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Dan McLaughlin rightly rips into the 1619 Project, a (very) bad fictional tale peddled to the gullible as a bold factual one. Three slices:

Readers who have followed the 1619 Project from its inception in 2019 as a New York Times Magazine special edition through its metamorphoses into a classroom curriculum in 2020, a book released in November 2021, an ongoing campus and library-lecture tourby 1619 Project impresario Nikole Hannah-Jones, and now a slickly photographed miniseries on Hulu narrated by Hannah-Jones, should by now not be surprised at four things.

First, while the project contains some useful perspective on the history of slavery, segregation, and racism in America, it is wrapped in a highly tendentious ideological framework that ranges from rank Democratic partisanship to Marxist economic and political theory. Second, it gets important facts glaringly wrong. Third, it advances arguments without the slightest shame or self-reflection after being called out publicly on getting the supporting facts for those arguments glaringly wrong in the past.

And fourth, it remains a lucrative brand entirely without regard to whether it gets its facts straight or peddles partisan or ideological agitprop. That’s why Hannah-Jones has been showered with the highest awards the American intelligentsia can bestow, including a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur “genius grant,” an endowed chair in “Race and Journalism” at Howard University, and an entire Center for Journalism and Democracy at said school, which will fund her in producing a next generation of imitators of her approach to historical truth. These accolades are based entirely on the 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones, who was scarcely known before the publication of the project, has done little else since.


The original magazine version of the 1619 Project, in the sentence that was since “clarified,” blandly asserted as fact that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” At the time, Hannah-Jones did not even bother to cite facts or scholarship to back up her theory, other than asserting generically that “in London, there were growing calls to abolish the slave trade. This would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South.” This was false history: As Sean Wilentz of Princeton notes, “the colonists had themselves taken decisive steps to end the Atlantic slave trade from 1769 to 1774. During that time, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island either outlawed the trade or imposed prohibitive duties on it. Measures to abolish the trade also won approval in Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, and Virginia, but were denied by royal officials.”


The redoubtable Phil Magness has dismantled the revised-for-TV version, noting among other things that [Lord] Dunmore himself was a slave-owner, and an unrepentant one, as he showed as royal governor of Bermuda after the Revolution. Magness also details how Hannah-Jones and [Woody] Holton use the visual format to mislead viewers: Sitting in front of the governor’s mansion in Williamsburg, they falsely characterize Dunmore as issuing the proclamation from the mansion, when he had actually already been chased out of the capital months earlier and no longer governed Virginia in any practical sense.

George Will writes about the upcoming hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court of the case against Biden’s student-loan ‘forgiveness’ lawlessness. Two slices:

In his State of the Union address, President Biden had thoughts about almost everything, even unto the crisis of hotel “resort fees.” He was, however, parsimonious with words — just a three-word boast about “reducing student debt” — concerning his policy of student loan forgiveness. His reticence about unilaterally spending, by executive fiat, about $400 billion perhaps reflected foreboding.

He knew that on Feb. 28 the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about his plan’s constitutionality. An amicus brief from 11 conservative intellectuals, with impressive judicial and executive branch experience, demonstrates that Biden’s behavior is a particularly egregious example of lawlessness committed by presidents of both parties. Were Biden to succeed, the nation’s constitutional architecture would be irrevocably altered.

The Magnificent Eleven note that the framers considered the power of the purse “the central and most important constitutional power reserved exclusively to the legislative branch, enabling it to oversee and control virtually every activity of the federal government.” Hence the clarity of the appropriations clause: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”


Biden’s $400 billion overreach has taken presidential impudence to a new level. It signals his complete capitulation to his party’s progressives, whose project is to emancipate the president, and the administrative state he wields, from all restraints. To put a bridle on the modern presidency, Congress needs the court’s assistance. All the court needs is the appropriations clause.

Finally, although this is not the court’s concern, Biden’s gargantuan loan forgiveness expenditure is as morally repellent as it is constitutionally defective. And it should especially trouble progressives who are forever banging on about “social justice.” Biden’s regressive policy would benefit a portion of the privileged minority of Americans who have attended college and who for that reason will average higher lifetime earnings than those who have not attended. Hence, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) recently reported hearing this tart rhetorical question from someone regarding Biden, “Is he going to forgive the loan on my work truck?”

David Boaz decries the usurpation by U.S. presidents of legislative powers reserved by the Constitution for Congress.

The DEI mania is overrunning legal education.

