Crimefighter exodus: Manhattan prosecutors flee DA office after Bragg takes helm

Prosecutors in soft-on-crime Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office are flooding the exits amid his “radical shift in policy,” The Post has learned.

Bragg’s controversial “Day One” memo issued on Jan. 3 told assistant district attorneys to not seek prison sentences for many criminals and to downgrade some felonies to misdemeanors. His leadership has already created a firestorm that has led to an online petition calling for him to be removed.

“I know one [ADA] who was with the office over 20 years who left without a job,” said a law enforcement source. “They didn’t want to work in this kind of office. They wanted to continue prosecuting the law.”

Over the past two weeks, at least a dozen lawyers have quit.

Among the departures is senior trial counsel Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, who successfully prosecuted Harvey Weinstein, and won a 2016 conviction in the infamous 1979 murder of Etan Patz.

Illuzzi-Orbon, a Republican, had been at the office since 1988, taking only a brief leave in 2015 for an unsuccessful run for District Attorney in Staten Island.

. . .

Madeline Brame, the mother of murder victim Hason Correa, said she was worried about what Bragg’s policies — which include not seeking prison sentences of more than 20 years in most cases — would mean for the upcoming trail of her son’s accused killers. Correa, a 35-year-old Army vet, was stabbed to death in Harlem in 2018.

Brame said the prosecutor in the case left last year and she recently reached out to her replacement because she was feeling “Tortured, tormented, stressed out and frustrated not knowing now are these people only going to (get) 20 years for killing my boy.”

“He had no answers for me. None,” she said.

Crimefighter exodus: Manhattan prosecutors flee DA office after Bragg takes helm

New Life In New York’s Stead, Sarah Soltis

New York City, an emblem of urban life in America, continues to wither away. What does that mean for local culture?

A fellow Marylander shared with me a story from New York City this past summer, when those who lauded the vaccine still maintained that Covid could end if only all would “take the jab.” (Recall, for example, Biden’s promise that July Fourth could mark a return to normal life and his subsequent declaration of the virus’s defeat.) In typical out-of-towner fashion, my friend wanted to try that old achievement—along with Broadway, Wall Street, and the historical beacon of welcome epitomized by Ellis Island—responsible for New York’s fame: the New York bagel. Due to her unvaccinated status, however, she was denied entry to a famous bagel shop and the hallmark of a city that once stood for welcome and liberty.

In a few short months, such denials have become commonplace, especially in New York. A city of open arms, that once prided itself on its diversity, has become a city of closed doors and covered faces, reveling in a uniformity born of anti-Covid militarism. This uniformity manifests both in personal choices and the actions of the private sector: As of December 27th, businesses may not “allow any unvaccinated workers to come to their workplace.” Virtually all indoor establishments, too—from gyms to grocery stores to bowling alleys—require proof of full-vaccination for visitors aged 12 and up. Beginning on January 29, the same full-vaccination requirement will extend to children as young as five years old. 

If my friend now returned to New York, she would be left to roam Central Park all day and night, shut out of every N.Y. pizza parlor and museum. A card signaling full-vaccination has become a ticket to life in the “Greatest City in the World.” Meanwhile, “full-vaccination” is a status whose definition is constantly in flux. The booster shot will, undoubtedly, represent yet another component of this ticket to life: The Met Opera will soon ask for proof of a booster vaccine for all staff and audience members, as will all state colleges in New York. 

But ever-widening vaccine requirements represent just one symptom of the sickness poisoning New York, leading some to deem the city dead. New York City’s attitude towards Covid has, since the dawn of the virus, pushed the city’s businesses, culture, and “charm” to the edge of oblivion. Peggy Noonan noted the disappearance of “Old New York” in February 2021, citing the Partnership for New York City’s research that the city had lost 500,000 private sector jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, along with tens of thousands of small businesses and several thousand restaurants.

