What Happened Today: November 29, 2022
‘Give us your farm, or else,’ says the Netherlands; Fauci is ‘almost certain’; Europe busts massive drug ring
The Big Story
The Dutch government is moving forward with its plans to achieve a “net zero” climate agenda by putting thousands of farmers out of work—during a global food shortage, no less—in what amounts to a hostile takeover of the agriculture industry of the world’s second-largest food exporter, behind the United States. For years now, Dutch farmers have been protesting the rising costs of the government’s harsh environmental policies—for example, a 2019 ruling by the Dutch Council of State that requires every new activity that emits nitrogen to obtain a permit. But protests have increased over the past few months as farmers feel that their backs are against the wall. Now the ultimatum has arrived: The government announced plans to buy and close down 3,000 farms at a rumored 120% of market value. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has threatened to “force” the farmers to take the offer if they don’t accept it voluntarily. The Netherlands “nitrogen minister” MP Christianne van der Wal told Parliament last Friday, “There is no better offer coming.” The cabinet has set aside $25.1 billion to fund the transition.
The mandated court order to cut emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50% nationwide by 2030 comes at a curious time, as the war in Ukraine has already caused food shortages, and the United Nations estimates that 2.3 billion people across the world are currently “food insecure.” On Saturday, in a jaw-droppingly ironic video commemorating the Holodomor, Stalin’s deliberate starvation of millions of Ukrainians from 1932 to 1933, Prime Minister Rutte committed $4.1 million to the World Food Programme, saying that the Netherlands was glad to support not only countries in need of food, but also Ukrainian farmers.
It appears that the Netherlands is subsidizing beleaguered Ukrainian farmers while bribing their own to shut down forever. This may seem backward but perhaps makes sense in light of Rutte’s admiration for the ideas expressed by World Economic Forum founder, Klaus Schwab, a primary architect of the so-called “great reset” whose organization has promoted the idea that by 2030 most people will be happy to live in a state of peaceful serfdom, owning nothing but renting what they need, eating much less meat while consuming alternative insect proteins, and paying taxes as part of a global price on carbon emissions.
In The Back Pages: How The Next Civil War Begins
→ Crypto traders and investors may be going through their most bipolar month ever. Even after fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried nearly tanked the industry with the collapse of his FTX exchanges, wiping out billions of dollars in crypto, and after several smaller crypto-related financial firms came up to the brink, Fidelity Investments is stepping into the breach. The $4.5 trillion assets-under-management investment behemoth has now opened up Bitcoin trading to a group of eager investors who signed up on a waiting list earlier this month, portending more normalization among the retail crowd. BlackRock has done the same. But a small group of senators is not pleased. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tina Smith (D-MN) wrote a letter to Fidelity sent on Nov. 21:
We again strongly urge Fidelity Investments to do what is best for plan sponsors and plan participants—seriously [sic] reconsider its decision to allow plan sponsors to offer Bitcoin exposure to plan participants. By many measures, we are already in a retirement security crisis, and it should not be made worse by exposing retirement savings to unnecessary risk. Any investment strategy based on catching lightning in a bottle, or motivated by the fear of missing out, is doomed to fail.
→ Graphic of the Day:
According to new CDC data uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request lawsuit, the Informed Consent Action Network is reporting that significant numbers of Americans sought medical care after receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations. It took a year and a half to get “five Excel files which likely took the CDC minutes to download and produce,” the organization wrote in its status report to the court that ordered the data released. The dataset comes from the CDC’s V-safe data gathering system, which is a voluntary monitoring system for vaccination adverse events. It has approximately 10 million users. More than 1.2 million users reported being unable to perform normal daily activities, and more than 1.3 million said they had to miss work or school due to the jab. Also, among patients aged 3 and up who required medical care after vaccination—totaling about 750,000, or 7.5% of V-safe users—about a quarter sought telehealth care, while nearly three-quarters required an in-person visit, including 9.6% who required hospitalization. Most frustratingly, the V-safe app uses checkboxes to allow users to mark which symptoms or conditions they are having, but no boxes were included for myocarditis or Guillain-Barré syndrome, both conditions now causally linked to vaccination. CDC uses V-safe as a component in its vaccine-safety monitoring system, along with VAERS and the Vaccine Safety Datalink, to make decisions about whether vaccines are safe for the public.
