Mass Shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport

by David French

A lone gunman has apparently opened fire in the baggage claim area of Fort Lauderdale airport. At first the reports were of nine wounded, then one dead, then three. The toll keeps rising:

Authorities say five people were killed and eight were wounded after a lone suspect opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, international airport.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office tweeted the information following Friday afternoon’s shooting.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told CNN that authorities “have an active crime scene investigation involving terminal 2.”

News stations showed video of medics taking care of a bleeding victim outside the airport. Helicopters hovering over the scene showed hundreds of people standing on the tarmac as an ambulance drove by and numerous law enforcement officers, including tactical units, rushed to the scene.

A suspect is reportedly in custody, but we’re still in the “mass confusion” stage of early reporting. And tweets and reports are still showing people running away:

There is no word yet of the motive or identity of the attacker. As always, take early reports with a grain of salt. In chaotic situations, first reporting is often wrong reporting. We’ll post updates as the facts develop.

Update 1: Authorities are investigating reports of more shots fired:

Update 2: Senator Bill Nelson identified the shooter as Esteban Santiago and said he was carrying a military ID. It seems unusual that a senator would ID the suspect, so I’m taking this news with a dose of skepticism, for now. There is still no word regarding motive. 

Update 3: First reports on how the shooter attacked:

Update 4: Multiple sources are now confirming that the shooter was Esteban Santiago. Here’s what we know about him so far:

Santiago was born in New Jersey, according to NBC News, and was a member of the U.S. Army National guard.

Santiago lived in Anchorage, Alaska from 2014 to 2016. Alaska court records show a criminal record there for minor traffic infractions including operating a vehicle without insurance and a broken taillight. Records also show his landlord evicted him for non-payment of rent in February 2015.

In January 2016, Santiago was charged with two misdemeanor crimes: one count of fourth-degree assault and another for damage of property over $50. According to a spokesperson from the Anchorage Police department the incident was related to domestic violence.

The case was resolved in March when Santiago entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, an alternative to adjudication where a state prosecutor dismissed the charges in exchange for Esteban’s completion of requirements that are unknown.

Update 5: I don’t know what to make of this, but it certainly is bizarre:

 

Trump Slogans, Operative and Inoperative

by Jay Nordlinger

Any campaign worth its salt has a slogan or two, and the Trump campaign had more than most. There was #MAGA, of course — “Make America Great Again.” It appeared on the hat. And “Lock Her Up.” I recall that General Flynn had a hard time leading a chant of that one. And “America First.”

This last one — borrowed from Charles Lindbergh and Pat Buchanan — was always pitted against “globalism.” What’s “globalism,” by the way? Have the president-elect and his camp ever defined it? Trade? Alliances? Immigration? Engagement with the world?

And then there was “Drain the Swamp.”

When he was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski gave an interview to Steve Bannon. In due course, Lewandowski would leave the campaign and Bannon would join it. During their interview, Lewandowski discussed what he called “the ruling class in Washington, D.C. — the party bosses, the K Street crowd, the lobbyists who control all these politicians.”

He said, “What you have is a series of people who’ve made a very, very good living by controlling politicians through their donations and making sure they get the legislation done,” etc. “And those days are coming to an end.”

After the election, something curious happened. Lewandowski told Fox News that “Drain the Swamp” was no longer so important. In fact, it was “probably somewhere down at the bottom” of the incoming administration’s priorities. For his part, Newt Gingrich told NPR that Trump was no longer interested in “Drain the Swamp.” He was through with the slogan, if not the concept. “I’m told he now just disclaims that,” said Gingrich.

Not so fast. Trump himself took to Twitter to correct his troops: “Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase ‘DRAIN THE SWAMP’ was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.”

Along with an old colleague from the campaign, Corey Lewandowski is setting up shop a block from the White House. The next four years, or eight, may turn out to be pretty good for the “swamp.”

At one of Trump’s post-election rallies, the crowd started to chant “Lock Her Up.” Old habits — whipped-up habits — die hard. Trump said, “No, no. That plays great before the election. Now we don’t care, right?”

Ponder those words: “That plays great before the election.” In some ways, Trump is a non-politician, even an anti-politician. It is a key part of his appeal. But rarely will you hear a politician make a statement so openly cynical.

A Suggestion for Reading Trump’s Tweets

by David French

Response To...

