Why Conservatives Turned Against the Environment: They’re busy making accusations of “eco-radicalism” while the world burns. It wasn’t always like that (ARNO KOPECKY, Jan. 10, 2024, The Walrus)

These tactics are part of a larger strategy that has come to define modern Conservatives: frame ecological protection as an assault on freedom and affordability. This goes well beyond climate policy, encompassing everything from forest protection and efforts to save endangered caribou to the federal government’s failed attempt at banning single-use plastic bags.

It hasn’t always been this way. It was Conservatives, after all, who convened a global treaty to save the ozone layer in 1987, who wrote the original Environmental Protection Act that became federal law in 1988, and who signed a historic accord with the United States to curb acid rain in 1991. It was also Conservatives who first proposed a carbon tax. As recently as 2007, Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper called climate change “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity.” Almost two decades later, with ecological warning lights blinking red across the planet, Conservatives have transformed themselves into a national vessel of denial.

They’re not alone. From US Republicans to Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro and India’s current government under Narendra Modi, anti-environmentalism is now a hallmark of the global right. How did we get here?

Conservatism is a disposition. Identitarianism is emotion.


Our true feelings about race and identity are revealed in six words (Michele Norris, 1/11/24, Washington Post)

I printed 200 black postcards at my local FedEx Kinko’s on upper Wisconsin Avenue asking people to condense their thoughts on race or cultural identity into one sentence of six words. The front of the cards simply read:

Race. Your thoughts. 6 words. Please send.

I left the cards everywhere I traveled: in bookstores, in restaurants, at the information kiosks in airports, on the writing desks at all my hotels. Sometimes I snuck them inside airline in-flight magazines or left them at the sugar station at Starbucks. I hoped a few of those postcards would come back, thinking it would be worth the trouble if even a dozen people responded.

Much to my surprise, strangers who stumbled on the cards would follow the instructions and use postage stamps to mail their six-word stories back to me in D.C. Since my parents were both postal workers, this gave me an extra thrill. Here I was, doing my part to support the Postal Service. Who says snail mail is dead?

Half a dozen cards arrived within a week, then 12, then 20. Over time, that trickle became a tide. I have received more than 500,000 of these stories — and more arrive every day, though the vast majority of submissions now arrive through a website portal online. They have come from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. […]

To keep the conversation going, I created a complementary website for the Race Card Project, where people could submit their six-word stories online. Over time we added two words to the submission form: “Anything else?” That changed everything. People sent in poems, essays, memos and historical documents to explain why they chose their six words. The archive came alive. It became an international forum where people could share their own stories but also learn much about life, as if it were lived by someone else.


Young Black Americans Embrace the Stock Market (Oyin Adedoyin and Sanaa Rowser, Jan. 15, 2024, WSJ)

Young Black Americans are among the fastest-growing segments of stock-market investors.

Nearly 40% of Black Americans owned stocks in 2022, up from just under a third in 2016, according to the most recent Federal Reserve data. During that same period the share of white households with stocks grew to nearly two-thirds, up from 61%. This was all before the stock market’s 2023 rally.

This growth seems to be driven in part by younger investors, surveys suggest. They embraced the market in a retail-investing boom fueled by mobile apps, commission-free trading, participation in 401(k)s, crypto, meme stocks and social media, researchers said. Nearly 70% of Black respondents under 40 years old were investing, compared with roughly 60% of white investors in the same age group in 2022, according to a survey by Ariel Investments and Charles Schwab.

“You’re seeing topics of money and investing coming up at the dinner table slightly more among Black families than they had ever before,” said Arielle Patrick, Ariel Investments’ chief communications officer. She also runs thought leadership at the company.

Funded investment accounts would be the proper form of reparations.


Poll: Nearly half of Nikki Haley’s Iowa backers say they’d vote for Biden over Trump (Mark Murray and Alexandra Marquez, 1/14/24, NBC News)

Most likely Republican Iowa caucusgoers say they’ll vote for former President Donald Trump in the general election if he’s the GOP nominee, regardless of the candidate they’re supporting on caucus night.

That is, except supporters of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, with nearly half of them — 43% — saying they’d vote for Democratic President Joe Biden over Trump.