→ Even though many feel it doesn’t serve their interests, European members of NATO are coming under pressure from the United States to expand their security mandate to the other side of the world and address the “systemic challenges” posed by China. The move toward countering China was already being discussed at the July NATO summit in Madrid, but at the new summit starting today in Romania, U.S. officials are hoping to push things further, says U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith. Smith says the alliance needs to “think about ways the alliance can address that challenge [from China] in concrete terms.” But the Europeans are much more focused on Ukraine, and one E.U. official told the Financial Times, “Let’s say that the United States has a certain tendency to be prescriptive, not just on China but about everything,” while admitting NATO would probably end up closer to the American position. While the Europeans may feel they’re being asked to cause unnecessary tension with another major trading partner, surely they’ll still have some choice in the matter; it’s not as if some major pipeline connecting them to Chinese energy is going to mysteriously blow up, forcing them to adopt the American position no matter what. No way.
→ Hallelujah! The little known story of Leonard Cohen’s Yom Kippur War concerts is going to hit the small screen. Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai, based on Tablet contributor Matti Friedman’s book of the same name, is going Hollywood. Friedman’s book tells the beautiful story of Cohen’s secret tour of Israeli battle lines during the Yom Kippur War, where he played a lot of “So Long, Marianne” for young men and women engaged in the fight of their lives. The book is a miraculous kind of Jewish poetry. Here’s hoping they can find a young actor with Cohen’s gravitas and punim!
→ Video of the Day:
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, outgoing head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, continued his politician-like approach to the question of his agency’s involvement in the creation of SARS-CoV-2. When Tapper brought up the impending House Republican investigations into the origins of COVID-19, and the inevitable accusations that will be hurled in Fauci’s direction, the NIAID director put on his dance belt and ballet slippers and responded with a beautiful pirouette. He simultaneously admitted that maybe “there’s a lab leak,” but “not with the viruses the NIH was funding.” This is a man who repeatedly fought against the narrative of a lab leak publicly in 2020—including by coordinating a campaign to discredit scientists and journalists advancing the theory—while leaked emails show he and his colleagues were very concerned about the possibility of just that. He did conclude the interview with Tapper by saying it was “almost certain” that it was impossible that NIH grants led to COVID-19. Almost.
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→ Israel’s incoming Likud-led government pandered to the theocratic aims of its far-right elements Monday with the announcement that the state will no longer recognize non-rabbinate—i.e., ultra-Orthodox—conversions conducted in Israel for the purposes of granting citizenship. Benjamin Netanyahu’s new partners, ultra-orthodox Sephardi party Shas, and their Ashkenazi correlate United Torah Judaism, made the demand as part of their conditions for joining his coalition, asking for the passage of a State Conversion Law, which would only recognize in-state conversions performed by approved religious courts. This will not—yet—apply to those who converted to non-orthodox abroad, who may still apply for citizenship on that basis. “When Netanyahu’s second wife went through a Conservative conversion, that was ‘kosher’ enough for him,” said Gilad Kariv, a Reform rabbi and Labor Party member. “Today, he sells out the unity of the Jewish people and the connection to the Diaspora for an unkosher and dangerous agreement.”
→ Over the past month, European police across four countries conducted a massive operation to take down one of Europe’s biggest “super cartels.” The operation, dubbed “Desert Light,” confiscated 30 tons of cocaine, said to be one-third of the total supply to Europe, from busts in Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and also the UAE. The U.S. DEA was also involved in the arrests, which took down 49 criminals, and might have had the effect of helping a lot of clubgoers in Berlin, Ibiza, and Mykonos get to bed a little earlier.
