GSTAAD—I was reading Julie Burchill’s review of my friend Candace Bushnell’s Is There Still Sex in the City? when one of the reviewer’s insights struck me like a stiff left jab to the noggin: “Those who have persisted in carrying on creakily have become increasingly embarrassing.” Ouch! Could she have the poor little Greek boy in mind? Of course not, I told myself, but then…never mind. A little paranoia at my age is normal.

I felt better the next day when a Dutch TV crew of five arrived in the Alps to film a program called How to Be a Man. It stars one man—me—and it will be shown on Dutch national television in November. Yippee! Margriet van der Linden, a statuesque, Viking-like tall blonde, and a real pro, put me through the wringer. Rarely have I been asked so many intelligent questions, challenging at times but never intrusive or embarrassing. We spent three days talking about manhood in the age of #MeToo, and filming when I mixed it up in karate training with my sensei Richard Amos.

More about karate later, but how to be a man nowadays is quite tricky. If one reads the lachrymose prose of, say, Roger Cohen in The New York Times, what passes as a man of good sense and taste means someone without courage or originality. (Actually, it’s worse—reading Cohen reminds me of a queasy teenager squeezing his pimples. La Goldberg is even worse.) A sense of duty never to leave a wife, but also a sense of entitlement never to give up a mistress, just about defines manhood as far as I’m concerned. The Dutch lady was very good in the manner in which she took me around my life; it was obvious she had read the Spectator columns with evangelical zeal, because she knew all about me. She wished to know what has happened to men, and my answer was #MeToo. Some of these brainless female American hustlers are even challenging men’s literary achievements. A female clown critic recently wrote that Zelda Fitzgerald’s madness was due to the fact that her husband, Scott, cribbed from her. Imagine the great Scott, author of The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night and numerous other heartrending novels, cribbing from the poor, tragic, mad-as-a-hatter Zelda (mind you, a good occasional writer herself, but not anywhere near him). Such are the joys of the American-made #MeToo bullshit.

“Rarely have I been asked so many intelligent questions, challenging at times but never intrusive or embarrassing.”

We spoke a lot about sport. Part of the experience of sport resides in dealing with the finality of it. It’s often a kind of death. This is not true of seminars, lectures, or even reading. (You can always read it again.) Pursuing excellence plus the requirements of courage and personal discipline make sport unique, although most sports are now entertainment, the ethos of sport long gone. The money will do it every time.

The TV crew then came to the dojo, where my sensei and I gave them a bit of a show, kicking and punching each other. Richard Amos is as brainy as any karate teacher around and is as tough on the floor as they come. His timing and focus are such that it’s almost impossible to land a solid hit. Margriet was impressed, I could tell, and she asked him some rather brainy questions. After that brief exhibition it was back to hard work, and it made my week. Get up early each morning, drive to the dojo, warm up, and have a go. With 55 years of training experience, I cannot accept that this stage of my karate life will no longer be filled with new possibilities. Getting stronger and faster, kicking higher, those were the old goals. Now I seek to move with less effort and look better aesthetically. The irony of this is that the more one loses one’s self in the inner, unseen workings, the better the technique becomes on the surface.

So, how to be a man? Well, Maxine Blythin—the transgender whose batting average is 105 in female cricket—can tell us a thing or two. As can brainless TV pundits who tell us gender is fluid and not determined at birth. I think a man needn’t be dominant, nor does he need to burst into cringe-inducing tears while looking at reruns of the Harry-Meghan wedding. The discussion with the Dutch lady over tournament money in tennis was spirited. If you want equal pay you compete equally, said yours truly: best of five sets, men and women in the same draw. That’s equality, as in equestrian events. Ditto for athletics. The Dutch did not take sides on that one. Nor on anything else—they just put out their nets and I swam into them.

The mother of my children thinks that the nice Dutch crew will do a hatchet job to top all hatchet jobs on me. I actually don’t give a damn. I said what I believe, and in this age of prime-time hatemongers posing as utopians, the worse I come off, the better I’ll feel. These hatemongers are out to do away with our past, calling it a mythology while spreading misinformation and lies about it. We’ve had a glorious past, and men have played the greater part in it because that is how God meant it to be. Today’s clowns are against nature, and they will not, cannot win. Real women will not allow it. #MeToo should join the circus or go and reproduce itself.

“The Machine Stops” is a story by E.M. Forster published in 1909, the year of my father’s birth. Forster is not usually considered a writer of science fiction, any more than is Jane Austen, but his one attempt at the genre was truly remarkable.

In the story, humans lead completely isolated lives in underground cells. They communicate not directly but electronically. Face-to-face contact is regarded by them with fear, distaste, and even disgust. Their every wish is attended to by a giant supply mechanism of whose working they know little or nothing but upon which they are completely dependent. Then the machine begins to break down, and the subterranean inhabitants are as helpless as maggots in a fisherman’s tin.

I don’t think I need to draw the obvious analogy with our own way of life. Young people cannot envisage their existence without recourse to the antisocial media, and even I find it difficult to remember how you bought a plane ticket before the existence of the internet, or how you arranged a rendezvous before the existence of mobile telephones. Our dependence on electronic communication may not yet be quite as complete as that of humans on the machine in “The Machine Stops,” yet it is already great and growing greater.

Last week, someone in la France profonde where I live some of the time sabotaged the local pylon that distributes within a considerable radius whatever rays or waves that are necessary for the internet and mobile telephones to work. I am not so attached to electronic communication that I am a person who spends his time texting from, or looking things up or playing games on, his phone while in a restaurant with others (who are all doing the same); nevertheless, I felt pretty bereft, even almost vulnerable. Though at my age I rarely receive messages that are important even to myself, and never any that are important to the world or to humanity as a whole, I began to imagine that I was missing messages that were of vital significance, for example opportunities of a lifetime that had to be seized within a short time of receipt of the message. The fact that I could not formulate with any exactitude what such an opportunity might be, never in my life having received such a message, did not in the least allay my undercurrent of anxiety, which did not decrease during the three days or more it took for “them” (whoever they were) to restore the service.

“Is arson directed at no one in particular morally worse or better that that which is directed against chosen targets for a discernible reason?”

There has been a little epidemic recently in sabotage in my obscure area of France. It has been very dry and hot, and four forest fires have been started locally in quite quick succession. The vast majority of such fires around the world are arson rather than spontaneous combustion or even accident, and it is certain that these four fires were started by a pyromaniac. They were put out with admirable promptness and efficiency by the fire services and did not extend more than a few acres, killing no one and damaging no property. But not far from me—so I feel—is someone who is plotting his next fire, which might engulf me. This person, whoever he is, has nothing personally against me; he is actuated by motiveless malignity, or by self-dramatization, or perhaps by an aesthetic appreciation of flames in themselves. As for the destroyer of the communications tower or pylon, he may of course have some ideological grudge against the conditions of modern life, or he may simply enjoy the prospect of causing inconvenience to thousands of people by a fairly simple expedient (they were angry afterwards, as if deprived of a fundamental human right, not against him but against the authorities that failed to restore communications immediately after they were broken).