In early November, the Partnership for New York City reported that 8 percent of Manhattan office workers went into the office five days a week, with 28 percent present on an average workday and 54 percent still entirely remote. Even before Omicron latched onto the nerves of New Yorkers—who, like many across the country, have re-embraced the regulations of 2019 and 2020 without a second thought—Manhattan’s offices have stood empty overtop an emptying city. 

The culture of New York has likewise emptied itself, as Noonan recognized. Broadway and the museum scene have repeatedly shrunk to fit with Covid policy. Tens of thousands of small businesses and several thousand restaurants have shut their doors for good, unable to keep up with militant anti-Covid measures. Meanwhile, chain restaurants and large department stores have and will outlast anti-Covid militarism: With 300 Starbucks shops, NYC has suffered no true loss of Pike Place coffee. Yet New York has lost countless corner cafes where familiar baristas know the neighborhood’s orders and the locals’ names. It is these small, local, familiar businesses and their friendly supporters that have suffered. 

The locals themselves are leaving the city. In 2021, 406,257 residents departed the city, many of whom likely left for states like Florida and Texas, which saw high in-migration last year due to their lower taxes and in-person schooling policies. The cultural charm of the city—imbued by writers and artists from Wharton to Fitzgerald—has disappeared, as my own recent visit hinted. The late Joan Didion’s understanding of New York as “no mere city” but an “infinitely romantic notion” could surely no longer be uttered in a city where industry and culture, once booming in lurid color, have rotted like the city’s ever-present trash. 

Widespread masks and double-masks would likely motivate Holly Golightly to avoid eating her croissant in front of Tiffany’s, I mused, meandering through Manhattan. When walking past boarded-up shops beneath empty offices and empty apartments, I could not help but wonder if Nick Carraway’s sight of the “city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps… in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world” could possibly be seen today. 

Beyond Covid, though, the city has fallen into a “homogeneity,” as Kari Jensen Gold wrote for First Things. Drugstores and banks replace small businesses and “a bubble of progressive group-think” ousts humor and openness. Deathly uniformity reigns. America can thus no longer reasonably behold today’s hollowed New York as hallowed. 

New York City, an emblem of urban life in America, continues to wither away. Yet perhaps its sickness is not altogether a reason for despair: If New York no longer dominates the cultural life and imagination of the country, perhaps a revival of local culture is possible. Through Broadway, the art world, and the culinary, entertainment, and music industries of the city, New York has dominated the imagination of the nation for the past century. In its wake, perhaps the return of local culture that Wendell Berry envisions in his essay “The Work of Local Culture” is possible. 

New Life In New York’s Stead

Christmas Tree and Crèche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Chosen

 


The Chosen | Official Trailer HD

 

1. It’s Different… In a Good Way

The Chosen is similar to Risen, the excellent faith-based film that followed a Roman military tribune as he encounters the risen Christ. Like that 2016 movie, The Chosen tells stories of radical transformation. But unlike Risen– which used a fictional character as its main character – The Chosen spotlights the real-life men and women who knew Christ. The first four episodes examine Matthew, Peter and Mary Magdalene. We watch their emotions and personalities develop, from one episode to the next.

“We have the time to really make these characters into human beings and spend time with them,” Jenkins told Crosswalk, comparing the character development in The Chosen to that in Downton Abbey or “any other show that people binge-watch.”

“There are so many rich, nuanced details that you can get into that allow you to get to know the characters. It doesn’t feel rushed.”

Each time the credits roll, you’re ready to watch the next one.

2. It Has Relatable Characters

Perhaps you identify with the struggles of Peter. Or maybe it’s Matthew. Or Mary Magdalene.

With The Chosen, you see your own flaws and struggles in the characters. You watch them search for purpose, pre-Christ. You see their lives transformed, post-Christ. It’s a testimony every Christian can share.

“That’s absolutely the goal,” Jenkins said. “We believe that if you can see Jesus through the eyes of those who actually encountered Him, and can actually identify with these people, then you can perhaps be changed and impacted in the same way that they were. You’re saying, ‘OK, I can identify with the struggle. And therefore I can identify with the victory.’ And it makes it that much more powerful.”