Stop Studying Trump's Tweets Like ...

I’d like to wholeheartedly endorse Jim Geraghty’s post. He’s right — “not every Trump tweet needs to dominate the news cycle for a day.” Indeed, I think there’s a framework for understanding and evaluating which tweets to take seriously and which to note and discard. By this point it’s pretty darn clear that not every tweet signifies a new action or policy.

For example, people got very upset over Trump tweeting, “The United States must greatly expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” but expanding nuclear capacity requires an immense financial and technical investment. It requires strategic reviews, plans, designs, and appropriations. Let’s wait and debate Trump’s new nuclear policy until, well, a new policy emerges.

Similarly, there was much hand-wringing over his tweet about flag-burning. News flash: POTUS can’t ban flag-burning. You can’t strip citizenship with a tweet. That takes legislation. That takes reversing Supreme Court precedent. So far, in the real world, his tweet has been little more than a flag-burning stimulus act, with left-wing protesters more than happy to torch Old Glory just to show they’re not afraid. 

There are times when the tweet is the action or reflects the action. If Trump attacks someone on Twitter, that’s a meaningful action because of the immediate real-world effect. If he announces a policy change that’s within his power to make, that reflects an action. So does announcing presidential appointments. As for everything else, I’d suggest a healthy dose of skepticism and perhaps a side portion of indifference.

Moreover, skepticism and indifference send a signal to allies and adversaries that they should also wait and see what Trump does before they react too much to what Trump says. Imagine if the next provocative tweet is greeted less with headlines and more with shrugs.

I’m not endorsing the way Trump tweets, and he doesn’t care if anyone does. By now, we know he’s going to do what he wants. But we can certainly decide how we react. He’ll be president in less than two weeks, and presidents have to take actions. Let those actions speak louder than his tweeted words.  

 

A Look at the December Jobs Report

by Robert Stein

While job growth continues to look like a plow horse, wage growth is starting to look like a thoroughbred. Payrolls grew a moderate 156,000 in December. But, like we mentioned last month, payrolls were revised up for November, north of 200,000 versus an original report of 178,000. Look for another upward revision, this time to December, one month from now.

Civilian employment, an alternative measure of jobs that includes small-business start-ups, rose a modest 63,000 in December. In the past year, payrolls are up 180,000/month while civilian employment is up 182,000/month. Look for similar gains in 2017.

The best news in today’s report, though, was on wages, which increased 0.4 percent in December and are up 2.9 percent from a year ago, the fastest growth so far in the economic expansion. Combined with data on the number of hours worked, total wages, which exclude fringe benefits and irregular bonuses/commissions, were up 0.6 percent in December and are up 4 percent versus a year ago, more than enough to outpace inflation. This will help keep the Federal Reserve on track for raising rates three times this year, like its “dot plot” suggested in December.

Although the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7 percent in December, that follows a large decline to 4.6 percent in November. Overall, the jobless rate dropped 0.3 points in 2016 and we expect a similar gradual drop in 2017, as the labor force continues to grow. The labor force grew 1.8 million in 2016, the largest gain for any calendar year in the past decade.

Some analysts may claim most of the job gains in December were part time. But the data on full-time/part-time work are very volatile from month to month. In the past seven years (since December 2009), part-time jobs are up 416,000 while full-times jobs are up 13.7 million.

Other analysts will point out that the number of people not in the labor force (neither working nor looking for work) hit a new record high in December. But this was true in the 1990s and 2000s expansions as well, due to population growth. Now we have retiring Baby Boomers as well, who are also driving this trend.

The labor market is a still far cry from where it would be with a better set of policies, but it looks like some of these policies are on the way.

Speaking of Repeal and Replace

by Rich Lowry
Here is our editorial today on how to go about repealing Obamacare:

On health care, congressional Republicans should listen to Donald Trump. The president-elect may not be chock-full of ideas about health-care policy, but he has the right political instincts. He has said that Obamacare should be replaced, that its beneficiaries should not simply be stripped of coverage, and that people with pre-existing conditions should be protected. It is possible and desirable to devise legislation that meets these objectives. Trump has also warned congressional Republicans to be careful — and he is right about that, too, because their current course does not look likely to accomplish the repeal of Obamacare or its replacement by something better….

