The internal contradictions of wokeness: Gender is totally fluid, and, if you're unpersuaded that a six-foot man with a beard is a woman, you'll lose your job. Whereas race is a social construct, but not that social. From my old friends at Slate:
"Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican," read one of a dozen similar tweets questioning Harris' identity sent in the moments after she, while confronting Joe Biden's record of opposing desegregation, recalled being bused to school as a little girl. Another read, "KAMALA HARRIS IS NOT BLACK" and featured a photo of Harris with a "Kamala Dolezal" emblazoned across her face, referencing Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who claims to be "transracially" black. Yet another read, "Kamala Harris is implying she is descended from American Black Slaves. She's not. She comes from Jamaican Slave Owners. That's fine. She's not an American Black. Period."
Senator Harris is half-Jamaican and half-Indian (dot not Warren). If she were to prevail in next November's election, she would be the second black president to come from entirely outside the African-American experience - after Barack Obama, who was half-Kenyan and half-white. I can sort of understand why, if I were the Reverend Al Sharpton or the Reverend Jesse Jackson, I'd be irked by what seems to be becoming a pattern.
As I wrote over a decade ago, Barack Obama was the first US president to be born a British subject since Andrew Jackson. Kamala Harris would be the second. What's up with that? In my book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn I quote another man born a British subject, General Colin Powell, from 1995, back when he was doing his to-run-or-not-to-run routine:
After the British ended slavery, they told my ancestors that they were now British citizens with all the rights of any subject of the Crown. That was an exaggeration; still, the British did establish good schools and made attendance mandatory. They filled the lower ranks of the civil service with blacks. Consequently, West Indians had an opportunity to develop attitudes of inde- pendence, self-responsibility and self- worth. They did not have their individual dignity beaten down for three hundred years.
Like Kamala's, General Powell's identity was bluntly questioned: After he said his favorite composer was Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesse Jackson wondered, "Is this guy even black?"
If you're looking for an alternative, there's always Mayor Pete, who I suggested the other day was in a somewhat Obamaesque position - and whaddaya know, just like Barack he was born a British subject, too. Buttigieg is a Maltese surname, and Mayor Pete makes the cut by eleven-and-a-half months: He entered the world in January 1982, and the new British Nationality Act came into effect in January 1983, making British-subject status inheritable only if you're stateless. So another couple of election cycles and a non-imperial gay or black might have a shot.
~I am wary of saying anything too definitive re the Jeffrey Epstein case, because so much of the reporting is way too trusting of the federal prosecutors' official narrative. Not to mention that they're also playing up a slight Trump acquaintanceship and playing down Bill Clinton's frequent flyer miles on Air Epstein. Don't get me wrong: I take it as read that the guy's an industrial-scale pedophile, if only because it seems to be the only thing anybody knows about him - including how he made his billion dollars. He apparently requires three "massages" a day by underage girls. So, upon being informed that Mr Epstein is flying his "Lolita Express" around Africa with Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey and a softcore porn actress called Chauntae Davies on board, I'm disinclined to accept the official explanation that this is an Aids-relief "humanitarian" mission.
That said, as longtime readers know, I regard federal justice as appallingly corrupt, and so the sudden revival of Epstein's prosecution is somewhat more than intriguing. First, and as often with prominent American cases, the details make no sense:
In a memo filed to the court, prosecutors outlined the scope of Epstein's vast wealth to argue that he has the means to flee the country and escape prosecution, noting that he not only has homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, New Mexico and Paris -- with his Upper East Side townhouse, of which prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture, alone worth $77 million -- but also owns a private island in the US Virgin Islands.
He also has three US passports, owns at least 15 vehicles and has access to two private jets, according to the memo.
I can understand how a rich man comes to have fifteen cars, but how pray, does one individual citizen acquire three US passports? And from a government supposedly on "orange alert" these last eighteen years.
Second, Epstein was the beneficiary of a ludicrously lenient federal plea deal a decade ago for exactly the same charges. So this would appear to be "double jeopardy". Not so fast, say the feds:
It is well-settled in the Second Circuit [appellate court] that a plea agreement in one US Attorney's office does not bind another unless otherwise stated.
