• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

“Yes, the Trump Era was prosperous, with historically low unemployment rates, low inflation, energy independence, and rising wages”.

June 15, 2022

Biden’s Deathly Presidency

By Jeffrey Folks at American Thinker:

For four years under President Trump, America enjoyed peace, security, and unparalleled prosperity.  Trump’s presidency was a historic era of good times in which we began to regain faith in the American Dream.  Now we have the nightmare and the death and destruction that go with it.

Yes, the Trump Era was prosperous, with historically low unemployment rates, low inflation, energy independence, and rising wages.  But aside from that, the most important thing about Trump’s presidency was the fact that Americans were secure, as they had not been under Obama and certainly are not under Biden.  Under Trump, America was in so many senses vibrant and “alive” with pride in our country and hope for its future.

Now we have regular mass shootings in which citizens disarmed by the State have no way to defend themselves.  Overseas, we have a war in Ukraine, the threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, and Iran developing nuclear weapons with the encouragement of the Biden administration.  The common thread is death and the fear that goes with it.  And this does not even include Biden’s aggressive defense of abortion on demand. 

Under President Trump, I lived without fear.  I knew that Trump supported my right to defend my home and that he supported the police who defended me as well.  Just having the president and his administration on my side made me breathe easier.  America was moving in the right direction, as was confirmed by every opinion poll during Trump’s time in office before COVID was unleashed.

Long-term death rates are more a matter of demographics than policy, and they have been rising ever since Obama took office in 2008.  But murder rates, deaths in war and civil unrest, drug overdose deaths, and accidental deaths are attributable to policy, and they have been rising under Biden, even during his short time in office.  Under Biden, the U.S. murder rate, which had been declining under President Trump, is the highest in 25 years.  According to former N.Y. police commissioner Howard Safir, the spike in violence is partly attributable to a lack of support for police and soft-on-crime prosecutors.  And it is Biden, with his anti-police rhetoric and refusal to prosecute (as in the case of those picketing Justice Kavanaugh’s home), who is responsible for this climate of anarchy.

Now I plan my trips carefully, avoid eye contact with strangers, and carry only a driver’s license and credit card.  I drive inconspicuously as well, given the explosion of road rage incidents.

The most galling thing is that Biden never says a word about the victims of crime unless he can twist the incident into an anti-gun lecture, and he takes no action to protect anyone, especially law-abiding citizens in middle-class neighborhoods like my own.  In this and so many other ways, he seems on the side of those who wish to destroy us.  It’s no accident that murder rates are spiraling at home and war is breaking out overseas.  Both are a response to Biden’s weakness, and death is the consequence.

I fear there will be more death ahead.  I expect an invasion in Taiwan, Moldova, or Finland, and new outbreaks of violence in the Middle East involving either Iran or its surrogates.  The incomprehensible Iran deal, which Biden is pushing, would “make Biden ‘the biggest funder of terrorism in the world,'” according to Rep. Jim Banks.  “Terrorism” is not just a derogatory word; it is the act of murdering innocent human beings, including women and children.  Hasn’t that fact entered into Biden’s Iran deal calculations?

Biden’s weakness has emboldened our enemies, and their actions pose a threat to our security.  This is the way major wars begin.  They can be prevented only by the projection of force of the kind we saw under President Trump, and Biden projects about as much force as a lady’s fan.  His weakness will get us into another war, and our young men and women will die in that war.  There is death hanging over us, and Biden seems oblivious, fumbling with his note cards to find some kind of answer.  

There is a new national mood in America unlike anything I’ve seen since the 1960s: a sense of foreboding and caution based on the very real threat of violence and collapse.  There are more threats to our country, including the wealth destruction of inflation, to which Biden simply rolls his eyes, chuckles, and whispers some idiotic riposte.  There are more criminal gangs, and Biden just welcomes more in.  There is more road rage, more random shootings, and more felons out on no bond/low bond.  And there is a callous and brutal disregard for the lives of the unborn.

In response to the mounting violence, Biden seems remote, fuddling with his microphone like a man slipping into dementia, and those around him seem inept, if not callous, including his new press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, who is said to have “frequently stumbled” during her first weeks.  A president who is weak and advisers who are incompetent and anti-American to boot — that is a recipe for disaster, and disaster will end, as it always does, in poverty, destruction, and death.

There are bullies in the world who watched as Biden stumbled out of Afghanistan, and bullies don’t have much respect for doddering fools who just want to survive a four-year term and leave a mess for someone else to clean up.