Can the dream of fusion power be realized? (M. Mitchell Waldrop, 15 January 2024, Canary Media)

“There is a coming of age of technological capability that now matches up with the challenge of this quest,” says Michl Binderbauer, CEO of the fusion firm TAE Technologies in Southern California.

Indeed, more than 40 commercial fusion firms have been launched since TAE became the first in 1998 — most of them in the past five years, and many with a power-reactor design that they hope to have operating in the next decade or so. ​“I keep thinking, oh sure, we’ve reached our peak,” says Andrew Holland, who maintains a running count as CEO of the Fusion Industry Association, an advocacy group he founded in 2018 in Washington, D.C. ​“But no, we keep seeing more and more companies come in with different ideas.”

None of this has gone unnoticed by private investment firms, which have backed the fusion startups with some $6 billion and counting. This combination of new technology and private money creates a happy synergy, says Jonathan Menard, head of research at the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey, and not a participant in any of the fusion firms.

Compared with the public sector, companies generally have more resources for trying new things, says Menard. ​“Some will work, some won’t. Some might be somewhere in between,” he says. ​“But we’re going to find out, and that’s good.”

Granted, there’s ample reason for caution — starting with the fact that none of these firms has so far shown that it can generate net fusion energy even briefly, much less ramp up to a commercial-scale machine within a decade. ​“Many of the companies are promising things on timescales that generally we view as unlikely,” Menard says.

But then, he adds, ​“we’d be happy to be proven wrong.”

With more than 40 companies trying to do just that, we’ll know soon enough if one or more of them succeeds. In the meantime, to give a sense of the possibilities, here is an overview of the challenges that every fusion reactor has to overcome, and a look at some of the best-funded and best-developed designs for meeting those challenges.



[E]ven among many Jews absolutely committed to the continuing relevance of the Bible the idea of humans starting a state in Israel was long considered destructive—even blasphemous. Israel Prize winner and Hebrew University Jewish Thought Professor Aviezer Ravitzky begins his widely respected Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism with a startling fact: the first Hebrew appearance he can find of “The State of Israel” (Medinat Yisrael) is in the writings of the Polish Rabbi Elyakum Shapira of Grodno in the year 1900. Shapira, outraged by secular Zionist plans for a humanly created Jewish state rather than, as Jewish law requires, a Davidic kingdom led by a divinely chosen Messiah, wrote: “How can I bear that something be called ‘The State of Israel’ without the Torah and the commandments (heaven forbid)?”

And the greatest Jewish philosopher of the Enlightenment, Moses Mendelssohn, wrote in 1770 that “The Talmud forbids us to even think of a return to Palestine by force. Without the miracles and signs mentioned in the Scripture, we must not take the smallest step in the direction of forcing a return and a restoration of our nation.”

It turns out that opposition to a Jewish state isn’t an isolated theological quirk but a central conviction among Jews for most of the history of Rabbinic thought. It’s contained in the Talmud itself, expounded by Rashi (the most important Jewish Bible interpreter, whose interpretation every Jewish Day School student learns first), and detailed by Maimonides, arguably Jewish tradition’s single most influential thinker.

Indeed, according to Ravitzky, Shapira’s response and that of the many Ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists today reflects “fundamental tendencies and patterns of thought anchored in a long-standing tradition. In fact, they faithfully reflect the Messianic view prevalent among Jewish believers for many generations.”

This Messianic view is anchored in the Talmud, which says that the Jewish people must swear to keep faith in God’s plan for the world. The messianic end, when God will redeem all of reality, is a goal so desirable as to be like a bride in waiting for marriage. Thus it is in a mystical commentary on the Song of Songs that Israel is first commanded to swear three oaths: not to “ascend the wall” to where the Messiah (the Bride) waits, not to “rebel against the nations of the world,” and not to “force the End [times].”¹

The statement is enshrined in the Babylonian Talmud, the richest source of Jewish law and theology. Rashi and later authoritative commentators make clear that they understand this to mean that it is forbidden to use political or military power to establish a Jewish kingdom. In keeping with these admonitions, Maimonides does not include any command to settle Israel among the 613 commandments Jews are divinely obliged to keep, and authorities from the medieval Ashkenazic Pietists (who transmitted much of the earliest known mystical literature) through 15th century Spanish Kabbalists held to it.

