian forces in an attempt to frame Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted at the intelligence during a briefing with reporters on Thursday.

Fifth news item

California sees big exodus from state:

California, however, bled outbound citizens so badly, it broke U-Haul’s ability to measure — because the company ran out of trucks to rent:

“California is 50th and Illinois 49th on the list for the second consecutive year, indicating those states once again witnessed the largest net losses of one-way U-Haul trucks. . . . California remained the top state for out-migration, but its net loss of U-Haul trucks wasn’t as severe as in 2020. That can be partially attributed to the fact that U-Haul simply ran out of inventory to meet customer demand for outbound equipment.”

The Democratic supermajority continues to give a lot of Californians reasons to leave. On top of unspeakable levels of traffic congestion, outrageous home prices, exorbitant taxes, crumbling infrastructure, etc., etc., moves like this certainly don’t help encourage a large segment of the population to remain in state:

California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed Monday providing health care coverage to all immigrants, legal and illegal.

This move is part of a statewide effort to reduce its number of uninsured residents, which has shown success. The largest group of people that remains insured by the state’s Medicaid program is people of lower incomes in the United States illegally.

According to a legislative analysis, filling this gap would cost the state $2.4 billion annually. Newsom plans to use a surplus in the state’s $286.4 billion budget to cover this.

And I’ll just leave this here too:

Sixth news item

Better plan ahead if you get Covid-19:

The federal website where Americans can request free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders on Wednesday as the White House looks to address nationwide shortages, but supplies will be limited to just four free tests per home.

Starting on Jan. 19, the website COVIDTests.gov will provide tests at no cost, including no shipping fee, the White House announced Friday.

But Americans shouldn’t expect a rapid turn-around on the orders and they will have to plan ahead and request the tests well before they meet federal guidelines for when to use a test.

The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” through the U.S. Postal Service, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its first-class package service in the continental United States.

Of course, most people with mild-moderate symptoms typically recover within a few weeks, so… On a side note, I went through a drive-thru PCR/rapid testing site last week. I was there 30 mins before they opened, 8th in line. (When I left, the line was three blocks long). It was well organized and easy to get through. From when I swabbed to when I received a text with my results (Neg.) was about 30 minutes. 24 hours later, I received PCR results.

Seventh news item

What??:

As crews cleaned the US Capitol on January 7, 2021, the phone lines in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office began to ring.

Rioters were calling “asking whether there was a lost and found because they forgot their phone there, or they left their purse or what have you,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told Insider on Friday.

Police officers quickly took down information from the callers, Raskin said.

“The officers quickly got on the phone and said, yeah, just give us your name, your address, your social, you know, and we’ll tie up these loose ends,” Raskin said. “But what’s so fascinating to me about that there really were people who felt as if they had been summoned to Washington by the president.”

Eighth news item

Beware the Kraken:

…people close to BILL and HILLARY CLINTON said the former first couple sees it as an opportunity to insert themselves back into political life.

The intra-party divisions have given them a chance to flex their centrist, dealmaking brand of politics as a way to move the party forward.

Bill Clinton has relished the opportunity to whip on behalf of the White House. In addition to pressing Manchin on the filibuster, Clinton suggested that he should salvage Build Back Better by zeroing in on the few elements the West Virginia senator really wants.

“I told Joe, ‘Break it up, pick one or two [pieces] you can swallow and then run on the rest,’” Clinton recalled of their phone call… The idea is drawing interest among party leadership.

Clinton also spoke with Sinema recently, according to one of the people familiar with the call, and said afterward, “I don’t know her, but I like her.”

Another factor that motivated Bill Clinton to get more engaged: the low ratings and muted public reaction to “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” the FX show produced by MONICA LEWINSKY, according to a long-time bundler for the couple.

“It’s a perpetual itch that will never go away,” a person close to the couple said of the draw to public life. “They know how to slowly reenter. The Clintons want to reset the board in their favor and then move the pieces.”

As for Hillary Clinton…Even though the people said there’s no chance she runs for president again, the attention allows her to gauge public reaction as she sets her sights on reemerging in lower-profile ways, like campaigning during the midterms or taking on policy fights.

“She’s bored,” the longtime Clinton bundler said of the former secretary of State, senator and first lady, who’s now hosting a MasterClass on “the power of resilience.”