Is that so? Thanks to that litigious loser Cary Katz, I'm more familiar with Second Circuit jurisprudence than I might otherwise wish. But I had no idea of the above. So apparently, when you enter into a plea deal with "the United States" that says things like "the United States, in consultation with and subject to the good faith and approval of Epstein's counsel, shall select an attorney representative for..." and "if Epstein successfully fulfills all of the terms and conditions of this agreement, the United States also agrees that it will not institute any criminal charges against...", the words "the United States" only apply to the United States that resides at 27 Ocean View Parkway, Miami Beach and not the United States that resides at 32b Rotting Wharf Lane, The Bronx. So forget double jeopardy; you could have demicentuple jeopardy. Who knew?
One more thing: it seems fairly obvious that Epstein is also a procurer for those whose appetites likewise run to schoolgirls. This is where the manifests of his airplane are at least somewhat inferential. Yet the new indictment is concerned only with "the New York Residence" and "the Palm Beach Residence" - and not the Lolita Express jetting well-heeled buddies to Paedo Island. Is this some cozy arrangement to ensure that Bill Clinton et al are excluded from the case?
~The big news in the UK these last few days has been the leak of the British Ambassador's undiplomatic diplomatic cables about the Trump Administration. One BBC anchor after another has hectored and finger-wagged and demanded that both Tory leadership contenders and other HMG bigshots deplore the President's "astonishing" Twitter "outburst": Boris, to his credit, declined to play along; by contrast, Jeremy Hunt, the ambassador's boss at the Foreign Office, pledged to keep Kim Darroch in Washington all the way to Christmas. Sir Kim promptly resigned the following morning, making Mr Hunt look a prat and a loser.
"Loser" is a very useful Americanism - because what matters in these spats is who wins, as my old editor Charles Moore understands:
It is really remarkable that a 73-year-old man can be such a master of forms of social media which did not exist until his sixth and in some cases his seventh decade. The chancelleries of Europe and the mainstream media see the President's tweeted outbursts or comments shouted beside a helicopter as ill-judged. They falsely equate what they don't like with what doesn't work, and therefore they lose. A Trump tweet can be as decisive an expression of power as the Roman emperor's thumbs-down in the gladiatorial arena. So it has proved.
Hunt and Mrs May made fools of themselves unnecessarily. As for Sir Kim's insights into Trump, they were conclusory banalities ("inept"). If that's the kind of analysis London is getting from Washington, they might as well close the embassy and take out a long-range subscription to Rachel Maddow and Don Lemon.
A favorite Cole Porter couplet from Kiss Me, Kate:
With the wife of the British Embessida
Try a crack out of Troilus and Cressida...
Okay, how about this one?
Whiles others fish with craft for great opinion,
I with great truth catch mere simplicity;
Whilst some with cunning gild their copper crowns,
With truth and plainness I do wear mine bare.
Truth and plainness 1, Gilded cunning zip.
~We have some special events planned as the third year of The Mark Steyn Club cranks into gear, including the second annual Mark Steyn Club Cruise, sailing from Vancouver to Alaska. Unfortunately, that's sold out, but it's never too early to reserve a berth on our third cruise, sailing the Mediterranean with Conrad Black among my shipmates. As with most travel and accommodations, the price and the choices are more favorable the earlier you book. If you have any queries, do call or email Cindy, our super-helpful cruise manager: If you're dialing from almost anywhere but Australia (ie, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America), it's 001 (770) 952-1959; if you're calling from North America, it's 1-800-707-1634. Or you can put it in writing here.)
Club members also enjoy special member pricing on over forty products at the Steyn store, including (for those with fond memories of my showstopping number on the Dennis Miller tour) our My Sharia Amour gift pack. So, if you've been thinking about signing up, you can find more details about the Club here - and, if you've a chum who'd enjoy our audio fiction, video poetry and much more, don't forget our special Gift Membership, which makes a lovely birthday present.
See you back here this evening with Part Twenty-Eight of our current Tale for Our Time.