Now arson in England has a different quality from that in France. The English are a pragmatic people, and they burn down buildings either for the insurance money or so that they are damaged beyond repair and hence receive local government permission to build something larger and more profitable in their place. They don’t care in the slightest whether the building is a beautiful or historic one, or whether what replaces it is hideous and cheap and nasty (as it usually is). The general procedure is as follows: An existing building is allowed by its owner or owners to fall into terrible disrepair, such as to render it nearly uninhabitable or unusable, and then it is struck mysteriously by a fire that puts it beyond all hope of restoration. Having become a public hazard, it is demolished, and the property developer behind the whole scheme then has his opportunity, ably assisted by English architects, to scar the landscape with a gimcrack but profitable construction.

I have known a few professional arsonists. They do what they call “insurance jobs.” They are careful not to endanger life, either because they have the remnant of a conscience or because they know that arson that endangers life is a more serious charge, in the unlikely event of their being caught, than that which does not and thus carries a shorter prison sentence. Who says that punishment does not deter?

The only other kind of English arsonist is the jealous spurned lover, usually the stepfather of several children, who wants to take revenge on the woman who has just thrown him over for another appalling man, and who pours fuel through the letter box and then sets fire to it. Sometimes the fire can be put out quickly, but on other occasions it spreads through the house and kills one or all of the residents, including small children.

Which kind of arson is preferable, the French or the English? I think this would be an interesting question for university students of moral philosophy. Is arson directed at no one in particular morally worse or better that that which is directed against chosen targets for a discernible reason? Does the bravery of the professional arsonist (it takes planning, foresight, and courage to burn down a building to do a successful insurance job) make him a better person than he who acts merely from a desire to make a difference, as the cant phrase has it, and acts without courage? For myself, I keep an open mind on this difficult question.

A couple of psychiatrists appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss the president, and their exchange serves as an apt reminder of why Americans, and conservatives in particular, should distrust these so-called mental health experts. One of them, Bandy Lee, has been trying to undermine the Trump presidency for the past three years. Her palpably biased and unprofessional efforts were the subject of my Aug. 10, 2018, column. An assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Yale, Lee is editor of the widely criticized book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump (2017), whose circular argument is that Donald Trump’s mental health poses a “clear and present danger” to “the nation and individual well being.” In a review of the book, Theodore Dalrymple, a retired psychiatrist and harsh critic of the field, described it as “little more than re-description of easily and publicly observable traits and conduct…an echo-chamber for the thoughts and feelings of those who already abominated [Donald Trump].” It goes against medical ethics (the Goldwater Rule) for a psychiatrist to diagnose a person he or she has not examined. Lee, however, seems to enjoy an unflappable faith in her own expertise and mission, and so continues to do her “duty to warn” us about the dreadful man in the White House.

Lee was joined by Allen Frances, chairman emeritus of Duke University’s department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and himself the author of a book on the Trump presidency. Trump doesn’t suffer from mental illness, Frances claims in his Twilight of American Sanity (2017); the problem, rather, is the American people—we’re mad for electing him. This point Frances stressed in his CNN remarks. It seems that he was brought on to be a foil to Lee, for he was critical of “medicalizing politics,” since he thinks it stigmatizes the mentally ill and distracts people from addressing Trump’s awful policies. Frances also dismissed The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump as “silly” and “amateurish.”

The best comment on “mental health experts” belongs to the Austrian satirist Karl Kraus, who quipped that “psychoanalysis is itself the disease for which it purports to be the cure.” Owing to the complexity of human nature, to the ingenuity of the imagination, to the limits of reason, and last but not least, to bad methodology, psychology and psychiatry are inexhaustible labyrinths in which one can find pretty much anything one wants. Much of what passes for science is mere confirmation bias. The replication crisis is a well-known scandal. The same ostensibly causal factors are found to be consistent with any number of conditions. Both overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of disorders are common. New disorders spring up like weeds. Personal preferences in politics and other areas can be smuggled in under the guise of official, expert knowledge. Often the experts are blind to their own biases and lack of objective justification, themselves guilty of the same errors they accurately perceive in others.

So it is with Allen Frances. His 2013 paper “The New Crisis of Confidence in Psychiatric Diagnosis” makes a case against “unpredictable overdiagnosis,” finding that “psychiatric diagnosis still relies exclusively on fallible subjective judgments rather than objective biological tests.” Frances chaired the task force that produced the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), and has found fault with the current version, DSM-V, for (among other things) lowering the thresholds for diagnosing existing disorders and for adding new speculative disorders. And, as we have seen, he is properly critical of Bandy Lee and the tendency among his colleagues to medicalize politics. Ironically, however, Frances’ over-the-top remarks on the president made the expert seem just as ridiculous as his younger colleague. The impression Frances gives is that of a typical insular liberal intellectual who just doesn’t get it. Whatever one thinks about the president, he is a symptom of a dysfunctional political process. Many of the people who voted for Trump did so because they were fed up and wanted a political outsider, a change from the D.C. swamp. That Hillary Clinton, of the pay-to-play Clinton Foundation, manifestly was not. In his review of Twilight of American Sanity, Carlos Lozada dryly wrote that, for Frances, “America is delusional not just because it elected Trump, but because it doesn’t conform to Frances’s views on climate change, population growth, technology, privacy, war, economics and guns.” This obtuse conceit was on humorous display in Frances’ CNN appearance.

“Personal preferences in politics and other areas can be smuggled in under the guise of official, expert knowledge.”

Thus, he opined that

Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were…. It’s crazy for us to be destroying the climate our children will live in. It’s crazy to be giving tax cuts to the rich that will add trillions of dollars to the debt our children will have to pay. It’s crazy to be destroying our democracy by claiming that the press and the courts are the enemy of the people.

Trump’s destructiveness, Frances thinks, is a function of his climate-change denialism. Later that day he tweeted:

Terrible damage Trump is doing to world climate at this global warming tipping point may be irreversable/could kill hundreds of millions of people in the coming decades. Many of them our children & grandchildren & their children. This is an existential crisis for humanity.

Climate-change denialism is indeed a dangerous folly. The planet should not be regarded as if it were some utopian playground whose resources cannot be exhausted, an approach that characterizes the right at its most shortsighted and irresponsible. But dealing with climate change—the human contribution to which is not certain—is an exceedingly difficult international political problem. And good luck getting nations to agree on what should be done. So far, nobody has been able to balance the need to remain or to become internationally competitive—particularly important for developing nations—with whatever changes need to be made with respect to how mankind lives, itself a highly contentious matter.

Comparing Trump to Hitler and the rest is as wildly implausible as it is boring and trite, so Frances has of course been taken to task. Louis Jacobson writes adroitly:

The death toll for each of the three 20th century dictators is subject to some disagreement and margin of error, but authoritative accountings suggest that each was responsible for the deaths of at least 10 million or more….

A 2014 World Health Organization analysis found that “climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050,” from such varied causes as heat exposure to the elderly, diarrhea, malaria, and malnutrition.

Using the 250,000-a-year figure, it would take about 40 years of Trump-related deaths from climate change to meet the low end of the Hitler and Stalin death counts. To reach Mao’s death toll of 42.5 million, it would take 170 years.

In early 2019, Andy Haines and Kristie Ebi, environmental and health specialists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, called the WHO calculation “a conservative estimate” in a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But even if the WHO estimate is low, it’s clear that you’d have to stick Trump with the blame for many decades worth of global deaths from climate change to compete with Hitler, Stalin or Mao.

Is Trump solely at fault for climate change?

Even experts who decry Trump’s climate policies note that any future deaths will not be solely attributable to him.