Ninth news item

Mitt doesn’t mince words:

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah on Thursday blasted the Republican National Committee’s plans to prohibit future GOP presidential candidates from participating in debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee and the uncle of the current RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said the decision would deprive the American people of the opportunity to hear candidates “duke it out.”

“Well, that would be nuts,” Romney told Insider at the Capitol. “The American people want to see candidates for president debating issues of consequence to them, and it provides a service to the country and to the people, to hear the prospective candidates of the two major parties duke it out.”

Hey, have a great weekend.

–Dana

Nearly One Year Into the Biden Administration, Jim Geraghty Is Not Impressed

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:03 am



[guest post by JVW]

This upcoming Wednesday will mark 52 weeks of Joe Biden’s Presidency. Coming on the heels of what has been a disastrous week (and, to be sure, really about six months) for the novice administration, there are sure to be plenty of think-pieces coming from right, left, and center, all appraising the first year of the 46th President and making suggestions for how the Chief Executive and his team can turn around what is pretty much by consensus an awful start (certainly there will be professional Democrats who will write pieces suggesting that Team Biden has had several substantial wins that will pay off down the road). Jim Geraghty at National Review has gotten a head start on the rest of the pundits with an amazing piece which makes a convincing case that Joe Biden’s Presidency has been an unmitigated disaster. I implore you go over there and read it in full, but I’ll tease you with a few tidbits:

[Biden] just screws up, over and over again. I ranted this litany to a friend who observed that this isn’t even counting the legislative fights that Biden chose, knowing the extraordinary difficulty of passage with a small majority for House Democrats and a 50-50 Senate: Build Back Better, a federal takeover of election administration, and creating at least a carve-out of the filibuster if not eliminating it entirely. As Phil Klein summarizes, “Biden wasted months of negotiations hoping that Manchin would suddenly change his mind on a kitchen-sink bill. . . . Clearly, Biden’s calculations on the art of the possible have been way off.”

[. . .]

Biden’s fundamental personal problem is that he wildly overestimates his own persuasiveness and charm. He’s prickly, thin-skinned, and as we’ve seen, a clumsy demagogue. (Some of us remember “Gonna put you back in chains!”) He’s frequently something of a jerk or an ass; people may remember Biden saying, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,” but they rarely remember that it’s one of the first things Biden said upon meeting that Indian-American supporter. His better days seem rarer than in the Obama years, and even on those, he comes across as a garrulous wacky neighbor whom you start keeping your distance from because you know any interaction will lead to your being forced to listen to a lot of lengthy, meandering, self-aggrandizing stories. Biden was always prone to exaggeration, but now he seems to be blurring stories he once heard with experiences that actually happened to him. On his worst days, Biden’s indignation and anger burst forth with little warning and even less justification or coherence — “that was four or five days ago!”

[. . .]

[The decision to select the woefully incompetent and lazy Kamala Harris] as the Democratic nominee foreshadowed what the country would get with Biden as president. For a man who’s been in politics and elected office as long as he has, he has surprisingly bad instincts. And the consequences of those bad instincts and decisions are piling up higher and higher.

Again, I urge you to read the whole thing, especially Mr. Geraghty’s list of all of the ridiculous and unfulfilled promises that candidate Joe Biden made, as well as his comparison of the agenda demanded by the activist left (to whom President Biden has inexplicably tailored his own) to an agenda which would find favor with a center-left to center-right coalition of voters.

Joe Biden is a very mediocre man. If you were to gather him along with 1000 other random people in a room and measure their intelligence, I am willing to bet that at best Mr. Biden would come in somewhere in the very middle of the pack, in the 45%-55% range. When elected to the United States Senate, he almost certainly found himself in the bottom decile of members in terms of brainpower, and it’s not as if that body is exactly a collection of MENSA card holders. One hallmark of Joe Biden’s political career has been an ongoing need to justify himself — a small state Senator who was elected largely on looks and a certain degree of Irish charm — and to try to prove that he does indeed belong. He mostly has done this by ingratiating himself with his party’s leadership every step of the day, whether they be populist segregationists, Ivy League leftists, or corrupt party hacks. And his hail-fellow-well-met attitude has allowed him to attain a certain level of affection, though not really respect, with members of the other party. Now that he has made it to the pinnacle of his profession, you would think that he might drop the pretense and be just Good Ol’ Joe, but it seems pretty obvious that his feelings of inadequacy are so much a part of who he is that he is compelled to style himself as the next FDR or LBJ, which isn’t really what the moment calls for, regardless of the New York Times editorial page insisting otherwise.