The core of a conservative replacement of Obamacare — a replacement that is simultaneously a repeal — would be the end of the federal government’s role as chief regulator of health insurance and the restoration of the states to that position. Simplify the tax credits, pare them back if possible, and allow them to be used for any insurance policy that meets these two conditions: The policy meets the approval of state regulators, and people who maintain coverage can continue to buy such coverage at the same price if they get sick. People would have much more freedom to buy the coverage that meets their specifications rather than those of Washington regulators; they would have the means to buy basic coverage; and they would have the incentive to do it as well (since maintaining coverage would protect them in the event they got sick).
 
The mandate to buy insurance — a mandate that came into existence in order to counter the side effects of Obamacare’s onerous regulations — should simultaneously be abolished. And most people on Medicaid should be given the option to cash out their benefits and buy insurance on the regular, private market.
 
Too many congressional Republicans think that conservatives will take a quick but phony win on health care. We disagree. A real win is worth the time and effort.

Another Senator for Repeal and Replace

by Rich Lowry
Yesterday on MSNBC, Tom Cotton spoke of the need to have an Obamacare replacement ready when the GOP repeals the law.

It’s OK to Admit Russia Interfered in Our Election

by Rich Lowry

Donald Trump and his most fervent supporters have seemingly made it a matter of principle not to admit that Russia interfered in our election, despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence (although the more we can learn about the intelligence behind this determination, the better). They evidently fear that admitting the Russia role will taint Trump’s win. It’s not particularly difficult, though, to do what Paul Ryan did yesterday – which is concede Russia’s interference, lament it, and point out that Trump legitimately won and prevailed for all sorts of reasons not directly related to the hacking. This would be a much better posture for Trump, and perhaps he will eventually adopt it, but so far he is doubling down on denial.

‘Thank You for Giving Such Eloquent Voice to the Conservative Ideals I Hold So Dear’

by Jack Fowler

Maybe Nan expressed it best, along with her kind $50 contribution. We are wrapping up this (extended!) end-of-the-year webathon. It was initiated to help bankroll our forthcoming head-to-toe, guts-and-all rebuild of NRO (we hit that goal of $125,000) and to further underwrite our student intern program (and we hit that goal of $25,000). Then, on December 22, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued a terrible ruling, against NR and we say also against the First Amendment, in the prolonged Mann v. National Review defamation case. Many have responded to our amended plea for assistance with NR’s legal bills. For all who gave, and that is over 2,500 selfless souls, we are deeply appreciative.

In donating, many took the opportunity to . . . thank us. Like Nan. Her sentiment, short and sweet, speaks for many. The cash sure helps, but so do the inspiring words. This will be the last time I torment you kindly readers who have endured my entreaties since Thanksgiving. I hope those who have yet to give — especially those who come to NRO relentlessly, who engorge themselves day in and out at the all-you-can-read free buffet, who know all this great writing doesn’t happen without a cost, who have a conscience that says, “stop mooching” — will do so now by making a donation here. Or here for PayPal fans. Or for folks who prefer the U.S. Mail, you can send a check payable to “National Review” to 215 Lexington Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10016. Thank you. And here are three parting comments.

Emily so kindly contributes a very sweet $250 and an ideological smooch: “Love your well researched, in-depth articles. I learn something (many times many things) every time I read an article. Thank you for all of your great work and for writing about conservative philosophy and thinking. Keep up the great work.”

Another $250 comes from the very generous Steven, who sends along what may be a terrific marketing campaign idea: “Life without NRO during the day? Perhaps more productive. Infinitely less enjoyable.”

And Kesia sent $200, with instructions, praise, puns, and offers of gun shoots and pulled pork. We’ll let hers be the eclectic last word: “Please split this donation 50/50, one half to the lawsuit fund, one half to the website rebuild. I wanted to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Kevin, Charles C. W., Jonah, and David French in particular. Thank you! I always learn, laugh, and get to vent, even if it is directed at a laptop screen, when I read and listen to these gentlemen. I look forward to each new MD/E and Glopcast like phone calls from dear friends. Please keep up the great work. I hope everyone at the NR family has a Blessed 2017. P.S. if Kevin and Charles, or any of the great NR writers, are ever in the Lutz (Tampa) area, and have a day or so to goof around, my husband and I would love to invite them to the Dade City Rod and Gun Club for a day of shooting. I have a Sharps 45-70 I think they might get a real . . . wait for it . . . kick (HA! That one is for Jonah) out of shooting. Plus, we do a really great family BBQ afterwards. Offer’s open!”

