The excesses of the #MeToo movement — perhaps most evident in last year’s infamous Johnny Depp trial — seemed to indicate it was a fad that had run its course, a hysteria consigned to the history books. But the recent jaw-dropping treatment of Russell Brand is proof positive the #MeToo is back with untamed vengeance. Russell Brand, 48, is an English comedian, actor and commentator whose public life can be roughly divided into two halves. During his first iteration, Brand starred in Hollywood films, wrote for mainstream news outlets, had a short, turbulent marriage to American singer Katy Perry, and struggled very publicly with addictions to sex, alcohol and drugs. In more recent years, Brand has overcome his addictions, become a father, husband and faithful family man, and repurposed his podcast as a hub of dissent against mainstream discourse on Covid-19, the Ukraine war and the 2020 US election, among other topics. In one of his more viral moments, for instance, Brand appeared as a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher, and told the host: If you have an economic system in which pharmaceutical companies benefit hugely from medical emergencies, where a military industrial complex benefits from war, where energy companies benefit from energy crises, you are going to generate states of perpetual crisis where the interests of ordinary people separate from the interests of the elite. Now — at the height of his personal reformation and with a burgeoning social media audience — decades-old sexual assault allegations have been levelled against Brand by a clandestine gaggle of his former consorts. Notably, the allegations were not offered voluntarily by Brand’s accusers, nor were they reported to authorities. Instead, they were sourced by Channel 4, The Sunday Times and The Times from five women, four of whom remain unnamed. Brand has said he “absolutely” refutes the allegations, maintaining that even though he regrets his formerly promiscuous lifestyle, his relationships have “always been consensual”.
If you own a trucking company that picks up shipments from California ports, you now have to deal with the consequences of a new law designed to reduce your carbon footprint. Trucking is one of the vital ingredients in our infrastructure that virtually all parts of the economy rely on. About two-fifths of all containerized imports to the US come through one of California's twelve commercial ports. According to a recent report in National Review, beginning January 1, any trucker doing "drayage" (the technical term for transporting stuff to or from a seaport) in California can only buy zero-emission vehicles, although they can hang on to their existing diesel fleet for a while. Trucks don't last forever, however, and evidently the court of wisdom otherwise known as the California legislature decided this was the best way to get truckers used to the additional coming mandate that in 2035, all trucks entering California seaports and intermodal rail yards (where the containers are loaded onto trains) must be zero-emission types. The ostensible motivation for these laws is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, of course. And careful analyses do show that over the lifetime of an electric vehicle, even if you include the fossil fuels used in the different types of manufacturing (electric versus internal-combustion) and in producing the electricity for the vehicle, less carbon dioxide results from using electric vehicles. That's the intended consequence, and unless the law is later modified, it will be achieved. But the devil is in the details, and some truckers interviewed about the mandate pointed out several unintended consequences that may follow from these laws. For one thing, the number of electric trucks in California will have to go from about 300, where it is today, to around 500,000, and some way will have to be found to charge all those trucks, and to keep them running farther than the alleged 60 miles that the California regulators said was the typical drayage daily mileage. A lot of truckers drive a lot farther than that every day, and if you add several hours a day to charge the trucks, it turns a normal workday into a 20-hour day. And then there's the cost. Even if you can find a zero-emission truck that will do the job, it will cost three or four times what a diesel vehicle costs. And one trucker asked what bank will finance such a purchase if you can't show where you're going to charge it and how you will work out a schedule that will let you stay in business. So, if California doubles down on enforcement, we can anticipate something like a gradual strangling of commerce flowing through its ports as the few truckers who manage to jump through the hoops of regulation are all that's left. And maybe that was what the lawmakers really wanted anyway. If the idealist dream of a zero-emission society were to come to pass in the next couple of years, millions would die of starvation and cold, and those few who are left would be reduced to living a life that would be familiar to a denizen of 1880. At the very least, essentially shutting down 40% of containerized imports to the US would cause massive supply-chain disruptions that would make what happened during COVID look like a hiccup. If you say no one would let things get that bad, well, we did let things get that bad during COVID, and it can happen again.
