UK: Muslim Migrant Murders His Host

The latest story of a Muslim migrant who murders his host is a metaphor for what is happening in Europe today. The indigenes of Western Europe have welcomed into their midst millions of Muslim migrants who repay their hosts by helping themselves to what they think of as proleptic jizyah, both by taking whatever benefits the generous welfare states of Western Europe have on offer and by adding to those benefits whatever they can obtain through street robberies and house burglaries. They repay kindness with criminality, including rape and murder; they set up No-Go Zones; they look forward to a future in which the indigenous Europeans, their fertility rates sinking, will be demographically overwhelmed by polyphiloprogenitive Muslims. The full and appalling story of this murder can be found here: “UK: Failed asylum seeker murdered pensioner who took him in,” by Thomas Brooke, Remix News, January 31, 2023:

A failed Iranian asylum seeker will be sentenced on Wednesday after brutally murdering a frail 87-year-old woman who took him into her home in the English county of North Yorkshire.

Pensioner Brenda Blainey was found dead in her home in the village of Thornton-le-Dale on Jan. 5 last year.

On Monday, Leeds Crown Court heard how Iranian national Shahin Darvish-Narenjbon, who has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, strangled her before smashing her head on the kitchen floor of her home, stabbing her in the chest, and slitting her throat.

Was he diagnosed, as I suspect, as a “paranoid schizophrenic,” after he had murdered his hostess and, figuring he was not going to beat the rap, instead put on quite a show of craziness? Isn’t this the diagnosis of being “mentally unbalanced”(or “paranoid,” or “schizophrenic” or “paranoid schizophrenic”) so often offered by those in authority who don’t want to admit that Islam itself might explain Muslim violence against non-Muslims? Was Osama bin Laden “mentally unbalanced”? Or Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi? Or Al-Zawahiri? Or Mohamed Atta? Weren’t they all just being good Muslims, behaving just as they believed the Qur’an instructed them to behave toward Infidels?

Nicholas Lumley, prosecuting, told the court how the frail victim had taken in her killer 9 years prior, back in 2013 when they first met at a restaurant in Leeds. She offered him a room in her home and described their relationship as one of “grandma-grandson.”

She provided him with food and other home comforts as he was studying in Leeds,” said Lumley, who added the victim had also attended Darvish-Narenjbon’s graduation and had provided him with a car.

The court heard how on Jan. 5, Mrs. Blainey had called the local village shop to place an order when the line went dead. The shopkeeper attempted to return Mrs. Blainey’s call several times to no avail, and when the shopkeeper’s husband went round to check on her, he was met by a police cordon.

Darvish-Narenjbon himself had called the police, telling authorities he had come downstairs to find his surrogate grandmother in a pool of blood.

“I just came downstairs and found my grandmother on the hard floor. She’s got blood everywhere and I don’t know,” the Iranian national told a police call handler.

The court later heard from a forensic psychiatrist who had made a report after spending time with Darvish-Narenjbon. The failed asylum seeker had spoken of delusions, and it was clear his mental health had significantly deteriorated.

The court heard that Darvish-Narenjbon saw a red button on the TV, which he subsequently pressed and received a “license” to harm and kill Brenda Blainey.

Darvish-Narenjbon was initially charged with murder, which he denied; he later admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, which was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The killer appeared in court via video link from the high-security Ramptom Hospital where he has been held since May last year.

Prosecuting counsel told the court that Tehran-born Darvish-Narenjbon has resided in the U.K. since he was 15. He had also lived briefly in the United States where he spent time inside a psychiatric unit.

The defendant’s permission to remain in the U.K. expired back in 2015. He subsequently applied for asylum, which was turned down, as was his appeal against the Home Office decision.

Do you buy this story of Darvish-Narenjbon being a “paranoid schizophrenic”? Had he been such, it would have been impossible to hide. Wouldn’t Mrs. Blainey, with whom he lived for nine years at close quarters, have noticed something most peculiar about him in all that time? Yet there seems to be no record of her, or of anyone else in the village, complaining about the kind of wild behavior and the crazed nonstop monologues that one expects of a “paranoid schizophrenic.”

He was crazy like a fox, when he called the police and said “I just came downstairs and found my grandmother on the hard floor. She’s got blood everywhere and I don’t know.” This is someone in perfect control of himself, trying to suggest his innocent ignorance, not a “paranoid schizophrenic” who would have no trouble implicating himself. When he saw that the police were not going to be dissuaded from accusing him, he immediately switched gears and put on his crazy act. He spent time with a forensic psychiatrist and told him just what he figured the good doctor wanted to hear: that he had experienced all sorts of delusions in the past. If he was a “paranoid schizophrenic,” how did he know they were “delusions”? And then, to show just how c-r-a-z-y he was, Darvish-Narenjbon claimed that he had seen a red button on the TV – had he never, in nine years, ever noticed it before? — which he subsequently pressed and received a “license” to harm and kill Brenda Blainey. Really? Did the Red Button talk to him, like Alexa? Or did it send brain waves to him? Did the “license to kill” mean he was not only to strangle her, but then to also smash her head on the kitchen floor, then to stab her in the chest before, as the pièce de résistance, slitting her throat? He got what he wanted. Instead of life in a dreary prison, he’ll be in a much more comfortable insane asylum. And should he miraculously recover from his feigned illness, he will be set free. Of course, he’ll miraculously recover.