Ravi Zacharias and Joni Eareckson Tada are among the Christian leaders, speakers and authors who have endorsed it.

3. It’s a Combination of Scripture and Artistic License

The Chosen includes scenes and dialogue directly from Scripture, but it also includes scenes and dialogue not in the Bible. Viewers learn on the opening scroll it is “based on the true stories of the gospels of Jesus Christ.” Some locations and timelines “have been combined or condensed” and “backstories and some characters or dialogue have been added.”

“However,” the scroll says, “all biblical and historical context and any artistic imagination are designed to support the truth and intention of the Scriptures.”

Jenkins, who created the concept for the series, emphasized he is someone who “believes absolutely in the Word of God.”

. . .

4. It Was Crowdfunded

The Chosen wasn’t bankrolled by Hollywood studios. It was funded by 15,000 investors who raised more than $10 million for the show to be created. VidAngel is distributing it.

The crowdfunding campaign was so successful that it received coverage in mainstream entertainment sites like The Hollywood Reporter. It was the most successful TV crowdfunding campaign ever, beating Mystery Science Theater 3000 ($5.8 million). The record-holder for movies is Veronica Mars ($5.7 million).

Investors will receive any profits, although most people who gave money weren’t in it for the money, Jenkins said.

Future episodes, too, will be crowdfunded. The first episode of Season 1 can be viewed for free at TheChosen.TV.

4 Things You Should Know about The Chosen on YouTube

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PopSockets CEO calls out Amazon’s ‘bullying with a smile’ tactics

Amazon has a “bullying” problem.

So insisted PopSockets CEO and inventor David Barnett today while describing his company’s relationship with the e-commerce and logistics giant. Barnett was addressing members of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law and, over the course of the hearing, laid out how the Jeff Bezos-helmed corporate behemoth had pressured his smartphone accessory company in a manner best described as incredibly shady.

Barnett was joined by executives from Sonos, Basecamp, and Tile, who all took turns airing a list of grievances against major tech players such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. They all recounted, in manners specific to their respective companies, how the major tech players have used their market dominance to squeeze smaller competitors in allegedly anticompetitive ways.

The CEO of PopSockets, however, appeared to have a personal beef with Jeff Bezos (which he pronounced “Bey-zoo”).

“Multiple times we discovered that Amazon itself had sourced counterfeit product and was selling it alongside our own product,” he noted.

Barnett, under oath, told the gathered members of the House that Amazon initially played nice only to drop the hammer when it believed no one was watching. After agreeing to a written contract stipulating a price at which PopSockets would be sold on Amazon, the e-commerce giant would then allegedly unilaterally lower the price and demand that PopSockets make up the difference.

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter asked Barnett how Amazon could “ignore the contract that [PopSockets] entered into and just say, ‘Sorry, that was our contract, but you got to lower your price.'”

Barnett didn’t mince words.

“With coercive tactics, basically,” he replied. “And these are tactics that are mainly executed by phone. It’s one of the strangest relationships I’ve ever had with a retailer.”

Barnett emphasized that, on paper, the contract “appears to be negotiated in good faith.”

However, he claimed, this is followed by “… frequent phone calls. And on the phone calls we get what I might call bullying with a smile. Very friendly people that we deal with who say, ‘By the way, we dropped the price of X product last week. We need you to pay for it.'”

Barnett said he would push back and that’s when “the threats come.”

PopSockets CEO calls out Amazon’s ‘bullying with a smile’ tactics

Amazon is a den of thieves

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You Didn’t Build That

Detroit did not need a Thomas Jefferson or a Mohandas Gandhi or another great political philosopher with a world-changing idea — it needed someone to fix the potholes, balance the books, keep order on the streets, see to the schools, and keep the city agencies orderly and honest and effective. Without that, all of Detroit’s productive capital — physical, financial, and human — was devalued and ultimately dispersed.