In a number of countries, there are moves to ban LGBTQI+ conversion practices, or as they used to be called, “gay conversion therapy”. In Australia, bans have been enacted in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra), and Queensland. The government of the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located, has also promised to introduce a ban. This is opposed not only by churches but by feminist groups. A consultation paper dated July 31, “Banning LGBTQ+ Conversion Practices”, still has not been released. However, Mercator has obtained a copy. It’s an extraordinarily superficial document which seems to be based largely on pamphlets composed in an LGBTQI+ echo chamber. It needs to be thoroughly critiqued before MPs are asked to vote on a bill. A first question: what are “conversion practices”? The consultation paper says that: “LGBTQ+ conversion practices is [sic] an umbrella term for practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity to conform with heterosexuality and identify with the gender that corresponds with their sex assigned at birth (i.e. to be cisgender)." Under this umbrella fall common practices like dressing boy babies in blue and girls in pink. Or buying girls dolls and boys Lego. Will the government ban this insidious mind control as well? How about parents, teachers, counsellors and doctors who support children in changing their gender identity? Isn’t transgender counselling for kids who cannot give fully informed consent a form of conversion practice? Will that be banned? A second question: are conversion practices harmful? In a free society practices are not criminalised unless there is evidence that they actually do harm people. Even Nazis skinheads are allowed to think ugly thoughts inside their tattooed skulls. So the consultation paper declares that: “Evidence shows that conversion practices are dangerous and damaging”. The consultation paper lists three broad areas of conversion practices. The first two are talking therapies and prayer. These are “dangerous and damaging”? Come on; pull the other one. The third is physical abuse. Aversion therapies using electric shock and nausea-inducing medication, “corrective rape”, kidnapping and forced isolation are abhorrent. But is this happening now in Australia? Footnotes in the consultation paper refer to the existence of such practices elsewhere but not here. This puts the NSW Parliament in the awkward position of banning something because it might be happening in Uganda. Next up will be a ban on poaching elephants and giraffes. A third question: do conversion practices actually help some people? The problem with most research on conversion practices, American psychologist Christopher Rosik suggested last year in the peer-reviewed journal Archives of Sexual Research, is that it is based only upon interviews with people who identify as members of an LGBT+ minority. (In academia, conversion practices are often called Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, or SOCE.) If people who claim to have experienced harm are taken only from this group, the fraction of “victim-survivors” may be impressively large. But in fact, the denominator ought to be much more extensive. It should include LGBT+ people who had SOCE and did not experience harm plus people who do not identify as LGBT+ (or who no longer do) who had SOCE and did not experience harm. As Rosik says, “The situation may well be akin to assessing the benefits and harms of marital therapy using only participants recruited through divorce support groups. The SOCE experiences of LGB + -identified persons are of course important to document, but they must not be overgeneralized in a rush to advocate for certain policy prescriptions.” In Australia, the voices of people who have benefited from SOCE or conversion practices have been silenced. They have been left out of the denominator.