This appalling story put me in mind of how often Muslim murderers in Europe are treated as if they are mentally impaired, for what else, the police and prosecutors and judges conclude, could explain their crimes? It can’t be, we mustn’t let it be, don’t even suggest it could be, Islam. And Europe today is like Mrs. Blainey, the kind old lady welcoming into her home, and providing every creature comfort for, a Muslim who feels no gratitude, but harbors an inextinguishable hate for her, for she was an Infidel and therefore “the most vile of created beings,” that eventually he could no longer contain.

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Oh No Serial Murderer Maxine Waters Has Serial Murdered Again!

Republicans are a deeply serious political party, committed to good governance and carrying out the people’s business.

JK, LOL forever. They are a bunch of fucking goons who are about to spend two years shouting about Marxist groomers and fapping to stolen photos of Hunter Biden’s monster peen. And there is no better example of this than the House Rules Committee, which this week took up the urgent priority of a nonbinding resolution condemning socialism, which is VERY DANGEROUS! Don’t you kids start thinking it would be cool to, like, see a doctor when you’re sick. Or retire before you’re 85. Or make rich people pay enough taxes that we could ensure quality public and higher education for everyone.

You shut your filthy whore mouth!

The GOP is here to tell you that you are bad and you should feel bad. And also, please look at Pol Pot and not at Republicans’ abortion bans or opposition to raising the minimum wage. But Democrats don’t have to play along with this shit, as third-term Rep. Guy Reschenthaler discovered earlier this week when he tried to corner Rep. Maxine Waters, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, by shouting MAO ZEDUNG and VENEZUELA at her. Hat tip to HuffPo’s Jennifer Bendery who flagged the spectacle on Twitter.


The hearing started off basically normal, with Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole, a gray-faced white dude from Oklahoma, somberly mumbling that “This concurrent resolution denounces socialism in all its forms and opposes the implementation of socialist policies in the United States.”

He then tossed to Ranking Member Jim McGovern, who wondered, “What the hell are we doing here?”

And then, after a few grumbles from Financial Services Chair Patrick McHenry that the American far-Left’s actions “more closely resemble the Chinese Communist Party’s actions than the proven free-market solutions that make America the envy of the world,” and some sniping by Ranking Member Maxine Waters about the debt ceiling and the rise of authoritarians, it was ON! That pipsqueak Guy Reschenthaler from Pennsylvania was all warmed up to make Maxine Waters admit that she’s a dirty Marxist socialist. It was his big moment, gonna be so rad!

Woulda worked out great, except MAXINE WATERS DID NOT COME TO BE TRIFLED WITH BY AN AMATEUR LIKE YOU. Skip to 32:50 if you want to see a murder!

Rules Committee Hearing on H. Con. Res. 9www.youtube.com

RESCHENTHALER: In your opening remarks, you were talking about Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi. You know what they all have in common, right?

WATERS: Trump.

RESCHENTHALER: Trump? North Korea, China, and Russia?

WATERS: He loves Kim Jong Un.

RESCHENTHALER: That’s quite the intellectual leap. I would say communism. Would you like to denounce any communist leaders?

WATERS [sweetly]: Well, I don’t know what you’re asking, but, let me just — The leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, has made often glowing — described authoritarians like Kim Jong Un, who is described in the resolution — regarding leaders like Kim Jong Un, Trump said Kim “wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters, and we fell in love.” You sure you want to hear the rest of this?

RESCHENTHALER [uncomfortable]: Yeah, I can go through some atrocities, and you can say do you agree with them or not. You can choose to denounce them, if you’d like to go down that path, we can. What would you like to do?

WATERS: Well, I would like to condemn this resolution and ask that we all give attention to the very short time that we have to do the people’s work. And pull it back, and not even go any further with it. Why don’t you just withdraw it?

It was then Reschenthaler realized he might have gotten a teensy bit out over his skis. Perhaps it occurred to him that his own Dear Leader loved the North Korean dictator so much that he actually stole the oversized mash note from the White House and took it home to fondle in the privacy of his South Florida trash palace.

And yet, he persisted!

RESCHENTHALER: Alright, so Mao Zedong is responsible for between 15 million and 55 million people starving to death, with the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Do you denounce that, yes or no?

WATERS: But Trump loves him. That’s your leader.

RESCHENTHALER: But do you denounce it?

WATERS: Trump’s your leader. He speaks for you. He says he loves him, you gotta deal with that.

RESCHENTHALER: So you’re refusing to denounce the starvation of 15 to 55 million people in Communist China? You’re refusing to do that.

WATERS: Sir, I’m a capitalist, okay? I don’t support anything but serving the people of this country.

Now a smarter person might have realized that Rep. Waters was conflating current Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom Trump bragged that he’d charmed with a beautiful piece of chocolate cake on the lanai at Mar-a-Lago, and former President Mao Zedong, who left office in 1976. But a smarter person would have quit while he was behind, instead of letting Maxine Waters ritually pants him in the hearing room.

RESCHENTHALER: Stalin! Tens of millions died in the Bolshevik revolution. Do you want to denounce that?

WATERS: I’m sorry, I don’t deal with yes or no questions.

RESCHENTHALER: Okay, well, why don’t you explain your support of Stalin.

WATERS: No, why don’t you explain it?

RESCHENTHALER: No, I’m not … you want to denounce that, or not?

WATERS: I told you, at the beginning of this resolution when we discussed what we ought to be doing.

RESCHENTHALER: So you’re refusing to denounce Joseph Stalin?