The process has been underway long before Trump entered the Oval Office. In addition, countless other factors—from corporate policies to individuals’ own actions—have brought us to where we are today.

The rest of Frances’ comments are no better. Our colossal national debt is a grave problem, but the idea that “tax cuts for the rich” account for much of it is absurd and question-begging. It’s well-documented that liberal activist judges have thwarted the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The divisive liberal media have long been obsessed with the Russian collusion narrative, and increasingly depict the U.S. as a country founded on racism and incorrigibly racist to this day. It’s difficult, therefore, to take seriously a man who holds that it’s obviously beyond the pale to see the media and the courts as political problems.

Bandy Lee associates Trump’s policies with what she takes to be his personal insanity. Allen Frances associates them with the man’s evil, and thinks Americans are crazy for voting for him. The irony of criticizing Lee but then essentially applying her same critique to Trump’s supporters escapes Frances. However, like Lee, he evinces a blinding confidence in his own judgment, something that is pretty easy to do for someone who has been very successful in his field. Many philosophers are skeptical of or downright hostile toward psychiatry and psychology, and one good reason for this is that too few people in these disciplines ask themselves the vital question: How do I know what I think I know? Frances’ views on politics are superficial, and he would be hard put to show, in an objective sense, exactly what makes Trump evil, and support for him insane.

“Mental health experts” present themselves as being more knowledgeable about human nature than the rest of us. In this way they try to impose their will on others. Note that on July 23, the day before special counsel Robert Mueller appeared before the House of Representatives, Bandy Lee and several colleagues held an online confabulation to inform us, yet once more, that Donald Trump is unfit for office. Were any Democrat lawmakers watching? Lee and the others surely hoped so. According to George Washington University’s James Merikangas, rallies in support of the president are like the “Nuremberg rallies that Adolf Hitler had.” James Gilligan, of New York University, said Trump is “dangerous to an unprecedented degree in our history. What we are seeing is how he has succeeded in stimulating racial prejudice and a fear and hatred of immigrants, foreigners…. What I’m alarmed by is the effect he is having on the public.” In general, human beings are not very good at understanding perspectives that are contrary to their own, but easily equate these with what is “crazy,” “evil,” and so forth. Yet it is their irrational faith in the special truth of their own opinions that makes “mental health experts” so very dangerous.

Indeed, for decades psychiatrists, with their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) nonsense, have been pathologizing boyhood itself and doing considerable harm to boys. In January, the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men essentially pathologized masculinity itself, a subject I covered in my Jan. 11 column. As a group, psychiatrists and other “mental health experts” are overwhelmingly liberal and female. They seek to define what is normal and healthy, and what makes one insane, and dangerous. It follows that they themselves are dangerous, especially for men and conservatives, against whom the group has a profound (unconscious) bias. And make no mistake, many of these persons want to use state power to control us.

NEW YORK—There’s a moment in the cult film Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2—we all remember that one, right?—when deranged serial killer Ricky Caldwell wanders through a residential suburb blowing away random people until he’s surrounded by three barricaded cops with firearms pointed at him, ordering him to drop his weapon. Instead he points his gun at his own head—at which point the cops all turn into mental health counselors, shouting, “Don’t do it!” and “It’s not worth it!”

Maybe it’s worth it.

Maybe he’s looking at the electric chair and deciding he’d rather get it over with now.

And maybe that’s a good decision—for him, for the criminal justice system, and for the state budget, because those capital murder cases go on forever.

For some reason, people hate it when the accused criminal kills himself, especially when he does it before the trial. Am I the only person who can see the logic of Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide? You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to imagine why a guy facing life in prison for charges he’d already served time for—so he knew what life is like for sex offenders in the joint—would be bummed by the unsealing of 2,000 documents containing every type of sex crime known to man, including rape, trafficking, and molestation of minors, not to mention the lesser offenses like pandering and befriending horny presidents.

“He took the coward’s way out.”

Every time I hear this I wonder how killing yourself became the equivalent of running out the back door of a jewelry store. I don’t think Ernest Hemingway was a coward, or Sylvia Plath, or Robin Williams, or Marilyn Monroe, or Kurt Cobain, or Virginia Woolf, or my colleague Hunter S. Thompson. I think suicides sometimes occur because someone already dealing with a horrendous situation—depression, poverty, shame, a criminal past—is hit with a new ton of bricks and is overwhelmed by the burden of staying alive. They’ve seen everything they’ve wanted to see. It hasn’t worked out. They’re done.

“Am I the only person who can see the logic of Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide?”

The remarkable thing about Epstein’s death is all the attempts to keep him alive. When the federal prosecutors went to court to file a routine motion to dismiss the charges—because the defendant was dead—the judge could have simply granted the motion through the clerk. Instead they had a hearing, and at that hearing federal judge Richard Berman invited twenty of Epstein’s accusers to give victim impact statements. People actually sat in the witness box and hurled epithets at a dead man. It’s some indication of the grandeur of the federal bench that judges now take on the roles of priest and psychologist, conduct séances, and aspire to be St. Peter guarding the gates of heaven and Charon ferrying people to hell.

Killing yourself in prison has always been supremely irritating to the authorities. Perhaps the most famous example is Hermann Göring, the Luftwaffe commander who managed to get a cyanide pill smuggled into his cell before they could hang him at Nuremberg. There have been six successful suicides at Guantanamo…that we know of. The military stopped publishing the number of attempted suicides out of embarrassment, but there were 120 in the year 2003 alone, and three on the same day in 2006. (These suicides are especially easy to understand. It’s not “I don’t want to face trial,” it’s “There’s never going to be a trial.”) Several other Nazis killed themselves in prison after receiving life sentences, including Ilse Koch and Rudolf Hess. Philip Markoff, accused of being the Craigslist killer, offed himself in Boston’s Nashua Street Jail before he could be tried. Richard Chase, the vampire cannibal serial killer from Sacramento, killed himself on death row simply by saving up his antidepressants until he had enough for an overdose. Aaron Hernandez, the NFL player serving life for murder, still had appeals pending when he hanged himself with a bedsheet.

I don’t think any of these people were crazy, I don’t think any of them were cowards, and I don’t think jail guards should be fired or disciplined when they don’t get there in time. The fact that the Director of the Bureau of Prisons was fired over the suicide of a high-profile prisoner indicates that these days the only game in town is vengeance. Denied the pleasure of seeing Epstein packed off to solitary in the supermax, the tabloids felt robbed and so did the people. The implication was that somehow he got away with it.

He didn’t get away with it. He died alone in one of the most depressing jails in the world.

The postmortem philosophizing about, “Well, the families didn’t get closure,” ignores the fact that every family interviewed after an execution says, “There is no closure.” It’s a false concept. It doesn’t exist. If we want to maintain the fiction of it, we can simply regard most prison suicides as early closure.

Unfortunately, in the movies they still make us suffer. Ricky Caldwell, the star of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, pulls the trigger but he’s out of bullets, resulting in three more sequels. The last one starred Mickey Rooney. A cop should have loaned him some ammo.

As we head into the long Labor Day weekend, here are two tips to make your holiday even more cheerful.

First: Remember to watch out for drunk driving illegal aliens!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued report after report showing that Hispanics are wildly overrepresented in drunk driving accidents (but also contribute so much to our cultural life, musical heritage and landscape!).