Had things gone as they should have, Joe Biden could have wound down his long pointless career in the Senate and maybe retired after the 2014 or 2020 elections. It’s to our eternal regret that Barack Obama, himself a tyro and desiring a Washington veteran who would not overshadow him with anything resembling competence, dragged the garrulous blowhard into the White House beside him. It’s further to our eternal regret that the personal dysfunction of Donald Trump and the sheer lunacy of most of the Democrat candidates in the last election cycle led the party poobahs to settle on the crazy old codger as the electable figure and then to get their media allies to brand him as “centrist” and “unifying.” And no doubt there will be more regret to come until that blessed day when President Biden waves goodbye one final time and boards Air Force One (or a special Amtrak train) to head home to Delaware. Of course it is quite possible that he will be replaced by someone far worse.

– JVW

1/13/2022

London Plane by Big Big Train: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Song

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:01 pm



My new favorite song is “London Plane” by Big Big Train. I listen to this song once or twice a day, and have done so for several days running. I thought I would write a post about it because I have not found anything online that explores the full depth of the lyrics, and so I wanted to write something that would add to the general font of knowledge about the song.

First, have a listen, and experience the power of the voice of Big Big Train’s (sadly recently departed) lead singer David Longdon:

The place to start learning about this song is this blog post by the song’s author, Greg Spawton. I recommend his entire post to anyone interested in the song, but will quote sparingly before diving into the details. Greg explains that a “London Plane” is a type of tree that is commonly seen in London:

Like many Big Big Train songs, this one started with the title. I can’t remember where I saw or heard the phrase London Plane but it immediately struck me as an odd, and interesting, combination of words so I made a note of it and, when we came to write some new songs for the Folklore album, started to read up about the London Plane.

The London Plane is the classic city tree. It is resistant to pollution and is a common feature in the parks and streets of London and other cities. It grows to over 100 feet. It was first cross-pollinated in around 1600 and became widely planted from around 1700. It may have been discovered by the marvellously named (and spectacularly bearded) John Tradescant the Younger.

No London Plane tree has ever died of old age, so it is not known how long their natural life span is. As they re-grow vigorously when cut down, they can almost be said to be immortal.

I have written a few songs with a London theme in recent years so I began to think how a song about a tree named after the city might work. I decided that I would use a single tree as a ‘witness’ to the history of London over the last few hundred years.

Spawton decided to place his fictional London Plane tree in York Watergate next to the Thames, a place constructed in 1626. Accordingly, the historical references in the song revolve around the Thames. The song begins:

Where the road runs down
To the river bank
And the mudlarks search on the shore
Where the watermen set sail
For the towns upstream
Upon a golden course to Runnymede

The “mudlarks” referred to here are people who scavenge the muddy banks of a river, particularly the Thames. This was very common in the 1700s and 1800s, but still goes on today. In fact, an entry on Frommer’s Web site is titled Mudlarking in the Thames Might Be The Best Thing I’ve Done in London. Frommer’s travel writer actually makes scavenging in the mud at a river’s edge sound pretty interesting. You’ll have to follow the link to see the picture in which the following items are described:

Consider this image, which was taken by the north end of the Southwark Bridge. The red things aren’t rocks. They’re roof tiles, many from the medieval period, and some of which were charred by the Great Fire of 1666. The straw-like white cylinders are bits of clay pipes, which you’ll find in abundance. You will also find chunks of Tudor beer tankards, ancient bottles, smashed Delftware crockery, keys, cutlery, animal jawbones, the occasional leather shoe—anything that someone would have chucked in the river once upon a time. The Thames has mixed them all up together so you’ll find 2,500 years of history in the same field of vision.

This fellow claims that on his first mudlarking trip, he came away with “bits of 19th-century railway china, a Roman roof tile, and a grooved chunk of a medieval jug that once had a strap.” Pretty cool!

Runnymede is upstream from the Thames, to the west, as you can see in this screenshot from Google Maps:

Screen Shot 2022-01-12 at 8.57.28 PM

It is, of course, famous as the most likely area where King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215. According to the link, it’s really just a field by the Thames where people like to walk their dogs.

