November 29, 2023

Wednesday: Below the Fold

Censorship Industrial Complex, Hunter’s public testimony gambit, National Lampoon’s Christmas, and more.


  • The birth of the Censorship Industrial Complex? Last we checked, the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibited the government from censoring us, from restricting our ability to speak freely. Even the leftists at the American Library Association know this. “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” and all that. So why is it that we continue to find evidence that the government is doing just that? Most insidiously, we find the government partnering with private entities to do their dirty work because, while the First Amendment prevents government censorship, it doesn’t prohibit private individuals or businesses from doing so. And now, as independent journalist Michael Shellenberger reports, “A whistleblower has come forward with an explosive new trove of documents, rivaling or exceeding the Twitter Files and Facebook Files in scale and importance.” According to the whistleblower, one of the leaders of a mysterious group called the Cyber Threat Intelligence League — a former British intelligence analyst — “was ‘in the room’ at the Obama White House in 2017 when she received the instructions to create a counter-disinformation project to stop a ‘repeat of 2016.’” If, as Shellenberger claims, the documents reveal “the birth of the Censorship Industrial Complex,” and if that cryptic reference to “a repeat of 2016” refers to the shocking election of Donald Trump, then it appears they accomplished their mission with the election of Joe Biden in 2020.

  • The littlest hostage’s family connection to Hunter’s artwork: Author F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” So here goes: CBS News reports the unequivocally good news that four-year-old Abigail Mor Edan, whose parents were killed in the barbaric October 7 attacks and who was the youngest American held by Hamas, “was among the group of hostages released back to Israel on Sunday, both President Biden and the Israeli military confirmed.” And yet, as Business Insider reports, a member of little Abigail’s extended family — her great-aunt Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, to be precise — reportedly had purchased a piece of Hunter Biden’s “artwork” and had also received a cushy appointment within the Biden administration. As Benjamin Weingarten of RealClearInvestigations posted to X, “So you’re telling me that the great-aunt of the youngest American hostage — and first American — to be released by Hamas is a buyer of Hunter Biden’s art, who was then appointed by Joe Biden to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad?” What are the odds, huh? And why aren’t we surprised?

  • Hunter’s public testimony gambit: Republicans on the House Oversight Committee subpoenaed Hunter Biden earlier this month to appear before the committee in a closed-door deposition to answer questions and give testimony. Hunter’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, on Tuesday offered that his client would comply with the subpoena, but only if the hearing was public. Of course, the demand for a public hearing, which usually only happens after a closed-door hearing, is designed to turn it into a spectacle and make it difficult for lawmakers to ask direct questions and avoid Hunter’s grandstanding. Seeing through the ruse, Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) rejected the offer: “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else. That won’t stand with House Republicans. Our lawfully issued subpoena to Hunter Biden requires him to appear for a deposition on December 13.” But Hunter can still get his public hearing. Comer added, “We expect full cooperation with our subpoena for a deposition but also agree that Hunter Biden should have the opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date.” Former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy agrees, arguing that this is all theatrics that in the end will amount to little information or change: “There will be no shortage of huffing and puffing over the next two weeks, but Hunter’s eventual testimony is unlikely to amount to much.”

  • Regulations are taxes: Bidenomics is costing Americans more of their hard-earned money via the weakening of the dollar’s monetary value thanks to sustained high inflation, devaluing the dollar by over 19% since 2019. But Joe Biden has also imposed significant hidden taxes on Americans via his regulatory state. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Biden administration’s added regulations now cost the average American household $14,000 annually. CEI’s Wayne Crews observes, “Instead of finding ways to cut those costs for Americans, President Biden’s whole-of-government policymaking framework prioritizes political causes like climate change and equity in the regulatory process.” And the result is making life needlessly more expensive. Indeed, other than spending on housing, the average American household spends more annually on government regulations than any other expense such as food, transportation, healthcare, and insurance. CEI notes that the $14,514 annual cost in federal regulations equates to 17% of the average American household’s income in 2022 ($87,434) before taxes.