WATERS: But when you tell me like we’re in a kindergarten class “yes or no,” I don’t do that.

Reschenthaler tried weakly to regain control of the hearing, professing that he was giving the congresswoman “the opportunity” to denounce Pol Pot, only to have Waters remind him that “Your Republican leader Donald Trump is friends with, supports, Putin. Kim Jong Un, he loves him,” and then wonder why not a single member of the Republican Party could manage to denounce Trump’s incitement of the January 6 insurrection.

“Are you afraid of Trump? Do you agree with Trump? Ask him the questions, don’t ask me,” she hammered. “Don’t ask me silly questions. I’m a capitalist. I’m not like Donald Trump. I’m not like Republicans who claim to support this democracy, but at the same time refuses to condemn those who attempted to destroy this democracy. You need to talk with your leader Donald Trump about what he’s doing. Why he loves Putin so much. Why he loves Kim Jong Un so much. You ask him the questions!”

Reschenthaler took one last run at Waters, simpering his supposed gotcha about Venezuelans eating dogs. Did the congresswoman want to denounce that?

Spoiler Alert: SHE DID NOT.

WATERS: I want you to denounce Donald Trump. I want you denounce the Proud Boys. I want you to denounce QAnon. I want you to denounce the KKK. When you do all of that, then we can talk.

RESCHENTHALER: Okay, so, for the record, you’ve refused to denounce Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hugo Chavez. That’s amazing.

WATERS: For the record, you’ve refused to denounce Donald Trump. You refuse to denounce the insurrection that tried to destroy our democracy. You refuse to denounce the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, QAnon, the KKK. You refuse all of that.

At which point, Rescenthaler knew he was beat, dejectedly pivoting back to McHenry to “explain how free market capitalism has done more to raise people out of poverty than any other form.” Before limping off to ice his balls, presumably.

And, yeah, it’s the same dingus who slagged FDR for making common cause with Stalin.

Golly, was there anything going on in the mid-1940s that would have made that alliance better than the alternative? Anything at all?

Well, the next two years are going to suck mightily. But if we get to watch Rep. Waters dropkick dipshits like Reschenthaler, there will at least be a few bright spots.

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Speaker Fight Pays Off as House Begins to Restore Deliberative Process

The Republican rebellion over a new House speaker was a good thing, and it looks like it’s already paying off.

In early January, a group of 20 conservative House members held up the election of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as speaker of the House, citing several fundamental concerns about how the legislative body functions.

These conservatives were able to extract several concessions from Republican leadership, including new rules that would allow for a longer review period before a scheduled vote, tighter controls on future taxes and spending, and an easier path to deposing a House speaker.

One of the changes that’s had an immediate impact is the inclusion of more members of the House Freedom Caucus, made up of some of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers, on the House Rules Committee. This led to additional changes in how the House functions.

Under the so-called modified open rule, lawmakers were able to submit amendments to legislation pertaining to President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when the bill was debated on the House floor.

It’s the first time such a rule has been in place since 2016. The change effectively gives more power to rank-and-file House members who don’t merely have to accept what comes out of the chamber’s committees.

In a sense, the change further “democratizes” the House. I’d say in this case that’s a good thing.

“Democracy” is hardly an unqualified good—though the Left often just uses the word for “things I like.”

The Founders had a healthy skepticism of pure democracy, which often leads to anarchy and tyranny. However, they also generally believed that democracy, properly understood, had an important place in our federal republic. That place—at least at the national level—was in the House of Representatives.

The Framers of the Constitution created the House as a body most closely tied to the direct interests of the people, the most responsive to the attitudes of Americans acting in their separate polities. Yes, the people can be fickle. However, that’s why the Framers created a system of checks and balances in our government and would have been appalled by a mass plebiscite deciding issues.

Right now, our system is out of whack, to put it mildly. We have an executive branch that acts as a legislative branch, where even the president often is reduced to a figurehead of the vast, bureaucratic apparatus. Self-government is being replaced by the politics of the national, executive mandate. Bureaucratic Caesarism has pushed aside republican self-government.

Congress has ceded its real power. It’s been reduced to a rump institution, rubber-stamping 10,000-page bills—mostly written behind closed doors by lobbyists—with little genuine debate or larger oversight. Bringing back public debate of legislation could be a small first step toward restoring Congress to its rightful role in our governing system.

This is a good thing, even if it means that more far-left proposals make their way into legislation.

Willmoore Kendall, one of the most important conservative thinkers of the mid-20th century, warned that our system was becoming one in which electoral mandate rather than congressional deliberation was taking over and destroying our republican institutions.

In a review of the re-release of Kendall’s 1963 book, “The Conservative Affirmation,” Heritage Foundation scholar Richard M. Reinsch explained how this move away from legislative deliberation reengineered the way Americans think about government:

The democratic will to power has now become so embedded in our thinking about government that many Americans are unaware of why delay, deliberation, and filtration of voting are positive methods for insuring the republican principle best serves our common good.

It’s more than optimistic to think we can maintain anything resembling a free society if this continues.

If we want to keep our republic, Congress needs to reassert itself. Many were saying during the 15 ballots it took for McCarthy to win the speakership that the “chaos” was “embarrassing” the nation and harming our government’s credibility.

I’d say just the opposite. What’s destroyed the credibility of our government is Congress’ lethargy, its hollowness.

Restoring the vigorous and deliberative function of our elected representatives is an important step to righting our ship of state.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email [email protected] and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.



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Let’s Talk Pork!