Where the water’s edge
Meets the squares and the streets
The river “knows the mood
Of kings and crowds and priests”
Take tea in the gardens
Drunk for a penny or two
Stars will lead you home

The line: “The river ‘knows the mood of kings and crowds and priests'” places the end of that in quotation marks so you’ll know it’s a quotation — and so it is, from Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Reeds of Runnymede. Here are the relevant lines of Kipling’s poem — which, as you will see, is an ode to the spirit of the Magna Carta sealed there at Runnymede. I have bolded the portion quoted in the song:

And still when Mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,

Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

Returning now to the song, we have now arrived at the chorus, with Longdon’s voice soaring like the sails of the boats on the Thames at the words “Racing on the high tides” and “Reaching for the day’s last light”:

Sailing on the English way
Racing on the high tides
Here by the riverside
Reaching for the day’s last light

Of course, the London Plane ends each day of its observation of history by reaching ever upwards, “for the day’s last light.”

When the Houses fall
And the flames meet the sky
Turner takes his boat out
To catch the light
And far downstream the Alice is clean gone
In the dark she slipped away

Joseph Mallord William Turner was a painter and watercolor artist who lived from 1775 to 1851. In 1834, when the Houses of Parliament caught fire, Turner rode out onto the Thames in a boat and drew what he saw:

On the night of 16 October 1834, the Houses of Parliament caught fire. Along with crowds of other astonished spectators, Turner made his way on to the river Thames in a boat to witness the spectacle of the conflagration. This vignette engraving, based on sketches taken that very night, appeared in The Keepsake, a successful ‘pocket book’ popular for its high quality illustrations and literary offerings. In this plate, the fire has entirely engulfed the Houses of Parliament although Westminster Abbey is still clearly visible beyond.

Screen Shot 2022-01-12 at 9.28.03 PM

As for Alice: Bradley Birzer, in his glowing review of Folklore, the album on which “London Plane” appears, seems to believe the reference to “Alice” is an “Alice in Wonderland” reference, saying: “References to the signing of the Magna Carta as well as to Alice falling down the whole give this song something precious in its very Anglo-philia.” I like the connotation, but I think Spawton is going for something more direct: the sinking of the SS Princess Alice in the Thames in 1878. The vessel sunk near Tripcock Point, killing 650 Londoners returning from a daytrip to Kent. Bodies washed up on shore for days. Tripcock Point is “far downstream” from where the Houses of Parliament burned, and the Alice slipped away into the Thames in the darkness of evening. I’m pretty confident this is the reference Spawton intended.

After a return of the chorus with these words:

Racing on the English way
Sails against the skyline
Down by the water’s edge
Reaching for the last light

Comes a secondary chorus that comes twice in the song, which is quite lovely and showcases Longdon’s voice beautifully:

Time and tide wait for no man
A river passing by
As the crowds fade away

A mad instrumental interlude interposes itself. At times you could believe it’s Jethro Tull — Birzer says the style is straight out of Tull’s “Songs from the Wood” album, and it’s hard to disagree — except that the flute playing is less manic than Ian Anderson’s. Finally, the music slows and we get a final verse:

The fires grow cold in the east
Skylon rises in a brave new world
The clocks are stopped
And boats are held

Wikipedia describes Skylon in this way: “The Skylon was a futuristic-looking, slender, vertical, cigar-shaped steel tensegrity structure located by the Thames in London, that gave the illusion of ‘floating’ above the ground, built in 1951 for the Festival of Britain.” It wryly adds: “A popular joke of the period was that, like the British economy of 1951, ‘It had no visible means of support.'”

Screen Shot 2022-01-12 at 10.09.18 PM

British Official Photograph – Museum of London website (http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/)

Churchill scrapped Skylon in 1952, seeing the Festival and Skylon itself as representative of the previous government specifically, and socialism more generally.

As for the clocks stopping, in the original version of this post I had theorized that this was a reference to the clock on Big Ben’s famous clock tower stopping in 2005. But after I posted a link to this post on the Big Big Train Facebook page, Spawton himself clarified the reference:

Thank you for writing in such depth about the song, Patrick, most appreciated. Just one thing: the line about the clocks being stopped refers to Churchill’s funeral. If memory serves me right, the chimes of Big Ben were silenced for the day.

Unsurprisingly, Spawton’s memory is correct. This listing of the times that the chimes of Big Ben were silenced includes this entry:

1965 – the bells were silenced between 9:45am until midnight on the day of Churchill’s funeral.

Spawton also confirmed this comment from Big Big Train fan Graham Smith concerning the instrumental section and the reference to the fires growing cold in the East:

Gregory Spawton will correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the instrumental section was related to the Blitz and the line “Fires grow cold in the East” refers to London’s East End which was particularly heavily bombed.

