On October 18, 1867, the U.S. became the owners of Alaska after purchasing the huge territory from Russia for $7.2 million.The Alaska purchase consisted of 586,412 square miles, about twice the size of Texas, and cost about 2 cents an acre. Nonetheless, the deal was ridiculed at the time as “Seward’s Folly,” named after President Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State who championed the purchase. In a spectacular triumph of moral luck, the U.S. taking Alaska from Russia may have saved the world. Had Russia, then the Soviet Union, had a foothold in North America where missiles could be stationed, the Cold War becoming World War Three may not have been avoidable. (Then there’s all that gold and oil and stuff.)
I’ve always found it fascinating the one of our most reviled and denigrated Presidents deserves the credit for securing Alaska, though he seldom is rewarded any. Johnson was a failure any way you examine his Presidency, but his best decision may have saved us all.
1. Passing a comprehensive infrastructure repair bill is critical, and not doing so is irresponsible, as this story out of Michigan should make clear (not that it hasn’t been clear for decades). State officials have told Benton Harbor residents not to drink, cook or brush their teeth with tap water because dangerous levels of lead are leeching into the water supply from deteriorating lead pipes. “The problems in Benton Harbor and Flint are extreme examples of a broader, national failure of water infrastructure that experts say requires massive and immediate investment to solve,” the reports state. “Across the country, in cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Clarksburg, W.Va., Americans are drinking dangerous quantities of brain-damaging lead as agencies struggle to modernize water treatment plants and launch efforts to replace the lead service lines that connect buildings to the water system. Health officials say there is no safe level of lead exposure.”
“We’ve basically just been living off our great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ investments in our water infrastructure and not been dealing with these festering problems,” says Erik D. Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council, adding that the lead problem is part of “this ticking time bomb we have underground of lead pipes, of water mains that are bursting.”
Yes, and we’ve known this for at least 50 years. Nevertheless, the essential infrastructure repairs have been stalled because President Biden wants to hold them hostage to pass controversial and pricey social programs that have nothing to do with infrastructure. The failure to fulfill this basic responsibility of government is a bi-partisan botch and an inexcusable one stretching back to Lyndon Johnson at least. However, that does not excuse Democrats today for using the threat of infrastructure collapse to advance a their more controversial agenda delusions.
2. From the res ipsa loquitur files...In a nearly completely incoherent review of Katie Couric’s tell-all “Going There,” New York Times book reviewer Alexandra Jacobs does everything possible to rationalize and excuse Couric’s betrayals of colleagues and acquaintances and admissions of unethical journalism and worse. After all, says Jacobs, Katie is properly mortified by past “cluelessness, born of intractable white privilege.” Of Couric’s admission that she hid Justice Ginsburg’s (quote appropriate) criticism of the NFL Kaepernick clones, Jacobs writes, “Maybe journalistic objectivity isn’t all it was cracked up to be?” Of course a Times reporter would react that way. Regarding Couric’s unbelievable claim that she had no idea that her long-time “Today” colleague Matt Lauer was a serial workplace sexual predator, Jacobs writes, “Honestly, with all the enablers above her, it’s hard to fault Couric for being oblivious to a colleague’s compartmentalized exploits. If there’s one thing “Going There” conclusively proves, it’s that she always had a lot going on.”
Honestly, why should anyone trust a reviewer who writes something like that?
3. And more from those files…As I noted earlier, the decisive Game 5 in the season-long battle between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers was ended by a called strike three on Giants batter Wilmer Flores, who had, as video replays showed, checked his swing. Umpire Gabe Morales wrongly ruled that the half-swing had crossed the plate. Asked if Morales, who saw the video afterwards, agrees that he blew the call, robbing the Giants of their last chance to tie or win the game (as they did against the Dodgers in the most famous play-off ever played, in 1951), the umpiring crew chief for the game, Ted Barrett, said, “He doesn’t want to say.” Nice.
4. This is why we cannot trust public schools: idiots like Gina Peddy run them. Peddy, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, advised teachers that the new Texas anti-indoctrination law that requires teachers to present multiple points of view when discussing controversial topics requires them to provide material questioning the Holocaust if their classes cover the topic. The fact that the Holocaust took place and the extent of its horrors is not credibly disputed, and thus the topic is not controversial. Anti-Semites and pro-Nazi propagandists deny that the fact is a fact, but that is not a “point of view.” Peddy cannot distinguish between fact and opinion, or fact and ideology, and this disqualifying malady makes her presence anywhere in the public school hierarchy a threat to children.
5. Wow! CREW is bi-partisan for a change! Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a habitually pro-Democratic Party “ethics watchdog” that claims to be bi-partisan but isn’t, filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel requesting an investigation into whether White House spokesperson Jen Psaki violated the Hatch Act. The law, which is almost never enforced, prohibits federal government employees from engaging in campaign activity in their official capacity. The complaint cites Psaki’s comments during a press briefing when she was asked whether the White House views the governor election in Virginia as an important indicator or the nation’s mood. Psaki said she had to be careful to avoid campaigning from behind the podium, then proceeded to campaign from behind the podium, saying, “We’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing.”
Yup! That’s a Hatch Act violation, just as White House Counselor under Trump, Kellyanne Conway, violated the Hatch Act, and just as multiple Obama officials violated the Hatch Act. And just like all of them, no action will be taken against Psaki. However, CREW has to periodically do things like this to maintain the fiction that it isn’t another progressive shill. This one was brilliant, because there was no chance whatsoever that a Democrat or the Biden Administration would be wounded by the accusation.