As a citizen, it is difficult to watch my country besieged by violence.  Biden’s presidency has been deadly in every respect: turning off economic growth and imposing environmental restrictions, proposing inflation-adjusted cuts in national defense while paying off student loans, and putting citizens at risk with his anti-police rhetoric.

There is little chance of a second Biden term, but just another two and a half years is painful to imagine.  How many thousands will lose their lives because of one incompetent and wrong-headed leader?  How far will America go into danger and destruction?  And how much more difficult will it be for our next president, Trump or a Trump lookalike, to repair the damage and Make America Safe Again?

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

Trouble In Dem Washington!

Pro-life legislator’s office firebombed

by JAZZ SHAW Jun 15, 2022, at HotAir:

Private security camera footage

Trouble broke out early Monday morning at the office of state representative Andrew Barkis in Olympia, Washington. Two suspects were captured on security camera footage approaching the office, smashing out a window with a hammer, and throwing a flaming object into the office. Thankfully, the floor inside of the building was made of masonry and the fire didn’t spread very far, but it was an obvious case of firebombing and arson. While there was no graffiti or other messaging left at the scene identifying a motive, we probably don’t need to work very hard to figure out how and why this happened. Barkis is a vocal pro-life representative, and this is the fifth incident of arson or firebombing that’s been recorded since the leak of the pending Dobbs decision from the Supreme Court. (LifeNews)

An attempted arson and vandalism reported at a pro-life politician’s office early Monday in Washington state adds to growing concerns about violence targeting people who work to protect unborn babies from abortion.

The incident is the fifth arson or attempted arson against pro-life advocates since news broke in May about a leaked draft ruling showing the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Dozens of churches and pro-life organizations also have been targets of vandalism, threats and harassment, and pro-abortion radicals are threatening more violence if the court does overturn Roe this summer.

My Northwest reports pro-life Republican state Rep. Andrew Barkis’s office building was vandalized just after 4 a.m. Monday in Olympia when two masked individuals broke a window with a hammer and threw a lit flare into the building.

The fact that the building didn’t fully burn down or sustain significant damage because of the incompetence of the aspiring arsonists doesn’t lessen the nature of this crime. This was still a deliberate attempt at a firebombing and arson. And it would be shocking indeed to learn that the attackers had some other, totally random motive having nothing to do with the abortion issue and the Supreme Court.

The lack of coverage these attacks have been receiving in the mainstream media speaks volumes. If we were talking about one isolated incident, you could potentially write it off as the actions of a deranged lunatic. But now we’re up to five attacks in as many weeks. There’s an obvious pattern here and you would think that it would be considered newsworthy.

Are we going to see the liberal talking heads in the MSM writing this off as more “peaceful protesting” because the targets are pro-life healthcare providers and politicians? Don’t laugh that off. You probably saw how they lionized the Molotov cocktail lawyers in New York City from the day of the attack until their final guilty plea.

Seriously, is this just the new normal now? When a court decision doesn’t go their way, will the liberals immediately begin recruiting arsonists on the dark web to start burning buildings down? This is all being done to try to influence courts and public opinion. Where are the Democrats’ calls to combat domestic terrorism? We already know the answer to that question because you could barely get any of them to condemn all of the arson and looting during the BLM riots. Why would they start condemning this new trend if the firebombings are being done “for the right reason?”

If this keeps up, sooner or later someone is going to die or be seriously injured. You can’t keep setting buildings on fire without eventually torching one that has someone inside who may wind up trapped and unable to reach an exit. That will offer a stark vision of the difference between pro-life and pro-death.

Biden Dems Win Their Keep In Texas!?

JUNE 14, 2022 BY STEVEN HAYWARD at PowerLine:


I stumbled across this Tweet just now, having forgotten about this special election to fill a vacant U.S. House seat:

Here are the votes with 95 percent of the precincts counted (from the NY Times):

Flores will be the first Republican to win this district since . . . 1870. She will also be the first Mexican-born congresswoman.

I hear Target as a big supply of red (wave) panic buttons. Buy one for your nearest Democrat. They’ll need it a lot between now and November. Though I suppose Dems can still turn it all around if they just yell “Latinx” louder.

Chaser—I suspect this is correct:

That Bungling Pelosi TROUBLE MAKER!

Better almost too late then never? House finally votes on SCOTUS protection bill

ED MORRISSEY Jun 14, 2022 9:21 PM ET

How badly did Nancy Pelosi bungle this easy lay-up? Chuck Schumer practically gift-wrapped a rare opportunity for the Democrat-controlled House to prove that they could govern, and even then Pelosi refused to act — even, briefly, after an assassin came within sight of Brett Kavanaugh’s home.

