We're now one day away from the first presidential debate. Among the tedious rituals of American electioneering is the traditional Lowering of Expectations. No candidate has so assiduously expectation-lowered as Joe Biden: Every other day, his campaign calls a "lid" on the day's activities as soon as he's halfway through breakfast. On the other days he does one softball interview in which he claims to have been in the Senate for 180 years and addresses MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle as "John", who nevertheless is happy to rescue him from his next lapse. A video has surfaced of Biden telling members of the military to "Clap for that, you stupid bastards", presumably on the grounds that he and General Patton worked together to win the Spanish-American War.
Joe Biden is crazy like a 180-year-old stupid bastard called Stephanie-John. I confess I'm a little worried that this may be the greatest expectation-lowering head-fake of all time. If Biden manages not to take a nap in the first half-hour, it'll be hailed as a decisive knockout punch that left Trump sprawled on the canvas. The last time he did one of these, no one expected him to beat Paul Ryan, but that was the perception, since when I have never been able to take Ryan seriously.
~I emphasize the word "perception". In reality, there is no Biden campaign. He sits in his rec room watching Victor Mature movies and once a week or so is given day-release to be driven an hour from his home to somewhere in Pennsylvania, where he can be passed off as traveling out of state to hold a rally. A rally of four approved "journalists" practising Xtreme Social Distancing by sitting in isolated circles not six feet apart but closer to twenty-six.
But I wonder how many of the electorate actually grasp what's going on. The Trump ads (such as they are, the campaign being apparently short of cash) are typical of the genre's conventions: fully produced, with graphs, quotes, typical citizens, flags, etc. The Biden ads show Joe at a podium talking - as if he's addressing a crowd in a school gym or town hall. There is no crowd, there is no speech, there is no large auditorium: Jill's backed the hybrid out, and the podium has been set up in his three-car garage.
Yet, if you're just the casual semi-engaged "low-information voter" (as Rush used to say), your impression is of Joe giving speeches, tirelessly, night after night, in between Jeopardy and Ellen and Entertainment Tonight. You could CGI in the rear end of Harry Truman's railroad car with distant glimpses behind of palm trees or snow-capped mountains and make Biden's 24/7 whistlestop barnstorming a little more produced ...but that might attract a little too much scrutiny. That's the genius of these ads: Their crudeness. Just a man in a big room talking to himself, highly edited and passed off as a full-spectrum coast-to-coast campaign.
~The Democrats and their media chums appear to have agreed their core objection to Amy Coney Barrett: her colonialist appropriation of two Haitian adoptees, on top of far too many other kids for her to be able to put in a full day's judging without having to dash off from overturning Roe vs Wade to get the girls to soccer in her mommy van.
What is the correct number of kids for a couple to have? Well, according to the group "World Population Balance" it's just the one. They've now put up billboards all over Vancouver showing the city's traffic-choked highways under the slogan "Congestion Begins at Conception".
In other words, the gridlock is caused by having too many moppets:
The world is overpopulated. But a surprising number of journalists, elected officials, pundits and members of the public are unaware.
Gotcha. So you're in favor of reducing mass immigration? The unceasing conveyor belt by which Somalis with low environmental footprints move to Europe or North America and adopt planet-devastating western-sized environmental footprints?
Oh, perish the thought. In most western cities, almost the entirety of population growth is immigration-driven. In Los Angeles it takes two hours to get anywhere not because its white liberal women are irresponsibly fecund and Coney Barretting up the joint with carpool runs, but because California's open southern border has demographically transformed the state.
So these environmentalist over-population groups are just poseurs, bemoaning native fertility while utterly indifferent to or actively in favor of open borders. How much more shriveled does World Population Balance want our birth rates to get? Right now, much of the west is statistically barren. Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia, a province that has a falling fertility rate that by 2018 was down to 1.28 children per mother. That's a demographic death spiral from which no society in human history has ever recovered: Two million parents make 1,280,000 children; 1,280,000 children have 819,200 kids of their own; 819,200 have 524,288, and suddenly your population has quartered itself between great-gran'ma and you.
But you don't notice the Great Barrenness because everybody in the ever more crowded streets is from Somalia and Sudan and Waziristan. If you're an "overpopulation" group and you've got nothing to say about that, you're either a moron or a fraud.
~In the last fortnight, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has struck down two death sentences because the convicted killers are "intellectually disabled". The first murderer is a Mexican, Juan Lizcano, who killed a Dallas police officer; the second murderer is a Salvadorian who killed a South Korean and a Guatemalan in a Houston convenience store. How "disabled" do you have to be to beat the rap? As the Associated Press explains:
Testimony at his trial showed that Lizcano had the communication skills of a 8- to 10-year-old and was about 16 when he left school in the 6th grade [in Mexico] still unable to read.
As I discuss in After America, in 1940 the average American had an eighth-grade education. Eighth-Grade America won the Second World War, gave us the most dynamic and inventive economy and culture on the planet, and emerged as the world's dominant post-war power. So a sixth-grade education should not in itself indicate a predisposition to intellectual disability and cop-killing. But, if it does, one notes this statistic from The Economist:
Of foreign-born Latinos [in America], 35% have no more than a sixth-grade education, and another 27% do not finish high school.
There is no argument whatsoever in favor of mass importation of immigrants with a sixth-grade education. On the other hand, there appear to be quite a few arguments in their favor if they chance to come up before an American judge.
~It was a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with the weekend edition of The Mark Steyn Show offering contrasting equine forays from the streets of Copenhagen and Chicago, twilight time on Sunset Boulevard, Downton Abbey for racists, a poem for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and much more. Kathy Shaidle's weekend movie date considered a brace of heiresses, and my Sunday song selection was big and Texan. Our marquee presentation was the latest in our series of audio adventures Tales for Our Time - my serialization of an electoral speculation from Isaac Asimov. You can listen to Episode One here, and the conclusion here. If you were too busy trashing Amy Coney Barrett for culturally appropriating Haitian adoptees this weekend, I hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.