Stop Studying Trump’s Tweets Like They’re the Zapruder Film!

by Jim Geraghty

Emily Bell of the Columbia Journalism School offers the intriguing but not entirely convincing argument that President-elect Trump is best “framed” as a media organization.

Yes, Trump’s rise to fame since the early 1980s has been symbiotic with the larger press. He is indeed obsessed with ratings and audience size, and is driven to “put on a show,” perhaps more than anyone else in American politics.

But Trump-as-a-media-organization vision also implies that his more outrageous moments are the political equivalent of “ratings ploys” or sweeps week plot-twists, and that feels like shoehorning a deliberate strategy onto impulsive decisions.

For starters, Trump just likes to write Tweets. Does he write about, say, flag-burning because he wants to distract from some other major issue? Maybe. But it also seems pretty likely that Trump just got irked about the Fox News morning segment he saw about a flag-burning and felt like venting about it. This is not a man who is shy and reticent about sharing what he thinks.

It feels like there’s a lot of Kremlinology – no pun intended – going in in the media’s dissection and interpretation of Trump’s tweets. And if some members of the media feels like Trump is using Tweet A in distract media attention from Topic B… well, fellas, it’s your choice as to what you cover.

Take, for example, Trump’s tweets from last night about the ratings being down for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first time hosting The Apprentice. This is probably the least important and consequential thing the president-elect will do all day.

Nobody’s forcing the media to write items and do segments on Trump’s tweets about his old television show. But this morning, a lot of news organizations felt the need to write about them, and not just the television or media beat writers: The Daily Beast, CBS News, U.S. News and World Report, New York Daily News, Vanity Fair

Let me toss out this crazy thought: maybe not every Trump tweet needs to dominate the news cycle for a day.

Friday links

by debbywitt

How big can a tsunami really get?

The history of the sneeze guard.

Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished Mosques.

How to Slim Down in Fourteen Days: Advice from 1595.

How to Build an Igloo.

Giant Snow ‘Mushrooms’ Are Winter’s Rarest Natural Wonder.

ICYMI, Wednesday’s links are here, and include identifying wildlife droppings, National Fruitcake Toss Day, the giant concrete arrows across the U.S., and a supercut of people falling and landing on vehicles (set to the finale of the 1812 Overture).

Hawaii Suicide Bill Abandons “Safeguards”

by Wesley J. Smith

Assisted suiciders are running a scam. They assure a wary public that legalization is designed to be a rare event, only resorted to by the terminally ill when nothing else can be done to eliminate suffering.

Then, they push the normalization of assisted suicide with all their might and the millions in PR spending. (See Brittany Maynard and suicide parties.)

And all the while, they assure us that “strict guidelines” will  prevent abuse.

That’s the honey to help the hemlock go down. In reality, the strict guidelines are ephemeral and even those are being abandoned as soon as politically feasible.

Case in point: Hawaii’s draft assisted suicide legalization bill, which continues the process of expanding the guidelines so as to make them fundamentally meaningless.

The Patients Rights Council (for which I am a paid consultant) has analyzed the proposal. Guidelines, schmidelines! From the analysis:

Provision of life-ending drugs (called “Medical Aid in Dying”) would become a “medical treatment.”
This would give insurance programs the opportunity to cut costs by denying payment of more expensive treatments while approving payment for the less costly prescription for a lethal drug overdose.  If the bill is approved, will health insurance programs do the right thing – or the cheap thing?

Oregon’s Medicaid health care rationing which has denied life-extending treatment but offered assisted suicide to cancer patients already answered that question.

The bill wants the despairing ill to have ready access to instant death:

There is no waiting period between the time that the patient is diagnosed and the time that the prescription is written.
A physician can give a patient the terminal diagnosis, deem the patient eligible for doctor-prescribed suicide, inform the patient of the availability of assisted suicide and write the prescription for the lethal dose of drugs on the same day – without the patient ever recovering from the initial shock of being terminally ill.

Suicidal people, including people wanting to kill themselves because of a terminal diagnosis, sometimes change their minds. I know. I have met them.

