Skip to content

Pete Buttigieg, Dad of the Year

port of Los Angeles
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

From Politico:

While U.S. ports faced anchor-to-anchor traffic and Congress nearly melted down over the president’s infrastructure bill in recent weeks, the usually omnipresent Transportation secretary was lying low.

One of the White House’s go-to communicators didn’t appear on TV. He was absent on Capitol Hill during the negotiations over the bill he had been previously helping sell to different members of Congress. Conservative critics tried (unsuccessfully) to get #WheresPete to trend and Fox News ran a story on October 4 with the headline: “Buttigieg quiet on growing port congestion as shipping concerns build ahead of holidays.”

They didn’t previously announce it, but Buttigieg’s office told West Wing Playbook that the secretary has actually been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies.

“For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. “He has been ramping up activities since then.” As he does that, Buttigieg will “continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children,” the spokesperson added.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for the Epoch Times: California destroys single-family suburban housing…except, of course, for its wealthy, mostly Dem-voting elites

Apartments in Santa Ana, Calif., on Feb. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Photo: John Fredricks / Epoch Times

From my latest for the Epoch Times:

The new state law permits the owner of a parcel of land zoned for a single detached residence to split the parcel in two and build a duplex on each of the new half-size plots. That would mean four units of housing on land originally zoned for just one. That number could go up to as many as six units, because a 2017 California law already permits owners to add a “granny flat’’—a backyard guesthouse–to any piece of residential property. SB 9’s only proviso is that each of the new parcels must be a minimum of 1,200 square feet in size, which works out to a tiny 600-square-foot footprint for each half of a duplex. As for parking, SB 9 allows localities to require only one parking space per unit—or none at all if the site is close to public transportation or a shared-vehicle location. And thanks to convoluted language about fireproofing in the new law, the new, higher-density provisions seem to apply even in vulnerable burn zones such as the rural towns wiped out in recent California wildfires where escape roads are few.

The new law is wildly unpopular. A poll taken by David Binder Research in late July, while SB 9 was pending in the California legislature, found that 63 percent of registered voters opposed it, and 67 percent opposed a companion bill, SB 10, also signed into law by Newsom on Sept. 16, that allows cities to streamline their zoning processes to allow the construction of apartment houses of up to 10 units on single-family lots near public transit. Nearly 250 California municipalities joined a statement opposing both bills. Opponents included affluent Silicon Valley suburbs such as Palo Alto, and the City Council of Los Angeles, whose San Fernando Valley, with 1.9 million inhabitants, nearly half the city’s total population, is about 43 percent Latino, many of them occupying modest 1950s-era tract houses on leafy streets. That kind of opposition killed similar bills in 2019.

But eliminating single-family residential zoning is a top goal of progressive policy elites across America….

Just for starters, SB 9 exempts houses that are historic landmarks or are in designated historic districts. That means the charming Victorians and Queen Annes and Craftsmans that are already in the multi-million-dollar range. The rich won’t suffer from seeing their neighborhoods destroyed and their property values diminished by teardowns, cheesy multifamily construction blighting their blocks, trees and other landscaping chopped to the ground, and impossible parking for any household where more than one member needs a car to get to work. Indeed the value of single-family homes in prime neighborhoods is likely to soar as they become more rare. They will soar out of sight for middle-class people who had hoped that a house of their own, with a yard where they could grill and their children could play, would be a part of their future. [Urban scholars Joel] Kotkin and [Wendell] Cox call “the aspiration of people to own homes…arguably the greatest achievement of American democracy.” Count with that the ability through local zoning to create and maintain the kinds of communities where they want to live.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Merry Christmas from the Biden administration: No presents, no tree, no family gathering, no cards–and no Santa down the chimney because you’ll need the fireplace to keep fuel costs down

Image: Dartmouth Alumni Magazine

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas with the Biden administration!

No presents:

“There will be things that people can’t get,” a senior White House official said.

“At the same time, a lot of these goods are hopefully substitutable by other things … I don’t think there’s any real reason to be panicked, but we all feel the frustration and there’s a certain need for patience to help get through a relatively short period of time,” the official added.

No tree:

Obtaining a Christmas tree, real or artificial, may be much harder this season due to shortages.

The supply of artificial trees may be limited this year due to labor and market issues, while crops of real trees were damaged over the summer due to the extreme heat in certain areas.

The price of artificial Christmas trees has already jumped 25% this season, the Wall Street Journal reports. Shipping delays have caused cargo to collect at California ports while ships line up and deal with waiting times of up to three weeks.