The Supreme Court has a pretty interesting, and potentially very important, “dormant commerce clause” case before it this term—National Pork Producers Council v. Ross. Dormant commerce clause doctrine is a tangled, internally-contradictory mess, and this case gives the Court an opportunity to clarify—or to even more thoroughly mess up—some important principles governing state power in a national marketplace.

The relevant facts (taken here from the opinion below) are straightforward:

California (through Proposition 12, passed by the voters in 2018) bans the sale of uncooked pork products if the seller knows (or should know) that the meat came from a breeding pig that was confined “in a cruel manner.” The law defines that to include, among other things, providing less than 24 square feet of living space—roughly the size of two bath towels—per breeding pig. California accounts for around 13% of total pork consumption in the U.S.; virtually all of the pork sold in California (>99%) comes from producers in other States. At present, only around 4% of U.S. pork producers meet California’s space requirements for breeding pigs.

The Pork Producers Council (PPC) challenge this law on ground that it violates the Dormant Commerce Clause. They concede that the law does not fall under the DCC’s prohibition against State laws that “discriminate” against out-of-state producers in favor of in-state producers; Prop 12, they acknowledge, treats in-state and out-of-state pork producers and sellers alike.

They rely instead on two of the other strands of DCC doctrine:

  • First and foremost, that the CA law “impermissibly regulates extraterritorial conduct” outside of California’s borders by compelling out-of-state producers, as a practical matter, to change their operations (at considerable cost) so as to comply with California standards.
  • Second, that it imposes “excessive burdens on interstate commerce without advancing any legitimate local interest.” California’s “philosophical preferences about conduct occurring almost entirely outside California,” and its desire to prevent what California considers animal cruelty that is occurring entirely outside the State’s borders,” cannot justify the burdens imposed on pork producers nationwide.

[Quotations above are from the PPC’s brief, available here ]

The “extra-territoriality” claim is especially important and potentially far-reaching. All sides agree that California may not actually compel pork producers in Iowa or Arizona—in the sense of imposing a legal obligation on them enforceable by means of a fine or other punishment—to adopt California’s pig-breeding standards, just as it may not compel businesses in Iowa or Arizona to abide by California’s minimum wage rules, or California’s business licensure rules, or California’s public accommodation law, and so forth.

While this principle of territorial allocation of state authority is clear enough, it has proven a little tricky to pinpoint exactly where, in the Constitution (or elsewhere? the “common law of nations”?), this prohibition is articulated; as Prof. Douglas Laycock once put it*, the prohibition against extra-territorial exercises of state coercive power was “so obvious that the Founders neglected to state it.” Much ink has been spilled over the question whether such action violates the Dormant Commerce Clause, or the Due Process Clause, or both, and the Court may take this opportunity to weigh in on that question. But wherever it comes from, the principle itself seems quite firmly established.

*See Douglas Laycock, Equal Citizens of Equal and Territorial States: The Constitutional Foundations of Choice of Law, 92 Colum. L. Rev. 249, 251 (1992)

At the same time, it is likewise true, generally speaking, that California may constitutionally impose its particular local standards—regarding product labelling, or product safety, etc.—on goods and services brought in from out-of-state and used or sold in California. Such laws may, as a practical matter, have extra-territorial effects; out-of-state businesses may have to alter their practices, possibly significantly, with regard to goods destined for sale in California, changing their method of manufacture or their packaging or labelling. But they are under no legal obligation to make those changes unless and until they choose to avail themselves of the California market and ship their goods there.

In the case at hand, California’s position is: That’s all we’re doing—applying our local standards to goods that are sold in California. We’re not compelling pork producers in Iowa or Arizona or in any other State to adopt our particular standards. Pork producers in Iowa are under no obligation whatsoever to change their pig-breeding practices because of Proposition 12; they need do so only if they wish to avail themselves of selling their pork in California.

The PPC, needless to say, sees things differently.  This is not, they say, run-of-the-mill state regulation of in-state sales:

“Though Proposition 12 applies to sales of pork meat in California, its practical effects are almost entirely extraterritorial. There are very few sow farms in California. The State imports 99.87% of the pork it consumes. Proposition 12 therefore governs the housing conditions of sows located almost exclusively outside of California, [and] the practical effect of the regulation is to control conduct beyond the boundaries of the State.”

Moreover, they claim, Proposition 12 does—“as a practical matter”—compel out-of-state breeders to comply with its standards, because of the structure of the pork market in the U.S.:

“Proposition 12’s extraterritorial effects are not limited to the 13% of U.S. pork production [sold] in California. A market pig progresses through multiple farms outside of California as it is raised, and then is processed into many different cuts of meat that are sold across the country. If any part of a pig is sold in California, the sow it came from must be Proposition 12-compliant. And sow farmers cannot say with certainty that no meat from any of their pigs will be sold in California, after those pigs pass through nursery and finishing farms, a packer-slaughter plant, then distributors, before their meat reaches consumers. As a practical matter, all or most [sow] farmers will be forced to comply with California requirements.” [emphasis added]

In other words, because pig farmers can’t tell if some piece of Elsie the Sow might end up in California, they’ll have to give her 24 square feet of space, lest they find themselves violating California law when her feet end up in sausage destined for San Francisco.