Or, as the Huffington Post puts it: “Latinos At Greater Risk of Dying From Driving While Intoxicated.” They’re victims of the drunk driving epidemic! German Concentration Camp Guards At Greater Risk of Dying From Accidental Inhalation of Zyklon B.

One NHTSA report elaborated on the inebriated Latino driver problem:

“The authors found that some Latino parents actively promoted drinking among their sons as a sign of masculinity or machismo. (A focus group) indicated drinking among Hispanics might be motivated by the need to prove their manhood within the Latino culture: ‘Everyone thinks they can handle alcohol, especially men.’ … ‘A lot of Hispanics think that way. It’s the macho male and the woman gives in to the man. Machismo causes this behavior.'”

The report also stated, “Mexican-American DWI offenders vastly overestimated the number of drinks required to make them unsafe drivers (eight to 10 drinks).”

It’s unclear if the NHTSA’s methodology took into account the effects of Cinco de Mayo.

Naturally, it would be outrageous to conclude from this that drunk driving is the national sport of Mexico. However, last year alone, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 80,730 illegals for drunk driving, the majority of them Mexicans.

As the Houston Chronicle delicately put it a few years ago: “Young Hispanic men not getting message about drinking, driving.” … crashing, burning, their ashes being spread across Cuernavaca …

“Their concern for “children” is limited to the ones they can exploit to get their way on illegal immigration.”

Thanks to its proximity to Mexico, Texas leads the nation in fatal drunk driving accidents, including those involving a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or greater — nearly double the legal limit. In 2014, young Latinos were responsible for about one-third of all DUI accidents in Houston — 535 — though they made up only 8 percent of the population.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell sneered at President Trump’s June 2018 meeting with family members of Americans killed by illegals, saying most of their dead kids were killed in traffic accidents. As if that doesn’t count.

Why did we have to hear endlessly about O’Donnell’s car accident in Tortola a few years ago, which he described as his “brush with death”?

Yeah, that must have been rough, some real Brian Williams stuff there. But Don Rosenberg finding out his 25-year-old son had been run over, backed over and then run over again by an illegal alien — well, that’s just a “traffic accident.”

Our media have no idea who Don Rosenberg is, and no interest in finding out. Their concern for “children” is limited to the ones they can exploit to get their way on illegal immigration. They wail about “children separated from their parents,” but it would be a dream come true for the “Angel Mom” parents if their kids were merely separated from them for six months — or six years! — if only they could see them again, ever.

You know what else is kind of traumatic? Being wedged into the false panel of a truck with a breathing tube before traversing hundreds of miles of rough terrain to make it to the U.S. border. These parents did that to their kids.

The New York Times, too, nonchalantly mentioned that the kids of some of the families at Trump’s White House meeting “died in car accidents.” They just died. Car accidents happen all the time.

Yes, traffic accidents can be caused by anyone — especially a sh*t-faced illegal going 80 miles per hour on a residential street. Internet scams happen all the time, so, let’s take in more Nigerians!

The point is, these particular drunk drivers never should have been here in the first place.

Tricia Taylor didn’t die, but the 18-year-old had to have her legs amputated almost to the hip after a drunk driving illegal alien from El Salvador swerved his car onto a sidewalk in Pontiac, Michigan, and rammed her against the wall. It was a miracle that she lived, suffering through multiple surgeries and a lifetime of pain medications. At Jose Carcamo’s sentencing, Taylor said, “What you give him won’t come close to the sentence he gave me for the rest of my life.”

D.J. and Wendy Corcoran began 2019 by burying their 22-year-old son, Pierce, senselessly killed when a 44-year-old illegal alien from Mexico, Francisco Eduardo Franco-Cambrany, swerved headfirst across a double yellow line, straight into oncoming traffic. Echoing the media, Alexander De La Espriella tweeted of Pierce’s horrible death, “Accidents happen, by anyone to anyone … ” — as quoted in the Knoxville News. At least we didn’t have to hear about the great tacos this time.

Six-year-old Annie Cumpston was walking hand-in-hand with her mother in 2003, after attending the Ringling Brothers Circus in Baltimore with her family, when a drunk Mexican plowed into the crosswalk, killing the little girl. The intoxicated illegal, Guillermo Diaz-Lopez, fled the scene, dragging a pedestrian on his truck, and was finally apprehended while trying to break through a police barrier.

Today, you can visit “Annie’s Playground,” a beautiful 60,000-square-foot wonderland built in the victim’s honor in Fallston, Maryland — at least until Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris demand its demolition to show their support for “undocumented immigrants.”

Second friendly holiday tip: Always remember — diversity is a strength!

What would U.S. history have been like without slavery?

As I mentioned last week, The New York Times has become obsessed with what it portrays as America’s mounting slavery crisis, with its use of the word “slavery” quadrupling in its columns over the half-dozen years of the Great Awokening.

The Times1619 project to portray blacks as the very foundation of America affords us an opportunity to imagine an alternative America that had resisted the temptations of importing Africans.

Would the U.S. have been impoverished without blacks, as the 1619 spin implies?

Slavery was certainly an important part of the 18th- and 19th-century economy, so much so that it led to the great crisis of the Civil War. But it’s worth contemplating an America without slaves.

The northern United States was attractive to subsistence farmers looking for cheap land. But there wasn’t all that much worth exporting to Europeans at similar latitudes other than lumber. The British Isles could grow wheat and even that exotic Peruvian import, the potato. Before the steamship and the removal of British tariffs in 1846, exporting grain across the Atlantic was a modest business.

But Britain couldn’t grow several warm-weather crops, most famously, tobacco, cotton, and sugar. Hence, exporting these across the Atlantic could pay.

Blacks were quite useful in raising these crops because Africans were genetically better adapted to resisting hot-country diseases. South of Virginia, mortality rates were higher for whites than for blacks. Plantation owners in the South were averse to paying white workingmen a fair wage to compensate for the health risks they took on.

Conversely, slavery fizzled out in the cold North in part due to blacks dying at such a high rate—twice that of whites in Massachusetts—that slavery was less profitable there. Historian David Hackett Fischer wrote in Albion’s Seed:

So high was mortality among African immigrants in New England that race slavery was not viable on a large scale, despite many attempts to introduce it. Slavery was not impossible in this region, but the human and material costs were higher than many wished to pay.

We still aren’t fully aware of the specifics of why blacks tended to be healthier than whites in the South, but at least four warm-climate ailments deserve attention.

Almost all West Africans possessed the Duffy negative gene variant that improves resistance to debilitating vivax malaria, which was common in the South. As German scientist Johann David Shoepf observed in the 18th century, “Carolina was in the spring a paradise, in the summer a hell, and in the autumn a hospital.”

“It’s worth contemplating an America without slaves.”

Similarly, a sizable fraction of West Africans had one copy of the sickle cell mutation that offered resistance to the lethal falciparum malaria sometimes found in the hottest places in the South.

Blacks likely had some genetic resistance as well to the African disease of yellow fever, which tended to strike American cities in summer, discouraging urbanization in the South. During yellow fever epidemics, whites were several times more likely to die than blacks.

And Africans might have had a measure of resistance to hookworm, a parasite that induced anemia among the barefooted. In the early 20th century, the Rockefeller Foundation carried out a successful crusade against hookworm in the South, where 40 percent of the population had been infected.