→ Another report of crumbling basic infrastructure in the world’s wealthiest nation: Residents of Houston, the United States’ fourth largest city, have been told their tap water isn’t safe to drink. A similar 40-day boil-water notice hit Jackson, Mississippi, earlier this year. Both transformers went down at Houston’s East Water Purification Plant on Sunday, causing a brief period of low water pressure in the system, which could allow impurities to enter. While the city considered skipping the boil-water notice since the system was compromised briefly, it decided to put caution first; Mayor Sylvester Turner says that while he understands that the choice may cause some anger, people should know it was made precisely because the city was paying attention, not being negligent. Water utilities across the country are falling into disrepair, with the American Society of Civil Engineers estimating that every two minutes there’s a crack somewhere in our nation’s water system. According to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the median age of the oldest components in our water systems is 113 years, and the average pipe is 40 years old. While President Biden’s infrastructure bill allotted $55 billion to expanding access to clean water, that’s only a fraction of the $1 trillion estimated to be needed.
→ The Russians are not spying on your phone due to gross negligence on the part of Apple, Google, and the U.S. government—unless they are. A new investigation in Reuters found that a software company called Pushwoosh, which has portrayed itself as American, is actually based in Siberia. The company produces software for smartphone apps that allows the apps to send you push notifications based on data it collects about your online activity. App creators can use Pushwoosh’s code rather than having to create it themselves, and as a result the software has found its way into nearly 8,000 apps offered by Google and Apple, and has more than 2.3 billion devices in its database. Notably, the CDC and the Army have removed Pushwoosh from internal apps, citing security concerns. Even though Pushwoosh’s registered addresses in the United States were fake, as were two LinkedIn profiles of U.S.-based executives, the Pushwoosh CEO claims his company has “no connection with the Russian government.” An analysis by data watchdog Confiant did not reveal any “deceptive or malicious intent in Pushwoosh’s activity,” said co-founder Jerome Dangu, but that “certainly doesn’t diminish the risk of having app data leaking to Russia.”
TODAY IN TABLET:
Uncle Manuel and Me by Anita Rosenberg
Finding my own path in the family story.
The Failed British Double-Cross of Israel by Edward N. Luttwak
Heretofore overlooked British General Staff documents demonstrate that the oft-marginalized Lehi leader Avraham “Yair” Stern’s assessment of British intentions toward Mandate Palestine was correct.
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How the Next Civil War Begins
America is lurching towards collapse. Its democratic norms will bring about its final unraveling.
All national declines ebb and flow. The street violence and chaos of the summer of 2020 marked the moment the curtain was pulled back, the country's true psychic state revealed for a single season before the curtain fell once more—President Biden entered office, the pandemic subsided, normalcy seemed to return.
In the two years since that summer, I’ve considered the specific series of events that might trigger our final national fragmentation, often in Tablet, and it now seems clear to me that America’s demise will be inaugurated by what has become our country's pastime: a contested election. In two years from now, both parties will declare themselves the electoral victor, with neither presidential candidate conceding defeat; state electors will ratify two different presidents, according to their preferred narrative or conspiracy theory; the country will then fracture, legally and institutionally, along red and blue lines.
According to recent polling, more than 50% of Americans expect a new civil war in the "next couple of years." It's a pathetic scenario more fitting for a semi-authoritarian backwater than the world’s beacon of democracy. National breakup efforts will be coming and, if we're being honest, they're behind schedule.
Since 2000, the U.S. has witnessed three contested presidential elections, with one side labeling the results illegitimate. In 2000's Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court shut down vote recounts and delivered the election to the son of a former president, a man whose family, at various points, maintained that the 1992 election itself was "stolen" by the querulous Ross Perot and the meddling "liberal media."
The appointment of President George W. Bush, grandchild of Prescott Bush—who took part in the Business Plot, a bumbling coup d'état attempt against Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s—led the country into two disastrous Middle Eastern wars, one being based on fraudulent premises. In his final year in office Bush stood at the helm while the U.S. banking system collapsed, causing the country's most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression.
In the next election the U.S. electorate pinned their hopes on Barack Obama, the skinny junior Illinois Senator promising to lead the country past the triune plagues of Wall Street greed, racial animus, and Middle Eastern wars. Amidst more puff pieces about the beauty of the presidential family than occurred during John Kennedy's presidential tenure, Obama lost the 2010 mid-terms.
Six years later, the former first lady, Hillary Clinton, who everyone in elite media penciled in as their next queen, deepened the Democrat's failure by taking electoral losses throughout the Rust Belt region far worse than Al Gore's 2000 campaign.
