Patterico's Pontifications


Bad News Round-up, Thanksgiving Edition

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:38 am

[guest post by JVW]

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday every year, so why not ruin it by dumping a lot of recent bad news the day before? Here we go:

Item One:
Keeping with what has become a hallowed holiday tradition, the Democrats are fixin’ to have their voters argue politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And since they don’t expect them to be conversant on current events, they have once again provided a handy cheat-sheet of talking points.

Proving that those who are obsessed with politics inevitably ruin holiday harmony, and then blame mean old right-wing Uncle Fred for being so bull-headed.

(But you have to laugh at bewildered political hack Ron Klain trying to adopt youthful slang but then butchering it with weirdly misplaced quotation marks: “at you.”)

Item Two:
Oregon just elected its seventh consecutive Democrat as governor, extending a streak which dates back 36 years. The state has become a lefty haven, as the highly populated and woke coastal areas dominate the more remote and conservative interior (sound familiar, Californians?). And Portland has of course become synonymous with trendy, brainless, self-defeating radical leftism. So much so, that on Monday the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office released a list of 300 people whose criminal cases had been dismissed by judges because the county can’t find public defenders to handle their cases. Most of these cases were run-of-the-mill car thefts, fleeing from law enforcement, and illegally possessing weapons, as you might expect, but some dropped charges include assault, drunken driving, hit-and-run driving, identity theft, and other more serious crimes. Way to create that progressive paradise, Oregonians.

Item Three:
To no one’s surprise, California’s harsh lockdown and school closures have led to a clear decline in learning for California schoolchildren.

Before COVID-19 hit and authorities closed schools to limit spread of the deadly disease, California’s students were largely failing to meet the state’s own standards of skills necessary for productive adult lives, as well as faring poorly in nationwide testing. That was particularly true for the 60% of those children classified as poor or “English learner.”

On Monday [October 24], both federal and state governments released results from the latest tests, indicating that the pandemic’s makeshift efforts to teach homebound students reduced learning even more and widened the already yawning “achievement gap.”

Now we know why the teachers’ unions were pushing so hard to have testing postponed in the aftermath of COVID lockdowns. How bad is the state’s performance? Compare it to two conservative-leaning states which progressives like to mock and which sent kids back to school far earlier than did the Golden State:

[Gelatinous-maned Governor Gavin] Newsom cherry-picked the data to claim that “California’s students experienced less learning loss than those in most other states during the pandemic” but conceded that the “results are not a celebration but a call to action — students are struggling academically and we need to keep getting them the resources they need to thrive.”

Newsom neglected to mention that students in the two red states he often singles out for scorn, Florida and Texas, scored much higher in the NAEP tests. Florida was 6th highest overall and Texas was well above national averages.

State-by-state data also indicated — not for the first time — that there is no direct correlation between academic achievement and school spending.

How did other large and diverse blue states who also kept students out of school for longer than average fare? Turns out, not so well:

New York, the nation’s highest-spending state on education, came out lower than California, while several states on the low end of the spending list are leaders in achievement. Wyoming, No. 2 to New York in spending, is No. 1 in academics while neighboring Utah, the lowest spending state, is No. 5 in achievement.

Ominously for our nation, the states which were considered to have the best-performing public school systems pre-pandemic showed the highest slippage rate in test scores post-pandemic. This is not going to bode well for our future.

Item Four:
It would seem we are on the verge of sending climate reparation payments to — uh, really? you sure? well, ok then — China. From NRO:

At the COP27 climate summit in Egypt earlier this month, American diplomats appointed by President Biden agreed to pay poor countries for supposed damage caused by America’s emitting carbon dioxide.

This represents a major reversal in U.S. climate policy. Similar agreements had previously been blocked by both the Obama and Trump administrations, and for good reason: The “loss and damage” fund is both incredibly expensive and could be used to create a legal liability for greenhouse-gas emissions.

[. . .]

But, China won’t be paying.

That’s because “the United Nations currently classifies China as a developing country. . . . Even [sic] though it is now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses as well as the second-largest economy,” according to the New York Times. “China has fiercely resisted being treated as a developed nation in global climate talks,” and it makes sense why.

[. . .]

Biden’s diplomats originally demanded that China (which emits three times more carbon dioxide today than it did in 1990, generated more than half of their energy in 2020 using dirty coal power, and has more new coal plants set for approval through the year 2025 than the U.S. has in total) and other large polluters currently classified as developing countries pay their own way, but ultimately gave in when some European countries issued a “final offer” that included reparations to prevent poor countries from walking away from an agreement.

Special Climate Envoy John Kerry, who earlier had rejected the idea that the U.S. would send reparations that will inevitably make their way to China, has allegedly flip-flopped and is now aboard the scheme. Yes, it’s kind of hard imagining a Republican House agreeing to fund this, and Joe Manchin and at least one other Democrat Senator might not be great with these optics either, but given the Biden Administration’s predilection for unlawful Executive Orders don’t be surprised if your tax dollars wind up in Beijing even earlier than they normally do.

Item Five:
President Biden continues with his illegal practice of extending student loan repayment freezes, claiming that it would be unfair to resume mandated payments until the issue works its way through the court system. Let us recall that the President claims authorization for his actions under the emergency powers granted to the Executive in times of crisis, even though he himself has publicly declared the COVID crisis to be over. Why would he take such a step? Writing at The Spectator, Oliver Wiseman has a solid theory:

After the midterms, Biden appears to know which side his bread is buttered on, heaping economic benefits on loyally Democratic sections of the electorate to keep them enthused and engaged. Young voters broke Democrat in overwhelming numbers earlier this month, and young voters with a college degree even more so. After the Democrats’ surprisingly strong showing, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said that Biden “kept his promises to younger Americans (with action on climate change, student loans, marijuana reform, etc), and they responded with energy and enthusiasm.”

A Tufts study bears this out. It found that not only did young Democrats turnout in historic numbers this cycle, but they also had an outsized influence on key races. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman did especially well with younger voters, who broke 70 percent to 28 percent in his direction. In Arizona, the gap was even bigger, at 76 percent to 20 percent. The study attributes Catherine Cortez Masto’s tight victory in Nevada to younger voters.

Betting on youth-vote turnout has generally been a losing game in American politics. But it worked for Biden this month. And so don’t expect the White House to feel any kind of embarrassment about the absurd act of extending emergency Covid measures if it helps lock up a crucial cohort of younger voters for the party led by an octogenarian.


That’s it! Now that I have ruined everyone’s weekend let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving dinner, which of course costs a lot more this year than it did even last year.


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