This rush to death right will mean some who would have decided to carry on will surely die by suicide instead–and we will never know who they are. 

As usual, the definitions are loosey-goosey to permit broader access than appearances would suggest:

“Terminally ill” is very broadly defined, making it possible for a doctor to prescribe the deadly drugs even though the patient could live for years.
A person who is in the undefined “final state” of an “incurable or irreversible condition” would be considered terminally ill if the condition would, within reasonable medical judgment, result in death within six months. 

But there is no requirement that the condition be uncontrollable.  There are many conditions (diabetes, certain types of leukemia and, even, alcoholism) that could meet this definition of terminal illness contained in the bill.

For example, diabetes can be both incurable and irreversible but it is controllable.  An insulin-dependent diabetic patient who stops taking insulin will, within reasonable medical judgment, die within six months.  Thus, under the bill, diabetics would be eligible for doctor-prescribed suicide even though they could live virtually normal lives with insulin.

Doctors would be required to lie on the death certificate about the cause of death–a corruption and bar to transparency, currently the law of Washington State:

The proposal requires that death certificates be falsified.
Although the manner of death resulting from an intentional overdose of drugs would be considered suicide, and the cause of death would be the lethal drugs, the proposal states that the cause of death listed on death certificates be the individual’s underlying terminal illness.

There’s much more, but you get the point.

The euthanasia/assisted suicide movement is not about restrictions. It is about normalizing death for all manner and causes of human suffering. The rest is crass incrementalism.  

If that clear truth doesn’t matter to you, it proves my point.  But for the sake of intellectual integrity and the honesty of democratic deliberation, we should have that debate, not continually pretend we believe the nonsense about strict limits preventing abuse.

Trust the Public to Not Judge Groups by the Worst Among Them

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Trust the Public to Not Judge Groups by the Worst Among Them

The worst among us do not represent us as a whole, thankfully.

William Calley doesn’t represent men and women in uniform. Ward Churchill doesn’t represent professors. Jeffrey Dahmer doesn’t represent chocolate factory employees. Aaron Hernandez does not represent the New England Patriots. 

Most of us know that. Most of us understand that it’s unfair, inaccurate, and a smear to take the worst individual in a group and contend that all members of a group are “like that.” James Holmes is rare among gun owners. Eric Rudolph is rare among abortion opponents. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik are rare among Muslims.

On that last one, is that why authorities keep acting like they never want to admit that a mass shooter is Muslim? Every time there’s a terror attack, we see coverage of local Muslims fearing a backlash. And while there are occasional incidents – mostly verbal abuse from strangers – we thankfully don’t see it on a massive scale or escalation. Most Americans go out of their way to demonstrate that they don’t blame all Muslims for the actions of a violent extremist among them. My sense is the kind of jerk who harasses the elderly shop owner down the street because of something ISIS did is the kind of jerk who’s just looking for an excuse to lash out.

So is there genuine fear among authorities that a public discussion of that God-awful attack in Chicago is going to stir some sort of mass reaction against African-American youth?

Because Noah Rothman notices some really odd assertions coming from the Chicago police:

By 6 a.m. Chicago time, local police cautioned reporters that it was too early to determine whether the attack had any racial motive. By 7:45, however, police were certain that there was no racial motive and that the man who was abducted from a local McDonalds was targeted only because he had a learning disability. Investigators believe that the victim knew one of his attackers from high school, and may have accompanied his tormenters willingly. To claim, however, that there was no racial element to a video in which a white man is tortured and berated about his skin color while his attackers shout epithets about white people and the Caucasian president-elect beggars belief.

Is there fear that Americans of all colors will hear about this attack and conclude, “yup, that’s the way blacks are”? Or “that’s the way black teenagers are”? Come on. Give us a little credit. Even if the facts are potentially inflammatory, it is the job of the authorities and the media to inform the public with the facts. It’s when authorities and the media lie, or offer implausible rationales – i.e., there was no racial motive to attackers who said “f*** white people” that people truly get suspicious that the real story is much worse than what they’re being told.

And now, the facts:

Charged in the attack were Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; and sisters Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24, who lived in an apartment in the 3300 block of West Lexington Street where the assault allegedly took place.

The four — who are all African-American — were each charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to police. Hill also was charged with robbery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and residential burglary, while both Covingtons were charged with residential burglary, police said.