Pelosi finally realized how bad it looked. Too bad members of The Squad still don’t:

After a Supreme Court draft opinion’s release to the public, a threat to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s life and a House-Senate snafu, a bill to extend security to the family members of Supreme Court justices is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The House voted to pass the bill 396-27 Tuesday afternoon. It was spearheaded by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) and passed the Senate unanimously more than a month ago.

This bill sat around for more than a month after the radical activist group Ruth Sent Us doxxed the conservative justices and posted their addresses on line. That led Nicholas Roske right to Kavanaugh’s house last Wednesday morning, all while Pelosi stalled the bill. Even after that thwarted assassination attempt Pelosi initially refused to budge on the bill passed by the Senate unanimously, hoping to score some political concessions by holding it up while the doxxing and protests continued:

“No one is in danger over the weekend,” Pelosi scoffed, literally less than 40 hours removed from an assassin showing up at Kavanaugh’s house. If that had happened to a member of Pelosi’s caucus, you can bet that she would have demanded an immediate and robust addition to their security from Capitol Police and/or the FBI tout suite. As it was, Pelosi’s stalling on the bill in the first place accomplished nothing and left her on the hook if the attack had actually transpired.

So which House members voted against the bill Schumer teed up for the easy lay-up? No big surprises:

Twenty seven House Democrats voted against the bill, including progressives like Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and some New Jersey Democrats.

Supposedly Pelosi wanted to expand the bill to include abortion providers, for some reason, even though House Democrats could have tried that on their own. (Perhaps they should be more worried about attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers, eh?) Rather than actually produce a bill that would have expanded the approach, Pelosi and her team basically did nothing at all. John Cornyn and Steve Scalise heaped scorn on House Democrats:

“If House Democrats actually believed in the snake oil they’re trying to sell, they would have passed their own bill a month ago, but they didn’t and they haven’t,” Cornyn said. …

“It just begs the question: Why did Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi delay it for over a month?” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) asked, predicting the Senate bill gets the “lion share” of House members.

Instead, after purposely delaying a rare unanimous Senate bill for weeks after the doxxing and nearly a week after the attempted assassination, Pelosi finally caved this afternoon. It’s an inexplicable outcome, having a picked a fight that no one wanted at the time only to cave in the end weeks later without having gained anything except egg on Pelosi’s face. And it almost came too late in Kavanaugh’s case.

Speaking of which, the Washington Post points out a curious gap in the Roske timeline. The initial understanding was that Roske called 911 immediately after realizing that Kavanaugh had armed security at the house. Now it looks like the call came more than thirty minutes after Roske left the neighborhood:

Court records say that after Roske flew in from California and got out of a taxi near the conservative justice’s home in Chevy Chase, Md., just after 1 a.m. on Wednesday, he saw two deputy U.S. marshals standing outside their vehicle and he walked away. But another factor may also have played an important role.

While walking along the narrow, leafy streets of Kavanaugh’s neighborhood, Roske contacted his sister, officials said.

“The suspect arrived by taxi and observed the U.S. marshals, and he turned around to contemplate his next move,” according to Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones. “This is when he texted his sister and told her of his intentions, and she convinced him to call 911, which he did.” …

The details of what was allegedly said or texted between Roske and his sister, and how long they communicated, could not be learned. But according to court records and Montgomery County 911 recordings, approximately 33 minutes passed from the time Roske allegedly saw the marshals — and the marshals saw him — to when he called 911. During that time, he walked around the corner from the justice’s home and positioned himself about 1½ blocks away.

That certainly raises some questions about the timeline. Who else might Roske have called? Was anyone else involved in this plot? Investigators will have already executed warrants for phone records from Roske, and that might lead to others. Or maybe not; Roske may have spent thirty minutes on the phone getting convinced to give himself up. But that seems like a pretty significant gap, and it also could mean that Roske may have been mulling options for an alternate plan in light of the security presence he’d already seen. Or perhaps he made sure to let someone else know what to expect on a subsequent attempt.

All the more reason to pass this bill when the Senate handed it off, not until after someone made an attempt at assassinating a sitting member of the Supreme Court. Pelosi’s delay is disgraceful under the circumstances, and a great example of how Democrats aren’t a responsible governing party. It’s tough to determine whether we have one in Congress at all these days, in fact.

The American Kind Are Getting Super Fat TOO!

Has anybody noticed that women are disappearing?