That’s a pretty interesting variation on the extra-territoriality theme.  I don’t think the Court will buy it, though I could be wrong.  That kind of “compulsion” is entirely a function of the particular configuration, at this particular point in time, of the pork market, and California is neither responsible for that nor need it adjust its regulatory affairs to take it into account. The Dormant Commerce Clause does not and should not be read to give any industry protection for the particular manner in which it has chosen to configure its nationwide distribution schemes. That configuration can change in response to market and regulatory pressures; if enough pig breeders don’t want to alter their practices to bring themselves into compliance with Proposition 12, the pork distribution market will surely respond; there is no inherent reason why distributors can’t offer “California-free” contracts, promising that none of products in their product stream will be shipped to California retailers, and that will solve the “compulsion” dilemma.

While I am reasonably confident that the Court will not go along with PPC’s claim that Proposition 12 violates the “extra-territoriality” prong of the Dormant Commerce Clause, I’m not at all sure how it will handle their alternative claim—that the law imposes “excessive burdens on interstate commerce without advancing any legitimate local interest.” California’s interest here, they assert, is just a “philosophical preference,” a desire to prevent what California considers animal cruelty that is occurring entirely outside the State’s borders.” Even if California would have the right to apply a law directed at health and safety against pork imported from out-of-state—a certificate that the pigs were trichinosis-free, say—Proposition 12 has no health and safety rationale, and therefore cannot outweigh or justify the burdens imposed on pork producers nationwide.

I’m scratching my head over that one; I’m not even sure where the Court might look to answer the question as to whether prevention of cruelty to animals is, or is not, a “legitimate” public purpose.

The post Let's Talk Pork! appeared first on Reason.com.

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College Board’s changes to APAAS course give woke progs a headache and Ron DeSantis another huge win

Have you heard the great news? The College Board has put down their social justice swords and kneeled before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, handing DeSantis yet another huge political victory (we’re kinda losing count at this point).

More from National Review:

The updated syllabus removes several authors whom Florida officials identified as problematic, including those associated with critical race theory, the “queer experience,” and black feminism. It also removed required teachings on Black Lives Matter and the case for reparations from the curriculum, though both subjects are present on a list of options for a required research project. The new framework adds “black conservatism” as an idea for a research project. The list of suggested topics “can be refined by local states and districts.”

College Board CEO David Coleman told the New York Times that the changes were not made in response to political pressure.

“At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said, suggesting instead that the changes came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”

Coleman told the paper that the board received feedback during an initial test of the course this school year that students connected more with primary sources than the secondary, more theoretical sources in the curriculum which they found to be “quite dense.”

Well, speaking of the New York Times, the New York Times sounds pretty pissed about this new development:

Maybe they figured that would be a good step toward atoning for this other headline about Ron DeSantis, which was apparently extremely offensive to people who firmly believe that Ron DeSantis is Ron DeSatan:

Be angrier, New York Times! Take a page from this guy Robert Maguire, research director at Citizens for Ethics. He’s fuming:

Note: African American Studies is not the same as African American History, but Robert doesn’t have time to make distinctions. He’s too busy ragin’.

Could there be anything more offensive than black conservatism to Robert Maguire? He’s finna go postal over the idea that students could learn more about black conservatism in an African American Studies course. Everyone knows that black conservatives don’t count, right, Robert?

Robert’s seething, y’all. But he’s not coping terribly well.

Who’s really manufacturing the outrage, though? Is it Ron DeSantis, whose concerns about the course have been proven well founded? Or is it woke progressive activists like Robert Maguire who insist that conservatives are upset over nothingburgers while complaining about the loss of those nothingburgers?

We’re so old, we remember when progressives called conservatives paranoid conspiracy theorists for believing that Critical Race Theory was part of some K-12 curricula. Now Maguire and the New York Times, clearly, are lamenting the fact that the College Board has agreed to take Critical Race Theory out of the APAAS course.

So again, we ask: who’s manufacturing the outrage?

There’s plenty more where that came from. Looks like Robert is manufacturing the hell out of the outrage, huh? Get those clicks, buddy! Truth be damned.

But the activists who are foaming at the mouth over this don’t want balance. They want Critical Race Theory. They want Queer Theory. They want social justice. They don’t want no education. They just want thought control.

Now there’s an idea!

Anyway, while Robert et al. are out there getting bent out of shape over the prospect of an AP course curriculum that won’t traffic exclusively in far-leftist theory and propaganda, Ron DeSantis is over here throwing more wins on the pile.

All Ron DeSantis needs to do is keep his head down and push forward. It seems to be working out pretty well for him — and, as in this particular case, for the country.

***

Related:

Ron DeSantis is ready to yank funding for DEI bureaucracies at Fla. public colleges and universities

***

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George Santos relative says they never gave $5,800 reported by the campaign: “I’m dumbfounded.”

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Last week, Mother Jones reported that more than a dozen top donors to Rep. George Santos’ first congressional campaign did not appear to exist. The donations from people whose names or addresses could not be confirmed totaled more than $30,000. This pattern of questionable contributions, Mother Jones has learned, extends to Santos’ successful campaign last year.

According to Santos’ campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission, his recent campaign pulled in more than $45,000 from relatives who lived in Queens. This included a mail handler who gave more than $4,000, a painter who donated the maximum of $5,800, and a student who also contributed $5,800. One of Santos’ relatives, who was recorded as giving $5,800, says that they did not make any donation to Santos.

On Tuesday, a Mother Jones reporter visited the Queens home of this relative. Informed that two donations of $2,900 each were listed under this person’s name and address in Santos’ campaign finance reports, the relative, who asked not to be identified, said, “I’m dumbfounded.” The relative had no idea where the money for these donations came from and remarked, “It’s all news to me.” This person added,  “I don’t have that money to throw around!”