No family gathering:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said Sunday it’s too early to say whether Americans should avoid larger family gatherings for Christmas, while the nation experiences an uptick in new COVID-19 infections among children alongside lagging vaccination rates. 

In an interview with “Face the Nation,” Fauci said it’s “just too soon to tell” whether holiday gatherings should be limited for the second year in a row due to the ongoing pandemic, but said Americans need to focus on lowering the number of new infections and hospitalizations.

No cards:

The US Postal Service is something of a hot mess right now — short on funding and workers, and burdened by the pandemic-era influx of packages.

As of October 1, mail in the United States has become more expensive and, in many cases, much slower, thanks to a new and controversial service standard that reduces post office hours and charges consumers peak shipping rates. Just in time for the holidays!

And…no heat in your house:

Winter utility bills are about another huge drain on household finances as inflation creeps into just about every consumer product on the market. Prices for natural gas — a nonrenewable fossil fuel that remains the most common way to heat homes in America — are soaring just as the Northern Hemisphere slides into fall and winter.

That open fire on which you roast your chestnuts may need to double as a home heating system.

But as President Biden himself would say: Go vote for someone else!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for Catholic Arts Today: Composer Mark Nowakowski explains why he poured his soul into scoring “Mass of the Ages”

Featured Image
Image: Mass of the Ages

 From my latest for Catholic Arts Today:

Mass of the Ages, Catholic filmmaker Cameron O’Hearn’s documentary about the astonishing revival of the traditional Latin Mass among Catholics of all ages, has already attracted more than 550,000 YouTube views after its livestreaming debut on August 15. O’Hearn managed to make the 47-minute movie—actually the first part of a trilogy—mostly on a budget of only $170,000 crowdfunded on Kickstarter.

The film centers around Kristine Mauss of Tacoma, Washington, whose husband, Michael, died of a rare and virulent form of brain cancer in August 2020, leaving her with four young children. In a series of interviews Kristine, working through her grief and trying to be strong for her children, tells of the faith and meaning that the Latin Mass and other traditional Catholic practices infuse as the center of her family’s religious life. “I just need the solid foundation,” she says. “That’s what tradition is.”…

Mass of the Ages makes its persuasive case through aesthetic appeal, displaying the exceptionally beautiful churches and exceptionally reverent liturgies that the traditional Latin Mass supports. But it is the film’s music that is its aesthetic and emotional center. The original score is by the Polish-American composer Mark Nowakowski, an assistant professor of music at Kent State University in Ohio. His concert music, commissioned and performed by such groups as the Kronos Quartet and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, has been described as “a merger of bold expressionism and mystical contemplation.”…

Charlotte Allen: How do you write a movie score, in contrast to the kind of concert music that you’ve written in the past and also the sacred music? What’s the difference in approach?

Mark Nowakowski: It’s very, very different. When you’re writing a concert piece, unless you’re dealing with some kind of egomaniacal conductor, it’s understood that the composer has a vision, that the vision is realized in the piece, and the vision is shared–and that it’s the ensemble’s job to realize that vision in a performance. I write the piece, you agree on a contract to perform it, or to record it, and you can’t come back at me and say, “I just don’t like the way you ended the second movement. Can you tweak it?” Unless I’ve done something that’s a mistake, or it’s impossible to perform, what I give you is what you must perform.

Now in a film you have to subjugate your creative impulse to the director’s vision. So you’re dealing very much with a service industry. It’s a back-and-forth process….

Charlotte Allen: Were there certain specific moods that you were trying to evoke? And how did you do it? I noticed that there’s a lot of piano and a lot of strings. I wondered why you picked those in particular, and what you were trying to do. Part of the movie, a great part of it, is Kristine Mauss’s story and the sadness of her losing her husband and trying to put her life together via her faith. So how did you approach that as a composer?

Mark Nowakoski: Now, in terms of strings and piano, those are kind of obvious choices. We first thought we would do the film with lots of vocal pieces, and we did. But one of the reasons you don’t see a lot of them in the final version of the movie is because in a documentary there’s a lot of speaking. Speaking will take up a similar frequency as singing, and they could actually interfere with each other. So in the end I don’t have a lot of singing going on. Strings and piano are standard in films. A string ensemble covers, probably, the full range of human hearing, has great dynamic capability, can do many things holistically, and can basically create support for any mood you’re working on. That’s why it is the industry standard to write every score with strings….