Welcome to the brave new world of “pregnant people”


Has anybody noticed that women are disappearing? | WORLDR. Albert Mohler Jr. Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also president of the Evangelical Theological Society and host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public.He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. …wng.org

[ . . .] We are told by Michael Powell that a couple of researchers have concluded that, even as many young progressives reject the binary of male and female in toto, one of the scholars had to admit “the reality is that the larger society is not there yet.”

That would be because of creation order and the fact that even a child can tell the difference between a boy and a girl, and that same child, at some point, comes to understand that if you want a puppy you are going to need a male dog and a female dog. To the glory of God, most boys and girls love puppies and want someone to arrange whatever is necessary to get one. Most of them would be glad to have a little brother or sister as well. Few children, we assume, refer to Mom as their own personal “formerly pregnant person.”

Christians must recognize that we are dealing here with a particularly deadly nonsense. When women disappear, humanity itself disappears. When truth is denied, you end up with “pregnant people.” When sanity departs, society goes along with this nonsense. If you go along with this insanity, you are the problem—pregnant or not.

Article sent by Mark Waldeland!

Any One Interested In China’s Hong Kong?

The Dismantling of Hong Kong

Karen Cheung – Yesterday 8:41 AM

Throughout February and March, as Omicron cases in Hong Kong climbed to tens of thousands a day, I’d leave my apartment every evening for a stroll along the waterfront in Sheung Wan. The sky was a wallpaper of twilight blue; being shut indoors felt like a waste of spring. The promenade bustled with others who had permitted themselves these daily masked excursions: children speeding past me in rollerblades, burning off excess energy from school days spent on Zoom, and office workers sitting on benches clutching plastic containers of takeaway dinners. Across the city, hospitals were overflowing with the sick and dying, but the scene on the promenade was placid: a man playing a tune on an erhu, another performing handstands near the edge of a fountain. Over the harbor, the massive display screen of a newly opened art museum flashed a half-hearted message expressing well-wishes.

1 of 2 Photos in Gallery©TYRONE SIU/Reuters/REUTERS

Isolation facilities in Hong Kong in March 2022.

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Every time I think about Hong Kong, I inevitably return to the water — the masked couples making out in cars facing the smoggy sunset by Stonecutters Bridge; the tourists jostling before the postcard-perfect view of the harbor from Avenue of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui; the tranquil walks along the reservoirs at the country parks surrounding the city. In the last few decades, Hong Kong has frequently been referred to as a global financial center, but the city first gained significance as a major port in the early 20th century; its fate has always been intimately tied to its waters. I know that were I to ever leave, they would be what I would miss most.

When I say I miss Hong Kong, what I mean is the city as I remember it between the years of 2014 and 2019. In the aftermath of the 79-day pro-democracy occupation protests in 2014, every neighborhood across the city set up its own grassroots form of civic engagement: Residents self-organized home repairs for the elderly and ran history walking tours to build stronger community ties. When friends visited the city, we’d eat curries at Chungking Mansions and then walk over to Sai Yeung Choi Street, a popular shopping district, where political parties across the spectrum set up street booths and handed out flyers and balloons. On one weekend, I might have headed to Lamma Island to meet an artist from Milwaukee who ended up in Hong Kong because of his love of Wong Kar-wai films; the next weekend, I could have wound up at a mini-music festival hosted atop a mountain peak, at an industrial warehouse, or inside a cha chaan teng (tea café) in Yau Ma Tei with the shutters pulled down. Every June 4, we’d commemorate the Tiananmen massacre at Victoria Park with a candlelight vigil, then head to the dai pai dong (open-air food stall) above a wet market for beers.

I was born not long before the handover in 1997, when Hong Kong was to cease to become a British colony and be handed to China. The event had triggered an emigration wave: There were whispers of how Hong Kong would change, and many left because they did not want to be under Communist rule. But change came slow, and borders remained free. Within a decade, Hong Kong had developed a regular protest calendar, with thousands marching through a dense network of skyscrapers in the financial district on set days every year to voice discontent and commemorate anniversaries. Over time, the city became, for the post-handover generation, less a place of transition, a stepping-stone for better lives abroad, but a place worth fighting for.