A nation as rich as ours can afford a great deal of stupidity, but hubris is expensive.

Detroit’s success was a very complicated story. Its failure is a simpler one.

How did Detroit become the “Motor City” at the center of the U.S. automotive business? It wasn’t obvious that it would be: At the end of the 19th century, more than 100 automobile companies were organized in the United States, most of them in New England and Ohio. But Michigan won out because it had a hugely important advantage in one natural resource: smart people.

Ask a half-dozen car guys why Detroit beat out the rest, and you’ll get a half-dozen answers: Maybe because Henry Ford and Ransom Olds lived in Michigan, or maybe because Standard Oil helped to lift the gasoline-powered Michigan manufacturers over competitors in Cleveland and Boston, which leaned toward steam and electric power. (Electric cars — imagine that.) But one of the main reasons Detroit became the Motor City is that it already was a motor city: Before it was a powerhouse in the automobile business, it was an important center for manufacturing marine engines (as was Cleveland), and as such was home to a work force with skills relevant to building automobiles — metalworkers, mechanics, engineers, machinists, experienced laborers. The most useful kind of intelligence resides in particular people and in particular intellectual communities, whether those are theoretical physicists or construction workers. That kind of intelligence cannot be boxed up and redistributed like surplus cheese. It is where it is, and it is there because of organic developments that cannot be managed.

Henry Ford offered good wages and an intelligently organized production process, but he didn’t exnihilate those skilled workers into existence; he just hired them. The larger and more complex the intellectual ecosystem of Detroit became, the greater the advantage provided by its workforce was — and the more it became a magnet for the best workers.

And Henry Ford wouldn’t have got very far without them.

. . .

(I will here offer the obligatory periodic reminder that the story about Henry Ford’s bootstrapping the automobile market into existence by paying his workers enough to afford his products is a myth, pure folk economics.)

Henry Ford’s problems are our problems still. North Carolina is the Detroit of the American upholstered-furniture industry, and its biggest problem right now is finding skilled workers to man the industry’s factories. A program set up by furniture manufacturers and a local community college is training up new workers as fast as it can, but that is not fast enough: “The good news is we can graduate 150 people a year,” one furniture executive told the Wall Street Journal. “The bad news is that the industry needs 800 to 1,000 people.” Another recruiter described hiring an upholsterer through a temp agency as “winning the lottery.”

And yet millions of Americans somehow manage to languish in persistent joblessness.

The story is familiar, with businesses ranging from the literally old-timey (mechanical-watch manufacturers) to the high-tech (chemical companies) complaining loud and long that they cannot fill their openings, that highly skilled, reliable labor is impossible to find. Old-fashioned business strategies such as (radical idea!) substantially raising wages are not always effective. (Keep trying, guys; it worked for Henry Ford — eventually.) Industry groups have put together training and apprenticeship programs such as the one for furniture-makers in North Carolina, where a $600, eleven-month course prepares workers for jobs that can pay in excess of $75,000 a year. The Institute of Swiss Watchmaking operates training programs in Fort Worth, Texas, along with Hong Kong and Shanghai. For those on shorter timelines, there are still a bunch of oil-and-gas companies that will pay you to get a commercial driver’s license and then hire you when you do.

If the demand-side story is familiar, then so are the excuses from the potential supply side. If you’ve followed the intramural debate on the right between the classical free-market conservatives and the new right-wing anti-capitalists, then you’ve heard this before: “I want a good job, but I don’t want to move to one of those awful, expensive, godless coastal metros to get it.” “Okay, but there are lots of jobs to be had in lots of other places that aren’t Palo Alto.” “But I don’t want to invest four years in college and go into debt to do it.” “Okay, there are jobs to be had in West Texas gas fields and North Carolina furniture factories and all sorts of other places that don’t require a four-year degree.” “But. . . .”

There’s always another “but.”