Charlotte Allen: I found it extraordinary, the scenes of her husband’s death. I watched Mass of the Ages twice, and I cried both times, so your music had a powerful effect on me.

Mark Nowakowski: I cried multiple times while working on it.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for Epoch Times: Want to distract from the Biden rolling disaster? Hold a “women’s march” and say “abortion” and “Texas” a lot

Signs are held up as marchers walk from the art museum to Philadelphia City Hall as part of an abortion rights rally held in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Hundreds gather in Philadelphia as part of
Photo: Miguel Martinez / WHYY

From my latest for the Epoch Times:

The Texas law may be unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade—but only if the Supreme Court decides to keep Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. As such, the Texas law is a potential bonanza for Democrats facing electoral trouble for themselves and their agenda in 2022 and beyond. According to an Oct. 6 Quinnipiac University poll, Biden is underwater with U.S. adults, with only 38 percent approving his job performance and 53 percent disapproving. Biden’s disastrous handling of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and his frighteningly expensive approach to climate change are two bones of contention with voters. Add to them rising inflation and a stuttering economy….

So abortion rights—and the perceived threat to them from both the Supreme Court and states such as Texas—may well be the ideal distraction for the electorate, especially for politically moderate women who straddle mentally between distaste for killing a helpless human fetus and wanting an out in the event of a crisis pregnancy.

David Cole, a writer for Taki’s Magazine, argues that abortion alarm worked as a successful counter-strategy in the recent recall election for California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom was widely loathed for his oppressive pandemic policies, millions in fraudulent unemployment benefits paid during his tenure, and his inept handling of wildfire mitigation, but his chief Republican opponent, syndicated radio host Larry Elder, got talked into highlighting potential abortion restrictions as a campaign issue in a state that’s generally indifferent to the pro-life cause. “The biggest stumble of them all,” Cole wrote. Newsom beat the recall measure by a landslide.

The Women’s March organizers might have had a similar strategy in mind for the Oct. 2 protests. Their website discouraged participants from dressing up in long red cloaks as oppressed “Handmaids” from the television series, and from brandishing coat hangers, symbols of the dangerous amateur abortions in the days when the procedure was banned. Such theatrics, common in Women’s Marches of the recent past, might paint 2021 participants as dangerous eccentrics and alienate the middle-of-the-road women who are likely the most crucial Democratic constituency in these days when the Democrats need every vote they can get to support their flailing agenda.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Rashida Tlaib (D-Palestine): Congresswoman from Michigan by day, Gaza activist in off-hours

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-Michigan) speaks at a climate rally in Iowa in January. (photo credit: SCOTT MORGAN/REUTERS)
Photo: Scott Morgan, Reuters

We all know what Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib does during her day job representing her district in Detroit: voting against Iron Dome funding, calling Israel a “violent apartheid system” on the House floor, and saying she was wearing a mask at an event only because she was being followed by a “Republican tracker.”

But Tlaib also has a secret–or perhaps not-so-secret–off-hours occupation: Gaza activist.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib attended an online event called “Gaza is Palestine” on Thursday.

Tlaib appeared alongside speakers and BDS supporters such as Mohammed El-Kurd, who has made controversial statements about Israel. Kurd stated in an interview with MSNBC that Israeli politicians “are all terrorists” in June….

Two non-governmental organizations, Adalah Justice Project (AJP) and MPower Change, are both pro-BDS organizations that have endorsed this event.AJP has collaborated with organizations that share ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an organization designated by the US and EU as a terrorist organization.

MPower Change co-sponsored a petition in 2016 demanding that Congress end military aid to Israel. The organization even promoted an event that specifically excluded “cops and Zionists.”…

As for the online event, the campaign hopes to stop Israel from receiving military assistance from the United States.

Tlaib’s co-online panelists were an interesting bunch.

El-Kurd is the “Palestine correspondent” for the Nation, and is author of articles with such titles as “The Israeli Military Shot My Cousin” and “Tomorrow My Family and Neighbors May Be Forced From Our Homes by Israeli Settlers.” (Fortunately for New York City dweller El-Kurd’s relatives, the Jerusalem evictions didn’t happen.)

