In the Morning Jolt for the past few weeks, I’ve compared the state of the world as we slowly emerge from the pandemic to what I envisioned in Hunting Four Horsemen, a thriller novel set “the spring after the COVID-19 pandemic” – and deliberately vague about whether that was spring 2021 or spring 2022.
In HFH, I wrote:
Some perceived a silver lining to the hurricane clouds that had lashed the world. More young people expressed interest in the healthcare profession, and applications to medical school skyrocketed. The expectation would be that those incoming classes would get their chance soon; month after endless month of treating waves of patients left many doctors with varying degrees of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Psychological and physical burnout wore away at the exhausted medical systems around the world.
Alas, that grim vision has largely come to pass: “According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, roughly 3 in 10 health-care workers have weighed leaving their profession. More than half are burned out. And about 6 in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.”
Last summer, the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a report warning the U.S. could see an estimated shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians, including shortfalls in both primary and specialty care, by 2033. But an essay in the Harvard Business Review disagreed with the conclusions and contended, “none of these factors mean we face a shortage of physicians — they just suggest we’re doing a bad job of using our current physician population efficiently.”
But our past projections for how many doctors we expect to have, and how many patients they can see, didn’t include a gradual or sudden wave of retirements or departures from the field, driven by pandemic burnout. Ideally, we would have more young aspiring doctors in the pipeline, getting ready to take the places of doctors who leave the profession.
The thing is, we can’t just press a button or spend more money and get more doctors quickly; as the AAMC’s Dr. Janis Orlowski, put it in an interview last year, “To become a doctor, you go to college, four years medical school, then you do a residency, and that can be anywhere from three to six years. Sometimes longer, if you go on to sub-specialize.” The high school-senior-to-doctor-pipeline is, at minimum, an eleven-year process.
Keep in mind, by 2030, all of the Baby Boomers will be at least 65 years old. If we want a large group of doctors entering the profession in 2032, we need more college freshmen on this career course now.
In a unanimous vote, the U.K. parliament adopted a motion calling the Chinese Communist Party’s repression of Uyghurs crimes against humanity and genocide, becoming the third such legislative body to do so.
“The work does not stop here. We have a solemn obligation under the Genocide Convention to act to prevent further atrocities from taking place,” said Nus Ghani, the member of Parliament who introduced the motion. “History will not judge us kindly if we fail to do so.”
Journalists and researchers have analyzed satellite imagery, victim testimonials, and Chinese government documents posted online to piece together the details of the Party’s …
That so many in the press have tied what happened in Columbus on Tuesday to what happened to George Floyd has been peculiar from the moment we learned that Ma’Khia Bryant was brandishing a knife when she was killed. But the comparison strikes me as even more peculiar when one grasps that the questions in play here are by no means limited to the police.
When he apprehended George Floyd, Derek Chauvin was doing something that is almost exclusively within the purview of police officers: namely, arresting a man for an alleged crime. What happened to Floyd was outrageous in and of itself — had I been on the jury, I would have voted to convict Chauvin for manslaughter, and possibly more — but it was especially outrageous because Chauvin had been vested with a particular trust and, as a result, enjoyed a particular power over Floyd. Irrespective of their innocence, private citizens are not allowed to run away from police officers, or to resist arrest — an arrangement that may well be necessary, but which makes it more, rather than less, important that cops do their jobs with restraint.
The case of Ma’Khia Bryant is different, in that, although it was a cop who intervened, it did not have to be. Indeed, had an armed bystander fired the shots, the arguments would have been exactly the same. Caroline notes that “interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods told reporters Wednesday that state law permits police to use deadly force to protect themselves or others.” This is true. But it’s also true of private citizens. Under Ohio law, “a person is allowed to act in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence.” Moreover, if the person being attacked is in “imminent danger,” that person is allowed to use “lethal force.” As a review on Cleveland.com puts it, in Ohio “the self-defense laws transfer to you if you would fear death or serious injury in their position.”
In this particular case, the act was committed by a police officer. But exactly the same legal calculations would have applied if a neighbor had stepped in. When examining the role of cops in our society, we ought to remember that.