These days, Hong Kong is a different city altogether. In the wake of the 2014 mass protests, a series of events foreshadowed the encroachment from China that was to come: legislators disqualified from parliament for altering their oaths to express discontent toward Beijing, booksellers kidnapped and detained in China. In 2019, Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would allow the city to send “criminals” to China, sparking alarm that the judiciary would no longer be independent from the Communist regime and spurring mass protests that transformed our streets into guerrilla battlefields; in June 2020, Beijing implemented in Hong Kong the national security law, a broad tool for silencing dissent that could outlaw a political slogan one day then censor films and books the next. Under the guise of pandemic social-distancing, public gatherings were banned, and protests disappeared from the streets. Later in 2020, a teacher had his license revoked after showing his class a documentary featuring a pro-independence activist; in the years since, prominent commentators, including Apple Daily writer Fung Wai-kong and academic Hui Po Keung, have been arrested at the airport while attempting to leave the city. New election rules implemented in 2021 now dictate that only “patriots” can administer Hong Kong. By early 2022, at least 50 civil organizations have disbanded in the ongoing crackdown, including a pro-democracy trade-union coalition and an activist group that commemorates the Tiananmen massacre.

After the national security law passed in June 2020, friends began leaving Hong Kong every few weeks. One by one, they disappeared from the camera reel on my phone, leaving me with things they couldn’t take with them: an oven, a Sodastream, a sous-vide machine, a stone diffuser, and five bottles of ground cinnamon. From 2020 through 2021, it was reported that 116,000 residents had left, often departing for countries like Britain and Canada, which, amidst the turmoil, announced residency schemes for Hong Kongers. Every other day on social media, someone pens a eulogy for the city. They were leaving; there was no way to plan for a future in this place, where every day brought about an unexpected change to the existing set of rules. Hong Kong had “become a place that could no longer tolerate truth,” pollster and moderate commentator Chung Kim Wah said earlier this year. He was born and raised here, but he craved broader skies and fresher air where he would no longer have to worry about shifting red lines.

In February 2022, when the aisles of my neighborhood supermarket began emptying from vegetable shortages and panic-buys, I thought about the language of dystopia we so often resorted to over the past three years. Our dystopia had thus far been political, a synonym for totalitarianism, oppression, and injustice. It smelled like the burnt residue of tear gas; its side effects include insomnia. But government officials, business leaders, pro-Beijing politicians continued to assure us that this post-national security law Hong Kong was far from dystopian — it was an improved version of the city. And then a new kind of dystopia arrived, one which made it harder to keep up the pretense.

After two years of relative self-isolation and a low accumulated number of deaths (at just over 200 up till 2021), the coronavirus finally reached Hong Kong in early 2022. Even before the city’s outbreak, leader Carrie Lam’s mishandling of the 2019 protests, coupled with the fact that the authorities were seen as weaponizing social-distancing guidelines to prevent gatherings on the streets, had led to a deep mistrust of the government’s pandemic policies, which later turned some residents — including the receptionist at my therapist’s office, my hairdresser, and several friends — into anti-vaxxers. Some eventually succumbed and took the jab after being banned from entering shopping malls and supermarkets, but elderly vaccination rates remained low. The city was unprepared for the infectious Omicron variant. Almost 7,000 would die in Hong Kong by mid-March, and over a million infected.

In late February, local news outlets published photographs of horrifying scenes in public hospitals: corpses sitting in gray bags next to living patients in an overcrowded emergency ward, senior citizens lying underneath outdoor tents on a freezing night in February. Afterwards, I spoke to Jasper, a young nurse in Kowloon who asked to go by this name to speak without repercussions. Jasper works in a public hospital that serves an aging population; this devastation, she says, is the direct result of both the government’s overconfidence in its healthcare system and of the strategy it chose to tackle the outbreak. Under the city’s elimination strategy, strict rules were put in place such that anyone who tested positive could be sent to hospitals or isolation facilities. As a result, rather than staying at home to recover, many COVID patients experiencing mild symptoms initially flocked to the hospitals and quickly crippled the system. By mid-February, only weeks after Omicron hit Hong Kong, the waiting rooms of Jasper’s hospital were so inundated that beds were spilling into the corridors. In the emergency rooms, four nurses could be looking after more than a hundred patients per shift. Days or even weeks later, Jasper said, when patients were finally transferred to the isolation wards, their conditions could have deteriorated. It would only be a matter of time before they passed away.