My guess is that the tobacco industry in Virginia and North Carolina would still have been profitable paying a market wage for free white labor.

Ironically, tobacco plantations were probably healthier for their workers than for their customers. Tobacco growing was among the less exhausting forms of farmwork, and cigar rolling while listening to your hired reader declaim from books and newspapers was a fine job.

In contrast, sugar plantations were dreadful. In Huckleberry Finn, for example, the slave Jim is terrified of being sold down the river to a sugar plantation.

Until recently, the black population grew much faster in the United States than at home in Africa, in other New World countries, or, especially, in the Middle East (where castration of slaves was common).

The U.S. was the most distant destination of the Atlantic slave trade, so transportation costs were highest. Hence, it was economically rational to treat slaves well and encourage their family life.

Judging from the spectacular growth of the black population from about 400,000 imported slaves to 41 million today, American slave-owners tended to treat their property fairly carefully.

Leaving aside post-1865 black immigrants and assuming the typical self-identifying African-American today is about four-fifths black by ancestry, the average slave who landed in the U.S. now has about the equivalent of 75 full-blooded black descendants in this country.

In contrast, in destinations closer to West Africa, sugar plantation owners frequently worked their slaves to a quick death and replaced them with cheap imports. For example, at least 600,000 slaves were brought to the sugar island of Jamaica. But the country’s population today is under 3 million, implying a growth factor (ignoring emigration) of only about five times, or one-fifteenth the 75X population increase enjoyed by blacks in the U.S.

It seems unlikely that free white labor could have economically grown sugar in the U.S., but so what? Only a small part of the mainland north of lightly populated Florida was suitable for sugar growing.

In between tobacco and sugar in terms of latitude and burden on the workers fell cotton.

During the cotton bubble of the 1850s, it became vastly profitable to grow, which led to the explosion of pro-slavery ideological extremism in the South that fueled secessionism. (Before cotton became so lucrative, slave owners had tended to be slightly sheepish about their Peculiar Institution.)

But when the Confederacy, assuming “Cotton is King,” announced its misguided embargo on cotton exports to encourage London to intervene on its side, it was quickly discovered that cotton was easy to grow in other hot places like India, Egypt, and Brazil. The American cotton business was never again the gold mine it had been before the Civil War.

Without slavery, cotton barons would have had to pay whites a lot to work in the cotton fields. But it sure seems as if in the long run paying an honest wage would have been a good deal.

Granted, an America without slavery would not have developed the lowland Deep South as rapidly as it did, much as Florida south of the panhandle was largely empty until the 20th century. For example, Miami was not incorporated until 1896, at which point it was estimated that only 1,800 souls resided in the area. In 1900, barely a half million people lived in the entire state of Florida, compared with 21 million today.

And yet, the failure of Americans to do much with the bulk of the Florida peninsula until the 20th century does not loom depressingly in contemporary thinking.

Similarly, if the cotton belt centered on Mississippi and Alabama had taken a few more generations to develop due to the requirement to either pay free white workers high enough wages or to develop better technology that could do without them, I doubt if Americans in our alternative 2019 would lament this history any more than Americans today mourn all the oranges that weren’t grown in Florida in the 19th century.

The political implications of no slavery would have been profound.

Without slavery, there would have been much less to fight over, so no catastrophic Civil War. (The latest estimate is it killed 750,000 Americans.)

Plus, the Southern states would have been politically dominated by uplanders rather than by lowland plantation patricians, e.g., more nationalists like Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston and fewer secessionists like John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis, so secession over lesser questions like tariffs would have been unlikely.

After the Southern states walked out of Congress in 1861, the Republicans passed a package of measures that had long been blocked by Southern planter power, such as a high tariff to protect infant industries, internal improvements including the transcontinental railroad, land grant universities, and free land for homesteaders. Without a slave economy, Southern politicians would have been less opposed to these productive measures and would instead have bargained to get their fair share.

And without slavery to impose an aristocratic tone on Southern society, mechanically ingenious southrons would likely have made better use of their abundant natural resources, such as waterpower. In our world, unfortunately, although the South had the tallest mountains in the eastern United States, it developed far fewer water-powered mills than did the North. Physicist Gregory Cochran estimates that by 1840 the enterprising North enjoyed about eight times as much horsepower from water wheels as the South possessed in slaves.

After the Civil War, the former slave regions went through a long economic and psychological depression, perhaps until WWII and air conditioning revived the region. In contrast, Texas (at least the majority of the state west of where the cotton belt petered out) boomed.

Without slavery, the economic culture of the Southeast in late 19th and early 20th centuries would have been less patrician, less downcast, much less obsessed by race, and more like Texas: brash, optimistic, and dynamic.

Australia, the Lucky Country, provides another model for how people from the British Isles could build a prosperous country in a warm climate without slavery (other than their shameful use of slaves in the sugar industry).

Granted, Australian history is strikingly lacking in drama: One history book I read emphasized that Australia’s great contribution to human happiness has been the invention of the two-day weekend. But having Saturday as well as Sunday off is a good thing, the kind of innovation you devise when you don’t have many workers so you have to make life better for them.

All in all, an America without slaves sounds like an improvement.

Last week, The Washington Post and the AP uncovered a racist scandal of international proportions involving that most sinister of beverages, the preferred drink of Archie Bunkers and Al Bundys worldwide: beer.

See, there’s a microbrewery in Texas (I feel the racism already) that has “literally” (as in, literally, as in, no, not at all literally) inflicted suffering on an entire region of gentle, oppressed nonwhites. The Manhattan Project Beer Co. is run by a husband-and-wife team of amateur brewmeisters. Operating out of leased space at another brewery, Manhattan Project Beer is hardly a household name. Its beers sport atomic-themed monikers like Plutonium-239, Half-Life, Particles Collide, Hoppenheimer, and (my favorite) Necessary Evil.

All fun and games, right? You racist! Recently, Manhattan Project Beer found itself in hot brewing water after unveiling its latest creation: Bikini Atoll. That’s the name of the now-depopulated Micronesian island chain where evil American white supremacists tested atomic bombs (why? To be racist, of course). And now, the outraged inhabitants of the Marshall Islands are up in arms over this Dallas-brewed hipster gose. How dare the brewery use the name of an area that was the site of so much irradiated breadfruit! As one beer-enthusiast website put it (I’m not making this up), naming a drink after Bikini Atoll is like celebrating the Holocaust.

Mmmmm, Holocaust beer! What’s your preference, Auschlitz Malt Liquor or Prussian Blue Moon?

The unnamed AP reporter whose piece was carried by the WaPo actually raised an intelligent point in the article: If the natives are so worked up over the name of this craft beer, how do they feel about, you know, the bikini, the piece of clothing that practically defined the latter half of the 20th century? Wasn’t that specifically named for the atomic tests?

A journalist asking nonwhites a probing question…what is this, the AP or Takimag?

In response, the reporter was told that the islanders have no idea what a “bikini” is, because the garment goes against their delicate moral standards. And…the reporter left it at that. So no, this was not Takimag. But I bet you have a follow-up question. I certainly did: If the islanders haven’t heard of one of the most internationally well-known pieces of clothing ever created, a garment that has even spawned “modest” Islamic iterations, how in the living hell did they know about an artisanal beer in Dallas, especially if they’re so damn straitlaced and moral?