Furniture-factory recruiters tell the Wall Street Journal that potential workers sometimes turn their noses up at their training programs because there is no guarantee that demand for workers will be as strong years in the future as it is today. Factories trying to recruit Millennials also have discovered that starting the workday at 6:30 a.m. is an obstacle. The usual thumbsuckers offer the usual thumbsucking excuses. A cynical man might wonder what exactly would get these folks to take the job — an iron rice bowl?

There’s a reason so many of the complaints we hear about China are characterized not by horror at the brutality of the Chinese regime but by frank envy of its command-and-control powers.

Tom Friedman calls it being “China for a day.” Marco Rubio calls it “industrial policy.”

. . .

If you are willing to consider the full, mind-bending complexity of the U.S. economy, then Elizabeth Warren’s “You Didn’t Build That!” argument becomes, in a sense, Leonard Read’s argument in “I, Pencil.” Everything touches everything else, and burdens are shared in complicated ways. Senator Warren’s story is an attempt to create a compelling moral narrative for managerial progressivism, the dusty intellectual antique installed firmly in the center of her brain. But while her political conclusions do not necessarily follow from the facts, she isn’t wrong about the facts themselves. Entrepreneurship does not happen in a vacuum, and nobody seriously thinks it does.

(Senator Warren leans heavily on an old politician’s trick: Arguing with positions that nobody really supports; in this, she is a lot like our friends on the new anti-capitalist right, who believe they have a patent on the idea that there is life beyond the market.)

Consider the early days of the automotive industry: When Alexander Winton drove from Cleveland to New York City to promote his new automobile, the trip took nine days and was thought to be such a feat that he was greeted by a million people upon arriving in Manhattan. The roads were, as Winton put it, “outrageous.” A few years later, an enthusiast in another Winton automobile made the first coast-to-coast automobile road trip in the United States, from San Francisco to New York.

. . .

The complexity of real-world economic relationships is the point of “I, Pencil,” Read’s famous essay, which illustrates that even something as straightforward, ubiquitous, and cheap as a No. 2 pencil relies on a vast network of industrial processes, specialized knowledge, trade, etc. so vast as to be well beyond the comprehension of any single organization, much less any individual. That’s the miracle: Nobody knows how to make a pencil, but we have plenty of them, anyway. Read took this as an argument against central planning, and he might be reasonably criticized for minimizing the role of the public sector; Senator Warren takes the same entangling relationships as an argument for more central planning, even though she occasionally remembers to make a rhetorical gesture in the direction of capitalism. Read was basically right and Warren is basically wrong, but Warren’s distortion of the underlying principle does not diminish the importance of public-sector and non-market institutions in the ecosystem of Readian economic complexity.

The complicated truth is that Henry Ford (and every other entrepreneur) drafted behind both public-sector and private-sector investments that preceded him and his own innovations. The marine-engine business helped lay the foundations for the subsequent success of Detroit’s automotive industry, but so did roads and schools and the like. There’s a word for that: civilization. Isaac Newton was not the only one who stood on the shoulders of giants. All of us do. (And not just giants: Nobody invented the automobile or the internal-combustion engine. There were thousands and thousands of contributors to that subtle and spectacular evolution.)

If it seems like we have drifted a long way from the original point about the role of the work force in the entrepreneurial process, we haven’t.

. . .

The current argument about the future of capitalism is about a lot of different things, some of which are only tangentially related to one another. Some of these considerations are matters of narrow political self-interest: Senator Rubio et al. have discovered that there is some juice in Trumpian neo-mercantilism and believe, with good reason, that there is even a little cross-partisan appeal to it. They have failed to articulate a set of policies or meaningful principles to go along with that hunch, but if President Trump has shown Republicans anything, it is that policies and principles are optional for a working majority of right-leaning voters, who can be had at the price of some vague grumbling about the national interest and intellectually dishonest claptrap about how “market fundamentalists on the right want more record-setting days in the stock market above all else,” as Senator Rubio put it.