Theological resistance to the early Zionist movement was thus based in the mainstream of Jewish tradition. This resistance spanned the theological spectrum from Orthodox to Reform Judaism which, through the early 20th century,² officially opposed a state of Israel. A principle adopted at its 1869 conference in Philadelphia could scarcely have been more clear:

“The Messianic aim of Israel is not the restoration of the old Jewish state under a descendant of David, involving a second separation from the nations of the earth, but the union of all the children of God in the confession of the unity of God.”

A principle adopted a few years later at the 1885 Pittsburgh conference only reinforced this view:

“[w]e consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”

On the other end of the spectrum, one of the founders of the populist Chabad movement, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Sholom DovBaer Schneersohn) who was most influential in bringing Hasidism to the masses, describes political Zionism as an out-and-out denial of central tenets of Judaism; namely that, because it’s the prerogative of God alone to bring a messiah, and because human activity merely usurps his role, placing the state in the role of God indicates that “the Zionists must give nationalism precedence over the Torah.”


What Conservatives Can Learn from MLK’s Economic Views: His support for left-wing views didn’t arise in a vacuum—and it was highly controversial among black pioneers, too. (Rachel Ferguson, Jan 15, 2024J, The Dispatch)

The conservative temperament is not naturally activist, which lends itself to too much lethargy about injustice—even when that injustice goes directly against one’s principled advocacy for private property and free exchange (as Jim Crow, red-lining, and urban renewal certainly did). They might also remind theological conservatives to turn inward and ask where one’s commitment to orthodoxy has veered into a gnostic, out-of-balance spiritualization of the Christian life.

More broadly, they should convince today’s conservatives to pause and take a breath between condemnations of the left to wonder why it has been able to suck all the air out of the room on racial questions. If you are not willing to step into the arena and offer your own solution, you can hardly complain that you lost the match.


The lessons of Martin Luther King’s life should give us hope today (Janice Ellis, JANUARY 15, 2024, NH Bulletin)

If we, like King, truly believe that the words of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are meant for all Americans, then zealously embrace them and put them into practice by letting them govern and guide our actions in both our public and private lives.

That fundamental belief inspired and motivated King and lit the path he chose to fix policies and practices to make life in America as it was intended to be.

This was made abundantly clear in his “I Have a Dream” speech during the historic march on Washington in the summer of 1963: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, Black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

King did not ignore, nor seek to discredit or dismantle, the basic tenets of our democratic republic. He embraced them instead.

Republican liberty denies Identitarianism.


Has Macron promoted his own assassins? (Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, January 15, 2024, UnHerd)

This week’s French government reshuffle started in the usual endogamous Macron style, more like parthenogenesis than politics, with the nomination of the president’s “mini-me”, the 34-year-old Gabriel Attal, as his fourth PM in seven years. It ended with a dead cat slammed down on the Cabinet Room table yesterday: the arrival of the take-no-prisoners, Sarkozy-baby Rachida Dati as Minister of Culture, a job once held by the Nobel Prize winner André Malraux. A French-Moroccan national, Dati was Sarkozy’s Minister of Justice and party enforcer, blunt-spoken and an enemy of nuance. The daughter of a builder and a charwoman, with a lively personal life and a taste for Dior dresses and high heels, she made as many enemies as friends in a party not terribly keen on diversity.

That party, Les Républicains, now a sad rump that will struggle to poll 7% in June’s European elections, promptly expelled her. It won’t change her trajectory: a mediocre MEP in opposition, she has flourished as mayor of Paris’s posh 7th Arrondissement, where, from early misgivings at her flamboyance, the constituents have now become her biggest fans. The general opinion is that Dati, the consummate retail politician, gets things done: the streets are clean, the schools work, no letter goes unanswered. The 7th was the first Paris Mairie to provide Covid vaccinations, and Dati said no Paris resident from any neighbourhood would be turned away, enraging the hapless City Mayor Anne Hidalgo, whose job she is shooting for in 2026. Being the pepper and salt in an Attal Cabinet smooths her path towards that goal, just as it suits Emmanuel Macron, who courted her himself this week.