Police said all four have given statements admitting to their roles in the alleged attack. They’re scheduled to appear for a bond hearing Friday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Greg Jarrett, Fox News anchor and former defense attorney:

Because Illinois seeks to protect people from attacks based on both race and disability, this case presents two distinct kinds of hate crimes.  Which means double trouble for the accused. 

The star witness will be the videotape.  It speaks for itself.  The suspects are caught in all their malignity. The victim is seen in all his misery. The prosecution can rest its case without much more.

Yes, I am well aware of the “presumption of innocence.” And the defendants will get their day in court should they so choose.  But they would be wise to avoid it.  A plea deal would be a more judicious course, if for no other reason than to avoid further inflaming their community and the court. 

I can’t imagine a jury ignoring the incontrovertible acts of brutality seen on the tape.  But then, this is Chicago where criminal justice is to justice…as military music is to music.

But assuming the defendants are convicted, the real question is how the trial judge will punish. Judges in Chicago are notorious for meting out  meager sentences.  Thus, the rampant crime in “the windy city” that has made it the murder capital of America. 

A judge who cares about law and order should rule that the sentences run consecutively, not concurrently.  Throw away the key.  The remote chance at rehabilitation should take a back seat to deterrence and retribution. 

Our David French’s conclusions:

We can’t look at the filmed Chicago beatings and the hundreds of Chicago killings as distinct, with the beatings “political violence” and the killings just crime as usual. They’re both the product of a depraved culture, and they’re both facilitated by the breakdown in law and order. It’s time to stop celebrating depravity. It’s time to stop crippling the police. And it’s time to speak the truth. Our nation’s social fabric is fraying — nowhere more than in Chicago. This is the Left’s city, a foundation of its national power. How many more people have to die before it changes course?

Krauthammer’s Take: GOP Need a Plan for Obamacare Repeal or ‘They Are going to Suffer Politically’

by NR Staff

Charles Krauthammer does not think there is a large margin of error for Republicans on changing health care, since they will own it once they have their hands on it:

I think the Republicans are taking on a big task. The minute they do anything on Obamacare, and that will be within a few weeks — they own it. They are going to own the entire health-care system. People are not going to distinguish — as they did not in the Obama years — between what did you change and what was unchanged in the health-care system. It is a gestalt. It’s the idea of how it is working. It is working terribly; Obamacare is collapsing and it would on its own. It would continue to, but now it will all be attributed to the Republicans. They better have something ready to go to substitute or at least a patchwork to get them between A and B. Otherwise, they are going to suffer politically on health care the way that Obama and Democrats have continually for eight years.

Virginia Governor Promises to Veto 20-Week Abortion Ban

by Alexandra DeSanctis

Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, has promised that he will veto a piece of legislation attempting to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. McAuliffe argues that the bill would hurt the state’s image because abortion is a “socially divisive” topic.

The bill has not yet passed the Virginia legislature, only recently being proposed by a Republican delegate in the state’s General Assembly. Measures such as this have passed across the country, most recently in Ohio. And the U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar measure last year, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This bill, like the others, is based on scientific findings that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks.

McAuliffe is publicly opposing the Virginia bill prior to its passage because, he says, he doesn’t want Virginia’s General Assembly to “waste time” attempting to pass it and because it might negatively interfere with his efforts to bring more businesses into the state.

“I can’t sit back and have that sitting out the same time I am traveling the globe recruiting businesses to Virginia,” McAuliffe said this week. The Virginia governor is traveling for one such recruiting trip this coming weekend, and thus believed it necessary to condemn the pro-life bill before his meetings. “If there’s something that would be damaging toward business, and to our image around the country and the globe, I’ll veto it, you bet I will.”

But it is unclear how exactly the 20-week abortion restriction would dissuade businesses from coming to Virginia. McAuliffe also failed to provide evidence that this measure is unpopular with Virginians or is “socially divisive.” In fact, the most recent polls reveal that almost two-thirds of Americans favor a 20-week abortion ban, including nearly 80 percent of Millennials. And a poll from last summer showed that 78 percent of people favor limiting abortion in some capacity, in many cases to the first trimester only. If anything, the tide of public opinion is surely turning in favor of abortion limitations.