The relative’s account raises the possibility that money was improperly donated to Santos’ most recent campaign. Under federal campaign finance law, it is illegal to make a contribution using a false name or the name of someone else. “It’s called a contribution in the name of another,” Saurav Ghosh, the director for federal campaign finance reform at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group, recently told Mother Jones. “It’s something that is explicitly prohibited under federal law.”

Neither Santos nor his attorney replied to requests for comment.

Santos’ 2022 campaign filings list his sister Tiffany giving more than $5,000. (She also ran Rise NY, a political action committee that paid her more than $21,000.) When a Mother Jones reporter contacted her on Tuesday, she would not confirm whether she or her relatives had made the contributions attributed to them by Santos’ campaign. Last month, the Daily Beast reported that New York court records show that Tiffany was facing potential eviction for failure to pay rent.

In the previous storyMother Jones detailed instances of suspicious donations to Santos’ 2020 campaign, which he lost by 12 points. The examples included maximum contributions from Victoria and Jonathan Regor, who were listed as residing at 45 New Mexico Street in Jackson Township, New Jersey. A search of various databases found no one in the United States named Victoria or Jonathan Regor. Moreover, that address does not exist, according to Google Maps and a resident who lives on that street. One of Santos’ New York relatives is named Victoria Devolder Rego. There is no record of her living on New Mexico Street. (Santos’ recent campaign reported donations made under the name of Victoria Devolder for $5,800.)

Santos’ 2020 campaign finance reports also listed Stephen Berger as a $2,500 donor and noted that he was a retiree who lived on Brandt Road in Brawley, California. But the homeowner who lives at that address, William Brandt, a prominent rancher and Republican donor, said, through a spokesperson, that he “does not know Stephen Berger nor has Stephen Berger ever lived” at the address listed in Santos’ FEC filings. Brandt also said he never contributed to Santos.

According to FEC records, a donor named Stephen Burger contributed $21,600 to Santos’ campaign and political committees supporting Santos during the 2022 campaign. The address listed for him could not be confirmed through public records.

In the requests for comment sent to Santos and his lawyer, Mother Jones inquired about the Burger donations.

The questions sparked by contributions to Santos’ campaign add to a number of money mysteries dogging Santos. He has yet to identify the source of $705,000 he loaned his 2022 campaign. Nor has he explained his curious personal finances. In 2020, he declared on his financial disclosure form that he had made $55,000 in salary that year working for a company that organized investor conferences. In 2022, his financial disclosure filing stated that he had made between $3.5 million and $11.5 million through a company he set up in May 2021, after another firm he worked for had been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of operating a Ponzi scheme. Santos has not detailed how the firm he created generated so much money for him in such a short time. And he has repeatedly lied about his career, education, family history, and much more.

On Tuesday, Santos said he would recuse himself from his committee assignments—House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had placed him on the Small Business and Science committees—until his assorted ethics issues are resolved. Last week, Nancy Marks resigned as Santos’ campaign treasurer. She had held this post for both his 2020 and 2022 efforts. She has been treasurer for many Republican candidates and political action committees and also struck a curious business deal with Santos in 2021.

As Mother Jones previously reported, Marks and her relatives contributed more than $30,000 to Santos’ 2022 campaign. This included Marks’ two children who were, respectively, 19- and 22-year-old students when they started donating to Santos, according to public records. They and other relatives ended up maxxing-out at $5,800 each. Marks’ family members gave to no other candidates during the 2022 campaign. Marks has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Several complaints regarding Santos’ campaign finances have been filed with the FEC. He is under investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement. The Justice Department recently told the FEC to stand down as federal prosecutors pursue a criminal investigation of Santos’ campaign finance practices.

Additional reporting by Isabela Dias

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Leasehold. Gove is wrong to imply flat owners should not be ‘on the hook’ for shared costs. | Conservative Home

The ideal state for most politicians is surely to be a great doer of popular things. That way you get to build a legacy (on the not-always-justified assumption that said popular things are also good things) and bask in the adulation of the public in the here and now at the same time. Lovely.

Unfortunately for our hypothetical politician, the barriers to doing good and popular things are very low. Very often, therefore, there aren’t many lying around to be picked up and taken forward today.

That leaves two choices. The first is to be a far-sighted doer of good but unpopular things, facing down resistance today to deliver long-term benefits to the nation and, hopefully, secure that legacy. The second is to retreat into saying popular things, abandoning the legacy but securing a bit of adulation today. (The third is to do bad but popular things, because the consequences will play out after you’ve retired.)

Were we to map this onto the history of the Conservative Party, we might label the former the Thatcherian approach; the latter, the Johnsonian one. (The third, alas, is too universal to label so particularly.)

When Michael Gove became Housing Secretary (amongst many other things), he inherited from Robert Jenrick a rare good-but-unpopular mission of the Johnson era: delivering planning reform. The full-fat version was swiftly abandoned, supposedly a tactical retreat to get a de minimis version over the line. Yet that, recently, was scrapped as well.

Gove is, or was, perfectly capable of operating in the good-but-unpopular space, as his tenure as Education Secretary indicated. At his best, he is one of the stand-out Cabinet performers of this period of Conservative government.

But today he seems content to confine himself to the popular-but-potentially-bad end of the policy spectrum – especially on housing, abandoning the quest to address the fundamental problem of supply shortages in favour of state intervention to palliate the consequences.