Justice Thomas includes a notable footnote in his concurrence in judgement in a decision released by the Supreme Court this morning. In Jones v. Mississippi, the Court upheld the ability of a sentencer to give life without parole to minors found guilty of homicide even without a “factual finding of permanent incorrigibility.” Thomas observes that:
The Court’s language in this line of precedents is notable. When addressing juvenile murderers, this Court has stated that “ ‘children are different’ ” and that courts must consider “a child’s lesser culpability.” Montgomery, 577 U. S., at 207–208 (emphasis added). And yet, when assessing the Court-created right of an individual of the same age to seek an abortion, Members of this Court take pains to emphasize a “young woman’s” right to choose. See, e.g., Lambert v. Wicklund, 520 U. S. 292, 301 (1997) (Stevens, J., joined by Ginsburg and BREYER, JJ., concurring in judgment) (emphasis added); Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833, 899 (1992) (joint opinion of O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ.); Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 497 U. S. 502, 532 (1990) (Blackmun, J., joined by Brennan and Marshall, JJ., dissenting). It is curious how the Court’s view of the maturity of minors ebbs and flows depending on the issue.
For some members of the Court, children are both mature enough to be trusted with the decision to end the life of their own unborn offspring, but too young to be held accountable for murder. I suppose there is a certain sort of consistency in their line of thinking.
When asked by Tucker Carlson what he would do right now if he were president, Florida governor Ron DeSantis first mentioned that he would restore Trump’s border-enforcement measures and push for E-Verify. Those are wise policies, but the governor’s next point was more fundamental:
Looking at what President Trump had to deal with, you know this bureaucracy of ours — there’s a lot of problems in that. And I think you need to be able to bring accountability to people in the bureaucracy. I mean if Donald Trump is elected president, he tries to do policy, and the bureaucracy tells him to go fly a kite, that’s not representative government. And I think we’ve allowed this to fester for years and years, and I think it’s at the point now where, even if a Republican wins the election, the other party still maintains control of the apparatus of the executive branch. And that can’t be the way this goes. You go in, you [should] have the ability to implement the agenda.
Back in 2019, I noted several high-profile cases in which bureaucrats delayed or even vetoed Trump policies. The most consequential example was probably the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the annual census. A judge cited the views of “experts at the Census Bureau” in part of his ruling striking down the plan. Perhaps those experts were right, but critics suspected that they exaggerated the problems with the citizenship question in order to block a White House priority. Either way, the power of bureaucrats to make the elected leaders “go fly a kite” is obvious.
It’s unrealistic to expect bureaucrats to exercise that power in a neutral manner. According to a recent NBER working paper, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about two to one among federal civil servants. The disparity has grown over time, and it is largest in the most senior positions. Intriguingly, government contracts experience greater cost overruns when the procurement officer belongs to a different party than the president. The most likely explanation, according to the paper’s authors, is a lack of enthusiasm in the bureaucracy.
I served in a nonpolitical agency, so my experience was different, but most of my fellow Trump appointees don’t need an econometric model to tell them about bureaucratic recalcitrance. They witnessed it firsthand. Addressing the problem in the future will not be easy, but it’s encouraging that a potential top-tier presidential candidate already considers it a priority.
As I noted in a recent piece, President Biden’s defense budget proposal — which, adjusted for inflation, cuts spending — falls far short of what would be necessary to deter and defend against military threats from Russia and China. That figure, according to a congressionally mandated commission that included Biden’s deputy secretary of defense, is something closer to 3–5 percent increases every year.
Senate Republicans, led by Senator Jim Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are pushing back. “Together we will push back against the Biden administration’s insufficient topline defense proposal so we can continue to ensure that our service members have the training, resources, and equipment they need to complete the mission and return home safely – not to mention support for their families,” he said in a statement yesterday, introducing a resolution that calls for defense spending levels that would need the goals of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
Biden has claimed to be serious about meeting the needs of 21st-century great-power competition, but his budget proposal sends a different signal, perhaps to placate progressive lawmakers who called for deep defense-spending cuts. The fight for adequate defense spending under this administration has only just begun.
Why is the Biden administration risking the reputation and potentially the life of the police officer who was forced to discharge his weapon in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday? The officer in question fired on and tragically killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16 year-old living in foster care, to protect not his own life, but that of another young woman Bryant was rearing back to stab on Tuesday, and who only avoided grave injury, and possibly death, thanks to the officer’s use of force.
From the White House briefing room yesterday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke out on the incident:
She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family in the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss. We know that police violence disproportionately impacts Black and Latino people in communities and that Black women and girls, like Black men and boys, experience higher rates of police violence. We also know that there are particular vulnerabilities that children in foster care, like Ma’Khia, face. . . . The White House is focused on addressing systemic racism and bias “head on” and passing laws that will put in place reforms at police departments around the country
There’s a whole lot of base-stealing here. The officer did not show up on the scene because of some amorphous force like systemic racism or implicit bias. He showed up because he was asked to by a 911 caller who reported that attempted stabbings were taking place. Moreover, he did not discharge his weapon because of Bryant’s race, but because she was an imminent threat to another, innocent black woman’s life.