Amid the crisis, residents in Hong Kong were forced to confront the realities of what it meant to live in a place where nobody in charge was popularly elected by the people. Over in China, the Communist government had implemented a zero-COVID policy, prioritizing lockdowns and restrictions rather than mitigation, and Hong Kong followed suit. During the outbreak, almost everyone I knew lived not in fear of catching COVID, but of the arbitrariness they may be subjected to should authorities find out they caught the illness, or came in close contact with someone who did. Health officers would sometimes appear on your doorstep to inform you that your building had been locked down for mandatory testing; should you test positive, you would have to undergo quarantine at an isolation facility, which Hong Kong residents have described as a “madhouse.” A Hong Kong woman told a local news outlet that despite two negative rapid tests, she was not told when she could leave; some in quarantine attempted suicide inside the facilities, according to local media reports. The uncertainty and severity of the measures made me feel like the city was collectively being punished. Meanwhile, in the hospitals, resources were spent on bringing in mainland Chinese health-care staff, who had different qualifications and were unfamiliar with local medical equipment, and primitive isolation facilities were hastily constructed by a state-owned Chinese company, the first of which was a 3,900-bed facility in Tsing Yi with shared squat toilets. It was part of what ultimately became a public-relations campaign about the support China was offering to Hong Kong, and further blurred the fading borders between the two places.

Business advisers who rarely uttered a word against the government began urging Hong Kong’s leader to revise its pandemic policies, which were leading to a talent drain and further undermining the city’s global competitiveness. “Mixed messages from different government officials are not helping and are causing a lot of panic,” Allan Zeman, nightlife mogul and chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, said in a Bloomberg interview. In a survey in January, 44 percent of the members of the American Chamber of Commerce said they were planning to leave Hong Kong because of the strict pandemic rules, while a quarter of companies were considering relocation. In another survey in March by a European counterpart, almost half of the companies said they may exit the city. The political crackdown had already prompted artists, journalists, and prominent NGOs such as Amnesty International to leave Hong Kong; now, even global banks are mulling a move.

By April, the outbreak had begun to subside, but the government’s response to it had left the residents of Hong Kong shaken. Something was fundamentally broken: If Hong Kong could botch the handling of a pandemic outbreak it had two years to prepare for, what does that say about future governance? Hong Kong used to be a city that understood its capitalism depended upon appearances; ever since the national security law was enacted, however, it no longer cared about the mask slipping. Two days after Jasper and I spoke, a former cop announced his intention to run for chief executive. He has since been chosen by a tightly controlled election committee as the next leader of the city.

In the early days of the pandemic, I watched as people around the world debated what a return to normalcy meant. When the Omicron variant finally reached Hong Kong, the devastation was doubly felt, because the residents of the city had not known what a normal day was since June 2019, when the protests began. As the national security law altered the terrain of what was permitted, and the government flip-flopped on pandemic plans such as whether or not to conduct mass testing every few days, Hong Kong became an unpredictable, unlivable city.  It wasn’t only that we could not see our future a few years down the line — say, whether we could raise our children in this city under a climate of fear. Now, we didn’t even know what was in store the next day. The Hong Kong government ultimately relented on its “dynamic zero” COVID policy, deviating from China’s approach. But up until that moment, there was a stark possibility that the government would never listen. During that time, when the government banned dining out at 6 p.m., I retreated into isolation and ate pancakes for dinner, numb but grateful that I was at least at home and not in quarantine. I felt like I had not come up for air in three years.

There is a Chinese phrase, 圍爐取暖, which means a group of people crowding around a fire or stove for warmth, and is sometimes a synonym for dinners or gatherings that create a sense of community. Hong Kongers had previously used it as a synonym for being willfully ignorant to views outside of one’s echo chamber, but since the 2019 protests, it’s taken on a new significance. 圍爐, to surround yourself with like-minded friends and family who could offer support during difficult times, is now seen as a necessity to survival. Over the past two years, as the crackdown intensified, we’d host late-night drinks and winter barbeques at each other’s places, desperately holding on to the time we still have with each other and bracing ourselves for the possibility that tomorrow, someone at the table may have to flee, or worse — be arrested.

The last three years in Hong Kong have seen the jailing of hundreds of new political prisoners. Some were protesters arrested for rioting, unlawful assembly, or possession of weapons. Others were politicians and activists targeted by the national security law and awaiting trial for offenses like secession. Under the security law, new criminal procedures now dictate that bail can no longer be presumed granted, which means those activists can spend over a year in jail before their cases go before a judge. Then, weeks before the Omicron outbreak on an early morning in December 2021, the police raided the newsroom of the popular pro-democracy site Stand News; arrested senior journalists and board members; and froze the publication’s assets. The outlet would later take down its website, erasing years’ worth of news reporting and commentary that include documentation of mass protests in 2019. Days later, a second newsroom, Citizen News, announced it would cease operations. My Facebook feed, which I had used primarily to share headlines, became a series of error messages: This content isn’t available right now.