The live show graphics also gave me that impression.

Thanks to Spawton and Smith for adding even more depth to my understanding of this song.

Time and tide wait for no man
And now the ship has sailed
And the crowds fade away
But by the water’s edge
At the end of the road
I still reach for the day’s last light

A stirring ending bringing us back to the tree reaching for the light. The singing here will send shivers down your spine.

It’s a great, great song. Give it a listen.

The Biden Administration Is Getting Its Rear Kicked by Inflation [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:33 am



[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE: As Paul Montagu and DCSCA have pointed out, the Biden Administration also had their vaccine mandates for private employers smacked down by the Supreme Court today. As Paul Montagu writes, it is a big victory for federalism and an important loss for allowing unelected appointees and a federal bureaucracy to impose far-reaching regulations without the assent of Congress.

— Original Post —

The numbers are in, and they ought to be embarrassing to the Biden Administration who spent the past year insisting that its spending orgies would actually tame rather than exacerbate the rise in inflation:

Inflation plowed ahead at its fastest 12-month pace in nearly 40 years during December, according to a closely watched gauge the Labor Department released Wednesday.

The consumer price index, a metric that measures costs across dozens of items, increased 7%, according to the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a monthly basis, CPI rose 0.5%.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting the gauge to increase 7% on an annual basis and 0.4% from November.

The annual move was the fastest increase since June 1982 and comes amid a shortage of goods and workers and on the heels of unprecedented cash flowing through the U.S. economy from Congress and the Federal Reserve.

Even left-wing media outlets get that inflation is disastrous, and though they are loath to admit it, they are staring to understand the effect that pouring trillions of imaginary dollars into the economy over the past eighteen months has had in driving up prices. Naturally, the concern among the left isn’t so much for how rampant inflation affects working-class and poor families, it’s for how it might help Republicans and hurt Democrats in this November’s elections.

At National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke views the latest inflation news as proof positive that Joe Manchin was absolutely right in opposing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

The last year has been the tale of two Joes. There has been Joe Biden, whose core position on inflation has been that it wouldn’t dare interfere with his presidency. In July, Biden insisted that “there’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way — no serious economist — that’s totally different.” In December, when inflation could no longer be denied, Biden alternated between insisting that inflation was about to go away and pretending that his plan to spend another $3.5 trillion would somehow prevent it from getting worse. Today, the White House is sounding equally schizophrenic. Inflation is peaking, says Jen Psaki, confidently. Oh, and also, it’s not real.

And then there has been Joe Manchin, who has not only seen inflation coming, but has clearly articulated the link between its pending arrival and our excessive government spending. In September of last year, Manchin explained that he wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of adding trillions more in spending to the World War II–sized figure that the federal government has approved since March of 2020, given the risks that such spending would pose. “Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation,” he wrote, “ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue to pay an unavoidable inflation tax.” In November, Manchin was even clearer. “I, for one,” he vowed, “won’t support a multitrillion-dollar bill without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on our economy and existing government programs.” “Elected leaders,” Manchin concluded, “continue to ignore exploding inflation, that our national debt continues to grow, and interest payments on the debt will start to rapidly increase when the FED has to start raising interest rates to try to slow down runaway inflation.”

Joe Manchin was right.

Mr. Cooke goes on to remind us that the Biden Administration, far from being chagrined at their woebegone economic forecasting, is doubling down on it. Roll Call reports that not only is the administration going to continue to agitate for at least $1.5 trillion in a new BBB bill, they are also going to push for yet another round of COVID “relief” spending to be distributed to schools (the federal government has to date spent at least $190 billion on COVID relief for education, which works out to be almost $1.5 million for each the nation’s 131,000 schools, or $14 million for each of the 13,500 school districts) and perhaps also used to fight the virus overseas. This despite the fact that Senate Republicans claim that over 70 percent of the funds already allocated still haven’t been spent. Even committed media progressives like Chris Hayes at MSNBC are left (bad pun there) wondering why education suddenly needs a new infusion of cash.

This is just part-and-parcel of what happens when a feeble-minded old man who gives the impression of taking orders from — rather than giving orders to — his staff is put in a position for which he was always clearly unqualified and is sadly no longer even remotely capable of managing. Biden’s own blinkered view of history and tragic need to be considered worthy of a career which somehow seems to have just fallen into his lap leads him to flights of fancy which bear no relation to reality’s ugly interludes. As Charles Cooke points out, a administration which came into power with a very narrow House majority and an evenly-split Senate somehow thought it would ram through FDR-style sweeping legislation. That they have been as successful has they have in their first year has been a great misfortune to the American people, but at this point it would seem that their luck has finally run out. At least let us hope so.