For example, last summer I wrote about how the White Paper underpinning the Government’s innocuous-seeming reforms to tenants rights signally made no mention of the fact that for a long time this country actually had a highly-regulated rental sector stacked towards tenants, nor explored why successive Labour and Conservative governments spent several decades dismantling it.

Then last week Gove made an offhand comment about how he would like to abolish leasehold. He is quoted in the Times as saying:

“The fundamental thing is that leasehold is just an unfair form of property ownership. In crude terms, if you buy a flat, that should be yours. You shouldn’t be on the hook for charges which managing agents and other people can land you with.”

This would certainly be a very popular move in certain quarters: we have previously published leasehold abolitionists making that case on this site. But that doesn’t mean it would actually produce good long-term results: we have also published freeholders making the case against the commonhold system favoured by abolitionists, and highlighting the real (as opposed to ideal) impact it has apparently had in Scotland.

One might, of course, want to take the freeholders’ case with a pinch of salt, given their obvious financial stake in the debate. But logically one should apply the same seasoning to a leasehold reformer who stands to benefit from the reforms they advocate. In either case, skin in the game is grounds for scepticism but it does not, in itself, invalidate arguments either from evidence or principle.

And, putting aside for now the moral question of whether or not leasehold is inherently “unfair”, freeholders’ practical arguments about the potential pitfalls of a new system, especially for more complex buildings such as large apartment blocks, are shared by Conservative policymakers, even those well-disposed towards leasehold reform.

Beyond the complexity of the legislation and the danger of unintended consequences on things such as mortgages, one summed up the key question to me as “whether everyone really wants this responsibility”, that is, of directly administering their building; Steve Norris, the two-time Tory candidate for Mayor of London, previously argued on this site that:

“What happens in practice is that the commonholders invariably do go to a professionally-qualified managing agent to take on all these responsibilities – and thus are to all intents and purposes in exactly the same position as leaseholders.”

An analogy from the Conservative mythos would be Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to build a shareholding democracy: many people simply sold their shares, and more pertinently, today retail investors tend not to vote their shares at shareholder meetings, leaving effective control in the hands of institutional investors.

This is less of an issue in that context – the retail investors are still getting their dividends – but it is an inauspicious precedent for a model where the mass exercise of ownership responsibilities is the point.

Then there’s the free-rider problem: if a commonholder only expects to occupy a property for a limited span of time, or resides in part of a larger building unaffected by a problem impacting other properties, how can they be made to pay their fair share of the costs of work – or from using collective governance mechanisms to endlessly put off the decision altogether? What is to prevent even affected owners from putting off expensive works until a problem gets much worse?

As one person familiar with the Government’s work on this, and supportive of leasehold reform, points out:

“There are many poorly run share of freehold buildings. And in other countries there are small numbers of residents dominating buildings – look at co-ops in New York with bizarre and restrictive rules set by busybody residents.”

Many of these issues could be resolved through stringent, well-designed regulation. But as Norris points out, such regulation could – and indeed should – be enacted now (alongside other very simple measures), and doing so would greatly diminish the case for full leasehold abolition.

(This would likely be much to the dismay of some abolitionists, for whom securing the freehold, or a share of it, is the prize, but avoid thorny issues such as how to make buy-outs economical when even a modern, vastly restricted freehold stake can be on the market for almost £30,000, or whether the Crown Estate should have to divest its entire interest in land when selling it for commercial development.)

Looking at Gove’s statement again, it isn’t actually obvious that either morally right or practically feasible that a property owner “shouldn’t be on the hook for charges which managing agents and other people can land you with”, at least when those charges reflect the reasonable cost of work which ought to fall collectively on the residents of a shared building or estate.

Rather it seems to reflect the one-eyed spirit which governs the housing market, where the rights of the propertied are fiercely asserted over privatised gains (usually soaring rents and house prices) whilst responsibility for the costs are either socialised, thrust onto the unpropertied, or simply not met at all.

P.S. I wrote earlier about skin in the game, so it’s only fair I lay my own cards on the table, lest people assume my sceptical attitude is offered in bad faith.

I currently rent in London’s broken rental market, I’m probably going to buy a leasehold flat, and I was unable to even make an offer on my dream flat because a vagary of the current leasehold system, combined with the absurd price of property produced by the broader system, made it unmortgageable.

No direct profit for me from the status quo; I’m a member of the several generations which increasingly see little material reason to vote Conservative and, overwhelmingly, don’t.

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Near Isfahan, Iran, Mossad Attack ‘A Spectacular Success’

In Isfahan on Sunday, a very great explosion – or more accurately, four separate explosions – blew up what appears to have been a gigantic weapons factory, apparently involving ballistic missiles. The Iranians, with poker faces, have dismissed the attack as no big deal, causing, the Defense Ministry claimed, “only minor damage and no casualties.” A preliminary Jihad Watch report is here. Here is how the Iranians described it: “Iranian Military Factory Hit by Drone Attack,” Algemeiner, January 29, 2023:

A loud explosion struck a military industry factory near the central Iranian city of Isfahan overnight in what Tehran said on Sunday was a drone strike by unidentified attackers.