It’s fun to make good sport of the media, but the truth is, most of these hacks aren’t stupid. When they leave something out, something obvious like not following up on “our humble prudish isle has never heard of a bikini, but we’re totally up on the Dallas brewery scene,” it’s always for a reason. In this case, the reason was that neither the AP nor the WaPo wanted readers to know how the viral beer story got started. It was just one guy, a social media troll named Angelo O’Connor Villagomez, who calls himself “the godfather of the Mariana Trench” and “Saipan’s most popular blogger.” Villagomez has 1,300 Twitter followers (don’t laugh; that’s all of Saipan), and on Aug. 13 he tweeted about the beer controversy (that he created), declaring that “for Oceania people this is on par with using school shootings or 9/11 as a marketing scheme.”

“Like any good magic trick, these things only work because the magician is withholding a key piece of information.”

And then a reporter searching for his “racism story o’ the day” came across Villagomez’s tweet and bam, a viral sensation was born (this is the exact same sequence of events that occurred in the case of the trumped-up Burger King “racism” scandal I covered in April).

Like any good magic trick, these things only work because the magician is withholding a key piece of information. In this case, what needed to be hidden was that the “islanders” were not up in arms over a craft beer. One dude was, and the rest was journalistic legerdemain.

Speaking of magic, one thing you can always rely on is that any time a magician tells the audience, “I’m gonna tell you the truth,” he’s lying; it’s just part of the setup. That rule goes for mainstream-media magicians as well. Take the oh-so-respectable PolitiFact, that unbiased, nonpartisan debunker of all things false and misleading. PolitiFact claims to “expose” lies, but that’s just the patter. In truth, PolitiFact deals in lies. Like last week, when the site’s venerable ephors decided that even though Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris were “wrong” to say that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson “murdered” gentle giant™ Michael Brown back in 2014 (Wilson was completely cleared by Obama’s Justice Department), we should be cool with prominent politicians using a 100% inaccurate (some might say defamatory) word, because “focusing too much on the linguistics in controversial cases” is a “distraction” that can “obscure the discussion of larger issues” (like racism!).

Other conservative writers have ably covered the PolitiFact Ferguson debacle, but I have my own personal twist. And it fits right in with the theme of this week’s column, because, as magic’s greatest faux-debunker Penn Jillette once said, “with magicians, even things they don’t care about, they actually do care about.” In other words, when a magician tells you that something’s not important, that means it is important, because that’s where the “dirty work” is happening.

To pull off the Ferguson trick, PolitiFact needs you to think that words don’t matter, because “larger issues” overshadow mere “linguistics.” And it’s a good gag, until you compare it with PolitiFact’s “global warming” routine, which relies on exactly the opposite patter, that “larger issues” require an obsessive, eagle-eyed focus on linguistics.

Back in May 2014, PolitiFact gave Marco Rubio a “mostly false” rating based solely on one word. Rubio had claimed that global warming had “stabilized,” and Louis Jacobson, the same PolitiFact sumbitch who wrote the “don’t focus on linguistics” piece about Ferguson, attacked Rubio for using the word “stabilized” when, according to Jacobson, the actual word should have been “paused.” Jacobson’s point? One must focus on linguistics when it comes to “larger issues” like global warming!

Supporting Jacobson, PolitiFact editor Angie Drobnic Holan concurred in a separate piece that “stabilized” was indeed the wrong word, and “plateaued” would have been correct.

I wrote to Ms. Holan:

Webster’s defines “plateaued” as “to reach a level, period, or condition of stability or maximum attainment.” So, you say plateaued, which means stabilized, and Rubio says stabilized, which means plateaued. How can his statement be false and yours true?

It took some time, but Holan finally replied:

I disagree that they are synonyms. Stabilized implies a permanent stop, while plateaued implies change will resume.

Angie Holan don’t need no stinkin’ dictionary! But sadly for her, I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to forcing media hacks into a corner. I responded:

Your job was to rank Rubio’s comment’s accuracy at the time he said it. And at the time he said it, it was true. Temperatures had stabilized. Temperatures had plateaued. If, tomorrow, next month, next year, that changes, fine. But Rubio’s statement that temperatures had “stabilized” was every bit as accurate AT THE TIME as yours that they’d “plateaued.”

As Oxford Dictionary forum mod Steve Doerr confirmed to me, “stabilized” and “plateaued” are indeed synonymous, with the exception being that something can only plateau after rising, while something can stabilize after rising or falling. I passed this along to Holan and her coworkers, and I sent them pieces from The New York Times, LiveScience, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology that use the term “stabilized” to describe the global-warming “pause” (in some cases using it interchangeably with “plateaued”).

At this point, Holan demanded that I stop emailing her colleagues.

That was funny enough, but it quickly got funnier. While attacking Ted Cruz’s global-warming views several months later, PolitiFact staff writer Lauren Carroll wrote that Cruz shouldn’t have made the claim that warming had “stopped”…he should have said it was “stable.”

Yes, PolitiFact’s Lauren Carroll declared that “stable” is the proper term for the current state of global warming, even after Louis Jacobson and Angie Holan gave Rubio a “mostly false” rating for using the term “stabilized.”

Holan refused to address the use of “stable” by Ms. Carroll, so I emailed Carroll directly:

To “stabilize” is defined by Webster’s as “to make stable.” How can “stabilized” be false, but “stable” accurate?

After a fun but pointless back-and-forth over the nature of Webster’s definitions, Carroll finally, and somewhat exasperatedly, conceded, “I didn’t write the Rubio piece, and every story goes through multiple editors to come to a ruling. So it’s not my place to say.” She encouraged me to read her Cruz critique “independent of the word ‘stable.’”

Read it while ignoring the key word in the piece. That was her response; read it “independent” of the disputed word.

With Ferguson, PolitiFact demands that one must not focus on specific word choices, even words that are objectively inaccurate, because doing so obscures larger issues like racism and makes Democrats look bad. But with global warming, if attacking a word choice can make a Republican look bad, words matter more than anything. Until a drunken Jew with way too much time on his hands presses the issue, in which case words suddenly don’t matter after all, and one should read PolitiFact pieces “independent” of specific word choices.

Words don’t matter, words do matter, words don’t matter. For the ideological magician, all that actually matters is the illusion. A run-of-the-mill Vegas magician will want the audience to come away thinking a coin has vanished or a mind was read or a lady was cut in half. An ideological magician will want the audience to come away with the idea that, say, an entire island is up in arms over a beer, or a virtuous Democrat used an inaccurate word but don’t focus on that, focus on the “larger issues,” or a villainous Republican “denied science” by using a wrong word and we must focus on that rather than on the fact that the “debunkers” used the same word in the same context.

It’s all just manipulation and misdirection. “Don’t ask how remote Pacific Islanders came to know of a Dallas microbrew!” “Don’t worry that distortions in the Ferguson case have caused riots!” “Keep your eyes on the GOP’s climate word choices, not ours!”

I’ll close with one final Penn Jillette quote: “The most immoral thing a magician can do is magic without consent” (magic with intent to deceive rather than entertain).

“Magic without consent.” It’s what manipulative news organs like the AP and The Washington Post do, and it’s certainly the stock in trade of the phony “debunkers” at PolitiFact. And indeed, it’s immoral, and unquestionably harmful to the public discourse.

I’d never divulge a legitimate magician’s tricks, but I’ll take any opportunity to expose the inner workings of the professional fibbers for whom “magic without consent” is not a proscription but a motto.