CODA: Looks like Sen. Krysten Sinema has put in the nails in the coffin of the Democrats’ plan to change filibuster rules to ram through their voting nationalization bill. This follows Sen. Manchin’s declaration that any changes to the filibuster require the assent of 2/3 of the Senate.

– JVW

Trump Allies Sent Fake Slates of Electors to Congress in 2020

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Someone should go to jail:

In the weeks after the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump’s allies sent fake certificates to the National Archives declaring that Trump won seven states that he actually lost. The documents had no impact on the outcome of the election, but they are yet another example of how Team Trump tried to subvert the Electoral College — a key line of inquiry for the January 6 committee.

The fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace valid presidential electors from their states with a pro-Trump slate, according to documents obtained by American Oversight.

The documents contain the signatures of Trump supporters who claimed to be the rightful electors from seven states that President Joe Biden won. But these rogue slates of electors didn’t have the backing of any elected officials in the seven states — like a governor or secretary of state, who are involved in certifying election results — and they served no legitimate purpose.

Here’s one of the clowns who did this giving his “justification” for his actions. (He claims to have been an elector but was not.)

Apparently the documents have been public for months, but the media is just now figuring out they exist thanks to the January 6 committee.

We already knew this was an attempted coup. This is just more proof.

1/11/2022

Looks Like It Was Biden’s Education Secretary Who Proposed the “Parents as Terrorists” Idea to the NSBA

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:05 pm



[guest post by JVW]

In one of Dana’s Weekend Open Threads from this past fall we discussed the ongoing kerfuffle and fallout about the Biden Justice Department acting upon a letter from the National School Boards Association which compared parents who spoke out, sometimes heatedly, at local school board meetings to domestic terrorists. The Justice Department ended up directing the FBI to investigate alleged “violent threats” against school board members, most of which were overblown or possibly contrived. Once word of this power play got out, the backlash was quick and severe with the NSBA apologizing and taking a definite hit in membership levels. For his part, Attorney General Merrick Garland refused to apologize or rescind his directive, so theoretically it is still in effect to this day.

Dana’s weekend item made clear that the Biden White House was involved in coordinating the drafting of the letter with the NSBA, with employees at both the Education Department and Justice Department participating in the cobbling together of this memo before it was eventually sent to President Biden on September 29. Five days later, the notorious Garland directive was issued. But today we have learned that Secretary of Education Miguel Cordona himself helped set the process in motion:

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona solicited the National School Boards Association (NSBA) letter to the Biden administration that compared parents of students to domestic terrorists, according to emails obtained by Parents Defending Education.

NSBA secretary-treasurer Kristi Swett wrote in an email on October 5th that NSBA interim CEO Chip Slaven “told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cardona.”

“Should this allegation be true, it would reveal that this administration’s pretextual war on parents came from the highest levels,” Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, told Fox News, which first reported the emails. “If Secretary Cardona was truly involved in this ugly episode, it is a significant breach of public trust, and he should be held accountable.”

To recap, what seems to have transpired is the following: A left-wing activist Secretary of Education contacted executives at NSBA to suggest they draft the notorious letter as a pretext for the Justice Department to get involved. The draft was circulated among staff at NSBA, but also shared with select members of the Education and Justice Departments for their input. The final version was sent to President Biden — without the authorization of the NSBA Board of Directors, it should be noted — who then ordered the Attorney General of the United States to address the group’s concerns. Oh, and by the way, the President of the NSBA, Viola Garcia, then found herself nominated to a federal board which sets policy for student performance. How about that?

Clearly there needs to be some housecleaning at NSBA, as this fiasco is likely to seriously disrupt the operations of this agency. But it also seems obvious that the Biden Administration, especially the Education and Justice Departments, are due for some investigatory reckoning very soon, though that probably won’t come for another year. If it is true that Secretary Cardona himself proposed that the Patriot Act be used to silence dissenters from Critical Race Theory or gender identification obsessions, then he needs to go. If people close to Attorney General Garland participated in this brazen abuse of government power, they too should be directed to the unemployment office. And Mr. Garland himself should strongly consider whether he truly has the wisdom or courage to serve as our nation’s top lawman during these highly divisive times.