Since last May, an acquaintance I’ll call Peter, a citizen journalist, has been taking trips to the jails and detention centers scattered across Hong Kong to visit his friends behind bars. One of those friends is Gwyneth Ho, a feisty Stand News reporter-turned-political activist arrested for subversion after taking part in a primary election. Prisoners had access to TV and radio stations so they were caught up with the news, but they had no idea what the political atmosphere of the city was like. What Ho wanted above all was news about her favorite Hong Kong pop group, Mirror, so Peter would sometimes copy lyrics of the latest Mirror songs by hand to give to her. Once, Ho mentioned to Peter that she couldn’t really sense the mood in the world outside, but she had noticed that the lyrics in pop songs were starting to move away from the trend of mentioning “leaving,” and new lyrics about staying had begun to appear. Then, during the fifth wave of the Omicron crisis, an outbreak erupted within prisons, and Peter’s visitations to Ho were halted.

For those who remain in Hong Kong, the question of whether or not to go constantly hangs over them. “The pandemic has made me more determined to leave,” Jasper, the nurse, told me. “But it’s not the right time; until then, I’ll continue to work in the isolation wards, perhaps in preparation for the next wave.” At the same time, she told me, she’ll begin to prepare for her overseas nursing qualification. Over the past year, Peter had grown to accept living in a state where was unable to plan for the future: He knew that eventually he would be forced to self-censor and that his job would become untenable. It was growing increasingly difficult to navigate the media landscape, he said, where there were few platforms left on which to publish, and the threat of the national security law loomed over them. He was hanging on until he no longer could.

I sometimes think that the curse of this generation of Hong Kongers — those who are not already behind bars — is survivor’s guilt. How selfish is that, to want our lives to change or even improve, when there are so many in prison for rioting and political charges, when so many have died during the pandemic, when there are those who are forcibly exiled and will never see the waters of Hong Kong again? Years ago, before the 2019 protests, my friends and I stayed because we thought there were things we could still change about the city; then, after the protests ended and the national security law was implemented in 2020, we stayed in hopes of holding down the fort, of slowing the rate of political deterioration. These days, we stay only until circumstances no longer allow us to work or survive in this place. I know by now that my reasons won’t be professional or even political, but personal: When the day comes that my support system is uprooted and scattered, it would be time for me to go, too. That the arrival of this day feels now like a certainty makes each hour I still have left in this place, either around the dinner table pouring another drink for a friend, or on a long, contemplative walk by the water, feel like stolen time.

Peter has spoken about this with his friends in jail. “They told me, ‘If leaving Hong Kong is for your own personal development and happiness, then I’ll be happy for you,’” he says. Ho, in particular, told Peter not to feel that he owed them anything because they were on the inside. Now, he, too, is planning to leave Hong Kong this year. Peter didn’t have a British National Overseas visa and could not benefit from Britain’s visa scheme, so he and his wife are going to Canada (it was easy, he explained, to move their two cats there — there was no quarantine for animals, and they were allowed into cabins). For now, he’ll continue to write letters to his friends, many of whom have little idea when they will ever regain freedom.

In early April, I left Hong Kong for the first time since the pandemic to take part in some work events in New York City. At the airport, it used to take minutes to scan and find your departure gate on the cluttered flight-information display system; now, it only listed 13 departure flights. After the government imposed a compulsory 21-day out-of-pocket hotel quarantine on incoming travelers — later downgraded to 14 and eventually, seven — and banned entire flight routes, the Hong Kong International Airport swiftly lost its place as one of the busiest travel hubs in the world.

In New York City, I ate my first real bagel — whitefish salad, larger than the size of my palm — and met up with scores of old friends. They told me it was sometimes difficult to keep in touch with friends back home, because they felt awkward talking about their new lives. News about Peter’s plans to move had reached them, and they were surprised: They thought he’d never leave. One evening, we were at dinner in the East Village, exchanging the latest gossip among the activist circles in the city and abroad, when I was struck by an odd wave of nostalgia: This was something we used to do in Hong Kong, only three years ago.

“Why don’t you just leave?” one friend asked me, and I could give no real answer. The Hong Kongers who are forced to leave now are the ones who may find the city closed to them forever. Unlike the emigration wave three decades ago, borders were no longer free for everyone: Because of the protest charges and the national security law, many people now face the possibility of arrest if they re-enter the city. It wasn’t leaving Hong Kong that was difficult; it was the thought of never coming back. By June, even though the pandemic outbreak had subsided and the streets are flooded once more with the boisterous sounds of the city, we only need to open the pages of the newspaper to see that another protester has been sent to prison for rioting over events in 2019. The crackdown continues to further extend its reach to every corner of society: Among those arrested recently is the 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, over his involvement in a fund that offered support to protesters.

