November 30, 2023

Thursday: Below the Fold

Henry Kissinger’s death, DeSantis vs. Newsom, Native American responds to Deadspin libel, and more.


  • Henry Kissinger dies at 100: It’s odd that musician Tom Lehrer is known not for his talent as a performer or songwriter but instead for an enduring quip from the world of geopolitics: “Political satire,” he said many years ago, “became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Lehrer’s quote is also instructive as to the enduring impact of Kissinger, which has probably been greater than that of any unelected government official of the past half-century. Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, was a diplomat, a pragmatist, and a foreign policy advisor to every president from John Kennedy to Joe Biden. He died yesterday at age 100. Having fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1938, the Jewish Kissinger embarked on a career of scholarship and diplomacy whose effects we feel yet today. During the Cold War, Kissinger was the architect of our dealings with the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and Israel and its Arab neighbors. He practiced “shuttle diplomacy,” and his fingerprints are everywhere in the world we inhabit today. But Kissinger was no Ronald Reagan. Whereas the former pursued a policy of détente with the Soviets, the latter forcefully denounced what he saw as the Evil Empire and was the architect of its demise. Historian Niall Ferguson, in an exceptionally good Wall Street Journal obituary, calls it “Kissinger’s Century,” while Rolling Stone’s Spencer Ackerman calls Kissinger a “war criminal” and sneers: “The infamy of Nixon’s foreign-policy architect sits, eternally, beside that of history’s worst mass murderers. A deeper shame attaches to the country that celebrates him.” If history tells us anything, it’s that condemnation from the likes of Rolling Stone is a badge of honor. The truth about this historic figure is, as is often the case, somewhere between these polar opposites, although certainly closer to Ferguson’s take.

  • DeSantis vs. Newsom: Tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, two state governors and one (and possibly two) presidential candidates will be crossing rhetorical swords in a debate moderated by Fox News’s Sean Hannity. Agreed to months ago, Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom will take their contrasting governing records and make the case for their divergent policies. In a sense, it’s Florida versus California, but the bigger issue is the contrasting ideologies of Republican America First ideals versus Democrat neo-Marxism. This promises to be a substantive debate, with both men well-practiced in making and defending their arguments. Of course, there is much at stake. For DeSantis, who has been struggling to make up ground on frontrunner Donald Trump, a good debate could serve to boost his national profile. For Newsom, the stakes are less high, as he has continued to play the good soldier by refusing to challenge the increasingly unpopular Joe Biden. Yet a good showing could ignite the current rumblings within the Democrat Party into outright calls for Biden to “do the right thing” and bow out. And no doubt Newsom would then eagerly take up the Party standard.

  • Record suicides: In 2022, almost 50,000 Americans committed suicide. According to the National Center for Heath Statistics (NCHS), that number is a new record. The rate of suicides by gender were 23.1 per 100,000 for men and 5.9 per 100,000 for women. The average irrespective of gender was 14.3 suicides per 100,000, the highest recorded since 1941. Military veterans make up a significant and growing percentage of suicides, with a jump of 11.6% between 2020 and 2021 alone. Cole Lyle, Marine Corps veteran and executive director of Mission Roll Call, attributed the spike in veteran suicides to two things: COVID and Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan because it meant their sacrifice was wasted. Lyle noted, “Personally, I had to talk a few friends down off the ledge during the Afghanistan withdrawal crisis, so I don’t think anybody necessarily is surprised by this increase.” A significant number (36%) of Americans age 18 to 34 have also reported contemplating suicide.

  • Charitable donations are down in Biden’s America: One telling factor that helps to reveal the state of the U.S. economy is seeing how generous Americans are. When the economy is going well, people tend to donate more money to charities, but when the economy is going poorly, the rate of donations tends to diminish. Bidenomics, with its sustained high inflation rate, has clearly taken a toll on Americans’ bank accounts. According to a recent survey, 70.5% of charities across the country are anticipating a drop or a maintained level of donations for the year. This follows last year’s 3.4% decline in donations. Though demonized by Democrats, it is wealthier Americans with household net worths of over $1 million or annual incomes of over $200,000 who have upped their giving since the pandemic — by an average of 19%. That has helped to shore up some of the overall decrease in donations. Americans’ savings are shrinking as they are forced to spend more for everyday goods, so it’s not surprising that their donation to charities has shrunk.