Another panelist was Malak Matar, a Gaza artist whose painting made the June 2021 cover of GQ Middle East. It’s titled:

You are beautiful like a liberated homeland
I am exhausted like a colonized homeland

The final panelist, besides Tlaib, was Annie Shiel, “senior advisor for U.S. policy and advocacy” at the Center for Civilians in Conflict. Her claim to fame seemed to be a bizarre 2020 article in Charged Affairs in which she pretended that she was writing in the year 2024:

Israel’s conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah have intensified since the failure of President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” and heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, who have made Israel and Palestine the site of an increasingly brutal proxy war. Israeli operations have historically been characterized by significant civilian casualties and war crimes, including last month’s killing of over 50 unarmed protesters at the Gaza-Israel border and the targeted killing of two Palestinian journalists earlier this year by armed drone swarms.

Really? That’s quite the imagination at work, isn’t it, Annie?

So we can see that Rashida Tlaib is one busy woman–with her day job in the U.S. Congress and her off-hours job stirring up the pot on the Gaza frontier.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Old and busted reason for California wildfires: climate change. New and hot reason for California wildfires: shaman boiling bear urine.


Booking photo: Alexandra Souverneva

From the official website of California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sept. 23, 2021:

Governor Gavin Newsom today highlighted the California Comeback Plan’s over $15 billion climate package – the largest such investment in state history – tackling a wide array of climate impacts facing the state. The Governor today signed legislation outlining investments in the package to build wildfire and forest resilience, support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience and directly protect communities across the state from multi-faceted climate risks, including extreme heat and sea level rise….

The $1.5 billion package supporting a comprehensive forest and wildfire resilience strategy statewide is the largest such investment in California history. Building on a $536 million early action package in April ahead of peak fire season, an additional $988 million in 2021-22 will fund projects to reduce wildfire risk and improve the health of forests and wildlands….

Governor Newsom today also signed a raft of new climate measures to protect communities and advance the state’s climate and clean energy efforts. Legislation to boost drought and wildfire resilience includes SB 552 by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) to ensure small and rural water suppliers develop drought and water shortage contingency plans and implement drought resiliency measures to prevent and prepare for future water shortages; SB 403 by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) to allow the State Water Resources Control Board to order consolidation of an at-risk water system or domestic well in a disadvantaged community; SB 109 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) to create the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development at CAL FIRE to evaluate emerging firefighting technology; and AB 697 by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Arcadia), which enables the state to plan, manage and implement forest restoration projects on national forest lands through an expanded Good Neighbor Authority Program.

From The Hill, Sept. 27, 2021:

A woman might have sparked a wildfire in California after boiling bear urine to drink. 

Alexandra Souverneva, who lists her occupation as “shaman,” was charged with arson last week for allegedly starting the Fawn Fire in Shasta County, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The fire ignited Wednesday, and by Friday had scorched more than 5,850 acres, according to The LA Times. 

Souverneva is facing one count of felony arson and an enhanced charge of committing arson during a state of emergency, which together could add up to nine years in prison. She has pleaded not guilty. 

Officials said they saw a woman trespassing and “acting irrationally” at a remote property near where the fire started on Wednesday. 

The 30-year-old, who is reportedly a doctoral student at SUNY’s New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, said that she was hiking in California, hoping to reach Canada, when she became thirsty, according to The New York Post.

When Sourverneva spotted a huge puddle of liquid on the ground, she thought it was bear urine and tried to make a fire to boil it. The area was too wet to start a fire, so she drank the liquid and continued walking, according to The NY Post….

Souverneva’s attorney said Sourverneva made statements that indicated a mental health crisis or “something to do with drug abuse.”

The woman may also be linked to other fires in Shasta County and throughout California, the Redding Record-Searchlight reports.

Gov. Newsom might be better advised to spend that $15 billion in taxpayer dollars currently devoted to linking climate change and wildfires to figuring out the links between shamanistic mysticism, bear-urine consumption, and California firebug crazy ladies.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, champion of “birthing people”: ACLU removes the word “woman” from RBG’s famous abortion-rights statement

Photo: NPR

The notorious RBG defending her stance on abortion rights at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing in August 1993:

The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.

The notorious RBG defending her stance on abortion rights as rewritten by the American Civil Liberties Union in September 2021:

The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a [person’s] life, to [their] well-being and dignity….When the government controls that decision for [people], [they are] being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for [their] own choices.

What a difference 28 years make!