I will reiterate here two things: The first is that Senator Rubio is engaged in a political fight to the death with a straw man, and that so far the fullest expression of his conception of the national interest in economic policy is subsidies for politically connected sugar producers in Florida. In politics, vague principles rarely stand up to specific demands from specific constituents.

On the wider cultural front, the fight about the future of capitalism is in no small part a matter of status competition, less a question of economic development than of how we talk about economic issues. Practitioners of resentment politics wish to reduce the prestige of cultural rivals, and so we have the strange spectacle of our so-called nationalists abominating the actual centers of American power, prestige, and influence: Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the Ivy League, Hollywood, etc.

Both Warren-style progressives and right-wing critics such as my friend Michael Brendan Dougherty seek to undermine the heroic account of entrepreneurship and corporate success traditionally put forward by apologists for capitalism. For these critics, the professional and financial elites represent a morally corrupt class that needs to be taken down a peg — those of you who have followed this conversation for a while will remember that Dougherty’s famous thought experiment about Garbutt, N.Y., had conservatives advancing the interests of “a typical coke-sniffer in Westport” and his in-laws down the road in Darien. Their argument is at heart about social status, holding that the finance workers in Fairfield County and the multinational firms that employ them deserve less admiration, as do the start-up founders and venture capitalists on the opposite coast, which is why it is important that they be cocaine enthusiasts or sexual deviants or whatever for purposes of political narrative if not in real life, where the coastal elites practice the bourgeois values (stable marriages and thrift and relative sobriety and all that) to a remarkable extent.

At the same time, the same critics argue that we should have more sympathy for those who are stuck in economically stagnant and socially backward communities and who do not wish to leave them. Dougherty presents this explicitly as a sympathy deficit on the part of the capitalism camp: “Any investments he made in himself previously are for naught. People rooted in their home towns? That sentimentalism is for effete readers of Edmund Burke. Join the hyper-mobile world.”

Though the protectionism put forward by the likes of Trump and Rubio is couched in the language of national interest, it is the opposite of that: Americans as a whole would be better off with lower food prices, but a small handful of Americans is much better off with higher prices secured by the policies supported by Rubio and other like-minded politicians. Americans as a whole are much better off when markets are allowed to allocate resources efficiently, but there is a vast and politically significant archipelago of communities that would prefer that certain inefficiencies be preserved, because their livings are tied to those inefficiencies and their communities have been built atop them. Detroit in 1960 was on top of the world — it was the highest-income city in the United States. Detroit would have been very comfortable if it could have been frozen in time, economically, in that moment. And a very wide array of politicians and activists, from local union leaders to President Ronald Reagan, took extraordinary steps to try to preserve the position of the U.S. automotive industry, with the disastrous consequences that you can see in front of you in Detroit today.

The things that gave Detroit its critical advantages in the early 20th century were not things that could be planned out in advance by super-intelligent philosopher-kings in the bureaucracies. Creating a marine-engine industry that would help to prepare the workforce for an automotive industry that would not exist until decades in the future is not the kind of plan that mere mortals can conceptualize or execute. If you had tried to explain to the best and most forward-looking thinkers of Detroit’s golden years that China and India would soon enough be significant high-tech competitors, they would have laughed at you. Also, if you’d told them that one of the biggest and most valuable U.S. companies in 2019 would be an electronic bulletin board where you can go to denounce your aunt as a hate-monger, they would have been perplexed, as, indeed, some of us are. Remember that many of the best minds of the time believed that the automobile would be a passing fad.

Conservatives like to laugh at Paul Krugman, revisiting his long-ago prediction that the Internet would prove no more economically significant than the fax machine, but nobody is really very good at predicting the future of economic developments at any meaningful level of detail. Go spend some time around private-equity investors and see how they come by their billions: They are smart, but they are not superhuman, and they do not have any special insight into long-term economic trends — they do a tremendous amount of grunt-work discovering and creating value in ordinary companies and complex deals, inch-worming their way through. That’s how a lot of wealth gets built. That’s the real world. And Senator Rubio scoffs at it as fiddling with “financial flows detached from real production,” as though factories just built themselves.

