[guest post by JVW]
Dana is once again on a super-secret Patterico’s Pontifications mission (can’t divulge too much, but don’t be surprised if a certain very tense situation in Bora Bora ends up quietly disappearing from the news in the next few days). So once again you are treated to the B Squad. So, without further ado, let’s get into the Junior Varsity Writing edition of our weekend open thread.
Res I – Dialing Back the Woke Grandstanding at the AAAS
The Wall Street Journal reports on a letter that Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker sent in response to a solicitation from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for a donation earmarked for efforts to “support and uplift science to inform and spur action on climate change.” Prof. Pinker objects that the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the publishers of Science magazine, have done more to discredit the progressive consensus on global climate change among politicians than they have to promote it. Specifically, he chides the organization for hewing to the academic left’s narrow worldview on controversial matters and refusing to acknowledge where that worldview is shortsighted or even wrong. He calls out three specific areas in which he believes that “Science magazine appears to have adopted wokeism as its official editorial policy and the only kind of opinion that may be expressed in the magazine”: the magazine’s stated belief that a lack of black physics professors and students is a manifestation of “white supremacy”; the magazine’s condemnation of prominent academics and journalists who won’t knuckle-under to transgenderism ideology; and the magazine’s kowtowing to anti-nuke sentiment among leftist faculty by refusing to consider nuclear power as a legitimate answer to our dependence upon fossil fuels. Read his explantation of each of the three points: it’s worth the few minutes of your time.
So The WSJ finds it to be very curious timing that just two days after Pinker’s letter was posted online, an article by Paul Voosen appeared in the magazine which suggested that maybe — just maybe — the models that the climate change crew uses to predict future rises in worldwide temperatures might not always be entire accurate. Last year, the British journal Nature also published a piece warning readers not to put complete faith in the temperature models. Between the two, there emerges a flickering of hope that The Scientific CommunityTM is beginning to realize that fealty to science needs to come before fealty to today’s trendy progressive obsessions.
Res II – What Will Smith Hath Wrought
Note: Please keep in mind that this post is being written by guest blogger JVW, not the eponymous host of this site.
On Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl, a member of the audience jumped on stage and tackled comedian Dave Chappelle in the middle of his performance. Chappelle as we have discussed before, has courted the ire of various crybully communities by refusing to exempt them from his ridicule. As of right now, we do not know the motivation of the assailant, who was arrested at the scene but not before he had the ever-lovin’ snot beaten out of him by Chappelle’s security detail, but following the Chris Rock-Will Smith fracas at the Academy Awards it’s understandable that comedians are a bit skittish about being physically confronted by the audience. (Rock was on-hand backstage at the Hollywood Bowl and emerged from the wings to ask, “Was that Will Smith?”)
Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that the office of District Attorney George Gascón will not bring felony charges against the assailant, 23-year old Isaiah Lee of Los Angeles, even though Mr. Lee was in possession of (but apparently not brandishing) a replica gun which concealed a knife blade. Police and the Bowl are instead trying to figure out how he managed to smuggle that curious weapon into the venue and how he managed to emerge from the audience onto the stage. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office could still file misdemeanor charges in the case. Left unasked is if Mr. Gascón’s office would have taken this violation a bit more seriously had the comedian himself been a member of the LGBTQ community or had been someone who spouted all of the proper views of the times.
Res III – Joe Biden Wrecks His Relationships with the Senators Whom He Needs the Most
Last fall as the Build Back Better fiasco limped its way to a sad but completely unsurprising legislative death, we chronicled the many ways in which President Biden, aided and abetted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, botched the diplomatic outreach to Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, the two Democrats who were the most reluctant to sign on to further cash-dumps in the name of recovery. We know that Senator Schumer spent the past summer lying about Senator Manchin’s alleged refusal to name a top-line maximum dollar value that he would support for a stimulus bill, but now it appears that President Biden threw Senator Sinema under the bus among her party’s caucus by divulging to them what she had told him in confidence was the most that she was willing to support. This tidbit from a forthcoming book was reported by The Dispatch (subscription required), and here is how Business Insider summarized it:
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona almost walked out on President Joe Biden in the Oval Office during a tense exchange over the scope of his economic agenda, according to a forthcoming book from a pair of New York Times reporters.
[. . .]
According to authors Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Biden strenuously sought to reconcile tensions between his party’s centrist and progressive wings last summer around the size and scope of his domestic agenda. Progressives were pushing to go big on new social and climate programs while moderates tried restraining their ambitions and had fiscal concerns.
During a meeting with Democratic moderates, Biden revealed that Sinema had set her Build Back Better spending limit at $1.1 trillion — roughly one-third less than Sen. Joe Manchin’s $1.5 trillion price tag.
Sinema appeared “visibly angry” at Biden for revealing details from their personal talks, Burns and Martin write. Biden aides had “feared that if Sinema drew a public red line at $1.1 trillion—a miserly sum by liberal standards—then the party would erupt in open war.”
The authors wrote: “‘Mr. President,” she said, ‘that was a private conversation.’ Sinema began to stand up. She asked Biden: ‘Do you want me to leave?'”
Way to go, Brandon.