Long in the tooth, past your prime, over the hill, doting, crepuscular. There’s tons of euphemisms to telegraph old age. Chuckle if you will. We’re all headed there. With a half century of below replacement fertility and long life expectancy, America is rapidly aging. As the baby boomer cohort enters retirement, almost 20 percent of us are 65 or older. Elder care and geriatric medicine are booming. Social Security wobbles. Dr Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association: The US population is indeed getting older and we are unprepared to handle their growing needs for health, habilitative and rehabilitative care in community settings. Writer Lucy Schiller nails it in the Columbia Journalism Review: In technical terms, who is “past their prime,” or “old,” has changed over the years. In 1900, gerontologists considered “old” to be forty-seven. Today, you are “youngest-old” at sixty-five, “middle-old” at seventy-five, and at eighty-five—joining the ranks of Feinstein and Senator Chuck Grassley—you are a member of the “oldest-old.” So 90 is not the new 60? Whatever, age discrimination is a socially acceptable prejudice, masked in myriad ways to obscure the plain truth that gray hair, a few wrinkles and lessons learned from having been around the block are not cherished in the job market. “Seasoned citizens” tend to be set in their ways, thus resistant to the molding and conformity demanded by woke corporate diktats. Secure sinecures All the same, the concept of retirement exists for good reason. Commercial pilots and other occupations have mandatory retirement ages. But there is one field in which advanced age is no barrier: politics. Aside from residency, the only qualification to serve in the US Senate is to be at least 30 years of age. For the US House it’s 25. Just get elected. Stupidity, incompetence, ill health and senescence are no bar to serving. Misfeasance and malfeasance are not either, unless the optics give it away, which may or may not lead to charges. The longer you hang about in Congress, the more seniority, which means political clout. My first ever boss on Capitol Hill was Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Senator Thurmond was a true character in the best sense, a red-headed Southern gentleman with an eye for the ladies and unrivaled perspicacity about his fellow man. He was beloved at home, and served in the Senate until he was 100, when he did not seek reelection. During his last years in office it became obvious that he was not fully compos mentis. However, an able staff assured that the duties of his office were discharged. Not the best way to do business, but we’re talking about Capitol Hill. Geriatric jubilee Today the Senate’s symbol of senescence is California’s 90-year-old Diane Feinstein, who frequently appears disoriented. President Biden, 80, sometimes gives the impression that he is not all there. He was first elected to the Senate in 1972. Senator John Fetterman, stroke victim and relative spring chicken at 54, also raises doubts about his cognition. Senator Mitch McConnell, 81, has frozen in front of the cameras a couple of times, leading to speculation about fitness for office. Commenting on McConnell’s episode, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, craving attention like most politicians, said: The Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country. I mean, Mitch McConnell has done some great things, and he deserves credit. But you have to know when to leave. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 83 and running for reelection for her 19th term (that’s 38 years). House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer is 84. Seems fit as a fiddle. The median age of the US House is 58. For the Senate it is just north of 65. There is an easy fix for this: Back in the 1990s many states placed term limits on their Congressional representatives. But legislating from the bench as usual, the almighty Supreme Court ruled that state congressional term limits were unconstitutional (U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)). The Court said that individual states did not have authority to impose term limits on members of Congress more than what the Constitution specifies. The Constitution specifies nothing about it. So once you’re elected, don’t buck the system, keep campaign money flowing, and odds are you’ve got a lucrative gig-for-life courtesy of the taxpayers. Federal judges are lifetime appointments. The Constitution grants federal judges an almost-unparalleled option to keep working “during good behavior,” which, in practice, has meant as long as they want. But since that language was written, average life expectancy has more than doubled, to almost 80, and the number of people who live beyond 100 is rapidly growing. (Of the 10 oldest practicing federal judges on record, all but one served in the last 15 years.) A lot of stuff passes for “good behavior” these days. Just the other day Judge Pauline Newman, 96, was suspended for one year. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a 70-plus page order, saying that her refusal to comply with a special committee’s order that she be examined by a neurologist and undergo neuropsychological tests “constitutes serious misconduct.” A 2020 study revealed that the average age of a federal judge is 69. Term limits would also fix that. Conservatorships? With no vested interest in the vaunted two-party system, aka the “uniparty,” the Libertarian Party has proposed a novel solution. It has filed for conservatorships for both President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (A conservatorship is a court order for another to oversee the affairs of a minor or incapacitated person). One of the most insulting and infuriating things in American politics is the financial tyranny inflicted upon us by the geriatric elites. These people have squatted in public office for decades, amassing massive wealth from lobbyists, Super PACs, and tax dollars, while the average American feels the pain of inflation and watches their savings dwindle. The Libertarian National Committee is doing the responsible thing: we are filing for conservatorship of Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell. These men are not well enough to make financial decisions with their own money or with taxpayer money, so we’ve compassionately decided to step in and make these decisions for them. The Libertarians know this gambit doesn’t have a snowball’s chance. But doesn’t it make the point in spades? When the political class (legislators, judges, et al.) bullet proof themselves as an entrenched, self-interested elite, it’s not really “democracy” anymore. But we already knew that. How much longer can this clown show go on? Louis T. March has a background in government, business, and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author, and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Image credit: Bigstock Do Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Diane Feinstein, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi need a conservatorship to protect the United States against their failing mental capacity? Tell us in the comments box below.
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