An argument for “women’s rights” or the freedom to choose might not be too convincing either, but at least it would have some basis in typical pro-abortion argumentation. But it is inaccurate to label the 20-week ban “divisive” without acknowledging broad support for the measure, and it is disingenuous to claim the bill could in any way jeopardize Virginia’s business prospects.

The Thing That Makes Bubbles Worse

by David French

Response To...

The Search for the Real ...

I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin’s piece today decrying the whole notion that any part of America is more “real” than the other. This paragraph is particularly good:

Russell Kirk, describing his “canons of conservative thought,” argued that to be a conservative is to appreciate genuine diversity, “the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.” The Left is living up to Kirk’s expectations: The increasingly sneering attitude of coastal elites toward the more conservative interior, particularly for the poor communities there, is as undeniable as it is distasteful. But conservatives are not immune to these Kulturkampf tendencies, either. No, the whole country does not need to be Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It doesn’t need to be Lubbock, Texas, either.

This seems so obviously correct, that one has to wonder — why the Kulturkampf? I get that differences over religious and political views are meaningful and important, but the Kulturkampf veers into virtually everything — the clothes we wear, the cars (or trucks) we drive, and the television we watch. I won’t bore you with link after link showing all our different national habits. The problem isn’t with the differences; it’s with the sneering. 

As a born-and-bred southerner who lived almost a decade of his life in the Northeast, I think there’s an under-discussed cultural phenomenon that helps explain at least some of the disdain. It’s not that New Yorkers, for example, never encounter Texans or Iowans, but the ones they do encounter are often regional refugees, people who — for whatever reason — found the towns of their birth stifling or limiting and wanted to try life in the big city.

For every Kentuckian in Manhattan who says, “I love Hazard; I’m just here for work,” in my experience you’ll find four more who say, “I hated that narrow-minded place. I couldn’t wait to get out.” This is particularly true in the arts, academy, and media — exactly the industries that do the most to manufacture elite attitudes and opinions. Everyone likes to hear that their way of life is the best, and when you encounter a stream of southern expatriates who more often than not reinforce your own lifestyle choices, it’s not only gratifying, it can deceive you into thinking you know more about a place than you do.

If you want to know the best case for a place, ask the person who’s happily put down roots there, not the person who left angry or who needed more opportunities. And that’s of course the person we’re least likely to encounter in our daily lives. So the bubble gets worse, even if a Columbia professor lives next door to a lawyer born in Mobile. 

The War Against Vaping: National Park Service Proposes New Puritan Exhibit (Itself)

by Andrew Stuttaford

Turn wearily to that old Mencken quote yet again: 

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

Virtue signaling (via  Wikipedia):

The term was first used in signalling theory, to describe any behavior that could be used to signal virtue, and especially conspicuous piety among the religious faithful.

Reason’s Nick Gillespie:

Because things can always be at least slightly worse, the National Park Service wants to permanently ban vaping wherever it bans smoking.

The Federal Register (referring to proposals to be published tomorrow):

The National Park Service (NPS) today proposed revisions to the regulations that address smoking in national parks. The proposed revisions would change the regulation that defines smoking to include the use of electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The proposed revisions would also allow a superintendent to close an area, building, structure, or facility to smoking, which would include the use of ENDS, when necessary to maintain public health and safety.

Eh?

“Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service,” said Michael Reynolds, Acting Director of the National Park Service. “It is clear from a recent rule by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a report by the Surgeon General that electronic cigarettes are a threat to public health, especially to the health of young people.”

I’d expected the ‘for the children’. That makes an appearance whenever nanny stirs, but junk science from the FDA, the Surgeon General, the National Park Service is, well, disappointing.

Nick Gillespie:

Let’s be real. Electronic cigarettes are not a threat to public health. If anything, by giving people a vastly less-toxic (and perhaps fully non-toxic) way to “smoke,” e-cigs are good for public health, here and abroad. As Jacob Sullum has noted, one of the main arguments against vaping is that it leads to the smoking of actual cigarettes, a finding that is evident everywhere except actual data of teen habits, European smokers, and elsewhere. Overwhelmingly, vapers use e-cigarettes to cut back on smoking or never progress beyond huffing air to sucking down menthols. And if you’re worried about “second-hand vaping,” don’t bother.

Read the whole miserable story here.  There will be an opportunity for the public to object to this proposal. They should take it, but probably won’t. 