“Unidentified attackers”? The entire world knows who the attackers were, and so do the Iranians. It was, of course, Mossad, with its fine Italian hand, that is always up to miching mallecho in Iran. Ever since Israel introduced a computer worm into Iranian computers that caused more than a thousand Iranian centrifuges to speed up and destroy themselves in 2010, in an operation that has entered history as Stuxnet, Israel has been performing acts of derring-do that have, through cyberwarfare, sabotage, and assassinations, rattled Iran’s leaders. Between 2010 and 2012, four of Iran’s top nuclear scientists were assassinated, one after the other, in the middle of Tehran traffic, by a man (or sometimes two) on a motorbike who pulled up alongside their cars and let loose a volley of shots, then rode off through that traffic. None of the killers has been found. And in recent months, Israel has renewed its campaign of assassination, killing nearly a half-dozen high-ranking officials belonging mainly to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

In 2018, 20 Mossad agents managed to break into a nondescript building in central Tehran, blast their way through 32 steel doors, and seize the entire nuclear archive of Iran, some 100,000 documents, which they managed to bring back to Israel for analysis, and also to share its information about heretofore unknown nuclear sites with the IAEA. In 2020 and then again in 2021, Mossad agents a managed to sabotage nuclear facilities at Natanz; the second attack was on a facility that had been built deep underground. At the end of 2021, Mossad killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the nuclear scientist who was regarded as the “godfather” of Iran’s nuclear program. On June 23, 2021, Mossad hit a nuclear facilities plant in Karaj, just outside Tehran, leading the Iranians in 2022 to move centrifuges out of Karaj and to what they believed would be a more secure facility located in Isfahan.

But on January 27, 2023, that facility, too, at Isfahan, was sabotaged. The Iranians have pretended that the attack caused “only minor damage” and that there were no casualties. Israel, as is its normal practice, remained silent.

But Israeli and Western analysts have concluded that the attack was a “spectacular success.” More on the attack and its aftermath can be found here: “Israeli drone attack on Iranian weapons factory was phenomenal success – sources,” by Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, January 29, 2023:

Despite Iranian claims, the drone attack on Iran at Isfahan was a tremendous success, according to a mix of Western intelligence sources and foreign sources, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

There were four explosions at the site, which can even be witnessed on social media, against a facility developing advanced weapons, and the damage goes far beyond the “minor roof damage” that the Islamic Republic is claiming and which it has falsely claimed before also in other incidents in recent years.

Israel is playing the incident mum, but most Western intelligence and Iranian sources have credited the Mossad with similarly successful attacks against Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility in July 2020, a different Natanz nuclear facility in April 2021, another nuclear facility at Karaj in June 2021 and with destroying around 120 or more Iranian drones in February 2022.

There are also few organizations globally besides the Mossad which are reported to have the advanced and surgical strike capabilities displayed in the operation.

Iran’s response matches responses to similar incidents.

In each of those incidents, Tehran tried to initially pretend that the attacks failed and only acknowledged the extent of the damage when satellite photos or other evidence broke into the public sphere, outflanking their denials.

It is still unclear whether the advanced weapons which were damaged are related only to conventional warfare or might have dual-use relevance also to nuclear issues, such as certain ballistic missiles or explosives equipment that can be used for both conventional and nuclear weapons purposes.

Isfahan has been used on and off for various nuclear issues as well as non-nuclear military issues.

Iran even at one point told the IAEA that some of the nuclear activities being carried out at the Karaj nuclear facility until June 2021 had been moved to Isfahan.

Whom should we believe? The Iranians, who say there was “little damage” and “no casualties,” or the Western and other intelligence sources that claim the attack was a “spectacular success,” causing four separate explosions? We know that there was both a centrifuge facility and a ballistic missiles factory, next to each other. Were both targeted?

We have at least a half-dozen similar attacks on Iranian facilities attributed to Israel’s Mossad; in every case, the Iranians at first dismissed the seriousness of the attacks, and only later, after photographs of the sites were put on the Internet, did Tehran admit that, after all, major damage had been done. And that’s exactly what is likely to happen here, when the Israelis decide to make their “after” photographs of sites destroyed available to the world. Intelligence operations around the globe have already called this Mossad attack a “spectacular” success. When it comes to safeguarding the Jewish state from a malevolent Iran, hellbent on the destruction of the Jewish state, like the God of Israel, the Israelis themselves neither slumber nor sleep.

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A Cordon Sanitaire between the EU and UK…

Recent discussions about the Protocol in Northern Ireland have focused on the problems it poses for the DUP. But from an EU perspective it seeks to solve a far larger problem for the 022 Inflation Reduction Act which introduces US state subsidies for certain green industries and places EU industries at a competitive disadvantage. The EU is concerned that some of its industries competing on world markets will re-locate or redirect investment to the USA as a result and is therefore trying to develop an EU subsidy package in response.

Whatever about the UK being able to compete with such challenges, particularly with a Libertarian free market interference averse government in charge, there is no chance of a Ian Paisley successfully defended the NI Beef industry by declaring that while NI might be British, the cattle were Irish! Similar sophistry may be required to resolve the Protocol dispute.

For the EU, whatever happens to the DUP is just so much collateral damage in a far larger conflict. It is about the survival of the European model of shared regulation and standards against those who would seek to destroy that model by undercutting it with cheaper produce produced to questionable standards from abroad. It is the battle of governments to continue to have some control over what we produce and consume. It is about consumers taking back control (to borrow a phrase) in an increasingly globalised world.

So, my apologies to those in NI who think that the battle over the NI Protocol is all about them. That it is about rescuing the DUP from its own perfidy or restoring devolution to NI. That European Tribune and a moderator of the Irish Rugby Fan Forum.