. . .

You couldn’t have planned Detroit’s success. But you could have avoided its catastrophic failure. Detroit was not done in by lack of clever industrial policy or by shortage of some other species of cleverness. It was done in by corrupt and ineffective government and a local political culture that went from bad to worse to much worse to Coleman Young. They tried to save Detroit with tariffs and failed. They could have saved it with safe streets and functional schools and the hundred thousand other tiny needful things that good governments do well.

Good government — including a steady, stable, predictable policy environment — multiplies the value of labor, just as training and capital do. That is why investment capital around the world for years has flowed largely to well-governed countries, most of them liberal democracies, with the largest recipients of foreign direct investment being the United States and the European Union. (China, the important exception to that rule, is not well-governed; it is governed brutally but predictably, an ugly but useful reminder that stability has economic value, too.) There are many places that businesses could go in search of low wages and a loose regulatory environment, but you aren’t driving a car made in Haiti or using a computer built in Burundi. Investors aren’t putting a lot of money into factories in Yemen or Afghanistan.

. . .

The U.S. government is in many cases a force for instability and non-confidence in our national economic life. Peter Navarro’s position as Trump’s China hand is as ridiculously implausible as Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Burisma, but there he is, whispering into the president’s ear. Senator Rubio is no less implausible in his belief that he has eagle eyes to detect subtle national interests in complex economic affairs of which he has no substantial first-hand knowledge. His problem isn’t stupidity — it’s hubris.

A nation as rich as ours can afford a great deal of stupidity, but hubris is expensive.

Senator Rubio represents a government that has shown little competence in the small and ordinary things. It cannot even manage to follow its own ordinary processes for creating budgets or appropriating funds, instead lurching from season to season with a series of “emergency” measures in a state of never-ending crisis. You might think that that would be the cause of some modesty and circumspection in Washington. You would be wrong.

Rather than monkeying around with things that are beyond his ken and outside of the credible operating capacity of the U.S. government, Senator Rubio should be seeing to some of the things that might actually make a difference. The U.S. government is on a catastrophic fiscal course that will, without reform, eventually result in a ruinous debt crisis the likes of which the world has never seen. (We’ve seen fiscal crises in Canada and Argentina, but the U.S. economy represents nearly a quarter of the world’s economic output.) We have entitlement programs that are in need of reform, decaying and archaic infrastructure under federal purview, serious K–12 educational problems entangled with federal policy, a tax code in great need of simplification, a series of worldwide military engagements that have failed or are on the verge of failing, enormous deficits, an out-of-control presidency and administrative state, etc., all of it under the responsibility of a federal apparatus that cannot even produce an accurate count of how many programs it administers. Senator Rubio and his colleagues are like fast-food workers who haven’t yet mastered the drive-thru but demand a seat on the board of the company: They are not doing a very good job with the responsibilities they already have.

And many of those are responsibilities that cannot be taken on by anybody else: If the United States is to have an immigration system characterized by intelligence and decency, or a federal criminal-justice system characterized by justice, then the federal government is the instrument that is going to bring that about. These tasks cannot be delegated to the Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club. But rather than see to these, and other authentic federal responsibilities, Senator Rubio would spend his days micromanaging the world’s mining markets lest the sneaky Chi-Comms hoard all the ytterbium.

(Seriously.)

What was true for Detroit is true for the United States as a whole. The first step toward success in government is avoiding failure, and what emerges from the complicated story of Detroit’s success and the relatively simple story of its failure is not that government must master economic complexity and put it in harness but rather that government must do a lot of relatively simple things well. Detroit did not need a Thomas Jefferson or a Mohandas Gandhi or another great political philosopher with a world-changing idea — it needed someone to fix the potholes, balance the books, keep order on the streets, see to the schools, and keep the city agencies orderly and honest and effective. Without that, all of Detroit’s productive capital — physical, financial, and human — was devalued and ultimately dispersed.