Brian Balfour explains that Biden’s “Buy American” scheme will inflict economic harm on most Americans. A slice:

The result is that American taxpayers are forced to pay more for less. Excluding potentially cheaper and better imported inputs means fewer bridges, airports, and other infrastructure are made with a given amount of taxpayer dollars. As the New York Times’ Peter Coy writes, “If the American-made products were cheaper, better or both, there would be no need to force agencies to buy them. They’d be the natural choice. So either the requirement is harmful to the customers in the federal government and, by extension, taxpayers, or it’s superfluous.”

But what about all those American jobs being propped up by “buy American” efforts?

According to Livia Shmavonian, the White House made-in-America director, “The President believes that when we spend American taxpayers’ dollars, we should support American workers and businesses. Making more products at home creates manufacturing jobs, strengthens supply chains, and helps lower costs.”

Here we can channel Frederic Bastiat, who reminded us more than 150 years ago to not just take into account the easily visible effects of a policy, but those that are more difficult to detect. The Biden administration can readily tout American jobs supported by the taxpayer funds being directed to the various domestic manufacturing and construction firms. That is the easily “seen” result.

But more funds being tied up rewarding domestic firms for infrastructure projects means less funds available for other government projects that would utilize workers in other lines of employment. More importantly, however, is that more money being spent than necessary on these government infrastructure projects means more money taxed, borrowed, or inflated out of the economy.

Here are some one-paragraph book reviews by my GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan.

Jeffrey Miron is correct: “The way to address the debt limit is – yes – to cut Medicare and Social Security.”

The U.S. government is stripping Americans of nearly all financial privacy.

Muriel Blaive tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

We will need to question the mainstream media more and more in the Covid disaster because their behavior has generally been scandalous.
Here is a series of bona fide scientific studies showing the lockdowns never worked – we knew this from July 2020.

Writing at City Journal, John Tierney carefully explains what should be – but what won’t be – of special interest to those who Tierney justifiably calls “maskaholics”:

We now have the most authoritative estimate of the value provided by wearing masks during the pandemic: approximately zero. The most rigorous and extensive review of the scientific literature concludes that neither surgical masks nor N95 masks have been shown to make a difference in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

This verdict ought to be the death knell for mask mandates, but that would require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the rest of the public-health establishment to forsake “the science”—and unfortunately, these leaders and their acolytes in the media seem as determined as ever to ignore actual science. Before the pandemic, clinical trials repeatedly showed little or no benefit from wearing masks in preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu and colds. That was why, in their pre-2020 plans for dealing with a viral pandemic, the World Health Organization, the CDC, and other national public-health agencies did not recommend masking the public. But once Covid-19 arrived, magical thinking prevailed. Officials ignored the previous findings and plans, instead touting crude and easily debunked studies purporting to show that masks worked.


It may seem intuitive that masks must do something. But even if they do trap droplets from coughs or sneezes (the reason that surgeons wear masks), they still allow tiny viruses to spread by aerosol even when worn correctly—and it’s unrealistic to expect most people to do so. While a mask may keep out some pathogens, its inner surface can also trap concentrations of pathogens that are then breathed back into the lungs. Whatever theoretical benefits there might be, in clinical trials the benefits have turned out to be either illusory or offset by negative factors. Oxford’s Tom Jefferson, the lead author of the Cochrane review, summed up the real science on masks: “There is just no evidence that they make any difference. Full stop.”


The CDC’s director, Rochelle Walensky, remains determined to ignore the best research on masks, as she made clear in a congressional hearing earlier this month. “Our masking guidance doesn’t really change with time,” she said when asked how the new review from Cochrane would affect the agency’s policies. “This is an important study,” she conceded, “but the Cochrane review only includes randomized clinical trials, and, as you can imagine, many of the randomized clinical trials were for other respiratory viruses.”

It was a statement remarkable for its chutzpah as well as its scientific incoherence. One of the worst mistakes of the CDC and other lavishly funded federal agencies was the failure to conduct randomized clinical trials to determine whether their policies were effective. The Cochrane review had to rely on pandemic mask trials conducted in other countries—and now Walensky has the gall to complain that other countries didn’t do enough of the research that U.S. agencies shirked. She’s right that some of the trials involved other viruses, but why dismiss them as irrelevant to the coronavirus? And while one can always wish for more studies to include in a meta-analysis, that’s no excuse to ignore the best available evidence in favor of the shoddy science peddled by her agency to defend its policies.


Can anything persuade the maskaholics in the public-health establishment and the public to give up their obsession? Some researchers, echoing Walensky, concede that the Cochrane review is the gold standard but argue that the clinical trials so far haven’t been extensive enough to rule out the possibility that masks might do some good. But that vague possibility is no reason to force masks on people: a public-health intervention is supposed to be based on solid evidence, not wishful thinking.