Psaki has turned this event into an abstraction: “police violence” perpetrated on “a child.” Divorced from context, it makes the officer out to be a monster. But anyone who has subjected themselves to the upsetting body-camera footage can plainly see that he was forced to make a split-second decision about whether to stop Bryant from plunging her weapon into her would-be victim. I think most reasonable people would conclude that he made the right one, even while wishing that Bryant were alive today.
If Jen Psaki and Joe Biden are willing to cast aspersions upon the decision he made and the motivations for that decision, they should be made to answer exactly what would have been the right way to respond in such a situation. Without a realistic and detailed answer addressing the facts on the ground — not the abstraction Psaki described — they’re just two privileged, powerful people preying upon a tragedy for political benefit.
Is there any part of the U.S. government that stays within its remit? This report from Yahoo suggests that the answer is no:
The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.
Before we continue: Let’s hold up for a moment. The Postal Service has a “law enforcement arm”?
Okay, then. But, surely, it’s just a few armed guys who are there in case the department has to arrest people, right?
The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as “inflammatory” postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.
“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” says the March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centers. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”
It is bad enough that the FBI and CIA spy on Americans in the way that they do, but at least we know that they’re doing it. But the Post Office? I’m fairly up-to-speed on America’s political developments, and I must confess to having had absolutely no idea that there was such a thing as the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) — let alone that it “monitored” protests and then issued “bulletins” featuring its findings. Which statute enabled that power, exactly? Is it the “P” in “PATRIOT Act”?
I look forward to the next Yahoo exposé — on the “paramilitary wing of the Department of Transportation.”
In the Capitol on Tuesday, I asked Arizona senator Mark Kelly about Massachusetts senator Ed Markey’s bill to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court from nine to thirteen.
“Well, I haven’t seen the legislation,” Kelly replied. When I pointed out it’s simply a bill to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court, Kelly said: “I generally don’t think that’s a great idea. I mean, I think we ought to get back to, you know, working together. The Supreme Court has been, for a while now, nine justices, and so I would certainly have to look at it, but I’m not in favor of that.”
Asked if he could categorically rule out supporting Court-packing in the future under different circumstances, Kelly replied: “Well, I’m generally not in favor of it.”
Kelly’s response that he “generally” opposes Court-packing fell short of a pledge he’d never vote to do it. But on Wednesday afternoon, Senator Kelly’s spokesman Jacob Peters contacted me to argue that Kelly’s comments did amount to a firm commitment to always oppose Court-packing. Asked if Kelly would vote against increasing the number of Supreme Court justices under any circumstances, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, the senator’s spokesman said “yes.”
Few members of Congress have formally endorsed Markey’s Court-packing bill, but most are refusing to take the threat of packing the Supreme Court off the table. Some progressives hope the threat will be enough to pressure sitting Supreme Court justices and dissuade them from making any decisions that would infuriate the Democratic base. “The Court needs to know that the people are watching,” Democratic congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia, a co-sponsor of the Court-packing bill, said at a press conference last week.
“There are few circumstances under which I can imagine Congress expanding the Court, but a big, clear reversal of Roe might be an exception,” tweeted Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler.
But in a hypothetical post-Roe world, in which states merely had the authority to enact their own legal limits on abortion, packing the Supreme Court with extra Democratic appointees wouldn’t really bring Roe back. It would simply establish the precedent that the Congress and the president can restructure the Supreme Court to their liking. It would also effectively establish legislative authority over abortion policy in the United States.
On Tuesday, when I asked Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein of California if she could see herself supporting a Court-packing bill if the Supreme Court issued a ruling that dramatically changed the status quo, such as overturning Roe, Feinstein replied: “Well, I think anything is possible. But is it likely? No, because there’s such a history, and I think the Supreme Court as a body has been historically remarkably appreciated and admired by this country.”
Texas’s statewide mask mandate ended March 9. The day before, Texas had 5,119 new cases of COVID-19, and the seven-day average for new cases was 3,971. On that day, the state had 126,404 active cases of COVID-19. As of March 9, the seven-day average for new deaths was 104.