– JVW

Constitutional Vanguard: The Argument for New York’s Racist and Illegal Distribution of COVID Treatments Could Backfire

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:15 pm



This one’s a hybrid: the beginning is free but the full analysis is for paid subscribers. The post is titled The Argument for New York’s Racist and Illegal Distribution of COVID Treatments Could Backfire and addresses New York’s immoral and illegal policy of distributing COVID treatments in part on the basis of race, and how the logic underpinning that argument could be used to argue that vaccine mandates are racist. Both sides have an interest in racial pandering based on stereotypes and ignoring personal choices, and both sides do it. (Yes, the left engages in this particular bad act far more.)

Teaser from the paid portion:

If a person or populace suffers from “systemic health and social inequities” then the government should develop race-neutral criteria to address those issues. Consideration of factors such as poverty might pass muster. Considering skin color likely would not and should not.

However, note that the entire basis of the policy fits neatly into the logic that the Fake Antiracism crowd has been pushing for years, with a particularly furious intensity beginning with the murder of George Floyd. Namely, if any negative trait or factor is true of a racial group as a whole, we must assume that this is the result of racism, rather than the result of a more complicated set of causal factors that can include personal choices made by members of that group.

I still plan to do fully free missives, but occasionally I think I will structure things this way: a free opening section, with the full analysis reserved for the paying subscribers — who are, after all, the people motivating me to write more. I’m hoping to get back to a regular schedule soon; I think a regular and predictable schedule is something I appreciate in others’ Substacks and I am going to try to get back to that myself.

Entire Conservative Media Ecosystem Pushes Dangerous COVID Lie

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Yesterday the CDC director reported the results of a study that showed the amazing efficacy of vaccines in preventing severe outcomes and deaths from COVID. Citing a recent study of people who had been vaccinated, she noted that 75% of the deaths of that population had been of people with at least four co-morbidities. You could hardly imagine a more stirring recommendation of the vaccine.

Within hours, due to poor editing by Good Morning America and the viral spread of misleading tweets by prominent “conservatives,” this pro-vaccine message had been transmogrified into a claim that 75% of all deaths from COVID were of people with at least four comorbidities. Conclusion: this has always been a disease that attacks only the very sick, and government has been exaggerating the danger, including with vaccine mandates! Like the Scientologists, they took a message and flipped it on its head to make it seem the opposite of what it actually meant.

Compare the video in Clay Travis’s virally misleading tweet spreading the disinformation:

to the unedited video:

Seemingly everyone on the right spread the edited disinformation. Trump Jr. did it. Ted Cruz did it. Tucker Carlson did it. Countless Fox News personalities did it. Ted Cruz has deleted his angry retweet of Travis’s tweet, but the Web Archive still has it.

Screen Shot 2022-01-11 at 8.30.04 AM

Allahpundit at Hot Air — still my favorite blogger — deserves a lot of credit for identifying the issue and spreading the truth, and he gets some credit from Philip Bump at the Washington Post:

Except, as HotAir’s pseudonymous writer Allahpundit pointed out Monday afternoon, this isn’t what Walensky was saying. She was referring to a study that evaluated the deaths of 1.2 million adults who had been vaccinated, only 36 of whom died of covid-19. It was among those 36 vaccinated individuals that three-quarters (28 in total) had four or more comorbidities.

Follow the link to Allahpundit’s post for more; I have just given a summary here. Then subscribe to Hot Air.

P.S. I have my own Substack out this morning but I thought this was important. More on the Substack later today.

1/10/2022

GOP Politician Torpedoes Own Career By Uttering Clear and Undeniably True Thing

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Speak up, and get slapped down:

Former President Trump on Monday tore into Sen. Mike Rounds after the South Dakota Republican rejected Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election.

In a lengthy statement, Trump rehashed his false assertion that the 2020 election was tainted by widespread fraud and vowed to withhold his support from Rounds the next time the South Dakota senator is up for reelection in 2026.

“Is he crazy or just stupid?” Trump said in the statement. “The numbers are conclusive, and the fraudulent and irregular votes are massive. The only reason he did this is because he got my endorsement and easily won his state in 2020, so now he thinks he has time, and those are the only ones, the weak, who will break away. Even though his election will not be coming up for 5 years, I will never endorse this jerk again.”

Everyone in the GOP sees this and nearly every politician (except Liz Cheney) is frightened by it.

The sickness continues.

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