Detroit’s fall happened hard and fast. As the poet said, Goin’ down slow ain’t the only way to go. Deride “financial flows detached from real production” all you like, but if you want workers to have jobs, then you need enterprises to employ them. If you want enterprises to employ them, then you need investment. And if you want investment, then you need good government and a stable, predictable policy environment, not Senator Rubio freelancing around the economy like a kid trying to play chess without even knowing how the horsey-thingies move.
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The U.S. economy is a vastly complex system with countless variables. Here’s a puzzle with only three variables: 1. There are about 5.7 million unemployed people in the United States right now. 2. We have thousands and thousands of jobs going unfilled because employers cannot find workers to fill them. 3. We spend about $10 billion a week on unemployment benefits.

Sort that out and the ytterbium will take care of itself.

You Didn’t Build That, by Kevin Williamson

Statolatry, Ozymandias

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Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Source: Abraham Lincoln Online

Ulysses S. Grant’s Proclamation of a Day of Thanksgiving, 1871
Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. President
October 28, 1871

National Thanksgiving

Proclamation by the President

The procession of the seasons has again enabled the husbandman to garner the fruits of successful toil. Industry has been generally well awarded. We are at peace with all nations, and tranquility, with few exceptions, prevails at home. Within the past year we have in the main been free from the ills which elsewhere have affected our kind.

If some of us have had calamities, there should be an occasion for sympathy with the sufferers, of resignation on their part to the will of the Most High, and of rejoicing to the many who have been more favored.

I therefore recommend that on Thursday, the 30th day of November next, the people meet in their respective places of worship, and there make the usual acknowledgments to Almighty God for the blessings he has conferred upon them; for their merciful exemption from evil, and invoke His protection and kindness for their less fortunate brethren whom, in His wisdom he has deemed it best to chastise.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington this twenty-eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and seventy one, and of the Independence of the Untied States of America the ninety-sixth.

By the President,

Ulysses S. Grant.

Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State

Source: CBN

Thanksgiving 2019

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Hard as Nails

This particular morning, on my drive into work I had contemplated committing suicide. I was thinking that I would finish my final shift and then come home and just end all the pain, anger, hurt, and hatred that I had built up by ending my life. I prayed to God. I asked him to take the hurt, to show me a sign that all would be okay.

I made it to work, clocked in, and started my day. As lunchtime came around, and a line started to form at the door, I looked out at this huge bus that said “You’re Amazing” on it. I thought in my head, “Aw man, we got a bus! Wonder what team they are and where they are from …”

What I didn’t realize was that they were a part of God’s team, and that they had made it to my job just to give me the sign that I so desperately needed. I called the next customer to my register and three men came up. The first thing out of one of the gentleman’s mouth was, “Hello, I just want to let you know that you’re amazing, and God has a specific plan and purpose for you.”

The day God sent me a bus of missionaries to save me from suicide

Hard as Nails Missionaries (HANM)

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Free Speech Is Killing Us

 


The First Amendment | US Government and Politics | Khan Academy

 

Violence is a real problem and a consequence of free speech. Can you imagine if people just said whatever they wanted? You’d have people mistrusting government. You might even start a violent revolution that overthrows the government, may Dear Leader forbid it!

Using “free speech” as a cop-out is intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt. Yes, free speech is a glorious pastime of our wonderful, prosperous empire, but it’s not the only one. It must be held in tension with other values, such as equality, safety, good citizenship, worshiping me, and stamping out anyone who would be foolish enough to speak up against our utopia.

Look, I am not calling for repealing free speech entirely. What I’m arguing for is silencing those whose speech your majestic rulers—namely, me—find to be potentially seditious. Only when speech is carefully policed, with your betters determining what can be said and what cannot be said, can speech truly be “free.”

Free Speech Is Killing Us

The First Amendment – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

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Imagine yourself as a living house.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 



C.S. Lewis on Christianity

 

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