After three decades in one place, I had become convinced that I was tethered to this city, first out of responsibility and then, guilt. These days, I’m sure what my attachment to Hong Kong is anymore. It used to be the people who made this place home for me, but in the months before leaving for New York, I had attended a dozen farewell dinners and made trips to the airport to exchange tearful good-byes with friends emigrating from the city. During the peak of COVID, these good-byes would be the only noise echoing through the empty halls of the Hong Kong International Airport. Wavincity, a local urban soundscape recording project, recently released two clips of field recordings of these moments at the departure terminal. The sounds they captured are quiet and unassuming but melancholic: the quick footsteps of children, the clang of suitcase wheels, airport announcements in the background, soft voices that say, “Come, let’s take a photograph” and “Thank you for coming to see us off today.”

Right here, at this airport, were the last sounds they would hear from this city, and the final time they could call it home. They’d be gathering around a table for the warmth of company, in a faraway land, but there would always be someone missing. Maybe Hong Kong had been a dystopia, but it had been their dystopia. From then on, the city would be thought of in the past tense.

“Maxine Waters [paid] $1.1 million to her daughter from campaign funds!”

GOP pushing ban on family members as paid campaign staff

by JAZZ SHAW  at Hot Air….Jun 13, 2022  

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Who says that Congress is so hopelessly locked up in partisan warfare that they can’t accomplish anything useful? Well… I’m probably speaking too soon because they haven’t actually done it yet, but Congressman Pat Fallon of Texas and some like-minded colleagues have at least come up with a plan that looks promising. He’s just introduced the FIRE Act (Family Integrity to Reform Elections) and it could bring a much-needed dose of accountability and integrity to the electoral process, assuming it can be passed and withstand the scrutiny of the courts. (Two very big assumptions, I know.) The crux of the proposed legislation is that it would bar members of Congress from putting members of their families in paid campaign staffing positions or allow them to act as paid contractors who are paid from campaign contributions. We have some very notable members who are currently serving and have family members doing very well for themselves on the dime of the member’s donors. Fallon wants to put an end to that. (NY Post)

Republican members of Congress want to prevent their colleagues from putting family members on the campaign payroll after several prominent Democratic lawmakers have been called out over the practice.

The Family Integrity to Reform Elections (FIRE) Act, to be introduced by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) on Monday, would bar any candidate running for federal office from compensating immediate family members for campaign services.

“Maxine Waters [paid] $1.1 million to her daughter from campaign funds,” Fallon told The Post in a statement. “Ilhan Omar, $2.9 million to her husband from campaign funds. James Clyburn, over $200,000 to multiple family members from his campaign.”

As noted in the excerpt above, there are plenty of examples to draw on when discussing the need for this bill and we’ve covered some of them here in the past. Near the top of any such list, you would find Maxine Waters, whose daughter has raked in well over one million dollars for some vaguely defined “services” to her campaigns. Waters represents an uncompetitive district and barely has to show up to campaign to assure her seat every cycle. For more than 30 years, Maxine Waters has triumphed in every House race she has faced with more than 70% of the vote, sometimes reaching 80%.

A more recent but possibly even more famous example is Ilhan Omar. Her husband’s consulting firm cashed in for far, far more than Waters’ daughter did over multiple cycles, bringing down nearly three million dollars until she finally cut ties with his firm, perhaps out of embarrassment. Omar is similarly in a seat so safe that she could have farmed out her campaign consultant duties to a beagle found wandering the streets and likely achieved the same result at a cost of no more than a few bits of kibble.

To be sure, we have seen Republicans getting in on the action as well. They don’t seem to create the same splashy headlines like the ones I mentioned above, but campaign nepotism is a game that everyone can play.

The problem with Fallon’s bill is that it’s not clear if any of these bits of nepotism are technically illegal or if Congress can actually regulate the hiring practices of the members’ campaign staffers as opposed to their congressional staffers after they are seated. FEC regulations do not prohibit hiring family members if they are “providing bona fide services to the campaign” and if the payments can be considered a “fair market value of the services provided.” Those are some very vague and tenuous descriptions. The cost of staffers and contractors who work for campaigns can and does vary wildly depending on the experience and track record of the people being enlisted. And “bona fide services” could mean almost anything you want it to.

It will also likely be very difficult to get this bill introduced in the House, particularly when you consider the power and influence of some of the members who are currently benefitting from a lack of such restrictions. Perhaps, in the end, the only thing to do is to continue to name and shame those who are found doing it. Such a tactic never slowed Maxine Waters down, but Ilhan Omar did eventually throw in the towel.