  • National Archives clings to Biden’s email aliases: It’s strange, isn’t it, how the National Archives was so eager to rat out Donald Trump for his failure to return some of his White House documents and yet has been so tenacious in its defense of Joe Biden for his use of multiple fake email addresses to conceal his affairs and to thereby evade congressional oversight while serving as Barack Obama’s vice president. Why, it’s almost as if the archivist had a political agenda. As The Daily Signal reports, “Getting to the truth of Joe Biden’s use of multiple alias email accounts while he was vice president could take years if Congress waits on the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to release all of the relevant records it is requesting.” But there’s hope for getting to the bottom of Biden’s surreptitious emails and thereby the secret lives of Robert Peters, Robin Ware, and JRB Ware. As the Signal continues, a narrowly targeted Freedom of Information Act request shows that the National Archives has “731 documents relevant to the creation of these alias email accounts and potentially who authorized their use.” This would greatly streamline the congressional investigation by narrowing the focus to a small tranche of emails rather than painstakingly poring over all 82,000 of them. Now if we can only get the Archives to cough them up, and preferably prior to next year’s election.

  • Laying the groundwork for the Democrats’ 2024 election mischief: Joe Biden’s electoral prospects aren’t looking too good these days, so the Democrats are in full panic mode. And while they already played the COVID card to perfection in 2020 by littering the landscape with bulk-mail ballots, perhaps they can go once more to the social restrictions and the mail-in voting that make fraud so much easier to carry out. China was rooting hard for Joe Biden in 2020 and no doubt wants him to win again in 2024, and it strikes us as no coincidence that the commies are bringing back masks and social distancing in response to a new and mysterious outbreak of bacterial pneumonia that has echoes of the COVID lockdowns beginning nearly four years ago. Rather than watching the polls and rubbing our hands with glee, we might want to pay more attention to the Democrats’ plotting and scheming. If we don’t learn from recent electoral history, we deserve to repeat it.

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas: On Tuesday afternoon, strong winds blowing through Washington, DC, toppled the White House’s massive 40-foot National Christmas Tree that had been placed a few days earlier. The tree was knocked over just days before the annual lighting of the tree ceremony scheduled for November 30. The tradition dates back to Christmas Eve of 1923. While this isn’t the only time the National Christmas Tree has been knocked over by high winds, the most recent being in 2011, its falling served as symbolic fodder on social media for skewering Joe Biden. For example, the RNC posted: “National Christmas tree falls DOWN. Perfectly summing up Joe Biden’s presidency.”

  • Rosalynn Carter’s funeral: Glenn Memorial Church at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted Tuesday’s memorial service for Rosalynn Carter, the late first lady and wife of Jimmy Carter. The 99-year-old former president, who has been in hospice care for the past 10 months, was in attendance to grieve the passing of his wife of 77 years, along with many others who came to pay their respects. Those in attendance included Joe and Jill Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and former first ladies Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, and Laura Bush. Former presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush were invited but did not attend. Several celebrities also paid their respects, including Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who are longtime friends of the Carters. Of his late wife, Jimmy said: “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.” Rosalynn was 96.


  • Joe Biden plans to skip UN climate talks beginning this week in Dubai (AP)

  • Released Israeli hostages tell horror stories from time with Hamas (Washington Free Beacon) | Emily Hand, a nine-year-old exchanged by Hamas, is suffering from horrible trauma after weeks in captivity (Not the Bee)

  • United Nations Women retracts statement condemning Hamas attacks on Israel (National Review)

  • U.S. Dept. of Education opens investigation of Harvard over anti-Semitism on campus (Fox News)

  • Auto dealers call on Biden to hit brakes on unrealistic, unachievable electric vehicles mandate (Daily Signal)

  • Internal docs show Biden admin waived taxpayer safeguards to boost offshore wind project (Fox News)

  • Poorer areas have seen the bulk of clean energy funds in the Inflation Reduction Act’s wake (NBC News)

  • Gretchen Whitmer signs one of the nation’s most extreme green energy mandates (Daily Wire)

  • Dem Connecticut governor withdraws electric vehicle mandate in stunning blow to ecofascists (Fox News)

  • Americans need an extra $11,400 today just to afford the basics (MoneyWatch)

  • Special Counsel Jack Smith sought info on anyone who “favorited or retweeted” Trump tweets (The Federalist)

  • Google maps removed DC pregnancy center (Daily Signal)

  • Record number of Americans died by suicide in 2022 (Fox News)

  • U.S. life expectancy rose in 2022, but not enough to erase the pandemic’s toll (NBC News)

  • Satire: To encourage Biden to rescue hostages, posters will now feature photos of WNBA players (Babylon Bee)

For more editors’ choice headlines, click here.

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