President Donald Trump, who canceled a missile strike on Iran, after the shoot-down of a U.S. Predator drone, to avoid killing Iranians, may not want a U.S. war with Iran. But the same cannot be said of Bibi Netanyahu.

Saturday, Israel launched a night attack on a village south of Damascus to abort what Israel claims was a plot by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force to fly “killer drones” into Israel, an act of war.

Sunday, two Israeli drones crashed outside the media offices of Hezbollah in Beirut. Israel then attacked a base camp of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in north Lebanon.

Monday, Israel admitted to a strike on Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. And Israel does not deny responsibility for last month’s attacks on munitions dumps and bases of pro-Iran militias in Iraq.

Israel has also confirmed that, during Syria’s civil war, it conducted hundreds of strikes against pro-Iranian militias and ammunition depots to prevent the transfer of missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Understandably, Israel’s weekend actions have brought threats of retaliation. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has warned of vengeance for the death of his people in the Syria strike.

Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani reportedly tweeted from Tehran, “These insane operations will be the last struggles of the Zionist regime.” Lebanese President Michel Aoun called the alleged Israeli drone attack on Beirut a “declaration of war.”

Last Friday, in the 71st week of the “Great March of Return” protests on Gaza’s border, 50 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli live fire. In 16 months, 200 have died from gunshots, with thousands wounded.

America’s reaction to Israel’s weekend attacks? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Netanyahu to assure him of U.S. support of Israel’s actions. Some Iraqi leaders are now calling for the expulsion of Americans.

“Netanyahu has a compelling motive for widening the war against Israel’s main enemy, its allies and its proxies and taking credit for military strikes.”

Why is Netanyahu now admitting to Israel’s role in the strikes in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq? Why has he begun threatening Iran itself and even the Houthi rebels in Yemen?

Because this longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, having surpassed David Ben-Gurion, is in the battle of his life, with elections just three weeks off. And if Netanyahu falls short — or fails to put together a coalition after winning, as he failed earlier this year — his career would be over, and he could be facing prosecution for corruption.

Netanyahu has a compelling motive for widening the war against Israel’s main enemy, its allies and its proxies and taking credit for military strikes.

But America has a stake in what Israel is doing as well.

We are not simply observers. For if Hezbollah retaliates against Israel or Iranian-backed militias in Syria retaliate against Israel — or against us for enabling Israel — a new war could erupt, and there would be a clamor for deeper American intervention.

Yet, Americans have no desire for a new war, which could cost Trump the presidency, as the war in Iraq cost the Republican Party the Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008.

The United States has taken pains to avoid a military clash with Iran for compelling reasons. With only 5,000 troops left in Iraq, U.S. forces are massively outmanned by an estimated 150,000 fighters of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces, which played a critical role in preventing ISIS from reaching Baghdad during the days of the caliphate.

And, for good reason, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, with its crew of 5,600, which Trump sent to deter Iran, has yet to enter the Strait of Hormuz or the Persian Gulf but remains in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman, and, at times, some 600 nautical miles away from Iran.

Why is this mighty warship keeping its distance?

We don’t want a confrontation in the Gulf, and, as ex-Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, says:

“Anytime a carrier moves close to shore, and especially into confined waters, the danger to the ship goes up significantly. … It becomes vulnerable to diesel submarines, shore-launched cruise missiles and swarming attacks by small boats armed with missiles.”

Which is a pretty good description of the coastal defenses and naval forces of Iran.

Netanyahu’s widening of Israel’s war with Iran and its proxies into Lebanon and Iraq — and perhaps beyond — and his acknowledgement of that wider war raise questions for both of us.

Israel today has on and near her borders hostile populations in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. Tens of millions of Muslims see her as an enemy to be expelled from the region.

While there is a cold peace with Egypt and Jordan, the Saudis and Gulf Arabs are temporary allies as long as the foe is Iran.

Is this pervasive enmity sustainable?

As for America, have we ceded to Netanyahu something no nation should ever cede to another, even an ally: the right to take our country into a war of their choosing but not of ours?

Marianne Williamson is easily the most entertaining candidate the Democrats have belched up this go-round, so let us gather to celebrate her campaign before it likely craps out on Wednesday and she gets disqualified from the third debate because she couldn’t even scratch together a measly 2% support in each of four prominent polls.

But Miss Marianne’s little flame flickered as brightly as it could for one brief and hilarious moment on the national stage, and despite the fact that even enough Democrats are sane enough never to vote for her, it cannot be denied that no one ever went further in politics by saying less than Marianne Williamson says.

Her 66-year-old head in the clouds, Williamson announced before a “Native American voting rights organization” in Sioux City, IA last week that when she becomes the nation’s first hippie Jewish woman president, her first act in office will be to remove—perhaps with a lot of psychic screaming involved—a painting of Andrew Jackson that Donald Trump had moved to the Oval Office when he entered the White House.

Addressing the crowd of sue-happy Sioux, Williamson addressed Jackson’s involvement in the Trail of Tears, which, as luck would have it—at least for the Sioux, that is—didn’t involve any Sioux:

I want people of the United States to come to understand that what occurred on this planet was one of the great evils of history, but that I believe in redemption for nations as well for individuals. We can atone. We can make amends. And if and when I’m president of the United States, we will. We will begin by taking that picture of Andrew Jackson off the wall of the Oval Office, I assure you….I am not a Native American woman, but I find it one of the greatest insults. You will not be insulted. You will be more than not insulted. If I am President of the United States, there will be a level of atonement, there will be a level of making amends.

Whoa, there’s a whole semi truck to unpack there.

“No one ever went further in politics by saying less than Marianne Williamson says.”

She’s not a Native American woman—in fact, her paternal grandfather chose “Williamson” to replace “Vishnevetsky” as his surname after reportedly seeing a sign that said “Alan Williamson Ltd” on a train, so it’s fair to say she’s not American in any sense of the term, at least not in the Cherokee sense or the Andrew Jacksonian sense—but she feels insulted on behalf of the Cherokee Americans and feels ashamed on behalf of the Jacksonian Americans. She believes in good…and she believes in evil as well, but she refuses to flinch in the face of it. She is dedicated—and she wants you to know this—to fighting evil on behalf of good. Even though her teardrop-shaped crystal heart beats without a drop of Cherokee blood in it, she promises her Native American brethren and sistren that when she becomes president, they “will be more than not insulted.”

Forgive me for getting all semantic here, but that means they will be insulted.

What do we know about Marianne Williamson, and why on Earth—if she truly considers this planet to be her home—does she think she’d make a better president than Andrew Jackson?

Well, like I said, her paternal grandpappy’s surname was “Vishnevetsky” and her mother’s was “Kaplan,” so don’t go lettin’ the “Williamson” throw you off the trail.

She was born into cushy circumstances in Texas and then drifted around the country in a journey of self-discovery in which she discovered that she really likes discovering herself and probably couldn’t stop it even if she tried. She once lived in a geodesic dome in New Mexico with a boyfriend for a little while. In her formative years, “some huge rock of self-loathing [was] sitting like a pit in the middle of my stomach,” she kvetches.

At yet another intensely self-reflective juncture in her life, she found herself “mired in a series of unhappy love affairs, alcohol and drug abuse, a nervous breakdown, and endless sessions with therapists.” In what may be a very weird way of working out her private issues in public, she wants white people to keep apologizing for slavery and supports up to a half-trillion dollars in reparations to be paid out to our nation’s spiritually wounded blacks.