How Not to Report the News

by Rich Lowry

John Hinderaker nails it in this post about how the AP whitewashed its report on black kids in Chicago torturing a white victim with special needs.

Robots Are Machines, Not Persons

by Wesley J. Smith

The mechanical “woman” above–through her human-written program–speaks of one day having a family and being a person. 

Many in transhumanism and bioethics one day hope to establish robot rights or machine rights.

Never. No matter how sophisticated a computer is, it will always just be a machine–dependent on its programming, whether or not self-written.

And no robot could ever truly “create” art. Art is a distinctly human and subjective enterprise, not based on wired-in programming. 

By the way, I have been called a “bigot” for asserting that only humans–not machines, animals, nature, or plants–should have enforceable rights. 

That’s faulty reasoning. There is a proper hierarchy of moral worth, and humans are at the apex.

Even enemies of human exceptionalism understand this, which is why they always are looking for analogous capacities among lesser entities—whether animals or AI computers/robots—as a means to bootstrap them into a position of moral equality with us.

Nope. Only we have moral and legally enforceable duties. No machine, animal, plant, or river can ever be morally accountable for anything.

And only we are true bearers of rights.

Needed: A New Style Guide

by Jonah Goldberg

This is mostly a pet peeve, but I think it’s also a worthwhile, albeit small, point. I cannot stand the way TV news reporters report statements made on Twitter. The most obvious example is Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. We all know Trump loves Twitter, and whatever you think about how he uses it is an argument for another time. The simple fact is he uses it — a lot — and reporters have to report on it. And when they do,  reporters use his exact Twitter handle [email protected] What I mean is they say “At Real Donald Trump” pronouncing the @ sign.  

Do they really need to do that? Why can’t they say, “Donald Trump said on Twitter today” or “Donald Trump tweeted” or some other locution? If Donald Trump told an interviewer something on NBC, no one would say “Donald Trump said on channel 4.” If he called a New York Times reporter, the Times wouldn’t write, “In a phone interview from telephone number 212-555-5555″ or whatever. The best comparison is probably e-mail. When prominent politicians send out an e-mail, newspapers and television networks don’t repeat the exact e-mail address. So why repeat the exact Twitter handle?

It’s not that big a deal with Trump’s Twitter handle because it’s pretty close to his name. But some people have weird Twitter handles because someone else got their real name first or because they chose something funny or ironic. And even if you feel compelled to repeat the Twitter name, there’s really no reason to pronounce the damn at-sign. Twitter is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. I think style guides should adapt accordingly, damn it.

‘The Sessions Smear’

by Rich Lowry

I wrote about the Sessions confirmation battle today for Politico, and went back and looked at the 1986 hearings when he was rejected for a judgeship, which were a travesty. This is the back-story, for instance, of his comment about the KKK that we’ll hear so much about over the next week:

The legend of the 1986 hearings lives on every time a media organization or a Democrat refers to Sessions saying that the KKK was OK with him until he learned it smoked pot. This is used as a handy weapon, not wielded particularly carefully. On “This Week with George Stephanopolos” a couple of weeks ago, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons described it as Sessions saying “nice things about the KKK.”

This is a lesson in how to smear a man based on an absurd misunderstanding of a 40-year-old joke. The Sessions statement came in the course of an investigation into a hideous Klan murder of a black man whose throat was slit and corpse hung from a tree.

Barry Kowalski was a trial lawyer from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department at the time. He recalled in 1986 Senate testimony that he was explaining to Sessions how it was difficult to nail down what the Klansmen were doing in a house one night because they had smoked marijuana and their memories were fuzzy. It was then that Sessions said he used to support the Klan until he learned they smoked pot.

It never pays to try to explain a joke to people who are humorless out of professional obligation, but the point of the mordant comment was that Sessions was referring to the very least of the Klan’s sins. In his Senate testimony, Sessions compared it to saying he opposed Pol Pot for wearing alligator shoes. This is how the line was understood by rational human beings who heard it at the time.

Kowalski told the committee that prosecutors working such a gruesome case sometimes “resort to operating room humor and that is what I considered it to be.” Another DOJ lawyer, Albert Glenn, said, “It never occurred to me that there was any seriousness to it.”

Kowalski, by the way, told the committee that Sessions was absolutely committed to nailing the killers and he became convinced that “he was eager to see that justice was done in the area of criminal civil rights prosecutions.”