Yesterday, the state had 3,859 new cases, and the seven-day average for daily new cases is 3,057. The state had 93,430 active cases. The seven-day average for new deaths was 54. As I noted in late March and early April, the end of the statewide mask mandate did not generate a surge …
A good number of those who have criticized the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant have argued that the officer should have done “something else” to break up the fight. Given the circumstances, this would almost certainly not have been possible — at least, not until after Bryant had begun stabbing her victim. As far as I can see, the officer really did have just two choices: shoot, or allow an attempted murder.
In 1983, the Salt Lake City Police Department developed a test to determine how far away a knife-wielding attacker had to be before a person with a holstered gun could …
The Democrats want to increase the size of the Supreme Court to 13 justices, adding new personnel who will undoubtedly be chosen for their fidelity not to the Constitution but to the goals of statism.
As almost everyone knows, this has happened before. FDR threatened to pack the Court following his landslide reelection in 1936, but he ran into so much opposition in his own party that the plan fizzled. But that doesn’t mean it failed, as Charles Lipson argues in this Discourse article.
As he correctly notes, when the Court reconvened in 1937, Chief Justice Hughes began to side with the Court’s leftists, thus giving FDR constitutional approval for a host of policies he wanted — first and foremost the National Labor Relations Act, a law that was just as obviously unconstitutional as many other New Deal laws the Court had struck down in 1935 and 1936.
Ironically, the economy had been slowly strengthening in 1936, but went into a tailspin in 1937, in large measure because of the wave of strikes that followed the upholding of the NLRA.
Richard Epstein detailed the damage wrought by the Court’s switch from constitutionalism to progressivism in his law-review article “The Mistakes of 1937.”
Back then, the big goal of the Left was to demolish the Constitution’s restraints on federal spending and regulatory power. Those have never been rebuilt, so what is the goal now?
I think that the main target is the First Amendment. There are plenty of leftist legal scholars who contend that free speech is an outmoded concept; that we need government control over “hate speech” and “misinformation.” We know just what sort of speech will be declared illegal — speech that undermines support for the omnipotent government envisioned by Biden & Company.
Clint Eastwood’s latest film is finished. The Western Cry Macho, which stars Eastwood as an ex-rodeo star and is based on the 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash, will be released by Warner Bros. on October 22, a date that suggests the studio believes the project has Oscar potential. His last film, the superb Richard Jewell, came out in December 2019.
This movie stretches a big-screen career that began in the 1960s into the 2020s. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Eastwood’ first film as a director, Play Misty for Me. The new movie will be Eastwood’s 38th feature as director and 47th as star. Given the speed with which Eastwood works, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had another film completed by the time Cry Macho comes out. He turns 91 next month. Bravo.
As Philip Klein noted yesterday, there’s a weird idea going around on the left that knife attacks are no big deal or at least no reason for the police to shoot someone. Three basic thoughts about that:
Second, while you should choose being stabbed over being shot if you get to pick, knife wounds do pose a very real risk of death or serious injury, which is the legal cutoff for justified lethal force. (I never thought I’d have to explain why getting stabbed is bad, but here we are.) We track fatalities much better than we track nonfatal injuries, but there are a few hard data points available: A study of victims brought to trauma centers in Philadelphia found that 8 percent of those with stab wounds died. A different study put the mortality rate of torso stab wounds treated at trauma centers at about 4 percent. (Of course, these don’t include folks who never went to a trauma center.) These numbers are far from 100 percent, but for someone getting stabbed, they are also far from 0 percent — and a stabbing injury is horrific even if you survive. Incidentally, most gunshot wounds are non-fatal too.
Third, standard police training, correctly, in my view, teaches cops to use a firearm if needed to stop an immediate knife attack. The Columbus Dispatch has some useful quotes from experts in this regard:
Although such shootings inevitably generate questions from the public about why an officer didn’t use de-escalation techniques, or deploy a Taser or shoot the person in the leg, none of those options was available to the officer, both experts agreed.
“I don’t know what the officer could have done differently,” [Philip Stinson, a Bowling Green State University professor] said. “Based on what I saw, there was no opportunity for the officer to de-escalate.”
[James Scanlon, a retired Columbus Division of Police SWAT officer] said use of a Taser isn’t an appropriate response “to a lethal-force situation,” and police are trained to target only one thing when they shoot to protect themselves or others — “center mass” of the person they’re trying to stop.
Officers are trained “to shoot until the threat is neutralized,” he said. . . .
[Stinson:] “In this situation, inaction by the officer, I believe, would likely have resulted in serious bodily injury or death to one or more persons.”