Instead of admitting fault for their losing campaign strategy, Democratic party apparatchiks and their allies in the legacy media became full time election denialists. The news operations that made billions airing Trump's every idiotic word in the lead-up to the 2016 election accepted no responsibility for his eventual victory; neither did the Democratic party establishment, who all but rigged their own primary process in favor of one of the least popular political figures in American history. The Democratic party leadership and journalism class did nothing wrong, we were repeatedly informed. It was Vladimir Putin and the Russians who were actually to blame—they hacked the election!
Heading into the 2020 election, Covid-19 crashed what had been a not-quite-as-disastrous as anticipated 45th U.S. presidency for Donald Trump. By embracing both the Covid lockdowns and a miniscule relief package that did not tie employees to their jobs, Trump tanked any realistic chance of winning a second term. But instead of admitting his own errors, Trump—like the Bushes, the Gores, and the Clintons before him—blamed everybody else.
Predictably, Trump claimed that his defeat was a fraud. The election, you see, was stolen. Sound familiar? Within a matter of weeks, "stop the steal" became the mantra of the Republican party. All who refused to abide by its claims were run out of the MAGA camp as traitors—or worse.
Bringing us to the present, when no one in leadership takes responsibility for anything—not America’s military generals, nor its public health officials, and least of all its president. Scapegoating and conspiracy accusations are the norm. Both left and right view instigating mass hysteria as a legitimate political tool—not only for career advancement, but also institutional takeover. Where does that leave us?
Entire nations can go insane. Here's a way to test if we're headed that way: watch five minutes of TikTok – anything related to politics, beauty tips, or social justice. Follow that up with five minutes of MSNBC, then the same amount of Fox News. Next, read a chapter of Robin DiAngelo's White Fragility — any chapter. Lastly, carefully scan some Q-Anon reddit posts. Immediately after doing all this, take a shower and then ask yourself: is American political culture not in the throes of degenerative madness? Might the seemingly stable present be attributable to the fact that we remain too rich, militarily impenetrable, and geographically insulated to face the full consequences of our psychological derangement?
Once a political culture embraces the path of the dark triad—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy—negative end products are not simply possible, but inevitable. There's only one chance to stave off the worst potential outcomes in the United States: Recognize our 50-state partnership as a failed marriage and, like adults, move on. Here's how it could look:
California, parts of Oregon, Washington, and Nevada agree to become one new federal system but keep their independent statehoods—and legislative bodies—intact. Utah, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and the Dakotas do the same. The Rust Belt states, including, let’s suppose, a separated Western Pennsylvania, forge together as another similar regional governance agreement.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the rest of New England become another confederation of nation states. Upstate New York, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Eastern Pennsylvania join it, or perhaps Canada would like a few new wealthy provinces. The five boroughs of NYC should probably be given unique status inside this new New England, similar to Scotland's place inside the United Kingdom: a distinct parliament and some separate form of micro-nationhood.
Down south, the former Civil War border states of Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri can collaborate in a new state partnership. Similarly, the eleven states of the former confederacy join together once more, minus Texas, who we all know—because they remind us incessantly!—has been counting the days until it can declare full independence again.
Alaska and Hawaii are beautiful and luxurious places. They'll easily find a home in one of these new state partnerships. Puerto Rico, America’s long-suffering and neglected stepchild, might seek independence, which is increasingly popular with its citizens: in 2020, the Puerto Rican Independence Party picked up 13.6% of the vote compared to 2.1% in 2016; the anti-colonial Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana, meanwhile, garnered 14% of the vote, signaling a full quarter of the territory is ready to cut ties with the U.S.
There's nothing sacred about 50-state America. Breaking up the country into six or seven new semi-autonomous state partnerships won't solve all, or even most, of our political or cultural problems. It should, however, end the insane and unwinnable culture wars over the national identity of a country that was never intended to have a massive top-down, one size fits all solution for how its citizens should live. America was founded to allow local experiments in democracy to flourish within regional cultures. That tradition has been destroyed by a ruling class made up of people who were all educated at the same schools and taught to believe that technocratic solutions were the answer to every problem. Corporations and federal surveillance bureaucracies may object to a national breakup on the grounds that it would make their jobs harder, but why should ordinary Americans feel the same way?