Res IV – Déjà Vu on the J&J Vaccine
The FDA has one again placed limits on the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, citing the increased risk of life-threatening blood clots as compared to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This is a redux of the agency’s April 2021 temporary halt on distribution of the J&J vaccine for the same reason, a decision which was rescinded ten-days later. Almost exactly one year ago as I was floundering through compiling a Weekend Open Thread, I included an item which wondered if the government’s abrupt pause and reversal had inadvertently strengthened the case for vaccine skepticism. Here we go again?
Res V – Why the Hell Are We Crowing about the Strategic Help We’re Providing Ukraine?
Rich Lowry has pointed out a couple of instances in which U.S. government officials bewilderingly are taking credit for helping the Ukrainian military fight Russian troops. On Wednesday the New York Times reported that “senior American officials” were claiming that U.S. intelligence had provided information on Russian troop movements which had helped Ukrainians to reportedly kill a dozen Russian generals ever since Vladimir Putin launched the invasion. Then just last night, Mr. Lowry flagged this second item from the NYT in which “U.S. officials” — likely the same damn ones — brag how we provided Ukraine with the intelligence which led to the sinking of the Moskva last month.
Look, if we’re going to enter the war as a belligerent then let’s go ahead and enter the war as a belligerent. If we’re going to commit all kinds of awesome skullduggery against Boris & Natasha then let’s keep it entirely under wraps, just like the cool spies in the movies do. But this policy of claiming that we are not participating in the fight while leaking details to news outlets friendly to the Biden Administration isn’t going to fool Vladimir Putin, it’s probably not going to placate those who want us to avoid direct engagement, and it’s certainly not going to satisfy those who believe we ought to be doing more on behalf of Ukraine. As usual, we seem to pick the most bumbling way imaginable to throw around our considerable weight.
Res VI – In Case You Have Forgotten
We still have American citizens stuck in refugee camps and even in Afghanistan, and no matter what the unctuous liar Jen Psaki or any of the other grossly-overmatched time-servers in the Biden Administration try to tell you, the United States government is not doing a bang-up job of facilitating their exit from those hell-holes:
Two American citizens who were trapped overseas after rescuing their families from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan have returned home to the U.S. after nearly seven months in a United Arab Emirates refugee compound they both described as prison-like.
Both Bilal Ahmad, 28, and another man who asked to be identified by his nickname, Ace, were frustrated by how long it took U.S. officials to process their families’ cases and to give them permission to enter the country. National Review profiled both of their cases in January.
Ahmad, who started working with the U.S. military as a teenager in 2009 and moved to the U.S. in 2014, arrived home with his wife and 5-year-old son late last week. Ahmad already knew in January that he had lost his IT job, and he suspected he’d also lost his New York City apartment.
He and his family are now living in an apartment in the Columbus, Ohio, area, he said.
[. . .]
Both Ahmad and Ace expected they would fly home in a matter of weeks, and technically, both men could have. But their wives, and Ahmad’s son, could not because their travel documents hadn’t been approved. Neither man was willing to leave them in the compound alone.
Ace said his wife was attacked by a man in the compound. He said he called the compound’s police, but “they didn’t care.” He said there were a lot of “wild people” there.
No, it’s not as if President Biden or anyone in his administration wants them to suffer in these camps or remain hidden fearing for their lives somewhere in Afghanistan, but he certainly won’t prod the sclerotic State Department or Homeland Security Department to kick it into high gear and cut the bureaucratic entanglements and entropy in order to get them safely home.
Res VII – School Which Failed in Obvious Diversity Hire Being Dinged for Not Enough Diversity
Catching up with our old friend Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of the putrid 1619 Project. Here’s a report from some journal which appears to exist solely to agitate for more diversity hires in academia:
The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) recently voted to downgrade the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media to “provisional accreditation” status, according to an email written by Interim Dean Heidi Hennink-Kaminski to school faculty.
The change is due to the ACEJMC’s concerns regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the school, especially in the wake of journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones turning down a tenured position because of administrative controversy surrounding her hiring. In 2021, Hannah-Jones was hired as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism but was originally only offered a five-year contract instead of tenure by the UNC Board of Trustees. Despite later receiving a tenure offer, Hannah-Jones decided to take the same position at Howard University instead. The ACEJMC determined that this high-profile incident was evidence of significant DEI issues within the school that warranted reevaluation of its accreditation.
“[T]he UNC Hussman School is dealing with an existential crisis both internally and externally,” the ACEJMC wrote. “The [Hannah-Jones] controversy… exposed long-standing problems. Many stem from inconsistencies in executing the goals in the 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.”
You know what would solve this problem? Close up the whole damn journalism school. It’s virtually impossible to argue in this day and age that graduate studies in journalism are of any benefit to anybody other than the academics whose jobs are funded by it.
Dana oftentimes includes lovely art work, if not one of her breathtaking photographs then a piece of classical art which meets with the approval of her discerning eye. I lack the grace and refinement that she has in abundance, but here is the sort of art that I like:
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844-1934) was born and raised in rural New York State. Mostly self-trained in art, he founded a local newspaper and did illustrations for it before embarking upon creating the sort of whimsical photo backdrops that people poke their heads into at carnivals and state fairs. At the turn of the century, he began work on a series of sixteen oil paintings for use in calendars distributed by the Brown & Bigelow advertising firm showing dogs participating in various human activities, mostly playing poker. The painting above, titled “His Station and Four Aces” and my favorite work of his, is the only one in which the dogs are depicted dressed entirely in human clothing.
Have a great weekend, everyone.