There’s a reasonable discussion to be had about whether the training should be a little more flexible, to at least give officers the option of shooting lower on the body in certain specific situations. But if someone’s stabbing me and a cop has a chance to stop it with a bullet, I hope he takes the shot.
A bipartisan group of more than 300 lawmakers is pouring cold water on a campaign by progressive lawmakers to restrict U.S. military aid to Israel, as the country faces continued threats from Iran and Hezbollah.
“Congress is committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and its ability to defend itself, by itself, against persistent threats,” write the 330 members of Congress to the top lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee in a letter spearheaded by Representatives Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Ted Deutch, who chairs a subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and terrorism. It goes on to call U.S. aid to Israel “a vital and cost-effective expenditure” that is in America’s national security interests. “For decades, Presidents of both parties have understood the strategic importance of providing Israel with security assistance,” they write.
In the letter, the lawmakers support the full security assistance package called for in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget request, which was set under a decade-long Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed to by the U.S. and Israel in 2016. The vast majority of the annual $3.8 billion package goes toward purchasing weapons and defense equipment, while $500 million goes to missile defense.
This message of support might seem normal for Washington — and it is. But significance of the letter, which was obtained by National Review, can’t be overlooked. It is aimed at rebuking, indirectly, a growing, though small, chorus on Capitol Hill that questions the wisdom of U.S. aid to Israel as it is currently provided.
In recent weeks, over a dozen lawmakers have signed onto a bill introduced by Representative Betty McCollum to prohibit the use of U.S. funds toward certain Israeli activities. “I don’t want $1 of U.S. aid to Israel paying for the military detention and abuse of Palestinian children, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the annexation of Palestinian land,” McCollum told TheIntercept, which first reported on the legislation.
As the politics of today’s Democratic party have lurched leftward, McCollum, who for years has advocated a more limited version of the bill that she introduced this month, has been joined by progressive lawmakers—such as Representatives Ilhan Omar, Marie Newman, and Jamaal Bowman—many of whom won primary challenges against pro-Israel incumbents. The bill is also the culmination of work by Palestinian advocacy groups, according to The Intercept. The left-wing outlet called the bill “the result of years of work by Palestinian rights activists to cut or condition aid to Israel.”
This outlook has been endorsed by at least one senator. At the annual conference of J Street, a liberal advocacy group that bills itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” Senator Elizabeth Warren this month called for a reevaluation of the status quo of U.S. support of the country, including by using “all of the tools we have at our disposal.” She added, “One of those is restricting military aid from being used in the occupied territories. By continuing to provide military aid without restriction, we provide no incentive for Israel to adjust course.”
But the proponents of adhering to America’s commitments under the 2016 MOU point out that there are tangible national-security reasons to continue unwavering U.S. support of Israel, including, as McCaul-Deutch letter notes, the country’s intelligence sharing practices and its role in ensuring regional stability. “Israel is also actively engaged in supporting security partners like Jordan and Egypt, and its recent normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco will help promote regional stability and deal with common challenges from Iran and its terrorist proxies.”
While the impact of potentially cutting U.S. aid to Israel is unclear, former Trump officials have described how the Abraham Accords were made possible by the previous administration’s unequivocal support of the Israeli government. Rolling back U.S. assistance to the Jewish state could well jeopardize that.
Calling the progressive effort an attempt to make “undermining Israel’s basic security an acceptable topic of debate,” Eugene Kontorovich, a George Mason University law professor, also points out that rather than a gift, with its aid, the U.S. is holding up its part of the bargain with Israel. The funding is “largely part of commitments the U.S. made to secure the Camp David Accords, and with it Israel’s withdraw from huge territorial gains in the Sinai peninsula. Holding that aid hostage to pressure Israel into further, suicidal territorial concessions would be nothing but a betrayal of prior commitments.”
For now, though, as the overwhelming bipartisan support of the letter attests, such a betrayal remains forestalled. While the administration has caught flak from pro-Israel voices for its negotiations to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, resume funding the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, and its statements on other issues, President Biden has ruled out a conditions-based approach to security assistance in no uncertain terms. In February, a State Department spokesperson pledged that the administration would abide by the commitments set out under the 2016 MOU “without reservation.”
In short, McCollum, Warren, and likeminded lawmakers remain a small fringe, but one whose growth over the past couple of years should give bipartisan proponents of the U.S. alliance with Israel cause for concern about the Democratic Party’s trajectory. But for now, this bipartisan show of support for U.S. support of Israel speaks for itself.