How much of America's present dysfunction is the result of Abraham Lincoln's 1861 choice to forcibly keep together two regional cultures that detest each other? Few comparable civil wars exist in world history where one side vanquishes (and humiliates) the other and then the two sides stay together peacefully—but teeming with unresolved resentment—for more than a century and half.
Like it or not, the United States is poised to Balkanize at some point. If anything, sustained independence movements are overdue. The 21st century ascent of the critical race and gender-as-a-social-construct ideologies might not actually represent an effort to dismantle a "hegemonic white patriarchy," as claimed. A better way to understand the tremendous popularity of Woke thought amongst the bureaucratic class could be as an unconscious attempt to create the moral economy needed to forcefully keep the union together a second time. For, if the red-state voters and rural Americans are merely dens of "deplorable" "racist" "fascists" then there's simply no choice but to deny them democratic independence when they inevitably ask for it.
Since I started writing about the topic of national breakup two years ago, the concept of a second U.S. Civil War has become presque vu across much of the American media landscape. The round-faced YouTuber Tim Pool has made a living posting daily videos on the topic. With his head hovering in the bottom right corner of the screen, Pool displays the day's news. After reading a few lines, Pool will then sigh, pause for dramatic effect, and offer commentary that, nearly without fail, contains the phrase "I tell you what" and some reference to the notion of a second Civil War.
My YouTube algorithm pairs Pool's videos with advertisements for bullet-proof vests, tactical knives, and other self-defense paraphernalia. Prepare yourself nancy boy, Youtube whispers in my ear. The zombies are coming.
In need of an informed interlocutor, I called F.H. Buckley, a Foundation Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, and outlined my predictions for America's end. We discussed two distinct national breakup possibilities:
Scenario A is the "Buchanan," named after President James Buchanan's apathy towards the South’s independence efforts. In this scenario, Trump—or any other Republican—occupies the White House when Californians set in motion a serious move toward "Calexit." According to Buckley, the Republican president responds by saying "'goodbye and good luck.'"
Scenario B, the "Lincoln" (named after Lincoln's inexorable campaign to keep the union together by force): Under a Democratic chief executive—including a Biden second term—red states launch independence movements. Buckley believes this is where the true danger lies. "The question is which party is prepared to invade and occupy the territory of another part of the country," he asks rhetorically. The Democrats, he goes on, “wouldn't hesitate to make war on the Republican parts of America."
I share with Buckley that I live in a solidly middle-class neighborhood in north central Florida. Roughly 30-35% of my neighbors are African-American. On the road directly in front of my house, kids ride their motocross bikes wearing cowboy boots and un-ironic mullets. On this same road, I've heard Punjabi and Mandarin spoken by neighbors walking by with their children. However, when November rolls around and lawn signs go up, most of them plug Trump, Ron DeSantis, or other GOP candidates. There are plenty of Biden signs too, but I've never witnessed any consternation and certainly no ethnic animosity. “Mixed-race" couples are common to the degree that they're unremarkable—as aligns with demographer Richard Alba's recent research on the expanding American mainstream.
"The ironic thing is that American conservatives are the tolerant people here," Buckley says. "I'm from Quebec and lived through a real secession debate,” he then says. “There was never such animosity between English and French Quebec as there is between conservatives and liberals in America. There is such a degree of deep-seated contempt and widespread fantasies of what life would be like without the other side around."
In our chat, which happened more than a month ago, Buckley argued that the most likely outcome of the 2024 presidential election is a Biden presidency. Due to Biden's advanced age and visible health problems, I hadn't even contemplated that as a possibility.
Should Buckley's prediction prove true, following a second Trump defeat, it feels inevitable that "stop the steal" morphs into some form of red-state "national divorce" — rhetoric already used frequently by Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Green and many on the American right. The Libertarian party has also made #NationalDivorce part of their refrain.
What does the federal government do under that 21st century "Lincoln scenario"? I ask Buckley.
"March troops into seceding red territories," he says without hesitation.