  • Native American responds to Deadspin libel: Evidently for the Leftmedia sports outlet Deadspin, narrative trumps truth. When Deadspin “reporter” Carron Phillips sought to create a “hate crime” hoax out of whole cloth based upon a deceptive photo of a young Chiefs fan at an NFL game, he was deservedly blasted for his racism. He doubled his offense by claiming that the kid was not just wearing blackface but was also hating on Native Americans because of the headdress and red face paint he was also wearing. Well, it turns out that the young Chiefs fan just happens to be of Native American ancestry, as his father explained his family is part of the Chumash tribe, and they used to live on a reservation. “We never in any way, shape or form meant to disrespect any Native Americans or any tribes,” the father said. “The tribe we’re from doesn’t even wear that type of headdress. This specific headdress is a novelty piece. It’s a costume piece.” Motives should matter, but to woke leftists, apparently the only motives that matter are the ones they unilaterally assign to those they target, irrespective of the truth.

  • What’s the deal with George Floyd Square? It’s a sad reality in urban centers across America that the very thing its leftist leaders hope to memorialize ends up getting mugged by reality. Such is certainly the case in Minneapolis, where businesses in and around the unfortunately named George Floyd Square are suing the city for allowing rampant crime and driving away their customers. We can’t blame these beleaguered merchants, but what on earth did the do-gooders of Minneapolis expect? They named the place after a career criminal and a drug-addicted thug. The five plaintiffs in the 19-page lawsuit are reportedly seeking more than $1.5 million in damages from the city. “The Mayor, the City, the City Council, and the Minneapolis Police Department collectively agreed to severely limit police response in the barricaded area surrounding Plaintiffs’ businesses,” according to the suit, which adds that the cops “only responded to the most serious calls and actively avoided the area.” George Floyd Square is thus the successor to the crime-ridden Martin Luther King avenues and boulevards in many big cities: Just because you gave it a new name doesn’t mean it’s no longer a crime-ridden wasteland.

  • Biden pressured YouTube to censor vaccine info: It’s no secret that Democrats in government have unconstitutionally conspired with Big Tech and social media to censor opinions and information with which they disagree, but the vigor with which the Biden administration did so is only now coming to light. As Fox News reports, Team Biden “worked together with employees of Google-owned YouTube in 2021 to target alleged ‘misinformation’ relating to the COVID-19 virus and its vaccinations.” Indeed, the White House pushed pro-vaccine content regardless of whether it was right or wrong, and it pushed YouTube and Google to do its dirty work, to censor inconvenient opinions. As Fox continues, “The campaign was led by former White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty, who has since left the administration to [fittingly] help run Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign as a Deputy Campaign Manager.” According to one internal YouTube email, “There is a very high degree of interest now coming from the White House now regarding vaccine misinfo/vaccine hesitancy and our work around borderline content.” House Republicans have taken an interest in these communications. “The committees will continue their critical investigative work to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, “and put an end to the vast government censorship enterprise.”

  • American Spirit: A quarterback and a Patriot: While the name-image-likeness revolution in collegiate sports has made this once-amateur enterprise increasingly more mercenary, there are still glimmers of goodness and decency and academic excellence to be found. And, in the case of Utah State quarterback Levi Williams, there is patriotism, too. In a decision that reminds us of the one Pat Tillman of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals made more than 20 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Williams announced that he’s forgoing his senior season on the gridiron to enlist in the U.S. military and train to be a Navy SEAL. “I love football and it’s so great,” Williams said. “But I knew that, eventually, it was going to come to an end. I just want to be in a spot where I can protect this great country where we get to play football with the freedom to do that. I think this is the best country in the world. So I’d like to keep it that way and protect it as long as I can.” There are few things on earth more grueling and more challenging than BUD/S training, so we wish this young man every success, and Godspeed.


  • Biden to Colorado workers: “Look, my Marine has a code to blow up the world” (Not the Bee)

  • Biden confirms second American hostage released by Hamas (The Hill)

  • UN Women rep refuses to condemn Hamas attacks on Israeli women and girls (Daily Wire)

  • Dean of Columbia Law School resigns amid anti-Semitism scandals (Washington Free Beacon)

  • Chuck Schumer rips the woke Left for rise in anti-Semitism across U.S. (Daily Wire)

  • Elon Musk curses out advertisers who left X over anti-Semitic content (Reuters)

  • Thousands of autoworkers at Toyota and Honda move to unionize after UAW victory over the Big Three (NBC News)

  • California will spend $300 million to clear homeless encampments (Daily Wire)

  • Fed’s favorite gauge shows inflation rose 0.2% in October and 3.5% from a year ago (CNBC)

  • The worst kind of hackers: “Gay furry hackers” breach U.S. nuclear research facility (National Review)

  • Recognizing “fake news”: “Media literacy” now required subject in California schools (USA Today)

  • 2023 hurricane season: Least impactful for U.S. in nearly a decade (Fox Weather)

  • Humor: Squirrel wearing MAGA hat seen scampering away from falling National Christmas Tree (Babylon Bee)

  • Humor: Taylor Swift dumps Travis Kelce for Face Paint Boy (Babylon Bee)

For more editors’ choice headlines, click here.

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