After having a remarkable epiphany in her youth that forced her to realize “that people are the same everywhere,” she made it her mission to “create a beloved community” and fight the “dark psychic forces,” and yes, millions of people actually listen to this crap and find it profound and burst into tears as it shines a light within their dark, damp souls and shows them that with love, and only with love, can true miracles come from within—or something.

Oh, and she says things like this before wondering aloud why people don’t take her seriously:

Imagine the AIDS virus as Darth Vader, and then unzip his suit to allow an angel to emerge.

Sickness is an illusion and does not actually exist.

Cancer and AIDS and other serious illnesses are physical manifestations of a psychic scream.

If a person behaves unlovingly, then that means that, regardless of their negativity—anger or whatever—their behavior was derived from fear and doesn’t actually exist. They’re hallucinating. You forgive them, then, because there’s nothing to forgive.

I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.

Marianne Williamson—call her the “Love Harness.”

In contrast to the eternally frail and delicate Williamson, Andrew Jackson appears to have been forged entirely from granite and iron. His father died before he was born and his mother died when he was 14, yet he fought and battled and dueled his way to two consecutive terms as the nation’s first president who won elections by posturing as a man of the people against a corrupt establishment. His initial inauguration party notoriously allowed unkempt common revelers to trash the White House.

His own soldiers—whom he led to a stunning victory against the British in New Orleans even though they were outnumbered 2-1—dubbed him “Old Hickory.” The Creek Indians—one of many tribes he subdued—called him Jacksa Chula Harjo or “Jackson, old and fierce.” Not only did he survive the first-ever presidential assassination attempt—he started beating his attacker with a cane until others restrained the shooter.

Jackson spent most of his adult life with two bullets lodged in his body, which frequently had him coughing up blood. On the last day of an eight-year presidency, he said his only two regrets were that he “had been unable to shoot Henry Clay or to hang John C. Calhoun.” (He also once called Clay as “reckless and as full of fury as a drunken man in a brothel.”)

He successfully battled Indian tribes—who, lest it be forgotten, routinely attacked and murdered white settlers with extreme prejudice—and in the process snatched up much of what is the land of the modern American South. And in the “Trail of Tears”—what Marianne Williamson calls one of “the great evils of history”—an estimated 4,000 Injuns died. Looking at it from another angle, that’s about how many modern Native Americans drink themselves to death every four years.

And the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that Jackson signed did not require any Indians to move—they could stay put and simply acknowledge they were living under a new legal system, or they could relocate to new land west of the Mississippi. According to several analysts, relocation is what saved the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” from being wiped out—unlike Southern tribes such as the Yamasee, Mahican, and Narragansett, who stayed put and went extinct as a result.

In short, Jackson was about expansion and strength, whereas Williamson is about submission and apology. He seems like he would have been fun (if ruthless), while she seems miserable (and ruthless anyway).

I’ll take Old Hickory over the new quackery, thanks.

Sailing in Homer’s wine-dark Aegean Sea is the best antidote I know to the brouhaha over the “Squad.” And traipsing all over the Acropolis and the marvels of antiquity makes these four publicity-seeking, opportunistic mental dwarfs seem even pettier than they are. Mind you, these petulant females wouldn’t know the difference between Corinthian and Doric any more than they’d know Athenian democracy as opposed to Spartan oligarchy. As my boat sailed away from Athens and headed south toward the Peloponnese, I thought of the achievements of the ancient Greeks, and how now the most powerful country in the world is being held hostage by the machinations of the tiniest of minorities in cahoots with the leftist mainstream media.

Pericles, the charismatic leader most commonly associated with Athenian democracy, cast a giant shadow on the future. No one has approached him: He was an aristocrat, politician, democrat, soldier, imperialist, peacemaker, visionary, educator, private citizen, statesman, strategist, and hero. Yet with his premature death from the plague during the Peloponnesian War, which lasted 27 years, the miracle that he had created 2,500 years ago went the way of all empires. Pericles’ democracy was a model for its time. Women, children, slaves, and foreigners were excluded from citizenship and participation in the democratic process. But nowhere in the ancient world was there such a form of government, and to those modern critics who see ancient Athenian democracy as not meeting their requirements, the ancients would, in return, find it even more incomprehensible calling democratic a government by indirect representation and lacking public accountability by politicians. Hear, hear!

“If the ‘Squad’ had a scintilla of honor they would commit seppuku in unison in front of the Capitol.”

I know, I know, times have changed, but the character people possess has not.For real democracy to work, a body of citizens with a sound understanding of the principles of democracy is needed. In America today, the body of citizens with a sound understanding of democracy is the silent majority of mostly white and Christian men and women who are never evoked or quoted by the media, but go about their business and lives without complaining and claiming to be victims. And although victimhood has become the sine qua non of today’s America, it is a con perpetrated by ignorant but opportunistic politicians who remain in power through the publicity they get from their phony crusades.

But let’s look at Pericles’ time and compare it with the present (and weep). He was annually elected, a public official (one of ten) who never placed himself above the law or above the constitution. He believed in intelligence, reason, restraint, and peace. (The first three qualities totally absent from the “Squad.”) He guided his fellow citizens toward civic virtue and the order and excellence associated with it. (He did not refer to political opponents as “motherf—ers,” à la a certain “Squad” member.) But here comes the most important thing of all where the ancient and modern are concerned: Pericles and Athenian democracy can offer contemporary political leaders a powerful challenge to examine their own actions and goals. Simply promising economic equality has not worked, nor will it ever. What will work is the dignity and autonomy of every individual and the elevation of that individual to full participation in the political process but also to full civic responsibility and community participation.

Brave-sounding words and pronouncements, I agree. But spoken more than 2,500 years ago right underneath the Acropolis by men who believed the unexamined life was not worth living. (Thank you, Socrates.) Watching those desperate men and women vying for votes in the Democratic primaries is a lesson on how not to live one’s life. Shame has always been unbearable in Greek life. Honor was a prerequisite for ancient heroes, both in real life and in mythology. In Homer, bravery is the hallmark of nobles, heroes, and demigods like Achilles. Socrates thought that virtue was indivisible; in other words, you couldn’t be a pious murderer or an honest thief. This demanding ideal called honor entails accepting responsibility even for acts that are not of one’s doing. Excuses do not remove blame. Reading this, I thought of modern life and the last time a criminal or a politician took full responsibility for his or her actions.

Never mind. We Greeks brought a lot to the world, but things have not gone our way since 1453, when Byzantium fell to the hated Turks. Yet after 400 years of oppression by the Muslim hordes, we rose up alone in 1821 and won our independence. When both Italy and Germany attacked us in 1940–41, we resisted and pushed the Italians back into Albania but eventually were beaten by the Wehrmacht’s Panzers. Other European countries like France, the Netherlands, and Belgium surrendered almost without a fight and did not resist when occupied and emerged on VE Day unscathed. Was it worth it for us to lose more than half a million Greeks for honor alone? I’d say yes, having lost many in my family, but then I’m a dinosaur who still believes in honor, duty, and country, but not in victimhood. If the “Squad” had a scintilla of honor they would commit seppuku in unison in front of the Capitol, but honor is an alien word not associated with today’s politics. See you around the Acropolis!