By the way, Ruth Bader Ginsburg founded the ACLU’s ̶W̶o̶m̶e̶n̶’̶s̶ Birthing People’s Rights Project in 1972.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


Me for Epoch Times: CRT defenders can’t decide whether it’s a right-wing bogeyman that’s not actually taught–or whether it’s just teaching historical facts that critics want suppressed

Opponents of the academic doctrine known as critical race theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, on June 22, 2021 [Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]
Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

From my latest for the Epoch Times:

[A]cademics and journalists are scrambling to come up with rationalizations for why CRT should continue to be taught…in the face of extraordinary popular opposition. The rationalizations are across the board: every argument from “no, it’s not really critical race theory” to “it’s good for young people to learn CRT” to a combination of both of the above. I’ve collected a list of those hasty arguments….

Critical race theory is just a right-wing bogeyman that’s not even being taught.

“‘Critical race theory’ does not exist as a course or curriculum in K-12 education,” declared Harvey J. Graff, an emeritus professor of English and history at Ohio State University, in an Aug. 2 op-ed for the website Inside Higher Education.

“It is also a very advanced curriculum that requires a mastery of complex social concepts, which is why it is typically found in university environments. … I know of no high school district in the country that is adopting CRT as its official social studies curriculum,” J. Kevin McCarthy, a social-studies teacher in Palm Springs, wrote for the Desert Sun on Aug. 1….

Teaching critical race theory is simply teaching history, and its opponents want to prevent children from learning history.

“It’s terrifying to me to think that there could potentially be a generation of young people that will grow up not knowing anything about the real history of our nation,” James Gaillard, a Democratic assemblyman in North Carolina, which is debating an anti-CRT bill, told the Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina’s student newspaper….

Opponents of CRT are hysterical right-wing crazies stirred up by the right-wing media and shouldn’t be listened to.

“Please do more reading and thinking on critical race theory and see if the Tucker Carlson version really seems like the truth,” South Dakota Public Radio contributor Kevin Woster begged the state’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem in an Aug. 2 opinion piece. Noem has signed an executive order barring the state’s education department from seeking federal grants related to CRT before the end of the South Dakota legislature’s 2022 session. “Please listen to the 1619 podcast by the New York Times,” Woster continued. “It’s a powerful example of seeking historical truth.” He warned Noem that she was veering “dangerously close to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Lindell territory.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Me for Catholic Arts Today: The little Chinese girl who joined the ranks of the martyrs

Image: Asia News

From my latest for Catholic Arts Today:

She was a little Chinese Catholic girl, in a country where Catholics were and are only a demographic drop in the most populous country in the world, a country where Christians have been regarded for more than 100 years as dupes at best, agents at worst, of imperialistic Western powers. Their churches were marked for obliteration.

The little Catholic girl has been given a name—Li—but we don’t know if that was really her name. In several versions of the story she has no name at all. We don’t know exactly where in China she lived, either, perhaps the rural setting near Shanghai that is sometimes mentioned. Her age is usually given as 10 or 11, but we don’t really know about that, either. We know she lived in the twentieth century, and there is a strong likelihood that it was the mid-twentieth century, right after Mao Zedong completed his communist takeover of China.

Little Li never made it to adolescence; she was killed for her faith right in her village parish church. She has become a legend. Like so many of the early martyrs of the Church, she was a real soul whose story was taken up by other real souls looking for reasons to believe. Her story has been told, retold, and embellished by many tellers in an age hungry for faith, in a culture where terror and poverty have often reigned together, in a world riven by world wars, holocausts, and new weapons of mass destruction.

Many of the facts are uncertain except the most important one: Little Li—let’s call her that—was a martyr of the Eucharist. She gave her life in an act of Christian heroism and devotion to the Eucharist that has inspired multitudes.

What would you do if you were a Catholic and government troops invaded your parish church, imprisoning your parish priest? What would you do if the soldiers broke into the tabernacle, took the ciborium, and scattered the Hosts on the floor in an act of desecration designed to both terrorize you and demoralize you, to threaten everything and everyone you knew and loved?

What would you do? Many people under such pressure buckled and joined the secularizing majority.

Here is what Li did: After nightfall, she slipped back into the church and observed a Holy Hour in front of the Hosts scattered on the church floor. After she finished the devotion, she carefully bent down and consumed just a single one of the Hosts with her tongue.

As a layperson in those pre-Vatican II days, little Li had been taught it was wrong to touch the Host with her hands. And she knew that in ordinary circumstances lay people were not supposed to consume more than one Host in a day. (She didn’t know of the exception granted to prevent the desecration of the Eucharist.)

So, at great risk each time, Li patiently returned to the church night after night to observe her Holy Hour and consume another precious piece of the Body of Christ. There were 32 Hosts on the floor, so her nightly visits took just over a month. On the very last night, she was caught by a soldier guarding the church and killed.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen