Jan. 6 rioters the far right claimed were antifa keep getting unmasked as Trump supporters (Ryan J. Reilly, 12/22/23, NBC News)

In nearly three years since a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, far-right figures have made a claim that flies in the face of reality: That the Jan. 6 attack was actually driven by far-left antifa activists dressed up like Trump supporters, or by federal agents dressed up like Trump supporters, or by some combination thereof.

The only trouble with the conspiracy? The feds keep arresting these supposedly far-left agitators, and the rioters’ own social media posts and FBI affidavits show they’re just Trump supporters.


Why are so many young Chinese depressed? (Nancy Qian, 12/21/23, the Strategist)

China’s high youth unemployment rate and increasingly disillusioned young people—many of whom are ‘giving up’ on work—have attracted much attention from global media outlets and Chinese policymakers. The standard narrative is to associate the problem with the country’s recent growth slowdown. In fact, the issue goes much deeper.

The rise of youth depression has been decades in the making, and owes much to China’s rigid education system, past fertility policies and tight migration restrictions.


The case of al-Shifa: Investigating the assault on Gaza’s largest hospital (Louisa Loveluck, Evan Hill, Jonathan Baran, Jarrett Ley and Ellen Nakashima, December 21, 2023, Washington Post)

But the evidence presented by the Israeli government falls short of showing that Hamas had been using the hospital as a command and control center, according to a Washington Post analysis of open-source visuals, satellite imagery and all of the publicly released IDF materials. That raises critical questions, legal and humanitarian experts say, about whether the civilian harm caused by Israel’s military operations against the hospital — encircling, besieging and ultimately raiding the facility and the tunnel beneath it — were proportionate to the assessed threat.

The Post’s analysis shows:

The rooms connected to the tunnel network discovered by IDF troops showed no immediate evidence of military use by Hamas.

None of the five hospital buildings identified by Hagari appeared to be connected to the tunnel network.

There is no evidence that the tunnels could be accessed from inside hospital wards.


Reports: Hamas seeks release of Marwan Barghouti in any hostage deal (MEMO, December 22, 2023)

Barghouti, 64, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, is most favoured to chair the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), according to Palestinian opinion polls.

He was arrested by Israel in 2002 and handed five life sentences.

Barghouti “can change the face of the Palestinian Authority,” the newspaper said. Despite his imprisonment, Barghouti enjoys strong support and has been able to affect events on the ground in the occupied West Bank.


How Gorsuch made the case for banning Trump from the ballot (LISA NEEDHAM, DEC 21, 2023, Public Notice)

The Colorado Republican State Central Committee (CRSCC) intervened in the lawsuit, arguing that any determination about Trump’s qualifications to be on the ballot interfered with the party’s First Amendment right of association to choose its candidates. However, putting aside the whole insurrection issue, the United States Constitution sets out several conditions that have to be met for a person to be qualified to run for president. You must be a “natural born citizen,” at least 35, and have lived in the United States for at least 14 years. The CRSCC’s position, the Colorado Supreme Court pointed out, would allow them to place anyone on the ballot even if they didn’t meet these constitutional qualifications.

Trump also tried to argue that he is not barred from running for office because he’s an insurrectionist but only from holding office as an insurrectionist. This is absurd on its face, and the Colorado Supreme Court was able to dispose of that argument thanks to Justice Neil Gorsuch.


Back in 2012, Gorsuch was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. In that capacity, he wrote the panel opinion in Hassan v. Colorado. Hassan, a naturalized citizen, sued Colorado, arguing it was required to put him on the presidential ballot even though he was not a natural-born citizen and was therefore not constitutionally qualified to run for president. The Tenth Circuit ruled against him, with Gorsuch writing that states have “a legitimate interest in protecting the integrity and practical functioning of the political process” and that because of that, they can “exclude from the ballot candidates who are constitutionally prohibited from assuming office.” It’s that quote that makes its way into the Colorado Supreme Court opinion.


Nikki Haley: The Future Of Conservatism (David Cowan, 12/06/23, Vital Center)

Conservatism has been in turmoil for decades, with successive shocks exposing and widening fractures within the movement that brought Ronald Reagan to power and helped win the Cold War. As we approach the middle of the century, conservatives are now seeking a renewed sense of purpose. Americans are crying out for new leadership. A Trump-Biden rematch would represent a profound failure to move on in national politics. Looking to a new generation is the nation’s best hope for renewal, and the candidate who best embodies that hope is Nikki Haley.

Haley’s character, philosophy, and record reflect the essential virtues of conservatism. She expresses strength without descending into divisiveness, defends a consistent set of principles while being practical, and has brought about major conservative achievements as South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador. Such substance is clearly lacking in candidates like Ramaswamy. Haley has also been an active campaigner in Iowa and New Hampshire, meeting with thousands of people and making a real impact. Unlike DeSantis, the more primary voters see of her, the more they like her. Too much political discourse focuses on the people who are too online rather than the concerns of the normal Americans who decide elections.

It is the quest for normalcy that has helped define Haley and her campaign. Rather than wanting to tear down the whole system, Haley has called for an America that is “strong and proud, not weak and woke.” Narratives of American decline have become endemic on both the Left and Right. It is true that there are structural long-term problems that face the nation, but decline is a choice. America needs a confident leader who is prepared to take the tough decisions to reinvigorate the nation. The new Cold War with the anti-Western coalition of China, Russia, and Iran presents an opportunity for the conservative movement to rally together again in defense of American ideals and institutions. […]

Haley is defending an authentically American conservative tradition. Free enterprise, civil society, and limited government are keystones in her philosophy. Following in the tradition of Reagan and Thatcher, Haley believes in freedom as the key organizing principle of the American nation. The cry of liberty has continually defined the course of American history: independence from the British Empire; the abolition of slavery and expansion of civil rights; victory over Nazism, Fascism, and Communism. These historic achievements were made to defend and expand the freedom of Americans. A conservatism that renounces freedom entirely must also abandon the American political inheritance and the fundamental truths espoused by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

Where the commitment to freedom is most contested on the Right is the economy. Economic freedom has undeniably delivered huge gains in generating wealth and innovation and lifting people out of poverty. But economic stagnation has made a comeback across the Western world over the past fifteen years. The result is inflation, low growth, and higher taxes under a bloated state that interferes too much while simultaneously failing to deliver its core responsibilities effectively.

Normies unite!


We Need To Make The Moral Case For Immigration: The Democrats are considering implementing Trumpian new immigration restrictions. This is utterly unacceptable and should shock the conscience. (Nathan J. Robinson, 12/18/23, Current Affairs)

Immigrants are often politically expendable; because they can’t vote, it’s easy for politicians to sacrifice them. And when there are waves of migrants to cities, it’s easy for politicians to demagogue on the issue and say: look at this disaster, this crisis, we must get rid of these people, we need to empower the state, we need to build a wall.

We need to fight this fear-mongering aggressively and to stand strong for the rights of our undocumented sisters and brothers. Bridges not walls. If it’s tough for cities to accommodate the influx of migrants, the solution isn’t to send those migrants back (they wouldn’t have risked the journey if they didn’t have good reason to leave). The solution is to figure out how to accommodate those migrants. In other words, let’s begin from the presumption that we are a humane country, a sanctuary that welcomes those in need. And let’s figure out how to best act on that principle. The policy response to new waves of migration should not be to try to stop it, but to make the process as smooth as possible for both the migrants themselves and the communities they join.

Plenty of Democrats will be all too happy to sell out immigrants. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, for instance, has supported new migration restrictions, declaring that he is “not a progressive.” (Previously he had declared: “I am a progressive.”) I have no doubt that Joe Biden will embrace Trump’s policies in the name of “compromise” (he previously kept Trump’s asylum restrictions in place, after all), and will help lay the groundwork for Trump’s massive arrest and deportation program during a second term. This should scare us, of course, but I also think we should not be hesitant to make the argument that restrictions on migration are morally the wrong way to deal with people “heading north to escape gang violence, poverty and natural disasters.” Let them in. At least 98 percent of Americans are immigrants or the descendents of immigrants. Many of those ancestors came at a time when there were no border restrictions at all, and anyone was invited in. We’re a richer country now than we ever were then, so there’s no reason we can’t integrate new people (nobody worries that we’re too “full” for people to have more babies, but immigrants are just “babies from elsewhere” and do not hurt the country just as having children doesn’t hurt the country). We should be a pro-immigrant country focused on legalizing the existing undocumented population (so they don’t have to live in constant fear) rather than finding ways to reduce the U.S. population through migration restrictions.

All Joe had to do was not be Donald and he couldn’t even manage that.


Revisiting the Erasure of Kurdish Identity in Syria: Growing up as a Kurd in the country was a scarring experience for children that included the denial of one’s own name (Ronahi Hasan, December 20, 2023, New/Lines)

The Kurdish people, estimated at 45 million by the Kurdish Institute of Paris, have never recognized what they consider the artificial boundaries that divide them across four nation-states — Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey — and have struggled to form an independent state of their own since the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916.

Under this agreement, western Kurdistan was definitively separated from northern Kurdistan and became part of the newly formed state of Syria. These changes made Kurds in Syria the largest non-Arab ethnicity. The Kurds hoped for a degree of freedom and coexistence in modern Syria. What came instead was the opposite: Successive Syrian governments, under the direction of the Baath Party, have continued their cruel treatment of the Kurds.

Kurds have a distinct culture, language (Kurdish) with many dialects, and history. We have a rich cultural heritage, with unique traditions in music, dance, clothing and cuisine. While the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims, there are also Kurdish communities that practice Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Yarsanism, Yazidism, Alevism and Judaism.

Kurdish society places a high value on hospitality, honor and tribal ties, and extended families often live in close-knit communities. The Kurds have a complex history marked by periods of autonomy and resistance against various ruling powers.

The Kurdish problem stands as one of the most intractable and enduring conflicts in the Middle East, perhaps even in the world. Kurds remain politically, culturally and economically ghettoized within the boundaries of Turkey, Iran, Syria and, until recently, Iraq. While the Kurds in Iraq have achieved far-reaching self-rule in the Kurdistan Region, whose autonomy was written into Iraq’s constitution in the post-Saddam Hussein era, even Kurds in Iraq still face an uncertain future, as issues like the future status of Kirkuk and other disputed territories remain unresolved.

“Li ser xeta” and “le bin xeta” are two Kurdish phrases rooted in our minds. Kurds in Syria call the Kurdish regions in Turkey “li ser xeta,” which means above the line; that is, north of the Syria-Turkey border. By the same token, we call the Kurdish areas in Syria “le bin xeta,” meaning below the line. We grew up using these two phrases to protect our sense of belonging and to reject what we consider the artificial lines that divide our land.

The most important fact about the Israel/Palestine conflict is that it is not distinct.


With ‘White Christmas,’ Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby helped make Christmas a holiday that all Americans could celebrate (Ray Rast, 12/19/23, The Conversation)

Berlin’s inspiration for the song came in 1937, when he spent Christmas in Beverly Hills. He was near the film studios where he worked but far from his wife, Ellin – a devout Catholic – and the New York City home in Manhattan where they had always celebrated the holiday with their three daughters.

Being apart from Ellin that Christmas was particularly difficult: Their infant son had died on Dec. 26, 1928. Irving knew his wife would have to make the annual visit to their son’s grave by herself.

By 1940, Berlin had come up with his lyrics. In his Manhattan office, he sat at his piano and asked his arranger to take down the notes.

“Not only is it the best song I ever wrote,” he promised, “it’s the best song anybody ever wrote.”

Berlin had connected his lonesome Christmas to the broader turmoil of the time, including the outbreak of World War II and fraught debates about America’s role in the world.

This new song reflected his response: a dream of better times and places. It evoked a small town of yesteryear in which horse-drawn sleighs crossed freshly fallen snow. It also imagined a future in which dark days would be “merry and bright” once again.

This was a new kind of Christmas carol. It did not mention the birth of Jesus, angels or wise men – and it was a song that all Americans, including Jewish immigrants, could embrace.

Berlin soon took “White Christmas” back to Hollywood. He wanted it to appear in his newest musical, one that would tell the story of a retired singer whose hotel offered rooms and entertainment, but only on American holidays. He titled the film “Holiday Inn” and pitched it to Paramount Pictures, with Crosby as the lead.


The Colorado court got this issue right. The case is now likely headed to the US Supreme Court. (ILYA SOMIN | 12.19.2023, Volokh Conspiracy)

The per curiam majority opinion does an excellent job of handling all the major issues at stake: whether the January 6 attack was an insurrection, whether Trump’s role in it was extensive enough to qualify as engagement, whether the president is an “officer of the United States,” and whether Section 3 is “self-executing” (that is, whether state governments and courts can enforce it in the absence of specialized congressional legislation). In the process, the justices partly affirmed and partly overruled the trial court decision, which held that Trump did indeed engage in insurrection, but let him off the hook on the badly flawed ground that Section 3 doesn’t apply to the president.

The case is now likely headed to the US Supreme Court. The justices may well hear it on an accelerated schedule, so as to resolve the case before we go too far into the GOP primary process. The Colorado Court has stayed its decision until at least January 4, to allow time for appeals to the US Supreme Court.

The 4-3 vote is not as close as it looks. Two of the three dissenting justices did so on the ground that Colorado state election law doesn’t give the state courts the authority to decide Section 3 issues. They did not endorse any of the federal constitutional arguments on Trump’s side. And these state statutory issues probably cannot be reviewed by the US Supreme Court, because state supreme courts are the final arbiters of the meaning of state law (with a few exceptions that do not apply here).

I think it’s fairly obvious that the January 6 attack on the Capitol amounts to an insurrection, and the Colorado justices also concluded this is not a close issue…